Oh, the woes of being a fantasy football manager. It is hard enough juggling with the fragility of Harry Kane’s weak ankles and trying to take into account which matches will be postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks, the last thing you need to top it all is having to second-guess the unpredictable team selections of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
In an ideal world, any ambitious fantasy football manager would stuff their team full of Manchester City players. Their defenders keep clean sheets; their midfielders create chances and score goals; and their attackers… actually their attackers are not doing much at the moment. However, Pep Guardiola rotates his squad so frequently that there is little guarantee that a Man City player chosen for a fantasy football team will actually feature in a match, even when they are on a great run of form.
Take Manchester City’s last fixture against Sheffield United. John Stones came into the match on the back of three clean sheets and two goals in his last three Premier League matches; similarly, João Cancello had three clean sheets, one goal and one assist; and Raheem Sterling, two goals. They all seemed like ideal picks for the match against Sheffield United, and fantasy football managers flocked to select them anticipating good returns. And yet what does Pep Guardiola do? Rests them all. £22.8 million of fantasy football investment sitting on the bench, not picking up a single point.
I find myself not alone in my frustration with Pep Guardiola. This is a snapshot of some of the views expressed during the BBC’s coverage of the Man City-Sheffield United match.
And resting players is not Guardiola’s only trick when it comes to upsetting fantasy football managers.
He is someone not adverse to the 59th minute substitution, rendering fantasy players ineligible for their second ‘minutes played’ points and defenders missing out on potential bonus points for a clean sheet. And he is also a regular exponent of the 90th minute substitution, bringing in someone you have on your team for a few seconds of inaction, and thus rendering void any chance of swapping them for a higher-scoring replacement from your fantasy bench.
And, with such a large and talented squad to choose from, I can’t see Pep Guardiola changing his behaviour any time soon.
So, when it comes to selecting Manchester City players for a fantasy football squad, I have only one word of advice: stick to Ederson.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake ponders his Fantasy Football team selection ahead of Gameweek 22.