The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. Fantasy football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication. But remember, it’s only a game. Play responsibly. When the fun stops, stop. But don’t miss that transfer deadline again – 11am Saturday.
Weekly top of the pile goes to James S with 117 points, Wilson© pick gave him 48 armband points. Niall rebooted with an impressive with 110 to edge second – dizzying heights for a Leicester fan – whilst Aleksa landed third. The rest of us laggards, well don’t worry, these three just got lucky.
This leaves Aleksa top on 2,429 points, a VAR decision ahead of Michael on 2,427 and Tudor (2,367) in third. With just two rounds to go it’s looking like a two-horse race for champion status. May’s manager of the month sees James S (152), Niall (145) and Tudor (139) leaving the rest of us in their wake.
With several weeks of nothingness looming, bar the odd bit of transfer-related tumbleweed rolling across the football landscape until the Women’s World Cup takes the bare look off the summer, it’s important we enjoy the last few weeks of the season before everything shuts down after Big Cup final next month. This weekend the action ramps up another few notches as the Premier League inches closer to its denouement with the title up for City to grab, and a couple of top four places to sort, while the unseemly scramble to avoid – with apologies to officially-doomed Southampton – the two remaining relegation spots continues to enthral. It’s now certain that two of Leicester, Leeds, Forest, and Everton will be joining Saints as they go marching into the Championship, in a race to the bottom.
In the EFL 63 teams are officially on the beach, the rest have playoff semi-finals and finals to dread. Promotion for either Luton or Coventry would constitute quite the story given the different vicissitudes visited upon them in recent years. Coventry’s team is so young that most of their players still have stabilisers on the bikes they ride to training. Meanwhile in League One, Nick Wright’s Bolton take on Barnsley tonight with the winners facing Sheffield Wednesday in the League One playoff final. I’m rooting for Barnsley (sorry Nick) due to their strong Burnley connections, their manager Michael Duff played 382 times for us and is also a very, very, very, very nice man.
Not a good week for Ivan Toney who now has an eight-month hole in his calendar to fill. Professional footballers are forbidden from gambling on their own sport, no matter where it is being played. And while there is no suggestion that the Brentford striker was trying to manipulate results or using insider knowledge to give himself some sort of edge, his plea of guilty to 232 breaches of the rules means he can have no complaints about being punished. Toney is, however, entitled to feel aggrieved about the severity of the eight-month ban he has received.
Toney plays for a football club that is owned by a man who made his money out of gambling, while wearing a shirt emblazoned with the logo of a betting firm, on pitches surrounded by advertising hoardings exhorting those who see them to bet on football. He made his name in a league sponsored by another gambling firm and his goals are broadcast on TV and radio stations who pocket millions from unscrupulous firms whose raison d’etre, despite their bland assurances to the contrary, is to relieve often vulnerable punters of as much of their income as possible.
While the rule that Toney is not allowed to gamble on football could scarcely be clearer, it hardly seems surprising that somebody whose profession means he is subjected to a constant barrage of sledgehammer-subtle advertising by assorted bookies might be tempted to dabble in an area where he might feel he has expertise. For the FA to then come down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks – while showing little inclination to rid their sport of this malign and pernicious influence – smacks of double standards from an organisation whose priorities are preposterously skewed. Reaction to Toney’s ban has been predictably mixed, an average of five bets a month over four years is hardly troubling.
City’s Big Cup victory over Real was less a rout, more a bloodless coup d’etat. There is still time for one last bout of City-itis in Istanbul against Inter, but you could feel the balance of power shifting with every twitch of Ancelotti’s eyebrow. Best moment was de Bruyne snapping back at Guardiola https://twitter.com/TrollFootball/status/1659137064254816256?s=20
City are demonstrably better at football than most other teams and have a far greater number of excellent players at their disposal. There, that’s my free takeaway insight for you. They are a relentless winning machine, engineered in a bespoke laboratory at eye-watering expense to the detailed specifications of an elite manager who, with the possible exception of Aleksa, is almost certainly the best in his field and possesses a preposterous strength in depth that is the envy of all rivals. What a great week beckons for City fans, less so United fans…
The tombola drum that Pep pulls his rotational team selections from should surely have the mercurial de Bruyne as a shoe in every week in a deep lying midfield role, twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom. Kevin de Bruyne is an intelligent footballer, well aware of what’s happening next well before the ball has even arrived with him. He has the best first touch. You could buy a plastic ball from the petrol station and drop it on him from the moon in a storm the Met office has named Storm Jack and he’d kill the thing dead. Imagine him playing with Messi. He’s so far ahead in his thinking, Messi would still be wearing flared trousers.
One thing I’ve picked up this week is Micah Richards complaining about City’s high line, understandable when his fringe is so distant from his eyebrows. Imagine how much Micah laughed the first time he saw Peter Kay’s garlic bread routine. Best part was watching Micah’sexpressions after the match on Sky, he needed the Samaritans number to calm himself down. At time he irritates me, others he’s quite perceptive. I’d love to see him replace Jeff as the anchor on Soccer Saturday.
A double gameweek beckons, so I’m still hopeful of a top five finish. Bruno Fernandes has the all-round potential to bring in a major points haul. He has produced 14 shots in his last four matches, second only to the 18 of team-mate Marcus Rashford . I’m tempted to fetch him into my XI with Erling keeping the armband. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s move into central midfield has transformed his value in Fantasy, with a goal, six assists and three clean sheets in his last eight appearances.
Salah has three successive double-figure point hauls, Mahrez has started seven of City’s last eight league matches thanks to Pep Guardiola’s rotation, supplying five assists in his previous four outings whilst Rashford’s return to training in midweek may prompt to immediately bring him back if he is passed fit for their two matches. Although City’s quest for silverware on multiple fronts could lead to rotation, their ongoing bid for the title should ensure Erling starts at least one of their two matches this week. He is averaging a goal every 74 minutes in his debut Fantasy campaign.