Nev's Knockdowns

Managing a squad of Premier League players is no walk in the park. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years.

Fantasy football allows millions of wannabe master tacticians to play along as the football season unfolds. You almost definitely don’t need the concept explained to you, but what the heck: You pick your players and the better they perform, the more points you get.

It’s brilliantly simple and a lot of fun, but it can and will drive you insane. The stresses of FPL management are so intense, that I almost feel some empathy towards José Mourinho as he embarks on his fifth midlife crisis.

Before you’ve even begun thinking about your squad selection, there’s the increasingly difficult decision to make on your team name. Freshness is key; Chicken-Tikka Mo Salah was a masterstroke, but it’s so last season. You’ll have sleepless nights trying to unearth a Danny Ings- based pun whilst racking your brains for a song lyric that rhymes with Aubameyang.

Now for the real business; who’s in and who’s out? Do you rotate your keepers or set and forget? Where is that £4.0m defender that will end up winning the golden boot? What the hell are Wolves doing?

All these questions can consume you, leaving you a fraction of the manager you once were. You can suddenly find yourself being fully convinced that Lewis Dunk is the future of English football, or that Harry Kane is nothing more than an overpriced four-season wonder.

Once the downward spiral begins it’s hard to stop it. Every midweek thought is around transfers, whilst Saturday afternoons are spent berating a referee for booking Sam Vokes or despising Pep’s damn rotation policy. The weakest among us will play our wildcard before Gameweek Two before uncontrollably sobbing into a tub of Häagen-Dazs. This is the life we chose.

And as if all that wasn’t enough torture, this season features the added difficulty of World Cup stars returning late. Suddenly, some of the game’s most popular picks are all but guaranteed to miss the start of the campaign, with no certainty on their return date.

These obstacles will inevitably prove too much for some of our brave FPL coaches. Their surrender will be clear for all to see when, come the end of the season, they prop up their office league table with a striker who’s been injured for six months and a captain that moved to LA Galaxy in January.

But for the rest of us, there will be a chance of glory. The dedication will have been a small price to pay if you manage to defeat your friends, family members and co-workers.

You truly will be flying without Ings.

☀️

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