tsf.tech fantasy league update gameweek 29

Greetings all on this sunny March Friday morning.

This week’s photo is Bayern fans all flared up at a recent away match at Dortmund.

Well, Aleksa 71 points (Mings, Saka, Kane – 42 points) was the top score from last week just ahead of a 68-point haul from Nikita and Tudor, a long-standing member of this parish, on 67. The top three in the race for manager of the month for March are Chris 213, Tudor 212, and Ben 208. For the first time since I was a lad, we have a new leader of our competition. No, we don’t, just joking…another week of absolute euphoria, glasses of pop and lashings of chocolate – congrats to Michael who has gathered 1,820 points and sits 28 points clear of Scott on 1,792, with Chris just four points behind 1,788. International break follows the cup weekend, next games are Saturday April 1, so rest easy for the next ten days.

Is there too much analysis in football? There is, and much of it is hot air. Here’s the transcript of the half-time discussion at a recent game I watched on Sky. Utter piffle, no insight, no gems, just utter piffle! Names changed to prevent legal action…

Host: So that’s half time, what do you make of City, Colin?

Colin 1: Yeah, it was a great start for City, they literally came flying out of the traps, and after that United were just playing catch up you know.

Colin 2: Yeah, They were on the ropes literally from minute one. And that’s the thing with City, if you’re not on top of your game they will literally pick you apart.

Host: So, what do you think United have to do to get back in the game?

Colin 1: Well, they’ve literally got to roll their sleeves up, they don’t want to literally throw in the towel.

Colin 2: If they don’t get a goal back early, they have literally shot themselves in the foot.

Colin 1: As for City, they just need to literally take this game by the scruff of the neck and literally put it to bed.

Host: So, what did you make of the first goal

Colin 1: Oh, I mean the goalkeeper literally handed it to him on a plate with a cherry on top.

Colin 2: The manager must have been giving him both barrels in the dressing room.

Time to get Chat GPT into the commentary box, I think.

The Premier League is a cult akin to Dan Brown’s Knights Templar in his Da Vinci Code novels, a select brotherhood of confused entitlement and pomposity driven by pound notes. The Football League was founded in 1888, the Premier League in 1992. Run along now, just because you’ve got some cash.  It’s brought some great players to our grass playing fields for sure, but also decimated the levelling of said fields. It’s also brought a set of owners whose motivations I struggle to understand, and also exploded the expectations of owners and fans to levels of unreasonableness.

There can only be one winner of the league – since 1992, there have been seven different winners: Manchester United (13), Man City (6), Chelsea (5) Arsenal (3) Blackburn, Leicester City and Liverpool one each – and I reckon only Newcastle could crash into this list over the next twenty years. Competition? Not really, it’s about how those with an unfair advantage sustain their unfair advantage against others also in the unfair advantage club. Which is why Palace’s decision to sack Vieira bemused this week. Ok they’ve gone 11 games without a win and are just three points above the relegation places, but all of those matches were against teams in the top 11, Zaha has been out injured, and their next fixtures are Leicester, Leeds, Southampton, Everton, Wolves, West Ham – all winnable, all below them in the table.

It is with enormous regret that this difficult decision has been made wailed Palace chairman Steve Parish, failing to learn from Watford’s AI P45 factory which hasn’t exactly been conducive to stability and progress. If you’re going to fire someone, at least have the decency to do it like that finger-jabbing eejit on The Apprentice. This is a burgeoning development in the Premier League: statements to announce a sacking that hint at an ocean of melancholy and endless dark nights of the soul, rather than a deluded, trigger-happy reaction to the first bit of adversity from owners that couldn’t run an under-9s five-a-side team. There must be something in the London water. Well, of course there is, its sewage, thanks to the shower in charge of the country.

Mr Roy has stepped in. He has a long and distinguished career in football management but it’s fair to say his most recent gigs haven’t quite gone well, including his spell as England manager ending in humiliation at the hands of Iceland at Euro 2016, and getting relegated with Watford. Now he’s stepping back into the mayhem having retired to the beach but at least he can buy his wife a bunch of daffodils from the Sainsbury’s adjacent to Selhurst Park.

I don’t know why I need to, but Wednesday morning I needed to know that the attendance at Stranraer v Brechin in Scottish Division Three was 387, the half-time score was 0-0 and McDougall scored the winner (pen) in the 87th minute. Ross was sent off, presumably for the foul. I also needed to know the scoring sequence in Barnsley’s’ 4-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday midweek. This information hardly matters but my morning ritual is to spend over an hour reading every football result in detail from the previous day. Sundays sees this ritual play out as far as the National League North and Scarborough Athletic’s 2-2 draw away at Chester last week caught my eye.

I settle down with a pot of tea and my eyes a few inches from the laptop screen to gaze intently at tidings and details from Plainmoor and Roots Hall, from Loftus Road to Boundary Park. Not my teams, but I need to know. The presentation of results is a work of art and a triumph of the factual. Nothing looks as good or is as accurate. I need to know if the people of Bolton had a happy Saturday afternoon and then imagine their glee after a 2-0 home triumph over Wigan in front of 12,445 spectators and that the two second half goals in the 66 and 68 minutes roared them to life.

Once the score is absorbed, I moved on consuming the league tables. Why are Crewe so good at home but can’t do anything away? Why have Wimbledon drawn ten away games so far? Crowds at Plymouth look high. The PL W D L F A PTS columns are a classic data plot and presentation, telling tales of hope, triumph, possibility, despair, and adversity, and for many, muddling along in just-another-season. Then there are the top scorers list, the picks in the team of the week. This is better than any long running series on Netflix, same time, next week, another pot of tea and it will all renew.

So why do it? Why don’t I watch the amazing, incredible, sexy, wonderful, blah blah, on Netflix, which my wife loves so much. I have tried, giving Poldark ten minutes of my time, then gave up. I cared even less about what happened to the Duke of Breeches than about Plymouth’s back five keeping a fourth clean sheet on the bounce. That keeps me mentally stimulated for ages. You don’t get that sort of interesting thought when watching a serving wench in a long frock being ravaged up against a tree in Poldark

I’m missing Scott Parker. He’d taken over from Frank Lampard as the best dressed manager on the touchline whilst at Bournemouth after his Fulham sojourn was cut short, even in the pelting rain of East Lancashire he looked smart when we played them last time. Pep, or course, used to win the accolade hands-down with his Black Magic meets Steve Jobs black turtleneck and chinos ensemble, but he’s gone all scruffy hoodie this season. He’s lost his way has Pep.

The square jaw, those cheekbones, that piercing stare, he could be a 1930s Hollywood heartthrob.  His hair neatly parted, always the same length, looks as if his mum brushed it. He favours short jackets, short coats, very narrow trousers, like a mod from the Seventies. I thought at first, he was wearing clothes too tight, then I realised that’s his style. When play gets boring, let’s have another shot of Bielsa crouching, or Nuno Espírito Santo stroking his lush beard, or quick, camera number three, catch those cheekbones of Scott Parker. Oooh, rapture… 

Onto the weekend, and time to think about what to do for next weekend. More than one million fantasy league managers captained Kevin de Bruyne two weeks ago, only to see KDB do nowt. Now he’s back on fire. Chelsea’s seemingly impregnable rear-guard has sprung a leak, Liverpool score seven then lose 0-1. Who can you rely on? Squad rotation will start to bite more and more as we head into the final ten games period, which will make selection even trickier.

 I’m thinking Mitoma and Isak as smart plays, three from Arsenal and maybe City defenders. Mitrovic looks likely to get a lengthy ban, so maybe Kane as an option to Erling? Watkins and Maddison can collect points on their day too, but it’s the conundrum of City that remains the challenge – Foden, Grealish, Silva, Mahrez, Rodri, Alvarez – all capable of a ten-point haul in one game but will Pep pick ‘em? Some of you will still have your wildcard available which means you could change things up to position yourself perfectly for the next double gameweek, and there’s always the option of the free hit too. Then maybe you’ve shown more discipline than me and Bench Boost or your Triple Captain chip is still up for grabs? Still with me?  What is it they say about the best-laid plans? I’m not saying I tinker every week but I’m not so much dogged by ill-discipline but jackalled, hyaenaed, dingoed and wolved by it all. Oh, and transfer deadline is 11am Saturday 1 April.

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