Draft night

Being a football manager is easy money, right?

Pick your best 11 players each week, spout a cliché to the cameras in the tunnel after the match, carefully grumble about the standard of refereeing in the press conference, and then head home to your massive mansion and relax on a pile of large denomination banknotes.

I’m about to prove this theory by managing my fantasy football team – the Regal Beagles – to glory in our (now) regular draft league, starting tonight.

At least, we get to pick the players this evening. It’s a social event, with participants amassing at a secret Sea Point venue and others dialling in from the USA and Indonesia. There will be beer and pizza (in Sea Point, at least).

The actual league only begins on Friday, and I think I have a pretty formidable first XI (+ five subs) lined up. Sadly, there are 13 other players in the league, and I’m guessing that they will be after some (or more) of my team.

The way to sort this out amicably is the draft system, whereby everyone takes turns to choose a player. The draft system works by randomly assigning a draft number to each participant and then running through 1-14, and then 14-1. And repeat.
So essentially, manager 1 (who happens to be The Mexican) gets to choose the best player, but then only gets to choose the 28th best player as well. Manager 14 (The Ginger Ninja), might only get the 14th best player on offer, but then he also gets to choose the 15th best as well.

Last year, I got the first draft pick and I chose brilliantly: Mo Salah, no less. Sadly, by the time the 28th and 29th picks came around, the bottom of the fantasy barrel was already clearly on show and things went badly from there on in. I thought I was terrible at being a football manager, but some of the stats nerds on the team actually did some calculations and worked out that I was just very, very unlucky.

And lightning surely can’t strike twice, right?

This year, I got pick number 7, and I think I’ve already worked out who will be choosing whom in front of me. Obviously, I can’t reveal just who my first choices will be, for reasons of tactical security. But I think we can probably say that Mo Salah will be plying his trade somewhere away from Los Beaglez this year.

Of course, it’s not serious (but it is); it’s just for fun (but it matters); it’s all about the banter (and the points… always the points).

More news on the state of play once the teams have been picked and once the season has started.

The best weekend

Football is back!

I’ve missed football. Hell, I miss it when there’s a week off for an international break, so the last few months have been tough. And after United’s amazing exploits last time around, the close season has been a bit of an anti-climax. I simply can’t get into these televised friendly “Sponsor Cup” tournaments – they clearly mean very little to the clubs involved, given that you find wholly different teams fielded for each half, never mind each game.

Sadly, that’s left me a little behind as we head into the Fantasy League season which goes hand in hand with the EPL. I have no idea who’s playing for whom, how well he is playing and if he’s likely to feature each week. These are important things to consider, as the leagues I’m part of take fantasy football very seriously. Draft night is coming up for the Togga league on Tuesday and while testing the system, I chose Goran Ivansevic and Mitt Romney as my central defensive pairing.

I’m feeling a bit out of it.

This may be the best weekend, but it’s also going to be packed full of me studying football websites. Or maybe I need to crowdsource: who would be your top 3 player picks from the EPL?
(Or top 5, or even top 11 if you’re feeling wild.)