First, as a fellow Ferguson, I’d like to declare my bias towards football’s greatest manager Sir Alex Ferguson (Ed. Note: For the love of Pete, give it a rest!) Bias now declared, I would to say to Wayne Rooney… why? Why must you correct Sir Alex about your ankle injury? You know you are injured… you have been since late last season. Remember when you came back too early and ended one of your best seasons with a whimper? Remember when you were basically useless during the World Cup? Remember when you had ice on your ankle in a photo recently and were carted off the training ground this week on a stretcher? Yet, when Sir Alex tries to defend you by saying you aren’t scoring because you are injured, you say you are fine and you now say you want out.
So where does this leave me? I’m now the owner of an embarrassing Man United jersey with AIG on the front (you remember they planned to give employees millions in bonuses while getting billions from a government bailout) and Rooney on the back… who may end up at — of all places — Manchester City (can we have Carlos Tevez back then? Pretty please?).
Not since Wayne Gretzky left Canada for Los Angeles has a man named Wayne disappointed me so much. If this was a hand-written note, the words would be smudged with a few of my unsuccessfully repressed tears…
But back to my fantasy column. I think it goes without saying that, as a fantasy owner, you need to get rid of Rooney now and never start him again. No player performs well under these kind of off-field distractions. You need only look at how average Cesc Fabregas has been this year for the Gunners as an example of what happens when a great footballer no longer wants to play for his team.
The three big point getters from last week were Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia with a pair of goals, Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez — also with two goals — and Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh, who had a brilliant goal along with an assist.
The best long-term bet of the bunch is Carlos Tevez. On a team filled with talent, he has carried the offence and is a huge reason why Man City are currently second in the table. That said, he may not be the best choice for this week. His manager is musing aloud that Tevez needs a rest. I suspect he doesn’t play in the Europa League game and is in this weekend… but you never know.
You also never know what you’ll get from Charles N’Zogbia. He is wildly inconsistent but has the skills to be on a much better team than Wigan (sorry Latic fans). His price is low enough that he is worth taking a chance on.
The best bet may actually be Chamakh. He is exactly what Arsenal has needed this year in the striker role: a talented player who will bury it, given the chance. Even when he isn’t scoring, he always looks dangerous.
I’ve been making these recommendations every week but I feel the need to somehow track whether the players I’m telling you to pick up are actually serving you well. From this week on, I’ll offer three subs a week and track them for five games versus a) the league average, and b) the players I suggest you take out. If I do very badly, I will pretend I never promised to do this.
Dimitar Berbatov – Rooney’s loss of playing time will be Berbatov’s gain. He’ll be the constant up front for United if he’s paired with young guns like Javier Hernandez and Federico Macheda. Note: this could also mean an increase in playing time for Michael Owen.
Wayne Rooney – For all the reasons stated above. I checked the stats. Over 400,000 fantasy owners have dropped him this year, but yet 11% of all teams still have him on their roster. He’s too pricey to be taking a chance on.
Rafael Van Der Vaart – The Tottenham midfielder is the signing of the year and he’s another player who threatens to score every time he gets the ball. He’s still fairly affordable but likely not for long.
Shaun Wright-Phillips – On another team he’d probably be a great choice. But he has mainly been found on Manchester City’s bench so far this season, so best avoid him until he can regularly crack the starting lineup.
Florent Malouda – Yes he’s coming off a week where Chelsea was held scoreless, but Malouda is a midfielder tied for second among all players in scoring this year: six in the first eight games. That’s only one mark off the Tevez’ league-leading seven.
Andrey Arshavin – He got off to a great start, but then slowed down considerably. This is a tough one, because on any given week with Arsenal he could get a hat trick. But the high price he is currently fetching is far higher than what he merits.