With Euro 2008 now only a matter of days away (although, if we're being pedantic, it's always been only a matter of days away, depending on your chosen unit of time measurement) Early Döorß is busily assembling its fantasy football team using the brilliant, if puzzlingly Germanic, eurosport.yahoo.co.uk Euro 2008 Fantasy Football game.
And having taken time out from sweating over the fitness of Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop and hoping 38-year-old Ivica Vastic can replicate the form he showed in Austria's 5-1 thrashing of Malta last week, Early Döorß is proud to present its guide to the many weird and wonderful faces of the fantasy football enthusiast...
Floods his team with obscure squad players from teams like Poland, Russia and Romania just to prove he knows who they are and refuses to pick obvious big-name points scorers such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres because their presence in his team would seriously damage his football-swot credibility. Likely to spend the entire tournament seething that his ill-informed competitors are all beating him.
The Trash Talker
Talks up his chances weeks before the tournament is set to begin, despite having not watched a live game of football since about 1997. When picking his team he's surprised to find that Zinedine Zidane is no longer a member of the French squad, and doesn't really understand why Argentina aren't involved. Will likely finish last, whereupon he'll claim he wasn't really that bothered anyway and is actually much more of a cricket man.
Not a football fan by nature, The Statistician nonetheless constructs a surprisingly impressive team thanks to hours spent studying the qualifying round statistics on the UEFA website and thereby ascertaining that Holland's Wesley Sneijder can be relied upon for more shots on target than any other midfielder and that Romania's Paul Codrea is best avoided because he has a higher yellow-cards-to-minutes-on-pitch ratio than any other player at the tournament.
Typically female, The Novice is coerced into picking a team by enthusiastic colleagues/friends and resolutely abides by selection criteria based on attractiveness of kit and silliness of name (thereby guaranteeing the popularity of Romanian full-back Razvan Rat and Austrian midfielder Christian Fuchs). Doesn't fully understand how fantasy football - or, indeed, football - works, but will still finish comfortably ahead of The Expert.
The Jammy Git
Will leave his team to the very last minute and then infuriate everyone by just happening to select the Team of the Tournament three weeks before it's actually announced. The kind of innocently unknowing opportunist who picked free-scoring defenders like Joleon Lescott and Martin Laursen at the beginning of the last Premier League season, he'll probably win his mates mini-league despite leaving his team untouched from the first round of matches onwards.
Tries to adopt the insouciance of The Jammy Git, despite everyone knowing he is spending hours on his team selection and is desperate to do well. Will lose sleep over whether Lukas Podolski is guaranteed a starting berth alongside Miroslav Klose in the Germany team, and can be found obsessively reading and re-reading team news pieces in order to decipher hitherto undiscovered hidden meanings in the word 'doubtful'.
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At this stage of proceedings, Early Döorß would like to express its genuine, heartfelt, don't-wait-for-a-punchline-because-there-isn't-going-to-be-one admiration for Aston Villa, who've just announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Birmingham-based kids charity Acorns.
Like their claret and blue counterparts over at Barcelona - who currently bear the logo of Unicef on their shirts - Villa will display the charity's name free of charge for the whole of the 2008-2009 season, thereby striking a blow for decency in a league awash with grubby-fingered agents, loose-moralled foreign owners and infantile millionaire footballers who idolise gun-toting hip hop stars with all the unabashed gusto of pre-pubescent McFly fans.
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Speaking of loose-moralled foreign owners, Mark Hughes was confronted with the footballing equivalent of Catch-22 when forced to consider apparently competing bids for his services from Chelsea's Roman Abramovic and Manchester City's Thaksin Shinawatra.
That he chose City in order to somehow further his career will seem incongruous to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the club's spectacular lack of success over the last 40 years, while his hopes of one day succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United can only be harmed by whatever he achieves at City.
Succeed, and he'll become hated by the United fans for being the man to restore their city rivals to former glories. Fail, and he'll join a long list of promising up-and-coming managers who failed at supposed big clubs faster than you can say David O'Leary.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm very intelligent" - Jose Mourinho on how he learned Italian so quickly ahead of being named coach at Internazionale, thereby demonstrating that, along with ants and cockroaches, his arrogance would probably be one of the few things on earth to survive a nuclear apocalypse.
FOREIGN VIEW: Good news for Everton fans, who won their first title in 32 years last night, ending years of heartbreak and providing the faintest glimmer of hope that their long-held inferiority complex might soon be a thing of the past. Sadly for fans of the Toffees, Early Döorß is of course referring to the Everton who defeated Colo Colo 3-0 to clinch the Chilean Apertura championship, rather than their 'People's Club! People's Club! Don't forget to mention we're the People's Club!' Merseyside namesakes.
TALKING POINT: Following on from Aston Villa's example, what is the nicest thing you've ever seen in football?
Paolo Di Canio passing up on an open goal to allow Everton goalie Paul Gerrard to receive treatment for an injury? Robbie Fowler trying to dissuade referee Gerald Ashby from awarding a penalty he'd just won with a dive in a game at Arsenal? Or maybe, like Early Döorß, you prefer watching the video footage of John Terry's post-Champions League final tears on an infinite loop while cackling manically and stroking a nearby cat.
And in the wake of the stellar success of yesterday's tell-us-who-you-hate thread, feel free to keep the abuse coming.
lewishoward_candj earns an honourable mention for his impeccable taste in morons, if not for his spelling:
"List of Muppetts:
Chris Moyles - not funny, just fat.
Tim Westwood - need i say more.
Ashton Kutcher - Who likes him?
Adam Sadler - I would just like to punch him.
Rio Ferdinand - Drugs cheat
Ricardo Carvaleo (however you spell it) - looks like a weasel"
COMING UP: All the latest Euro 2008 news, more fabricated transfer rumours than you can shake a big stick at in Transfer Talk and, if you don't like football (and well done for getting this far if you don't), there's quarter-final action from the French Open tennis.
- fantasy football