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Pre-season football is football without stress

Football doesn't need to be stressful and pre-season proves that

Walsall v Aston Villa - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Jota dances between the lines, Fred Guilbert bounces down the sidelines, Wesley Moraes defends from the front. One touch football unlocks goals with ease. Unfamiliar faces take to the pitch. You get to see a new side of your football club, a carefree side of it.

Paradoxically, pre-season football matches are meaningless, yet meaningful. There is often no reward for competing well and they amount to little more than training matches. There is no great tangible detail that we can extract from a scoreline and while individual performances can certainly be analysed - these matches exist so chemistry can be built. Mostly, these matches are meaningless.

However, say that to the fans who travelled to Minneapolis to watch Aston Villa whip Minnesota United. Fans who were enjoying their first glimpse of Dean Smith's Villa, or fans who were enjoying their first sight of an 'actually good Villa' team. Say it to the fans who can't afford to go to games with their kids, who might enjoy two or three games on the trot. Say it to the players, who get to exhibit their skills without their every touch being examined to a microscopic extent by supporters to view what it might mean about them.

There is meaning in pre-season - but it's not the tangible meaning that most of us will try to find in the Premier League season. This is football away from the crushing, sapping, relentless schedule of English football where every single result takes you further away from, or closer to the abyss. This is football as played in the park. This is a pickup game. It's practice and it's fun. We can enjoy the minor details of a loss without worrying about where the lack of three points leaves the club, we can delight in the football displayed in a win, we can respect the commitment shown in a tie.

These games are meaningless, results wise - but they are often enjoyable. In a schedule that brings stress and worry as much as it brings delight and optimism, maybe there's plenty of meaning in pre-season football, football without stress?

As life seemingly gets a whole lot harder, and more expensive, there's a lot of joy to take from the simple football that involves your favourite rich and prestigious football team. It's innocent, carefree and stress-free. It's one less thing to worry about and there's no existential threat stemming from a league table.

Pre-season is football, simply as football. Enjoy it.