With just over a week to go before the scheduled resumption of the A-League, and after the release of the "ground-breaking 11-point plan" to "transform" the game, and awaken "Australian sport's sleeping giant", perhaps it's time to take stock of where we are at.
The resumption, and conclusion, of the 2019-20 season is an important start in returning things to something approaching normality. Some will treat the remaining four to six games with the passion of greeting a long-lost love, others as a matter of course, tidying up some loose ends before a completely new start.
Some are, through circumstances not necessarily of their own making, caught betwixt and between. Adelaide and Brisbane, for example, are well positioned for a tilt at finals football, but won't have their European coaches returning after they left the country during the first wave of COVID-19. An interim coach, hope for the best, and start afresh with a new gaffer next season?
Some clubs won't have their international players returning for a two-week quarantine, a rapid-fire four or five matches, and another quarantine to face when they return home, if they are uncontracted for next season. Let's be honest. Some clubs, either out of contention, or a peripheral chance at best, will choose to save the wages.
The Jets' approach will very likely be decided by their results in the first two games back, and other results involving teams ahead of them on the ladder. Coach Carl Robinson has already indicated he will experiment with some of his youngsters if and when finals participation becomes impossible.
Their remaining matches are scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, away to Sydney FC, then the Mariners away on Friday, May 24, before finishing the regular season with consecutive Sunday home games against Western United and Wellington on August 2 and 9 respectively. All games start at 7.30pm.
Predicting how teams will return after nigh on four months of inactivity and disruption, playing away from home in hubs, is an impossible science. The fact that crowd restrictions have been eased somewhat will help with atmosphere, but only eternal optimists would be anticipating a blockbusting conclusion to the campaign.
Which leads me neatly enough, to the promise land. No, that's not a spelling error, the promised land for football in this country seems further away to me than a however well-intentioned 56-page manifesto designed to transform the game. Call me a sceptic, a nark, but geez ... haven't we heard this before?
James Johnson is a very well-regarded administrator and has helped deliver the 2023 Women's World Cup in tandem with New Zealand. But that is a deadset snack in comparison to some of the 11 principles that are purportedly "the next step in not just the rebuild but the transformation of Australian football".
Some of the principles seem a little vague.
No.1. "Build a consistent, strong identity for Australian football which inspires all Australians." A noble concept or wish. Perhaps we can also deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, and perhaps help out with world peace on the way?
No.2. "Develop a new narrative that signifies a fresh start for the game in Australia." Didn't we experiment there with the establishment of the A-League, as the game re-invented (not invented itself, as some believe) in 2005? And alienate a generation who kept the game afloat, by devaluing their contributions over many years?
What does point No.6 mean exactly? "Create a strong culture around coach development." Only the strident survive? Don't have an alternative view!
If JJ can realise his plan "to have the Socceroos as the dominant force in Asia, and a regular top-15 ranked nation in the world, and the Matildas to be Olympic or World Cup champions" in the next decade and-a-half, well he's not just a brilliant administrator, he is the Messiah.