Our Man at the Valley is here with your Backpost Fantasy League recap. Take it away, co-commish:
International breaks can be confusing. It’s hard to get clear information before the resumption of the EPL concerning which players have returned with injuries or jet-lag worries. Before Gameweek 4 of the BPFL, managers were left searching for clues as to team selection. High scoring Robin Van Persie, coming off a hat trick for his new club, Manchester United, had been taken off with a thigh bruise after 45minutes of Holland’s second match within four days; would Sir Alex risk him at home to Wigan at the weekend? Was it more prudent for a BPFL manager to choose another captain?
Likewise, players like Clint Dempsey and Javier Hernandez had little time to recover from transoceanic flights. Would they start soon after their return?
Compounding the issue for Gameweek 4 was that loads of players transferred clubs just before the beginning of September, joined their new clubs for a couple of days and then left for 10 days to play for their country. Would these newcomers, such as Hugo Lloris of Tottenham and France, or Matija Nastasic of Manchester City and Serbia, be quickly integrated into starting lineups? Or would they watch from the bench for another week?
And therein lies the paradox: For a country as puritanical about gambling as the United States, our most popular sports league does an awfully good job of communicating information to potential gamblers. NFL teams are fined substantial amounts for not properly updating their injury reports or depth charts. In England, a country that has a legal gambling shop or seven on every High Street, it’s nearly impossible to get good information as to prospective starting lineups.
By the way, the short answers to the above questions for Gameweek 4 were that Hernandez started; Van Persie and Dempsey came off the bench for brief cameos; Lloris was an unused substitute; and Nastasic didn’t even make the bench, though he started in the Champions League at Real Madrid a few days later.
Gameweek 4 of the BPL began with four remaining unbeaten teams. Gameweek 5 of the BPL ended with two unbeaten teams.
Of those initial four unbeaten squads, two faced each other in Gameweek 4 as Old27M took on one of the surprise clubs of the early season, Average. Average, who many predicted for a mid-table finish, were unaccustomed to the lofty heights of fourth place after two wins and a draw and Old27M beat them easily 54-40.
Additionally in Gameweek 4, my Disgruntled Numpties faced off against Clever and Witty, managed by James Brown, The two managers routinely form one of the laziest and most porous central defensive partnerships in Colorado’s Front Range Coed Soccer League. Thus it was somewhat surprising that they totaled four clean sheets between them. The Numpties ran out 48-36 winners.
The final unbeaten team, our defending champions Rise* of FC Hammer, beat Marskansas 52-35.
In Gameweek 5, my Disgruntled Numpties tasted defeat for the first time this season, beaten 39-32 by Marskansas. Old27M, with three consecutive Performances of the Week, seems like the class of the BFL, though it’d be rash to count out the other unbeaten team, our defending champion, Rise* of FC Hammer.
In addition to our remaining unbeaten teams, over the two Gameweeks there were also multiple wins for Colorado Keeper and The Losers. There were two losses for Average, Fall River Marksmen, Prison Mike and Nearpost.
Asleep at the Wheel: Nearpost, managed by RefBaiter, is the resounding winner of this week’s award. Despite a midweek email from the team manager apologizing for not making any changes yet this season and promising to be active in the transfer market this past week, a fifth consecutive loss was accompanied by a fourth consecutive week of zero transfers. Patience can be a virtue for a manager (at least that’s what Brendan Rogers keeps telling Liverpool fans), but Nearpost’s decisions to keep Alex Song and Ryan Taylor in his lineup (perhaps hoping that Barcelona loans Song back to an EPL club and that the Newcastle physio’s definition of “season ending injury” isn’t actually correct) are questionable at best. [Oh, snap!—Ed.]
Performance of the Week: In bowling three strikes in a row is called a turkey. In cricket three wickets in a row is called a hat trick. Here in the BPFL we’ll call winning Performance of the Week honors three Gameweeks in a row an Old27M, for that team added Performance of the Week honors for Gameweeks 4 and 5 to their equivalent performance in Gameweek 3. Well done.
Thanks OMATV. And just for the record, the Fall River Marksmen have 253 points, the fourth-highest total in the league. Doesn’t seem right that they’re mired in 11th place.