tsf.tech fantasy league update gameweek 28

My Fantasy Friends

I’m not usually one to look a gift horse in the mouth, not least because gawping at horses’ mouths is a creepy habit unless you’re an equus caballus dentist, but this morning I had a long, hard stare down the throat of a prize donkey and decided that no, whilst I always like to recount fairy tales as my therapist said, this update has to be based on matter-of-fact cold hard data without prejudice that makes for a broadly law-abiding missive. So, no concocted hilarious piece of absurdism.

Standings after a fantastic, frantic, furtive, fantasian football festival this week sees Nick leading with 1,712 points, with Michael chasing hard on 1,689 and Aleksa – who was sunning himself in mid-table at Christmas but has had the after burners on since – on 1,654.

And what a week that was. Captain Son, Foden, Areola, Schar and Watkins nailed 67 points helping Mr Wright to top spot in the week (93), the similarly Foden nudged Rhys (92) into second and Jelica (87) was third, leaving the rest of us crying into our beer (see previous updates about salty tear drops and quivering bottom lip etc.)  In terms of Manager of the Month for February, nestling in first is the recently rejuvenated Michael (330), having edged out Aleksa (328) who in turn left Chris (318) in his wake.

Meanwhile, a special mention for Daniel who has made 25th spot his own from October and is not really at risk from escaping from the clutches of bottom spot. He blames the price of milk, Brexit, the weather, Donald Trump and Taylor Swift for his poor points tally. The fact he had five non-starters in his team this week is more to the point. I was told he still harbours expectations of a strong end to the season and still thinking that the two above him are catchable. One of those is me, so that is quite likely.

Made in Manchester There are four miles (6.4km) between Old Trafford and the Etihad, but after City’s 3-1 derby victory, there are lightyears between them. I’m also starting to really dislike Big Jim. In September 2020 Ratcliffe officially changed his tax residence from Hampshire to Monaco, a move estimated to save him £4Bn in tax. Ratcliffe became a minority shareholder in United last week and gained control over sporting operations.

Here’s a bloke who doesn’t pay his fair share of tax now all over the airwaves with his begging bowl asking taxpayers to help fund redevelopment of Old Trafford. Along with two co-owners who are also gazillionaires. Meanwhile our schools can’t afford to buy books and hospital waiting lists are measured in years. If he gets his way, that will mean two tax funded stadiums in Manchester. Levelling up anyone?

As Erik Ten Hag gets his grubby paws on Big Jim’s Monaco bank account and an upgrade on the Glazers’ miserly transfer kitty – last year they raided Leicester for 36-year-old Jonny Evans – United insiders say their top transfer target is £60m Bayern defender Matthijs de Ligt. An interesting summer beckons. Meanwhile United will host Liverpool in the next round of the Cup which promises to be a feisty affair, Klopp’s Under-9s stayed up well past their bedtime to see off Southampton in the last round. United v Liverpool is genuinely a grudge match of many years standing with an undercurrent of mutual fan hatred across the M62.

Everton is the first top-flight club to be punished under the Profit and Sustainability Rules (psr) by the Premier League – otherwise known as Financial Fair Play. More sanctions may come against City and Forest, Everton could face more trouble. Form an orderly naughty queue please. Under psr introduced in 2013, a club cannot lose >£105m over three years, excluding certain categories like stadium investment, women’s football, and community projects. Similar rules were introduced in England’s lower divisions after a spate of bankruptcies in the 2000s. Their stated objective is admirable: preventing clubs from going bust by overspending to chase sporting glory. Insolvencies in English football have dropped since the 2000s. But there is a cost: the rules favour richer incumbents and constrain challengers.

Everton’s story follows a familiar pattern. A deep-pocketed owner, Farhad Moshiri, bought the club planning to spend big and reach the top of the pile. He managed only the first: Everton’s wage bill doubled between 2016 and 2021. Everton barely escaped relegation in 2021-22 and 2022-23 as their business plan relied on top-eight finishes for profitability. Ballooning costs and weak revenues drove a £287m loss in the latest psr evaluation period. The club submitted a heroically creative set of carve-outs to reach the allowable £105m, but eventually Everton conceded it had overspent while arguing that the war in Ukraine (sanctions caused stadium-naming rights to fall through) and the pandemic mitigated the breach.

But a core trade-off remains: stability versus competition. By capping spending relative to club revenues, the rules limit the ways in which challengers can muscle into the space occupied by richer incumbents and a once-viable path to success has been closed off. Its galling and alarming. Villa announced £120m loss for last season. City lost money for eight consecutive seasons (2007 to 2014). Research shows that across all top divisions in Europe the number of different top-four finishers has declined by 10% in the last ten years – the rich are getting richer, and all the major European Leagues have the same handful of clubs fighting it out each season. Let’s get back to proper football and the Championship boys.

The Championship This week’s photo is of an interesting piece of club memorabilia available for all Norwich fans. As one of the yo-yo clubs, I hope Norwich stay in the Championship this season as this will give the Brookes and Becks families the opportunity for friendly verbal jousting next season. And six points for Burnley too.

As I prepare for next season’s Northern Tour visiting Hull, Huddersfield, Sunderland, Preston, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Sheffield (twice) and Blackburn – hoping Dirty Leeds stay down too – for every TNT or Sky Sports cheerleader who would have you believe that the Premier League is without question the best league in the world, there are plenty of fans who insist it’s not even the best in England.

The Championship is the place to be now, and obviously next season. It’s a far more intriguing competition than the supposedly superior league above it, if only because of its inherent stone-hatchet mad unpredictability. After all, in what other league in the world could an apparently doomed team such as Sheffield Wednesday go on an unlikely streak of five wins out of six matches without moving a single place up the table?

Owls’, manager Danny Röhl, the German with the boyband haircut that belies his 34 years, says it’s massive, massive! While Wednesday may remain second from bottom, and bottom side Rotherham’s relegation is a formality, the nine teams directly above them are separated by just four points. So unpredictable is the Championship that with Sunderland occupying the comparatively lofty position of 10th, on a run of five consecutive defeats, long suffering Mackems daren’t look up for looking down.

Leicester remain clear at the top of a table in which three of the top four places are occupied by teams relegated from the top flight last season, as well as the impoverished church mice of Ipswich who came up from League One. In any other season with 78 points and ten games to go, Ciaran McKenna’s Tractor Boys would almost certainly be guaranteed automatic promotion but in this particularly bonkers season, Championship safety is their only current cast-iron guarantee.

Sheffield United will be joining The Clarets in the Championship next season. While nobody in their right mind would have given the Blades a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a result against Arsenal, the speed and meekness of their 0-6 surrender raised eyebrows. It certainly raised backsides with the clack-clack-clackety-clack-clack of hastily vacated seats punctuating the stunned silence of the stadium as hundreds of fans decided to make for the exits after less than quarter of an hour at 0-3.

While the home players deserve plenty of criticism for their lack of fight, the fact of the matter is that like my beloved Clarets, they just aren’t good enough and cannot reasonably be held responsible for the club’s inevitable slide out of the Money Bags League. The tone for me was set in the opening game of the season when City brought on Jack Grealish as sub in the 85th minute at Turf Moor. £100m. We brought on Josh Brownhill. £10m. The Blades were my second team when I was at University, so I have a soft spot for them, Their shellshocked players have now conceded five or more goals in four of their last seven games. Pulling off miraculous escapes, even if extricating themselves from their current pickle does seem a Houdini act too far.

This weekend United will be hoping Saint Marcus will prove an able deputy in the absence of the knacked Rasmus Højlund. While he will always have a place in the hearts of United fans, not to mention everyone who aren’t grasping Tories, is he a pick for your team this weekend?

And Luton defenders? Doughty is a cheap pick, takes set pieces and has eight assists, but Luton were subjected to the kind of mauling by City that invariably earns the vanquished side one of those condescending tributes Pep invariably pays to teams who have been thrashed. I think the Luton central defenders defended really well he honked last week after City’s 6-2 cup win last week, having just seen them prove what a difficult place Kenilworth Road can be for visitors to play, unless you’re a preposterously gifted Norwegian giant running on to inch-perfect passes from an almost supernaturally accurate Belgian. Gameweek 28 is a double gameweek for Bournemouth and Luton. Carlton Morris is an option up front – nine attacking returns in his last nine games – and Dominic Solanke too, if he’s fit.

It’s Liverpool v City on Sunday, but don’t forget to tune into the Six Nations rugby this weekend, England v Ireland on Saturday and Wales v France on Sunday.

Good luck!

Ron Manager

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