Gaffer's Mid-season review: Bags League

 

Happy New Year to each and every Realff manager out there!

 

I’ve previously written about my home league, one that’s been running for years now with almost exclusively the same cast of managers. It’s highly competitive and full of vitriolic banter, our whatsapp message count now stands at a slightly obsessive:

Messages – 58,821

Photos – 2,884

Gifs – 322

Videos – 112

Voice Messages – 16

Stickers - 22

Documents - 1

 

This is what a Realff league can do when a group of mates get together, it takes over your life and becomes oh so important to you. The battle for both the trophy and the wooden spoon is hard fought and leads to memories that last a lifetime. Ask any of our league who’s ‘won the spoon’ (Richard once, Dr Quinn numerous times) or who Fraz proudly declared was ‘the man he wanted’ during one transfer window (Jelavic!) and they’ll answer correctly immediately. We know and remember this stuff better than the names of each other’s spouses and children, and treasure those memories as a badge of our camaraderie.

So we’ve now passed the half way point, let’s see how the league is shaping up:

 

Team Name

 

Points

Score

Bacuna Matata
Andrew Jolly

57

932

Bags of Boufal
Tom Mitcham

46

919

Big Strikers
Matthew Whitwam

39

889

Ole’s at the wheel
Stephen Aldersley

39

820

Barb and the Benchwarmers
Nathan Barber

30

779

Hung like a Bony
Carl Drewett

27

906

Ricky's Dickies
Richard Naylor

27

852

Headbangers
Fraser Picken

24

694

Dr Win
Cameron Quinn

21

828

Dr to retain the Spoon
Wilm

21

751

 

The highlights

Mr Jolly – what can you say, incredible performance thus far. 57 points is normally the mark to make our top 4 and the playoffs, he’s there already! This can largely be put down to two things – a belief in Sheffield United’s defence, and the avoidance of trading for ‘shiny new things’ that have joined the Premier League recently, something he normally falls foul of. This is what a winning squad looks like:

Name

Club

Pos.

 Mathew Ryan

Brighton

GK

 Ederson

Man City

GK

 Aymeric Laporte

Man City

DEF

 Enda Stevens

Sheffield Utd

DEF

 George Baldock

Sheffield Utd

DEF

 Jonny Castro

Wolves

DEF

 Andrew Robertson

Liverpool

DEF

 Harvey Barnes

Leicester

MID

 Jonjo Shelvey

Newcastle

MID

 Dani Ceballos

Arsenal

MID

 Manuel Lanzini

West Ham

MID

 John Fleck

Sheffield Utd

MID

 Daniel James

Man Utd

FWD

 Sadio Mane

Liverpool

FWD

 Raul Jimenez

Wolves

FWD

 

Mr Mitcham – yours truly has the second most overall points, and so second in the league feels fair right now. A strong spine of Van Dijk, Pereira and Maddison has helped me tick over decent scoring weeks. The addition of Aguero to partner Jesus up front has me tapped into the majority of Man City attacking returns, which should see me through to a playoff berth.

Name

Club

Pos.

 Aaron Ramsdale

Bournemouth

GK

 Tim Krul

Norwich

GK

 Virgil Van Dijk

Liverpool

DEF

 Steve Cook

Bournemouth

DEF

 Ricardo Pereira

Leicester

DEF

 James Tomkins

C Palace

DEF

 Adam Webster

Brighton

DEF

 James Maddison

Leicester

MID

 Emiliano Buendia

Norwich

MID

 Jack Grealish

A Villa

MID

 Adama Traore

Wolves

MID

 Aaron Mooy

Brighton

MID

 Gabriel Jesus

Man City

FWD

 Sergio Agüero

Man City

FWD

 Callum Wilson

Bournemouth

FWD

 

The playoff contenders

 

Mr Whitwam – sits third and justifiably so having traded little and ticked over with decent returns. Spearheaded by Alli, Ings and Salah he looks odds on for a playoff spot.

 Kepa Arrizabalaga

Chelsea

GK

 Willy Caballero

Chelsea

GK

 Kyle Walker

Man City

DEF

 Jan Vertonghen

Spurs

DEF

 Jonny Evans

Leicester

DEF

 Diego Rico

Bournemouth

DEF

 Kiko

Watford

DEF

 Miguel Almiron

Newcastle

MID

 Dele Alli

Spurs

MID

 Ryan Fraser

Bournemouth

MID

 Nathan Redmond

Southampton

MID

 Abdoulaye Doucoure

Watford

MID

 Danny Ings

Southampton

FWD

 Mohamed Salah

Liverpool

FWD

 Chris Wood

Burnley

FWD

 

Mr Aldersley – hanging onto 4th but theres a storm-a-brewing. Injuries to Bellerin, Pulisic, Keita, Rashford and most importantly Harry Kane. An inexplicable recent addition of 2 Burnley defenders. An Eriksen who looks like he’d happily swim back to Europe if needs be. He’s going to have to work some real transfer magic to hang on to a playoff spot. The state of this:

 Martin Dubravka

Newcastle

GK

 Alisson

Liverpool

GK

 Hector Bellerin

Arsenal

DEF

 Matt Doherty

Wolves

DEF

 Fikayo Tomori

Chelsea

DEF

 Charlie Taylor

Burnley

DEF

 Ben Mee

Burnley

DEF

 Christian Eriksen

Spurs

MID

 Mesut Ozil

Arsenal

MID

 Christian Pulisic

Chelsea

MID

 Callum Hudson-Odoi

Chelsea

MID

 Naby Keïta

Liverpool

MID

 Sebastien Haller

West Ham

FWD

 Harry Kane

Spurs

FWD

 Marcus Rashford

Man Utd

FWD

 

Mr Barber – currently sitting adrift but closing on the top four. Barber has his normal cast of top team bit-part players, he’s never guaranteed a starting 11 but tends to find enough points to get by. An outside chance of the playoffs.

 Bernd Leno

Arsenal

GK

 Jordan Pickford

Everton

GK

 Serge Aurier

Spurs

DEF

 Nicolás Otamendi

Man City

DEF

 John Stones

Man City

DEF

 Cesar Azpilicueta

Chelsea

DEF

 Conor Coady

Wolves

DEF

 Paul Pogba

Man Utd

MID

 David Silva

Man City

MID

 Riyad Mahrez

Man City

MID

 Michail Antonio

West Ham

MID

 Mateo Kovacic

Chelsea

MID

 Anthony Martial

Man Utd

FWD

 Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal

FWD

 Teemu Pukki

Norwich

FWD

 

Mr Drewett – has the third most overall points but sits down in 6th. Probably has the best chance of sneaking into the top 4. A really strong squad which, if it stays fit, is very likely to overtake some of those above him.

Rui Patricio

Wolves

GK

 Ben Foster

Watford

GK

 Benjamin Mendy

Man City

DEF

 Toby Alderweireld

Spurs

DEF

 Lucas Digne

Everton

DEF

 Victor Lindelöf

Man Utd

DEF

 Fabian Balbuena

West Ham

DEF

 Diogo Jota

Wolves

MID

 Kevin De Bruyne

Man City

MID

 Youri Tielemans

Leicester

MID

 Todd Cantwell

Norwich

MID

 Pablo Fornals

West Ham

MID

 Heung-Min Son

Spurs

FWD

 Jamie Vardy

Leicester

FWD

 Neal Maupay

Brighton

FWD

 

Mr Naylor – loves a trade and/or complete rethink of his strategy. Currently the squad looks a little lightweight, especially with PEA’s upcoming ban, but he’s a canny manager who’s capable of turning the ship around. Could sneak into the playoffs or sneak himself another wooden spoon – time will tell!

Vicente Guaita

C Palace

GK

 Kasper Schmeichel

Leicester

GK

 Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool

DEF

 Caglar Soyuncu

Leicester

DEF

 Joe Gomez

Liverpool

DEF

 Chris Mepham

Bournemouth

DEF

 Djibril Sidibé

Everton

DEF

 Gylfi Sigurdsson

Everton

MID

 Luka Milivojevic

C Palace

MID

 Pascal Gross

Brighton

MID

 Ismaïla Sarr

Watford

MID

 N'Golo Kante

Chelsea

MID

 Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Everton

FWD

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal

FWD

 Gerard Deulofeu

Watford

FWD

 

The stragglers

Three BIG candidates for the wooden spoon this year:

 

Mr Picken – foolishly owned a ‘Man United defensive basket’ all season. Still does. Their recent upturn in form has led to Picken scraping off the bottom of the league, but will Ole’s men put him back there soon enough? History says yes!

 David De Gea

Man Utd

GK

 Paulo Gazzaniga

Spurs

GK

 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Man Utd

DEF

 Harry Maguire

Man Utd

DEF

 Kurt Zouma

Chelsea

DEF

 Luke Shaw

Man Utd

DEF

 Patrick Van Aanholt

C Palace

DEF

 Jorginho

Chelsea

MID

 James McArthur

C Palace

MID

 Mason Mount

Chelsea

MID

 Joao Moutinho

Wolves

MID

 Phil Foden

Man City

MID

 Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal

FWD

 Wilfried Zaha

C Palace

FWD

 Joshua King

Bournemouth

FWD

 

Dr Quinn – this man already has more spoons than I’ve had hot dinners. Dr Quinn made an early surge to the top of the league, but his squad soon came back to earth and now languishes second bottom. Fully reliant on Sterling and Abraham to keep him away from yet more wooden cutlery. Chances are slim.

Lukasz Fabianski

West Ham

GK

 Tom Heaton

A Villa

GK

 David Luiz

Arsenal

DEF

 Ben Chilwell

Leicester

DEF

 Ryan Bertrand

Southampton

DEF

 James Tarkowski

Burnley

DEF

 Javier Manquillo

Newcastle

DEF

 Willian

Chelsea

MID

 Ruben Neves

Wolves

MID

 James Ward-Prowse

Southampton

MID

 John Lundstram

Sheffield Utd

MID

 Nathaniel Chalobah

Watford

MID

 Ayoze Perez

Leicester

FWD

 Raheem Sterling

Man City

FWD

 Tammy Abraham

Chelsea

FWD

 

Mr Wilman – The man who loves to declare “I’ll never win the spoon” finds himself bottom of the league. A real shock this one. The squad actually looks ok, but it’s not being reflected in results. My prediction would be Mr Wilman pulls clear of the danger zone leaving Picken and Dr Quinn to fight over the wooden spoon, but who knows!

Hugo Lloris

Spurs

GK

 Nick Pope

Burnley

GK

 Emerson Palmieri

Chelsea

DEF

 Yerry Mina

Everton

DEF

 Joel Matip

Liverpool

DEF

 Antonio Rudiger

Chelsea

DEF

 Davinson Sanchez

Spurs

DEF

 Wilfred Ndidi

Leicester

MID

 Felipe Anderson

West Ham

MID

 Bernardo Silva

Man City

MID

 Jordan Henderson

Liverpool

MID

 Georginio Wijnaldum

Liverpool

MID

 Richarlison

Everton

FWD

 Roberto Firmino

Liverpool

FWD

 Troy Deeney

Watford

FWD

 

Who’s got the best squad? Who tops and bottoms the league come playoff time? It’s all to play for, and we’ll certainly have fun finding out!

 

Cheers,
Gaffer

Follow me @realffgaffer on twitter