Pre-Season Football

No sooner had I returned from the colourful festival that was the World Cup in Brazil, domestic pre-season football matches were all well under way back home. The first game I photographed after the Final at the Maracana in Rio was Hull City’s visit to Barnsley. These matches traditionally provide photographers with an early opportunity to capture players in their new kits ahead of the new league season. The fact that teams often wear incomplete kits, with missing league badges, wearing the wrong numbers etc. proves to be little inconvenience to the hoards of media outlets eager to report on every aspect of the build-up to another campaign.

With clients to satisfy and contracts to fulfil, off we went again…

Conor Hourihane of Barnsley sprays water on his face
Conor Hourihane of Barnsley sprays water on his face

 

The last remaining terraced house on Lothair Road awaits demolition as building work continues around Liverpool's Anfield Stadium
The last remaining terraced house on Lothair Road awaits demolition as building work continues around Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium

 

A grid of stock pictures from Leicester City's pre-season match against Walsall
A grid of stock pictures from Leicester City’s pre-season match against Walsall

 

A Blackpool fan on a Stag Do gives the thumbs up for his weekend!
A Blackpool fan on a Stag Do gives the thumbs up for his weekend!

 

A Blackpool fan walks out of a Fish and Chips shop, next to a shop selling t-shirts and banners supporting protests against the Chairman, Karl Oyston
A Blackpool fan walks out of a Fish and Chips shop, next to a shop selling t-shirts and banners supporting protests against the Chairman, Karl Oyston

 

A pile of banners reading 'Oyston Out!!' left on the carpeted floor of the printers responsible for making them
A pile of banners reading ‘Oyston Out!!’ left on the carpeted floor of the printers responsible for making them

 

Blackpool fans unfurl a banner protesting against the Chairman, Karl Oyston
Blackpool fans unfurl a banner protesting against the Chairman, Karl Oyston

 

The official teamsheet shows a whole host of unnamed trialists in the Blackpool squad
The official teamsheet shows a whole host of unnamed trialists in the Blackpool squad

 

A grid of stock pictures from Everton's pre-season match against FC Porto
A grid of stock pictures from Everton’s pre-season match against FC Porto

 

Leighton Baines of Everton pinches his nose
Leighton Baines of Everton pinches his nose

 

A grid of stock pictures from Burnley's pre-season match against Celta Vigo
A grid of stock pictures from Burnley’s pre-season match against Celta Vigo

 

A general view of Turf Moor, home of Burnley Football Club
A general view of Turf Moor, home of Burnley Football Club

 

A grid of stock pictures from Stoke City's pre-season match against Real Betis
A grid of stock pictures from Stoke City’s pre-season match against Real Betis

 

Steven N'Zonzi gathers his Stoke teammates together as they celebrate a goal
Steven N’Zonzi gathers his Stoke teammates together as they celebrate a goal

 

Stoke City's marquee summer signing, Bojan Krcic
Stoke City’s marquee summer signing, Bojan Krcic

 

A Skoda car painted red and white parks up before the Salford City vs. Class of '92 match
A Skoda car painted red and white parks up before the Salford City vs. Class of ’92 match

 

Souvenir scarves for sale prior to the match between Salford City and the Class of '92
Souvenir scarves for sale prior to the match between Salford City and the Class of ’92

 

Souvenir programmes for sale prior to the match between Salford City and the Class of '92
Souvenir programmes for sale prior to the match between Salford City and the Class of ’92

 

A grid of stock pictures featuring players of the Class of '92, in action against Salford City
A grid of stock pictures featuring players of the Class of ’92, in action against Salford City

 

As always, the Championship season began a week before the Barclays Premier League. I journeyed up to Preston to cover their opening match against Notts County. On the face of it, this game didn’t seem to have much going for it. However, lovely backlit light and a last-minute equaliser made for a successful day’s work…

 

A general view of Preston North End's Deepdale Stadium
A general view of Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium

 

Curtis Thompson of Notts County arrives for the match against Preston as a substitute with his shirt around his head
Curtis Thompson of Notts County arrives for the match against Preston as a substitute with his shirt around his head

 

Tom Clarke of Preston (2L) gets amongst the action in the box
Tom Clarke of Preston (2L) gets amongst the action in the box

 

Joe Garner of Preston scores their late equaliser
Joe Garner of Preston scores their late equaliser

 

Joe Garner of Preston celebrates after scoring a late equaliser
Joe Garner of Preston celebrates after scoring a late equaliser

 

Notts County goalkeeper Roy Carroll looks annoyed as he removes his gloves after conceding a late equaliser
Notts County goalkeeper Roy Carroll looks annoyed as he removes his gloves after conceding a late equaliser

 

A grid of stock pictures from Liverpool's pre-season match against Borussia Dortmund
A grid of stock pictures from Liverpool’s pre-season match against Borussia Dortmund

 

Dejan Lovren of Liverpool (2L) celebrates with Emre Can (L), Jordan Henderson (C), Philippe Coutinho (2R) and Steven Gerrard (R)after scoring their 2nd goal
Dejan Lovren of Liverpool (2L) celebrates with Emre Can (L), Jordan Henderson (C), Philippe Coutinho (2R) and Steven Gerrard (R)after scoring their 2nd goal

The next competitive match for me was played in Cardiff, as the UEFA Super Cup came to town. Traditionally played in Monaco, this fixture pits the winners of the UEFA Champions League against the winners of the UEFA Europa League, in a bid to somehow determine which side could establish themselves as the best of the best. Gareth Bale returned to his home city, along with a whole host of Galacticos in the Madrid squad. It was an opportunity not to be missed…

Real Madrid fans welcome the team bus before their Super Cup match against Sevilla in Cardiff
Real Madrid fans welcome the team bus before their Super Cup match against Sevilla in Cardiff

 

Sevilla fans get into the spirit of things before the Super Cup match against Real Madrid
Sevilla fans get into the spirit of things before the Super Cup match against Real Madrid

 

James Rodriguez of Real battles with Aleix Vidal of Sevilla
James Rodriguez of Real battles with Aleix Vidal of Sevilla

 

Fernando Navarro of Sevilla grabs Gareth Bale of Real to stop him in his tracks
Fernando Navarro of Sevilla grabs Gareth Bale of Real to stop him in his tracks

 

A grid of stock pictures from the Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla
A grid of stock pictures from the Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla

 

Gareth Bale lifts the Super Cup trophy following Real Madrid's victory
Gareth Bale lifts the Super Cup trophy following Real Madrid’s victory

 

Real Madrid players celebrate their Super Cup victory
Real Madrid players celebrate their Super Cup victory

Then, before we knew it, the Premier League was back. First up on the agenda: Louis van Gaal’s first league match in charge of Manchester United following the departure of David Moyes towards the end of last season…

New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal and his assistant Ryan Giggs are depicted in illustrations on the front cover of the 'United We Stand' fanzine
New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal and his assistant Ryan Giggs are depicted in illustrations on the front cover of the ‘United We Stand’ fanzine

 

Masks of the face of new Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal are being sold on a souvenir stall before the first league match of the season
Masks of the face of new Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal are being sold on a souvenir stall before the first league match of the season

 

A Man Utd fan wearing clothes made solely from souvenir scarves
A Man Utd fan wearing clothes made solely from souvenir scarves

 

New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal steps down from the bench before his first league game in charge
New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal steps down from the bench before his first league game in charge

 

New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal looks on before his first league match in charge
New Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal looks on before his first league match in charge

 

Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea (2L) celebrates with teammate Jonjo Shelvey of Swansea after scoring their 1st goal
Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea (2L) celebrates with teammate Jonjo Shelvey of Swansea after scoring their 1st goal

 

Adnan Januzaj of Man Utd battles with Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea
Adnan Januzaj of Man Utd battles with Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd scores their equaliser with an overhead kick
Wayne Rooney of Man Utd scores their equaliser with an overhead kick

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd (R) celebrates with teammate Nani after scoring their equaliser
Wayne Rooney of Man Utd (R) celebrates with teammate Nani after scoring their equaliser

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd celebrates his opening goal of the season
Wayne Rooney of Man Utd celebrates his opening goal of the season

 

A grid of stock pictures from Man Utd's opening Premier League match of the season, against Swansea City
A grid of stock pictures from Man Utd’s opening Premier League match of the season, against Swansea City

 

Juan Mata of Man Utd (L) and teammate Wayne Rooney both look concerned as they head to defeat
Juan Mata of Man Utd (L) and teammate Wayne Rooney both look concerned as they head to defeat

The next day, I went to Anfield, where Liverpool were taking on Southampton…

Ryan Bertrand of Southampton takes on Javier Manquillo of Liverpool
Ryan Bertrand of Southampton takes on Javier Manquillo of Liverpool

 

Graziano Pelle of Southampton battles with Martin Skrtel of Liverpool
Graziano Pelle of Southampton battles with Martin Skrtel of Liverpool

 

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool tussles with Maya Yoshida of Southampton
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool tussles with Maya Yoshida of Southampton

 

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool scores their winning goal past new Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool scores their winning goal past new Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster

And then Monday night football completed my opening weekend of the Premier League season when I drove up to Turf Moor in Burnley, with Chelsea the visitors…

Diego Costa of Chelsea arrives at Turf Moor for their game against Burnley
Diego Costa of Chelsea arrives at Turf Moor for their game against Burnley

 

Excited fans greet the Burnley and Chelsea players as they arrive for the match
Excited fans greet the Burnley and Chelsea players as they arrive for the match

 

Eden Hazard of Chelsea battles with Scott Arfield of Burnley
Eden Hazard of Chelsea battles with Scott Arfield of Burnley

 

Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their 1st goal
Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their 1st goal

 

Diego Costa of Chelsea adjusts his shirt collar
Diego Costa of Chelsea adjusts his shirt collar

 

A grid of stock pictures from Burnley's opening league match, against Chelsea
A grid of stock pictures from Burnley’s opening league match, against Chelsea

 

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