Well, if the reward for international football is a bumper week of Premier League football then I apologise to international football for all the rude things I have called it recently. What a week of action we've had, with some twists and turns, some slap and tickle, and some expert displays of boosting footballers' confidence in public!
Let's start in an unexpected way today. Just imagine how bad Sunderland against Burnley must have been to watch. 0-0 must have been the most guaranteed result of the day. It's nice to see Jermain Defoe back in the England squad though, if only as a reward for putting up with only being passed the ball about 25 times this season.
You know what? I'm going to try to be an optimist. As avid readers of the Ignorant Fan's column can attest to, I was immensely confused by Boro's purchases this summer. However, I am going to believe in the club. I am going to believe that Karanka's fights with senior players in March have been forgiven and forgotten...
I'm quite impressed with Mourinho's PR this summer. His arrival was greeted with questions about whether his inevitable sh*thousery would gel with the supposedly pristine image of Manchester United (not including Rooney and Giggs' infidelity issues, Keane's deliberate maiming of opponents and Fergie's constant whining of course). To counteract these doubts he is going out and buying any and all players with a rating of over 85 in FIFA 16.
Since Mark Hughes was appointed boss in May 2013, he has gone great lengths to distance his team from the perceived hoof-ball of Tony Pulis. Nobody can deny the effectiveness of Pulis' Stoke, but it was damn ugly to watch and Hughes made his intention to play a clearly different style of football from the off.
Knotted brows and shaking heads emerged from White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon; supporters bewildered and dumbstruck by what they had seen. Pouring out of the away end the Stoke fans scratched their heads and demanded of each other in disbelief: how on earth did we only manage to beat that shower by just the one goal?
Friday before last I was invited, along with a group of Leeds Commonwealth Games medallists, by The Lord Mayor and all at the City Council to a reception at the Civic Hall. There were eight athletes, and we raised a toast to the city's resounding success, which I believe it was claimed stood us in a very healthy position in the medal table by the end.
The decision to hire Hughes was not the most popular with Stoke fans at the time... The Potters have begun to move away from the somewhat outdated approach used during Pulis' reign at the Britannia and while the success of the system consolidated Stoke's position as a Premier League team, Hughes' ideas are helping to take them to the next level.
The Premier League title race took another twist at the weekend, but a win for table footers Fulham closed the gap between themselves and 14th placed Swansea. Just five points separate seven teams at the bottom of England's top tier, with the battle to stave off relegation expected to go down to the wire.
In the last five seasons, going back to 2008/09, five clubs have escaped relegation after being in the bottom three at the end of the transfer window. It would be very easy to assume that the sides which threw around the most money mid-season would be the ones to make the leap to safety, but that's not necessarily the case.