FEATURE: Any Reason To Watch Pre-Season?

Someone very clearly spoke to George Lucas about his direction of the actors ahead of the filming of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. See, throughout the first two of the prequel movies, Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, all too often did the actors spend a large part of the 120-odd minute flick sitting around explaining the plot to each other.

In the first, it’s entirely understandable. All of the actors who had been handed parts in the series had grown up with the original trilogy – of clearer higher quality than the prequels because George Lucas had assistance in writing the scripts and he wasn’t allowed near the director’s chair – and so the opportunity was such that they didn’t want to question the boss. “You want me to sit here and tell the film’s story, George? Of course, because I get to be IN a Star Wars film.”

By the time Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones came along, someone should have said something. I’m surprised Hayden Christensen could keep a straight face while having to deliver the unforgettable words: “I wish that I could just wish away my feelings.”

For goodness sake

For goodness sake


But by Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, someone had had a quiet word in the writer/director’s ear and the characters no longer sat around explaining the plot to each other. Instead, they would walk around each other in a big circle for no discernible reason.

And explain the plot to each other.

The script was better, however. Partly down to an improvement in the dialogue given to the actors, partly also down to less wooden acting from Hayden Christensen, but mainly because there was so much fighting needed to be done with lightsabers that there was actually very little room for bad dialogue (the exchange between Anakin and Padme on the balcony one of the exceptions, being the god-awful pile of cow-sick that it was).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What about Ewan McGregor’s English accent? It’s true that, in parts, it doesn’t hold up too well, but then again he’s the only decent thing about most of the prequel trilogy so we should be willing to forgive him that.

So then, how does the Star Wars prequel trilogy relate to Manchester City? There’s two reasons: the first is that I want to be personally responsible for the top hit on Google for someone searching ‘Manchester City Star Wars’, while the second is that I spent the evening of Saturday 2 August 2014 watching the final instalment of the new films in stunning HD quality on ITV. This is despite the Blues’ 2-2 stalemate with Olympiacos in a pre-season friendly being on Sky Sports 1, I channel I indeed subscribe to.

I get ITV1 HD for the cost of my licence fee; Sky Sports 1 needs a monthly subscription – and yet I watched the free one, despite owning Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on DVD and Blu Ray. I was actively paying to do something else other than watch the team I support.

It was like being back in the days of 2006-07, when season ticket holders went shopping on a match day, instead of enjoying the delights of Beanie the Horse, 10 home league goals all season, Bernado Corradi earning as many red cards as he did home goals, Georgios Samaras, and chants pipes through the tannoy system.


The reason I watched a film I rate as the best of a bad bunch was simple. It’s pre-season and, no matter how hard I try – like fishing, members of UKIP and the BNP, and people who believe the moon doesn’t exist – I just cannot take it seriously.

Scott Sinclair has played one of the biggest parts in City’s pre-season, but you can bet your bottom dollar the Englishman won’t be starting for the Blues on a regular basis in 2014-15. He might get one or two games, but any more than that and it might be the beginning of a series of events that sees Manuel Pellegrini sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Scott Sinclair pre-season

I love it when we’re told how much results matter in pre-season. “They only won two of their pre-season games, which they’ll be disappointed about,” say pundits, clearly not taking into account the fact that the first half team was different to the second half team and that both sides contained players who most of the fans had never heard of before or players whose squad numbers stretch to three digits.

It’s one great big charade. The fans watch because they’ve been starved of domestic football for a summer, while the pundits pretend everybody is excited by the prospect of last season’s Premier League title winners taking on a bunch of American College Grads.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s useful for the team and the manager. Pellegrini can keep an eye out for moves, set-pieces, partnerships, or youth players that work or could be useful in the season. Meanwhile, the players get some match fitness ahead of the first ball being kicked in mid-August.

Pre Season stretching


But let’s not pretend it’s also an excuse to do some marketing for the club in the most far-flung places on the planet and for the staff to get a decent holiday out of it all. Can’t see our good man Rob Pollard agreeing for his writing team to jet off to the States to do some pre-season writing practise just to get the typing fingers warmed up – leaving us to lounge around on a Miami beach. We can do all that writing about some vaguely relevant topic from home.

What do you mean I’m ‘lacking in self-awareness?’

Actually, thinking about it, I must be a nightmare to edit.

Pellegrini pre season


Just as George Lucas’s lightsaber fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan at the end of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is one big tease about when the former is going to be horrifically scarred by the needlessly over-done lava, leaving him needing scuba diving gear to breathe and a mechanical voice-changer (not entirely sure why that was necessary following his injuries, but we’ll go with it), pre-season is just one big tease about the football to come.

It’s the City squad giving us a glimpse of what we’re about to get later – but not giving away too much because they’re all still a bit dumpy having gorged out over the summer.

So, do yourselves a favour and don’t watch pre-season. Wait until a ball is kicked against Newcastle – I’m being an usher at a wedding on the day of the Community Shield, so I’m going to include that in the list of games that are pointless toss that can be ignored – and, trust me, you’ll feel all the more enjoyment for it. What you can do in the mean time is buy more books about Manchester City.



Written by David Mooney

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