The fun (or otherwise) of fantasy football
I like to think I can talk a pretty good game. Quick to admit my failings on the pitch, I'm pretty confident off it, despite predicting that Alan Shearer was going to be found out as rubbish at Euro 96. The ultimate test of the armchair pundit, however, is Fantasy Football.
For five years I ran an unofficial league for friends of mine, using The Daily Telegraph's game. Every week I would record the scores on a massive spreadsheet I had contructed (players for up to 35 teams!) and then send out an email full of banter to all involved. Despite winning the League twice I got a bit tired of all the admin so eventually I stopped. Now I'm in my second season of the Premier League's fantasy game and they do all the sums. I thought it might be fun to record the ups and downs of a fantasy league manager so this may become a series, or I may give up mid-September as most players do.
Gameweek 1 did not go well. Despite picking a team packed with players from the best clubs I am currently bottom of my league! Ben Foster (very cheap but suddenly playing every week because of van der Sar's injury = sly signing) got a clean sheet for me and Arsenal's new defender Vermaelen did me proud with a goal but apart from that it was a litany of disappointment, particularly from Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres, on whom much rests. I'm concerned about where goals are going to come from: Mascherano, Fletcher and Mikel may play a lot but will they ever score? And if Crouch is third choice for Spurs, should he be up front for me?
My first substitution has been made: West Ham's Mark Noble looks like he's hit the ground running so he has come in for United's Anderson. Hindsight in fantasy football is not only 20/20, it's 20/20 staring into floodlights. And then the players you bring in lose their form. It's a reverse-midas touch I feel to be gifted with which is probably why I won't put Rooney in my team.