So the gamble on the Wayne Rooney armband went slightly awry. Typically, Luis Suarez rained on my parade and punished my punt with another hat-trick on his way to a 25-point haul. To compound matters, Yaya Toure topped the Uruguayan, applying ample salt to my wounds as my rank drifted into further obscurity.
While this week’s ScoutCast was aptly titled – filled with moans and awkward attempts at justifying mistakes – I’ve only got myself to blame: dare to turn your back on this season’s limited number of true heavy-hitters and there’s every chance you’ll come out licking wounds. Quite simply, the supporting cast of Fantasy talent have failed to keep pace.
I’ve used this article before to focus on the midfield landscape and it’s pretty clear that this has hardly been resolved in recent weeks: Toure and Eden Hazard still dominate, with Adam Lallana occasionally flirting with double figures and Steven Gerrard exploiting set-pieces to join him.
Up front, however, the situation has become similarly settled – perhaps more so. The Liverpool strikers are currently monopolising our thinking and it’s likely that if you don’t own both Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, you’ve been forced to consider it very seriously or risk falling further adrift.
Again, the options are failing to run them close. Rooney, for all his efforts, is playing in a side devoid of confidence and lacking the fluidity to feed him the opportunity to rival the Merseyside hitmen. Romelu Lukaku, for his gradual grind towards a respectable goal tally, has lacked the potential to explode. Beyond that, we’re left looking at a cast of differentials, destined to fail in their attempts to outscore the Liverpool pair – Jay Rodriguez, Wilfried Bony, Olivier Giroud, Christian Benteke. I certainly hope that one of those names can emerge and genuinely turn in an end of season run. I won’t be alone.
Anyone looking above them in their mini-league will be wondering how they make up ground if, each time they differentiate their team from those above, they seem to slip further behind. From my experience last weekend, switching the captaincy from Suarez isn’t the answer.
So, inevitably, this can, again, come across as bitterness from a struggling Fantasy manager but my views on how the season has progressed are not totally tainted by my own plight. I had similar opinions on template teams last season on my way to a far more respectable rank.
For my money, it’s difficult to deny that injuries and United’s decline have exacerbated matters – we’ve been robbed of Theo Walcott, Michu, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero. Meanwhile Mesut Ozil has failed to live up to his billing and Santi Cazorla has struggled alongside him. This group of players could have been expected to offer viable alternatives to the current crop of names that dominate the ranks and offer mid-table Fantasy managers options. Without them, the season has settled into an all-too-familiar pattern of scoring, disrupted occasionally by the odd breakout performance from an unexpected source.
Regardless of rank and my ability to exploit how this season has developed, I’d be left hoping for a shake-up next term. Clearly the likes of Toure, Hazard and Liverpool’s “SAS” will enjoy price hikes going into the next campaign. Despite that, they’ll be established as hugely popular picks from the off. However, there will likely be another group of Fantasy managers who take a few risks – who back Van Persie, Walcott and Michu again in hope they can find the fitness and form to re-establish themselves as big factors in these games we play.
I really hope that the next campaign offers some reward for looking beyond this season’s big scorers. That’s not sour grapes, that’s just me craving more options when it comes to my Saturday morning decision-making.