An explosive week in the League of Gentlemen, one that saw stunning revelations from the Juggernauts, stunning transfer decisions from the runaway leader and stunningly-nightmarish performances from several teams.
The rumours have been flying all week – has Jeeves identified the source of the leaks from the Juggernauts dressing room? Has there been some sort of showdown? Had Sterling finally had enough? A team meeting was called last Wednesday and, in a stunning turn of events, he invited journalist Jez Messing of the Weekly Bullshitter to sit in and take notes. “If you’re going to write about what goes on in here every week, you may as well be in here for this, because it’s the last chance you’re going to have to get into my dressing room,” the Juggernauts manager told him. Messing reports that Jeeves gathered the team in a circle, sat on the floor, and gave his speech while turning around and wagging his finger at every member of the squad. Here, Messing transcribes Jeeves’ rant in full.
“For a few years now, someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing the Weekly Bullshitter of my private posts and stories. There has been so much information given to them about me, my family and this team – all without my permission or knowledge. After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion.
“To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories, except one account. Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had any stories on there for a while.
“Over the past five months, I posted a series of sexually-suggestive photos, to see if they made their way into the Weekly Bullshitter. They cost me my politics career, but that meant nothing to me compared to the Juggernauts. After a few weeks, I called Raheem and Hot Rod into the office, and we agreed to stage a series of rows in front of one other player, the significant other of the suspected leak, to see if they also ended up getting published. And you know what, they did!
“It’s been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when my nudes and the stories from this dressing room have been leaked. However, I had to, now I know for certain which account, which individual it came from.
“I have screen-shotted and saved all the original stories which clearly show only one person has viewed them.
“It’s … Rebekah Vardy’s account!”
Messing reports that, upon the revelation, the Juggernauts players were in uproar. Jamie Vardy got aggressive in the defence of his wife, launching himself at Jeeves until Hot Rod intervened, sticking two fingers up the England international’s nostrils and leading him out of the dressing room, warning that if Vardy chats shit, he will get banged. Messing also states that, after the removal of Vardy from the room, Jeeves called Sterling into the middle of the circle and wrapped the captain’s armband around his shoulder.
We don’t know what happened with Vardy following the team meeting, but we know he was ostracised from his teammates during Gameweek 8, registering a score of only 1 on the BPS system which determines who gets the bonus points – a stark contrast to his score of 47 the week before. What the future holds for Vardy at the Juggernauts remains uncertain, but with the issue of the leaks seemingly dealt with, the rest of the Juggernauts performed with a unity and cohesion that has been sorely lacking of late, and as a result not only return to the overall top-1m teams for the first time in weeks, but also rise to third in the League of Gentlemen. If this is the start of the famous Juggernaut momentum, then Big Steve needs to watch out, or Jeeves could turn this season into his ultimate FPL Nightmare.
Following those startling revelations, let’s examine Gameweek 8 in more detail, and the impact it has had on the League of Gentlemen.
The League of Gentlemen:
Whatever he does, Wooden Spoon Helling just cannot catch a break. In normal circumstances, he’d be successfully occupying his coveted last place right now. Yet, a combination of Metal Marc proving just as poor, Tits-Up Thompson putting together a decent run based on a five-man defence and Helling’s captain Ings going on a scoring spree has led to him only being able to reach second-bottom. Helling will be desperate to reclaim his Wooden Spoon position next week, but it’s looking like the master of incompetency has met his match in Metal Marc. Above them, the season gets worse and worse for Suicide Squad, whose transfer policy is both baffling and self-destructive. Another twelve-point hit this week leaves them on a total of 76 points lost through transfers in just six gameweeks, with the Wildcard and Free Hit chips also having been used. Madness.
Parvesh is trying his best to show that, while he may be Private, he’s certainly not Pointless. Using his Wildcard this week, he secured the fourth-best weekly total in the League of Gentlemen; had he started Lundstram over Zinchenko, he’d no longer be an Also-Ran. Everyone above him will be worried they’ll take his place in the lowest section of the table following Gameweek 9, which is just rewards for Parvesh’s refusal to give in following such a difficult start.
What looks like a nothing week for Lawezarus Rising on paper, in reality, is anything but. While we did not rise from our 16th position, and while Private Parvesh has cut the gap to us to just three points, leaving the prospect of becoming an Also-Ran very real, we have closed the gap on three of the other five Lower Mid-Table teams, and are only behind Slick Rick’s Tiptoppers by virtue of making more transfers. An uncharacteristic captaincy gamble on Pukki failed to pay off, though the damage was minimised due to our regular captains both failing to perform. Despite only Pope and the Chelsea duo of Mount and Abraham offering returns, it was enough to turn a generally poor-scoring gameweek into a relative success for us. Sadly, for Pukki, his failure as captain has led to his immediate transfer out, along with that of star midfielder Sterling. Next time out, their positions will be taken by Maddison and Aubameyang, as we look to kick-start our season. The new boys won’t be lining up for Lawezarus Rising, however. In recent years, we’ve undergone a series of rebrands – The Lawes Disorder, Lawes’ Last Stand and our current moniker – and the results have gotten worse and worse. Following ratification from the Premier League, we have renamed ourselves what we should’ve never stopped being.
Lawezarus Rising is dead. In their place, Geord’s Lords have returned.
What this means for the rest of Lower Mid-Table is unclear, but Slick Rick will be very nervous right now. Having been outscored by the Rising over the previous five gameweeks, they are now level in points, and are being pursued by a completely different beast. The Tiptoppers secured only one return this week, and suffered the ignominy of their highest-scoring player being their last substitute option. With some favourable fixtures in Gameweek 9, they will be hoping to get back in the green arrows. Whether they can cope with the Lords, however, is a different question entirely. Above them, Jie’s progress stalled somewhat, with a first drop in the table in five gameweeks. All was not lost, however, as he did manage to extend the gap on everyone behind him, with the exception of the in-form Parvesh. In addition to Mount and Abraham getting returns, his big performer was big Wesley, who brought home a massive 14 points. After the worst start of his FPL career, Jie is starting to show his ability, and will be looking to regain momentum next week.
One man desperate for something, anything, is Ginger Ben, who suffered the embarrassment of recording the League of Gentlemen’s worst gameweek of the season so far. Not only did none of his players get a return, he saw his goalkeeper score zero points, and his £5.5m defender Coleman get sent off for a score of minus-two. Just 18 (eighteen) points this week for Cuthben87, who now faces the prospect of a team with four injuries and a suspension this weekend. The problem in these circumstances is always whether you take a hit or two to secure a team or gamble on fitness. These weeks test the most experienced of managers; for a debutante like Ginger Ben, this decision could define his whole season. The one positive for him is that he retains the option of a Free Hit, which could ensure a strong team without taking any transfer hits.
A solid gameweek for Cows Arse Shovel who, while not advancing in league position, did manage to narrow the gap on Boom Xhakalaka above them. Flash will be happy enough with his decisions this week; while he could have secured an extra three points by starting Dendoncker over Zinchenko, it would’ve taken a brave man to predict Wolves beating Manchester City to nil. His only real regret will be not captaining Mane. Had he done so, he would have reached the Chasing Pack. Such a narrow miss is bound to raise the confidence of Cows Arse Shovel, and they will be expected to come out strongly this weekend. In stark contrast, the confidence of Boom Xhakalaka couldn’t be lower. A season that started so strongly is in danger of fading to nothing, with another red arrow in the ledger. Not only were Haller and Kelly their only returners, but they also are amidst an injury crisis, with three midfielders rated as doubts as well as goalkeeper De Gea, and no cover for them on the bench. All Star Vogt has been warned all season about his no-subs gamble, and it could come back to bite him hard this weekend. Still, given how poor Manchester United are, there’s every chance a non-playing goalkeeper will outscore whoever is in the Mancunian’s nets against Liverpool. Big decisions ahead for All Star Vogt, who is another who may need to use the Free Hit chip.
The Chasing Pack.
A great week for the Dazzlers saw them rejoin the Chasing Pack, following a joint-highest weekly score in the division. Deadly Daz reigned in his recent transfer excesses, bringing in just Ake for Schar. The shame was that, without this transfer, the Dazzlers would've scored the highest total in the gameweek, though it's understandable that he wouldn't want to risk a Newcastle defender following a thrashing in GW7. Nevertheless, returns from goalkeeper Ryan, Lundstram, Mount, Abraham and double-figures from Mane saw a big jump in the table. Maguire against Liverpool without de Gea behind him will be a worry for the coming gameweek, and it remains to be seen if he is replaced and, if so, by who. Such a good gameweek has left Deadly Daz hot on the heels of King Ding, whose apparent loss of passion has seen the champions fall to ninth in the table. Dinga's Ringers scored a season-low 32 points for the gameweek, with the only players returning being Pope and Lundstram. King Ding is renowned for his composure, but a fifth red arrow in a row leaves him 94 points off the top and with a double-Norwich attack that is doing their best to prove the opening weeks of the season was an anomaly. The King retains his first Wildcard of the season, and if ever there was a time to use it, it's now. It just depends on whether he cares enough this time out to keep on fighting. While he is a long way off the top, he remains only seventeen points off second, and nobody ahead of him will be writing off the Champ.
Both The Ox, in eighth, and Birkett, in seventh, scored 35 points this week, each dropping a place in the table as a result. Crystal Palace were the saviours for Oxsmorons, with van Aanholt and Ayew bagging 18 points between them. Frustration for The Ox lay in starting McGinn over his Villa counterpart Luiz, a decision that resulted in a loss of five points. There are concerns for The Ox ahead of Gameweek 9, with Zinchenko having only returned twice in eight weeks, Ceballos on a woeful run of form, Tierney yet to play a minute and injuries to de Bruyne and de Gea, the latter of who he has no cover for. With no Wildcard to turn to, Ox is another candidate for a Free Hit, though he may content himself with a single transfer and taking a chance. There's a chance he takes a hit to secure the signing of the returning Allison to replace de Gea, though Ox is notoriously cautious with his transfers. Birkett goes down as the Spawnmeister of the week, with an injury to Wan-Bissaka meaning ten-point Dunk came off his bench. Really really needed it too, with Abraham the only other player to secure a return, and Ederson returning zero points. With so much money tied up in Manchester City defenders across the League of Gentlemen, yet them offering very few returns, you have to wonder which players will be the first to replace them with defenders that are actually scoring points. Birkett, a staunch Manchester United fan, could be the man that leads the way, especially with Allison back on the scene.
Rounding off the Chasing Pack is Iceman Newton, who secured an above-average 42 points due to returns from Schar, Patricio, Maddison and Mount. The frustration for Madelaine Milan will be leaving Kelly on the bench; starting him ahead of the vastly-overrated and overpriced Digne would have resulted in the Iceman breaking into the Title Contenders. With two free transfers for this weekend, however, he will be very confident he will leapfrog several of the managers ahead of him next time out. With only 15 points separating the entire Chasing Pack, he will need to ensure he isn't overtaken in his desire to reach higher in the table. At just ten points off second, however, the Iceman's sights will be locked on the places ahead of him, rather than fretting about those in his rear-view mirror.
The Title Contenders.
In fifth place lie Hugh G. Rection XI, who have recovered from a difficult start to rocket up the table and, with an effective use of the Wildcard, recorded the highest points total this gameweek. Returns from Ryan, Tarkowski, Lundstram, Mount, Maddison and Abraham secured 55 points, a total that could've been even higher had the captaincy not been given to Aguero. The only real frustration for Masterchef Bridges will be that Maupay scored for Brighton on the week he finally lost faith in the Brighton man, but it will be a minor irritation at most. Now just eight points off second, and with a squad that features a strong starting player in all 15 spots, Hugh G. Rection XI make a strong claim for having the strongest squad in the whole division. They are proving to be very worthy of the pundits' pre-season predictions of them being one of the League of Gentlemen's dark horse. They have their sights firmly set on Does It Mata?, who are just two points ahead following a true FPL Nightmare weekend. With only Pope offering a return and three one-point scores, they scored a season-low 26 points – just two points higher than the 24 points Ryan, Kelly and Dunk obtained, that wasted away on their bench. The question in these situations is always about how the manager will respond. The last time Hitman Hodgson received a red arrow, he responded with five successive green ones. Should he repeat that feat again – and there's no reason he cannot – then he could be the man that closes the gap on the runaway leader. At only six points off second, if ever he could afford a bad week, it was this one.
In third are the Juggernauts, who shook off their dressing-room issues to secure the fifth-highest total of the week and move just five points off Who Horner in second. Returns from Pope, Lundstram, Kelly and twelve-point Mane have positioned their (hopefully) newly-united team for a real push at top spot. Long-term followers of the League of Gentlemen will remember Jeeves almost overhauling a near-100 point deficit between Christmas and the final day last season; this season, he has an 82-point gap to top, with an extra two months to make it up. While Big Steve looks comfortable, only a fool would write off the Juggernauts at this stage, especially if Jeeves can sort out the weaknesses in an attack that features a non-appearing Wickham and two Norwich players. One team that will be particularly nervous is the White Warriors, who somehow retained second position despite scoring the League of Gentlemen's second-lowest gameweek total of the season. A zero-pointer and three players scoring just one, combined with zero returns, meant their highest-scoring player was captain Kane, with just four points. With injury doubts over four players, it's going to be interesting to see how Who Horner responds to a 19 (nineteen) point week, especially when he steadfastly refuses to take a hit. If you were a betting man, you'd be putting money on Jeeves to finish GW9 in second, especially if he can harness the Weekly Bullshitter's revelations into a siege mentality.
The Man Who Would Be King.
It almost goes without saying nowadays, but top spot remains occupied by Big Steve, who saw his lead strengthened by the second-highest score in the League of Gentlemen this week. Whatever people throw at him, the Butcher finds a way to turn mutton into lamb. The only man in the league to captain Mane led to a massive 24 points from one player alone, meaning that only three other returns – from Lundstram, Pope and Hudson-Odoi – extended his lead, rather than just protecting it. When one player outscores your nearest rival's entire team by five points, everything else in the gameweek is almost a bonus. Even the understandable benching of Schar won't be too annoying for the big man. What deserves special credit here is the Butcher's transfer policy. In a game where everyone will tell you not to take a hit, Dumb and Dummett made three transfers for a minus-four, and saw their acumen rewarded with a 21-point increase in score due to these transfers. It's decisions like that which have fired Big Steve into such a comfortable lead, and have seen him launched back up the Overall Rankings to 1,458th out of just under seven million players. A truly remarkable achievement, one which the Butcher proves is no fluke as each week goes by. With a 77-point lead over second place, it's going to take something very special to catch him now.
This wraps up another week in the League of Gentlemen, one that saw stunning revelations from the Juggernauts, stunning transfer decisions from the runaway leader and stunningly-nightmarish performances from several teams. The key to this game is not getting carried away by the great gameweeks, and especially not getting too frustrated with the bad ones. We all have an FPL Nightmare sometimes. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
'The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps'
Available now on Kindle and the Kindle app on smartphones, only £1.99: