tsf.tech fantasy league update: gameweek 8.5

Well, don’t these Fridays come round quickly!

We can all relax this weekend as it’s another of those meaningless international breaks, tune into the rugby world cup and feast your eyes on Saturday and Sunday, four top games. Guinness and chicken wings go nicely with rugby!

How was it for you? Top dogs in the week were Nikita, a diehard Liverpool fan, and Aleksa, a diehard Man C fan, both with 65 points, just edging out Ron (62), a diehard Burnley fan. Salah won her 30 captain armband points.  As we enter the blank weekend, Nikita and Aleksa sits in pole position for manager of the month, with Ron hoofing up behind them. Overall, Paul P, a diehard Man Utd fan, sits top of the pile on 503 points, Mr Wright, a diehard Bolton fan is second (501) and Nikita third (499).

Is there actually a title race? Hold the back page, hold the front-page batten down the hatches, holy smoke, by Jove, by George, by David (see below), cripes, golly gosh, good grief, jeepers creepers, Jiminy Cricket, OMG, bloody Nora, flippin’ heck, goodness gracious!

Whisper it, but we might just have a Premier League title race on our hands, something of a rarity, with City romping to the title in five of the last six seasons, but no, genuine excitement! Bring out the Battenberg! Ring a Ring o’ Roses! Holy Mackerel Batman! Gadzooks! Someone check on Micah Richards to ensure he hasn’t imploded with angst! The catalyst for all of this hysteria, of course, was one of the dullest games of association football in history as Gabriel Martinelli decided a clunky contest between Arsenal and City with a deflected goal after 86 minutes.

The biggest talking point until the goal was how Kovacic somehow stayed on the pitch after late tackles on both Odegaard and Rice. City, as usual, had plenty of possession, but they lacked their normal thrust and sharpness, with Erling reduced to the role of a virtual spectator.  Not that Arteta will care about who and how, with the club joint top of the table cosying up alongside north London pals Spurs, who apparently are good now, having shipped out the deadweight Harry Kane to perennial strugglers Bayern Munich and shipped in Big Ange.

It’s all over for Pep as City now (embarrassingly) sit in third, on a massive losing streak of two games, is this enough to call it a crisis? Probably not. They have the best manager in the world, a returning Rodri (banished to the naughty corner for dirty tackling) and a returning John Stones to play er…wherever, while Kevin’s comeback is soon.

Still, two consecutive City league defeats is something to celebrate for the rest of us at least. The last time it happened was December 2018 with the losses to Palace and Leicester devastating City’s season… checks notes, ah wait, they won the domestic treble, and finished the league campaign with 14 consecutive wins to clinch the title with 98 points.

Think they’ll bounce back, City will beat Brighton in their next game 6-0 without producing a single bead of sweat between the eleven players, although Sunday was entertaining seeing the brief and spectacular loss of noggin from the usually happy-go-lucky Pep. He slammed a seat, put his head in his hands and stomped off in a manner that briefly changed the ground temperature from a bracing 12°C to an invigorating 42°C.

St David Is your mobile pinging? There is a good chance it is David Beckham ready to offer some advice. From calling up footballers in a slump to parenting advice for future kings, the former England captain, the Albert Einstein of set-pieces and whooping parabolic crosses from the right wing, really is the go-to agony uncle. Goldenballs has always been nice to folk when he has something to promote, say a four-part Netflix documentary. He is Mr Nice, DB7, the friendly hursuit face of football, free-kick and crosser extraordinaire, who constantly draws on what he learned from kicking Diego Simeone.

His latest client is down-in-the-dumps Harry Maguire, who has had nowt to celebrate as United’s fifth-choice centre-back, needing a little pick me up from the master of patter. It shows how classy he is to reach out and message me. It was something I really appreciate. It was touching, gurgled Maguire, tears welling up. Maybe I’m being too harsh on Mr Posh Spice because just as we were celebrating Brentford’s 1-0 win at Old T,  the back and forth with Becks inspired Maguire’s assist for McTominay’s winner against Brentford. McT also worships at the Church of Becks apparently.

Maguire is not the first client of the man with yet another different Haircut – who received some spare change to the tune of £150m for his ambassadorial role at the 2022 World Cup to advise everyone on how great Qatar is. Taylor Swift (never thought she’d get a mention in my football blog) received relationship guidance from the man who never had an affair with Rebecca Loos about starting out with new beau Travis Kelce. We have got amazing kids, but we make time for each other. Taylor is an amazing talent, and she’s an amazing person, and she deserves to be happy said Gary Neville’s best mate.

The heir to the throne has been offered wise words from the best footballer I saw in the 1990s too: Get some sleep because jumping from one child to two is a big step Becks cackled before the arrival of Prince William’s second born. Perhaps he guided William through the colic months. So, whatever your problem, however big or small, put out the Becks signal and he will come running – depending on media and ambassadorial commitments.

Daag and bedankt Eden Hazard, now 32, has retired just a few months after his release from Real Madrid. Before his €150m transfer from Chelsea, Prime Hazard was inevitable, an impossible juxtaposition of agility, finesse, and low-centred physicality. We saw him play at Turf Moor and he was the second-best player I’ve ever seen on the ground after Ashley Barnes – sorry, I meant David Silva. After spearheading Belgium’s golden generation and title wins for both Lille and Chelsea, Hazard failed to shine in Madrid, but his departure still feels premature, although he’s been a pro for 16 years and more than 700 matches played.

The Premier League circus hit Burnley last Saturday as there were loads of ‘fans’ in those irritating half and half scarves. To me they are the worst thing about the modern game after VAR. Worse than the Qatar World Cup. Worse than the League throwing out Bury. Worse than Neymar. Worse than the chicken Balti pies at Preston.

The half and half scarf is the only thing in football with a worse reputation than Ole Gunner Solskjaer, who looks like the man at the Argos customer service desk wanting a refund but lost his receipt. The scarf with ‘Ole at the Wheel’ was bound to be a top seller, but I didn’t know it was wheelbarrow©. Interestingly I found out from the DB7 documentary that Ole is a very decent chap from the interviews, and it was his boot that the Evil Lord Ferg kicked into Beckham’s forehead.

You can’t be a real fan. The half and half scarf owner is a football tourist staying in Gary Neville’s Hotel Football, and goes to the game shouting Come on Football or even worse, May the best team win! I wouldn’t wash my car with one, there is lots of other merchandise to pick up –  at the last Burnley game I bought a BFC dog collar for Mollie. Half and half scarves are naff, tatt and bewilderingly misjudged. Actually, the problem is people buying them. Who do they support? (apologies to Aleksa).

Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday 21 October so plenty of time to rehash the permutations and get the XI back to the promise of sunlit uplands and big things to come from this team.

I am at pains to state, over and over again, that my football experience extends to being a half decent six-a-side goalkeeper some 20+ years ago and occasionally coaching junior kid’s teams. Actually, that was kids’ rugby. I had to manage the Maths Society Sunday League 11-a-side team once at University when the Sports Science manager we ghosted in was unavailable and ground out a 0-0 with draw with Archaeology XI by packing the midfield (very proud of myself).

So yes, I don’t know what I’m talking about regarding ‘inverted full backs’ and ‘6s in the open zone spaces’ and ‘underlapping runs from defensive midfielders’. The managers, and the decisions they make, I’m writing about, could drink me under the table in knowledge, experience and qualifications, but that doesn’t stop me having a go at this Fantasy malarkey.

I gave my team a real verbal lashing last weekend ahead of the fixtures, I threw stuff at the walls to make an impact – you’d need a lottery grant the size of HS2’s overspend just to repaint the dressing room. Some of my picks had been posing for signing pictures in a watch worth more than my house the previous week, and then missed a chance you’d have scored yourself during the game. Not having it, you’re a footballer.

I’ve quit talking about finishing at the top of a ‘mini league’ at the bottom of the full tsf.tech championship. I mean, quite apart from the fact Burnley Reserves wouldn’t finish top of the Burnley and District Knitting Circle playing like they had done, now I’m talking about climbing the table, pushing on into the top half, achieving big things, proving everybody wrong, getting back at those fancy dans with 450+ points. I am not settling for being up the creek without a paddle.

Enjoy the rugby!

Ron Manager

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