With the new season of the Premier League kicking off this weekend, the country’s football fans teeter – almost unanimously – on the collective edge of their seats, sofas, bar stools and (following the sale of one or more vital organs) stadium seats. Mostly they spout optimism about how this season is the season in which everything will fall into place. At times it feels as though their earnest support will be translated somehow into improved performances on the field: ‘We just have to win; I’m wearing my lucky socks!’ Of course we all know too well that this is far from the case. Sitting at home and willing a striker to score will not result a bulging net (see Fernando Torres…). There are leagues, however, where the lowly fans can take some credit and raise themselves to the levels of the managers they so admire: Fantasy Football.
Of course, it’s not actually controlling the performance of particular players, but it’s a nice way to be involved. Workplaces, Universities, pubs, schools and anywhere else where fans congregate will hum with the chatter of which unlikely youngster is picking up points, who is ‘due a goal’ and who has been letting expectations down. As such we at The Student Footballer felt a responsibility to guide you in your quest for fame and accolades for your side. The Internet, you will no doubt be aware, is crammed with useful articles on how to be the best at Fantasy Football, and guides for newcomers to the pursuit. Given our own woeful ability we thought it fitting, therefore, that we offered you a slightly different guide: How to Lose at Fantasy Football. Here it is, in a few, easy to digest, points:
Be Tactically Terrible:
We may as well start with the formation. Given that the game rewards those players who play regularly and contribute to their teams’ success in attacking ways (goal-scoring, assists etc.) most players rely on unbalanced formations with at least two strikers. We would suggest the opposite; play defensively. Think 5-4-1 and ensure that those 4 are the middle-of-the-road style midfielders that have decent statistical records but rarely score or assist – think Jack Colback, if you need inspiration. Additionally, make sure you choose those players from teams that work against their style of play. An excellent striker in a defensive team will naturally miss out on points that a less talented forward in a more aggressive team might be earning. A truly brilliant Goalkeeper is nearly worthless if his defence get walked through every five seconds, because he will concede. These are the players you need to look out for!
Have an Awful Selection Policy:
This feeds into my second point: selection policy. Beyond looking out for those players that don’t fit the game (Michael Carrick was statistically one of United’s best players last season, but scored few points because of his lack of goals), there are other characteristics that can single out a player as unsuitably, and therefore exactly what we’re looking for. Any player who is temperamental and inconsistent, particularly in goal-scoring ability is a must-buy. Mario Balotelli, last season at Liverpool, was an excellent example. Given his reputation he came at a fairly high premium but failed to convert many chances and simply stropped around the field.
Injury prone players fit into the same category. Having multiple injuries in your side at all times will force your hand when it comes to transfers and make selection difficult. I recommend Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. Also look for players with abysmal disciplinary records. You lose points for getting cards and selection will be difficult with players banned. If only someone would buy Joey Barton!
Alongside all this, it’s important to remember to overspend on these unreliable players. Sink your entire budget into Raheem Sterling and a few overpriced others who might not even be starting for their clubs; Juan Cuadrado anyone? That way you won’t really have enough for useful back-ups when they’re missing.
Be Too Busy:
This final point is crucial to the failure of your team. If you fail to regularly check to see what needs changing and then fail to make these changes then you’ll fall a long way behind. The easiest way to do this is to have far too much other football related stuff on your plate so you forget about your fantasy team. Remember to watch too much football, play too much, gamble and play football video games. You might even want to start a football blog… Everything else in your life that’s not football related should be especially time-consuming too.
It’s important to ensure, of course, that forgetting to maintain your team doesn’t result in forgetting to care and talk about how dreadful it is. The best way to do this is to be constantly planning a massive overhaul that you just forget to do prior to the opening fixture of the weekend. This way you can easily bemoan changes you ‘were going to make’ afterwards. I support statements such as this: ‘What!? Ricky Lambert hat-trick! I was going to put him in for Benteke!’
Follow these simple tips and you could have the dubious honour of the worst Fantasy team amongst your mates. Good luck!