The Fantasy Football Blog: Episode 1

Welcome to the 2017/18 Fantasy Football Blog! It’s a time of great excitement in offices and WhatsApp groups as teams are assembled with great care and attention, usually to be discarded by mid-September.

I enjoy fantasy football, but I don’t enjoy the nonsense that comes with it. Triple captains. Bench boosts. Wildcards. All a load of bollocks.

What if you tried to play the game more along the lines of real life? My intention this season is to pick a proper side, with full backs, holding midfielders and glittering no. 10s, rotating through variations of 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1, 4-2-3-1 and of course, 4-4-2.

Can you remain competitive with such principles? Probably not. Picking four left backs and five attacking midfielders is clearly the way to go for success in this circus. You’ll need to partake in the jamboree by dancing to the ludicrous beat of wildcards and bench boosts. You need to roll the dice. Fantasy Football is no longer a game of skill, but more one of fortune. Where’s the fun in that?

So, my principles are thus:

  • Pick a proper captain. I had Diego Costa as skipper at times last season. Can you imagine? Most mangers don’t want him in their squad in real life, let alone as their leader. I’ll be looking for more natural leaders.
  • Players in their right positions. No crazy lop sided defensive formations or Pep Guardiola style full backs as auxiliary central midfielders here. I’m going back to basics.
  • Utility players in reserve . I’ll be sticking to proper formations, so my bench will need to support that in case of injury.
  • No wildcards! I’ll have a captain. That’s it.
  • Players I like. I won’t be morally compromising myself, secretly fist pumping when a player I loathe pops up with an assist or a goal.
  • This is going all season. And lucky you, you can be kept up to date as to the progress of this hugely unimportant experiment right here on The London Economic. No Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May in here. I promise!

FC Fakin’ Run Aboutabit is inspired by ‘Arry Redknapp’s instructions to ex-Spurs striker, Roman Pavlyuchencko. It’s best to imagine ‘Arry saying it as you read the name. It’s not a complicated game, really and ‘Arry conveyed that with these carefully chosen words to his Russian striker.

Right. Here’s the squad that will take me into the start of the season:

Jack Butland – Stoke’s England stopper is impossible not to like. Last season was curtailed by injury but I’m expecting him to be back to his best this season and he’ll be an important figure at Stoke this season.

Lee Grant – We need a reserve stopper, so who better than Butland’s no.2? If Jack is out injured, I know I can rely on Lee to step in and provide the solid cover that he did last season. He’s a ‘triffic lad and never a moment’s bother, he knows his role and won’t be knocking my door down demanding first team football whilst Jack is fit and firing.

Kieran Trippier – The ex-Burnley man will be stepping into Kyle Walker’s shoes at Wembley this season. Kieran has an ankle knock at the moment and might not be fit for the first weekend, but he’s a cracking lad to have about and is ready to grab his moment in the sun.

John Stones – A tidy defender on his day, with the ability to carry the ball out of defence and start moves off from the back. Stonesy is familiar with the England lads around him in this defence and will provide us with a bit of silk alongside the steel. Of course he’ll cock up from time to time, but that only makes him more endearing in my eyes. Imperfect in pursuit of perfection.

Michael Keane – Hugely impressive for Burnley last season, the new Everton signing will be bringing solid defensive work to Goodison Park and FC Fakin’ Run Aboutabit.

Ryan Bertrand – The left back in this all English starting back line is a Champions League winner. That’s the sort of experience I need in my side. He can mop up for his more expressive colleagues and has been a positive influence in pre-season.

Nathan Ake – The ex-Chelsea man is exactly the sort of utility man this squad needs. Comfortable at centre back, full back, or in defensive midfield, the dreadlocked dynamo can play here, he can play there, he can play every-fakin’-where.

Granit Xkaha – Every lunatic midfielder who runs about kicking people should be called Granit. There might be some ball players behind him, but the Swiss international won’t put up with much nonsense in front of him. He’ll pick up a few cards, sure, but that’s the deal with proper midfield enforcers. I won’t be discouraging him.

N’Golo Kante – Who doesn’t like the impish Kante? That smile. That work rate. What’s not to like? Oh, he plays for Chelsea. But, I mean, c’mon. He’s a ‘triffic little player, exactly the sort who can make a side tick, the perfect foil for Xhaka’s more mental moments. Never causes any bother, either, just keeps his nut down and does his job.

Kevin de Bruyne – Another all action man, this time one to make the attacks tick. KdB is an attacking utility man in himself, capable of playing through the middle and out wide. He also delivers a mean set piece, which is always handy.

Dele Alli – Another man with the ability to fill various midfield holes, happy dropping deep or playing off the front man. He knows I see him further forward, though and he’s relishing the opportunity to chip in with a few goals this season.

Bernardo Silva – I fell in love with Bernardo last season. It was impossible not be drawn to the Portuguese playmaker, strutting his funky stuff at the Stade Louis II. Pep saw the same as me as he played an integral role in dumping Man City out of last season’s Champions League, and snapped him up for a paltry £42m. I do genuinely dream of a team of Bernardo Silvas. Can you imagine? Phwoar.

Manolo Gabbiadini – The mop haired Italian ticks a few forward thinking boxes at FC Fakin’ Run Aboutabit. He’s clearly got an eye for goal. He’s told me he wants to play as the no.9, but given the talent he’s competing with, he accepts that he’ll have to put a shift in on the right hand side from time to time if he wants to remain at the club.

Jay Rodriguez – Another ex-Burnley man (I’m not a Burnley fan, by the way), Jay is looking for another re-launch of a stuttering career. Tony Pulis and I share a similar vision here; a hungry player with a known eye for goal who can make a big contribution if his knees stay intact. The added bonus is that he’s happy to put a shift in out wide, too.

Harry Kane – It still doesn’t feel right. He just doesn’t look like a man who should be scoring 25 goals a season. He can be too direct and lacks a yard of pace, but he’s a man with a similarly simple vision of the game to myself. Get the ball, kick the ball, score goals. I don’t need to give him too much in the way of instructions. A calming influence on the rest of the lads, Harry has been exemplary during pre-season and is itching to get out there.

Captain – Kane sets the example for the rest of the boys here. Bertrand takes on the role of VC.

Starting XI for Game Week 1:

4-2-3-1: Butland – Trippier, Stones, Keane, Bertrand – Xhaka, Kante – Gabbiadini, Alli, KdB – Kane

With Trippier as an injury concern, Ake is the first name on the bench, followed by Silva and Rodriguez. Bernardo needs a little time to adapt to the pace of the English game and Rodriguez needs a bit of time to get to full fitness.

Wish us luck. See you next week!

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