Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The stuff of fantasies...

Bring on Van Nistelrooy! Bring him on! What you doing?? Bring Van Nistelrooy ooooon!!

That was me the other night, watching the highly entertaining farce that was Portugal vs Holland. Not that I have a particular soft spot for the out-of-favour striker, nor one for Holland, although their acrobatics and contortions would impress me in a circus. No, the reason is that through a mixture of sagely wisdom, blind optimism and downright incompetence I have paid 11 million for him to be in my fantasy team.

If the suffering, indignity and sheer frustration of supporting England wasn't enough, millions of us think we can don our pundits hats and create the perfect team, myself included, in fantasy leagues across the world. But what does this inevitably lead to? In my case a bit of interest in otherwise fairly neutral games but mostly more suffering, indignity and frustration.

Unlike supporting England though, the fantasy team has an even crueller twist. A lacklustre England, with players like Lampard and Terry not quite gaining the form we know they're capable of, is hair-pull-outingly annoying but at the end of the day there's nothing we can do. We can half sit, half stand, try and pop our eyes out of our sockets whilst trying not to soil our smalls, damn Sven and Steve to Hell and back but ultimately we are impotent. We have that safety net, we know that despite all our smart answers and amazing solutions we will never ever get the chance to put our well thought out/pinched from the newspaper tactics into practice. But the fantasy team does not have that safety net. Who put as yet underachievers in the fried egg colours of the not so mighty Eggyweggywegs and kept them there? Well, it was me and it is only me to blame.

Every shot spooned into the air by Lampard is a cruel blow, and one that tears me in two directions - do I take him out? He's just not getting them in. But then will he suddenly find the kind of form that he's been threatening? If I take him out, no doubt he will. If I don't there's a good chance he won't. AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! And so the theme goes on for the rest of my team - brilliant stars who haven't quite been shining as bright as they normally would, roll up and join Eggyweggywegs. No, no need for points here , just come and languish a while. Ronaldinho, a surefire points machine - goals, assists, Brazilian clean sheets (football, think football...)- but what has he done so far? As I imagine Paul Daniels says all day long, not a lot. The points he's got me (as captain for a while may I add, until I realised he was doing nowt and captained young starlet Messi. Another great move - the following game he sat on the bench for 84 minutes)add up to somewhere around the sweet (fi)FA mark.

And what of Ballack? What a player - 23 shots in one game, an unbelievable feat. But how many of them went in? None of course. Have you ever heard of a man be denied 23 times in 90 minutes? I'm talking football here, not Jumpin' Jaks on the night of an England game. But it's the Lampard conundrum all over again - surely he's seconds away from that golden moment when it all slots into place, and then, bejeeeesus, can you imagine it? That'd be like, you know, at least 15 goals a game from him. That's if I take him out. Thing is after much deliberation I'll probably leave him in and he'll probabaly do nothing. He might continue with a niggling injury that may or may not keep him out of games, but will be small enough to give me hope and not change my midfield. Oh, woah is me.

To make matter worse, I missed the transfer deadline so that while everyone else's team is full to the eyeballs with Argentines, Germans and Brazilians, I faced the first knockout round with an Aussie in the team and a Pole on the bench, ready to, erm, stay at home if one of my players doesn't play. Like that bloody Van Nistelrooy for instance...

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