Welcome all, to the first update from The League of Unextraordinary Gentleman. What a turbulent couple of weeks it is. Wayne Rooney has reached 200 Premier League goals AND retired from international football, Huddersfield Town briefly led the English Premier League – in real life, not on Football Manager – and in our quaint little fantasy football league, DingDongsBoys, hotly tipped for the title, are rock bottom, still in search of their first win of the season. While David is having what can only be described as a Chelsea 2015/16, Scott McKaig is having a whale of a time, undefeated after three games. Ross McKaig has been the highest scorer so far, raking in 154 points to date, but sitting on one win and two loses.
Match day one started with three mouth-watering fixtures. My own team, NeilDiamondFormation took on Euan’s Taynuilt Tigers, David’s DingDongsBoys hosted Ross McKaig’s Bayern Bru and Scott’s Expected Toulouse were matched against Blair’s Ayew Ready?
I got off to a flying start, with Jamie Vardy bagging two goals in the leagues opening fixture to Arsenal. I was thrilled, until about 80 minutes into the match when I realised that my two goal hero was sat gathering dust on my bench. In fairness, I had been travelling all day and had not had the opportunity to tinker with my team, but it was the kind of shoddy management that will see me fall into mid-table obscurity (more commonly known as “pulling a Stoke”). Despite this blunder I managed to rack up an impressive 55 points, thanks mainly to Mohamed Salah and Christian Eriksen. Goals from Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morato gave Euan some hope, but the rest of his side let him down, amassing only 32 points and allowing my side to coast to victory. His star pick, 2nd round goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois picked up only one point after shipping three goals at home to Burnley.
Bayern Bru picked up a staggering 69 points in their opening weekend, Roberto Firmino and Henrikh Mkhitaryan got 12 and 11 points, but the real star of Bayern Bru was Spurs left back Ben Davies, after his drilled shot helped beat Newcastle AND DingDongsBoys. For David, a Gary Cahill red card was a poor start to a poor day for him, while Harry Kane’s inability to score during August, coupled with Raheem Sterling only playing twelve minutes due to being a little bit shit meant that he only picked up 40 points on game-week 1.
Matches one and two were pretty cut and dry affairs, but Scott and Blair played out a fiercely contested 57-51 encounter. Arsenal fan Blair’s faith in Arsenal new boy Lacazette paid off early on as the big man found the net early on against 2015/16 fairytale merchants Leicester City. Arsenal fan Blair has gone on record as stating that he felt his defence were his strongest asset this year, and that looked like a fair assumption. Forster scored 7 points, Stones got 6, Betrand got 8 and Bailly and Kolasinac got five each. This 31 points from his defence was magnificent, especially considering league rival Euan gained 32 points for his entire team. If only Arsenal fan Blair’s beloved Arsenal were as watertight as Ayew Ready?’s defence… This was a solid start for Blair, but was no match for Scott. Azpilicueta and Iheanacho were a bit disappointing for Expected Toulouse, but those players aside, it was consistent marks all round for the eldest McKaig. Romelu Lukaku was a particular highlight, scoring 13 points off the back of his two strikers against West Ham.
DingDongsBoys 40-69 Bayern Bru
Expected Toulouse 57-51 Ayew Ready?
Taynuilt Tigers 32-55 NeilDiamondFormation
The aftermath of week one of the group chat was, as the kids say, “lit”. The majority of it was belittling Euan for his round 2 goalkeeper pick, and me getting some deserved flack for what the mass media are calling #VardyGate. Jamie Vardy would have been proud, I chatted shit and got banged, if banged means to miss out on fantasy points. I ended the week having 23 points sitting on my bench – a good job I won.
The midweek also brought about debate over the transfer rumour of Jonny Evans to Manchester City, a move I was in big favour of. David Bell laughed off the fact that football-fud Paul Merson would have started Evans ahead of John Stones, a point that I fully agreed with! The only other points of discussion were the build up to the week two match ups, with Ross trying to rile up Euan. Furthermore, it was agreed by us that the FPL Draft should allow for transfer of players amongst the teams.
The big midweek discussion was the issue of new players. Scott made the first transfer of the fantasy football season. He dropped Diego Costa, after becoming the last person in the world to find out about the Costa-Conte fallout, bringing in supersub Olivier Giroud as his replacement. Mr Bell made the second transfer of the season by dumping Ander Herrera for new James Bond henchman David Silva. The transfers were flowing like a Jim White deadline day special, with Ross McKaig going full ‘Arry Redknapp, sticking his head out of his car window, announcing that he had no interest in signing Huddersfield defender Zanka, despite him being a “‘triffic player”. In full ‘Arry style, he dumped Mendy and picked up Zanka later that day. (Side note, the only part of this Zanka story that is true was the Zanka in – Mendy out aspect.)
Game week two was a nightmare for me on a personal level. I was facing Scott, or more pertinently, I was facing Lukaku. The dilemma here is that while I was playing against Lukaku in draft mode, I have him as my captain in the traditional mode. It was not a vintage week for myself and Scott, Lukaku’s goal and Riyad Mahrez’s assists providing the spark that saw Expected Toulouse grab the win. It was a tinker-tactic that saw me beaten so badly. I brought in Vardy for Rooney, judging that Vardy and Gabriel Jesus would be more likely to score than Wayne Rooney. I was wrong. This result saw Scott go 2/2 and top of the league.
Blair coasted to an easy 57-30 point win against David in week two, opting to play the classic 5-2-3 formation. Five defenders and a goalkeeper and he scored 50+ points. It was a bizarre tactical mode, but it paid off. Eric Bailly scored 15 points, three more than the rest of his defence combined. This, coupled with Javier Hernandez’s brace saw him shoot ahead. Raheem Sterling was the only goalscorer for DingDongsBoys, with the majority of his teams scoring 0’s, 1’s and 2’s.
The biggest shock of the weekend was Euan’s Taynuilt Tigers beating Ross’ Bayern Bru 52-42. Gabbiadini scored, Zanka and Valencia got clean sheets and Mkhitaryan grabbed up two assists. This was an okay haul for Bayern Bru but it was a Thibaut Courtois masterclass that won it for Euan (it wasn’t, but we need to justify that 2nd round pick). Paul Pogba picked up 15 points after a goal and two assists against Swansea, while Marcos Alonso bagged a double at Wembley against Spurs.
Bayern Bru 42-52 Taynuilt Tigers
NeilDiamondFormation 28-36 Expected Toulouse
Ayew Ready? 57-30 DingDongBoys
The build up to week three was a quiet one. There was very little in the way of chat after the City-Everton game. The only real bit of business was from my NeilDiamondFormation. Michael Keane looked very shaky in the first half against Man Shitty and the Toffees have a tough run of fixtures coming up. This fixture list argument falls down slightly as he has been replaced by another Everton player, but I feel Holgate may provide more in terms of assists this term. The other transfer has been by me. Bernardo Silva is looking good coming off the bench, but he just isn’t contributing. He is a good player and I fear putting him up on the free agency market, but I need players who are contributing. I have picked up Anthony Martial in his place. Another bench player, but one who has scored twice and assisted once in 25 minutes of PL action this term.
But then, in a shock twist of events that hasn’t been seen since Chelsea hijacked Tottenham’s bid to sign Willian back in the day, DingDongsBoys stole ‘Tony Martial from me. The bastard used the waiver wire against me, swapping N’Golo Kante for Martial. Despite me having placed my transfer bid for Martial days before, David’s worse league position meant he had the opportunity to take him from me. I can’t justifiably write what I said to David after he informed me of his steal with a cheeky wink emoji, but it was not pleasant. This foul mouthed onslaught by myself was posted around 2am, with me wishing that both Martial and Mr Bell both break their legs. I would like to retract my comment regarding Martial breaking his leg, however I stand by my comments regarding DingDongsBoys manager… Ross arose the following day to see this abuse, commenting “I see the good natured spirit of the league has vanished. He went on to say that he figured the first threatening of a stabbing in the league would not occur until at least the Christmas period, not as early as the week three prelude. For context, I may have also threatened to stab David. I feel my manager may be getting a touchline ban for my antics. In fairness, I really wanted Martial. All this abuse hurling from myself overshadowed the news that Euan’s Taynuilt Tigers had dropped up-and-coming Arsenal kid Theo Walcott for Michail Antonio.
Week three started in devastating style for David, who found out that Pep had benched his star striker, Sergio Aguerooooooo. He already had a disadvantage, starting with ten men, due to the injuries and suspensions that riddle his squad. The ten players he started with just let him down, which was impressive due to the fact that on paper, his team is exceptional! Euan won his matchup against David, thanks mainly to “some Chelsea striker that I’ve never heard of.” That would be Alvaro Morata, and his goals saw The Tigers take a 38-29 win back home to Taynuilt.
I had been barraged by messages from Arsenal fan Blair all this week, telling me that he was going to beat me this week and how I should fear his team. How pleasing it was, that I won the week thanks to Mo Salah’s cross to set up Liverpool’s FOURTH goal against Arsenal. There was a brief moment of panic when I heard that Chris Wood had gone and taken away my clean sheet points for Hugo Lloris, but once my heart had stopped pounding, I saw that victory was mine. By one point. Fine margins indeed! Salah scored a bunch of points of me, and thank the Lord for my saviour, Gabriel Jesus. He may not turn water into wine, but his goals turned a loss into a win! Arsene Wenger leaving new signing Lacazette on the bench for so long really helped me out, but the biggest tactical faux pa of the day was by the Ayew Ready? manager, who left Cesc Fabregas and his eleven points on the bench. Ayew Ready? fans are reportedly paying to fly a sky banner over their home stadium with a #GlendinningOut message proudly flying.
The hottest game of the year was always going to be the very first McKaig derby, and it was here in week three that we got it. And it was another game that went right down to the wire on Super Sunday. Valencia and Firmino both brought about high scores to give Ross a high score of 43 points, but the early substitutions of Tottenham’s Son, and Roberto Firmino cost him the chance of a couple of points. A late Chris Wood strike and a wonder striker from Charlie Daniels against Manchester City also saw him drop a few points that may have been crucial in the long run. Scott’s Expected Toulouse are expected to win every game at this stage. Even when Lukaku plays like Lukaku at World Cup 2014, the team still wins! After spending the Spurs Newcastle game acting like a complete knobhead, Deli Alli decided to just focus on the football against Burnley and grabbed a goal. Big points totals in defence helped Old Man McKaig get the win, with Fraser Forster and Cesar Azpilicueta collecting 20 points between them.
Taynuilt Tigers 38-29 DingDongsBoys
NeilDiamondFormation 42-41 Ayew Ready?
Expected Toulouse 47-43 Bayern Bru
Three weeks in and it is fair to say that we are all won over by the new format of fantasy football. Well, I know five of
us are. I think David is doing a lot of soul searching after sitting rock bottom with a team who should be far better than their league position indicates. Not to dissimilar to his beloved Crystal Palace actually… But after three weeks, things are looking good. Nobody has forgotten to participate, transfers are good, if a little competitive, and, despite what I tell David, nobody is too far adrift at either end of the table for it to become boring. The international break in September is, as always, a massive inconvenience, but it may serve us well to take some time out of the game to reflect on how we can improve, and other cliché international break manager stock phrases. To finish up the week, I will post the table after three games. I guess I should also apologise for threatening David so much, I will accept my one game touchline ban and sit out the international break this weekend…
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