Fantasy Football Preview: Is Michael Laudrup your new best friend?

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International week again, and so my fantasy football thoughts have been on hiatus as I try and brush away the cynicism I feel towards the national team and get behind the lads.  Unfortunately the Poland match clashed with the Great British Bake Off and I’m afraid 10 years of underwhelming scandal generated armband passing mean Roy and his boys were unlikely to compete with a good sponge cake.

When I could tear myself away from the baking there were a few things of interest for the fantasy league manager.  One is the key question of how much international form translates to club form.  Andros Townsend, the stand-out performer in the England ranks, is only the 8th highest scoring spurs player, fancied by only 1.6% of fantasy league managers.  Should we all rush to jump on the bandwagon, or will cooler heads prevail?

Tottenham are away at Villa so the chance that AVB will find a place for Townsend in a more defensive set-up is certainly high and his kind of pacey wing-play could suit a counter-attacking away performance.  Frankly I remain unconvinced that Paulinho’s obvious class translates to fantasy league gold and so whilst I resent picking my team on the basis of the back-page headlines (surely I have more subtlety than that?) but this does seem like a tempting transfer.

The other obvious pit-fall for the fantasy league manager is whether any of their squad have picked up a niggle whilst on international duty.  Step forward injury-doubt Mesut Ozil.  There is often a lot of smoke and mirrors around international injuries with club managers sometimes keen to cry wolf and complain so my advice is that this a week to wait till the last minute to finalise your team, what are the Beeb saying about your players chances of starting?

The other thing that I have discovered whilst monitoring the world-cup qualifiers is that Wayne Rooney and I agree on one thing: it is a disgrace that any manager should try and play him in midfield.  Wayne is a striker; it is there for all to see on the fantasy league classifications.  Putting him in midfield destroys my tactics; he is less likely to score and won’t benefit from any clean-sheet bonus should his assiduous tackling-back help ensure one.  Now that my own self-interest has been brought into the equation I am fully behind a rapid transfer to Chelsea where he can star as a lone front-man without perpetual problem Robin Van Persie poaching half of his goal-scoring opportunities.

For every wrong-headed decision made by Sir Alex there is thankfully a tactical masterstroke being performed by Michael Laudrup.  His decision to allow Michu to roam forward from his natural home in midfield is a fantasy manager’s dream.  Goals + Clean-sheets = success.  It’s just simple mathematics.  Likewise a manager who employs advanced wingbacks with a good cross helps cheat the system.

If I can find a defender who is a team’s creative focal point the distortion of his role could yield a points glut.  Jose Enrique and Zabaletta are examples of two defenders in the top 30 players sorted by Assists (the other is Carl Jenkinson who, having only been selected by 2.1% of players, may turn out to be one of the great unsung heroes of the fantasy league, it’s early days yet, but he is one to watch…).

Ben Davies at Swansea is 30th of the list of Goal Scorers in the league; one of only two defenders to make the top group.  He has two more points than Wayne Rooney.  He only costs £5m and a full 7.1% fewer players have selected him than Wayne.  Once again Laudrup seems to be playing a system solely focussed on helping those of us playing the fantasy game.

One other curiosity I will leave you with, completely unrelated to the international window, in fact related to international exile John Terry.  Terry currently tops the bonus points league with 10 points.  He has two more bonus points that Aaron Ramsey.  Something to think about?  Perhaps not.

Download Hit Row Z’s first ever podcast here! 

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