It's Only A Game!
So, we are once again doomed to spend the next nine months waiting impatiently, dreaming of what might be when next June comes around, when we can once again gossip, snipe, wildly speculate and divide ourselves into warring factions (personally, I side with the People`s Front of Aston, and will not tolerate those splitters from the Astonian People`s Front).
The soon-to-be-locked transfer window (which, in keeping with the latest political fashion accessory - energy efficiency - really ought to be double-glazed as soon as possible) can be a frustrating time, but not just for fans. Managers must choose carefully which players they want to illegally tap-up. Players must decide which of their fifty Bentleys to drive to training sessions, and which of their numerous flunkeys will do their running for them when they get there. And spare a thought for the multi-billionaires who must weigh up which teams are in a state woeful enough to welcome their illegally-amassed currency.
So as we wistfully look back at a classic few months of no football, let`s view it from some other perspectives. See if you could have fared any better with Vital Villa`s cut-out-and-throw-away Pre-Season Multiple Choice Put Yourself in Their Shoes Quiz Thingy. And remember: it`s only a game.
You are whimsical managerial genius Martin O`Neill. You have been promised so much transfer money that God recently asked you to help Him clear a gambling debt with Zeus. How are you going to blow your wad?
a) Spazz it all on the 22 well-coiffeured, world-class internationals who in late May understandably began beating on the doors of Villa Park demanding entry to the world`s most successful and fashionable club, rendering the rest of the Premiership so uncompetitive that we become the only team to knock itself off the top of the league, just to add a bit of excitement
b) Fashion the wads of cash into a comfy sofa upon which to place your unconcerned arse for the duration of the summer, unless West Ham decide to sell someone shit, in which case one of your buttocks will just have to go unsupported
c) Spend the money on Ovaltine, and use the change to get Titus Bramble on a six-minute loan
d) Try to sign some decent footballers, often being thwarted by the inconvenient fact that several hundred clubs worldwide are attempting the same thing, almost as if they stole the idea off you or something.
You are microscopic free-kick mastermind Shaun Maloney. Rumours abound that you are poised to return to your former club. You deny them. They reappear when a journalist runs out of things to fabricate. You deny them again. They resurface again when the journalist goes on holiday and sets his out-of-office assistant to 'continue writing unsubstantiated shite`. How do you react?
a) Demonstrate your unflinching commitment and desire for the Villa by publicly making passionate love to the Holte End in front of the world`s press
b) Demonstrate your unflinching hatred and contempt for the Villa by publicly wiping your arse on Gordon Cowans before returning to your former club
c) Hide inside Big John Carew until it all dies down, occasionally sticking out a foot to grab an unexpected tap-in that no slow-motion replay can fully explain
d) Continue denying the rumour until your face turns conveniently claret.
You are a faithful Villa Park season ticket holder. You are indignant that there are so-called 'so-called Villa fans` who do not plough enough of their money into the club for your liking. How do you address these atrocities?
a) Invent a time machine and go back to each game 40,000 times, ensuring that the ground is filled with True Villa Fans (NB: Try not to give away the final score on visits 2 to 39,999)
b) Continue arguing that any spare income should be spent unselfishly to help out the higher noble cause of helping one football team perform better than some other football teams
c) Give up and start a new movement: The Campaign to Coerce People Who Claim to be Star Trek Enthusiasts to Buy Platinum-Plated Spock Ears
d) Realise that the phrases "I`ve got a family to raise," "my cocking council tax has gone up again," and "Mum`s liver got stolen by Eastern European organ traders and she needs a dialysis machine" are not selfish excuses which preclude the speaker from being a True Villa Fan, but real-life inconveniences which are more important than shouting at 11 men on a grass rectangle.
You are indolent Egyptian midfielder Hassan Ghaly. A manager who could have single-headedly ended the Irish famine of 1845 invites you to train with his team, with a view to a transfer. How to proceed?
a) Laugh hysterically in his potatoesque face, wee in his Thermos and cast a renewed Gypsy curse on the team`s stadium
b) Join the club, inexplicably turn into the world`s finest footballer, and win the treble
c) During training, invent the bicycle kick all over again whilst simultaneously thrashing Tim Henman at tennis and Steve Stride with your belt
d) Laughably decide that running is for proles, and refuse to get out of your chauffeured gold-plated pimpmobile unless Liam Ridgewell agrees to carry you around on a rickshaw.
You are oily Scandinavian sexpest Sven Goran-Eriksson. A deposed far-eastern megalomaniac dictator who has a habit of massacring people when feeling a bit grumpy has told you to dramatically improve his football team. No pressure, then. Whatcha gonna do?
a) Engage the entire first-team squad in a steamy affair, ending in a mass brawl when they all simultaneously discover your infidelity
b) Come up with a list of potential signings inspired by last night`s episode of You`ve Been Framed. Then unveil your stunning new signings, including A Twat and Two Pillocks Dancing at a Wedding
c) Tell the new owner how he should run the club, and swap tips on dealing with mass dissent using fear, propaganda and deceit
d) Stick some pins in a list of footballers up to the value of £40m, and fortuitously assemble a classy, continental team whose passing moves could make a feral wildebeest roll over and spontaneously ejaculate.
You are Villa`s very own Alistair Campbell, Richard FitzGerald. You are fully aware that Villa fans have been lied to by a staggeringly deluded despot for twenty-odd years, and are now so hysterically optimistic at his departure that they would gleefully nosh off a tramp if he promised them Villa would win the league. How will you manage their expectations?
a) Tell them not to expect miracles, and then perform them anyway by signing the formaldehyde-preserved Brazil team from 1970
b) Wheel and deal like a mouthy Sarf Lahndan market stall trader, and constantly gob off to the press about every tiny detail ("Jose Bosingwa`s wife quite likes the architectural aesthetics of the Bullring;" "Harewood was late for his medical because his lower intestine prolapsed during a rather strenuous poo") until our targets give up and sign for West Ham
c) Blab, boast and posture to the press about our 'attempts` to sign top-class players, but refuse to meet their valuations to the tune of £4.70, so that you can claim that you tried ever so hard to sign a world-beater even though you ended up with the footballing equivalent of Manuel from Fawlty Towers
d) Make an ill-advised boast about lining up world-class players before realising you should have just kept your bloody mouth shut as the lynch mobs assemble. Then continue to keep your bloody mouth shut.
You are Martin O`Neill again. A self-aggrandising infantile player with an ego bigger than the entire internet insists on a guaranteed first-team place because he has played more than ten games, and performed competitively in about half of them. Who goes? You decide.
a) Fix him with a steely gaze, invite him to "look into the eyes, the eyes; not around the eyes, look into the eyes," and subliminally coax him into being a happy squad member and not such a swaggering cock
b) Capitulate to his staggeringly deluded demands and play him every game, regardless of whether he is playing like Carlton Palmer with heavy concussion
c) Immorally clone him, removing any individuality, personality and free thought like they did with that Kiwi bloke in Star Wars. When you realise this works, apply it to the rest of the staff at Villa Park, and curse yourself for not having thought of it twenty years ago
d) Pack his bling-replete bags for him, and warn him of the potential perils of the door bruising his sunlight-emitting arse on the way out.
How did you get on?
You live in an idyllic parallel universe where trees are made of Belgian chocolate and all taxpayers are given an uninhibited, obedient clone of Natalie Portman.
You live in a hellish parallel universe of despair (known inter-dimensionally as The Disappointoverse) where we are all doomed to die alone and unloved in rotting bedsits, and where God has arbitrarily decreed that you - yes YOU, personally - must never again be allowed to feel the unfettered joy of victory.
You are either on drugs (please send me your drugs), Doug Ellis (please piss off), or Doug Ellis on drugs (please send me your drugs and piss off).
Congratulations! You have discovered the Real Universe, where some things go to plan and others inconveniently don`t, and where football is only a game. Please drive carefully.