A big thank you to our mates that put this all together. Enjoy:
Our story opens on the Eastern seaboard of Spain in the quaint, orange-picking town of Villarreal. A place devoid of the rampant lonely planet summation or the general scrawling modernisation of the West, Villarreal sits firmly in the shadow of neighbouring Valencia, and in footballing terms (for what other terms could exist) the town sits equidistant from the two most important titans of Spanish culture, Barcelona in the North-East and Madrid in the West. What this Spanish microcosm does possess, is a football side that appears atop the all-conquering hit list of a Google search for “Villarreal”, just as it embodies the town itself; first and foremost.
Villarreal are the archetypal model for overachieving outfits. The Yellow Submarine has been a veritable symbol of success against the odds; and the cheque book. Their first junket into the Primera Liga was a fleeting visit in 1998. It was an inauspicious beginning to the long and complex entanglement that was to follow over the next decade. It took a further consolidating season in the lower tiers before establishing themselves from relative obscurity to 1st division mediocrity. The UEFA Intertoto Cup, far from a household name, marks the next stage in progress for the, by this stage, burgeoning club. It also marked the entrée to a glorious stretch of European adventure that so nearly culminated in a Champions League final place, were it not for an errant Riquelme penalty at Highbury in 2005. With this gallant over-achieving came a drastic decline, that ended in last season’s drab relegation.
A big welcome to Football for the Day’s latest literary addition to the blog. Bringing a focus on fantasy football, this Newcastle enthusiast lists Xisco, Albert Luque and Boumsong as personal deities. And who are we to judge…
Adam Johnson: The English winger’s time at the Etihad can be described as tumultuous to say the least. Mancini’s inability to accommodate him into an appropriate formation meant that the winger spent much of last season watching from the stands. Johnson’s move to Sunderland will allow him to play a key role in a team that’s on the up. With the astute Martin O’Neill building a promising squad, Johnsons marauding runs down the flank will be seen more frequently this season. At only £7m, we see Johnson as great value for money and provides an exposure to the Mackem’s offensive line. With only 2.5% of players including Johnson in their team, we see him as a solid differential buy whose popularity is bound to increase.
Moussa Dembele: A prominent figure amongst the ever growing Belgian contingent in the Premier League, the creative midfielder makes for a good bit of business by Levy & Co. With a burgeoning reputation that has seen him evolve from just another Eredevisie import into a top class Premier League player, he is undoubtedly someone all fantasy managers will be casting their eye over. Our only hesitation with Dembele, is the uncertainty as to just where he will fit in to AVB’s agenda at the Lane. Moussa’s sublime finish on the weekend went a long way to dampening fears that his historically poor scoring record would transfer with him to North London. At £6mil we see Moussa as a good low cost option, but we would recommend holding off a purchase until gameweek 6, at which stage a more thorough investment appraisal can be formed.
Dimitar Berbatov: Dimitar Berbatov’s transfer to Fulham signals the end of his playing hiatus and his return to the world of fantasy football. With his return to the scene, we would like to remind you just how prolific he has been since arriving in England from Germany. In the 6 years that Berbatov has played in the Premier League (including last season where he made only 12 appearances) he has averaged just shy of 140 points. Costing £6.9mil Berbatov represents good value for managers looking for a traditionally reliable source of points. Berbatov’s adventures at Craven Cottage are more than likely to be a little less fruitful than previous clubs, but his importance to the Cottagers cant’t be overlooked, with significant game time being all but guaranteed. For us, it’s more a matter of when the Berbatov bandwagon will gather pace, more than if. With glimpses of brilliance in his cameo last week, we have faith that this will come sooner rather than later. That’s why we’re saying pick him up now while the differential is still there.
Eden Hazard: Another member of the Belgian entourage plying their trade in the Premier League, Hazard represents what could well be the most exciting signing of the season. In the 3 games that we have seen Eden play, his tally of 6 assists and 1 goal has meant that he has been an instant success for those that took the gamble on the £9mil man. His tendency to provide the decisive pass as well as his silky footwork has provided more than a headache for Premier League defenders. With this taste of things to come, we see his continued evolution as pivotal to the fortunes of Robbie di Matteo’s men – making him our number 1 Chelsea buy. With a hefty following already, signing Eden would hardly separate you from the rest. In spite of this we find him an irresistible purchase and place him very high up our midfielder priority list.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: The Sig was one of last season’s biggest revelations. After making and maintaining a more than impressive start to his fantasy career, his move to Tottenham has cast serious doubt on whether he will be able to replicate his point scoring form this season. While being the lynch pin for Swansea served him well, will the presence of bigger and better names at his new club have a damaging affect on his fantasy exploits? We believe that this, along with competition from fellow new boys, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele, will all but ensure that Sigurdsson won’t provide the same return that he did last year. At the lofty price of £9mil, despite finishing last season valued at £5.6mil, we see little logic in opting for The Sig, especially when someone like Bale is available for £9.4mil. Steer clear.
Scott Sinclair: Sinclair’s first full season in the Premier League caught the eye of all fantasy managers. His speed and flair not only made him enjoyable to watch, but also a highly acquired fantasy pick. With his move to the Etihad this Summer, we see his outlook as significantly dimmer. With Mancini beginning to employ a 3-4-3 formation, we can’t see Sinclair playing much more than a peripheral role in Citeh’s bid for back to back titles. Mancini’s likening of him to Adam Johnson does not present favourably in our eyes ,as it intimates he’ll be contributing in a similar way. At £6.7mil he remains reasonably priced, but his lack of assured playing time makes him a no-go from us. With a high uptake of 7.2%, we anticipate a spike in the number of transfers out this gameweek as well as a significant dip in his total score this year.
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McCartney Ivanovic Walker (Hangeland Pearce)
Bale (C) Arteta Silva Ramires (Guthrie)
Graham Bent Tevez
Gameweek 2 Review:
Gameweek 2 was slightly underwhelming with a total of 44 points, but our move to pay a premium for Graham instead of Petric produced an immediate result. The second round was always going to be a round of reshuffle for Woy’s Wandering Wonderboys following our frugal approach in the opening round. We’re cashed up and looking to invest in a seller’s market full of new talent and bargain prices. Foster, Ivanovic, Tevez and Graham were the main contributors, while Silva, Ramires and Bale continued to underperform. At FFTD we’re looking for a vast improvement in our midfield, partiuclarly having missed the strong start made by new boys Hazard and Michu, as well as our long time favourite in Fellaini: http://footballfortheday.com/2012/04/26/a-tribute-to-marouane/ Fellaini continues to be deployed up front, and despite new boy Mirallas’ strong performance midweek, it’s hard to overlook the Belgian for value for money. For the second consecutive week, strong returns from 2 of our 3 strikers have kept us well in touch in our league.
Gameweek 3 Preview:
Gameweek 3 sees a potential boost to the bigger name players with City, Spurs and United all facing promising fixtures. Chelsea are obviously a side to avoid, but we prepared for that last week, and will continue to shift our exposure away from the London outfit. With a decidedly poor opening by Villa, Newcastle could provide upside momentum, with Fulham and Swansea facing winnable matchups. Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton and WBA players look slightly unattractive at current prices. Looking further forward, an international break looms on the horizon, meaning holding fire on any big transfer ploys could be the conservative ploy.
At current, our composition looks solid, if unspectacular. We’re most worried about our lack of exposure to some of the most promising point-scorers, most pertinently RVP. With Rooney out for an extended period, RVP could provide value despite his astronomical price tag. Our team is steeped towards a midfield bias, which we are comfortable with. In saying that, Arteta could be on thin ice after missing at least one golden chance over the weekend and losing the free kick duties to Santi Cazorla. Over we are looking to make a straight swap in that area of our side. We still fancy Zabaleta, but are hesitant to add further defensive investment spending, while Swansea and Everton retain the best 6 game outlook in terms of fixtures. Everton, particularly, must be squarely in the radar of potential bargain hunters.
Short Term Trade:
This week’s short term trade has to be Romelu Lukaku at West Brom. The on loan Chelsea man has failed to break into the first team as yet, but with Shane Long featuring mid week, we saw this as a signal of Steve Clarke’s intent to give the big fridge from the Bridge his first home start. Lukaku was dominant in his cameo at Spurs, proving a menace to an experienced Tottenham centre-half pairing. The young starlet looks a veritable talent, with touch, strength and a dazzling turn of pace to worry the best. Lukaku’s 4 shots in 32 minutes gives him the highest ratio of any frontman in England. Additionally, the Baggies have a soft short term fixture list, so this high risk play could produce significant dividends over the medium term horizon. Hooroo.
Long Term Trade:
For the second week in a row, our long term trade is a sell option on a highly popular player. Surprisingly 22% of fantasy managers have opted for Ryan Shawcross, but with a horrific fixture list and rumours of personnel changes at the Brittania, we’d steer clear at all costs. Stoke’s midweek loss to Swindon should not be overlooked, as a full strength back line shipped 4 goals against their League One opposition. Defending is often an endeavour of confidence, as much as skill, and Stoke seem to be seriously lacking that commodity. Wigan away from home may look a potential 3 pointer for the Potters, but with Kone opening his account alongside a seemingly rejuvenated Di Santo, we can’t see a clean sheet or any return from Shawcross. As a footnote, don’t be fooled by Michael Kightly’s strong start either, as we see him fairly valued at current levels.
Tip of the Week:
An indirect beneficiary of the Rooney injury will be Shinji Kagawa, who is now assured of a consistent starting berth in the United attacking set up. Kagawa should have had a second on the weekend after clattering the woodwork and as the Japanese import settles into the English brand, his returns should only increase. At 8.6, Kagawa marks an attractive entry point to opening a United position and we’ll be considering him in earnest this weekend.
Gameweek 3 Team:
On a short term view, we’re hopeful for Gareth Bale for a second week running. We’ll be handing the armband responsibilities to Carlos Tevez, who should extend his scoring spree against a disjointed QPR side. We’ll be looking for a 20 point minimum from our skipper once again. Despite his gameweek 3 blank, we’ll be sticking with Ivanovic, as Hangeland has a favourable fixture against the Hammers, providing ample return potential as a replacement. As mentioned above, we favour Cazorla, or Kagawa over Arteta, but unfortunately, selling Ramires will leave us slightly short for capital. Further, our midfield provides something of a conundrum, stuck with a Reading replacement in Danny Guthrie. Our two options are to deploy a flat back four with Bale, Kagawa/Cazorla, and Silva sitting just in front. Secondly, we could look at exiting Darren Bent, in addition to Ramires, in a paid transfer, to free up cash for our desired midfield reshuffle. We’re a bit hesitant to add a third budget forward option, and are quietly optimistic at Bent’s future prospects. Cazorla’s higher valuation together with his tough fixture list and a stuttering Arsenal attack tips the balance towards Kagawa. Being 0.3 short, we’ll look to offload Pearce for a cheap defensive option. With Richard Dunne still absent, Nathan Baker could be our man.
Hangeland Ivanovic Zabaleta (Baker McCartney)
Bale Arteta Silva Kagawa (Guthrie)
Petric Bent Tevez (C)
At current, I am scouring Jonathan Wilson’s veritable magnum opus, Inverting the Pyramid. As I stumble through this dense and frequently daunting HIST2034/FTBL101 compendium, that has truly proved a jarring amalgamation of the bane academia of history with a pastime, that at its root, enjoys a gloriously perfunctory accessibility, it seemed apt to contrast the globalisation of the world’s most unencumbered commodity with the stagnant progress of Australia’s national competition.
This is a country that treats football, more pertinently domestic football, with indifference at best. Australian culture is steeped with a sporting identity, but for the floundering A-League, that competes with the more traditional national sporting codes, the forthcoming version 8.0 could a tipping point for the future, whether positively or otherwise. While the rites of passage journeys of Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton have ignited a flickering spark on the sporting landscape, attempts by the Football Federation of Australia have been thwarted by an ineluctable fact: Australian domestic sides compete in the best leagues in the world for their respective sports, be it AFL, NRL, Super 15 or the Sheffield Shield. With the proliferation of international coverage of football abroad, accompanied by Australia’s naturally refined and expensive sporting palette, the A-League has stagnated as a purveyor of mediocrity. Australia’s footballing populace is characterised, most discerningly, by their lack of sleep and late night habits in watching the English brand.
If Inverting the Pyramid spun the wonderful tales of football enigmas who spread the crimson thread of British supremacy and its past times to far-reaching corners of the world, then Australia’s clear absence must be noted. For a land that is drastically embossed with the English watermark, the lack of football is striking. While football spread to the imaginative, but poverty-stricken, villages of South America and Africa, gained a foothold in the Eastern European life of degradation and has seemingly conquered the remote Asian landscape, Australia, with New Zealand in tow, have remained untouched. Some have suggested that the uncouth convict origins drew the population to a more physical endeavour, but this seems a difficult leap to make, as Wilson’s description of early-period football seems a more close breed of rugby than the modern-day round ball version.
It seems more likely, however, that while Australia may have been served by their very own Alexander Hutton in Frank Lowy, of which I could only provide an injustice through description, and who has almost single handedly overseen the development of football as we know it in Australia through the 1970s to current, the sport is yet to meet its next visionary. If Alexander Hutton is credited with introducing the game to South America, then it is Charlie Miller who enjoys the accolades of its expansion. As philosophers describe, a movement may begin with an individual and then be propelled by a follower, but it still remains in infancy before it gains “followers of followers”. Only at this third removal from the initial starting point will the trend gain any momentum. This phenomenon is axiomatic throughout society, with marketers and businesspersons developing strategies over social media campaigns and celebrity endorsement. This is shown most succinctly by Derek Sivers and his TED company relies on this notion to gain interest and attention: Watch it Here
For football in Australia, Lowy marks stage 2 of this extended trend. To move forward, the Australian audience needs their next persuasive character, whether it be player, manager or administrator to imbue the local game with its own identity. Surely, 2006 marked a serious window of opportunity, with only a thinly velied Fabio Grosso dive, who has bewilderingly been heavily linked with a move to the A League, and an errant Luis Cantejelo shrill of his whistle barring the Socceroos from an unlikely quarter final appearance in Germany. For the English, tournament heartbreak has become a part of the national identity, but for Australia the disappointing African adventure of 2010 has had more a more sinister fallout, with Pim’s lack of ambition driving fans away, rather than towards, the round ball.
If the Australian sporting public demands the best, then it seems the World Cup and national team success would be the most self-evident mechanism to shift the national paradigm. The FFA must cast aside their inhibitions and provide a platform for an earnest campaign in 2018. Rather than financing the now defunct North Queensland Fury or the Gold Coast United, the game’s governing body should be distilling the talent pool with the foremost training ideologies, techniques and scientific developments; 3 areas Australia traditionally excels at in other codes. Following the lead of the burgeoning Japanese footballing community, that has achieved domestic league growth following national improvement, if not overwhelming success, would be a start.
But surely the most promising avenue towards such an outcome must be Australia’s spectacularly fruitless 2018/2022 World Cup bid. To go back on the small, but nonetheless valuable, progress that has been made would be a retrograde step. While critics have bemoaned the financial waste of the Lowy-led recent World Cup bids, the FFA must rally to ensure future support does not wane. The Australian footballing community must demand a further bid when the time comes, for this would provide the impetus to embrace the one truly international sport as the preeminent Australian game.