Fantasy football has serious downsides

…I signed up for a fantasy football league. It has become clear this was a mistake.

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Patjim Kasami scored a chest-and-volley for Fulham last month that was thrilling, unforgettable, as good as that bit in Apollo 13 where they don’t burn up on re-entry – and I watched it miserably. Kasami was in my fantasy football team but I’d left him on the bench.

…Listening to the radio on a Saturday afternoon, it used to be that updates had to be coming in from White Hart Lane, or wherever Spurs were playing, for me to tense up. But as a fantasy manager the bad news comes in from everywhere. Southampton have conceded! (So their goalkeeper won’t earn me points for a clean sheet.) Everton have subbed Ross Barkley! (I knew I should’ve given the spot to Steven Naismith.)

… Since the game migrated online, that little bit of arithmetic has gone; software automatically digests the weekend’s goals and assists, totalling your points and delivering a verdict that can be devastating. I still wince at the 17 points missed when Luis Suárez scored an October hat-trick.

By the way, Blair was right to judge there are life lessons to be learned from fantasy football. One: Fernando Torres isn’t worth the money. Two: beware of tinkering. (I have, shamefully, completed entire seasons of intricate transfer dealing, noticing afterwards that I’d have won more points if I’d left my XI alone from the start.) Three: there’s nothing so motivating as the fear of letting down a friend. Leighton Baines, having scored twice in one game for Everton in September, said afterwards he was spurred on by team‑mate Leon Osman, who’d “taken me out of his fantasy football team because I wasn’t doing enough”. Baines vowed to score a couple, and did.

I’m not sure which version of the game Osman prefers, but I like the one on (Also favoured by Peter Crouch. And Crouch plays properly: last season he dropped himself because he just wasn’t performing.) I’m loyal to “Fantasy Prem” because it’s free; because you can design your own kit, for instance the teal-and-lemon combo I’m trying to popularise; and because after five seasons as an also-ran in my mini-league, I want to hang around and win the thing. Problematically, I play against a group of psychic Mourinhos who can take in a couple of Match of the Days and deduce that Loïc Rémy is on the verge of a scoring bonanza. How do they know?

Not everyone competes on a level plane. Andy Murray is a devoted fantasy football man. Last season, between winning the US Open and Wimbledon, the Scot topped a mini-league among friends and even awarded himself a little trophy. But he admitted he’d had outside help. Wondering whether to keep or drop the injured Michael Dawson, Murray had simply sent Dawson a text. “He said I should drop him.”

Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia once telephoned George Gillett, then co-owner of Liverpool, to find out whether Steven Gerrard was due to start at the weekend, not wanting to waste the spot in his lineup otherwise. Explaining his passion for fantasy football, Prince Abdullah said: “When you’ve got a player from Norwich City in your team [it means that] every game matters.” This was my thinking when I signed up. How exciting, I thought, to have something to root for while watching Norwich. I was foolish.

…Last season, preparing for a match with Manchester United, West Brom goalie Ben Foster dropped Robin van Persie from his fantasy squad. Foster’s reasoning, I guess, was that when a Van Persie shot came rifling at him during the match, he didn’t want to be in two minds. Save it, or take the points? Fantasy football can be deranging like that.

…Faulks put the idea into a novel, A Week in December, creating a character called Finn who was a fantasy football obsessive. Poor Finn. He ended up in a psychiatric unit, wrecked, sedated, “unseeing”.

Before this happens to me, I plan to give up. Not yet, though. I’ve climbed to sixth in my mini-league and I’m finally ready to make a concerted push on the top four.

Source: Guardian

Sign up for the TOKNOWTHEGAME.COM FPL mini-league and get a chance to win attractive CASH prizes! Just join us at the official game using the code: 99698-29443.
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