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BC’s Fantasy Football Nightmares

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GW30 Captain Uncourageous

An advice column for the bottom seven million Fantasy Premier League managers

After my covid-19 jab shortly before the game-week 29 deadline (Astra Zeneca, thank you, India) I got as sick as a dog; and not one of those Hollywood star ruling sector pocket dogs, either, but one of those starving, near-death stray dogs you see in the background in dancehall videos filmed in Kingston.

On the upside, I could be sure I got the real vaccine and not a placebo.

Also, though my real vaccine ruined my weekend, it saved my Fantasy Premier League GW29 day because I was too sick to plough on with my notion of saving my free hit chip and fielding a four-a-side team of Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa, Christian Bale & Ollie Watkins, who brought in, respectively, point hauls of 0,1,0 & 2.

Unable to do the mental arithmetic to work out how many four-point hits I’d have to take to get up to nine players who might pay back the investment, I played my free hit chip.

And my one-week-only side brought in 73 points, in a week when the average was 25 and the highest only 104. Of my Free Hit XI, only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Stuart Dallas and Ollie Watkins scored only two points and my bench had a grand total of two points between them.

It was enough to return my FPL team, BC FC, to the top of our family & friends mini-league and, amazingly, to reach number three on the far more knowledgeable neighbourhood mini-league. Of course, BC FC is still 91 points below the number one team in that league and only one meagre point above the number four team but, for a team accustomed to spending all 38 Premier League weeks battling fantasy relegation to be in the top three of anything is as pleasing as it is surprising.

Of course that just increases the pressure on me.

Frank Lampard had it easy.

It’s a very accurate measure of how much more FPL cojones I have than FPL nous that, up to the last day, I was thinking of saving my free hit chip! Without the 70 extra points the free hit brought, BC FC would be number six in the neighbourhood league and at number five in our family& friends mini-league. The top four teams in the family league have, respectively, 1726, 1714, 1708 and 1704 points. The fifth-placed team is on 1614 and the cellar-positioned number ten team is on 1303, so a finish in the top three finish seems more likely than one in the bottom.

Which very few of us want.

Still, I’ve got eight solid game-weeks to either keep it all going or firetruck it all up; and I’ve had much more spectacular collapses in far shorter periods.

Even so, it’s better to be doing relatively well than fundamentally badly, a feeling Boris Johnson himself had for those few days between the European Union screwing up their vaccine programme and the release of the report on racism in the UK.

Unaccountably, given the aforementioned cojones grandes and poco de nous, BC FC has both its wildcard and triple captain.

And now we have Harry Kane back.

This startling upgrade to the FPL’s most popular forward from Rhian Brewster, who is not even the most popular forward in Sheffield United, was made possible by a four-point hit and the long overdue unceremonious dumping of Mo Salah.

In retrospect, I took the same approach to Salah that I took to my investment in Gamestop: I kept hoping it would turn out well, somehow, despite the very clear evidence week-after-week, that it wouldn’t.

But getting the old Harry back in makes me happy to finally give the old Mo the boot.

Until he scores enough goals in the first half against Leicester this week to win the Golden Boot early and send all of FPL-dom scampering to get him back.

And you know he can.

The remnants of my double game-week GW26 team that tripled up on the Aston Villa defence means I still have two Villa defenders now — but neither of them are Emiliano Martinez.

My defence is accordingly weakened.

But, then, aren’t all our defences, especially immune systems, in the same sinking boat in this covid age?

I was sorely tempted to captain Dominic Calvert-Lewin this week and throw away the advantage I’ve gained so painstakingly — there’s the cojones threatening the nous again — but, like almost all of FPL world, I’m going with Harry Kane. I had captained DCL in GW29 and only switched the armband to Kane for the same reason: cowardice; which sounds better when packaged to oneself as “nous”.

Things could be worse.

And probably will get, in blank game-week 33, now I have no free hit chip.

And God alone knows if, before deadline, I don’t say to myself, “What have you got to lose?”

And take the armband off Harry Kane and give it to Nick Pope.

My next advice column/eulogy/apology for BC FC will appear around the GW31 deadline