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Diary of a Fantasy Gaffer: When dreams and reality start to grate

We all dream of a team of Jonjo Shelveys.
Sep 20th 2013, 2:36 PM 2,355 8

CAST YOUR MIND back, fellow gaffers, way back to Monday night.

There may well have been a more dominant display by a footballer in a single game, but it probably didn’t come in the Premier League era so it doesn’t really count.

Jonjo Shelvey was an absolute behemoth against Liverpool. A god among mere men. Dishing out not only magic, but justice and pity too. His goal was a force of haphazard nature, he then evened things up a little before giving Moses his greatest gift since the basket.

When his mysterious ways were questioned, he even had a little parable to explain; ‘Stevie did it against Thierry Henry, so…’

Magnificent as he was, his impact was only to make the game an unbelievably exciting spectacle. A more pragmatic, Moneyball-generation manager might look at his plus and negative columns and conclude find that he actually hasn’t contributed anything.

In Fantasy Football however, Shelvey’s goal, assist and bonus points amounted to (a pretty amazing value) 12 points.

Unfortunately, Fantasy Football very rarely tallies up with the real thing.

Look at Eden Hazard. This time last season we were ready to hail him as the new Ronaldo (lite) as he picked up assists and goals quicker than an oversized ballboy could pick up off-target shots.

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This season, like Chelsea, he’s struggling to rediscover past glories. He’s still playing very well by all accounts but that decisive touch in the final third eludes him – it hasn’t helped that Frank Lampard has chewed up the penalty duties again.

Which brings us to the real problem: Philippe Coutinho.


Despite Liverpool’s flying start to the season, their diminutive creator has disappointed in terms of points. 11 in four games? Shur that’s less than Jonjo managed in one. It also gave him a lower ranking than the likes of Don Cowie, Steve Sidwell and, eh, Leroy Fer?

He’s lucky he got injured, otherwise he’d really be hurtin’ – in his heart – after getting cut loose from the all-conquering* TheScore Machine midfield.

Even with over £9 million to spend, replacing him wasn’t an easy task. After much deliberation, the panel went with its gut and decided that if anyone was going to shine in what is often a scrappy derby in Manchester, it’s going to be Yaya Toure.

He might even be better than Jonjo Shelvey.


*’s Fantasy Football team may not actually be all-conquering.

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