“Give a little, Take a little…  Let your poor heart break a little.” Sound advice from our boy Dean to newlyweds, and so I knew I had a responsibility to watch the X Factor on Sunday evening after my wife had let me listen to the Chelsea game for the entire duration of our drive back to London.

Yes, I know that sounds like the tired excuse of a man caught desperately fumbling the remote saying, “I’ve just turned it on, it was on this channel, I don’t even know who Dwayne Lamonte is…” But whatever, you watched it too.

But it got me thinking, the four judges in the X Factor (and for those of you who persist with faux-naivety, they are Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, the lovely Dannii Minogue and the lovelier still Cheryl) could be, from a Sunday evening frame of mind, seen to represent the notorious ‘big four’.

In a nutshell:

Simon Cowell as Man United.
He’s a tool. A right proper tool. And yet somewhere in amongst all that toolishness you have to hand it to him: at least he’s consistent. There really is no denying his success, and although it comes at a terrible global price and cheapens life on this planet, like Genghis Kahn, you can’t help but be impressed.

Simon, like Man U, has recognised that the ill-educated fanbase, and money, that lies in the States is worth plundering, and so he’s ostensibly emigrated there. Also, there’s an unfortunate smugness that radiates from both Simon and Man U that makes it difficult for normal human beings to look at them for more than four seconds without bleeding along the lower eyelids. It’s lonely at the top. Poor, lonely Simon Cowell.

Cheryl Cole as Arsenal.
She’s young, she’s easy on the eye, and when it comes down to it, she’s really only there to make up the numbers. But nobody minds because there’s nothing wrong with a bit of eye-candy. Also this season, Arsenal could help out Chelsea by giving Man U a good spanking. Which Cheryl could do to our left back, to the same effect.

Dannii Minogue as Liverpool.
Obviously she’s mutton dressed as lamb who snuck through on an ancient reputation, but then you think, hang on, what reputation? Name me one Dannii Minogue hit. So you start thinking, what are they doing in the big four anyway? But then you remember you had an FHM Dannii Minogue calendar at university that was on the kitchen wall for two years straight, which is more loyalty than you’d get from a bloodhound with a nectar card. She stays.

Which leaves Louis Walsh as Chelsea:
Well, it’s tenuous, but he’s been the foil for Simon’s evil genius for the past six years, a sort of permanent supporting act that we’ve wanted to see win, but who’s only really had two golden moments, both with Irish Boybands. Which brings to mind Damian Duff in his prime.

Some say he’s too charming, that he lacks the necessary ruthlessness, others that he’s just been unlucky. All I can say is, if this comparison is accurate and Miss Frank win at Christmas, Chelsea are a shoe-in.

And finally we have Dermot as Man City.
He sort of hangs around, not really contributing much but often being mentioned at crucial moments, and there’s always far more bodily contact than is either reasonable or required.

But what does the future hold for this big four? Simon seems to be living on a reputation from a bygone era. Rather like Big Brother, the days of X Factor are numbered. The series has been around for six years but how many of those winners can you name? See? People are starting to realise that the prize isn’t as life-changing as Simon says. Which will inevitably lead to the fall of a once mighty British staple. His days at the top are numbered.

And that’s enough dubious comparison between X Factor and the Premier League.

As an aside, has anyone else noticed the expression ‘stonewall penalty’ cropping up increasingly on MotD and in post match interviews? I always thought stonewalling meant delaying, or stalling. Stonewall tactics were used by politicians to dodge a question. Now it seems to mean obvious, as in: as clear as a stone wall. You could see it from space. But if you’re going that way, why stop at a wall? They’re not that obvious, I know one that’s so covered in moss you don’t see it until it’s wedged between your axles. Why not choose something that really stands out? A sore thumb penalty, a dodgy-prawn penalty, or a fresh-turd-in-a-friend’s-baby’s-nappy penalty. Now that’s a penalty.

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