1/ The summer
Football should be played in rain, winter, snow and doom, and only made bearable by pies and the warm feeling a crowd gets when it decides it’s contributed to a team’s victory. To start the football season before 2009’s twat of a summer has become autumn is madness. The Ashes haven’t finished, strawberries still taste okay and thin layers of burnt skin are still peeling off our bodies.
2/ Productivity at work
The first few months of a new season are the only time you’ll bother with your fantasy league team, but you’ll do it with the fervour of a Nazi war prisoner digging his last hole before release. You’ll do it at work because there’s no way you’d waste home-time on it, and England’s economic infrastructure will inch towards liquidation.
3/ Saturdays and Sundays
Prepare to relinquish the freedom you gain when a football season ends and makes way for summer. Long Saturday and Sunday afternoons spent caring about nothing at all vanish the moment Mark Pougatch announced League One’s relegation favourites. The unbreakable chain linking you to Gary Lineker and his Match of the Day chums is attached to your ankle and Tim Lovejoy has swallowed the key. And as we all know, Tim Lovejoy never shits.
4/ Friendships with rival fans
The charade of harmless banter you’ve got going with your buddy who supports a team of kiddy fiddlers (Arsenal) will return quicker than you can say “but we always get on so well in the summer”. Yeah, well you better get used to the goading dude, because football’s back and it matters more than anything.
5/ Girlfriend time
Tell her soon that your weekend picnic schedule is coming to an end right now. Don’t tell her you only organised them to stop yourself getting excited about transfer rumours. But now there’s football every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with the occasional European Wednesday and Thursday thrown in so, really, you might as well say your goodbyes and get Jeff Stelling as your desktop background instead.
6/ Rational arguments
Football is no place for a well-argued point. Random hatred, however, is more than welcome. Man: “Nah mate, John O’Shea is shite.” Other man: “But, he’s won loads of medals and is a regular first team player for one of the best teams in Europe.” Man: “Yeah, but he’s bollocks.” Other man: “But, he’s shown a lot of versatility over the years and Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager of the modern era, clearly trusts him.” Man: “Yeah, but he’s fucking shit.”
7/ Intelligent punditry
There are good football pundits, like Alan Hansen. And there are bad ones, like Steve Claridge. No one needs Claridge to tell them that Man United will be weaker this year because they’ve lost Ronaldo and Tevez. And no one needs Robbie Savage to conclude that Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres and the key to Liverpool’s season. And there’s no way on earth that anyone needs Ian Wright to remind them why English football fans are treated like individual strands of Ebola when they go abroad.
8/ Illuminating phone-ins
Try listening to talkSPORT for half an hour on a Saturday evening. It’s impossible. 606 isn’t much better. Football phone-ins are piles of dung that football-supporting flies congregate around. Alan Green: “Graham from Chiswick, what’s on your mind?” Graham from Chiswick: “Hi Alan, yeah, er, I just wanted to say that the referee today was a disgrace and if it wasn’t for him QPR would definitely be in the Premiership.” Alan Green: “But QPR didn’t even play today Graham.” Graham from Chiswick: “Yeah, I know, I never said they did. Prick.”