ENGLAND’S meaningful involvement may have ended 26 days ago courtesy of an age-old reliance on 4-4-2 and an inability to stop Luis Suarez.
But it is only now, with the dust having started to settle on the 2014 World Cup, that the gaze of the nation’s football fans can truly return to domestic matters.
In the Premier League, that means the contemplation of many imponderables.
Manchester United fans, for instance, will be wondering if Louis van Gaal can stop the slide that took the 2012-13 champions to seventh last term, while down the East Lancs Road the hope among the Anfield faithful has to be that Liverpool do not emulate Spurs of a year ago and blow all the proceeds from selling their biggest asset on a host of sub-standard signings.
Closer to home, the prospect of European football for Hull City is an intriguing one, especially with the draw for the third qualifying round of the Europa League – when the Tigers, as FA Cup runners-up, will make their bow – due to take place later this week.
Safety in the league, however, remains the priority and, in that respect, the arrival of Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince plus the permanent capture of Jake Livermore has shown how determined Steve Bruce is to ensure there will be no ‘second-season syndrome’ at the KC Stadium.
He also wants Michael Dawson and Dundee United left-back Andrew Robertson.
In the Championship, Yorkshire football must improve on last season when Middlesbrough were the only one of our half-dozen sides to finish in the top half of the table.
Even then, Aitor Karanka’s side could finish only 12th. That Boro, who have agreed a £2.7m deal to sign powerful frontman Enrique Garcia from Spanish club Real Murcia, were Yorkshire’s highest placed team in the Football League said everything about the rest as Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley went down, while Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town spent the final few months of the campaign bobbing along in lower mid-table anonymity.
If there is to be an improvement this time around – when Rotherham United will join the fray – then this summer’s recruitments will be crucial.
In that respect, Stuart Gray’s signing of Keiren Westwood, the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, was a great start along with that of Chelsea youngster Sam Hutchinson, who impressed while on loan at Hillsborough from February onwards.
The sooner, however, that Hafiz Mammadov’s takeover gets the go-ahead the better, with current owner Milan Mandaric admitting last week that the Owls want to bring in at least another five new faces.
Mark Robins is also clearly intent on building a solid base with Joe Murphy arriving at Huddersfield along with reliable defender Lee Peltier, who returns from Leeds United.
Elsewhere, Leeds have finally started to bring in fresh blood with Marco Silvestri and Tomasso Bianchi arriving in time to take part in Sunday’s bizarre ‘United v United’ friendly after scheduled opponents, Romanian club Viitorul Constanta, failed to turn up.
Souleymane Doukara, a French forward, did not feature in the 11-a-side practice game but he has also moved to Elland Road on a season-long loan deal as United look to plug the 29-goal hole left in the squad by the departure of Ross McCormack to Fulham.
By far the busiest manager in Yorkshire has been Steve Evans with the promoted side’s tally of signings well into double figures with Jordan Bowery a new record arrival from Aston Villa and plenty of experience in the form of Paul Green, Matt Derbyshire, Frazer Richardson and Richard Wood.
Also active in the transfer market has been Nigel Clough, whose new faces at Bramall Lane include Andy Butler, Marc McNulty, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Ben Davies and Chris Basham.
League One promises to be keenly fought with so much local interest and Bradford City seem better equipped this time around thanks to the capture of proven performers at this level in Alan Sheehan, Billy Clarke and Gary Liddle.
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson has added Adam Davies, Kane Hemmings and Conor Hourihane already this summer but he reiterated his desire to strengthen further in the wake of the weekend defeat to FC Halifax Town, while Paul Dickov is counting the days until Doncaster Rovers are able to sign players again.
Friday is expected to be when the takeover by John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson is completed and Dickov has cast his eye in recent weeks over a host of targets, including Peter Clarke, James Bailey, Jon Otsemobor and Elliott Kebbie.