It’s inevitable. The Olympics are long over, you’re starting to run out of money and, with all the excitement of becoming a (college) parent, you’re becoming a bit college-sick and already kind of looking forward to the start of Michaelmas.
What better way to solve your end of summer blues though, a friend posts on your wall, than to join the fantasy football league he’s starting up. Why not, you think to yourself, after all, it is free and, secretly, you’ve always thought of yourself as a future ‘special one’ and dreamt of one day being successful enough to own a coat as long as Arsene Wenger’s.
You spend the first few minutes reminding yourself which teams are actually still in the Premier League, and desperately trying to remember who that great young talent you heard people rave about during Euro 2012 was.
All this whilst admitting to your friends that you don’t really know much about football, so this should be a bit of fun, and secretly poring over summer transfer news in search of someone to give you the edge. This is Oxford, there’s no such thing as non-competitive.
You fill in the registration form, honestly believing that you’ve got a decent chance of (a) winning this thing, (b) being able to maintain such a thorough review of player profiles and possession charts once term starts. Don’t be fooled. Yes, your team looks excellent on paper, despite the fact it comprises mainly of players who either top the value list or have recently appeared on a tabloid front page. However, not even the wittiest team name (stop chuckling, it’s not that funny) can save you from the football hipster who will invariably come to top your league.
As the first few rounds of games progress, you sit back and wait for your team to work their magic, before spending the final hours of each weekend sobbing into the sheepskin coat you’d bought in an attempt to add credibility to your managerial career. While you bemoan the low-points-scoring performances of Vidic, Kompany, Silva, Aguero et al., get ready to put up with the aforementioned hipster who is eager to remind you that he has watched Carl Jenkinson since he was captain of the Finnish U-19s, and has known of Michu’s goal-scoring prowess ever since his 14 second wonder goal against Madrid last September.
Having rarely suffered the ignominy of losing, you drastically turn to Guardian Football Weekly in the hope of learning whether Swansea and Everton will continue their good start, if Southampton’s Emmanuel Mayuka could be this season’s Papiss Cisse, and whether Cisse will be last season’s Fernando Torres. In all the excitement though, you forget that Rooney will be out for another few weeks and isn’t playing, so end up losing again.
By this point, you’ve forgotten mealtimes and have turned to your 10 year old cousin, who has twice taken Accrington Stanley to the Champions League Final on Football Manager, for advice on whether to stick with Patrice Evra and Gareth Bale or transfer them for Ryan Bertrand and Damien Duff. Throughout all of this, you keep telling yourself that “it’s all just a bit of fun” and “I’m better than them at real football anyway”. Then you realise it’s either this or your vacation reading list, and get ready for a fresh title assault in September.