This week sees most teams start their preseason friendly schedules and embark upon international tours, with fans, players and staff all hoping it will be the start of something beautiful, the first scenes in a glorious blockbuster of a season.
However, sometimes the preseason can end up being worse than a season-long battle in a relegation zone and more like the opening shots for a flop of a disaster movie. Like John Carter but a bit more Battlefield Earth.
We've picked out five preseason campaigns from football's recent history that have been real stinkers.
At the end of the 2009-10 season Portsmouth had gone into administration and were relegated from the Premier League, two years after winning the FA Cup. So the preseason campaign for the 2010-11 season was a chance for them to put it all behind them and work at getting back in the Premier League.
They put it all behind them, then ‘it all’ put a hand over their mouth and stabbed them repeatedly in the back.
Pompey’s two-week North American trip got off to a bad start when the club’s financial problems meant that over 50 percent of the squad they took on tour had never even played a game for the club and were reserves, youth players or trialists.
It took 42 hours for the squad to even complete their journey from England to the USA after they were left stranded in Chicago when their connecting flight to San Diego was cancelled.
Then when they played Edmonton in Canada, two players picked up injuries. One was a suspected broken leg for goalkeeper Jon Stewart (which left him with more time to concentrate on his The Daily Show duties).
Lightning struck twice (literally) when they were once again stranded in Chicago after their Edmonton to Washington, DC flight was grounded by lightning storms. The plane confusion caused the squad to lose their luggage, meaning they had to a borrow a kit from DC United for their final game of their cursed tour against them.
You would assume that after four hours sleep and a 27-hour storm plagued flight, Portsmouth wouldn’t be in much of a state to play DC United.
Or would the turbulence (again, literally) bring the team together, unite them and through adversity they would come through, beat DC United and that would spark a revolution at Portsmouth that would thrust them back into the Premier League?
No, DC United won 4-0 and Portsmouth are now broke and in League Two.
The 2012 preseason for Lazio was so bad that their new manager, Vladimir Petkovic, was facing the sack before over-seeing a single competitive game.
Some fans wanted the Swiss-Bosnian out of the Stadio Olimpico hot seat before that year’s Serie A had even begun due to an abysmal string of summertime losses.
Lazio managed only two wins in their 2012-13 build-up; a 14-0 win over Auronzo di Caore and a 3-0 win over Salernitana.
However the Salernitana victory, was marred by fan violence.
Lazio lost the remainder of their fixtures, without scoring a single goal.
And following a 1-0 friendly defeat to Getafe, tensions between fans and the manager, the manager and the players and the fans and the players were so apparent, Petkovic was forced to comment on the shambolic set of friendlies. Via football-italia.net:
“We are still tired and lacking the right mentality, this really isn't good enough and some players have to give more. I want players who give their heart and soul. We've got to work harder and anyone who doesn't understand that simply won't play.”
Perhaps the worst part for the players was Petkovic’s preseason technique of taking naked photographs of them (in order to track their fitness levels, he wasn’t trying to blackmail them or anything.).
AC Milan’s 2009 campaign basically involved them flying all around the world, country-to-country, and getting beat. Sometimes a twice a day.
Of their 11 preseason friendlies (11 matches is over a third of a Serie A season) they won just two. Once with a 2-0 win against Serie B side A.S. Varese and another was a penalties victory against Juventus.
They managed to lose to Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan twice, Club America and Juventus (despite later beating them on penalties).
They also drew with L.A. Galaxy, Boca Juniors and Benfica.
They probably would have lost to Real Madrid too, if the game wasn’t cancelled due to it clashing with Atletico Madrid’s Champions League qualifying match with Panathinaikos.
After 11 brutal matches, all over the world in just five weeks, the last thing you’d want is the football season to start.
As we speak, the 2012-13 Scottish Champions, and, let’s face it, the 2013-14 Scottish Champions, are currently undergoing the preseason from hell.
Their European tour has seen them lose to Ukraine’s second-tier side FC Sevastopol 1-0, Romania's CFR Cluj 2-1 and second division German side Greuther Furth 6-2.
And throughout these games, Joe Ledley, Scott Brown, Adam Matthews, Tony Watt, Efe Ambrose, Virgil van Dijk and Charlie Mulgrew have all picked up injuries.
They now face Northern Ireland champions Cliftonville on Wednesday in a Champions League second qualifying round Battle of Britain (by two teams that’s fanbases identify themselves as Irish, not British).
The Belfast minnows couldn’t topple the Glasgow giants and put a bitter tasting cherry on Celtic’s preseason paincake, could they?
Anything Celtic can do, Rangers can do more catastrophically.
The 2012-13 Scottish Third Division Champions, and, let’s face it, the 2013-14 Scottish Second Division Champions, went out of business in their 2012 preseason.
Following financial trouble, the other Glasgow giants were put into administration and then liquidation. Meaning the club were effectively no more.
A new company, Sevco Scotland LTD, bought the club’s assets and received Rangers’ Scottish Football Association membership. But that wasn’t the end of it.
The Scottish Premier League clubs voted to refuse access to Scotland’s most successful team, meaning they had to start again in the Scottish Third Division.
And, amongst all this madness, they had to cancelled their preseason tour of Germany.
Rangers assistant manager, Kenny McDowall told the The Sun:
“We didn’t know whether the club would exist. We didn’t know if we’d be here, didn’t know when the season would start — all those things are usually a given.
As a coach, you organise your year in advance. Normally you know your start date, your preseason tour — but we had none of that.
We didn’t know if we’d have a team, which players would be back at Murray Park. We didn’t know if we’d be hit with a transfer embargo. It was a horrible time. There were so many low points, I couldn’t say which was the lowest. We just kept getting hit. The whole thing was just a low point, an absolute disaster.”
A few injuries and losing to a German second division side doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
What has been your team's worst preseason? Tell us in the comments below.