In the aftermath of losing top spot, Grinchy Vogt gambled his fortunes on a sixteen-point hit. Meanwhile, Stage One of the Gentlemen's Classic came to an end.
There was panic in the air over on Mount Crumpet, following Grinchy Vogt losing top spot in Gameweek Nine and being thoroughly thrashed by his title rivals. Despite the scale of his destruction hinging on one bad captaincy call, the Grinch lost faith in several of his squad, and decided the situation called for drastic measures. One by one, he called those who had displeased him to his office to deliver the news their services were no longer required. By the end of Vogt's night of the long knives, a third of his squad had been replaced, with several others warned that they were on their final warning. In an attempt to rebuild his shattered aura, the Grinch paid a sixteen-point penalty to bring in five new names, confident they would re-assert his authority over the League of Gentlemen.
When Alonso replacement James crashed home two goals, secured a clean sheet and added three bonus points for a total score of 21 points, the Grinch's plan looked to have paid off. Chilwell, brought in for the absent Reguilon, added a further eight points, leaving him 25 points better off from those two transfers. Had his transfer spree ended there, nobody could have doubted the signing skills of Shameless Simon. Unfortunately for him, the tale was yet to reach its conclusion.
It was in attack where the folly of Vogt's frantic fluctuations left him exposed. The sale of Ronaldo to Toney was always a huge risk, one justified by arguing that the triple-attack twelve-point hit would leave him stronger overall, with Son and Foden replacing Raphinha and Saka. On paper, the Grinch was happy, but football isn't played on paper. First, Saka outscored Foden by four points, taking the Grinch's gain down to 17 points. Then, Raphinha secured seven extra points over Son, reducing the benefit to just six points. Once Toney failed to improve on his standard two points, the Grinch's hands covered his face. With the transfer hit applied, he was down to just a four-point gain, with the world's greatest goalscorer still to play. With searing inevitability, Ronaldo fired home twelve points, leaving Vogt eight points worse off on his transfer dealings, and the gap to top spot extended by a further six points. Rubbing further salt into the wound, the man he took a hit to sell last week, Declan Rice, slammed home thirteen points, while the more expensive player Vogt replaced him with, Mbeumo, failed to take the field. While substitute Livramento mitigate the damage, that transfer has left the Grinch thirteen points worse off in two gameweeks, while Lukaku-replacement Vardy has just a single point in each of his two appearances.
Seven transfers in two gameweeks for a net loss of nineteen points, coupled with a wild captaincy gamble that cost him a further 46 points, has left the rest of the contenders wondering if Vogt has lost the plot. With his gameweek total score being the second-lowest outside of the Irrelevants, it opened the door for others to take advantage. In addition to the Chancellor pulling six points further clear of the Grinch, Jockin' Jeeves slashed the gap to just five points, while Mighty Mouse's 64 points got him right back in contention, and Ginger Ben moved to within 53 points of the top. The Grinch's gambles are backfiring, and the pressure is only growing in intensity.
It's a pressure that's weighing heavy on my own shoulders, with Gameweek Ten being my sixth disappointing performance on the spin. That they have all come during the period of Stage One of the Gentlemen's Classic is not lost on me, and with my campaign in that competition over, the hope is my form reverts back to its pre-Classic high standards. My highest-scoring player this gameweek was my goalkeeper, which is never a good sign, especially when my substitute goalkeeper also outscored all ten of my outfield starters. It was good to see Benrahma finally get me a return, though it's likely I'll have to run with double-West Ham attack during their upcoming tough fixture run, which is a concern.
The plan originally was to transfer Benrahma out for Son in time for Gameweek Eleven, but the comparative form of Dias to the Chelsea full-backs, and their respective Gameweek Eleven fixtures, makes the signing of James or Chilwell feel more urgent. The risk is I'll end up being unable to afford Son in Gameweek Twelve, so it may be that I stick with the original plan, but it's hard to ignore James when he is both cheaper than Dias and the highest-scoring defender, despite having played just 369 minutes all season. Four goals, three clean sheets and two assists in four starts is a record that simply cannot be ignored. It may well be that the time is right to take my first transfer hit of the season, but when my avoidance of points penalties has kept me in the title race despite six consecutive average gameweeks, lifting me to my highest-ever League of Gentlemen position of second in the process, keeping consistency as my greatest differential seems the way to go. In the back of my mind, I'm also thinking of an avenue back to Ronaldo. Signing Son would close that door, and I'm not convinced I'm ready to do that just yet.
The Cup Chronicles
Stage One of the Gentlemen's Classic came to a conclusion this gameweek, with two Stage Two qualifiers still to be determined at the start of play. Deadly Daz sabotaged his chances of an unlikely route to the second round with a massive 28-point transfer hit, and while he recovered to score 61 points in the gameweek - one of the division's highest totals - his final score of 33 points was never going to secure him the victory required over Big Steve. As it turned out, it wouldn't have made a difference, with Red Hot Rob's comfortable victory over Flash Funk ensuring he joined the undefeated Butcher in progressing from Group C.
The situation was clear in Group D; only a winning margin of fifteen points or more over the Dragon would see the Chancellor make it through. He gave it a real go, taking hits to bring in Chilwell and Smith-Rowe, both of whom secured returns en route to securing victory over the reigning League of Gentlemen champion. Sadly for the Chancellor, his winning margin was only four points, meaning the Dragon advances via a superior head-to-head record. It was the head-to-head Tiebreaker that ensured both Ginger Ben and Hitman Hodgson topped their groups, joining Big Steve and Sirloin Sean as top seeds in the Stage Two draw.
Gentlemen's Classic results, Matchday Six:
The Masterchef 35 - 40 Grinchy Vogt
The Ox 33- 50 Ginger Ben
Iceman Newton 47 - 45 Jockin’ Jeeves
King Ding 40 - 42 Hitman Hodgson
Deadly Daz 33 - 49 Big Steve
Red Hot Rob 55 - 40 Flash Funk
The Chancellor 46 - 42 Dan the Dragon
Sirloin Sean 35 - 47 Lord Geord
It's the end of the road in the Eliminator for Gladiator Glen, who recovered well in the league table from an abysmal start, only to follow-up his best gameweek score of the season with his worst. Matching his total of 24 points and also leaving the competition is Big-Time Birkett, who went from the Hundred Club in Gameweek Nine to the cup cemetery this time out. With sixteen teams now Eliminated, the margin of error grows ever slimmer for the 25 teams remaining.
Only four managers ended Gameweek Ten with over sixty points, and three of them came in the Irrelevants. Lethal Lee showed some signs of life at the foot of the table, with Rice's thirteen points crucial in slashing the gap to Wooden Spoon Helling by eighteen points, leaving Lethal Lee just three points away from sending Helling to his natural habitat. Daredevil Daisy got her campaign back on track with a captain Ronaldo-inspired 67 points, a total that moves her back up to 24th and seven points ahead of her father, the 28-point penalty-taking Deadly Daz. Meanwhile, the gameweek's highest score came from Metal Marc, though his 69 points weren't enough to see him rise from third-bottom. At the upper end of the Irrelevants, Big-Time Birkett's division-low total sees him fall from the Elite to twelfth, with King Ding, Hitman Hodgson and Ash the Bash all climbing a place as a result.
They still have some work to do to reach the Irrelevants, with Dan the Dragon holding a sixteen-point cushion over those trying to consign him to Irrelevants. He dropped two places this gameweek, with Ginger Ben holding seventh and Mighty Mouse reaching sixth place following the division's fourth sixty-plus score. It was a total which meant he narrowed the gap to every team above him by at least seventeen points, re-establishing him as a contender after an average run of form. Go Cartin drops to fifth after securing just 36 points, while Jockin' Jeeves hindered his progress by taking a hit to sign Smith-Rowe, whose nine points he left on the bench, and to replace the nine points of Raphinha with the non-playing Mount. Those blunders meant Grinchy Vogt's fall was limited to just one place, though the five-point difference between the two looks tenuous at best. My score of 47 points was poor, yet it was the highest of the top five, with my transfer discipline bailing me out of trouble again. I feel my climbing the table has been somewhat fortuitous, given my recent form, but I'm one place and one point closer to top spot, and I have achieved my first season target of still being in the mix after Gameweek Ten. The challenge now is to go one rung higher, and I will need to be at my best with such a high calibre of hungry opposition at my heels.
The Man Who Would Be King
Enjoying his second gameweek in top spot is the Chancellor, who reacted to goalkeeper Raya's injury by taking an eight-point hit and ending up six points better off as a result. Though I closed the gap between us by a point, his advantage grew by a point as a result of Grinchy Vogt dropping to third place, leaving a comfortable 28 points between the league leader and his closest rival. While new goalkeeper Fernandez looked shaky, there are no real fires to extinguish in his squad, affording him the comfort of a second goalkeeper transfer if he so wished, though with squad rotation likely to kick in after the international break, he may be tempted to replace the injured Marcal. The Chancellor dropped to 48,315 in the overall rankings in Gameweek Ten, but he will be delighted to occupy a top-50k ranking and first place in the table at the quarter-mark of his debut League of Gentlemen campaign. With 1.8m being his highest-ever finish prior to this season, his start has been the stuff of dreams. How long it lasts, no-one can predict; all we know is that the World's Greatest Mini-League continues to travel the Highway to Hellier, and the Chancellor is in the driving seat.
That concludes the round-up of Gameweek Ten of the League of Gentlemen, which saw the conclusion of Stage One of the Gentlemen's Classic, which saw the panic levels peak with some wild transfer hits, and which saw the Chancellor tighten his grip on the red briefcase. Ahead of Gameweek Eleven, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
Gentlemen's Classic fixtures, Matchday Seven:
Big Steve vs Jockin' Jeeves
Sirloin Sean vs Dan the Dragon
Ginger Ben vs Red Hot Rob
Hitman Hodgson vs The Ox
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