Sit down next to me

Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me

Those who picked Reece James (1) in their team sit down next to me. Transferred in by over 1 million Managers for GW17, FPL’s most exciting defender (sit down Robbo (8), we will get to you later) was back and with a DGW ahead he was selected by the masses. All he had to do was get through 60/65 mind against NFO as he built his fitness back up. With the cleanie looking strong and his influence as enigmatic as ever, disaster, sadness, cruelty struck as on 51 minutes, James, Sat Down on the Stamford Bridge turf signalling “that it’s hard to carry on”.

Yes, FPL is back folks. After a 6 week hiatus, thanks to the most ridiculous of decisions to host a World Cup in the middle of a desert. To keep FPL Managers engaged, the powers at FPL HQ gave everyone an additional wildcard. If you’re like me, you took a break from the game and didn’t look at your team until last week. So much so that I left the last of my 4 transfers right until the last minute. In fact, so late that I unforgivably missed the deadline by 1 minute. My sliding door moment? I had hit confirm on transferring out Salah (12), Cancelo (1), Martenilli (8), Wilson (0) & Greenwood (5) for KDB (2) (LOL), ødegaard (11), Darwin (2), Laporte (0) & Nketiah (6). 26 v 21 in my favour. a belated Christmas gift. I still want Arsenal’s replacement number 9 though.

The opening fixture saw Brentford tear Spurs apart in the opening half before taking a 2 goal lead with Ivan Toney (6) once again on the score-sheet before come-back kings Tottenham pulled it back to 2-2 thanks to their own talisman Sir Harold Kane (7) (oh what might have been!). I wonder what the odds on that might have been? No doubt Swiss Toney would know.

We were then treated to a feast of football as a further 6 fixtures played out. Peak trolling came in the form of Mitrobitch with 15 points. Wasn’t he supposed to be injured? Maybe too many ITK accounts and podcasts can do you more harm than good. Elsewhere, Newcastle continue to steamroll everyone in their path while Kieran Tripper (12) is rolling back the years and is this years TAA (2). Villa welcomed the red men from Merseyside and it took just 5 minutes for Mo Salah (12) to punish his sellers with an early goal which was soon followed up with a nice little assist for VVD (9). Unfortunately the redmen are still struggling to keep many clean sheets this season following a cursing from our very own Roni Friel following his in-depth preseason analysis of LIV defenders.

Arsenal, who are currently 5 points clear at the top (it’s a title race right?), didn’t panic after going behind to a WHAM penalty, coolly converted by Said Benrahama (7) and scored some lovely goals thanks to Martinelli (8), Saka (9) & Nketiah (6). priced at just 6.5m, Eddie has got to be worth a shout.

Wrapping up the rest of the week Kepa (9) kept a clean sheet along with some bonus to immediately reward his new owners. likewise, new flavour of the month, Man Utd assets also repaid the faith with Rashford (14), Martial (6) & Luke Shaw (8) all posting healthy returns. I was one of the 955k Managers who brought in Rashford, based purely on the eye test. The lad is smiling when he is scoring. Pure and simple. He looks to be enjoying his football again and that’s good enough for me.

There was still the small matter of my own team, Leeds United hosting Manchester City and welcoming Leeds born boyhood fan and Norwegian Meat Shield back to Elland Road.

It’s Christmas so Pep wouldn’t consign us to a nasty bout of pep Roulette would he? The FFUk he wouldn’t. In peak Pep trolling, Cancelo (1), Foden (1), Laporte (0), Walker (0) & BILVA (0) were all benched. Jack Grealish (9) with 1 assist all year, suddenly had 2 in 12 minutes. Who was he assisting? Mr. Erling Haaland (13) of course. He probably could have had 5 but I am sure his inner Leeds fan wanted to spare Leeds blushes and hit a number of 1 on 1’s directly at the very impressive Illan Meslier (3). Now owned by 86% of the game and captained by 201 (88%) of FFUK Managers, his returns make very little difference and aren’t celebrated in the usual way as Statto Steve Cronin mentioned in the WhatsApp chat, it’s “strange”.

Leeds did manage to pull a goal back through their Dutch pirate, Pascal Struijk (7) (who has actually more points than Ivan Persic this season) to wipe out the City cleanie and soften the blow for Cancelo, Walker & Laporte owners.

So what does all this mean for FFUK well here’s a look at the top 20 in the league:

In the league John Harper (1st) maintains his lead at the top with a very solid 90 points, closely followed by Brendan Ryan (2nd), just 8 points behind.

Rob Pitt (11th) top scored with a rather magnificent 114 points. 32 FFUKers enjoyed the boxing day fixtures rather more than most and enter the 100 club. Bravo to all of you.

And as for the Team of the Week below; a nice blend of the usual suspects and some very low owned differentials.

And now over to our CONTS mini league for the small matter of our “Winter of disCONTent”

That’s right, 8 evictions in each of these 3 Christmas GW’s. Cold. There are some big names below with some serious scores who are being shown the door.

James Downie, Sean Colohan and Dan Humby were all tied on 85 points, and as all were on the same captain, the tie-breaker was based on their bench scores.

Sean Colohan is the lucky one with a bench score of 8 and lives to fight another GW.

Dan Humby (bench of 7) and James Downie (bench of 5) both go, it was good while it lasted.

Another 8 go next GW, and 8 the GW after…

Rank[old]TeamTotalGWHitsChipCaptainViceCont StatusPlayed
37same-svg[30]1Bad Bad Badgers
Sean Griffin
952740HaalandDe BruyneGone12/12
10same-svg[5]2AKAS FC
Alex Kassner
1004760HaalandDe BruyneGone12/12
Stuart Allen
25same-svg[18]4The False 9
Ameet Shah
48same-svg[48]5Any Given Saturday
Stuart Newton
steven parsons
897830HaalandDe BruyneGone12/12
14same-svg[15]7Coolers FC
sean colohan
33same-svg[32]8Stinker Tinker FC
James Downie
44same-svg[45]Diogo Inferno
Dan Humby

It’s a red card for you boys. Time to get your coat.

In conclusion, FPL is certainly back with a bang and it didn’t disappoint. A quick turnaround to GW18 with Liverpool hosting Leicester for some Friday night footie.

As for me, it didn’t work out too shabby in the end as I entered the 100 club for the first time this season. I am off to Sit Down and enjoy a beer as the tinkering begins. Who to replace James with and stick or twist with Wilssssonnnn (ill) v the mighty whites?

I hope you are all having a cracking Christmas and the very best of luck to both you, your teams and your families for 2023.

Damien O’Neill, (Sonsational 128th)

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