The new season begins August 18 and our withdrawal pain will be eased toward the end of this month when ESPN Soccernet launches its new Premier fantasy competition. At that time fantasy rosters can be assembled with unlimited transfers until kickoff.
Readers of Sir John’s blog know his thoughts on the rules for fantasy competition and his desire for changes. The most important involves player values throughout the season. Under the current system, the 100 million pound budget cannot increase if a player’s value goes up. A free enterprise system should be in play to reward managers and allow them to stock their rosters with better players. Conversely, the 100 million pound budget should decrease when player values drop. Sir John also does not favor the requirement to carry five defenders and two goalkeepers on the roster.
Sir John prefers a single season instead of splitting the season in two segments. We wait to see what changes, if any, the managers of the game will unveil.
On July 1, the Premier League’s transfer window opened and so far, the trigger has still not been pulled on the blockbuster deal that seems certain to happen, namely the departure of the biggest fantasy point-producer, Robin van Persie who will not seek or accept a contract extension. Arsenal cannot risk keeping vP for the one season remaining on his contract and get nothing when he leaves.
When RvP leaves, will the acquisition of Podolski and Giroud replace the offensive firepower of the Dutchie? In one word: no. Giroud was the top scorer in Ligue 1 and Podolski has had an impressive career--but they are not in RvP's class. That being said, it is fair to ask that based on his career, can vP have two injury-free seasons in a row? The odds are not likely. The Dutchie was an incredible EPL fantasy player but part of a sleepwalking Netherlands team that crashed out early in Euro 2012.
What kit will vP wear in the new season? Manchester City and Chelsea have been mentioned as possible suitors. There are pluses and minuses with each of those teams--what with the Balotelli-Tevez consideration at City and the Torres factor at Stamford Bridge. The Blues need to find someone to replace Drogba who is now playing in China.
Player moves of interest that have happened include striker Hugo Rodellega who signed a three-year free transfer deal with Fulham. The Cottagers were not able to sign Russian striker Pogrebnyak who played on loan for the team and was signed by Reading, so Rodellega is a must, especially if Clint Dempsey decides to leave, which, seems likely. Liverpool would be a great fit for the Texan. Longtime Fulham captain Danny Murphy will play for relegated Blackburn and defender Riise is looking for an employer.
The Reds, who were the Premier League’s most underachieving team, got good news when Luis Suarez remained in the fold. They will also be getting Lucas back from a lengthy injury but are stuck with Henderson, Downing, Adam, and at least for now, Carroll. Pony Tail has been mentioned as a loan possibility. Joe Cole has returned from the French lending library and will find playing time difficult to come by for new manager Brendan Rodgers.
The annual Will-Luka-Modric-leave-Spurs saga is underway again. Chelsea is mentioned; however, the Croatian does not enamor Sir John. Of concern to Spurs’ supporters is the contract situation of Emmanuel Adebayor who was loaned to White Hart Lane from Man City.
On the subject of Spurs, perhaps the biggest development so far in the off-season for Tottenham involves a non-player. The despised AVB was hired by Spurs to replace Harry Rednapp. Reporters covering Spurs went from a dream manager for quotes, likability, and managerial skill to an arrogant, humorless, in-over-his-head disaster that Chelsea wisely jettisoned.
Speaking of Chelsea, Victor Moses’ name has been linked with the Blues. The gifted Wigan midfielder with the heart-warming life's story has become one of the most sought-after players after his instrumental play in the Lattic's late season survival run.
QPR has made a push to insure another season in the EPL. The Rangers inked Park Ji-Sung from Man Yoo and signed a new deal with hot head midfielder Taarabt. They also got Andrew Johnson from Fulham and signed GK Rob Green.
SAF is looking forward to Japanese import Kagawa, while Chelsea hope to have productive seasons from Marin and Hazard. Kalou and Bosingwa are history.
As always, the open transfer window blows in a lot of foul rumors and among them are Gareth Bale going to Real Madrid or even more ludicrous, Bale and Modric in a package to Chelsea. A less ridiculous blurb was Spurs defender Assou-Akotto going to Liverpool if the Reds cannot land Clichy from Man City. Insurance in the event Assou-Akotto leaves Spurs is the signing of Ajax defender Vertonghen.
Everton has signed Naismith, a striker from the Scottish League David Moyes hope will make his woeful offense better.
And finally, the loathed and pompous AVB has expressed interest in Sneijder, Nani, and Lukaku. (Forget the first two--maybe on the Belgium forward.)
Special thanks to ESPN's Dom Raynor who has kept us in the loop on transfers.
Until later, I remain,