Jez Messing has been very quiet in recent months, but he has returned with a special report detailing a coup that almost blew the League of Gentlemen apart.
While away in Tony Adams' Sporting Chance rehabilitation centre receiving treatment for his addiction to controversy, Jez Messing received an urgent phone call from Juggernauts assistant manager, Hot Rod, requesting his urgent presence for an emergency meeting. Once he arrived at Juggernaut HQ, he was greeted by Jockin' Jeeves, Lord Geord, The Ox and King Ding, who said they had some documents to show him that needed publishing, and he was the only man with the power and influence to save both the League of Gentlemen and the whole FPL system itself.
As Hot Rod brought through the crystal cafetiere, his special cafetiere that has only ever been used to make coffee for Kevin Keegan and Julian Lennon, Jez Messing looked through a copy of a contract that the four Gentlemen lay before him. It was a contract headed, 'For the Eyes of Ginger Ben Only.' Within the document were plans to destroy the League of Gentlemen itself, and a press release scheduled to be delivered later that evening:
LEADING FPL MANAGERS ANNOUNCE NEW FPL MINI-LEAGUE
Twelve of FPL’s leading managers have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mini-league competition, the Division of Dapper Dudes, governed by its Founding Managers.
Grande Stefano, Grinchy Vogt, Daniela el Dragón, Mack Daddy McMahon, Flash Funk, Anticonformista Michelangelo, Grande Momento Birketti, L'Assassino Hodgsonero, The Masterchef, Sirloin Sean, Red Hot Rob and Tóxico Dazzé have all joined as Founding Managers. It is anticipated that a further three managers will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence in August.
Going forward, the Founding Managers look forward to holding discussions with the League of Gentlemen and FPL to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new division and for FPL as a whole.
The formation of the Division of Dapper Dudes comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European FPL model. Further, for a number of years, the Founding Managers have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing FPL competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top FPL managers to compete on a regular basis.
The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a unified mini-league are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European Fantasy Football pyramid. In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place between members of the League of Gentlemen, the Confederación del Caballero and Il Sindicato del Signore. The Founding Managers believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality competitions and additional weekly points resources for the overall FPL pyramid.
Grinchy Vogt, the first Chairman of the Division of Dapper Dudes said:
“We will help FPL at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. FPL is the only management game in the world with more than eight million managers, and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their levels of competition.”
Vice-President Grande Momento Birketti said:
“By bringing together the world’s greatest managers to play each other throughout the season, the Division of Dapper Dudes will open a new chapter for European fantasy football, ensuring world-class competition and increased relevancy for the wider FPL pyramid.”
Upon confronting Grinchy Vogt about the plans he had masterminded, Messing discovered that this plan had been in the works all season. Intended to capitalise on the lower performance levels of veteran managers, he was orchestrating a power-play to oust them from the competition long-term, and to bring in continental rivals in an attempt to glamorise the traditional game. When questioned about Jockin' Jeeves, Lord Geord, The Ox and King Ding's exclusions, Grinchy Vogt said: "Of course, we'll always be grateful to and have respect for the Legacy Managers, but the game has to move forward and attract new fans. Twelve website views per weekly blog just doesn't cut it in the modern world, especially when they aren't even translated for the Asian and Arab audiences."
However, that was not the end of the story. Once the Weekly Bullshitter published their revelations, fury grew among the players, fans and the rest of the Legacy Managers. Faced with unprecedented vitriol and the threat of expulsion from FPL altogether, one by one, the Founding Managers chose to withdraw from the new division. At time of press, only Grinchy Vogt and Grande Momento Birketti were still to officially abandon the Division of Dapper Dudes, though they are expected to eventually relent given the threat of expulsion from next season’s Gentlemen’s Classic. It remains to be seen what sanctions, if any, will be involved going forward.
Upon the rejection of the new mini-league, the 'Legacy Managers' released the following statement: "FPL and the League of Gentlemen has been, and always will be, for the fans. This attempt to wipe the history of the King's reign, the Juggernaut resistance and the rise of new empires has been defeated, and for that, we are thankful. We could not have saved the competition without the courage of The Eliminator, Ginger Ben, who chose loyalty to his former band-mates and crew over future glory, with his forwarding of the documents ensuring the Division of Dapper Dudes was his final Elimination of the season. The last year has been difficult for us all; fatigue has set in, engagement is down, and we can't say with certainty which managers will still be around next season. All we can promise is that the League of Gentlemen and its unique cup competitions will remain, and the League of Gentlemen will once again show why it is the World's Greatest Mini-League."
Amidst a tide of propaganda, Jez Messing was the truth. His reputation restored, he was bid farewell by the Sporting Chance clinic, and he has returned triumphantly to the Weekly Bullshitter full-time to focus on doing what he does best.
The Cup Chronicles
The Quarter Finals of the Gentlemen’s Trophy came to an exciting conclusion this week, with some hard-fought ties determining four semi-finalists that are sure to give us a dramatic conclusion to the competition. The closest match of the round was between Slick Rick and Who Horner. Entering the tie nine points behind, Slick Rick needed to produce something special, and the Slickster fired in a 74-point gameweek to take the tie to a knife-edge. Who Horner struggled to cope, but the Triple Captaincy of Kane kept him in the tie. With the scores level and Slick Rick holding the Tiebreaker advantage, Horner’s desperation grew. Last season, Who Horner was eliminated from the competition as a result of Jimenez scoring a stoppage-time winner for Wolves to send Lord Geord through. In poetic scenes that could not be scripted, his scourge became his saviours in the most remarkable fashion. It all came down to one stoppage-time Sheffield United cross. As the ball traversed the area, Big Man Boly missed the interception by an inch. As the ball was gathered by McGoldrick, Coady came in with the huge tackle to claim the ball. At that time, nobody could see what the moment meant. As Opta totted-up the stats post-match, the missed interception prevented Boly from reaching 25 points on the Bonus Point Scoring system, while the Coady tackle meant his BPS went from 24 points to 26, earning him a single bonus point, an extra point that ensured Who Horner edged ahead of Slick Rick, avoided losing in the Tiebreaker and qualified for the Semi-Finals by a score of 93-94.
None of the other ties could live up to that incredible drama. The Butcher went for the safe option of Kane with the Triple Captain chip, a move that was proven correct but also meant he had no chance of overhauling the Dragon, who romped home 158-139, while Jockin’ Jeeves was never under threat against Flash Funk, thrashing him by 131 points to 94. Maverick Mikey clawed back a point on the King, but King Ding’s advantage saw him the 88-96 victor. The defending Gentlemen’s Trophy champion has had a woeful season by his impeccable standards, but the cup offers him a route to salvation, and to ensure the season ends in success. He has a tough route to the final, however, with the draw showing no kindness this time. His opponent is the runaway league leader Dan the Dragon, and the King will have to be at his very best to find safe passage to the final. Should he slay the Dragon, it will have the added effect of reminding the likely league champion just who he is up against, laying down a marker for next season, when a revitalised and refreshed King will be returning with a vengeance.
Gentlemen’s Trophy, Quarter Final results
Gentlemen's Trophy, Semi Final Draw:
The League of Gentlemen:
Private Parvesh continues to make up ground on Wildman Whitfield and Wooden Spoon Helling, outscoring both to close the gap to second-bottom to 111 points, with Helling a further nine points away. With just six gameweeks left, he’s going to need something special to avoid last place, but the poor quality of opposition gives him hope. There were no positional changes throughout the rest of the Irrelevants either, save for Red Hot Rob falling back to ninth place after being outscored by all of the top nineteen managers. That’s not to say the Irrelevants was without drama, with the race for top twelve – the cut-off for automatic Gentlemen’s Classic qualification – intensifying further with thirteenth-place Deadly Daz outscoring the four teams ahead of him, and fourteenth-place Slick Rick firing home the joint-highest non-chip score of the gameweek. While Red Hot Rob, 49 points ahead of Deadly Daz, should be safe, Lord Geord, The Ox and King Ding all look vulnerable, with only sixteen points separating Slick Rick from tenth-place King Ding. Heightening the tension is Slick Rick’s retention of a Bench Boost, which could launch him up the division, although Deadly Daz is his only rival without any chip to play. The Ox will hope his own Bench Boost can see him home, while Lord Geord is putting his faith in a late-season Free Hit over either the blank or double gameweek to come. King Ding has the strongest hand, having a fourteen-place cushion over thirteenth spot and both a Wildcard and Bench Boost to play. In his second exclusive of the gameweek, Jez Messing can reveal the King has played his Wildcard for Gameweek Thirty-Three, which gives him the strongest set-up for the Bench Boost. That should be enough to see him pull clear in the coming gameweeks. For The Ox, Lord Geord, Deadly Daz and Slick Rick, the pressure is at its peak; four into two simply does not go.
The Chasing Pack
A successful week for Hitman Hodgson, whose transfer hit to replace Adams and de Bruyne with Iheanacho and Son secured him an extra twelve points which took him back into the Chasing Pack, one point ahead of the Irrelevants. Schmeichel, Coady, Lingard and captain Kane all contributed to a final gameweek score of 68 points, though frustration comes from seeing seven-point Christensen benched. Why you would leave a defender from such a strong defence out against goal-shy Brighton remains a mystery, especially for a West Brom attacker who has only secured returns in two gameweeks out of the last eleven; sometimes, it makes more sense to take an almost-guaranteed return over an unlikely potential haul. Still, it was a successful week for the Hitman, whose next target is making up the 23 points to seventh-place Sirloin Sean, who scored the lowest score outside of the Irrelevants. The benching of nine-point Sanchez for two-point Ederson was the sensible move on paper, but that will be little consolation for the Appleby Assassin, who saw only four players secure returns. Captain Kane’s haul meant little, given his high ownership, but the scores of Alexander-Arnold, Pogba and Son proved crucial in ensuring he didn’t slip further back and become embroiled in a dogfight to avoid fading to Irrelevants. That being said, he would’ve been better off avoiding taking hits to sign Pogba and Rodon altogether, with those transfers producing a score of minus-two once the hits were factored in.
There are no further positional movements in the rest of the division, but Flash Funk will be pleased to have established a further fifteen-point cushion to those teams behind him, especially after several weeks of average performances culminated in an FPL Nightmare score of just twenty-six points last time out. The hit taken to swap Dias and Trossard to Rudiger and Maddison secured an extra three points, and you have to feel those signings will ensure extra points in the gameweeks to come – not least the coming gameweek, when Dias has no fixture, while Maddison is at home to Crystal Palace. Returns from Lloris, Rudiger and Coufal and hauls from Vardy and Triple Captain Kane meant the damage of Stones scoring minus-two points was minimised, and Flash can now look up at the table and focus on catching Jockin’ Jeeves, who moved nineteen points clear this week after outscoring the Funkmaster by six points. The hit to replace Digne and Calvert-Lewin with Alexander-Arnold and Cavani secured an extra nine points, with further returns from Lingard, Rudiger and Iheanacho and hauls from Son and captain Kane giving a final score of 74 points for the gameweek. The huge frustration for the Rap Rob Roy was seeing Stones blunder inside twenty-two seconds to wipe out clean sheets from both Ederson and Dias; at this stage in the season, those eight points could prove crucial as the Juggernauts vie to equal last season’s bronze medal finish. Being thirty-seven points off fourth place and thirty-nine of third with six weeks to go would seem insurmountable to many managers, but Jockin’ Jeeves is cut from a different cloth; part of him will still believe he can make up the seventy-six points to the silver medal, despite needing to make up thirteen points a gameweek. While that seems unlikely, the bronze medal is certainly achievable; with that fabled Juggernaut late-season momentum picking up pace, those ahead of Jockin’ Jeeves are looking over their shoulders, praying he runs out of time.
The Title Contenders
A strong week for fourth-placed Grinchy Vogt, who saw five players get returns to support the hauls of Son and captain Kane, giving him a gameweek total of 67 points. It could’ve been even better, too, with five-point Watkins waiting in the wings and only denied from adding his points to the total by the substitute Salah cameo. The hit to bring in two new defenders paid off to the tune of seven points, with the outgoing Cancelo not playing and Mee scoring just one point. The incredible turnaround from being nineteenth at Christmas to being on the verge of the bronze medal has been remarkable; with only two points needed to move into third place, and Ginger Ben’s team facing many absences this weekend, Gameweek Thirty-Three could be the week the Grinch steals the bronze medal position.
Hanging on to third place by two points but with a massive decision to make ahead of Gameweek Thirty-Three is Ginger Ben, who finished with the lowest points total in the top six and also now has eight members of his squad either absent or a serious doubt for the next gameweek. The hit taken to replace Bruno and Neto with Son and Pulisic paid off with a nine-point gain, but serious questions have to be raised about the signing of Pulisic, when Chelsea are rotating their players quite frequently and they have a tough run of games coming up. It’s these marginal decisions, and the Eliminator’s choice to take the higher-risk gamble most of the time, that have been a big factor in his slide down the table. The captaincy of Son over Kane made no difference in the end, with both players scoring the same amount of points, but it’s another gamble taken in a run of speculative punts. The pattern of behaviour developing suggests the Eliminator is struggling with the pressure at the business end of the season; given the crisis on his hands as we leave Gameweek Thirty-Two, one can only wonder at what sort of wild risks Ginger Ben will take in the transfer market ahead of his next gameweek. With Grinchy Vogt now just two points behind, he simply must get the big calls correct this time.
For Big Steve, his big gamble was selling Bruno for Lingard then taking a hit to sign Kane over Watkins; his big mistake was Triple Captaining the Spurs striker, knowing that Dan the Dragon would be doing the same. Ultimately, it proved a decision that did not matter, but when you a chasing the title, when you are 71 points behind with just seven weeks to go, you have to take calculated risks in order to have a chance at glory. After holding off on his Wildcard last week, the Butcher chose to take the safe option again this time out, and as a result he is now 80 points behind – a further nine points to make up to become the champion, and now with just six gameweeks to do it. That’s not to say the Butcher had a bad gameweek – returns from Patricio, Alexander-Arnold, Lingard and Iheanacho, combined with the hauls of Son and Kane, gave him the second-highest score in the division this week. Had Stones kept a clean sheet with a bonus point, rather than getting sent off, the Butcher would’ve actually tied the highest score for the gameweek. The problem is, Stones did get sent off, and the man who got the highest score in the division is the man he’s trying to chase down. There are six weeks for Big Steve to make up eighty points; he needs to outscore the Dragon by an average of over thirteen points a gameweek. He’s winning his other mini-leagues comfortably, and he won’t be caught by Ginger Ben or Grinchy Vogt in the League of Gentlemen. Big Steve simply must Wildcard, he must do it now, and he must lose the caution that curses him to consolation prizes if he wants to end the season as champion. If he plays it safe, he may as well just settle for silver right now.
The Man Who Would Be King
The Dragon will not be concerned about what those behind him are doing. Eighty points ahead at the top with the gap growing every week, and with a Wildcard used in Gameweek Thirty-One that has set him up perfectly for the run-in, the Dragon knows he has one hand and four fingers on the title. Returns from Saiss, Alexander-Arnold, Lingard and Iheanacho supported the hauls of Son and Triple Captain Kane, giving the Dragon the highest score of the Gameweek even with seven-point Christensen on the bench and only ten players on the field. With two of Wilson, Christensen and Holding ready to step in for the Spurs stars who have no game this weekend, the Dragon can afford to use a transfer to swap his keeper for one more secure in his starting place; with £4.5m Sanchez having secured clean sheets against Newcastle, Everton and Chelsea in the last four gameweeks and with him being against Sheffield United this weekend, it seems an obvious move to bring him in, before swapping him out for Meslier next week ahead of the Leeds stopper’s much more favourable run-in after their game against Manchester United this gameweek. Whatever he decides, the only thing the Dragon is focused on are the records; now closer to the top-thousand players in the world than Big Steve is to him, now only about 28 points away from the 7,043rd place finish that would be the new highest-ever League of Gentlemen Overall Ranking result, and now 268 points away from the League of Gentlemen’s highest-ever points total, he has a chance to anoint himself the strongest-ever champion in his debut season. An average of 45 points per gameweek is all he needs to overhaul King Ding’s record points total; more will be required to surpass his overall ranking record; both are eminently achievable. The Dragon’s season is ending in glory; in six gameweeks, the legend of the Dragon will be immortalised forever. How legendary his tale ends up being rests entirely upon his shoulders. Fantastic stuff.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek Thirty-Two of the League of Gentlemen, one which saw the race for Gentlemen’s Classic qualification grow tighter than ever, which saw the Gentlemen’s Trophy conclude its Quarter-Finals and give us an epic semi-final draw, and which saw the Butcher fail, perhaps fatally, to make any ground on the Dragon at all. Ahead of Blank Gameweek Thirty-Three, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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