These are grim times ahead. Now that Swansea have reached their Premiership paradise the season is officially concluded and we face a long barren football-free summer. Our only sporting morphine will consist of a scowling Scotsman doing quite well at Wimbledon until he inevitably succumbs to Nadal and laughing at the daftly-dressed Henriettas at Royal Ascot.
After nearly two years of dramas, rumours, scandals, upsets, fixtures, fixtures, fixtures; a gloriously constant sensory bombardment from the media and opinionated mates alike…..suddenly there is nothing. We must endure an involuntary abstinence from what we love the most, and dolefully stare at Sky Sports in our pants as it transmits nothing of interest, as if it was a tear-stained photograph of a departed ex.
Where have you gone my lovely? All those stats and breaking news.
Don’t panic however because the Cutter, as ever, is on hand. We have devised a survival guide to ensure that this spell in the football wilderness is as short and pain-free as possible.
Firstly, keep telling yourself that it’s only sixty-eight days and that you are a man of patience and fortitude. Remember when she made you watch The Notebook? That fella from the Rockford Files just wouldn’t die would he? Yet you got through it with your sanity relatively intact. That weekend at her parents, when they’d obviously had a huge bust-up just before you arrived? Ditto. Big Brother 7? Okay, that was a long haul.
But crucially you made it. You survived. And with these handy tips it won’t seem long before the fixture list appears and the world makes sense again.
Start believing the transfer nonsense
During the season you are a rational man who knows full well that such a player is far beyond your club’s reach. Besides, didn’t the player recently sign a new six-year contract and declare that he is definitely staying put because his son with learning disabilities is settled and happy at the local school? And how the hell is your club – who were forced to off-load your only decent asset back in January just to pay the wages of the rest of the useless duffers he once called his team-mates – going to find the money to attempt such an audacious swoop? Pawning the cutlery from the canteen? The story is clearly nonsense and the ‘reporter’ responsible is almost mocking you.
During the summer months however the rules must change. Because it’s now in your best interests to believe – or at least pretend to believe – these fantastical rumours.
Not only that but to then regurgitate them down the pub, embellished with your own additional slant (‘I’ve heard he shares an agent with Owen, who is apparently willing to ‘do a Bellamy’ and drop down a division too….’). Your mates will similarly abandon reason as they too go along with the whole sorry charade.
Such delusions are a tried and trusted coping mechanism and no-one will judge you in August when your club instead signs an unknown rookie from Stevenage.
Invest excessive interest in the Under 21s
Normally it’s a tournament that would only garner a passing intrigue; an opportunity to see your club’s most promising youngster represent his country and feel the vague swelling of proud when he beats his Spanish marker and whips in a decent delivery.
Now though, starved as you are of quality footy, necessity becomes the mother of an invented passion. These are England’s young lions dammit going into battle. Failing to bedeck your entire living space with St George paraphernalia whilst intensely cheering on the likes of Nathan Delfouneso and Jack Cork until they go out to some pimply-faced Swedes would be as unpatriotic as befouling the Winston Churchill statue.
You are many things but you are not an anarchist.
Form your own Premier League
You haven’t played since you ‘did’ your knee on that dodgy five-a-side pitch at the Leisure Centre that’s long since closed down. Furthermore your fitness isn’t exactly what it once was. Your weekly alcohol consumption has been described as ‘dangerous, going on suicidal’ and the fifteen Marlboro Lights a day make your chest wheeze when you do anything more strenuous than make a sandwich.
Yet needs must. To paraphrase Ivan Drago, if you die, you die.
Getting together two hundred and twenty fellow wastrels won’t be easy but rest assured they are out there. And once each are designated a team, and the fixture list is compiled, in theory at least, the rest will fall into place.
A variety of local playing fields are commandeered twice a week with your long-suffering other halves roped in to act as your club’s supporters. The City girlfriends do the Poznan, the ‘Stoke’ player’s sisters/wives (no-one is quite sure) belt out Delilah, whilst the Bolton ladies remain silent throughout.
Here is your chance to personally put right your heroes’ wrongs. Here is your opportunity to be Berbatov and actually run into the channels. Or Downing and beat a man.
Who knows, things may escalate and your play-pretend on the pitch might bleed into reality? You may find yourself chatting up your best friend’s fiancée. Or start leaving your blinged-up car in disabled bays. Or even calling your local brothel and asking after the oldest gall they’ve got.
Buy a Match of the Day box-set
One of the worst aspects of the off-season is that your missus inevitably senses weakness as you sit and sulk on a Saturday night and pounces, taking sole possession of the remote control. Suddenly the natural balance is disturbed, the compromise that was amicably struck some time ago – that you silently endure life’s flotsam warbling and crying in a glorified talent contest then she leaves you in peace for the football – is broken. You feel emasculated and worse yet now she is threatening to make you watch a late night film with subtitles about some girl who meets some guy but then the girl gets sick and dies.
Steps need to be taken and reassuringly they do not need to be drastic. All you require is a little imagination.
The best of the 60s, 70s, and 80s are available for pretty cheap on DVD although, for authenticities sake, they should be rationed out hourly on Saturday evenings only. Ideally persuade a couple of mates to sit around with you dressed in garish dad-shirts and smothered in walnut tans spouting banal bollocks every ten minutes.
This coping strategy is particularly beneficial to Coventry City fans who will be delighted to see their club back in the top flight once more. They will scream the place down at Ernie Hunt’s donkey kick.
It’s not so good for young Man United supporters however who’ll be perplexed as to why the team in red who win every week keep being referred to as ‘Liverpool’.
Develop a new-found love of cricket
It would in truth solve everything but be warned. Cricket is a gateway drugs that can lead to Midsomer Murders, voting Tory, and liking the solo albums from each member of Pink Floyd.