Barclays Fantasy Football 2013/14 – Top Tips


arclays Fantasy Football 2012/13 was my annus horribilis. I should have known that my egotism and vanity in labelling myself the Warren Buffett of the Barclays Fantasy Premier League would come back to bite. Actually divine retribution had nothing to do with it; rather, the astonishing individual performances of Van Persie, Michu and Bale, all of whom I ignored for too long, overly deterred by their hefty values.

2012/13 was certainly a year that favoured concentrating your resources on a few individuals and less on a balanced approach. Defences were particularly poor with four point clean sheets markedly reduced amongst the big four teams. It also favoured the aggressive players willing to lose four points in transfers to a greater extent than previous seasons.

Anyway, although my 2012/13 was not great by my own Buffett standards, being the saddo and egotist that I am, I felt the need to reveal my 'Top Tips' for 2013/14 (not that different from 2012/13); adherence to which I reckon will stand you in good stead throughout the season.

Should Wenger unlock Arsenal's war chest for 2013/14?


f you're Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen or the perma-tanned, newly buffed up, terrified of old age, Gary Lineker then the answer to the question is yes siree. After all 'Arsenal have 'NOT WON ANY TROPHIES FOR EIGHT YEARS'. Yes that's eight years: an age; a lifetime; an eternity. For many – not just the Match of the Day Holy Trinity – this state of affairs simply cannot continue and Arsenal must spend big to win competitions again.

Now, I'm not overly keen on the use of the phrase 'Arsenal have not won any trophies for eight years', which you might guessed, as it implies that Arsenal have underachieved in this period. I find this odd when you consider that Arsenal's net spend on transfers (not player wages admittedly) over the past eight years has been just £9 million; far less than the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea and less than the likes of Aston Villa and Sunderland. In fact on a transfer spend to league position ratio Arsenal have overachieved not underachieved. Mr Moneyball Billy Beane is impressed!

Sir Alex Ferguson's Dying Glory


ike many across the country I'm not particularly fond of Sir Alex Ferguson. This wasn't always the case. Whilst I've never been particularly fond of his feverish chewing of Wrigley's Extras; his lack of graciousness in defeat; and the sense I have that his views of family and loyalty are not that far removed from Don Corleone, I used to be able to gloss over these traits and focus on the fact that he had an overwhelmingly positive impact on English football in the mid- to late-1990s. I saw him as a footballing visionary who challenged conventional wisdom (well, Alan Hansen's dull-witted assertion: one of many) that 'you could not win anything with kids' and helped bring English football clubs back to the vanguard of European club football. I was also captivated by his Manchester United team of the late 1990s and early 2000s which played with a swashbuckling majesty that was beautiful to watch and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up on those wonderful Wednesday Champions League nights.

Grant Shapps's Love Bombs


eader beware! In May 2015 when the Coalition will finally call it a day and ask you and I to go to the polls, there is the real risk that you might be accosted by a man armed with a 'love bomb'. Mercifully the love bomb will not actually make you fall head over heels in love with its creator, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Grant Shapps, but it is not without potency. The love bomb has been designed to ensure that those of us who perhaps agree with one or two Conservative party policies, and have nagging doubts that Labour can't be trusted to manage the economy and the Liberal Democrats can't be trusted with anything, will vote Conservative.

Anyway, flippancy aside, the love bombs simply represent Grant Shapps's election strategy (as many have done before him) of encouraging the Conservative candidates in the key forty marginal constituencies in the 2015 General Election to become 'local champions'. As 'local champions' they will champion local issues and sympathise with the NIMBYs by, for example, opposing any proposed train line or any house building programme in the area, which might if enacted – best whisper it – result in house prices going down! What could be worse than that? Of course, if the candidates looked to their 'moral compass' (what a horribly sanctimonious phrase) they might well think that improving the creaking national transport infrastructure and building more houses were causes to endorse.

Horrid Facebook Updates


f Facebook is a reflection of its creator Mark Zuckerberg then it is a medium that one should treat with caution, trepidation and ideally circumvent. Indeed, if the murmurings and tittle-tattle about Zuckerberg (or the despotic and psychopathic Gaius Caligula as I like to imagine him given his uncanny resemblance to the young Caligula in 'I, Claudius' and his controlling behaviour in the Facebook float) are to be believed then Facebook, like its creator, is vain, self-aggrandising, mean and ultimately self-deluding. Perhaps that was a touch sensationalist of me as Facebook is not without benefits, although unlike Zuckerberg I don't quite view it as a harbinger of democracy, but hopefully it conveyed my belief that it does not on the whole accentuate the positive traits of humanity.

Now although Facebook has given an outlet for the vain, the bores, the needy, the dull and those lacking self-awareness, I have accepted the medium for what it is and realised that from a sociological and psychoanalytical bent, it is quite fascinating. I even feel a level of sympathy – I know that this is pretty patronising – for those who feel that they have to let people know that they are baking a cake or going on a 10k* run. Perhaps such individuals feel that if they don't update their Facebook statuses on a regular basis that they will cease to exist: I update my Facebook status therefore I am.