tsf.tech fantasy league update: gameweek 27

A great week. Best three things to happen? Well, in reverse order: fortieth anniversary of New Order’s Blue Monday; Netflix confirmed a third series of Bridgerton; Liverpool 7 Man U 0. Nothing else matters, obviously, save the tsf.tech Fantasy League results.

After another hectic week in the league, top points harvester was leader Michael on 80 followed by Ron with (74) and Chris (67). This saw Michael stretch his lead at the top with 1,699 points, a lead of 38 points ahead of Ron (1,661) followed by Scott (1,645. Race for the much-coveted manager of the month for March sees Michael (232) leading the charge just ahead of Ron, Chris, and Tudor. Michael is also favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Eurovision Song Contest, and the next General Election.

David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is one of my favourite films. Please, don’t tell me you haven’t seen it?!! It is as brilliant and disquieting as anything Lynch has ever done. It is psychotically lucid, oppressively strange, but with a powerfully erotic and humanly intimate dimension. It is a fantasia of illusion and identity. The film is an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious. Bit like the United dressing room at Anfield at full-time on Sunday really.

It’s a funny rivalry, Liverpool and Man U, the M62 East Lancs derby. United went years as bang average, as did Liverpool, they never did go head-to-head much but still had a heritage which gave the games profile. This season, it’s Liverpool’s turn to swing in the doldrums. Their lack of spark made a Graham Potter press conference look like An Evening With Rik Mayall.

Ahead of Sunday, United had turned into a results machine as ETH got them into their stride, and rather irritatingly,  getting results with some good performances, with Rashford on fire. They last met in August, United securing a 2-1 win after calamitous defeats at Brentford (0-3) and losing at home to Brighton (1-2) on the opening day of the season. King Erik was on his way to popularising the Steve Jobs roll-neck sweaters and the Salford goatee box-beard. Liverpool’s season was meanwhile dumper-bound.

No one thought ahead of Sunday Jürgey stood a chance to swing that perpetual M62/East Lancs pendulum back towards Merseyside. But although Coronavirus has now lessened, hats off to the socially responsible Man Utd defence operating independently in exclusion zones miles apart from each other, thus ensuring nobody had any chance of catching anything including any Liverpool forwards.

If there’s one thing I like, even more than finding a stray kit-kat at the bottom of the biscuit barrel, it’s proper football. You know, proper football. Proper football! And there’s nothing more proper in football than doing the properest thing of all, which is properly putting the ball in the net in order to declare yourselves the proper winners. Liverpool did that on Sunday.

But approaching a week on, all of this is over, and we will have learned to practise kindness and become more generous towards our fellow man who finds themselves in a moment of despair. I will be kinder to United in my weekly updates from hereon, remembering the fantastic contribution Marcus is making to helping kids with food.

But I’ll start next week, let’s milk the farce of a 0-7 hammering a little bit more. While the team as a whole had a comical collective second-half nightmare in the face of a Liverpool onslaught reminiscent of a year ago when they were still good, the standout shocker was that of Bruno Fernandes. When he wasn’t busy losing the ball, Captain Calamity was waving his arms like an orchestra conductor on amphetamines, raging at his teammates, raging at the referee’s and everyone else’s ineptitude. In a show of petulance that would see most toddlers receive a lengthy ban from their local indoor soft play, threw himself to the ground feigning facial injury, took a dive in an effort to win a penalty and remonstrated with his own manager for not substituting him. All the better to leave him to endure a humiliation that was largely of his own making. Reputation shredded like cabbage at a coleslaw convention.

And one final point. Bierwurst, Weibwurst and Wollwurst are types of sausage. A Weghorst is a derative of such. A silly sausage. Touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign. The way he carries on you’d think that he been there for years. His boots were too big for Burnley last year which is why he was shipped out. A mainstay of the team culture not. It didn’t do him or his team much good, did it? From now on Liverpool players will be urging opponents to touch it every week.

While the scenes at the Emirates saw Arsenal recover from 0-2 to 3-2 versus Bournemouth, can I offer a further step on the way down the proof-ladder that the drama doesn’t reduce just because there are fewer there to witness it? Last week, just five miles up the road,  Glan Conwy Under-9s visited the fortress home of the mighty Clwb Peldroed Bethel in a friendly arranged to practise for next season’s change from five-a-side up to seven. In front of maybe 20 ‘fans’ (mums, dads, grandparents, and dogs) and with the sloping pitch finally in their favour, the GC U9s stormed back from 2-0 down with just a couple of minutes left to triumph 3-2 in a real smash-and-grab raid. No cameras to record, no pundits to discuss, but a fine victory, nonetheless. Plus, further evidence of my pet theory that the third goal always wins.

I watched a couple of games this week where teams were perching on the edge of a 1-0 cliff in the 89th minute, plying keep ball. This is how to stay alive. Down by the corner flag is where the Buckaroo shenanigans start, A raging bull of a full-back hacks and grabs at the centre forward who has suddenly grown the shoulders of Quasimdo and is like a selfish ogre shielding the ball. The winger hurtles forward, a backup and picks up the ball, rolls his foot over it a few times and toe-pokes it off the shin of the full-back and it pings out for a corner.

The corner taker jogs over slowly digressing rather than progressing, Quasi and the corner taker have a plan. The ball is tip-tapped from taker to Quasi. Opponents belt in, resembling henchmen, but are battered aside with one kapow of the Quasi’s shoulders. Cue more Buckaroo limbs and hacks and grabs and then out for another throw.

I revel in this ritual, it becomes like a baying wrestling match, urgent and primal. But it takes skill and finesse to shield a ball so conclusively, knowing exactly when to flick it onto a shin, and with trigonometric prowess enough to win a corner. The bodies heave and hunch together, ferociously hiding secrets, a pantomime. The only better time-wasting tactic is the substituted player walking off the pitch as if walking to the electric chair. The ref raises his arm theatrically for the crowd to see, showing that time is being added, gawping, and pointing at his watch like a mime artist. What a feeling when that 96th minute whistle goes and its ended 1-0 to you.

Finally, this week, I picked a great little book on football club nicknames The Dictionary of Football Club Nicknames in Britain and Ireland by Shaun Tyas.  The Shrimpers, The Brewers, The Blades, The Glovers – football club nicknames speak of local industries that at entrancing and intriguing, made from cosy words that fit into music hall lyrics. They remind us that many clubs walk hand-in-hand with the locality and recall factories long since gone. Nicknames are geographic encyclopaedias too.

I learned that Reading was once famous for making biscuits – Reading are nicknamed The Royals, due to Reading’s location in the Royal County of Berkshire, though they were previously known as The Biscuitmen, due to the town’s association with Huntley and Palmers. The same goes for Northampton (The Cobblers) for shoes, Walsall (The Saddlers) for horsey stuff and Kidderminster (The Carpetmen) for – yes you guessed it, carpets.

Then there are nicknames that to me are a British Summertime fairy-tale and countryside – The Bees, Magpies, Hornets and Owls. Then the club colours, The Robins, The Hoops, The Clarets, The Canaries. It all adds up to a wonderland of football in a parallel universe, kinder and more wholesome, well before VAR.

Scottish clubs have some amazing nicknames: Ayr United – The Honest Men – fell off the pages of a Burns poem, Queen of the South are The Doonhamers, named from exiles from Edinburgh, longing to ‘doon home’. The Hedgemen of Brechin? Presumably good gardeners. The handle that sings most to me is Clyde’s. There is no clear truth as to the origin of their nickname – The Bully Wee – but I like to think it’s a tenacious cartoon character biting the ankles of opponents.

Transfer deadline this week is 11am Saturday, and I’m hand wringing. This might sound ridiculous but I’m toying with the idea of taking Erling out of my team. Clearly a high-risk strategy given he has 27 goals in 26 games and has the potential to rack up a big FPL score in the blink of an eye – but hear me out.

City are at Palace in gameweek 27, they blank in gameweek 28 because of their involvement (defeat) to Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals and then are at home to Liverpool in gameweek 29. That is two games for Haaland, while in that time Brentford’s Ivan Toney could potentially play five games and the likes of Havertz, Felix, and Watkins could all play four. I’d buy him straight back in gameweek 30 when City go to Southampton, followed by a home game against Leicester in gameweek 31.

Brighton and Brentford have two games this week. Liverpool go to Bournemouth with shooting books in fine order, but blank in gameweek 28, then have a tricky double in gameweek 29 away to Manchester City and Chelsea. Chelsea are starting to look a more attractive proposition after their back-to-back wins against Leeds and Dortmund, and they have a promising set of fixtures ahead – away at Leicester, home to Everton and then a double gameweek with two home matches against Aston Villa and Liverpool. Reece James was a pick earlier in the season, and I may bring him back.

Good luck!

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