The big drama of the week was Manchester City vs West Ham being cancelled, only to be rearranged in the same gameweek. This proved critical for many managers, not least for the Masterchef, who had named Manchester City attackers as both his captain and vice-captain. In the end, it did little to help his cause at the top of the table, with both Hitman Hodgson and Deadly Daz overtaking him. Without the eighteen points of his City two, however, it could’ve been so much worse. Others were left to rue the game being replayed, with the Tiptoppers denied a two-place positional rise by the Citizens, and with several managers actually losing overall ranking position with each de Bruyne point, despite owning him themselves. The value of the right captaincy pick was highlighted by the Belgian bomber; indeed, for some managers, they would’ve been better placed had he not played for them, and their substitutes been promoted to starters instead. The question for managers now is whether to keep de Bruyne, for whom ownership itself can cause problems if he doesn’t have the armband, or whether they gamble on bringing in someone different. Logic dictates you stick with the Mancunian Maestro, but a tough run of games combined with a blank in Gameweek 28 suggests selling him, if replaced correctly, could reap huge rewards. With Sadio Mane back in the picture, and a dream run of games for Liverpool, those who go all in could beat the house. When you add in that this is now looking like Guardiola’s final chance to win the Champion’s League in Manchester, you have to wonder if key men like de Bruyne will find themselves rested in the league, too.
Another developing major story in the League of Gentlemen is the race for third place. The Juggernauts, for so long the only contender to the Butcher at the top, are now in real danger of dropping down the table. The monster gameweeks from Deadly Daz and the Hitman have slashed his lead over them to within 25 points, while he also fell further behind King Ding in second. This season, one that started with real promise, is in danger of ending with Jockin’ Jeeves’ worst League of Gentlemen finish ever. Jez Messing of the Weekly Bullshitter, so long banned from Juggernaut HQ, has managed to secure a huge exclusive through nefarious means. Donning a comedy oversized moustache and glasses, he knocked on the front door of Jeeves’ right-hand man, Hot Rod, claiming to be a travelling cafetiere salesman. Hot Rod, never one to refuse the offer of a new cafetiere, invited him into his home, where Jez Messing lay the charm offensive. Luring Hot Rod into regaling tales of Dubai, Kevin Keegan and a mysterious figure known only as ‘Big Snitch,’ he deftly diverted the conversation onto the Juggernauts. After a 20-minute rant about how none of these ‘modern-day softies’ would make it into the ‘Rod’s Radgies’ squad, he let slip that Jockin’ Jeeves has dealt his Wildcard this week, with the intent of going with a double-Liverpool attack of Mane and Salah to launch his last, desperate charge at the title. When asked for the logic behind Wildcarding now, rather than ahead of Double Gameweek 34, Hot Rod revealed the logic that, with such good runs of games for some teams, Wildcarding now means the chance of picking up so many more points than waiting for a monster Double Gameweek with a Bench Boost. A desperate tactic, perhaps, one that carries a lot of risk. If it comes off, however, it may give the Juggernauts the kick-start required to find their fabled late-season momentum. Before Messing could gain any further insight, however, he found himself spluttering at the strength of the coffee, coughing his disguise right off his face. Having managed to make a hasty getaway, it remains to be seen how many exclusives he will be able to get in the coming weeks. What angered Hot Rod the most, however, is that Messing departed without leaving him a cafetiere. Scandalous.
Breaking up the tedium of Gameweek 26 was the draw for Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy. Round One features five two-legged ties, as ten teams compete to make it into the sixteen-team Second Round. The teams going head-to-head are:
Farcselona vs PKG FC
Micky Quinnaj vs Oxsmorons
Really vs Cows Arse Shovel
White Warriors vs Geord’s Lords
Does It Mata vs Rodallega Bombs
A quick reminder of how ties in the Gentlemen’s Trophy are settled: Teams compete in head-to-head, two-legged ties, drawn at random. The highest head-to-head score after two weeks progresses to the next round, until we are left with the two teams that will contest the Grand Final. Transfer hits are deducted from the Gameweek score; for example, if you score 60 points, but take a minus-8 in the transfer market, your Gameweek score is 52 points. In the event of a tie, progress will be determined first by goals scored in the two gameweeks, then by fewest goals conceded in the two gameweeks, then, if necessary, by tossing the Coin of Destiny, broadcast live. Should it go to a Coin of Destiny toss, the team highest in the division will be Heads, the team lowest will be Tails, and it will be determined via best two-out-of-three tosses.
The Gentlemen’s Trophy promises to bring new levels of excitement to the closing weeks of the season, especially with managers needing to adapt their transfer policy in light of it. Blank and Double Gameweeks add a whole new level of strategy to the competition, with managers needing to manage their squads effectively or risk going out of the competition. The Gentlemen’s Trophy starts this weekend, in Gameweek 27. Before thinking about Gameweek 27, however, let’s see how Gameweek 26 affected the League of Gentlemen.
It was a great week for Iceman Newton, who scored the division’s highest gameweek total with a score of 82. Six players combined to achieve that total, with double-figure returns from Calvert-Lewin and Patricio and a massive 28 points from captain de Bruyne. Trouble may lie ahead, with two injured players on the bench, and the Iceman will have to use his two free transfers and £1m in the bank wisely to build on this stunning performance. From seemingly out of the running, Madeleine Milan now lie just fourteen points off the Chasing Pack, having outscored the five teams ahead of them by a considerable margin. Geord’s Lords lie immediately ahead of them, and it was another frustrating week for Geord Lord. The signing of Digne proved a busted flush, with no returns in four weeks and now four tough games ahead of him. Stephens continued to disappoint, with a net score of zero points over the last two gameweeks and, of course, both of them started this week ahead of Lundstram and Williams, who both got returns. Too many gambles has been the Lords’ trouble this season, combined with 84 points of hits which has hamstrung too many gameweeks. The Iceman now lies just six points behind Lord Geord, though he’s only 35 points off seventh, such is the tightness in the middle of the table. The Lord is also only eight points off the Chasing Pack, although just one point off the top ten is Oxsmorons, who extended their advantage over the Lords to seven points. Six returns gave them a gameweek score of 59 points, though the decision to play Dunk over Ings proved predictably foolish, costing The Ox a place in the Chasing Pack. With every team from eighth to twelfth involved in Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy, it adds extra spice to what is already a feisty situation.
Back in the ascendency are Boom Xhakalaka, who had seven players get returns this week, including double-figure hauls from de Bruyne and captain Aubameyang. Jordan Henderson has proved an inspired signing, with 36 points in three gameweeks since All-Star Vogt took the gamble, although thirteen of those were left on his bench. With viable options as substitutes for the first time this season, Boom Xhakalaka look well-prepared for Blank Gameweek 28, and will anticipate another strong showing beforehand to build on this net 70-point gameweek. As it stands, they lie a not-inconsiderable 42 points off sixth spot, but they will be confident of capitalising on the Masterchef’s recent troubles to close that gap further. It’s been a tough few weeks for the Masterchef, and with six players missing out in two weeks, another two away at Spurs, Minamino struggling for minutes and Maupay bang out of form, it doesn’t look like getting any easier. Making it worse for Hugh G. Rection XI have been the performances of the teams around them, with three 70-point plus gameweeks from his rivals greatly outscoring their own 52 points. It could have been even worse had Manchester City’s match not been rearranged within Gameweek 26, with Aguero and de Bruyne sharing the captaincy positions. Sadly for the Masterchef, it was two-point Aguero, not fourteen-point de Bruyne, who was named captain. Rubbing further salt into the wounds was substitute goalkeeper Patricio outscoring first-choice Henderson by eight points. That 20-point swing proved the difference between a potential fourth position, right behind the Juggernauts, and their eventual sixth spot, overtaken by Deadly Daz and the Hitman. This is the toughest test of the debutante Masterchef’s season; it’ll take all his shrewdness to bring his team through it.
Both teams are closing in fast on The Juggernauts, who only managed to score 53 points this week. The worst score in the Title Contenders, it saw Jockin’ Jeeves lose further ground on the Butcher, while also reducing his gap over fourth to just 23 points, and the gap over fifth to just two more. Soyuncu being benched for Holgate cost them six points, while Vardy’s continued underperformance – no goals and only one assist since December 21st – has punished Jockin’ Jeeves severely. Only four players secured returns, albeit two of them double-figures, leaving the Juggernauts season at strong risk of fading away to nothing. Jez Messing’s exclusive, however, could be the turning point. Ninety-five points off top spot is a big gap to make up in twelve gameweeks, but the Wildcard gives the Juggernauts the opportunity to reshape their squad for the challenges ahead. They only need to beat Dumb and Dummett by eight points every week to be crowned champions, a target that is achievable, and they will not give up hope of achieving that goal. Indeed, the Dazzlers in fifth only need to beat the Butcher by ten points a week to reign supreme; this title is still up for grabs.
Better positioned, though, are the Ringers, who only need to claw back four points a week to become the first team to ever defend the League of Gentlemen championship. It would have been a larger total, but the automatic substitution that brought nine-point Doucore into the team gave him a one-point victory over the Butcher this week. Having pulled further away from the Juggernauts, King Ding now lies exactly on the halfway score between third and first. With four players missing out in Gameweek 28, and Webster and Cantwell underperforming for a while now, questions remain as to how sustainable the King’s challenge is. He will need to make effective use of his two free transfers and £1.9m in the bank to keep the pressure on; given his experience and title-winning nous, few would bet against him closing the gap further in the coming gameweeks.
That concludes the round-up for the Neverending Gameweek, one which saw the Masterchef be taken out by the Hitman, which saw the Chasing Pack and Lower Mid-Table become tighter than ever, and also saw two new rivals threaten the Juggernauts top three position. Gameweek 27, with the opening round of the Gentlemen’s Trophy, promises to heighten the drama even further. As ever, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.