We’ve had the last round of Premier League games before Santa tours the country, and with Christmas in the air, the John Lewis advert has arrived, tugging on our heartstrings. More importantly, the final week of fantasy League results are in until we restart on Boxing Day.
Sasha sits top (954 points) ahead of Michael (947) and Ron (938). Scott leads a gallant band of rebels as if they were attacking the forest moon of Endor. Top dog of the week was Cornel continuing his ridiculous gallop (68 points) with last year’s winner Nick (67) and Hayley (65) being the only players with 60+ points in the week. Cornel (141 points) won Manager of the Month for November, with Paul (119) and Hayley (117) following in his wake.
Overall, we’re seeing the top five starting to break away a little, very similar to the way early voting goes in the Eurovision Song contest, with the 900 points marker being the divide to a chasing pack. It’s early days yet though, just sixteen weeks in, and surely Sash/Michael/Ron/Scott will either get a new job/fall in love/forget their password/get drunk at the Manchester Christmas Markets in the coming weeks, or some suitable distraction to give everyone a chance.
I’ve noticed a correlation here between the points haul of the leaders, and hair. It started with last year’s winner, Nick. He’d gone all tidy, blond-esque Viking with a full-on beard, saving on the heating bills and storing bits of pie crust for mid-afternoon snacks. Michael has flowing locks such that he’d get the bass guitar role in any heavy metal band, we’ve had Ron flirting with Vidal Sassoon products as his hairstyle reflects his status as an Englishman in Wales and keeping it all together. A new hairstyle is a glimpse into the soul, and in this age of high-intensity TV coverage, with all-seeing close-ups, you know that even a slight change in your barnet will attract attention. Even Pep has something going on, potentially bushy grey chops flourishing in the cold English winter.
This week’s photo is a painting by a local Burnley artist celebrating last weekend’s 3-0 derby victory over Blackburn. It’s of the culvert walking to the ground, carrying the Leeds-Liverpool canal through the town centre, on a glorious Sunday in East Lancashire, fierce and loud, we put ‘em in their place.
The disease of the mind that led FIFA’s finest to award its fancy shindig to Qatar means our keyboards will rest silent until we’ve scoffed the turkey and cranberry. Arsenal will be top at Christmas, a symbolic and almost entirely meaningless achievement at the best of the times, never mind when Christmas comes on 12 November. Newcastle are on the charge, but have three players in the England HRWC squad to worry about. Eddie Howe is the Manager of the Month and Wor Miggy Almirón won Player of the Month award. That’s one more than Jack Grealish by the way.
Chelsea have appointed Paul Winstanley as their ‘director of global talent and transfers’, which means that they’ve now procured Brighton’s manager, assistant manager, current player of the season, first-team coach, goalkeeping coach, head of recruitment, and assistant head of recruitment so far this season. They are also now linked with their goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and Nicki, who runs the catering outlets on the popular side.
Meanwhile, Ashton United of the Northern Premier League Division have offered to take Erling Haaland on loan from City to stop the goalbot from seizing up while he’s in storage. It just makes sense cackled manager Michael Clegg. City aren’t playing, and we want to help by keeping [him] fit. It makes more sense than him playing golf for six weeks.
Anyway, I can tell you where it isn’t cold. Doha. It’s 32c and sizzling as teams descend on the desert in mid-November for this completely normal and in-no-way egregious Human Rights World Cup. England were greeted at their team hotel by a crowd of enthusiastic expat Indians singing Three Lions. There were accusations that they weren’t proper England fans, presumably because not one of them had a lit flare stuck up their backside or was ostentatiously hoovering up powder off the back of their hand. But with searingly witty new ditties such as Pickford is our super keeper being belted out, perhaps these newly-discovered supporters should be embraced.
The Qatar HRWC Supreme Committee denied they were fake fans. We thoroughly reject these assertions, which are both disappointing and unsurprising blathered a statement. We already know, there really are ‘paid’ England fans in Doha. How’s your bank balance, David? And, of course, the 40 supporters being given free flights and a £60-a-day spend to stand up, sing the song/chant, wave your flags and play the Great Escape on a trumpet repeatedly for the cause.
It will cost £12 for less than a pint of Budweiser for heaven’s sake! Can you taste the joy? The Supreme Committee confirmed there will be specific ‘pouring times’ and a limit of four units per person. So good luck getting a hangover, then. It is most likely that the game itself is left with the shakes when this dystopian chapter in football’s history ends. But here’s a little cheer amidst the gloom, the announcement of the Uruguay squad selection is wonderfully authentic, humbling and amusing Uruguay Para el Mundial de Catar. ¡Vamos por el sueño!
A million and one hopes went awry in 2022, but 2023 is a new dawn. As the next update will be In January I’m setting a new record with my new year predictions on 18 November. Anything could happen. And so, with hope in our heart, here is a list of things I promise will absolutely, categorically happen in 2023:
January: West Ham will resign Andy Carroll, back after ten years suffering from ligament problems/a sore head/has to do the washing up for the FA Cup third round.
February: West Ham will resign Jack Wilshire, back after ten years recovering from ankle surgery/cutting the grass/his mum wouldn’t let him out to play for the FA Cup fourth round.
March: Manchester City win the Premier League with 15 games to go. Obviously.
April: Sasha wins the tsf.tech Fantasy League. Obviously.
May: Burnley win the FA Cup. Obviously.
June: Nothing happens, it’s the cricket season.
July: Nothing happens, it’s the cricket season. Still
August: Cristiano Ronaldo boycotts pre-season training at Brighton as Chelsea want to sign him.
September: Cristiano Ronaldo struggles for form with Chelsea after failing to settle in London, despite a great day out at Madame Tussauds.
October: Manchester City sign Erling’s two-month-old son on a pre-contract agreement.
November: Sasha wins the tsf.tech Fantasy League with 23 games to go.
December: Confirmed that Qatar’s 1-0 victory over Brazil in the 2022 World Cup Final was invalid as $11m found in 11 brown envelopes in the Brazilian team changing rooms wasn’t misplaced receipts from the catering vans after all, and the names on the envelopes did tally with the Brazil starting XI. Qatar have appealed and FIFA committed to another enquiry in 2024.
My exclusive Expected Results algorithm keeps spitting out a big, fat, dream-shattering zero for England in Qatar despite best efforts to fix it, for reasons I can’t quite fathom. The England players must expect to return home with nothing but souvenirs and splinters will end up having the best month of their lives in the warm weather. Temperatures are expected to drop to around 26c for England’s opening game against Iran on Monday – even if it means appearing at a World Cup spending 90 minutes running up and down a sauna.
The money in the HRWC is the direct contrast to the real soul of football. The malodorousness of Platini and Blatter is clear, both have both been convicted of shovelling bribes down their pants whilst sanctioning air conditioning stadiums, and Blatter confirming last week Qatar should never have been awarded the tournament. It threatens to extend the culture in which the sporting football spectacle is murdered, dissected, and sold for profit.
This will only restart the murmurings for the European Super League but ahead of that a Real Madrid museum and theme park is opening in Dubai next Spring, including attractions such as an amusement rides and games of footballing skill, and outlets selling memorabilia of our team’s glorious history – roll up, roll up. Is this because they’ve not managed to get a €uropean $uper £eague yet?
The white lines of a football pitch represent the boundary between the greed and inequality of football capitalism and the populist utopia of football’s heritage. When Saturday comes, and once on the pitch the peoples’ game of football is the only concern. It’s more than 90 minutes.
That’s all folks, see you in January.