tsf.tech fantasy football update: gameweek 23

Another Friday can only mean one thing – yes, the sweats, the shakes, the extravagant waves of tummy pain in the Tesco fresh produce aisle as you do the Big Shop whilst thinking about Harry v Erling.

Reaction to last weekend’s results: Klopp is finished, Pep is done for, Haaland can’t hit a barndoor, Nathan Jones isn’t up to it, Marsch is gone, Brendan is back, Potter is sitting on a time-bomb, Leeds going down (hopefully). Oh, and new Everton manager Sean Dyche on MoTD looked like a man who had enjoyed a gut-wrenching fling down a water chute with a beer in both hands and got to the bottom with the ales intact.

City and Arsenal lost, Kane scored his 267th Spurs goal, however, highlight of the week fpor me was when Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp told Wrexham’s defeated players to ‘shove it in your documentary’, a reference to Disney+’s straight-to-TV effort Welcome to Wrexham. Sharp had also been irked by a pre-match Wrexham tweet about their next Cup game a Spurs ahead of the replay with the Blades. Blades won 3-1.

But in the Only League That Mattersã, congrats to James S who netted a net busting 112 points in the week, with Rashford triple captain bringing home 60 points, with Ben (89) and Scott (86) chasing hard in the top three. February’s MoTM charge looks the same as it was week one. Overall, Michael (1,411), Scott (1,406) and Ron (1,370) remain the top three, but it’s getting closer as we move into gameweek 23.

This week’s photo is of Cologne train station ceiling, copyright Georg Berg/Alamy.

After January’s transfer trolley dash, Chelsea survive FFP by giving 10+ years contracts so transfer fees are amortised over a longer period, spending more than the combined outlay of the Spanish, French, German league and the Italian league in this year’s January transfer window. But have City been caught with their fingers in the cashpoint?

The sword of justice is unlikely to remain unused when there is money, football, power, influence, money, and above all money involved. So here we go again, another shoeing and deep dive into apparently undeclared payments. This is serious, new charges that if proven will undermine the edifice of English football and the entire basis of the nation-state club ownership model. I hope City have got a lot of cash to fund expensive lawyers. Oh yes, I forgot. They have.

Although to date there is no statement from First Abu Dhabi Bank, Etihad Airways, Experience Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace hotel, Aldar Properties of Abu Dhabi, Masdar energy of Abu Dhabi, the Greggs franchise of Abu Dhabi, let’s wait and see what the next four years bring. City have already seen one guilty verdict overturned on the same charges and will fight this case with the same vigour.

The financial muscle of nation-state clubs is a carbuncle on The Beautiful Game. City’s supporters and the rest of us will point out that there is plenty of chicanery elsewhere – Chelsea’s £1.5bn rolling debt to Abramovich seems to have been all fine, somehow. But this argument doesn’t hold water, the misdeeds of others are not a free pass for others to break the rules. The real point here is that buried beneath the grotesque commercial circus and the nation-state powerplay, is the idea of a healthy, robust football competition, something uplifting, is open and accessible from any level of a pyramid of opportunity. Balderdash. No. English football stopped being a level playing field some time ago with clubs subsumed as a sportswashing vehicle for repressive nation states.

Football is a narrative to so many of us. Feelings of triumph and gloom, with sacrifices of time and money to follow your heroes in midweek away games, getting home after midnight. Decisions and emotions affecting us with the conviction that this could be our year. But in the Loadsamoney League, the only thing that matters is the accumulation of money and the profligacy with spending. I’m not looking forward to Burnley stepping back into this culture next season. It saddens me, it does not excite me.

Does it make you feel warm inside that Newcastle are contesting the Carabao Cup Final? How low have we sunk if we think the renaissance of a team with a passionate fan base is owned and funded by Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state that cuts up journalists, laughs at the idea of free speech and runs on institutionalised misogyny and homophobia? Does this represent a feel-good story for the English game? Give me the argument supporting they are ’fit and proper owners’. Amanda Staveley, you like football? Really?

Despite the thrills created by the coaching genius of Pep and Jurgen, respect for the Premier League and the Goliaths is dwindling fast. This week’s tainting of City is the latest headline act but it is a symptom of a tawdry league out of control. The Loadsamoney League will take £3Bn of the £3.3Bn of money in the game this season. This is killing our game nationally. The waling corpse of the European Super League is rising as a somnambulistic nightmare again https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/64578730

Meanwhile on the pitch, Erling eyes Dixie Dean’s 95-year-old record with 25 goals in 19 games in a prolific debut season to date. He will break Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of 34 goals in one season for sure, but William Ralph Dean’s 1927/28 barely believable 60 league goals should be safe. Blackburn’s Ted Harper scored 43 goals during in 1925-26 and Tom Waring’s 49 for Aston Villa in 1930-31, are totals Erling could beat. Since then, even reaching 40 goals has been elusive, with Jimmy Greaves the last player to meet that mark more than 60 years ago.

At his current pace, Erling is likely to break the 34 goal Premier League record in his 27th game, which if he plays all City’s matches will be against West Ham on March 18, and then aim for Jimmy Greaves 40-goal barrier. He has 18 Premier League games left, leaving him on course to hit 48 goals and finish third, or possibly second, on the all-time list.

Another weekend  of hullaballo beckon and maybe another Liverpool pasting in the derby means we get to see a very tetchy Klopp who doesn’t exchange Christmas cards with Sean. After the Wolves 0-3, his smiling white teeth weren’t quite so smiley. When asked about the attitude of his players,  a question he clearly found objectionable, he looked like a teenager who has just been asked to tidy his bedroom for the fifth time that day. I’m not sure I’d let him pick the Burnley Subbuteo team.

Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday, it’s an 11 game setting, with Arsenal and City playing twice, and playing each other next Wednesday.

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