David Copperfield

Loan sharks

After lying dormant but restless for one long week, the life of a Fantasy Football manager erupts into life today. As we throw ourselves once again into transfers, often making a simple financial transaction an angst-ridden rollercoaster of internal negotiation and buyer’s remorse, I for one am glad that we are spared the credit-crunch worthy machinations of loan deals to worry about as well.  I’m moved to muse on this by the recent revelation that Chelsea have 26 players out on loan, many of them young starlets who have been plucked from around the world only to be kept in glass-fronted stasis at their own clubs or faceless feeder teams. It is as if Roman Abramovich has recently seen ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and fancies himself as a real life ‘Collector’, sending mercenaries round the Cosmos to bring him mysterious artifacts and jewels. Not to use in a nefarious scheme, just to gaze on them and know that they are his.

It is the football equivalent of seducing another man’s wife, hanging an opulent necklace round her neck to flaunt your ownership then lending her back to the poor, broken cuckold for him to follow her round the house like a lost puppy so he can still make one-sided love to her every week but knows that each moment of pleasure is hollow, eating away at the finite number of days he has until he has to return her to the rich new owner’s yacht. Breathe. Breathe. It’s ok, she’s gone now.

Even my beloved Liverpool have got on the act, rolling the child snatcher’s cage round to Lille to lure Divock Origi with a handful of sweets then leaving him there to prance around French fields for another season. It must be confusing for the keen young colts who are thrown into this strange limbo –  funded by a strange, far off benefactor like a nutmegging David Copperfield. Packed off to boarding school away from their stepfather’s sight until they mature into men of use, not knowing how long they will have to wait until they are finally allowed to follow the other grown ups to the cigar room after dinner. Perhaps in the simple existence of today’s young superstars, they just run around in ignorant bliss, giving no more thought to who owns them than a prized thoroughbred does as long they are allowed to gallop along with their tongues out and are plied with regular hay and Bentleys.

I like to try the same trick at my local newsagent. Buying all of the best chocolate bars, which we all know means the Twixes and Kit Kats, but then allowing the long-suffering shopkeeper to place them back on the shelf next to the inferior Bounties and Double Deckers for others to stare at wistfully, even sniff the wrapping if they feel bold, but never fully enjoy. I like to sit in my palatial manager’s dugout warm with the knowledge that the finest products in the shop are mine, taking pleasure in the shopaholic rush of purchase without the less interesting after service of having to carry them home or find a space in the cupboard to put them in.

So, I am now offering the same service to my fellow fantasy managers. Through my pre-2013 Wenger tactics of putting false hope in inferior players and keeping my transfer purse closed tighter than an Italian waiter’s apron pulling his belly in, I have found myself with a surfeit of cash. So, I’m more than willing to give up this season as lost, claiming it as a development season as Ferrari’s spin doctors do in F1, and use my cash to buy up any starlets owned by other managers on the understanding that only I can come back and claim back my property in the future.

Of course when next season comes around, I will probably just invest in a new wave of short-term galactico investments which, shiny and new as Buzz Lightyears, will surely push last year’s Christmas presents behind the bed (an image comes to mind of John Guidetti lying forlorn next to Woody, covered in dust). Until, years later, I am only reminded that I happen to own them by finding a wad of contracts stuffed into an old photo album, like lost Premium Bonds bought for a child’s first birthday, found when they are 43. Enjoy the simple transfers while you can, because when Fantasy Premier League see the potential of this idea (sent to them as a suggestion form made with cut out letters from magazines as they demand), Fantasy loans are about to get real.