Well, three consecutive weekends without an international break, I feel exhausted. No managerial casualties yet, although Dyche’s future looks to be at risk if Everton don’t do something v Wolves on Saturday. Todd Boehly has said he won’t make a decision about Pochettino’s’ future until half-time on Saturday’s game versus Luton.
How was it for you? First things first, as we do each week, let’s take a deep, analytical, philosophical, statistical, in-depth, oh-do-get-on-with-it look at the previous week’s results. In the only league that matters, Paul P nailed top score in the week with 68 points, with a nice pick of Estupiñán, Mbeumo, Salah and Mitoma all scoring 10+. Second on 60 points was Nikita, with Michael, Jelica and Dan on 56 points in third. Paul P retains the leader board (149 points) followed by Hayley (131) and Michael (130).
Gameweek three beckons, and the adrenalised peaks and emotional releases of the season are in full flow. Fantasy football, with its transfer budgets and formation dilemmas, is meant to make you feel like a manager. What it actually makes you feel like is a bungling, low-rung angst-ridden teenager, accidentally malevolent and only able to curse those close to you in the table who were previously friends.
And a mention for Conor Wilde, who spent 37 weeks last season in bottom place. He’s tucked into fifth as we go into Gameweek three. A youthful Leicester City fan who continues to hold dearly his Premier League Champions 2016 duvet each night, slipping off to the land of nod snuggled up with Jamie Vardy. Burnley’s last Champions Duvet set was in 1960 when it was just pillowcases and sheets as no one had heard of duvets. Conor’s got the home and away set, which is nice. Having seen the Arenal away kit on Monday at Palace, not sure I’d fancy that as my duvet cover.
My own efforts look like the most shambolic start in history, I almost decided to throw my wildcard in this week after last week’s pitiful return but will hold back. I’ve decided now is the time to follow Pep’s obsessive tactical rigour and rotate rather than transfer, albeit being much less fun than running around with giddy abandon and getting cuddles from Jürgen Klopp, as my adopted style. Gameweek three will look much better, but time will tell. I think it was Thales of Miletus In Ancient Greece who declared Whoever said money can’t buy happiness just doesn’t know where to go shopping, and I took this to heart last week. Cogito ergo whopping great sums, in Aldi.
This week’s photo is Vincent Kompany greeting new signing Aaron Ramsey. He’s been amazing at Burnley, and the photo captures the man and the leader – every new signing is made to feel personally welcome by him, Kompany show warmth, authenticity and humanity We all want a sense of purpose and belonging, and he’s created that in bundles with his authentic leadership style.
The Lionesses made my Sunday Despite losing 0-1 to Spain, I’ve never enjoyed an 11am Sunday morning more, but for half a century, between 1921 and 1971, the Football Association forbade women from playing on FA-affiliated pitches. The game, it opined, is quite unsuitable for females. Well 50 years on, tell that to the fans. The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand saw more than 1.8m tickets sold, breaking the previous record of 1.3m in Canada in 2015. The television audience doubled the previous record of 1bn.
The level of play is high and is a great watch, the struggle for women’s football to be taken seriously has so far meant fighting for equality with the men’s game but I now hope both can be equally enjoyed. What a great penalty save Mary Earps made,-diving low to save Hermoso’s spot-kick, roaring in celebration and sticking her tongue out. Loved her attitude! Keep an eye out for replica Mary Earps jerseys, unavailable in the shops now but surely coming soon.
Thankfully, traditional English failings – hubris, giddiness, hoofing penalties into another postcode, blokes with lit flare protruding from their rhythm section – don’t apply to this team. The Women’s World Cup has been a gruelling, multifaceted test of England’s depth, resilience, tactical flexibility, nerve. Other words that will come to me in a second. They played against teams from six continents (Antarctica didn’t qualify). Spain were good and a uniquely awkward opponent, and in the end deserving of their victory.
In other related news, Leicester have announced the signing of Lize Kop from Ajax on a three-year deal for the new WSL season. Surely Liverpool should be her next port of call.
Liverpool have been conspicuously struggling to fill their midfielder void in their squad left by the summer departures of Henderson, Fabinho, Milner, Keïta and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given they were bang average last season – with the exception of some impressive bleep-test results in Milner’s case – you’d think this wouldn’t be too onerous a task. Anyone under 36 with two still-functioning legs and a work permit would be an instant upgrade.
And yet the famous old club has spent the last few weeks flapping around with all the courtly grace of a man chasing his own hat in the wind, missing out on Moisés Caicedo and Roméo Lavia, you might think the club would attempt to shore up the remaining scraps of their honour. So in goes a £58m bid for Cheick Doucouré, a 23-year-old Mali international, despite Palace valuing him at £70m. Now, how’s this going to pan out, and who sets these inflated prices? Instead, Wataru Endo the Japan captain arrived at Anfield, previously on no one’s shopping list.
Chelsea Watch Quite how crowded the Chelsea dressing room is with all their signings I’d love to know, and they’ve not made a great start have they? I toyed with Jackson, James, Nkunku and Mudryk pre-season as fantasy league picks, surely Pochettino would get them sorted? Jackson looks a lovely footballer, an intelligent runner with soft feet, physical prowess, and a lively imagination (who writes this stuff?) but he is not a killer goal scorer, enjoying the aesthetic beauty of the game more than the front-post runs, penalty-spot pulls and scuffed finishes that must become his stock in trade. Other words that will come to me in a second.
Enzo Fernández and Raheem Sterling in Pochettino’s 3-5-2 formation won’t be scoring many, Moisés Caicedo had a disastrous debut cameo, and Carney Chukwuemekais is now out injured. Good job Brighton’s smart transfer team are plotting an offer for Lille’s Carlos Baleba as their primary target to replace Caicedo. Valued at £30m, so expect Chelsea to pay £120m for him in January.
Sky Sports has apologised for insensitive comments made about Everton manager Sean Dyche during the 0-4 defeat to Villa on Sunday. Commentators Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe said his clothing made him look like a ‘croupier’ overseeing gaming tables at casinos. Dyche was wearing a black armband in memory of Michael Jones, who died working at the site – Dyche
Players and coaching staff wore black armbands, tribute banners were displayed, and supporters applauded in the 26th minute at Villa Park in memory of lifelong Everton fan Jones. Jürgen Klopp took his Liverpool squad to lay flowers at the site near the River Mersey before their Premier League match with Bournemouth on Saturday, which I thought represented an honourable act of compassion for the football clubs and the city.
This weekend Well it was a big weekend last weekend with Man City v Newcastle United, Abu Dhabi v Saudi Arabia, Tactical Fouling v Tactical Fouling all over the shop. It’s ok, the soapbox is in the garage, and I won’t mention the two ‘home’ international friendlies that Saudi Arabia are playing at St James’ Park. England are not in a World Cup final, so we’ll just have to make do with domestic games.
If there’s one thing I like, even more than finding a stray kit-kat at the bottom of the biscuit barrel, it’s proper football. You know, proper football. Proper football! And there’s nothing more proper in football than doing the properest thing of all, which is properly putting the ball in the net in order to get some juicy fantasy points. But the Striking Viking didn’t score last weekend, Kane is gone, so who to pick? Salah? Isak? Brentford’s Wissa is top of the shop currently on 20 points.
What to do with Fernandes and Rashford? Both looked good in preseason but are expensive picks in midfield to pump up the potential goal scorers in your team if they’re not finding the net. The underlying numbers look good, with seven goal attempts and seven chances created in the first two matches so with Forest at home this weekend, maybe time to resist switching the pair out.
With apologies to Man U fans here, I’m reminded of the Karl Pilkington comment from a few years ago: I feel like supporting United is like having a tortoise as a pet. I had a tortoise, and they are not entertaining to watch. You don’t watch them, but you know you have got a bit of responsibility to show some interest. That is what I do with United. I keep an eye on them. I don’t watch them every game because, at the minute, that is a waste of 90 minutes.
However, with so many £6.5m midfielders I like and the ability to upgrade a forward, the temptation to sell is real, but they’re both worth at least one more fixture (says he talking like he knows what he’s talking about). Across Mancunia, KDB is out Foden and looked likely to get a decent run at City, until they found £55m for Doku, and Nunes for £50m looks to be next. Alvarez seems to be starting too. City’s best signing of the summer is Bernardo Silva extending his contract.
Joao Pedro started and scored in Brighton’s’ 4-1 win over Luton in the opening weekend, but he was dropped for Enciso (£5.4m) last weekend. Appearing as a second-half substitute, Pedro further frustrated by collecting a yellow card to return zero points.
Gabriel being dropped and Stones injury scuppered me, Akanji looks a good bet as does Chilwell with Chelsea looking to have an easier run of games, and is it time to gamble on Raheem Sterling? The winners so far are based around picking Brighton and Brentford players. But the lesson might be that you should keep patience with good players who have good fixtures and avoid the temptation to tinker. Football is a simple game pass the ball to a man in the same colour jersey. Repeat. If only this fantasy malarkey was as simple.
Transfer deadline is 630m Friday, good luck!