tsf.tech fantasy league update: gameweek seven

Greetings everyone

Another thrilling week of the tsf.tech fantasy league has passed and throw your hats in the air for Michael B who nailed leading the league in the league leaders position on 421 points, continuing an impressive run in collecting points like the squirrels collecting conkers in the misty Autumn morning. Ron Manager (408) is in second and Scott (393) in third. Top scorer in the week was Ron (73), with Michael (68) and Paul R (67) close by. As it looks like we could have a ten-day break as a mark of respect for the death of the Queen, two weekends off look likely for Michael to remain in pole position with bragging rights.

This week’s photo is of the poignant minutes’ silence at West Ham’s European match last night, which was followed by a spontaneous singing of the national anthem. The vast majority of football fans are decent people, loyal to their team, appreciating the togetherness of being in their tribe. At moments like this, it’s hard not to be emotional.

Nice to hear the outgoing PM advising us to replace our kettle with a new one in order to shave £10 off energy bills, he’s as in touch with the financial realities of everyday life as the Premier League, with the astonishing net spend of £1.13bn (next highest: La Liga £40m) in the Transfer Window. Surely this should be a source of acute embarrassment, but is being trumpeted as some sort of triumph of ‘the product’. We are being taken for a ride – did you know that all seats in the upper tier at the Fulham v Chelsea match are priced at £100 for adults and concessions, £70 for juniors. Such is life, but surely this bubble is going to pop.

Who has had the best transfer window? Many have not yet kicked a ball for their new clubs and many will end up proving disastrous wastes of money. On the face of it, Man City, Leeds and Southampton appear to have done pretty good business,  Bournemouth and Leicester less so. Forest have done more transfers than any club in history, spaffing £139m on 21 players. Is that a good window? Is that a bad window? The debates will rage, but only time will tell, so let’s just put the kettle on – no, not that kettle, the new one, we’re not made of money – and wait and see.

Meanwhile the 2022 Crisis Cup is off to a flyer. First up it looked to be a shoo-in for Erik ten Hag, winner by the end of October, but hold that thought, Man U are back and whilst Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, the Golden Generation of English managers, flirted with the lead, Brendan Rodgers has snook up and snatched it from them and looks able to keep for the foreseeable. But then suddenly, up rocked Jürgen seemingly determined to wrestle it off him. The crisis klaxon is currently hooting loudly for several managers.

Like religion, politics and the best way to poach an egg, the subject of football can be a decidedly divisive one, sparking frank exchanges of views. Chelsea seem to be rocking the chatter currently as Graham Potter has taken the managers job, but I suggest that his critical faculties must have momentarily gone haywire. Chelsea are a roaring out of control forest fire, a scattergun of shambolic proportions under Todd Boehly that they make Man U appear a paragon of long-term holistic strategy. They’ve just spent £250m on shiny new players. One can imagine the Teutonic Tuchel and Boehly in that comic-book cloud of dust with fists and boots sticking out of it. But then Boehly offered a cheque for £13m with the P45 and it all calmed down.

Every four years, the World Cup comes around and while we wait, Panini is ready to kick off our four-year addiction cycle with their sticker book, a bargain at £773.60 if you collect/buy all the stickers. The Panini FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Adrenalyn XL™ is the official card collection.

The pages contain 32 squads of players, managers, stadiums and World Cup legends, some 682 stickers. A pack of five stickers is 80p, so, if you buy 137 packets and never get the same sticker twice, it will cost £109.60, but this is extremely unlikely. I have worked out a formula to include the least probable number of duplicate stickers. On average you would need to buy 4,832 stickers (967 packets) to complete your collection. One cost-saving measure is swapping stickers between friends, but even with that tactic, filling the album would be expensive. With 10 friends swapping, it could still cost an average of £247 each to complete the album, according to my calculations. Come on, keep up.

Another thing to look forward too for the World Cup is VAR. Whether you’re broadly in favour of the system or think it’s a philosophically flawed pursuit of a circle that can never be squared, you’re just kicking the tin can of subjectivity down the road, it causes more problems than it solves. I mean come off it, is it really worth getting a smattering of borderline decisions right at the cost of subsequent days of interminable, semantic, legalistic post-hoc arguments over the exact definition of ‘clear and obvious error’, and for what, the dream of a perfection that can never realistically be achieved anyway, what price the soul of football? It also ruins match days too.

Originally brought in to clear up clear and obvious errors, the irony of VAR’s introduction being a clear and obvious error is the reality. There was a widespread clamour for its introduction from players, managers, journalists, broadcasters and fans, but now we spend an unhealthy amount of time moaning about how terrible it is, because apart from offside calls and goal-line technology, most of the decisions VAR is called upon to decide are subjective and therefore open to different interpretations from different people … in exactly the same way they were before its introduction. The upshot? Rather than clarifying matters, VAR has just provided more controversy for us to vent our spittle-flecked fury. On and on the cycle goes, while down at grassroots level, the game is suffering a crippling shortage of referees, a problem that will eventually cause problems at the apex of the pyramid.

Subject to postponement of all fixtures, fantasy football transfer deadline is 11am Saturday. Any help with my striker dilemma: should I keep faith with Jesus or is Darwin the natural selection….? Sixty-seven points for Erling so far in just six gameweeks after his goal against Villa – the question is not whether you should have Haaland or not, it’s whether you now decide to stick with Salah?

I hope most of you continue to battle hard with your fantasy league selections and permutations and not cheesed off with the lack of success to date. Interesting phrase, ‘being cheesed off’. The cheese is off. Doesn’t make sense. Cheese, after all, is great. Particularly, say, a decent crumbly Lancashire cheddar, or some creamy taleggio. Even yarg has its uses. Nutritionally imperfect, but ever so tasty.

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