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 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.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 19)

Hello all, welcome.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to get this week’s question out of the way because its an interesting one and will lead nicely into where we’re at.

What score in relation to a fantasy game week average is considered a good week if you’ve used one of your chips?

Now in theory, with a chip you should have an advantage which should equate to more points, right? That’s the idea of the chips – You should expect more. An average or, heaven forbid, below average week would defeat the object of using the chip and be seen as a waste. So what’s a good score? Let me know.

So, that being said, I used my FREEHIT in Gameweek 18 in order to compensate the shorter 6 fixture round. I’ve got to say I’m relatively pleased. 50 points on the board in a week’s average of 30. Did the Freehit work? You’ve got to say yes. Would I have wanted a bit more? The answer is also yes but maybe that’s being greedy. We’ll not mention the fact that Tierney of Arsenal was pulled from the squad an hour or so before kick off and that Arsenal ended up with a clean sheet……….Overall happy and can’t complain. One lad in our office mini league was all set to use the wildcard. He made his transfers all fine, clicked confirm, forgot to click the wildcard button before. TOOK A -32. Shouldn’t laugh.

We are definitely in the midst of the strangest period of fantasy football I’ve ever known. The reduced fixture set of Gameweek 18 to be followed by the double gameweek of 19. Not to mention games getting bashed on the head or rearranged left, right and centre. It’s been bonkers quite frankly.

The way I see it, game week’s 18 and 19 are like one giant game week and we are currently sitting at half time. From my team’s perspective, we’ve grabbed an away goal in a 1-1 draw of a Champions League quarter final first leg. Good start, but far from over.

The weird thing is we go into the second leg with a completely different side as the Freehit expires. So to the lad’s who came in and did a job for 1 week only – Thank you. Your endeavours haven’t gone unnoticed and you maybe required later in the season. But it’s the here and now where it matters and this week brings the first DOUBLE GAME WEEK of the season.

LOOKING AHEAD

The teams we need to concentrate on this week are all those with the double fixtures. Man United. Chelsea, Leicester, a couple of others and, the main one for me, Manchester City. They seem like they are just starting to get run together and have some favourable fixtures. The problem we have is the problem we have every week – Pep Guardiola. What are the chances he’ll play the same side in both matches? Slim I would say but if you can get the selection correct there’s big points to be had this week, it’s maybe even Triple Captain territory.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: Ok, so with my team reverted back to its original pre GW18 state, I thought I would be able to get away with 1 maybe 2 transfers max to combat the double game week. Before I knew it there was a potentional -24 on the card. WILDCARD activated. And yes I did click the button.

I want to maximise the chance of scoring double this week so the plan is to bulk up on the double game week players. Unfortunately now that the wildcard is in play, that takes away the chance to Triple Captain, you can’t have it all and that chip is still safe for a rainy day.

Having wracked my brains trying to come up with the best possible line up, I think I’m just about there. 10 of my 11 players have 2 games only Harry Kane will play once but he has a nicely looking fixture against Sheffield United.

De Bruyne HAS to be captain this week and I am disappointed I can’t triple it. Being at home to Palace and Aston Villa is a massive scoring chance for the City maestro – fingers crossed. Fernandez will be vice, I think – not that it should matter being a double game week.

Another thing to note is my bench. With the exception of Smith-Rowe, it’s total garbage and has be completely disregarded. We are looking for the best 11 and nothing else at this stage.

And despite Newcastle’s awful form, we still have a toon representative. Callum wilson remains and is in line to play twice.

DOUBLE UP, GET TIGHT LADS.

DOUBLE GAME WEEK 19 LINE UP.

THE RHYMING MATCH REVIEW | Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle United |

The Toon travelled to Sheffield with Wilson in attack, our opponents rock bottom but it’s 5 at the back. Set out our stall, we aren’t going to commit. All part and parcel of the Steve Bruce remit.

We start off sluggish, the passings inept. Hendrick looks homeless, disheveled and unkept. Longstaff is lost and everything is sloppy. He’s playing ‘false 10’, should of stuck to ice hockey. And then there’s Yedlin who is too easily breached. Not only that, his president’s impeached.

As possession teeters around 30%. This is nowt new, no attacking intent. Then a moment we certainly won’t saver, with an awful hair do, enter Ryan Fraser. Two silly tackles and the ref doesn’t waver. An early bath for Fraser, reckless behaviour.

‘You’ve got to feel for Steve Bruce’ no, not really, the bloke has got his customary excuse.

Into the 2nd half, any words of inspiration? Just more devastation and a lack of perspiration.

For Sheffield, it’s chance after chance. Newcastle struggling to cope, struggling to advance. These haven’t won a game all season to add to the plight. Newcastle bending over, to Sky’s clear delight.

It’s shambolic, prehistoric with no histrionics. Nothing on the bench to give us a tonic. We’re alarmingly bereft of pace and quality. A Sheffield pen via video technology.

How’s the bacon did you say? We can’t go on playing this way. It’s time to go Mr Bruce, you’ve out-welcomed your stay. A chancer, free lancer with no second answer. You claim mass hysteria, do the right thing and remove your posterior.

And lastly, Mr run badly, the trashy Mike Ashley. Neglect, oppressed, it’s sports direct. Non essential, a lack of footballing credential. A slimey nomad, anyone will do for me Bonny lad. Time to act, take your sports shop tat. Get out of the club you fat cockney twat.

It’s full time. 1 nil and I’ve had my fill. The clubs dead, relegation dread while Boris ensures the kids go unfed. A bore, a chore and rotten to the core. But Newcastle United, there’s always next week. We’ll support you ever more.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18 – Part 2)

I’m back again. 24 hours after I posted about Gameweek 18, I feel compelled to update on proceedings. Things are changing minute by minute and emotions are running high in the office.

The Premier League have thrown another curve ball into, what was already, the game week 18 madness. They have, as excepted, called off Tottenham’s match at Aston Villa due to Corona virus. But, it gets interesting. Spurs will now be at home to Fulham instead, a match that was knocked on the head a few weeks ago causing one of the worst gameweek’s in our history. What does that mean for us? A chance to make amends from that disastrous gameweek 16 episode for a start. It’s a more favourable fixture than Villa away and takes away some of the selection doubts regarding Son and Kane. They’ll both be in the side now that’s for sure and both will be potential Captain material.

I mentioned yesterday that should the Spurs game go ahead the free hit would still be an option but wouldn’t be a total necessity. However, I want a full starting 11 competing in the 6 matches of gameweek 18 and a strong lineup at that. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was red flagged this morning, supposed hamstring injury with an unknown return date – We need a striker. Our goalkeeper doesn’t have a fixture this week, nor does one of our centre backs. The list keeps growing and we are being pointed down that road.👇🏻

FREE HIT ACTIVATED – let’s do this.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS.

I’m just about there, I think. I’ve used the free hit and it is a new look side, for one week only of course. Now, as I write this (21:00 Monday night) the XI I’m about to reveal is still subject to a sleepless night of change. The free hit will allow me to make as many transfers as I want all the way up to the 16:30 deadline tomorrow (today in reader time.) A plethora of chopping and changing. What I have learned in fantasy Premier League though – never leave it too late to make changes. The site often goes down due to the amount of traffic. I’ve never been caught up in this but I’ve seen hapless colleagues who have and it’s a tough watch. Grown men having a full blown meltdown when they can’t change their captain. Not pretty.

Anyway, where was I? Yeah, the team itself is self explanatory. All the players in it should be involved in game week 18, maximising our scoring capacity despite it not being a full fixture list. In terms of captain I’ve gone with Kane over Bruno simply because Spurs are at home, not an easy decision and one I hope doesn’t cost me.

The final thing to note, and most important, is, another Toon player edges his way back into the squad. GET IN.😌🖤🤍

GET INTO THEM EARLY.

GW18 team – will probably change.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18)

We needed a reaction. We got a reaction.

After one of the worst fantasy football performances of all time in game week 16, game week 17 produced a more satisfactory 60 points. A result I’m putting down to getting our allotted lucky charm Newcastle United players back into the side and nothing else – The straws you clutch at as a Toon fan. Looking at it, we actually could have been about 15 to 20 points better off had Leicester and Chelsea not conceded very late consolation goals.

I’ve been looking forward to the prospect of game weeks 18 and 19 for months. The shortened fixture set of the former, the long double gamer of the latter. Now that they’ve finally come round, I have a feeling of absolute fear and dread which has been exacerbated by the fact Spurs’ game at Villa is in serious doubt due to the Covid crisis.

There are only 6 fixtures in GW18. Should the Spurs match go ahead, I would have 9 players potentially involved. This means I could get away with making a couple of transfers to make up the usual full 11. Sounds straight forward? It’s not. A big problem would arise if the Spurs match is called off, taking our player involvement down to 6. That won’t be enough to have a meaningful score for the week. I would have to use my free hit and rejig the whole team to suit, what would be, the remaining 5 fixtures. Hopefully we get a decision on this match in good time, giving us enough scope to really use the free hit properly as I’m assuming the match will be bashed on the head. I am actually tempted to use it anyway regardless of any postponement. The conundrum and nightmare scenario being if Tottenham do actually play at Villa as planned, Kane bags a hattrick from 3 Son assists and we miss a massive truck load full of points. ——- All in all the situation is a f**king mine field. I’ve set the Premier League a 17:00 Monday night deadline to make their decision before I’m forced take matters into my own hands and pick a team on pure gut feeling – the worst type of team selection. Yes a certain percentage of your team should involve your gut but you also have to have those important elements of form, stats and certainty.

One plus from these dilemmas is that every fantasy manager in the land will be roughly in the same boat and that is why my question this week is simple.

HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING GW18?

Freehit, wildcard, transfers or even same XI. I want to know. Listening to the excellent fantasy 606 podcast, Statman Dave had, what at the time, sounded like a decent enough solution involving both transfers and the free hit at the same time. Trying to remember it properly without listening to the pod again is proving a difficult one though and would probably complicate matters further anyway.

What I do know is some managers will massively profit this week, some will massively fail and a large portion of what happens will ultimately come down to luck.

Of the 6 fixtures to look out for this week, scoring chance has to come at the Etihad. Man City at home to Brighton. That is providing you’re willing to play Pep Ball with city having played in the cup just 2 days earlier.

Man United away at Burnley could be another double figure Bruno return and, of course, Spurs away at Villa but we know the nonsense surrounding that match, it really is a lottery.

At this point on the blog I would usually run through my team for the week, explain my changes, Captain etc. But and it’s a massive but, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing yet and, as mentioned earlier, I’m leaving it till the last possible moment to do what needs to be done. I have the scenarios in my head, we are simply awaiting Premier League clarification now.

So whatever you fellow managers do in game week 18, I wish thee good luck and see you on the other side.

BALLS DOWN THE CHANNELS LADS, EARLY.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 17)

OVERVIEW: Happy new year.

Or not for our fantasy football guys. As game weeks go that is possibly the worst the I’ve ever experienced. 2 matches postponed and in those matches I had 6 players involved including Kane my captain. That’s a big fat zero for each player of those players.

Not only that, we took a -8 prior, making 3 transfers. At one point during the round, the scoreboard read -4 points and 5 players already played – half the team. If you don’t laugh you’d cry. It’s Unbelievable, unprecedented and to say I’m feeling despondent at this moment in time would be an understatement. But for the sake of the club, players and back room staff we need to get our heads up, move on and quickly.

A slight silver lining came in the fact that quite a lot of managers were in a similar boat and, thanks in no due part to my subs bench and the form of Bruno Fernandes, the lads rallied late and salvaged 30 points. It’s definitely 2 consolation goals when you’re 6 nil down but at least it was something – a bit of fight and spirit, something we can work on.

We drop to 5th in the table, our lowest position of the season. What’s the next move, I’m not sure. More games could fall victim to the Covid crisis.

Looking ahead to this week is like staring into the abyss and pure uncertainty. You’ve got to feel the Man City match is again under threat. Should it go ahead you then have to battle it out with Pep and his selection. My advice, which I learned in the harshest of manners last week, is to get city players out your squad and fast. In way I’m hoping their game v Chelsea remains on, I’ve removed most of my city employees and my rivals have quite a few Chelsea players in their lineups.

Man United at home to Villa is a match I’ll be looking to pinpoint. The form of Fernandes and Rashford is about as good as it gets in the league at present. A little outsider would be Arsenal away at West Brom, the gunners have won their last 2 matches whilst the baggies come into it on the back of a home drubbing off Leeds. If you have the balls to get the Arsenal lads in, there could be some reward there.

I’m looking for a good bounce back score to get back into the mix but I’ve actually got my eye on gameweek’s 18+19 which could be crucial in the title race.

THIS WEEKS PICKS.

I’ve take another -4 again this week. Not ideal but it’s far to early to be wasting the 2nd wildcard yet. As mentioned earlier, I’ve tried to remove my Manchester City players. Out comes Mahrez and in comes Marcus Rashford. Simple reasoning, the form of Rashford and the fact that the city match may not go ahead. Not to mention city’s tricky away fixture at Chelsea.

I’ve also got a TOON man back in. I said come the new year that a black and white strip would be back in my lineup so in comes Callum Wilson once again. He replaces Cavani who, although he is top class, I can’t guarantee he’ll play week in week out. I’m actually putting my recent fantasy football bad luck down to the fact I haven’t had Toon players in my team recently so there you go, it’s an ethos that has served me so well in the past and one I should never have tampered with – Big point week incoming🙃

My captain will be fernandes because he’s just a fantasy football dream at the moment, producing every week. Kane vice, let’s hope the Tottenham game gets the go ahead this time round.

FOLLOW UP THE REBOUND.

Gameweek 17 lineup