Premier League and its players enter unknown territory after World Cup | Jonathan Wilson

Usually there’s a month off for players to reset but this time it’s just days for those coming off Qatar’s highs and lows

It is late at night when the four hobbits arrive at the Brandywine Bridge. They are shocked to find it barred and they have to plead with the Shirriffs to let them in. The Shire has changed since they went away, trees chopped down, old buildings swept aside, the inns closed. Sandyman’s Mill has been replaced by an ugly new building, full of noisy machinery that pollutes the air and the river. This is not the homecoming they have dreamed of.

Merry blows the horn given him by Éowyn of Rohan and they raise the Shire then scour it but, still, there is a sense of anticlimax. After everything they have been through on Mount Doom, there is an unavoidable bathos about such mundane concerns and, after a time, Frodo, still grappling with the physical and psychological consequences of his quest, departs, granted passage to the blessed realms of Valinor.

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