‘Tis the season to be jolly”. Fair enough. “Don we now our gay apparel?” That’s where I drawn the line.
It’s not so much the apparel. To each his own, I say. It’s that the lyric to this timeless Christmas carol is written in Yoda speak. You know, where you put the verb in front of the subject for no particular reason. That bothers me. Especially when you consider this lyric would work just as well if it was written “Now we don our gay apparel”. Simples, yeah? I already have this Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One, out now watering down the franchise. I don’t need Yoda lyrics in my Christmas carols.
Ed… and breathe Steve
Right, happy holidays and all of that. It has been a while since I last checked in with a gameweek review. Three gameweeks were squeezed into a nine day stretch, and writing reviews for them all was not in the cards for me. So, now is the time to look back at these last few rounds as we approach the end of 2016 and the halfway point of the season.
Lucky for you, I have been rather productive over the last three rounds, getting green arrows in two of them and shaving 70k off of my rank. I even managed to pick the right captain last week. After finally bringing Diego Costa into my side in GW16, I gave him the armband this last round, and, while he finally managed to secure that elusive fifth yellow card, he scored a goal for me. Meanwhile, the other clear option in most people’s eyes, Harry Kane, came up empty and I was able to dodge that pitfall.
This leads me to the main talking point in this edition of the review. I think Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero have switched bodies. If you were a child of the 1980’s, then you, like me, were accustomed to the concept of body-switching. It seemed to be it’s own movie genre back then. There was “Vice Versa” with Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold, “Like Father, Like Son” with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron and “18 Again” with George Burns and some nobody actor. There are probably a few more examples so, for a while there, you were easily getting one or two body-switching movies a year…all of them bad.
While Hollywood may have finally come to the realization that body-switching movies were not box office juggernauts, the concept looks to have made its way into the Premier League. Maybe I would have been a bit more brave to say this sooner – Costa is now Aguero and Aguero is now Costa.
If I told you before the season started that between Kun and Costa, one would lead the league in goals, never going two straight matches without scoring, and faced no disciplinary issues until Boxing Day, while the other would have been banned for a total of seven games (six in the leagye) for violent conduct on two separate occasions, surely you would have said “Easy. Kun’s leading the race for the Golden Boot and Costa’s temper once again has sullied what could otherwise be a very productive fantasy season.”
Well, you would be wrong now, wouldn’t you? For me, this is the major storyline of the fantasy season, and, in a way, of the actual season. When Costa got that 5th yellow over the weekend, I automatically began lining up replacements for him. But, it took that one-match ban for me to realize – Costa is too good to drop for missing one match. This is the kind of logic that used to apply exclusively to Aguero. Meanwhile, after initially making a plan to make sure I got Aguero back for Week 19, I have come to realize that, for the first time in a very long time, I do not feel the Argentinian is essential. Sure, he will be back in my side at some point, and circumstances could play out where he indeed does make his way back into the side. Costa, meanwhile, looks as though he is bound to stay in my FPL squad through the end of the season, barring injury or a multiple game suspension.
With my funds maxed out (now at a team value of 104m) I have the #2 scoring GK in Heaton, partnered with “The nex Jack Butland” Jordan Pickford. In defense, I have representation from the two best defensive sides, with Danny Rose and David Luiz. I have a defender from Burnley and West Brom, both who have shown strong home form and they rotate home/away perfectly. Jordi Amat does his job, a 5th defender for minimum price that actually plays.
In attack, six of my seven starting attackers have a “star” next to them. Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Eden Hazard, Jermain Defoe, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Costa. The seventh starter is the capable-of-something-any-week as the poor man’s Gylfi Sigurdsson — Robert Snodgrass. Darren Fletcher acts as the final attacking piece on my bench. You look at the shape of my team, and you have to think at this point..”Is Sergio Aguero essential?” Because this side looks rather balanced to me and Aguero’s price tag is starting to feel a bit inflated. I mean, even throwing out the weeks where Kun was absent through suspension, on a points per matches played level, Costa is clearly ahead at 6.8 ppg vs Aguero’s 6.2. And, even though Zlatan is behind at 5.9 ppg, one has to consider how that .3 points difference on average is made up by using the extra 1.4m Aguero costs you and spending it elsewhere. I mean, that turns Winston Reid into Marcos Alonso.
So, I think I am going to try the “Forget Aguero” experiment for a little while. I am perfectly setting this up to explode in my face. But, it cannot be as disastrous as the “Use Capoue as your 4th mid” experiment went.
That’s all from me this week. There were several other talking points to discuss but I have presents to wrap and mail back to myself. I will be back at some point between Boxing Day and the New Year to not only review the week that was but to also analyze the first half of the season.
Oh, and go easy on the eggnog. I have seen it destroy lives.
Unless you’re currently residing under a rock or on another planet (in which case well done on getting access to the interweb), you’ll know that today Sam Allardyce is being summoned to FA Headquarters by his bosses who are more than a little peeved at him.
‘Big Sam’ (for that is his official name on his passport, or so I’m told) had dinner with some ‘business people’ and during a lengthy discussion over what I presume was foie gras smothered in gravy and three pints of creme de menthe, he discussed many topics in a very open and frank manner which reflect quite badly on his employers – their decision making, their rules (and how to get around them), their business nous and their previous employees, among other things.
Today he looks like he is at best facing a severe dressing down (the thought of Big Sam dressing down makes me shudder), and at worst the sack, the bullet, the chop, the P45, the axe…you get my drift.
My Twitter timeline is now festooned with articles by some of the most senior football writers in the UK arguing furiously as to why ‘Big Sam’ doesn’t deserve the sack, and how what he did was nothing more than foolish and possibly indiscreet. Essentially the contacts and journos that ‘Big Sam’ has fed with material for the best part of 20 years are now trying to ride to his rescue, and in some ways that’s understandable. Finally the football journalists have someone in the top job who gives great copy and who almost certainly has all of their numbers in his phone, just in case. *ahem*
I’m not here to comment on whether Sam Allardyce should be sacked, or to comment on the merits of what he said. I’m here to comment on the blindingly obvious outcome of appointing ‘Big Sam’ to be England manager.
‘Big Sam’ is a man who has opened his gob and said something daft more times than Sideshow Bob has trodden on a rake. He has become a figure of national amusement with his proclamations that he would be managing Real Madrid had he not been ‘Northern’. His dancing to Rihanna only last summer became a viral sensation – the ultimate example of ‘Dad Dancing’ meets ‘Football Man On The Piss’. At the time, he was just ‘Big Sam’ on his holidays, but very soon he was ‘England Manager’ on his holidays. Should that make a difference? Of course not. It looked daft then, it looks daft now, whether he’s a 61 year old brickie dancing, or a 61 year old England manager. But Sam doesn’t care that it looked daft, because Sam is Sam, and he’s comfortable with Sam. He likes Sam. Hell, he ADORES Sam.
Sam Allardyce has never been afraid to speak his mind, to be himself, and to let it all hang out (I apologise for the mental image), and you know what? Good on ‘im. As William Shakespeare once opined
‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man’.
Now I think this may be the first time in the history of civilisation that Shakespeare and Sam Allardyce have been mentioned in the same breath (examples of other times are eagerly anticipated), but the point remains true. At that dinner, Sam Allardyce was being Sam Allardyce. ‘Big Sam’ was being ‘Big Sam’. Yet now the FA are ‘disturbed’ and ‘outraged’?
WHO THE ******* HELL DID THEY THINK THEY WERE EMPLOYING? EH?
It’s like somebody spending a fortune on a top of the range Alfa Romeo because it looks so beautiful that you bite on your own lip to try and stop yourself screaming out with desire, and then standing aghast at the side of the road as it breaks down. OF COURSE IT BROKE DOWN, IT’S A BLOODY ALFA ROMEO.
How then the FA can act all high and mighty as their England manager acts exactly like himself is beyond me. Of course they will, though. There will be condemnation of his lack of self-awareness, his lack of control, his greed etc etc etc. In keeping with the theme of England managers, and without wanting to come across all Kevin Keegan, I would love it, absolutely bloody love it, if ‘Big Sam’ swaggered into that meeting, chewing gum, hand in his pocket clearly ‘adjusting’ himself, and told them to back him or sack him. They will never crack him. In reality however ‘Big Sam’ will do all he can to keep his dream job and will suddenly become ‘Little Sam’, all contrite and apologetic, gazing up to his FA superiors with big brown eyes, begging for forgiveness.
In the end, I can’t help but wonder if this sorry episode may only hasten the inevitable demise of ‘Big Sam’ as England manager. Instead of being hounded out of the job due to drab, soulless football and/or terrible results, he could be ushered out of the side door of the FA Headquarters because of his big mouth. The same big mouth the FA stuffed £3 million quid a year inside a few short weeks ago.