Gameweek Three saw some heavy hitters fall further off the pace, and even at this early stage, they have cause for concern. Grinchy Vogt’s continuing success in the dark arts of FPL is one, but the biggest issue could well be the rise of Jockin’ Jeeves, who has a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove.
We’re only in the third gameweek of the season, and already Grinchy Vogt’s mindgames are causing havoc throughout the League of Gentlemen. Having lured two rivals into wasting their Wildcards and two into throwing away their Triple Captain chips in the first two gameweeks, the Grinch turned the screw further this time out. He lured the Lionheart into throwing away his Free Hit. He hoodwinked Mack Daddy McMahon and The Ox into using their Wildcards. He discombobulated the Dragon and the Masterchef so much they took hits for players they then left on the bench, and in his finest move of all, he duped Dodger Rodgers into taking a twenty-point hit. Between his outstanding start, his manipulative messages and his alpha-male challenges to his rivals’ machismo, the Grinch is forcing his challengers into mistakes at an ever-increasing rate, a situation that will only intensify going forward now that Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to the game.
One man who did not fall for the stunts of Shameless Simon was Jockin’ Jeeves, who climbed to second in the table, closing the gap to the leader by four points in the process. In a move that appeared to signify a newfound composure, Jeeves allowed his first transfer of the season to expire, which is an almost-unprecedented move from the hit-happy former champion. However, the confident statement in his team was not all it seems. Jez Messing, the ubiquitous undercover journalist from the Weekly Bullshitter, took advantage of the change in ownership at what used to be Juggernaut HQ. Posing as a camel-coat salesman, he talked himself into the chairman’s office and was able to slip a bug into the room. He reports that, as the transfer deadline approached, Jeeves went into the owner’s office to request the replacement of Mahrez in his squad by Raphinha, the talismanic Brazilian from Leeds United. Johnson refused to sanction the swap, saying that he’s ‘building a team of footballers, not teenage mutant hero turtles.’ A huge row erupted between the new owner and Hot Rod, the Townhead Gunners’ assistant manager, which ended with Jeeves’ father storming out of the training complex. Taking to the dugout alone, the Rap Rob Roy saw Mahrez double the score of Raphinha as the Gunners clawed back the Grinch, and while many may see the intervention of a former nightclub owner as detrimental to the team’s chances, perhaps the spendthrift nature of the new chairman could be just what Jockin’ Jeeves needs to become the champion once again. It’s a story that will run and run, and with Messing’s bug still undiscovered, more world exclusives from the offices of the Townhead Gunners are sure to follow.
While it is far too early to declare this season a battle between the Grinch and Jockin’ Jeeves, the table is starting to take shape, and it does look like becoming a fight between the League of Gentlemen’s legacy managers and the newcomers determined to disrupt the narrative of the trilogy. Of the seventeen potential story-spoilers, four names have broken from the pack. Go Cartin and Mighty Mouse were hotly-tipped as potential problems in pre-season, and their opening three gameweeks have backed up those predictions, leaving them sharing fifth position heading into the international break. More surprising are the emergence of Daredevil Daisy and the Chancellor into the top ten, leaving strong competitors like Big Steve, Ginger Ben and the last two winners of the competition, King Ding and the Dragon, in their wake. For the Chancellor, doubts will persist over his ability to compete at the top, especially after taking a hit to bring in a striker against Liverpool and costing himself fourteen points in the process. It’s the second slip in three gameweeks, following the five-point Bench Boost in Gameweek One, and it suggests his presence in fourth place may prove to be a fleeting flirtation with the upper echelons. Daredevil Daisy’s position matches her age, as the youngest competitor ever in the World’s Greatest Mini-League rounds off the top ten. While her fairytale start will surely prove unsustainable, it is firing the imaginations of the dreamers, and she has already become the first score to check for the rest of the division. She also stands on the precipice of securing qualification for the Gentlemen’s Classic, leading Qualifier Four by five points after the first leg, having hit the second-highest score in the division in Gameweek Three.
The only team to outscore the Daredevil in Gameweek Three was the Lords, a result which moves my team up to third in the table. It has been a pleasing start to the campaign for me, and being rewarded for fighting off the urge to take a transfer hit can only help cement my resolve in changing my style this season. In the end, the only transfer I made was to switch Veltman out for Dier, a boring move on paper but one which saw an extra six points secured, while also removing a double-Brighton presence in my defence, which leaves me feeling more confident. The biggest disappointment was Barnes, who again failed to deliver, this time against the weakest team in the division. Still, retaining his services this week meant not taking a hit to sign Benrahma, who scored the same amount of points as Barnes, so I am four points better off. Despite having two free transfers for Gameweek Four, I will be forced to endure with the Leicester man despite his poor form and fixture, due to having gone early with my two free transfers. It’s not something I wanted to do, but when a player of Ronaldo’s calibre comes into the equation, rules have to be bent. I couldn’t afford the risk of Bruno dropping in price in the twelve days between Ronaldo’s signing and the Gameweek Four deadline, so I have sold Bruno and Toney and brought in Demarai Gray and Ronaldo, and now must cross my fingers they remain fit. My fate is now in the hands of the FPL Gods, and this simply cannot become a habit if I want to complete the King’s Quest. I was very tempted to Wildcard, but opted against it due to my ability to secure Ronaldo with my free transfers, and my belief Wildcarding now, with sixteen gameweeks until the second one becomes available, is asking for trouble.
However, this is not a belief shared by others, and Jez Messing can reveal that Grinchy Vogt has activated his Wildcard, and he is contacting other Gentlemen to try and persuade them to do so themselves. Given the impact a player like Ronaldo can have, the Grinch could well be successful in his scheme, though to me, it betrays a lack of confidence in his decision. I feel his uncertainty over whether he has made the right move drives his desire for others to follow suit, giving himself a safety net if it goes wrong. For me, the only chip to be playing is the Triple Captain; given how poor Newcastle are defensively and how they have conceded penalties every gameweek, Ronaldo’s return could see him run riot. It is a move I am considering, and while caution may well win the day, it’s not something I would discourage anyone from.
The Cup Chronicles
Heading into the second leg, each of the four Qualifiers for the Gentlemen’s Classic is up in the air. Qualifier One appears to be a straight shoot-out between Big-Time Birkett and Iceman Newton, with only a point separating the two. Qualifier Two sees the Wildman with a small cushion of seven points, though he will face stiff competition from Deadly Daz and Maverick Mikey. Qualifier Three is a horror show, with Wooden Spoon Helling leading by three points from the Masterchef, despite his total being miles off the pace of the other qualifiers. In Qualifier Four, anything could happen with seventeen teams in the mix, but it is Daredevil Daisy leading the pack, with a five-point lead over Stone Cold Stephen Levins and Mighty Mouse, with Go Cartin and Rough Rider still fairly close behind.
Gentlemen's Classic, Final Qualifying Round, First Leg:
Qualifier One: Big-Time Birkett, 64 points; Iceman Newton, 63; the Mack Daddy, 45; Private Parvesh, 40.
Qualifier Two: The Wildman, 73; Deadly Daz, 66; Maverick Mikey, 65; Who Horner, 57.
Qualifier Three: Wooden Spoon Helling, 54; The Masterchef, 51; Slick Rick, 43; Metal Marc, 26.
Qualifier Four: Daredevil Daisy, 76; Stone Cold, 71; Mighty Mouse, 71; Go Cartin, 67; Rough Rider, 64; Ash the Bash, 59; the Chancellor, 57; Uncaged Bage, 57; Professor Storey, 55; Lionheart Lamb, 55; Terminator Tris, 52; Brad the Lad, 50; Glorious Gary, 48; Gladiator Glen, 45; Killer Kev, 45; Lethal Lee, 37; Dodger Rogers, 13.
The Eliminator claimed its first two victims this gameweek. While Dodger Rodgers’ twenty-point hit was not included, his 33 points was still the second-lowest in the division. The only man to secure fewer points was Metal Marc with 26, and those two Gentlemen suffer the ignominy of being the first two managers to be Eliminated this season.
Stone Cold Stephen Levins had a huge response to finishing Gameweek Two bottom of the table. He took a hit to switch Konate and Sancho to Dier and Son, gave the captaincy to the Spurs attacker and found himself twenty points and nine places better off for it. The other notable climbers in the Irrelevants were Hitman Hodgson, who rose seven places to twentieth, and Daredevil Daisy, who climbed eight places to tenth, just two points off the Elite. Maverick Mikey is going under the radar so far, but Gameweek Three marks his second transfer window without a hit, and that composure in the market has seen him sneak up to fourteenth place. Warning signs are already present for the three men who comprised the top two over the last two seasons. King Ding’s differential captain of Bruno backfired again, with only six captaincy points secured in two gameweeks from the petulant playmaker, leaving the King 67 points off the top. It’s even worse for back-to-back silver medallist Big Steve, who is 69 points away, while the Dragon’s title defence has started poorly, leaving him 76 points off the pace already. The Wildman heads the Irrelevants, and is only outside of the Elite due to transfers made. Having produced a dismal performance in his debut season, the Wildman will hope to build on this promising start, though few expect him to sustain a place in the top ten in the long-term.
Rising into the Elite is Deadly Daz, who is on a mission to reassert himself as a top contender after a disappointing season last time out. Perhaps the manager who struggled the most with pandemic football, his multitude of missed transfer deadlines due to finishing times at work meant he had little chance of matching his top-four finish in 2019-20. This season, that problem is no longer there, and the Dazzler has put together a solid opening to the campaign. He captained his highest-scoring player, while his double-Newcastle attack produced the goods for the second time in three gameweeks. With two free transfers available, the chances are good he can improve further after the international break. Another manager out to prove a point is Big-Time Birkett, who suffered the embarrassment of his worst-ever overall ranking last season and has responded with a strong start, as exemplified by his having the joint-highest team value. With Ings starting a poor run of fixtures, he is the favourite to be replaced by Ronaldo, but the switch is complicated by the need to take a hit to bring him in, owing to being £0.5m short and already owning three Manchester United players. Complicating matters further is the prospect of entering Gameweek Four with no goalkeeper. How Birkett approaches Gameweek Four will reveal much about his chances of success this season, and he may well be best served to sacrifice a goalkeeper to focus on his attack.
Ahead of them are the three highest-ranked newcomers, Go Cartin, Mighty Mouse and the Chancellor, with all three within two points of each other. Go Cartin used his two free transfers to switch Chilwell and Toney to Duffy and Calvert-Lewin for a four-point gain, and the benefit will be felt in the coming gameweeks should Calvert-Lewin continue to manage his toe injury, with some tasty fixtures ahead. The big call for Go is whether to wait a gameweek for Ronaldo, with a hit necessary to bring him in. With so many trading Bruno for his compatriot, retaining last season’s top scorer for one final gameweek could give him an edge over his rivals. It’s not an issue which is shared by Mighty Mouse, who has two free transfers with which to bring in the big-hitter, should he so wish. With so much of the discourse surrounding the all-time top scorer in international football, it is particularly interesting to see how a manager with nine top-100k finishes approaches the situation, and whether he takes the opportunity to deviate from the obvious. The Chancellor took a four-point hit to replace eighteen points with eighteen points, then left ten-point Buendia on the bench. Those lost points saw him drop two places to fourth, but what is intriguing is that, were he to take another hit for Gameweek Four, he could field both Ronaldo against Newcastle and Lukaku against an Aston Villa team who will be forced to play their substitute goalkeeper. With so much focus on Ronaldo, Lukaku could well find himself lost in the shuffle for a few gameweeks, which gives the Chancellor a real opportunity to gain some ground.
Ahead of the debutants are myself and Jockin’ Jeeves, with only a single point keeping me behind the big man. My faith in Toney was rewarded with a goal, and while he is the man who makes way for Ronaldo in the Lords, there is every chance he will return to my squad at a later date, when he has found his feet in the Premier League. My only hope for the start of the season was to stay in contention in the opening ten gameweeks, and I have a great platform to build on. Avoiding transfer hits will be key for me, as it will be for Jeeves, whose resolve will be tested in that area now Ronaldo is in play. The problem he has is, in opting to avoid Bruno at the start of the season in favour of obtaining Son and Mahrez, he has no obvious way to get to Ronaldo with free transfers. Selling Mahrez and Ings necessitates signing a £4.5m midfielder, and selling Salah ahead of a game against Leeds is asking for trouble, though a switch to Jota could prove a case of high-risk, high-reward. Should he avoid the Wildcard and retain Salah, the only option to bring in international football’s deadliest striker ever is to take a hit, with Mahrez and Chilwell the likeliest makeweights in upgrading Ings to Ronaldo. However, with Tsimikas, Chilwell, Scarlett and Barnes problematic, with Ings and Livramento facing difficult fixtures and with Mahrez’s minutes limited, that Wildcard could well prove too enticing to resist.
The Man Who Would Be King
One man who has already succumbed to FPL’s greatest temptress is league leader Grinchy Vogt, who activated his Wildcard early to build on his fantastic start. It’s a risky move, especially as it means he has used two chips inside four gameweeks, but it’s one that could give him real momentum if he gets it right. Mind, he has real momentum already, owing in large part to that Gameweek One Triple Captain, and if he can replicate that success with his second chip, the 29-point cushion he enjoys could well grow wider in the coming gameweeks. After such an outstanding opening two gameweeks, securing 63 points in Gameweek Three will be seen as disappointing, and you have to wonder if the activation of the Wildcard is a sign the pressure of backing up his boasts is already getting to him. Leading from the front is a huge challenge, one which Ginger Ben last season and Big Steve the season before both succumbed to. Giving the Grinch confidence will be his FPL Cup run last season, which shows he has the ability to best his rivals gameweek after gameweek, and it will be important for his rivals to keep the pressure on. Gameweek Three is the second-successive gameweek the Grinch finishes inside the top-thousand managers, with his overall ranking standing at 929 and the World Number One being just 28 points away. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, but there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure his fantasy start does not give way to an FPL Nightmare ending.
That concludes the round-up of Gameweek Three of the League of Gentlemen, which saw the Daredevil flying high, which saw the last two champions fall further off the pace, and which saw the transfer addicts Maverick Mikey, Jockin’ Jeeves and myself make huge strides due to our restraint in reshaping our squads. Ahead of the international break, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
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