Week 21 is done and it’s still Michael burning up the league with 1,335 points – or for those of you who prefer a more European description un mil tri cant tri deg pump, or mille trois cent trente-cinq, or eintausenddreihundertfünfunddreißig. Scott (1,320) and Ron (1,312) are in eager pursuit, making him hot under the collar. Big fishing in the week saw Nick (94), Scott (91), Niall (90) fill their nets. Michael (255), Daniel (240) Niall and Scott (228) lead the charge for the January top banana award.
This week’s photo is one of those Venn diagram things, musing around where Frank Lampard could turn up next. More of Frank later in this week’s update. Lots to discuss as we wait for the Cup games with no Fantasy League points to play for, and the Sunday’s episode of Happy Valley as the highlight of the weekend.
Spurs have Molton Brown as official supplier of toiletries. Keep a straight face now folks. Molton Brown’s collection of signature fragrances, bath and shower gels, home and hand care luxuries have claimed iconic status thanks to their vibrant colours and bold scents. But you knew that anyway. This captures everything that is wrong in football. Mark Hermann, Vice President Sales & Operations at Molton Brown Global, said: We are beyond excited with our partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. Our carefully chosen collections will feature throughout the Club’s world-class facilities, giving people the opportunity to experience our fragranced luxuries on those all-important match days. Which explains a lot, as Spurs players have been too busy smelling nice and not focused on their game on recent match days.
If this season’s Premier League title race doesn’t make you feel alive with excitement, you are one of two things: a Manchester United fan, or an irreparable husk whose glabrous lust for life has been inexorably eroded by the arbitrary vicissitudes of our existence, and whose only scintilla of joy in life comes from reinstalling Championship Manager 2001-02. I have to say I’m full of admiration for the relentlessness shown by Arsenal, City and Newcastle, they should be commended on their respective impersonations of hungry dogs staring devotedly at their owners in the hope of receiving a treat. My 10p bet is on City to win the League.
Owned by an oil company, City are by far the greatest team the world has kerosene. You would have thought they might be running out of gas at this stage in the season, but they still looked pretty slick, barreling around the attacking third without quite igniting versus Wolves on Sunday. Certainly their final ball was often a bit crude and could have used some refining but, when it came to goals the well wasn’t dry, it always looked like there was an opportunity in the pipeline. In the end, Erling let off a rocket and the whole place ignited…
Everton are replacing Frank who was replacing Benitez, who was replacing Ancelotti, who was replacing Allardyce, who was replacing Koeman who was replacing Marco Silva. This isn’t on Frank, this is on a board not backing managers – before Frank, they’ve paid out £40m in manager compensation. Clearly some underlying issues with recruitment. If it wasn’t for Frank and Richarlison’s goals in the last ten games of last season they would already be in the Championship, and behind Burnley.
The last time Everton were relegated was 1951. In the last 48 hours, Everton have sacked their manager, put themselves up for sale, slapped a contract down in front of Arnaut Danjuma before nipping out for a cup of tea; thought idly about starting a search for a new manager while sipping the tea; popped back in to see Danjuma only to discover an empty chair spinning and window cracked open, through which one could see someone of similar build to Danjuma hailing a cab to North London; eventually started searching for a new manager; asked the first person on their list, Marcelo Bielsa if he fancied the gig; told by Bielsa he’ll consider it if they buy players who can run; hawked Anthony Gordon around in the hope of raising some ready money; and insisted they’re not up for sale.
As Everton scrabble around for a new gaffer, there is growing clamour for Wayne Rooney to bail out his boyhood club. The 37-year-old would certainly bring relevant experience, having guided American side DC United to rock bottom in the MLS last season. But he won plaudits for geeing up the squad with a “rousing speech”, which was posted on the club’s YouTube channel two weeks ago.
Hey, they’re out of the cup and don’t have a match for nearly a fortnight, they’ve got to do something to while away the time. Seven managers in seven years. I think they’ll give Sean Dyche a go, they may not play great football as a result, but he’ll get they organised and work hard. With the transfer window closing in six days, they’d better get a wriggle on. Last year they were offered Bruno Guimarães for £16m, only to spend £25m on Jean-Philippe Gbamin instead. Oh dear. But at least there’s still a way out of this, and hope remains. Big week coming up. If the last couple of days are anything to go by, it could be an extremely long one as well. You’re in my thoughts Rhys!
In our own league, with the top five separated by just 65 points as we enter Gameweek 22 on 3 February, I grabbed the Gary Neville Sky TV microphone and interviewed the managers as they stand on the verge of the best day of their life since they first kissed a girl.
Michael: How will you finish? Old rivals have some experience, new entrants less than me so I will smash them, top dog for me. It’s more important than the Eurovision Song contest. It will be the greatest day in my life since I learned to ride a bike and stopped getting scabby knees.
Scott: How will you finish? I’m worried that my squad has the mental fortitude of a soggy paper bag filled with a cold kebab at 2am on a Friday night and will fail just at the final hurdle. If I win, I hope to use victory to become a pre-eminent sports psychologist; I’ve already written the first chapter of ‘The good psychopath’s guide to fantasy league success’.
Ron: How will you finish? History suggests a tragicomic lurching surfing skid to flirting with glory with a hope that ability, spirit and intelligence and good looks can beat the advantages of money, although in reality my expectations will tumble from the dog’s arse of expectation and thud upon the pavement of underachievement. I’m good at creating disturbing mental images.
Aleksa: How will you finish? Another spin of the morbid carousel, but looking down the table rather than up, on others less fortunate than myself with their judgement. If I win, It will mean that you come first in the list of players because you have accumulated more points than other players.
Chris: How will you finish? 500 points above my dad and at least 100 above our kid. Aim for the stars, and even if you miss, at least you tried. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees and all that. Michael was prone to scabby knees as a kid.
No matter how mature and averse to hyperbole you are, it can be difficult not to get carried away on this Fantasy League stuff. After all, if you can’t despair for the future of mankind when five defenders can’t keep a clean sheet between them, then when can you? The wackiness, the banter, the realisation that your heart really did just skip a beat because your team has got 35 points with four players left to play this weekend, well, none of it is exactly conducive to the smooth flow of serotonin.
Gameweek 22 transfer deadline is 630pm Friday 3 February, so have a care free weekend. In the last week, most popular transfers in have been Rashford, Fernandes, Shaw, Saka and Nketiah, passing through the out door have been Cancelo, Almiron, Martinelli, Mitrovic and Salah.