Thursday night and the gates are high

Europe, Europe here we come.

After what marketing executives would call the soft launch of our European journey with a trip to Edinburgh, it’s time for the first proper continental excursion, and there’s often more intrigue in the pool games. Off we go to Warsaw so let’s get all the jokes about catching the number 51 there and getting off the train at Bescot out of the way now. Tim Lovejoy said them all years ago and whatever he said wasn’t funny even then.

Back in the dawn of pre-history Warsaw was one of those places where you went on the club plane and paid a fortune to be in the same departure lounge as the players for half an hour, then got decamped into some Soviet-style hotel where the beer cost fourpence, which made up for the fact that Travel Agent Doug had fleeced you of a week’s wages for a one-night stay. Either that or you spent two days on a train and another day avoiding gangs of marauding local skinheads. Whichever way you got there you didn’t have a clue about the place and if you were lucky you eventually found the ground. Now you can jump on a Ryanair and go to the same places you went last year on your mate’s stag.

And so, Legia Warsaw it is. The most successful club in Polish football, a lot of their supporters are euphemistically called ‘right-wing’ (ie still skinheads) and we bought Dariusz Kubicki off them. He went back and managed them twice so he must have liked the place. Expect loads of flares, flags and drummers. Whatever they do they’ll get away with it while we get fined because the plane was delayed.

I daresay they’ll have some tricky youngster who causes our defence all sorts of problems and we’ll be linked with for the next two years. We’ve got Alex Moreno and Jdcob Ramsey inching their way towards fitness and we might even have a couple of players rested if Unai does what every other manager does. Then again, he’s Unai. “What every other manager does” is a challenge, not an instruction.