The beginning of a new Premier League season traditionally brings with it a new hope, much renewed optimism and a fresh beginning.
Newly promoted clubs, whilst vulnerable on the surface, are filled with a sense of belief that, just maybe, they can survive.
Each and every club finds encouragement from neutrals and fans alike that, financial riches aside, they are in with a chance of playing and beating the best of the best; the potential feeling of elation is a great motivator if ever one was needed.
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The first match of the season is perhaps more anticipated than any other; it is a genuine test of all the hard work that has gone into pre season preparations. The long hours spent on the training field, the effort spent on long tours in far away locations.
Friendlies that are used to test certain theories, formations and tactics, the long arduous recruitment of new players and how they will fit into the clubs philosophy.
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All of these are tested in the opening fixture. Fans and neutrals alike keenly await the performance, filled with trepidation, joy, hope, anxiety and multiple other emotions.
The pleasure is doubled when one of their own is selected to start the first match, and it can make all the difference in heightening and solidifying the sense of belief that home grown talent really is alive and well in the Premier League.
A great example of this is the first team debut of Reece Oxford at West Ham. At 16 years of age, the West Ham hierarchy decided to field one of the youngest ever players in Premier League history against Arsenal, and what a decision it was.
A 2-0 victory for the Hammers was underlined by an excellent performance by Oxford by all pundits and neutrals. Understandably, few within West Ham have said much about him, which strongly suggests they have meticulously planned the way they will manage the prodigious new talent from a playing and PR perspective.
Further examples of youngsters given a genuine first team opportunity include Jordon Ibe at Liverpool and Ruben Loftus-Cheek at Chelsea (in a midweek friendly).
This clearly indicates a new attitude for Premier League clubs. Whilst it is unlikely each or perhaps any of these players will start or indeed play every league game, one must acknowledge the shift in dimension that each of the teams has taken and will hopefully continue to take.
Encouraging and indeed promoting academy players into the first team is of enormous benefit to the player, the academy, the club, its fans and the national team.
Let's, cautiously, welcome the new generation.
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