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Fantasy Football: How Berba Made Me Sick

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One of the many great things about football (and all major sports to be brutally honest) is the fact that we as fans always believe that we know more about the game than players and managers.

It might be that we believe that our team lost the game because of a tactical reason right from the off. We may think after conceding a half time lead, our manager not only left the time to make changes too late, but brought on the wrong players to make a significant impact.

All these little opinions though whilst being great talking points at home, down the pub, on the terraces and at school or work do not offer any actual backing/proof to our theory that we know more than the manager.

Fantasy Football is a way offers a small platform for fans alike to show that they are capable of putting a team together that can take on the world, or at least 10 or so friends. Of course it’s purely a stats game and that managers of teams do not have any say into what goes on in games which their players take part in, all they can do is select a team that they ‘think’ can do well.

Mistakes in Fantasy Football can often be costly, but my mistake leading into the final round of Premier League fixtures in November has to rank as one of the worst Fantasy Football manager mistake ever!

For that weekend, I made what I thought was a good transfer and took out Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov from my team completely, replacing him as my captain with Bolton’s Johan Elmander.

United’s casual Bulgarian despite scoring 70 odd points in his previous 14 appearances in the season for my team had gone 10 games without scoring in the weeks leading up to United’s game against Blackburn on November 27th. I’ve never been particularly a patient person so made the rash decision to ditch him there and then.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think that Berba’s form would return, it was just after lacklustre weeks I had inkling that Wayne Rooney would get a goal or two in the game as he’s had a decent scoring record against Blackburn in the past and thought United would win only 2/3-0 with United’s number 9 getting scoring one at best.

So with Bolton playing Blackpool, I thought Elmander would be a good bet to score a couple in that game and reward my faith in him as a manager by making him my captain, which meant that any points he would score would be doubled.

After all the former Toulouse striker, had ran Newcastle ragged the previous week in Bolton’s 5-1 victory over the Geordies, scoring twice and setting up a goal to total 15 points. Elmander had also impressed the week before that as well, scoring a very tidy goal against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves and was seemingly coming into the kind of form which tempted Sam Allarydce to pay a reported £10million for his services.

When Saturday arrived, I felt quite confident that I’d made the right decision in ditching Berba and woke up looking forward to watching one of my local teams Barkingside host Enfield 1893 FC in the Essex Senior League.

I am a regular to the Oakside, Barkingside’s home ground as my role as a football reporter for my local radio station so alot of the fans there know me and know as well a fan of Barkingside and their landlord’s Redbridge, that I’m a big Manchester United fan.

Always at games at the club, there’s at least a couple people sitting around me who’ve got access to the major football scores on their phone or radio and within 2 minutes remarkably of course, my FF transfer had come back to bite me.

‘You won’t believe this Adam, Berbatov’s scored for Utd, they’re 1 up after 2 mins’ shouted one of our fans called Alan. Looking visibly pissed off even as a United fan at the news, I replied very softly with ‘If he scores again, keep it to yourself, I can’t have him scoring another goal today’ not wanting to draw any attention to myself.

Alan being in his late 60′s was bemused by that remark which meant that I had to explain there and then the story that I’d transferred Berba out of my team, which got some strange looks from the people around me. As the game continued so did Alan’s updates – despite my claim that I didn’t want to know that United were scoring again.

When I heard from our ‘roving reporter’ that Berba had scored his second just before the half-hour mark, I actually childishly got up and moved away as I was beginning to feel sick of Alan’s updates.

This obviously made things worse for me later on as when Berba scored his hat-trick to put United 4-0 up just after half-time I heard Alan and his mates shout ‘Adam, you won’t believe it, he’s only scored his third’. By this stage I was feeling like a right plonker, knowing that it was only getting to get worse which of course it did.

By now Alan and his mates were really beginning to wind us up and their ‘winding up’ got worse when news came in of Berba’s fourth and fifth goals. ‘Five goals, he’s got five, bet that’s cost Adam plenty of points today right boys.’

It’s not often when I am at a game that I wish I was miles away from the ground, but by now I just wanted the ref to blow his whistle for full time so I could get up and go back home where I could sulk quietly in my room!

The sad part about that last sentence is that the game that I was there to watch was actually a really good game to be honest, which saw visiting Enfield run out 5-2 winners.  Looking back at it now, it’s a shame that during the game all I was thinking about was Berba running riot than actually enjoying the game in front of me itself!

Matters were only made worse when I got in when my brother proceeded to inform my dad of the ‘cock-up’ I had made which made for an unbearable dinner. It made it even worse when I realised after looking online that ditching Berba had lost me a whooping 46 points if I had kept the Bulgarian on as my captain.

Picking up a pathetic 4 points with Elmander only made it worse, as Bolton could only manage a 2-2 draw against Ian Holloway’s men after being 2-0 down.  Just to put the final kick in the teeth for me, Bolton’s Swede failed to score in the game or even get credited with an assist in Bolton’s late fight back.

Mind you even if he had scored in the game, it’s not as if I’d have been in a position to have been happy about it at all, would I?

So there you have it people, I can’t think of anything else to say that at least I can look back at it now after the season and laugh. To be brutally honest I can’t even do that as ever since that fateful Saturday I’ve given up on Fantasy Football for good, it’s not as if I was that good at it anyway.

By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87