Maybe it’s the loss of control – the fear that, no matter the logic behind our decisions, we’re at the mercy of another’s whims. Whatever the psychological babble surrounding the Fantasy manager’s view of the rotation policy, there’s no doubt that it can hit us hard – just below the gut, where it really hurts.
If today’s teamsheets at Goodison and White Hart Lane provided early Gameweek wounds, we can at least take some comfort that at least one of the culprits will be similarly bruised as a result of the tinkering.
Harry Redknapp’s decision to make five changes for the home clash with Norwich ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea truly backfired, condemning Spurs to a damaging defeat, leaving the back door ajar for Newcastle to drew level on points with their routine win over Bolton.
Without the promptings and threat of Rafael Van der Vaart and the power and presence of Emmanuel Adebayor, Spurs struggled to make an impression on yet another spirited Norwich showing. With Scott Parker also preserved, Spurs were unable to wrestle control; even the belated introduction of Adebayor failed to spark them as they slipped to a 2-1 reverse.
Gareth Bale was fit enough to start but, again, failed to register returns. His performances have warranted better but, with Spurs scoring just six goals in their last seven games, Bale has struggled to maintain the form that had seen him nudge his way to essential status in Fantasy terms. That status has slipped spectacularly – nine starts without a goal makes painful reading for his remaining owners and will doubtless fuel further heavy Fantasy sales.
Over 40,000 have already shed the Welshman off the back of the uncertainty going into today’s game – there’s likely to be plenty more to follow with the yawning Gameweek 34 blank looming. Bale’s Gameweek 36 double with Blackburn and Bolton remains a temptation and could yet carry a sting for those who have lost patience. Indeed, the run-in remains ridiculously favourable for Redknapp’s men but the loss of form is alarming. Bale can’t turn fortunes and win matches on his own – his efforts in recent weeks have proved that much.
Form is certainly no issue at Goodison Park, with today’s 4-0 rout of Sunderland bringing their third win in four. Despite the result, David Moyes was the other villain of the day. The Scot also made five changes to his lineup, notably resting Nikaca Jelevic and Leighton Baines, a player who had, until today, had missed just a single league game over the past two a bit seasons. Unlike Redknapp, however, Moyes will be feeling rather smug this evening.
The Everton boss watched his “makeshift” lineup sweep Sunderland aside with Scout Pick Steven Pienaar and winger Magaye Gueye particularly influential. He’ll now sit back and observe how Kenny Dalglish shuffles his pack for tomorrow night’s Ewood Park visit, comfortable in the knowledge that his own key players are well rested for their FA Cup clash, opening up a four point gap over their rivals in the process.
Credit to Moyes, the plan came together beautifully. When that plan is a rotation policy, however, it’s so often us Fantasy managers left wincing. I’d like to imagine that Moyes will feel just a small pang of regret with his celebratory dram and slippers tonight. We already know that Harry will be choking on his Horlicks.