BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 27)

Can we chill yet? The double game week of 26 was absolutely mind boggling on all fronts. Triple captains, pep roulette and inevitable injuries all playing a big part in and long and weird fixture set. The general consensus seems to be one of underwhelming disappointment across the board for a lot of managers. It was a game week that was billed as the greatest ever but the average score, although it is high at 75, contradicts that massively considering nearly all the teams played twice. The question this week is

ARE DOUBLE GAMEWEEKS MORE OF A HINDERANCE THAN A HELP? Let me know.

Having said all that, am I happy with our team’s performance and points outcome? Absolutely. We’ve made good ground scoring an excellent 109 points and subsequently cutting the office league leaderboard to just 12. Ironically, that 12 points is the minus starting point we took with 4 transfers but it was necessary. We wouldn’t have been anywhere near the 100 point mark without it. Speculate to accumulate and all that.

The triple captain card used on Harry Kane yielded 24 of the points total which, when using that chip, you would expect as a bare minimum. In all honesty, I would have liked a bit more from it but maybe that’s just shameless greed. The big points came from our 3 defenders; Maguire, Stones and Digne, all of whom scored double figures which I’m obviously thrilled about. The latter, Digne, was an inspired change and inclusion who turned out to be an excellent differential – Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

Scoring 100+ points in any week is a superb return and is usually the result of a collective team contribution. It turned out to be just that.

LOOKING AHEAD.

There’s yet another double gameweek in GW27…….. for Manchester bloody city. Is it even a doubler? Pep has two world class sides at his disposal which he tends to utilise when his team have more than 1 match in a week. This was evident in game week 26 and will likely be the same in 27. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pick City players, quite the opposite, they are in blistering form and are probably the only team worth watching in the league – A league they will win at a canter. It’s simply picking the right ones which is the difficulty.

Elsewhere, it’s back to basics for the rest. Spurs at home to Crystal Palace could be a point scorer along with Liverpool versus Fulham, despite the reds very patchy form. Outside shouts would be Arsenal at Burnley, the gunners have had a few decent results of late, someone like Saka maybe a good option and wouldn’t break the bank.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

It’s another negative start for us this week, a theme that will likely be running until the end of the season now. Our bench is simply too weak to make substitutions. This time it’s a -8 so a slight improvement on last week.

Vrydra of Burnley replaces Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a cash make way. This make way was to supplement the return of Kevin De Bruyne who comes in for Rashford. The third and final change is TOON related, Ryan Fraser comes in as straight swap for fellow magpie Allan Saint-Maximin who has taken another tumble. It’s a good chance for the Scot to show what he can do, bag me some points and you know my Newcastle United representation is important despite the team’s clear short comings and poor performances on the pitch. Hey ho.

These changes mean we revert to a 3-5-2 formation – The same again from the defenders would be very welcome.

In terms of captaincy, KDB will be the skipper purely on the grounds he has a (small) chance of playing 2 games in the week. Kane will be vice.

TIKI TAKA PASS PASS PASS

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 26)

Hello all, welcome.

We are still ticking along very nicely this season. 73 points in GW25 in an week’s average of 55 was an excellent return. Still 19 points off the office top spot but in a good position going into a massive double game week.

To be honest, things weren’t looking too clever going into the middle of the weekend, my rivals had doubled up on Leeds and Southampton players. I was banking on Newcastle United’s ineptitude and we were along way behind until the magpies faced Man U but, as expected, Rashford and Fernandes (captain) pulled us through. The pair accounted for 36 points of our total which was spot on. Getting my captain pick right was crucial to the strategy and luckily it paid off.

The one double player I did have was Bamford of Leeds which bought in another 8 points. It was a risky strategy not doubling up and I know the others around me scored slightly more for the week. What sticking with what I had now gives me is a clear path and a strong team going into the MASSIVE double game week of 26. My rivals will have to make a lot of changes which will incur subsequent negative starting points.

That all being said, in true fantasy football style I can’t rule out a number of tinkering transfers and minuses of my own despite our already decent looking lineup for this week.

LOOKING AHEAD

I’ve had my eye on game week 26 for a while. There’s a HUGE 17 game fixture set meaning 14 of the 20 Premier League teams have 2 matches. This is the chip playing territory and, as it’s the only one I have left, I’m certainly considering the TRIPLE CAPTAIN.

Tottenham, Everton, Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Leicester are, what I consider, the main sides with good double fixtures. It’s a embarrassment of riches to choose from and it’s easy to be swept away in endless amounts of transfers in order to take advantage. But, you don’t want to miss out, you can’t miss out! You know your rivals are also tinkering and looking to cash in. These weekends don’t come around often, when they do you need to make the most of them.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

🚨ALERT ALERT ALERT🚨 – THE TRIPLE CAPTAIN CARD HAS BEEN ACTIVATED. Yes, that’s right, our last chip of the season is in play with the honour of the most important armband going to Harry Kane – Who else in all honesty. Although there maybe other big double gamers further down he track, two extremely inviting fixtures against Burnley and Fulham can’t be missed out on. Let’s just hope A) he’s fit and B) he’s bangs in a shitload of goals and creates some for Son while he’s at it.

In other (significant) news, we’ve made 4 transfers meaning a -12 start, our largest negative starting point of the season. When i said earlier that the team didn’t need much TLC, that was right but, when weeks like this come around you can afford to throw the boat out a little to take full advantage.

The transfers are as follows…

NECO WILLIAMS for AARON CRESSWELL (Cash builder)

LUCA DIGNE for ANTONIO RUDIGER

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN for PATRICK BAMFORD

OLLIE WATKINS for MICHAIL ANTONIO.

These changes now mean all 11 starting players have two matches. That coupled with the TRIPLE CAPTAIN make for a pretty formidable force and it’s now a week I’m looking forward to immensely. We’ve really gone for it this week, only time will tell as to whether it’s paid off. In terms of a gamble, I don’t think the tactics applied are a massive risk simply because most fantasy football managers up and down the land will have the same mindset. Capitalising is definitely the running theme this week.

I’ve mentioned the captain picks, but if Kane is (inexplicably, disastrously, inhumanly) unavailable for whatever reason, Fernandes will take the reigns as vice. Our sole Toon representative, Allan Saint-Maximin, will have to make do with a place on the bench. He only has one fixture and Newcastle’s form is terrible.

GET TO THE BYLINE.

DGW26 SQUADLIST

FC BARCELONA – THE NEXT CHAPTER?

Back in August, in the aftermath of one FC Barcelona’s most humiliating defeats, I wrote about the future of their talisman, skipper, star player Lionel Messi and the wider implications of him staying or leaving the Catalan giants. 6 months on, after another Champions League capitulation, I look at what has changed, if anything, and where the club can go from here.

Transfer Request

As we know, immediately after that infamous Bayern defeat, a Messi transfer request was submitted in the bizarre and well documented form of a fax – A move the Messi camp claim was the only way the club would take him seriously and listen. There is talk the Argentine had informally tried to set out his intentions of leaving a few times in the months previous which apparently, or quite clearly, fell on deaf ears. After much tit for tat from both camps, he stayed at the club, in what looks like, a mix of his family’s reluctance to move cities and club’s down right refusal to let him leave.

Messi still feels that if he’d taken the matter to a higher power, he would have been granted his wish to move on for free. But as a dark blot began to appear on his legacy sheet, the iconic number 10 decided not to take legal action against his employers – A motion that would have undoubtedly ruined a relationship forever and turned a small blot into a large, unwashable permanently marked streak. Through gritted teeth he remained and remains.

Financial Meltdown

What wasn’t public knowledge at the time of the Messi transfer saga was the extent of Barcelona’s financial troubles. 1.2 Billion euro’s in arrears with 730 million of it due in the short term. In Lehman’s terms, how does the club still exist!? It’s a montrous amount of debt, a debt that would have seen other organisations go to the wall a thousand times over.

The club claim the debt is a result of the pandemic, others would see it as a 5 year train ride headed for 2020’s cliff. The mismanagement of bad big money signings and a rocketing wage bill coupled with failing to prepare for an ageing squad at the end of a cycle. Basically, the papering over of huge playing side cracks. Yes, the pandemic has probably been an exacerbating factor but other European giants with far less world standing seem to be managing just fine.

With all this in mind, there’s one big question which sticks out like a sore thumb. With the vast majority of their budget going on player wages, how could they afford to keep Messi? Their highest (by far) earner. You would think letting him leave 6 months ago would have relieved some, if not a lot of the money burdens the club are facing. Is a 33 year old really that integral to the organisation if it puts the club’s long term future at peril? There’s no doubt Messi is still a money spinner of shirt sales, sponsorships and a prolific sell-out stadium merchant. His allure is still unrivalled. However, that isn’t much good in the midst of a global pandemic where fans are unable visit the stadium, museum and club shop.

The Season’s Plan

From Barcelona’s perspective, you could see what they were trying to do. Offload other high earners which would enable them to keep Messi and build a younger, more vibrant team for the future. The problem? Offloading these players. Coutinho, Griezmann and Dembele to name but a few proved difficult to get rid of and each of them still remain at the club. The financial situation has now become so bad that they cannot afford to play Coutinho in any more La Liga matches, for another 7 appearances would incur an automatic 10 million euro payment to his previous club, Liverpool. In today’s modern game, 10 million seems a small amount. The fact is, Barcelona, one of the world’s elite clubs, can’t afford it which is mind boggling. They now have a player on hundreds of thousands of Euro’s a week who is unable to play. Scary.

On the pitch, the plan remains unchanged year on year. The goal is to win everything they enter. With Messi and new coach Ronald Koeman, why couldn’t they? Again that naivity of previous years that Messi will find a way. A 27 year old Messi, maybe. A 33 year old Messi, no chance – despite the brilliance he still offers and delivers frequently.

koeman, a club legend in his own right, was seen as coaching appointment that could get Barcelona back to playing the Barca way, the Cruyff principals that define its modern era. Things, as yet, haven’t worked out quite to plan for Koeman although he will tell you it’s a large work in progress. A very indifferent start in La Liga, defeat in the Supercopa to Bilbao and currently trailing by 2 goals to the impressive Seville after the Copa Del Rey Semi final first leg. And that’s not to mention another humiliating defeat in the Champions League to French counterparts and Messi admirers, PSG. A 4-1 defeat at home to anyone is an unthinkable outcome for Blaugrana and it’s a deficit they will not overcome on current form.

Some solace has come in their recent league form which has seen them rise to 3rd in the table. Messi has seemed back to his imperious best in recent months give or take the disastrous cup matches. And there’s promising youngsters making headway in the form of Pedri, Rigui Puig and Anso Fati. The latter has unfortunately missed the majority of the season through injury but he could be a key component in the rebuilding years to come and potential figurehead going forward.

Luis Suarez

One player and high earner Barcelona did manage to offload in the off season was striker and club legend, Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan had seen, or so the club thought, his best days drift away in his latter years and it was a clear objective of the club to get rid before the season started.

The problem Barcelona had, or caused themselves, was the manner in which they went about his exit. It is reported Suarez was told he was surplus to requirements in a blunt 2 minute phone call by new boss Koeman the day after the Dutchman’s appointment, treatment that infuriated Suarez’s best pal……. Lionel Messi. It is fury the Argentine great has expressed in public. Not the way a club great should be ushered out the door and another PR disaster for the hierarchy.

To make matters worse, Suarez has been in blistering form for Atleti this season in what looks like being a great Indian summer for the striker’s career. His 16 goals make him the current La Liga top goalscorer which has fired his new side to a 6 point lead at the top of La Liga – A clear two fingers up to his former employers.

What next?

The resignation of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu in October was not before time. Bad descisions, an impending tax fraud case and the very public falling out with Messi heading a long list of turmoil within the Camp Nou walls. The presidential election to find a replacement is due to take place next month with former leader Joan Laporta the favourite to be reelected into the club’s hot seat.

You would think the first thing on his agenda will be addressing and resolving the Messi situation once and for all. The club’s greatest player will turn 34 in June and it maybe time to say goodbye – An outcome that could benefit all sides. A chance for Barcelona to start again and rebuild a new team around the previously mentioned youngsters. Messi can leave behind the unenviable weight of expection he has carried for the best part of 15 years.

An amicable ending is what’s important from both parties point of view. A great legacy that must remain just that, great and untampered with, not least to help the club’s financial situation and leave a path for Messi to return in other roles later down the line, should he so please. A fresh start for Messi would enable him to completely focus on one final shot at a World Cup in 2022. There may not be trophies this year but, in this hypothetical instance, everyone wins.

Making Barcelona financially stable again is going to be a huge undertaking for whoever is given the reigns. Removing the older statemen high earners will be a start. With the club unable to afford high transfer fees, they may have to invest the little cash they do have in the seemingly neglected La Masia youth system once more. The fruits of which may not be evident for perhaps 5 or even 10 years.

What the club have surely learned, you would hope, is that there will be no quick fix to this mess. Replacing the Messi era should have been a proper plan in the making 5 years ago but ignorance, arrogance and burying heads in the sands of Messi time have become an all too evident theme in recent years.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 25)

Welcome all.

Gundugan. What a season he’s having at Manchester City. Another 2 goals and an assist this week given him a total of 19 points. One problem. I didn’t captain him, others in our mini league did and that was the difference in this week’s totals. I’ve never been so happy for one of my players NOT to play when the second match of his double game week came round for fear of him doing the same again. What a warped state of affairs.

Take that situation away and we’ve had, what would usually be, an excellent week. 78 points in a game week’s average of 61. Why do I feel disappointed? It’s a more than decent score. The reason? Those around me scored 87, 88 and 99 respectively and brilliantly. Sometimes it’s hard to separate your score from the results of the others but, at the end, you can only change your own team. Has it made a huge difference to the table? Not at all. Only 20 points off the top in 2nd place, what a season we’re having when you look at the broader picture. It’s simply a captain pick’s difference.

At this point I am going to blow my own trumpet and give myself a pat myself on the back. I had a feeling that Michail Antonio wouldn’t be fit for his match against Sheffield United. He was down as having fatigue (ya what mate!?) but would have a 75% chance of playing. Now he’s a striker in form and that was a tasty fixture for him. Rather than take him out and risk losing good striker scoring points, I left him in ensuring that my number 1 substitute would be a scoring one should he fail to be fit. Number one sub? Aaron Cresswell, 12 points. A little tactical victory there and good plan conjured up.

Elsewhere amongst my team, Bruno keeps delivering and it was a decent week for Sterling however, as captain, 14 points in a double game week side, you would expect a little more? Maybe that’s being greedy and again maybe that’s because Gundugan scored so high. Going forward, I feel predicting City’s lineups are going to become even tougher in the coming weeks. One to watch.

LOOKING AHEAD.

First things first, it’s another double game week but only for 2 sides, Leeds and Southampton. Now this a tricky one and at this stage of the writing process I’m not sure what to do with my team. Do I take a risk and incorporate either of those teams players in my side. Neither of those teams are in great form but out of the 2, Leeds seem to have the better looking matches. The question for you lot this week is simple?

WILL ANY OF YOU BE MAKING CHANGES TO GET LEEDS OR SOUTHAMPTON PLAYERS IN?

Like I’ve just said, neither are in great form. Who would you go for? Bamford? Ward-Prowse? Ings perhaps? For me it’s probably too much of a risk and, at this stage, would upset my team, transfer budget and negative starting point too much to do so but that’s just initial thoughts. I will sit down properly later and explore all the avenues and permutations.

Leeds actually kick GW25 on Friday night meaning office silent treatment has come into play for the first time in a while. All transfers and team selection must be completed 24 hours before the usual deadline. Do my esteemed colleagues know this vital piece of information? Most probably do but if one doesn’t, the slightly underhanded silent treatment has worked a…… treat?

The main scoring fixture I would to look out for I would say is (unfortunately⚫️⚪️) Man United at home to Newcastle. The form of Fernandes and frailty of the Toon’s team could be a lethal combination. Steve Bruce’s side rolled over and died in their last match and I fear the same could happen here.

The rest of the fixtures are pretty tricky to call, it could be a real differential weekend. Personal preference rather than scoring certainty picks could well be order of the game week and, at this stage of writing, I haven’t a clue how to approach it.

THIS WEEKS PICKS

This has been a struggle. The dilemma I’ve had is, do I take a few minus hits and double up on Leeds and Southampton players? Or do I roughly stick with what I have at the risk the doublers gamers scoring big?

In the end, I’ve gone with a mix of both conundrums. 2 transfers which only incurs a -4 start. I’ve bought it Bamford of Leeds who replaces Davies. A pick to double up on games and one that I have no doubt will be a very popular selection all round this weekend.

I’ve also bought back Heung Min Son. He comes in for Rahim Sterling with a medium to long term plan in mind. I eventually want to bring back Kevin De Bruyne as he now approaches full fitness. Relieving Sterling of his duties frees up some much needed funds for this eventuality and Son, who has some promising fixtures coming up, doesn’t compromise the quality or scoring potential on display. Not only that I think Sterling will be a huge resting risk this weekend with Man City having one eye on their all important Champions League tie in the week.

The Son transfer is a bit of a gamble but I think it will be a potentially lucrative differential and now that Harry Kane is fully fit again, their partnership could flourish once more.

I’ve had to go Fernandes as captain at home to Newcastle with Rashford, the vice. Allan Saint-Maximin remains our sole TOON representative but he makes do with a place on the bench with his tricky fixture in mind. Cresswell joins ASM on the bench which makes up the strongest list of substitutes we’ve probably had this season. Doubts remain of the fitness of Antonio and Gundugan so these two are ready in waiting as good automatic backups.

BALLS INTO THE BOX

DGW25 squad list.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 24)

Hello all, welcome.

There’s only one place to start. The big Allan Saint-Maximin deferential gamble of game week 23 paid off quite the treat. He started his match and then managed to conjure up 2 assists along with important win bonus points. It’s the kind of transfer that brings the most satisfaction in fantasy football. A deferential which no other manager thought of and an often risky inclusion that works out a to great effect. It’s excellent when little tactical tweaks like this pay dividends but you have to make the most of it when it comes off, usually they don’t stay rare deferentials for long. In this case, I can see alot of managers looking to bring ASM into their teams in the coming weeks. He’s very cheap, will always play (when fit) and is involved in most of Newcastle’s goals and attacking play. The Frenchman would be an excellent squad man, if anything, to have around your set up.

The Saint-Maximin show was the icing on a pretty productive week’s cake. We managed 67 points in a week’s average of 58 and at one stage of the weekend we were briefly top of the office mini league however, Leeds put pay to that on Monday night so, as it stands, we sit 2nd, a mere 7 points off the summit. Shout outs again to the outstanding Gundogan and of course, the consistent, Bruno Fernandes – Long may their form continue.

LOOKING AHEAD.

Gameweek 24 is a double game week. Now usually the excitement would be tangible when these weeks come around but, looking at the fixtures, this one flatters to deceive. The main team with 2 games in the fixture set to look out for is Manchester City. Great you may think? Hmmm not so much. The problem, first of all, lays again at the door of Pep Guardiola’s rotational selection policy. Is he willing to play the same players 2 games in a row in such a short space of time? History would suggest not. There’s also the extra added factor that there are elusive Champions League fixtures on the horizon, a competition that has slipped through the hands the blue-mooners for so long, a trophy they are desperate to win – Resting becomes a double risk. For arguments sake Pep names an unchanged side for both matches, they are up against Tottenham and Everton, 2 tricky fixtures where points certainly aren’t even guaranteed.

The other double matched teams aren’t really worth writing home about either. They are Everton, Fulham and Burnley. Everton could possibly be a lucrative scoring avenue but again, as just mentioned, one of their matches is against an inform City side and there are fitness doubts surrounding top goalscorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin who would be my pick if I could guarantee his involvement. On the whole, this doubler isn’t really one to get the juices flowing but, it is a doubler after all with a chance, however slim, to score double points and this brings me nicely to my question of the week.

ARE ANY OF YOU THINKING OF USING THE TRIPLE CAPTAIN CHIP FOR THE UPCOMING DOUBLE GAMEWEEK? IF SO, WHO ON?

For me personally, I’ll be saving my triple captain for later DGW’s for the reasons mentioned above. That’s not to say using it would out of the question for any other manager willing to take a bit of risk. The reward could be great as it would, I think, be a big deferential move. I would love to here from anyone taking the punt.

Elsewhere in the game week, Man United’s fixture at West Brom has to be a great scoring chance. It pains me to say but Chelsea at home to Newcastle is another. Leicester v Liverpool is fixture many of us could do without. In terms of my team, I’m not happy with this week’s fixture set to be honest and if someone offered me the gameweek’s average score right now, I would snap their hands off. Bit of luck needed I think.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS.

Just the one transfer this week which means no minus starting points. Reason being, after looking a the fixture set I’m not overly confident so we are going to need all the points we can get this week. Starting on a negative is out of the question unless totally necessary.

I’ve brought Harry Kane back into the squad despite Tottenham’s tough fixture at City. We were thrown a curve ball last week when the Spur’s number 9 returned from injury ahead of schedule, then inevitably scored. The lack of available fully fit forwards on the roster at the moment is desperate so no choice but to bring the England Skipper back really. Ideally I would have brought him in next week once City were out the way but needs must. He replaces the injured Callum Wilson who is out for a while.

Fernandes, away at West Brom, would of been my skipper had Sterling not had a double game week. Whether Sterling plays both games remains to be seen but it’s a risk we have to take. Allan Saint-Maximin is now our only TOON representative.

Please note, I have wrote this on Thursday evening so tinkering before deadline is possible/probably.

****EDIT***** LATE CHANGE – Cresswell of West Ham now comes in for the perma-crocked James Justin meaning a -4, but hey, it’s a minute to minute business this Fantasy Football game. We have to be able to adapt at the click of a finger.

WORK THE CHANNELS!!!

DGW 24 SQUAD

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 23)

Welcome again.

The fantasy football rollercoaster ride continues. We managed an impressive score of 86 points in a week’s average of 57 during round 22. This more than makes up for the previous week’s disappointments and goes to show you don’t always need to make wholesale changes when you have a bad game week.

Yes, sticking is a gamble but so is twisting. Sometimes it’s about looking at your team and the fixture set ahead and trusting the process. Quite often it’s all too easy this pull the changes trigger, and believe me, I was so tempted. Deep breath, nothing drastic and go again. Logic suggested that the rested players in GW21 would be just that, rested, and ready to play in GW22. So it conspired, they played and contributed massively.

What making no changes now gives us is 2 free transfers for the week ahead.

It could have been so much better as well, 86 points included 3 (YES THREE!?) big fat zero’s. Paul Pogba, Sadio Mané and Ben Chilwell all failed to play any part in their respective fixtures. The score is a testament to the strong week the rest of the team had. Special mentions have to go to Rahim Sterling, James Justin and Bruno Fernandes, each scoring well into the teens which is an excellent return.

LOOKING AHEAD

The big news heading into Game week 23 is that Liverpool and Manchester City clash at Anfield. Obviously that is going to mean so many potential point cancelling players for so many fantasy football managers. This means that alot of fantasy teams will contain the maximum 3 players from each team and only one side can truly triumph fantasy points wise. What you gain in one, you will lose in the other. So my question for all you gaffers this week is.

WHICH SET OF PLAYERS ARE CURRENTLY MORE CRUCIAL TO FANTASY FOOTBALL? MAN CITY OR LIVERPOOL?

Things to take into consideration with this question are firstly, Pep roulette. The erratic rotation policy of the city boss and never truly knowing which team he will put out. Secondly, the Salah affect. If you take the Egyptian’s points away from the Liverpool fantasy total, are the rest really worth their weight in gold? Salah is a consistent big point scorer and maybe a big leveller. And thirdly, the current collective form of both sides. Worth thinking about in terms of team selection for this week.

Other fixtures of note to be aware of would be Chelsea away at struggling Sheff. United and (maybe) Tottenham at home to West Brom, who are still without Harry Kane though. leicester are still a consistent shout for potential points as they travel to Wolves.

In terms my team I’ve made some BOLD choices, let’s go.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

The bonus of making no changes in GW22 means we have 1 extra free transfer to use in GW23. That said, I’ve still made 3 and taken a -4 in the process.

The first and most risky change is Allan Saint-Maximin for the injured Sadio Mané. I can see the raised eyebrows but let me explain. First of he’s a Toon player so my heartstrings are already pulled. Yes using full emotional pull should never be only reason to pick a player in fantasy football. So I go into my second of all. I fancy the French man to start his first game in over 2 months for Newcastle at home to Southampton in, what is, a very important match for the home. Southampton got hit for 9 last time out, perfect time for a tricky pacey winger like ASM to get back amongst the goal and assist trail. He will be a huge differential player, is cheap and is always Newcastle’s most dangerous player when playing. The big risk is whether he will start the match or not. No risk, no reward.

The next change is Manchester United like for like with Rashford coming in for Paul Pogba. This change would have happened a few weeks ago but I had other pressing issues elsewhere. Quite simply, Rashford is a forward in a midfield role and more of a goal threat.

And the final change is another like for like, this time at Chelsea. Rüdiger comes in for Chilwell. Reason being Chelsea’s new boss Thomas Tuchel. He has left Chilwell out the last 2 matches and doesn’t seem to fancy him which is the complete opposite of Rüdiger. I still toying over whether the German will be in my XI or not but Chelsea do have a good clean sheet chance at Sheffield United.

What these 3 transfers also bring to our squad is a massive bank balance in reserve. £6.9 million to be precise. Ready and waiting to be fired for either Kane’s or KDB’s return from injury or when Liverpool have a more Favourable fixture set for Salah.

Fernandes will be captain with my other toon representative, Wilson, the vice. Let’s hope the ASM gamble pays off, I’m quietly optimistic.

CHEST DOWN, VOLLEY.

GW23 SQUAD

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 22)

Welcome all. We’re back again and back down to earth.

Anything that could’ve gone wrong in game week 21 did go wrong. Four key players failed to make their respective starting elevens which resulted in big fat zeros for each and, to compound matters further, one of those was my captain, Sterling.

Of course, Pep Guardiola struck the rotation button again. Not only did he change Sterling but also left out John Stones – you really couldn’t make it up. That was Saturday, fast forward to Sunday and Chilwell didn’t make Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea starting team in which both the other blue’s fullback scored. Where does that leave Chilwell going forward? New manager with new ideas or merely just rested?

As Sunday progressed, to compound a pretty desperate weekend, news filtered in that Mané wasn’t in the Liverpool team and has a possible injury. Bleak reading and one probable change needed going into GW22.

The only bright spark, lucky break and slight consolation weekend salvager were the 2 goals Callum Wilson (my toon representative😊) scored at Everton. The lucky part coming in the fact I didn’t have him in my line up but the auto change of players not playing meant I received his 13 valuable points.

We ended the weekend on 34 points in a weekend average of 48 which is disappointing but, given the good run we’ve been on, I can’t complain too much. It seems like it was a poor round across the board for most so in the grand scheme of the season, it doesn’t appear to have done too much damage. Those without Salah really have felt the fantasy pinch this week. Those with the Egyptian are counting their lucky stars. Those with him as captain are dancing the streets and have made tremendous ground. Going into next week we are left we so many more questions and problems than answers and solutions. We lick our wounds and go again.

LOOKING AHEAD

We have another full midweek fixture list for game week 22. Manchester City away to Burnley is a point scorer if you are willing to play Pep roulette. If, like me, you were burned badly at the weekend you might be thinking twice but it is a good fixture if you can get it right.

Liverpool at home to Brighton also looks a tasty proposition but, again, team selections have been very erratic. This is clearly due to a very congested fixture set, the big clubs especially with bigger squads opting to rotate in order to avoid injuries.

The safest option this week maybe looking at somewhere like Leicester at Fulham. Leicester will be looking to bounce back from a bad defeat against Leeds and don’t have a big enough squad to swap their best players. Also remembering Vardy is injured should be even more reason for them not to rest other key members of the squad. Players like Barnes and especially Madison maybe be good shouts without having to break the bank.

In terms of what I’m doing, I’m not happy with my team at all but a bold decision has been made.

THIS WEEKS PICKS

*Takes a deep breath* We aren’t, I repeat, AREN’T making any changes to our squad this week. Yes it’s a huge gamble when you look at the weekend we just endured but my thinking behind it is

1. Those players rested at the weekend should be in line to play this time round

2. It will give us two free transfers to use in game week 23.

The only change to the starting XI will be Wilson coming in for Chilwell, reverting the formation back to the usual 3-5-2. Mané remains in despite being an injury doubt. Should he fail to play, hopefully Chilwell will accumulate points during his match to replace.

I was tempted to bring in Mo Salah but I think he may be a resting risk with Liverpool set to host Manchester City at the weekend. It would have also meant freeing up funds elsewhere meaning another negative points hit. 2 freebies for the weekend gives us a good platform, let’s hope we can have a better week than last.

Sterling will be captain. Wilson, the mighty mag’s main man, will be vice. Praying the big gamble pays off.

GET UP FOR THE HEADER.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 21)

Welcome one and all.

We’re back again as the fantasy football gameweeks come in thick and fast. No sooner does one end, the next begins at barely 48 hours notice. It’s superb stuff but will test squads, strategies and manager mindset to the max. We are now starting to see injuries become a huge sticking part in the selection process as we’ll get onto.

It was another excellent week for my team racking up 54 points in a week’s average of 42. We are edging closer to the summit in the all important office table, a mere 3 points off the top spot. And tellingly, the man who has been top for a large portion of the season has now relinquished his perch after a shakey couple of weeks – Signs of title race pressure starting to show in some camps.

From my perspective, I’m relishing a title race. The season overall has been very good so far as we pass the half way point and into the nitty-gritty. But when I look back, I can’t help but rue the week Tottenham’s game was postponed which was, typically, the cup qualification round which we subsequently failed to make – That week still irks.

The big news from GW20 was another injury. This time to Harry Kane, adding to the premium priced player injury list which includes also Kevin De Bruyne, Vardy, Aguero and Aubameyang. The players seem to be dropping like flys now which does happen at this stage of the season, mainly due to the amount of games. This means the deferential players are going to have a huge say in everyone’s next game week totals and respective leagues. By deferential, I mean the lesser priced players that have less chance to be duplicated in yours and your opponents team. With the lack of standard big hitters that most select available, it’s really going to come down to a mixture of clever selection and, of course, good luck.

Looking at the striking options available now that Kane has took a tumble, it seems very limited. This is, in part, due to the bizarre Fantasy Premier League player positioning set out at the start of the season. Salah, Rashford, Son, Mané and Aubameyang are all down as midfielders when we all know they are clearly forwards. The go to formation for fantasy managers has been 5 across midfield for this sole reason, whoever was in charge of selecting player positions at Fantasy HQ has had a stinker this year.

KANE

Replacing Kane looks like it’s going to be a far tougher task than it was to change KDB last week so, with that in mind and similar to the last week’s question, my need to know this week is for those with Kane in their side.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO REPLACE HARRY KANE?

Simple answer for me is I HAVEN’T A POT OF GLUE. And we must remember, as I write this, Kane hasn’t definitely been ruled out yet. So is it worth the risk in keeping him in? Maybe. He’s such a focal point to Spurs attack and many fantasy Premier League teams. Another question mark now has to be laid at the feet of his Tottenham strike partner, Son. The South Korean will now carry that extra burden in the Spurs team and so much of his good work is due to his balanced partnership with Kane. Can he cope without him? I’m not so sure. The one thing I do know is, I won’t be taking the risk on Kane. In my eyes, he’s ruled out and needs replaced. A few minuses are on the cards in terms of my transfer activity that’s for sure.

LOOKING AHEAD

Manchester City’s favourable run of fixtures will continue when they entertain Sheffield United. Without KDB in their side, Pep’s usually erratic rotated selections should be a lot more controlled and slightly easier to predict. The cheap option of Gundugan has been an outstanding point source of late.

Other fixtures to keep an eye on would be Chelsea at home to Burnley and possibly Leicester home to Leeds. It pains me to say it, but also Everton at home to a Newcastle side who are bereft of any sort of cohesion, form or quality. But, as mentioned before, the main thing this week is the Kane conundrum. That’s the key battle ground and whoever gets it right could be set to make good gains.

THIS WEEKS PICKS

I’ve taken a -8 straight on the chin this week and it looks like that could become a regular occurrence. My team is strong but my squad isn’t. Even after the minus, am I satisfied with my team? No. It lacks striking prowess in the absence of Kane. The midfield is full of great talent who could/should be great but haven’t really lived up to expectations so far this season. Mané, Sterling and Paul Pogba have the potential to offer big scores week in week out but have so far failed to do that consistently. Just a quick side note on Pogba in particular – He was only meant to a temporary inclusion in my side but changes elsewhere means he stays in this week. You can’t help but feel for a midfielder of his size, stature and obvious ability that he should be a point scorer in the bracket of a KBD or a Salah. It just never seems to happen. Whether that’s down to his off field activities, his mindset or maybe he’s just been overrated and isn’t as good as people make out. I’m not sure of the latter. He was sensational at Juventus and the 2018 World Cup with France. Who knows, strange player to work out. Anyway, taking him out my team would’ve meant a -12 and I always try to limit myself to -8 at the absolute max.

My -8 three changes are

IN: Davis – OUT: Kane (frees up funds)

IN: Chilwell – OUT: Bernardo

IN: Mané – OUT: Smith-Rowe

With the lack of striking options available, I’ve gone for a tactic many have used this season – Bolstering up the defence. Defenders have been an excellent point source this year so I’m going to try and cash in this week.

Sterling will be the captain, with Fernandes (who did nothing with the armband last time out) vice. Wilson remains the sole Toon player on board but will have to make do with a place on the bench such is Newcastle’s terrible form.

BALL DOWN, PLAY.

GW21 squad selection.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 20)

WOW.

If you could ask for the perfect double game week what would it be? 144 points and cutting a 70 point deficit at the top of the office mini league to just 19 has got to be right up there.

In a game week average of 74 we used the wildcard to perfection to double up in key areas and take full advantage. I asked last week what would be considered a good or acceptable game week score having used a main chip. I think we have exceeded expectations slightly here. At one point in the week we sat on roughly 110 points with 7 players left to play. Outstanding effort.

I’ll probably never have a week like it again. And that’s the important thing to remember and consider – keeping feet firmly on the ground. Yes the strategy worked but your only as good as your next week’s score. Finding the right strategy week after week is the main thing and not letting previous week’s great work go to waste. Others had great weeks too, it was a high scoring week (as doublers usually are) so it was just lucky we managed to get into the higher echelons of it, winning some key deferential battles which can always go either way.

27 points for John Stones alone has to be mentioned. 2 goals, 2 clean sheets and 2 win bonuses for a defender in a single game week is probably unprecedented.

LOOKING AHEAD.

After the chaos of gameweek’s 18 and 19 we finally have a standard fixture week ahead of us – although it is a midweeker. The two fixtures for big potential point scores have to be Man United at home to Sheffield United and Man City away to West Brom.

From City’s perspective and fantasy football managers all over the world, the big news going into this week is that Kevin De Bruyne will be out for a couple of months. He’s in a large percentage of teams including mine and is obviously a premium priced player who will need replaced. So my question this week is for those who have KDB in their side?

DO YOU PLAN TO REPLACE KDB LIKE FOR LIKE PREMIUM PRICE OR USE THE EXTRA FUNDS IT WILL GENERATE TO BOLSTER YOUR TEAM IN OTHER AREAS?

If you’re are looking to bolster, this will be clearly dependant on how many transfers and potential minus point hits you’re willing to take and also if changes due to injuries or suspensions are needed elsewhere. Me personally, I’ve got 1 or two injury worries so it looks like I’ll be taking at least one negative this week, will I swap KDB like for like? I’m not sure yet. None of the other premium priced players in midfield seem to be really setting the world alight at the moment. Heung Min Son will be coming back in at some point but Tottenham’s tough match against Liverpool has halted that for at least a week.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

2 changes this week for our lads meaning a -4 right on the chin. As just mentioned, the injury to Kevin De Bruyne has forced my hand a little bit but, in a way, I’m pleased about that. We don’t have the will he/won’t he play conundrum and whether to risk keeping him in or not.

Rahim Sterling comes in. I know Sterling hasn’t had the best of seasons but if he plays, he’s always likely to chip in with a goal or an assist – with KBD out, you’ve got to fancy Pep picking him this week.

The 2nd transfer is a funny one. Probably for this week only, Paul Pogba comes in for Marcus Rashford. Rashford hobbled off with a knee injury in Man United’s FA CUP match so I don’t want to take the risk of him playing or not. Pogba has finally hit a bit of form of late and home to Sheffield United is a welcoming fixture. Bit of a gamble but hoping it will pay off.

With those two transfers in place it leaves a massive 3.4 million pounds in the kitty which will give us big options in the coming weeks and in enable us to play the form guide properly.

In terms of captaincy, Fernandez will take the armband with Sterling the backup.

And finally I’ve persisted with Wilson as the sole TOON representative this week – God only knows why, but at least they have a home match eh.

PASS AND MOVE LADS.

| WAYNE ROONEY |

When Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from football yesterday I had a strange, overriding feeling I just couldn’t pinpoint or get my head around.

I don’t support Man United and I don’t really care that much about England. So why was I bothered? I began to think and it soon became apparent that Rooney (for all he is or isn’t, was or wasn’t) is my generation, my era in a nutshell. We are of similar age and there’s perhaps a sorry realisation my own amateur football days are coming to an end. Maybe his finish closes the book on everyone our age’s football playing endeavours, I don’t know. Whether that’s it or not I’ve seen Rooney’s entire career unfold, properly. All of it. Start to finish.

ROONEY.

Wayne Rooney finished his career Manchester United’s and England’s all time leading goalscorer and is decorated, winning everything at club level multiple times. It’s an astonishing haul. And yet, he still divides opinion more than any other player.

From the burst onto the scene 16 year old sensation, the prime serial Premier League winner to the winding down questions asked, question marked Rooney. That unfortunate stage they all go through, him more than most. I feel like I’ve been on his journey.

I never made a concerted effort to follow Wayne Rooney’s career, it followed me and you couldn’t escape it. The ravaging, unforgiving English press pack – Overhyping, overexciting and sensationalising. The saviour, the golden boy, the next…………. England get knocked out. Rooney’s fault. Quickly knocked off the perch they have created themselves all in the name of fast newspaper-selling opportunities. And people quick forget. It’s the reason ‘the golden generation’ never won World Cups and the reason England will probably never win anything again. A cultural problem and the Rupert Murdock mentality.

It’s a funny thing to say being English hindered, certainly Rooney’s international career because he’s stereotypical English. Take the English style and mindset away from him and he’d be half the player. It’s his fellow countrymen sat behind a desk who have perhaps cost him a World Cup. Who knows, there are many other factors, a lot of what if’s, but’s and Rooney himself. This of course, is merely an opinion.

What I do know, and what shouldn’t be up for much debate, is that Wayne Rooney was the full package on the football pitch. Strong and quick, powerful and off-the-cuff clever with superb technical ability. He was a brilliant link up player and a master at finding pockets, never afraid to try something different and that’s what made him stand out, he was fearless. Some of the goals were outrageous and there were a lot but that was secondary. Everything centred around the team. He was selfless, unselfish and would run all day with a firery temperament and insatiable desire to win, to be better each game, each season. He was fully committed and always on the edge, a pot that could boil over and often did. A peak Wayne Rooney is as good as the Premier League has seen.

What a player.