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Fantasy Football: How Berba Made Me Sick Of Swedes!

You may recall in my previous article on Fantasy Football (FF), I mentioned that in a future article I’d recall how this season I made one of the biggest FF football mistakes ever that will put me off FF for a long long time.

Mistakes in FF can often be costly, but my mistake leading into the 27th of November for that weekend’s Premier League fixtures has to rank as possibly the worst FF mistake ever, across any FF competition there’s ever been.

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 for me in the weeks leading up to United’s game against Blackburn and I’d lost my patience in him as a result!

It wasn’t that I didn’t think that Berba’s form would return, it was just after lacklustre weeks I had an 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 Manchester United would win only 2/3-0 with United’s number 9 getting one.

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, ran Newcastle ragged the previous week in Bolton’s 5-1 victory scoring twice and setting up a goal to total 15 points. Elmander had also impressed the previous week at Molineux scoring a very tidy goal versus Mick McCarthy’s Wolves and was seemingly coming into the kind of form which tempted Sam Allarydce to pay a reputed £10m 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’m a regular to the Oakside, Barkingside’s home ground as my role as a football reporter for my local radio station so a lot 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 minutes 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 and amazingly 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 hasn’t it boys.’ It’s not often when I’m 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 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 we were there to watch was actually a really good game to be honest, which saw visiting Enfield run out 5-2 winners in a game that saw bad defending and some brilliant goals. 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’d made which made for an unbearable dinner as it dawned on me that ditching Berba had cost me a whooping 46 points if I’d had kept the Bulgarian on as my captain, as he also happened to set up a goal as well!

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 couldn’t even score or set up one of those goals as Blackpool basically kept him quiet the whole game. 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 now, a couple of months on and laugh. No tell a lie, I can’t even do that, as ever since that fateful Saturday I’ve given up on FF for good.

Not even a peck on the cheek from the BBC’s Sonali Shah would even tempt me back into having a FF team. Elmander funnily enough since that day has scored only once, Berbatov 8 more times in what has been his best season for Manchester United since joining them.

In a way it’s ironic that FF doesn’t have real financial implications for managers up and down the country as I’d be probably be sacked as manager of the team as a result of that mistake after that game in not picking Berba.

Speaking of managers getting sacked after that game, it’s funny then that Allardyce got sacked by Blackburn’s Indian owners as a result of his side not picking out Berba throughout the game. Just as well I’m not a manager hey?

Adam Dennehey

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