Like 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.
Reader 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.
If 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.
Unfortunately, the opening three weeks have been distinctly unfruitful for me in Barclays Fantasy Football. Rooney and Taylor (Neil) picked up injuries; Clark was sent off; and Kagawa and Hazard confounded my prediction that they would need a period of adjustment to the rough and tumble of the Premier League. Instead, Shinji and 'Azard' (I love the pronounciation; I imagine myself on a Stella Artois advert behaving in louche manner when I say it) have gone about their work like billy-o and established themselves as the principle inventive fulcrums for their two clubs.
These misfortunes have forced me into the desperate act of 'whacking out' my wildcard, which has given me no pleasure whatsoever as this is not something that should used readily. Certainly not after three weeks. Indeed, in my previous Barclays Fantasy Football seasons I played my wildcard around the 30-week mark. I felt forced to play it at this early juncture as, without losing points in transfers, I would have not reached my desired line-up until around the week 8 mark – a little too long to wait. Of course, I still hold myself in greater esteem than all those idiotic, short-termists who have already used their wildcard!
As I hold myself out to be the Warren Buffet of the Barclays Fantasy Premier League, I thought that it was only fair to pass on my wisdom in this arena to each and every one of you. Actually, the real reason is that I need another outlet to satisfy my vanity. The Ten Commandments of Barclays Fantasy Football are as follows:
1. Do not waste points on transfers barring exceptional circumstances
I'm always amazed at the large number of people who employ this tactic believing that they are guaranteed to hit the jackpot and score a hundred-plus points if only they could have a particular line-up that week. The only certainty is that you will lose four points, which really adds up during the course of the season if done on a regular basis.