Another weekend beckons my fellow fantasians, oh the joy of consecutive Saturdays after recent blanks due to the passing of Her Majesty and a meaningless international break. Not sure how I’m going to cope with the World Cup sabbatical.
Last weekend saw us all benefit from The Viking, 46 captain points from Erlang which helped Sasha (101 points) into top spot, followed by a gang of folks on 98 points – Aleksa, Chris, Michal and yours truly. As it was the first weekend of October, Sasha leads the haranguing for MoTM award. By some fluke of providence, Ron sits top of the league on 569 points, with Michael (549) and Scott (543) chasing in style.
This week’s photo is of Going to the Match, one of LS Lowry’s most famous paintings and currently owned by the PFA, but it’s going on sale next month and is expected to fetch £8m. This is still a lot of money despite the best attempts of the Tories to flatline our economy. Currently its on display at the fabulous Lowry Museum in Salford, Going to the Match depicts Burnden Park, the former ground of Nick’s beloved Bolton Wanderers.
With the gallery and local council unable to afford it there is the tragedy of it becoming part of a private collection and disappearing from public view. It’s been in the Lowry for 22 years. Maybe the blue and red halves of Manchester could come together to fund it for the public? The Glazers might be tempted to do the decent thing, seeing as Going to the Match isn’t something they do themselves despite owning an iconic club.
Continuing the Manchester focus, there was something of a David/Goliath vibe about the Manchester derby last week – City in their trophy-winning pomp whilst the quiet neighbours United, despite being proper bobbins during this period, had won on three of their last four visits to the Etihad and had pepped up recently. Expectations of bogey-team levity were high. But City’s move to make it 4-0 was a moment United folded like a poker player holding a two and seven offsuit
It took eight touches to make it, starting with De Bruyne surging through the centre, delivering a fine touch to Erling. He took one touch then curled a dream of a pass that took out three defenders and found Foden who zinged the ball into the corner. And in that moment 4-0 really didn’t feel like a surprise. The humiliation for United was complete, they’d spent that half chasing ghosts and shadows, and simply looked bereft of belief.
By the end 6-3 was quite generous. Haaland caught the eye naturally. He scored a brilliant hat-trick and never at any stage looked like doing anything other than scoring a brilliant hat-trick. All being well Haaland will score 78 league goals this season at his current rate. Something will happen to stop him scoring. But what exactly? It’s not like he’s on a hot streak or playing above himself. It has become commonplace to suggest Haaland resembles an adult playing with children. This was like an adult playing with mediocre children. What really happened was United met opponents playing, high-speed digital football versus a kind of hand-cranked dial-up analogue version. The only fly in the ointment is persistent speculation that he has a release clause of £174m that will be activated in 2024. Real Madrid are already keen, having calculated that a transfer fee of £174m would work out at approximately 12p per goal.
Far be it from me, to be digging Jürgen Klopp out of holes of his own making. Nevertheless, as a humanitarian, I must help him out with his difficulties in getting the best out of Darwin Núñez. Kloppie has been speaking to young Darwin via an interpreter, in Portuguese. How much better would it have been to relay his instructions in Núñez’s native language, Spanish?
With Lage saying his goodbyes and packing his chattels into a cardboard box at Wolves, Ralph Hasenhüttl is the new favourite in the bookies’ Sack Race after three consecutive defeats. With a trip to City next up, the patience of his overlords could be tested should Erling and his support cast cut loose. Anyone for a 9-0 gubbing? On current form they’ll do to prevent the Norseman from becoming the first Premier League player from scoring two hat-tricks in the same game. Elsewhere, the former Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Sunderland, Hull City, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United and now West Brom boss Steve Bruce could collect his 11th P45 this week.
Meanwhile, England fans are not the only ones looking to Gareth Southgate to see them through the economic crisis. Aldi UK boss Giles Hurley said he hoped for Southgate to do no less than save Christmas. If one of the home nations performs it could make for a really interesting celebration, Hurley said. Perhaps he’s referring to Wales really.
Transfer deadline is 130pm Saturday. Salah could be a good pick, but if you can’t afford him then any of the other Liverpool attackers could be good options depending on who you think is going to start that game, or Leandro Trossard with Brighton at Wolves. Trossard scored 20 points with his hat-trick at Anfield in gameweek nine, while Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron earned 15 points with his two goals against Fulham, which just goes to show that you can close that gap on your rivals by backing yourself to land gems at the right time. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is another one who deserves a look with Chelsea up against Wolves, Aston Villa and Brentford in the next three gameweeks. West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca (£6.7m) and Newcastle’s Callum Wilson (£7.2m) both look decent.
Enjoy your transfer permutations and fumblings!