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Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Benteke (Yep) Make the Preview

Fantasy Football Review: Manchester United – the most in-form team in the Premier League??

Manchester United, Spurs and Watford Make The Preview

Sunderland ‘Til I Die : Lockdown Review

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 36 Review 2009/10

All or Nothing: Manchester City – Review (Amazon Prime)

All or Nothing: Manchester City (Amazon Prime)

Written by @JamesMartin013

There’s no football of any description – fantasy or otherwise – for at least the next few weeks, which leaves a desperate need for a sports fix. Belarusian league aside, most people are finding the best option to be sports books and documentaries. In the first of a new mini-series, James Martin suggests ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ might not be the answer…

There was much understandable excitement when Amazon Prime promised a behind-the-scenes look at Premier League champions Manchester City, but viewers were instead subjected to an eight-hour PR video.

The unrivalled access proved to be the only real draw of an otherwise drab eight-part series, which left a profound sense of dissatisfaction. While the footage did capture areas not usually open to the public, every shot seemed carefully curated to cultivate an image acceptable to the powers-that-be at The Etihad.

Some of this blandness undoubtedly derived from the relatively routine manner of much of City’s on-pitch success in the 2017/18 season, but even when things went wrong for the super-club the documentary failed to engross.

After the transfer team missed out on top target Virgil van Dijk to rivals Liverpool, the programme cut to the sporting director Txiki Begiristain ‘candidly’ musing that the eventual price paid was far too high to be good business. The episode entitled ‘Welcome to Hell’, dedicated to their Champions League exit at the hands of Klopp’s side, promised more. Even this was used to push the club’s agenda, however, placing huge focus on the bottles thrown at the team bus rather than the ultimate shortcomings on the pitch.

It is an inevitability that behaviours will be to some extent altered when cameras are pointed, but in a world where everyone is used to constant scrutiny it was reasonable to expect that the documentary would at least manage to give a relatively genuine and insightful portrayal of players and staff. Instead, I was constantly half-expecting manager Pep Guardiola to turn to camera, The Office-style, and deliver a well-worn cliché.

That is not to question his managerial talents, which shone through even in the sub-par production, but everybody choosing to watch this would have already been well aware of the gifted personnel lured to Manchester City following the 2008 takeover. The fundamental question about All or Nothing duly remains, even after eight long hours: what was the point?

The answer to that question may well lurk under the tailored veneer, and it is a worryingly insidious one. Miguel Delaney of The Independent has written at length on Manchester City’s so-called ‘sports-washing’. This is defined by Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, as: “wealthy regimes… [using] sport as a means to polish up their own tarnished images.”

Sheikh Mansour, City’s owner, is an Emirati royal prince. Nobody will watch the documentary and instantaneously forget that numerous human rights organisations have roundly condemned the UAE, but that is not the point of sports-washing. Rather the viewers are presented with a team that is forward-thinking in all aspects of its day-to-day running, and over time begin to associate this with Mansour and his family instead of what Human Rights Watch describes as ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘forcible disappearances’.

The programme even depicts a progressive coach who stands up for political freedoms. Pep Guardiola can be seen wearing a yellow ribbon in protest at the denial of a Catalonian independence referendum – on a subconscious level, those watching start to doubt whether the people from whom he takes his salary can really be that bad when it comes to human rights.

All or Nothing was never going to delve into such waters. This does not automatically make it a failure, and precious few football clubs in the modern game can boast immunity from moral criticism, but soft propaganda rarely makes for enthralling television. There is only so long that viewers can be blinded by the veil being drawn back on the operations of a Premier League club – eventually they will notice that there is precious little substance.

This has only become more obvious in the time since the series was released. It did at least re-emphasise the strong appetite for sports documentaries, and Netflix went on to produce Sunderland ‘Til I Die: this was a truly compelling, raw insight into the heart and soul of a football club. The contrast to All or Nothing could hardly be more stark – true emotions were captured as viewers felt the anguish of Sunderland’s fans and saw it contrasted with the relative indifference of some of the senior professionals.

The unique opportunity to watch John Stones singing Wonderwall just doesn’t quite stack up in comparison.

Review written by James Martin

James is a sports journalist with a focus on football. He began writing for LFC Fans Corner over seven years ago, and has since been featured on the club website and The Independent among others. He graduated from Oxford in 2019, and holds the Gold Standard NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.
His portfolio can be found at http://jamesmartin013.journoportfolio.com

Premier League: Best Alphabet Team Tournament – PART 2

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 17 Preview Written by @NiallHawthorne

Christmas as an adult is weird. There’s no other way to say it.

As a child, you had one question at Christmas, namely what Santa Claus was going to bring you.

As an adult, this time of year is a veritable cornucopia of riddles and puzzles and queries that make you want to scratch your head and then tear your hair out.

‘What can I get my beloved so that I still get to have sexual relations in 2020?’

‘Where is the Christmas party being held? What eejit booked that???’

‘They want us to be where at what time? In rush hour????’

‘Who invited them? You do remember that he’s a bit…y’know and she’s very handsy, yeah?’

‘How long is our kids Christmas play? Are they doing a remake of Ben Hur????’

‘Who am I going to Captain in GW17 so I can lord it over my work colleagues at the party?’

Well I can help with one of those questions. For the rest, you’re on your own.

GW 17 Defender: Richard Domingo Barbosa Pereira, Leicester City

As we glance at the fixture list for GW17 there are two standout home bankers where those of us with a weakness for gambling and a fondness for single life will lump all the Christmas budget on a double acca, and then spend 5 hours on Saturday sweating like a Tory at a foodbank.

I was tempted to tip either of the Liverpool fullbacks, but Jurgen is rotating like a Catherine Wheel on New Year’s Eve at the moment due to fixture congestion, so it’s time to tip the team that have no European / World Club Cup commitments, and are putting up the biggest challenge to the Scouse Mentality Monsters. That fixture on Boxing Day looks tastier than your Boxing Day Leftover Sandwich.

Pereira faces struggling Norwich City at the King Power Stadium, and he’s off the back of six positive returns in his last seven fixtures. He’s even picked up valuable bonus points in four of those. Admittedly a return of the Pukki party could leave you feeling as pukey as the morning after your Christmas party, but nobody has conceded fewer than the 10 conceded by the Foxes. A clean sheet beckons, and he may also add to has two goals and single assist so far, this season.

GW 17 Midfielder: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

There’s a video on t’internet of a young scally outside Anfield being interviewed by Redmen TV after a game, about a season or a season and a half ago. In said interview he pronounced quite matter-of-factly that Sadio Mane is the best player in the world.

Oh, how we all laughed. The viewers, the crowd around him and even the presenter!

Who’s laughing now, eh? That kid was a visionary. He knows his onions. Mane has been stellar for two seasons, and his performance against Everton last week was one for the ages.

This weekend he faces rock-bottom Watford, having had a nice little rest last weekend. Liverpool tend to batter Watford at Anfield, as demonstrated by Salah’s haul of four goals a couple of seasons ago.

Watford have a new management and coaching team installed. I don’t want to get too dramatic about this, but their first outing could prove to be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Sadio! Sadio! Where for art thou hat-trick Sadio?

GW17 Forward: Tammy Abraham, Chelsea

While Chelsea are having their inevitable, and quite frankly overdue, first wobble under Frank Lampard, they face a forgiving fixture this weekend as they host Bournemouth.

That’s five defeats on the spin Bournemouth.

That’s Ake-less Bournemouth.

That’s probably Wilson-less and King-less Bournemouth.

I watched their performance at home to Liverpool last weekend, and they gave up. Absolutely and completely downed tools after Ake and Wilson were struck down by injury. That’s not a good sign. Chelsea need to steady the ship after two defeats in their last three, and Bournemouth are presenting them with a nice little float in the doldrums, which ironically could get them out of them…

GW17 Captain: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

I know!

Shocking, right?

Well who else could you possibly captain this week? ELEVEN GOALS AND THREE ASSISTS IN HIS LAST 8 GW’S…84 POINTS IN 8 WEEKS.

He faces Norwich City who have conceded 34 goals in 16 games with just two clean sheets. He has his own record of 11 consecutive scoring games in sight. Leicester have won a club record eight in a row.

Look, you can captain somebody else if you want. It’s a free choice. But Vardy is owned by 50.2% of players, and 99.9999% of those are going to captain him.

So, take a chance if you want. But if I’m right and you’re wrong, it’ll be the biggest display of Red Arrows since the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012. Good luck!

GW17 Outsider: Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City

Oh Pep, he’s such a scamp.

He’s like that kid you played football with on the street when you were a child. You know the type – he always had the flashiest, newest football that he insisted had to be used for the kickabout. Yet as soon as his team started to lose, he took his ball and flounced off home, wiping his tears and snot with the back of his sleeve telling anyone who wasn’t laughing at him that he heard his Mum calling him in for dinner.

So now that it seems apparent that the Premier League will lose its Pep next season, and that Guardiola seems resigned to the fact that his team aren’t good enough this season, I expect some different approaches. His future team sheets may well contain a player on the wing called ‘Ah feck it, Mahrez’.

Just 3.5% ownership, he could be a real wildcard for your squad especially when you consider that in just six starts this season he has four goals and 6 assists….

GW17 Draft: Gabriel Teodoro Martinelli Silva

One start. One goal. One bonus point.

When you have Aubameyang and Lacazette in your squad, it takes quite a maverick to decide to give a young kid a run.

However, this kid is decent. And have you seen Freddie Ljungberg recently? Rumour has it that Tom Cruise was his understudy for Top Gun 2, until Freddie decided to concentrate on coaching. THAT’S how maverick he is.

t

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Fantasy Football – Gameweek 17 Preview Written by @NiallHawthorne

Written by Niall Hawthorne.

Drop Niall a follow on twitter. Good thing about Twitter – you can always unfollow again later!

Niall Hawthorne has a strange view on most things.

Check out his blog for proof rantsofarebel.wordpress.com.

GW #16 Review: YIMRA TV Box Sets

I know what you’re thinking, thank God Jack had the time this week to provide a thorough picture-full review for our enjoyment. I doubt you ever doubted me.

The powers that be at YIRMA HQ were over the moon with what I prepared for you three (I assume there’s still 3 confirmed readers of this?) this week…

The theme this week is TV Shows, and somehow I found 10 which I loosely tied into the results from the weekend and/or found reason to stick a players head onto a funny picture.

Hot off the press like a Greggs vegan sausage roll you’ve just sat on because you thought tucking it between your legs whilst driving would work – but now you’re left with pastry all over the place frantically crumbing in into the seats – here’s the GW 16 review…

Everton 3 – 1 Chelsea

Fresh from a victory against Villa, Lamp’s & Co rocked up to Everton pretty damn cocky. Duncan Ferguson in the hot seat for the Toffee’s saw Tammy Abraham swagger on to the pitch almost expecting to score. Not today sunshine – Duncan screamed effortlessly. Everton 2-0 up before Chelsea decided to wake up, but it was too little too late as the Toffee’s took the win. In other news, Chelsea financial director Ron Swanson was finally given the green light to make transfers in January and is already eyeing up a move for Chris Pratt & Aziz Ansari – although his first target is Amy Poehler as the new fitness coach.

Bournemouth 0 – 3 Liverpool

Liverpool are unstoppable. Sad, but true. Leicester’s party will only ever be second best to the Scouse rave, won’t it? I will bet anyone a £10 Burton voucher that Liverpool will win the league – that’s right, Burton (menswear). Spiralling back through the results so far, you have to assume that indeed it is ALWAYS sunny in Liverpool – it must be such a happy place (well, half of it) – like being in Denmark but with more robberies and folk you can’t understand. Liverpool performed a common assault on Bournemouth at the weekend, they didn’t see any of this coming. It was an intense 90 minutes that Eddie’s boys just weren’t ready for. “What’s going on, Eddie?” we heard the players cry. Only to be told “it’s alright lads, it’s over now, we can go and beat Chelsea next week”.

Tottenham 5 – 0 Burnley

Speaking of assaults. Jose’s inmates took the socks-of-soap to Burnley – 5 goals with no reply saw the Spurs faithful give Jose a rousing applause when he exited the field. We’re so fickle, us football fans, aren’t we? So, so fickle. Can you imagine any other elite manager on Earth going to a “rival” team and within a weak be 100% applauded? I’m not even talking a little, Spurs fans were loving life – guys you beat Burnley, at home, chill out, man. I would like for you to stare at the photo of Jose and the lads for some 300-400 seconds please. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that show immediately and I’ll hold a mirror firmly in front of your face and show you a dirty liar.

Watford 0 – 0 Crystal Palace

Please refer to the picture which epitomises the meaning “a picture paints a thousand hilarious words”. Palace had 0 shots on target after we all went mental over Zaha because some FPL genius’ decided he’s a good punt. Watford are bottom of the league and still 2.2% of us own Deulofeu (the most owned Watford player in FPL).  2.2% is now too many. Poop Show indeed, back to you Jack.

Man City 1 – 2 Man United

Thanks Jack…Got about a hundred thoughts going on, me. A million thoughts. I got a billion thoughts going on. If you tried to have a thought this morning and you couldn’t: that is because I was having all of them, over Man United somehow beating Man City in front of the world, for realz. I mean, where to dig into this party-sized cheesecake of a moment? Where do I tuck in first? This is the best thing Man United have done since, well, they did it to PSG. I am obsessed with watching this match on repeat. I still cheer every tackle by Wan-Bissaka, still nervous at every City attack (silently chuckling that the players aren’t aware that they will lose this match). It’s a delightful treat I never want to end. Alas, it will end, United will inevitably get beaten by Everton at the weekend. Was a good week though. Oh yeah, the picture…Speaks for itself really doesn’t it?

Villa 1 – 4 Leicester

Yeah alright that’s not a TV show but I couldn’t resist – I saw the poster and couldn’t help popping Rodgers and Vardy’s pouty faces on the bods. Rodgers must one day fulfil his prophecy and win the Premier League. He was born to do it, but the poor sod keeps getting pipped to the post. Once upon a time in Leicester this team swept the League, it’s happening again but only this time there’s something quite special up in Liverpool happening which is the footballing equivalent of party pooping. Sure, Leicester look fantastic. Sure, Leicester look very, very good. And sure, Vardy’s wife is still a little sneaky sausage we will not forgive (yet).

Newcastle 2 – 1 Southampton

Jonjo Shelvey was born to be an extra in British gangster films, but accidently became a high paid footballer instead. Jonjo wasn’t meant to score goals, yet here we are. Jonjo was supposed to be one of those guys in the back of a scene who don’t have any speaking lines, you just “assume” he’s got a foreign accent. Jonjo was built to appear side-by-side with Danny Dyer for a scene where he inexplicably gets punched in the face by a runaway chav in a moment of comic relief. Jonjo was set to earn a decent salary from being that guy who would eventually get a bit-part in Hollyoaks but only last until the Christmas storyline where he gets sent to jail for “life” as he may or may not have been caught giving drugs to the landlord’s daughters underage mate called Sheryl (spelt purposely with an S). Jonjo, is doing bits for Newcastle…And the Hasenhuttl circus rolls on, next stop West Ham.

Norwich 1 – 2 Sheffield United

When I was a kid, I loved wrestling if you didn’t know that already. I would pick my mate up routinely and throw him against the furniture until the sofa broke, someone bled, or my Dad caught and bollocked us – me for tombstoning him onto the carpet, him for being tombstoned (which was fair). What I am trying to say here is, even though Norwich are naff, AND the players are naff – absolutely nobody is getting a whack around the back of the legs for this. Clearly, it’s someone’s fault, right? Has Delia Smith been side-tracked by Christmas Cook Book release deadlines or something? Is Alan Partridge touring the city centre in a massive Pope-mobile? No excuses, someone deserves a sacking! On the flip side, Sheffield have once again found their winning ways after a Newcastle blip and are well in the mix for Europa spots still.

Brighton 2 – 2 Wolves

It’s not necessarily their fault, but the season-so-far journey that Wolves have embarked on is a football version of Frodo legging it out of his mushroom to chase a very posh British dragon screaming “I’m off on an adventure lads!”. Nuno (Gandalf) has convinced us all that this adventure could well be a success – based off last seasons performance they’re aiming to be a top table European-place challenging team for the long term. Last season they relied heavily on Jimenez. This season, he’s got little Bilbo-Jota helping him out and banging in some screamers of his own. Brighton played well, the draw was deserved, but going forward Wolves still look a strong squad but with one eye on Europa in the new year will they get distracted/fatigued/eaten by a massive dragon?

West Ham 1 – 3 Arsenal

Arsenal are a right show this year. We blast them, we praise them, we love them, we hate them all within 90 minutes. We dish out the reviews, Arsenal serve it back to us with a panto precision even Christopher Biggins would be impressed with. This week, they started the show poorly, leading us to believe it’s all gone Shane Ritchie in EastEnders (really rubbish to watch). But no, a quick flip-reverse and they go ahead to score 3 and take an easy 3 points away from the London 2012 Olympics Stadium (I refuse to acknowledge any other name for it). We’re fans, at the end of the day, fans just wanting to be entertained. We don’t care if Arsenal have 10 ex-players come and “have a go” at manager this season, we’re not expecting much, who really cares anyway until they hire Sol Campbell?

Lastly a random shout out but one worthy of a mention in my opinion.

@_Bands_FC have this week been collaborating with @OneMinuteBriefs to create some amazing, inspiring and powerful poster art to raise awareness for equality and to stop racism in our wonderful game of football using the concept of Music x Football. A great cause, with some great results – if you haven’t already, go and check them out by searching for #LoveMusicLoveFootballHateRacism

(here’s a couple of my submissions….)

FOLLOW JACK ON TWITTER @JACKAGOODWIN

Written by Jack A. Goodwin -Follow him on Twitter @JackAGoodwin

Jack is an “alternative FPL writer” (Who knew, right?) looking for hidden tales behind the most obscure players, dark humour in the game and the creative storytelling to the most mundane of GameWeeks!

He’s played the official game for over 7 years, running leagues throughout the offices of his day job.

Hasenhuttl the head hunter & Leicestermania runs wild

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