Entering the final day of the gameweek, Big Steve had the advantage. He’d started Saturday one point off the Heroic Hexhamite, yet entered the crucial day with more players due to play. Of the players Lawes had to play, he had three of them, with only Maddison and Henderson offering differentials for the Lords, compared to Rashford, Chilwell and Moutinho for the Butcher. When Henderson secured just three points, while Rashford fired in a goal, it looked game over.
Then, from nowhere, the news filtered through. Rashford’s goal had been awarded as a Heaton own goal. In one decision, Rashford lost not just a point, but four, as his bonus points evaporated. The Lords could still do this, especially as they had one final advantage over Dumb and Dummett. They had placed the armband on the main man, Jamie Vardy. In the weeks since Jez Messing revealed the shock news that Vardy’s wife had been releasing the secrets of the Juggernauts’ dressing room, the Leicester hitman has been on a personal quest for redemption, with 72 points in just seven gameweeks. With Big Steve having opted to captain Mane, it meant that, if Vardy could do the business for just one more week, the Lords would secure the award for November.
It looked to be going horribly wrong. Somehow, Everton went 1-0 up at the King Power stadium. Over an hour had been played, and Vardy had touched the ball less than the referee. You had to check on the BBC app to make sure he was still on the pitch. Even worse, Leicester were flat. Rodgers’ free-flowing football had evaporated, with dull, listless passes the name of the game. It looked like, somehow, the appalling Everton were going to grind out a 1-0 win. As we entered the 68th minute, the full-back, Pereira, burst forward in an attempt to inject some life into the game. His view of the penalty area was blocked, but he didn’t even look up. He just flashed a cross between the goalkeeper and defence. Normally, this would be the prime position for his predatory striker to finish the move, but today, he couldn’t be sure if he’d get there. Even so, he had to take the chance. He had to try something. The ball flashed across the area, too deep for the defence to clear, too high for the keeper to attack. It bypassed Mina. Holgate could not get the touch. But one man did. One man stepped up and, with his weaker foot, made a connection to the football that was both definitive and true.
Jamie Vardy had scored, and as the fans roared, he knew he’d secured the award for Lord Geord.
When it comes to the war, Big Steve is still dominant. 132 points ahead of the Lords, he won’t be distracted by these small battles. He’s focusing on the war for the title and, despite the best month of his FPL career, Lawes has only closed the gap to the top by seven points. More importantly to Big Steve, November has seen him extend his advantage over the Juggernauts in second by twelve points. Yet, to win a war, you have to win a series of battles, and Big Steve has lost this one. He may seem out of reach to the rest of the League of Gentlemen, but the simple truth is, if one man can gain a sizeable advantage in the first fourteen gameweeks, another man can gain the same advantage over the Butcher in the next fourteen. No lead is unassailable, no man is invincible, no team is unstoppable, not when there are still twenty-four gameweeks to go.
November belongs to Geord’s Lords. Maybe December will be your month, the month in which you slash the lead at the top, and get yourself in a position to challenge for the title for the rest of the season. With six gameweeks in the month, and Liverpool missing one of them, anything could happen.
Of course, there is more to the League of Gentlemen than monthly awards, so let’s take a look at how Gameweek Fourteen has shaken up the division.
One interesting bit of news to report on is Ginger Ben playing his Wildcard. The head of the Also-Rans, he was in severe danger of being cut adrift, yet his strong 65-point gameweek was the third-best in the division. He remains 33 points off Lower Mid-Table, yet by playing his Wildcard, he has given himself every chance to close the gap to Jie. One big problem he may have is that he has left his squad severely unbalanced. With three non-playing substitutes, and with Greenwood and Dendoncker occupying starting positions, he has no flexibility at all, and two weak starters. For his season to turn around, he really needs Sterling, Mane and de Bruyne to deliver huge returns. He does deserve credit for the foresight of bringing in van Dijk, who had produced only three returns in thirteen gameweeks, yet scored twice to secure 17 points. Should Ginger Ben tighten up his squad in the coming weeks, maybe, just maybe, he can get out of this mess.
The top three in Lower Mid-Table, Does It Mata, White Warriors and PKG FC, are only separated by a meagre seven points, with thirteenth-place Hitman Hodgson only eleven points off re-entering the Chasing Pack. Following up his stunning ninety-point Gameweek Thirteen with a disappointing forty-pointer saw him slip several places in the table, but he remains in a far healthier position than three weeks ago. The big disappointment for Does It Mata was starting zero-point Chambers over seven-point Willems and six-point Kelly, and while the decision was justifiable, the Hitman will surely use one of his two free transfers to replace the ineffective Chambers in his squad. He could use the other to improve the underperforming James or Perez, as he seeks to regain the momentum he had in the opening two months of the campaign. The fall continues for White Warriors, with Who Horner’s use of the Wildcard securing just 35 points, a true FPL Nightmare. Retaining the services of Navarro, out on-loan until the end of the season, is a nonsensical decision, and sticking with the out-of-form Mount and James seems equally strange when he had the option to pick from several more in-form players. Compounding a bad week for White Warriors was seeing eight-point Dunk rotting away on the bench, though the decision not to play him is understandable. Private Parvesh will be disappointed to slip back into Lower Mid-Table, though will take comfort in knowing he remains just four points from the Chasing Pack. His big dilemma is whether he persists with the injured Abraham, or seeks to bring in an alternative ahead of the first midweek gameweek of the season.
Four points ahead of the Dazzlers and twelve ahead of the Lords stands All-Star Vogt, who secured the second-highest gameweek score in the division with 67 points. Boom Xhakalaka have flown under the radar a little in November, but after a nightmare October, they have put a great run of form together which has seen them rise to eighth position. Van Dijk was the hero, with a massive seventeen points, supplemented by returns from de Bruyne, Ings, Jimenez and thirteen-point Aubameyang. With a better captaincy choice this week, they would be as high as sixth, and the rest of the top half will have their eye on what All-Star Vogt does in the transfer market this week. The return of Kelly to the Palace team helps strengthen his bench, but it still looks very weak. With £2.3m in the bank, surely that will change by tomorrow. Ahead of him is Iceman Newton, who smashed home the highest score this gameweek with 79 points to soar in the table. The injury to captain Abraham proved the key, with vice-captain van Dijk securing a whopping 34 points for Madelaine Milan. Further returns from de Bruyne, Mousset and Alli highlight that, if you have the right players, you don’t need your entire team to get returns in order to score huge points. As one of only two managers to retain every chip, with £4.3m in the bank and two free transfers, Iceman Newton is in a great position to attack, and will fancy himself to find the 17 points needed to break into the Title Contenders.
Before he gets there, Madelaine Milan first need to overhaul Cows Arse Shovel, who are four points ahead in sixth. With only Vardy, Mousset and Sterling getting returns, it was a disappointing week for Flash, whose team only secured 42 points. Another facing the Abraham conundrum, he only has one free transfer but does have £1.4m in the bank. Given the fixtures his other players have, Flash may be best served rolling the transfer and giving himself two free ones for the weekend, but it’s a big call to make when you’ve had a bad gameweek. Still, it has been a good month for Flash, who was stranded in Lower Mid-Table not so long ago, and now finds himself just thirteen points off the Title Contenders.
Rising to third this week is Hugh G. Rection XI, with the Masterchef jumping two places following a solid 53-point gameweek. While that in itself may not seem an impressive score, it has to be placed against the context of the team suffering injuries to both their main strikers, Abraham and Aguero. The talk was that Kane would come in for the Argie Assassin, but the Masterchef is renowned for being a maverick, and instead chose to only bring in Aurier for Maguire, and to go with Maupay as a lone striker. As a result, he saw only two of his team secure returns, but one of them was van Dijk for 17 points, the other was captain de Bruyne for twenty. With both strikers likely to miss out again next time out, the Masterchef faces a real test as to how to approach the market – especially knowing King Ding, just four points behind, still has a Wildcard in the bank. Extending their advantage over Hugh G. Rection XI would have been the Juggernauts, who saw Alexander-Arnold, Son, Rashford, de Bruyne and captain Vardy secure returns, giving Jeeves a total of 57 points, yet they made three transfers which resulted in an eight-point penalty. Jeeves makes a big deal of having a no-Manchester United policy, yet that façade was shattered further as, yet again, he rushes to bring in one of their players at the first hint of a decent score. While Rashford has started to pick up points, he remains behind Ings, Jimenez and Mousset for both form and price, and faces Spurs and Manchester City in the next two games, and he is owned by Big Steve, the man Jeeves needs to catch. All these factors combine to suggest Jeeves is starting to feel the pressure of the chase, which could lead to further mistakes being made. He’ll be hoping that placing his faith in the Manchester United attacker will lead to him emulating his hero, Sir Alex Ferguson, in chasing down Newcastle fan Big Steve. He’ll need to improve in order to do so, with the eight-point hit not paying off this week, and Big Steve extending his lead over the Juggernauts throughout December.
That concludes the Gameweek Fourteen round-up for the League of Gentlemen, which saw Iceman Newton secure the highest score, which saw Who Horner and Ginger Ben show the positives and negatives of using the Wildcard, and which saw Lord Geord pip the unstoppable Big Steve to the Manager of the Month in dramatic fashion. The challenge for twenty managers in this division is consistently clawing back the Man Who Would Be King; we’ll find out if any of them can make inroads during our first midweek gameweek of the season. Until then, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.