I started playing fantasy football back when I was in secondary school - about ten years now? Give or take... In all this time I, and many others, have noticed an inevitable pattern. By the time the season is halfway through, every team has a squad that is 75% identical. Between your mini-league of friends, between every person's fifteen man squad, all players will, without fail, be derived from a pool of about thirty players (maybe about forty if you stretch it).
Think about it. Take last season (2012-2013) as an example. Less than 15 games in, the vast majority of players had most of the following: Robin Van Persie, Juan Mata, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Michu (what is his first name anyway?), Cazorla, Walcott, Benteke, Lukaku, Baines, Ivanovic, Begovic etc. About the only variation between teams came in the defensive department - an area where most players choose to field only three defenders anyway (something else that can be improved upon).
And it takes away from the enjoyment of fantasy football!* You have Van Persie in your team so you get excited when he scores. But wait, every one of your rivals has him as well except that one guy who hates him so much so you're not really gaining any sort of advantage over the field. And in fact, some have him captain so are earning double points from him... Hmmm... Maybe you should be rooting against him? Seems counterintuitive.
A star added to the Bayern Munich crest. Yes, they were crowned champions domestically and in Europe for the fifth time in the 2012/2013 season. It was coming sooner or later with the disappointments faced in 2010 and 2012. This Bayern Munich team have been resilient and the signing of Pep Guardiola is a mark of intent as to which direction the club is heading. Having said that, one cannot take away credit from an exceptional Borussia Dortmund team who have lost only twice in the tournament overcoming the likes of Manchester City, Malaga and Real Madrid to reach the final. Klopp has built a team which have stood firm following their recent success and although the underdogs for the final, no one could question their display against the German and European champions. Their only weakness was a lack of sharpness in the centre of defence with the pairing of Hummels and Subotic. It cost them dearly and Klopp admitted that the final that may happen in Berlin, two years from now, is a realistic target for Dortmund. Only a brave man, with one of the strongest mentalities could make such a claim straight after a loss in the final. As Lineker said, “football is a game played by 22 men kicking a ball about for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win.... and lose”. I couldn’t agree more after watching these two teams dominate the biggest names in European football, Real Madrid and Barcelona, to say the least.
It was a night of joy in particular for Arjen Robben who savoured that late goal. This man has endured heartache after his displays in the 2010 world cup and the 2012 champions league finals. He missed several chances against Spain only for Iniesta to capitalise late into the game to crown them world champions in 2010. And against Chelsea, it was a night to forget for Robben. He missed several chances including a penalty into extra time which could have given them the edge over Chelsea. Subsequently, he did not step up to take a penalty after extra time clearly down to his lack of confidence as a result of his missed chances.
However yesterday, there was no better player than Robben in the second half. He took his chances well and was sharp on the ball. He looked threatening cutting in from the wing, trademark Robben, but better. He capitalised well on the lack of concentration from Subotic and Hummels to finish cooly into the corner of the goal getting the better of weidenfeller for only the second time in the game. Bayern Munich deserved that win and Robben’s tears at the end sums up what that trophy and performance meant to him. Jupp Heynckes’ tears in his post match conference against Borussia Mönchengladbach were justified as he is the only manager ever to reach the champions league finals for every team he has managed in the champions league. He leaves with his head held high only to set up the stage for the incoming, Pep Gurdiola.
The UniqueFC.com Blog community section:
With the football just around the corner, I think it is a good time to highlight our community posting feature on this blog. As some of you may know, pretty much anyone can post an article on here and start a discussion. This blog is essentially a fusion between a blog and a forum and this intertwined functionality is one of the reasons we decided to use Sett.com as a blogging platform provider.
The major reason for this is that we envision each league started up on uniquefc.com to have its own discussion thread where deals can be struck, banter can be exchanged and bold claims of greatness can be made. Who doesn't want to be this smug with their mates?
But gloating purposes aside, the community section can be used for any of our readers to post their own article or start their own discussion. I would love it if one of you gave it a try. A few quick topics off the top of my head: Will a massively strengthened Spurs still find a way to bottle this season? Who are the favourites for the title so far? Maybe even a general discussion on your club of choice..
Okay, so as asked by a couple of people, how were we playing this using spreadsheets before? Well, I'll outline the process here, while trying to find a balance between keeping it short and sweet and still providing enough detail.
1. Use Google Docs!
It's free, and it allows everyone to connect at the same time. Also, as it's in the cloud, it is always up to date. You can look back at past revisions if necessary and is the ideal tool (short of a fully dedicated site) to play fantasy football in this way. Sample: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AiNH-JHpkhe8dFVVX2RiaDNyNUdZTFdieHliaUtUemc&usp=sharing
2. Decide between doing the entire game manually vs using an existing salary cap based fantasy game
Personally, none of our group could be bothered going through the hassle of creating a point scoring system, updating each player's scores manually, keeping track of transfers/team sheets and scoring the entire game manually which is why we went with the second option.
The short of it? It didn't go well!
You can visit www.uniquefc.com to see the general design and the like, but don't waste time trying to sign up. We had problems configuring the site to the live servers and there are far too many errors (site near unusable). We don't want you to get frustrated trying to make it work...
What this means for the big picture? It is looking highly unlikely we'll be at the level we want to be at before kick-off. That said, we'll keep chipping away and will eventually get it right.
Apologies to all those who have been waiting in anticipation. We knew this was going to be difficult, and true to form, it is proving to be a bigger challenge than we expected.
The transfer merry go round continues as clubs work on strengthening their squads. With four of the top 6 changing managers, expect much more transfer activity to come but let’s see what’s been happening at the mid table clubs.
Emanuele Giaccherini has completed a move to Sunderland from Italian champions Juventus. The 28 year old becomes Paolo Di Canio’s 9th signing this window following a £8.6 million move. Having only made 17 appearances for Juventus last season, the winger was impressive for Italy during the confederations cup and wants to cement his place for the forthcoming world cup in Brazil. He scored 3 times and created 3 assists mostly coming off the bench but he should be a regular starter at the stadium of light and with only 1 yellow card last season, he has fantasy point potential.
Once linked with Arsenal and Barcelona, the much sought after Kenyan defensive midfielder, Victor Wanyama, has put pen to paper with Southampton on a £12.5 million deal. His impressive performances for Celtic particularly against Barcelona in the champions league have earned him a strong reputation. Being a defensive midfielder, his goal to game ratio for Celtic has been is 1 in 6 games and with a high number of passes and pass accuracy, expect a few assists as well from the 22 year old for your UFC team.
Maicon has completed a move to AS Roma from Manchester city where he played a bit part role making only 7 appearances. This loosens competition at the right back spot with only Richards and Zabaleta available. Micah Richards had an injury riddled 2012/13 season but is back fit and in training with the city squad. Expect Richards to play more and 20 appearances is the least you can budget for from the right back. He has solid assist and clean sheet potential and pellegrini has hinted Richards would be getting more game time.
In other news, Stephen Harper has finally called time on his Newcastle United career. Well, discounting his 6 loan spells in that time at least. The 38 year old has completed a move to Hull City on a free transfer and the veteran adds experience to their current squad. Harper will mainly be used as a back-up goal keeper but is worth a second-choice shot stopper for your UFC team.
This post is in response to all the queries we have been having about when the site is going to go live. As some of you may know, we were going to do an in-house full-site review yesterday. Well, we did and after about 5 hours or so we have a mixed bag of news:
The bad:We won't be going live this weekend as the wild optimist in me had hoped
The good:The core features needed to get a working version of the site up and running live are mostly in good shape. I am fairly confident that we should have a beta version up and running towards the end of next week.
Overall:This has been a monumental task so far, and we are well aware that this is just the start of the journey. Looking back and seeing how far we have come and the challenges faced, I am quite happy, all things considered:
I'll start off by apologizing for the infrequent updates. We didn't manage to launch before the season started but here are some key updates:
So.. That's where we are. Fingers firmly crossed.
Other than that, we've been watching as much footy as we can. A lot of interesting prospects and revelations in terms of fantasy football already. And we expect a few more before the transfer window ends in a couple of days.
On a current note, City have just pulled off victory against Hull. I'm happy with Negredo in my team but really wish he would start starting matches!!
Continuing on the drafting strategy front, let's take a look at the group of players that will lead to most of the mind games over the course of the draft. We are referring to the 'under the radar' players that you would like to get in.
What defines such a player? Well, quite simply, this is a player that you expect will score well over the season but has a profile low enough for you to risk leaving him for the later rounds of the draft. This provides 2 obvious advantages: You get to draft in more sought after players in the earlier rounds while they are still available while getting a player you really want in the later rounds (where traditionally you would have to 'settle' for the best from what's remaining).
This is, of course, a high risk strategy as misjudging how far under the radar a player is, exactly, can be tricky (Michu still haunts me from last season!). So, the things you need to consider before gambling on leaving a player you really want till the later rounds:
Got any specific hidden talents in mind? Not that you're likely to tell us!
The Luis Suarez saga continues with John W. Henry openly coming out and saying 40 million is an understatement of Suarez's valuation. Liverpool's American owner took to twitter to vent his frustration. The Reds are asking a fee in the region of 50 mill for the Uruguan forward but Arsenal are reluctant to pay that price. Having had two bids of 30 and 40 mill rejected, it is reported by sources inside the emirates that Arsenal have tabled a third bid of 42.5 mill today in the hope of securing his services before the Emirates cup begins.
In all honesty, both clubs will be doing themselves a favor by reaching an agreement as soon as possible because it is unlikely that Suarez will be at Liverpool next season having made the champions league his priority and Arsenal desperately need to start their transfer activity having cleared a lot of the dead wood to get their team settled before the season starts. With Gervinho close to sealing a move to Roma, Arsenal WILL definitely need a big name in the striking department. With Higuain completing a move to Napoli, Suarez is the only realistic option for Arsene. I see the deal happening, just how quickly I don't know yet.
Norwich have completed the signing of Gary Hooper from Celtic. He had a good season with Celtic and has played in the champions league as well. Scoring 19 times and providing 6 assists, Hooper will play a big role for the canaries this season and should be one of your first draft picks. He will be a regular starter and Norwich fans should be excited with the 25 year old's arrival.
With all the talk about Gareth Bale leaving for Madrid, spurs have moved to complete the signing of Nacer Chadli. The 25 year old attacking midfielder started 14 games in the Eredivisie scoring 12 times for FC Twente in the 2012/13 season. Overall he scored 19 times in 27 appearances for both Belgium and FC Twente and should be a quality addition at white hart lane. There has been talk about Clint Dempsey leaving and Chadli would be a good replacement for the American. Tottenham still need a big name striker and Soldado from Valencia has been linked strongly with Spurs recently. Gareth Bale was not in the squad for spurs' pre season game yesterday with South China with AVB claiming injury being the reason. However, reports coming out of Spain today that Madrid have tabled a mammoth 85 million pound bid for the Welsh international. Whether he moves, it remains to be seen.