Gameweek 37 is historically a high-scoring gameweek, and the trend continued with some huge totals in the League of Gentlemen. How would the title picture be affected? And could Mad Mikey rise from the foot of the table?
For 34 gameweeks, there has been one name at the head of the League of Gentlemen. Since Gameweek 34, whatever positional changes affected the rest of the division, the top of the table has remained steadfast. The Butcher, Big Steve, has produced a season unrivalled in the history of the competition, steamrolling everyone in his path on his seemingly-unstoppable march to the title.
Then, on Monday morning, the impossible became reality. A glance at the table saw something we have not seen all season. A red arrow next to the name of Dumb and Dummett. The Butcher was down to second. The King was at the top.
It could not last. As the rest of the gameweek played out, the Butcher regrouped and his charges found the points needed to end the gameweek back on top. Indeed, for the casual observer who only checks the game when the matches are concluded, nothing had changed. The Butcher first, the King second, a four point gap remaining. For the hardened FPL player, however, a paradigm shift had occurred. They knew the King had found a chink in the armour. They knew the Butcher, however temporarily, had been brought to one knee. Though he rose again before the conclusion of the festivities, though his streak at the top remains unblemished, the King knows he can be displaced. We know he can be displaced. Going into the Final Day, the Butcher knows he can be displaced.
The psychological impact of such a revelation will only become known on Sunday evening. Surely, after ten months of dominance, surely, after the longest streak at the top of the league in history, surely, after all is said and done, the Butcher will take the title. Surely, twenty-four years on, the story of Newcastle and Manchester United will not be repeated by their avid followers. Surely, a quarter of a century on, the wrong will be righted.
Only one man can prevent that happening. The biggest worry for the Butcher is that one man who can prevent it happening is the greatest manager in League of Gentlemen history. The ultimate FPL shark, and he now has the taste of blood.
Worrying times for the Butcher heading into the Final Day. What should have been a procession is now on the verge of becoming the ultimate FPL Nightmare. As we approach the Final Day, let us assess Gameweek 37 in more detail, for it was a week which saw much volatility in the table, and which featured another incredible happening we thought we’d never see.
The League of Gentlemen:
Incredible scenes in the Also-Rans, as Metal Marc returned for the first time in twelve gameweeks, made five transfers for a twelve-point hit and deployed his Bench Boost. However, his decision to leave two injured players in his squad, plus the non-appearance of David Silva, left only his substitute goalkeeper’s seven points to be added to his gameweek total. This remarkable development left the door open for Mad Mikey to rise off the bottom, an opportunity he did not miss. Twenty-six points from defensive duo Jonny and Alexander-Arnold provided the platform for a 61-point gameweek, lifting the Suicide Squad off the bottom spot for the first time in 2020. Mad Mikey has gone to great efforts to withhold from making transfers, and he has reaped his rewards. The question now is whether he can go one more week without a mass overhaul; if he can, he will avoid the Wooden Spoon. Rumours that Mad Mikey hacked into Metal Marc’s account to get his transfer fix, and to aid his chances, remain as yet unproven, and are most likely a spurious rumour invented for a bit of banter.
Elsewhere in the Also-Rans, Tits-Up Thompson and Wooden Spoon Helling remain in nineteenth and eighteenth, the positions they’ve been destined to finish in for many months. Jie retains the slimmest of chances of escaping the Also-Rans in the final week, but a 51-point gap will surely prove too much to make up for a team that secured just 30 points this time out.
Iceman Newton remains in sixteenth and, barring a massive performance on the Final Day, will end the season there. His absence since Gameweek 23 has seen a promising season deservedly fade away to nothing, with only the non-presence of those managers below him preventing Madelaine Milan from falling any further. Thirty-one points ahead in fifteenth is Ginger Ben, another who benefited from two defenders hitting double figures. A further six returns gave Cuthben87 a gameweek score of seventy points, keeping them in the hunt for the crucial twelfth place, and the automatic qualification into the Gentlemen’s Classic it provides. Ahead of him is The Ox, whose team fell a place despite securing eight returns for a gameweek score of 52 points. A gap of seventeen points over Ginger Ben means The Ox, who retains two free transfers, should spend the Final Day focused on climbing the table; any slip, however, and Ginger Ben will be there to pounce.
In thirteenth lies Who Horner, another manager who saw his team fall this week. Seven returns, including twelve points for Doherty, gave the White Warriors a score of fifty points, a total which leaves them six points ahead of The Ox and six points off that crucial twelfth position. Defending the final Gentlemen’s Classic qualification spot will be Slick Rick, who rose two places in the table following a sensational 84-point gameweek – the second-highest in the League of Gentlemen. Captaincy of Kane was the key element; his 26 points being the highest score for a captain in the division, repaying Slick Rick’s enduring faith in him. Seven more of his players secured returns, including thirteen points from Alexander-Arnold. The real shame for the Tiptoppers was the 28 points left on the bench, including twelve for Mings. Had Slick Rick had the Bench Boost to play, he would’ve crashed into the Hundred Club; as it is, he now has to defend twelfth position knowing that the three managers behind him – Who Horner, The Ox and Ginger Ben – all have a Bench Boost to play, and all lie within range of the score his own bench amassed this week. In eleventh is Flash, who scored 29 fewer points than Slick Rick this week, but who retains an insurmountable 71-point cushion over the teams behind him. That knowledge will allow him to go on the attack with his Final Day Free Hit, knowing that his position can only improve. With the Chasing Pack just six points away, he has to be the favourite to secure a top-ten finish.
The Chasing Pack
The constant volatility of the positions in the Chasing Pack continued in Gameweek 37, with every position having a new team in it. The new team in tenth is PKG FC, courtesy of a 71-point gameweek fuelled by two defenders hitting double-figures. A further seven returns helped elevate Private Parvesh above Flash and into the top ten, though with a 44 point gap to ninth, it looks like a straight shoot-out between the two for tenth position. In ninth is the Masterchef, who suffered with the lowest score outside of the Also-Rans. The die was cast when five players secured just one point, including Hugh G. Rection’s captain, Mahrez. Though six returns were secured, that was never going to be enough to progress in such a high-scoring gameweek. With a seventeen-point gap having emerged to eighth place, it will take an almighty Final Day push from the Masterchef to rise in the table; a task made even more difficult given he is up against the in-form Big-Time Birkett. A second 97-point gameweek in three weeks was achieved with the use of the Bench Boost, alas, it seems the Hundred Club will remain tantalisingly out of reach for Really. Fourteen returns, including two from his boosted substitutes and two double-figure hauls from defenders, gave Big Time Birkett the highest score of the week; his big regret is placing the armband on one-point Rashford over seventeen-point Sterling. Barring a 38-point swing, ninth will be the highest Big-Time can finish this season; should he secure July’s Manager of the Month, which he is prime position for, it will give him the confidence needed to push on next season.
It is turning into a war of attrition for who can secure sixth spot between All-Star Vogt and Lord Geord, with both managers also retaining hope of finishing even higher. Only a single point separates the two teams heading into the Final Day, and it is Lord Geord who ends Gameweek 37 with the advantage. All-Star took the brave decision to captain Wood, and must have believed his luck was in when Wood’s opponents were reduced to nine men before half-time and his hitman scored. In the second half, however, no further points were secured, leaving him with a disappointing total of fourteen points – great in normal circumstances, but a big let-down given the situation that had materialised. A further nine returns put Boom Xhakalaka in a strong position, despite three one-point defenders keeping twelve-point Mings from adding his score to the gameweek total of 64 points. Lord Geord needed something big to overcome the deficit, and his team gave him what he needed. A massive fourteen returns, including seventeen points from Sterling despite a penalty miss, saw Geord’s Lords overcome their rivals courtesy of Alexander-Arnold’s huge haul in the final game of the gameweek. Vogt’s Free Hit advantage on the Final Day has been negated by Lord Geord overtaking him; now, the All-Star must find a team to overtake the Lords, rather than created a squad designed to hold him off. Just a one point difference, but a point that changes the entire dynamics of the situation.
The Title Contenders
Still within catching distance of both men are the Dazzlers, who dropped a place into fifth but who still retain a thirteen-point advantage over those behind them. The Dazzlers signed the clean sheet-getting Ritchie this week, but left him as their third substitute, meaning they did not receive his five points once David Silva did not appear. Deadly Daz’s faith in Kane was rewarded with thirteen points, a total matched by Alexander-Arnold. Only five other returns were secured, however, leaving the Dazzlers with a disappointing gameweek total of 59 points. Whatever happens on the Final Day, this has been an excellent first full season in FPL for Deadly Daz; only ten points off the top-200k in the Overall Rankings, it could be that the Bench Boost and two free transfers he retains give him that final edge that takes him into the top 3% of global competitors. One man already in that category is Jockin’ Jeeves, who launched himself ahead of Deadly Daz with a massive 83 points. What’s more impressive is that total was achieved despite his captain contributing just two points. The impact of Jeeves’ new town centre base has been immediate and, while it has come too late for the Juggernauts to launch a title challenge this time out, it is an ominous warning for their rivals ahead of next season. What’s more, it leaves him just a point off the bronze medal, following Hitman Hodgson’s team securing just 56 points. The four-point hit taken to secure Tarkowski and Wood paid off, leaving Does It Mata seven points better off, and with a stronger squad for the Final Day. Despite five returns from his defensive players, the Hitman’s seven-man attack produced just three returns, with none from captain Bruno, leaving them defending the bronze medal position with just a one-point advantage, and against a Jeeves hell-bent on sending a warning shot ahead of the new campaign. The saving grace for the Hitman may well be who he entrusts with the Triple Captain chip he retains, his ultimate advantage over the teams chasing him.
On Monday morning, it finally happened. The competitors of the League of Gentlemen, for the first time since Gameweek Four, woke up to a new name at the apex of the division: King Ding was sat in his throne again. Sadly for him, there were still three nights of the gameweek to go, and as the action was concluded, he was back into second place following the Butcher matching his gameweek total. The remarkable thing was that both men, the benchmark of quality this season, contrived to both produce the joint-lowest score in the top eight places of the division. The King secured eight returns, but also three one-point scores, including one for his captain, Bruno. Rubbing salt in the wound for the King was the knowledge that every single player on his bench brought in extra points, including two nine-point totals. Had they started, the King would have a 24-point-plus lead over the Butcher going into the Final Day; as it transpires, the situation is unchanged after Gameweek 37. Four points to make up, four points needed to secure the greatest title victory of his FPL career. The King couldn’t find them this week. With both the psychological boost of seeing his name atop the table and a Free Hit to play, the Final Day will be his final chance to find the four needed for glory.
The Man Who Would Be King
From Gameweek Four, Big Steve has ruled the roost in the League of Gentlemen. He has produced the greatest individual performance in League of Gentlemen history, and unprecedented display of leading from the front as he has brought himself to the verge of the highest-ever Overall Ranking achieved by a Gentleman. His position currently stands at 14,307 – not as lofty as it once was, but an outstanding effort, with an outside chance of the top 10k. Since ascending to the summit just four weeks in, he has never finished a gameweek in any other position. He has been the benchmark, the shining light to everyone else in the division who now believes that, next year, they too can achieve what the Butcher has achieved. This performance, the streak Dumb and Dummett has been on, will live long in the memory. Nobody will ever forget this season’s performance from Big Steve.
The question is, will he be remembered as a Jurgen Klopp, who dominated from the start and never relinquished control? Or will he echo the memories of his hero, Kevin Keegan, by allowing a near-certain triumph to slip from his grasp at the last? A 119-point lead has been slashed to just four points, yet the Butcher remains in the best position possible: top of the league, with a small cushion. With two free transfers to play, the Butcher has flexibility, though nowhere near as much as the King’s Free Hit affords him. At 3pm on the Final Day, the Butcher sends his team out for one final time, four points ahead of the King, the title within touching distance. The last time the Butcher and the King went head-to-head for silverware, in Gameweek 35, the King emerged with the Gentlemen’s Trophy following a seven-point victory. The Final Day gives the Butcher the change to avenge that defeat, and he doesn’t even have to beat the King’s gameweek score. Finish within three points of it, and the Butcher, Big Steve, will be crowned the League of Gentlemen champion. All he has to do is beat the best there has ever been.
The Butcher versus the King. The greatest League of Gentlemen manager of the first 37 gameweeks versus the greatest League of Gentlemen manager of all time. It all comes down to the Final Day. For the final time this season, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be ever in your favour.
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