Tag Archives: Manchester City

Transfer Focus: Who’s hot and who’s not? – Part 1


A big welcome to Football for the Day’s latest literary addition to the blog. Bringing a focus on fantasy football, this Newcastle enthusiast lists Xisco, Albert Luque and Boumsong as personal deities. And who are we to judge…

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Who’s hot?

Adam Johnson on Tyneside

Adam Johnson on Wearside

Adam Johnson: The English winger’s time at the Etihad can be described as tumultuous to say the least. Mancini’s inability to accommodate him into an appropriate formation meant that the winger spent much of last season watching from the stands. Johnson’s move to Sunderland will allow him to play a key role in a team that’s on the up. With the astute Martin O’Neill building a promising squad, Johnsons marauding runs down the flank will be seen more frequently this season. At only £7m, we see Johnson as great value for money and provides an exposure to the Mackem’s offensive line. With only 2.5% of players including Johnson in their team, we see him as a solid differential buy whose popularity is bound to increase.

Moussa Dembele: A prominent figure amongst the ever growing Belgian contingent in the Premier League, the creative midfielder makes for a good bit of business by Levy & Co. With a burgeoning reputation that has seen him evolve from just another Eredevisie import into a top class Premier League player, he is undoubtedly someone all fantasy managers will be casting their eye over. Our only hesitation with Dembele, is the uncertainty as to just where he will fit in to AVB’s agenda at the Lane. Moussa’s sublime finish on the weekend went a long way to dampening fears that his historically poor scoring record would transfer with him to North London. At £6mil we see Moussa as a good low cost option, but we would recommend holding off a purchase until gameweek 6, at which stage a more thorough investment appraisal can be formed.

Dimitar Berbatov: Dimitar Berbatov’s transfer to Fulham signals the end of his playing hiatus and his return to the world of fantasy football. With his return to the scene, we would like to remind you just how prolific he has been since arriving in England from Germany. In the 6 years that Berbatov has played in the Premier League (including last season where he made only 12 appearances) he has averaged just shy of 140 points. Costing £6.9mil Berbatov represents good value for managers looking for a traditionally reliable source of points. Berbatov’s adventures at Craven Cottage are more than likely to be a little less fruitful than previous clubs, but his importance to the Cottagers cant’t be overlooked, with significant game time being all but guaranteed. For us, it’s more a matter of when the Berbatov bandwagon will gather pace, more than if. With glimpses of brilliance in his cameo last week, we have faith that this will come sooner rather than later. That’s why we’re saying pick him up now while the differential is still there.

Eden Hazard: Another member of the Belgian entourage plying their trade in the Premier League, Hazard represents what could well be the most exciting signing of the season. In the 3 games that we have seen Eden play, his tally of 6 assists and 1 goal has meant that he has been an instant success for those that took the gamble on the £9mil man. His tendency to provide the decisive pass as well as his silky footwork has provided more than a headache for Premier League defenders. With this taste of things to come, we see his continued evolution as pivotal to the fortunes of Robbie di Matteo’s men – making him our number 1 Chelsea buy. With a hefty following already, signing Eden would hardly separate you from the rest. In spite of this we find him an irresistible purchase and place him very high up our midfielder priority list.

Who’s not

Gylfi Sigurdssonn

The Sig

Gylfi Sigurdsson: The Sig was one of last season’s biggest revelations. After making and maintaining a more than impressive start to his fantasy career, his move to Tottenham has cast serious doubt on whether he will be able to replicate his point scoring form this season. While being the lynch pin for Swansea served him well, will the presence of bigger and better names at his new club have a damaging affect on his fantasy exploits? We believe that this, along with competition from fellow new boys, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele, will all but ensure that Sigurdsson won’t provide the same return that he did last year. At the lofty price of £9mil, despite finishing last season valued at £5.6mil, we see little logic in opting for The Sig, especially when someone like Bale is available for £9.4mil. Steer clear.

Scott Sinclair: Sinclair’s first full season in the Premier League caught the eye of all fantasy managers. His speed and flair not only made him enjoyable to watch, but also a highly acquired fantasy pick. With his move to the Etihad this Summer, we see his outlook as significantly dimmer. With Mancini beginning to employ a 3-4-3 formation, we can’t see Sinclair playing much more than a peripheral role in Citeh’s bid for back to back titles. Mancini’s likening of him to Adam Johnson does not present favourably in our eyes ,as it intimates he’ll be contributing in a similar way. At £6.7mil he remains reasonably priced, but his lack of assured playing time makes him a no-go from us. With a high uptake of 7.2%, we anticipate a spike in the number of transfers out this gameweek as well as a significant dip in his total score this year.

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WEEK 2 PREMIER LEAGUE FANTASY REVIEW


Follow the story of an avid fantasy player through the Premier League season. Join this weekly edition for the best in tips, strategy and heartbreak. 

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Current Lineup:

Foster (Federici)

McCartney Ivanovic Walker (Hangeland Pearce)

Bale (C) Arteta Silva Ramires (Guthrie)

Graham Bent Tevez

Gameweek 2 Review:

Gameweek 2 was slightly underwhelming with a total of 44 points, but our move to pay a premium for Graham instead of Petric produced an immediate result. The second round was always going to be a round of reshuffle for Woy’s Wandering Wonderboys following our frugal approach in the opening round. We’re cashed up and looking to invest in a seller’s market full of new talent and bargain prices. Foster, Ivanovic, Tevez and Graham were the main contributors, while Silva, Ramires and Bale continued to underperform. At FFTD we’re looking for a vast improvement in our midfield, partiuclarly having missed the strong start made by new boys Hazard and Michu, as well as our long time favourite in Fellaini: http://footballfortheday.com/2012/04/26/a-tribute-to-marouane/ Fellaini continues to be deployed up front, and despite new boy Mirallas’ strong performance midweek, it’s hard to overlook the Belgian for value for money. For the second consecutive week, strong returns from 2 of our 3 strikers have kept us well in touch in our league.

Gameweek 3 Preview:

Gameweek 3 sees a potential boost to the bigger name players with City, Spurs and United all facing promising fixtures. Chelsea are obviously a side to avoid, but we prepared for that last week, and will continue to shift our exposure away from the London outfit. With a decidedly poor opening by Villa, Newcastle could provide upside momentum, with Fulham and Swansea facing winnable matchups. Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton and WBA players look slightly unattractive at current prices. Looking further forward, an international break looms on the horizon, meaning holding fire on any big transfer ploys could be the conservative ploy.

Team Composition:

At current, our composition looks solid, if unspectacular. We’re most worried about our lack of exposure to some of the most promising point-scorers, most pertinently RVP. With Rooney out for an extended period, RVP could provide value despite his astronomical price tag. Our team is steeped towards a midfield bias, which we are comfortable with. In saying that, Arteta could be on thin ice after missing at least one golden chance over the weekend and losing the free kick duties to Santi Cazorla. Over we are looking to make a straight swap in that area of our side. We still fancy Zabaleta, but are hesitant to add further defensive investment spending, while Swansea and Everton retain the best 6 game outlook in terms of fixtures. Everton, particularly, must be squarely in the radar of potential bargain hunters.

Short Term Trade:

This week’s short term trade has to be Romelu Lukaku at West Brom. The on loan Chelsea man has failed to break into the first team as yet, but with Shane Long featuring mid week, we saw this as a signal of Steve Clarke’s intent to give the big fridge from the Bridge his first home start. Lukaku was dominant in his cameo at Spurs, proving a menace to an experienced Tottenham centre-half pairing. The young starlet looks a veritable talent, with touch, strength and a dazzling turn of pace to worry the best. Lukaku’s 4 shots in 32 minutes gives him the highest ratio of any frontman in England. Additionally, the Baggies have a soft short term fixture list, so this high risk play could produce significant dividends over the medium term horizon. Hooroo.

Romelu Lukaku Chelsea West Brom

The Big Fridge from Stamford Bridge

Long Term Trade:

For the second week in a row, our long term trade is a sell option on a highly popular player. Surprisingly 22% of fantasy managers have opted for Ryan Shawcross, but with a horrific fixture list and rumours of personnel changes at the Brittania, we’d steer clear at all costs. Stoke’s midweek loss to Swindon should not be overlooked, as a full strength back line shipped 4 goals against their League One opposition. Defending is often an endeavour of confidence, as much as skill, and Stoke seem to be seriously lacking that commodity. Wigan away from home may look a potential 3 pointer for the Potters, but with Kone opening his account alongside a seemingly rejuvenated Di Santo, we can’t see a clean sheet or any return from Shawcross. As a footnote, don’t be fooled by Michael Kightly’s strong start either, as we see him fairly valued at current levels.

Tip of the Week:

An indirect beneficiary of the Rooney injury will be Shinji Kagawa, who is now assured of a consistent starting berth in the United attacking set up. Kagawa should have had a second on the weekend after clattering the woodwork and as the Japanese import settles into the English brand, his returns should only increase. At 8.6, Kagawa marks an attractive entry point to opening a United position and we’ll be considering him in earnest this weekend.

Gameweek 3 Team:

On a short term view, we’re hopeful for Gareth Bale for a second week running. We’ll be handing the armband responsibilities to Carlos Tevez, who should extend his scoring spree against a disjointed QPR side. We’ll be looking for a 20 point minimum from our skipper once again. Despite his gameweek 3 blank, we’ll be sticking with Ivanovic, as Hangeland has a favourable fixture against the Hammers, providing ample return potential as a replacement. As mentioned above, we favour Cazorla, or Kagawa over Arteta, but unfortunately, selling Ramires will leave us slightly short for capital. Further, our midfield provides something of a conundrum, stuck with a Reading replacement in Danny Guthrie. Our two options are to deploy a flat back four with Bale, Kagawa/Cazorla, and Silva sitting just in front. Secondly, we could look at exiting Darren Bent, in addition to Ramires, in a paid transfer, to free up cash for our desired midfield reshuffle. We’re a bit hesitant to add a third budget forward option, and are quietly optimistic at Bent’s future prospects. Cazorla’s higher valuation together with his tough fixture list and a stuttering Arsenal attack tips the balance towards Kagawa. Being 0.3 short, we’ll look to offload Pearce for a cheap defensive option. With Richard Dunne still absent, Nathan Baker could be our man.

Foster (Federici)

Hangeland Ivanovic Zabaleta (Baker McCartney)

Bale Arteta Silva Kagawa (Guthrie)

Petric Bent Tevez (C)

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An Alternate Pecking Order…


How it Works:

This is our attempt at ranking the sides according to their expectations with position 10 being a perfect meeting of predictions with reality, position 1 representing maximum outperformance and 20 signalling quite the opposite. For example, United and City were largely expected to compete for the title, hence they’ll be stuck mid table in our rating system, and Swansea/Norwich were expected to take their parachute payments straight back to the Championship, meaning they’ll feature towards the top.

 

#toonarrific

#toonarrific

1. Newcastle.

It’s difficult to recall the seemingly dire context that the Geordie’s season was facing from the outset. With the departure of Barton, Carroll, Enrique and Nolan (amongst others) prior to the season and the arrival of almost no one, save for unknowns such as Cabaye, many were predicting a difficult period for Mike Cashley and his boys. Further, there were murmurs of discontent around the tactical nous of Alan Pardew, who had been labelled as dour and unimaginative pointing to a season of discomfort on Tyneside. Much has been written around the Moneyball renaissance of the club having laid the blueprint for those perennially facing the malaise of mid table to step up as realistic challengers to the traditional top 4. See more around about here:

2. Norwich

I’ve revisited a feature in fourfourtwo from July 2011 that included all 10 football “experts” tipping the Canaries to face the drop. Not so. Mr Lambert has combined the three elements of a successful first season in the top flight: a goal scoring striker (Holt), Solidity at the back and Determination/Self Belief. Norwich have epitomised efficiency; beating the teams below them at home, and turning Carrow Road into a tricky encounter whether your name is RVP or Gary Caldwell.

3. Swansea

In a similar vein to Norwich, the Swans have proven that Welsh football does deserve its spot in the English top flight. Bringing a fluid style to the League, Brendan Rodgers has given supporters a refreshing change from the typically drab brand served up by some of the sides adjacent to the Welshmen on the table. As with Norwich, they’ve secured their defence first, with Ashley Williams surely developing into one of the more underrated players in the league. Next they’ve added proven creative quality all over the pitch, particularly with the mercurial Sigurdsson since January. Lastly they’ve made the Liberty into a place of respect and trepidation for visiting supporters.

4. Arsenal

The North Londoners were coming off a somewhat tumultuous summer and were facing constant taunts about their youth and lack of physicality when that 8-2 happened. The Gunners displayed a resolve that many believed they were incapable of, to turn their campaign into a success having ensconced themselves squarely into European football for next year. They’re just a decent centre back and a Wilshere away from a serious title challenge in 2013. While 4 may seem a tad high, rewind to September and you’ll recall the back pages awash with the demise of the Emirates and Mr Wenger.

5. Tottenham

While Spurs now have a veritable title contending squad on paper, their current disappointing standing should not undermine their outperformance for the majority of the season. Much maligned in recent times, the Yids have surely been distracted by off-field managerial developments, undoing the considerable progress made in the first 2 thirds of the league. With the easiest run in, the Londoners could still secure the coveted fourth position that could be crucial in retaining the spine of their carefully constructed side.

6. West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies have avoided second-season-syndrome with aplomb under the masterful guidance of Woy. They continue to operate within the tightest of budgetary constraints and have uncovered even more quality free-bees in Gareth McAuley and Billy Jones. They look to have established themselves as part of the Premier League furniture; the way it should be for a club with such a richly developed history. Improving on 11th and 47 points from last time around will be an outstanding achievment.

7. Manchester City

I’ll put the blue half of England’s footballing capital just ahead of their red counterparts, as even though several pundits predicted Tevez et al to win from the outset, actually following through, and putting the title within their own grasp with 3 fixtures remaining is another story all together. Distracting European struggles and the oft unfathomable off field antics of Super Mario and his golfing buddy in Tevez couldn’t sway Mancini from his own rights of passage. Most importantly, the Blue Moon Rising looks set to continue, with a 2013 that could see further development both on and off the pitch.

8. Manchester United

Sir Alex and his boys are tracking squarely to where we expected and slot neatly into the striker’s jersey. Disappointing cup and European adventures have marred a season that has produced results, but has been enveloped by a pervasive backwards looking bias with the continued dominance of Scholes and to a lesser extent Giggs. A major plus is the flourishing partnership between Welbeck and the hairy-again Rooney – but their season hasn’t been anything spectacular.

9. Chelsea

With an ageing squad many feared the worst, but the revelation of Mata, the obvious benefit of experience and the defiant change in fortunes under Di Matteo, has seen Chelsea finish the season in a strong manner. While missing European football would be nearly calamitous for our favourite Russian oligarch, the Blues have beaten Barcelona somewhat convincingly in Europe and could still lift the much sought after symbol of power that is the European Cup. So much relies on the final month of the playing year for this side that will surely undergo a rampant reconstruction through the summer.

10. Everton

It still bemuses to watch the Toffees struggle through January, leading to rumblings about the Moyes’ use by date and the shoestring budget, before predictably embarking on their customary second half run that includes big team scalps and persistently positive results. Lower-top half with a decent cup run is getting a little predictable and if marked improvements aren’t forthcoming over the next 2 seasons, the Blues will begin the slide downwards. This is not a league for standing still.

11. Sunderland

The Wearsiders have made progress under O’Neill but have somewhat failed to capitalise on their outstanding vein of form over the festive period and sit in a disappointing lower half position. Not too much to report here – bang on average for me.

12. Fulham

Fulham could easily be lower, but expectations of a realistic European push should be tempered with the addition of a new manager and an array of fresh faces gracing Craven Cottage. In promising signs for the future, many of their signings have shown enough to suggest an optimistic outlook. The continued development of Dembele into a proven talent (should progress to Ben Arfa next year), Dempsey into a genuine top-liner (should progress to Arteta next year) and Pogrebnyak into a prolific sharp-shooter (should progress into Ba/Cisse next year) could spell a strong challenge in 2013 from the noisy neighbours from London.

13. Wigan

In Roberto Martinez, Wigan has one of the finest young managers in football and their apparent survival for another season can be largely attested to the gaffer and his swelling reputation in the game. On paper the worst squad in the league, Wigan haven’t really progressed, nor digressed through 2011/12 and could find themselves feeling a form of final day deja vu.

14. QPR

The Premier League new boys were expected to be the strongest of the sides coming up, but for much of the season the R’s have struggled to build any form of momentum. In saying that, their best run has developed at the pointy end and Mark Hughes is using every reserve of his managerial experience to build a case for 2013 in the top division. With serious financial investments being made, it is disappointing to see the side still scrapping for survival, but in the end, 17th and up will be acceptable.

15. Bolton

Bolton’s primary objective from the outset will always be 40 points as quickly as possible and a team of their calibre should not be struggling as they are. Bolton have been entrenched in the relegation doldrums for more than 50% of the footballing year and if they return to the first division, it will be due to inept off-field dealings that saw the departure of Elmander and Sturridge without replacements – leaving an attack devoid of quality in Klasnic, N’gog and Kakuta. Could easily be lower than 15th.

16. Stoke

The Potters invested heavily with a number of seemingly astute purchases of proven top-flight quality. Tony Pulis’ fantastical ride may be grinding to a halt, however, with a year of taking steps firmly in the wrong direction. Europe was simply too much to ask for a seemingly ageing and threadbare squad. Their no-frills and, more than occasionally, dour style has lead to more detractors than supporters, as the likes of Swansea have shown it is possible to survive without wasting on average 13.8% of your games on Rory Delap’s arms. Distinctly below average.

17. Blackburn

When it emerged that Steve Kean’s new employers were unaware of the possibility of relegation, the tone was set for an overwhelmingly forgettable campaign for all those involved. There have been few protagonists from this sorry saga to emerge with any flicker of credibility, maybe Hoilett and Yakubu are the only ones, and while still undecided, relegation seems deserved for this season of underperformance.

18. Aston Villa

Villa were a difficult team to place. Almost everyone questioned the arrival of the Big Eck to the Midlands, but I’m sure few could sincerely predict the woeful events that have followed. Watching the Villians is a truly difficult thing at current, with consistent fan discontent from the terraces juxtaposed with a non-existant goal threat on the pitch. Villa Park has become the worst place for football and is a crude characterisation of everything that is wrong and outdated with the English game. Too many quality departures over recent years.

19. Liverpool

So much has been written that any expansive comment feels unnecessary. In a year that produced such rampant, flagrant spending and such inept on field performances only Liverpool and their continued arrogance could ensure they dominate footballing rhetoric. Welcome to mid table anonymity Mr Dogleish.

20. Wolves

In the end, it wasn’t third time lucky with the West Midlander’s challenge whimpering into submission with the shambolic Terry Connor at the helm. Wolves were devoid of creativity up front, apart from the sometimes dangerous Fletcher, and were woeful at the back with summer signing and captain Roger Johnson becoming the home fan’s boo boy early on in the piece. With stadium expansions well underway, the club could face serious financial struggles over the next 5 years.

So there we have it:

Newcastle, Norwich, Swansea, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Brom take the European places with a season of outperformance. City, United, Chelsea, Everton, Sunderland, Fulham and Wigan are aligned with pre-season hypotheses. QPR, Bolton, Stoke, Blackburn, Villa, Liverpool and Wolves end a diffcult season.

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A Tribute to Marouane…


Mr Fellaini

Mr Fellaini

YEEHHHHH!!!! If Everton aren’t your new second team then step right up onto the bandwagon and join our merry forray as we celebrate a title race in earnest. AT LAST! Indeed, we could sharpen our focus onto Fellaini’s fuzzy frock that seemed to give the impetus for a transcendental performance of epic proportions. The Belgian provided the best display from a box to box midfielder that I can care to remember and has afforded pundits from all points of the Earth a Monday night/Tuesday morning to relish. Thanking you.

No longer do we have to feign interest in the scramble for 4th, or the glamour of the scrap between teams like Bolton, Blackburn and Villa to put themselves through another season of abject disappointment in the top flight.

I love you Marouane

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The 0-6 Predicament: A thing of Pure Beauty


The supporters of Wigan, Blackburn or West Bromwich Albion understand the searing pangs of incompetency that they face at least 10 times a year, when their sides are drawn against the remodelled top 5. Away at Man City for a team like Wolves can give serious impetus for such a fan to abandon their halfway tickets and choose the theatre with the missus. Away at Old Trafford is an unspeakable; too appalling to comprehend.

So what does an away trip to The Library, or Emirates as it’s more affectionately referred to, mean to a club battling for its television revenue in 2012?

The diversity of revenues and spending predicates the most nauseating of images for those fans that follow the proverbial beggars of English Premier League football. And it is this diversity that can lead to a trip to United becoming an envy-filled 90 minute ogle at the rich merchants of our town; where diatribes will bemoan Nani, Rooney, Vidic sitting on their racing-car-seat viewpoints. But, undoubtedly, the most dissatisfying feature of this whole painstaking ordeal is the petulant arrogance of the opposition fans who belittle, as if their choice of stock gives them privilege over you (you = Neanderthal preferring self-deprivation and perennial unfulfillment them = accustomed to victory and other unimaginable glories).

When your side is worth around 0.84% (West Brom vs Man City) of the opposing squad’s historical book values, it is certainly difficult to feel anything but abject despair, but nevertheless, the human psyche seems to demand a certain optimism. This cruel disposition is the result of the transient nature of the sport itself; for football is surely the one sport in which an upset is more commonplace than most (the rarity of goals ensures this fact). And indeed, this unfledgling positivity, or should I saw fantastical musings, is to some degree warranted by historical performances. It was points against the supposed top 5 that invariably kept a number of clubs afloat last season – most notably Wolves who beat City, Liverpool, Chelsea and United in a simply unbelievable turn of events. Under this milieu, the dream of Grant Holt’s thunderbolt from closer to the circle develops; nay flourishes.

While a match up such as Gareth McAuley vs Sergio Aguero is simply terrifying for any self-respecting Baggie, it surely would be a thing of great savour for the Irishman. For him, and his playing mates, the pressure is largely off. It is one of the few occasions all year where a 3-0 loss could be met with shrugs and despondency from supporters, rather than rage or ridicule on any other Saturday afternoon. Further, with weights of expectations amounting to a paltry feather, what better chance to upstage the young Argentinian with a grumbling studs up boot crusher, or a neat flick of the elbow when rising for a clearance. The risks really are skewed to the upside.

For the gaffer, the prospects are slightly less perfect. Looming camera, radio and print media interviews must be at the forefront of his balding head. Placid dismissal of the result as unimportant, or good experience, could be met with the perpetual lambasting from supporters that the side is unambitious, while an honest appraisal (“they were simply better”) is never a welcome soother for those same fans. For him, the downside is not as negligible, but even the Neil Warnocks or Brendan Rodgers of our universe can appreciate that the scales of expectation are well in their favour.

For the less perceptive of you, playing the biggest teams on the biggest stage is simply the best – for everyone. A cathartic experience for some, a chance to let your wildest fantasies develop, a chance to herald an arrival, or simply a chance to prove to your girlfriend in Sydney that your team actually exists. There really is nothing like an underdog grasping to a 1-0 lead in the 89th minute with all 11 players flooding back to thwart F Lampard et al. A sort of ironic admittance of inferiority that makes the whole sugar-coated predicament all the more delectable. And devouring this satisfying meal is more than enough fuel to last at least a season of drubbings from the burgeoning class of foreign-owned English beneficiaries.

These are the days that fans relish most. Where a loss won’t ruin their evening plans or squander their job performance throughout the “days off football” each week. (Sunday to Friday).  While a loss against Bolton midweek could conspire to make living itself a task of extreme difficulty until the next match day. Watching your team defend a lead against Liverpool, where you would have snatched at a point 2 hours ago, is simply incomparable to defending a lead against Blackburn when Formica has space down the right…(even this example is making me uncomfortably shift in my chair).

There is only one scenario where Arsenal (A) breathes a sort of terror into any fan’s perusal of the fixture list. For everyone knows that the last game of the season, where invariably you’ll need points to survive as a newly promoted nobody, is not a time for a team in the big four, top 5, super 6 or even fantastic 15. Give me 20th on the final day every year; please and thank you. But otherwise, give me top of the league each week!

PS: If you don’t believe me and need further proof, see Wolves fans’ reactions when they lost to West Brom. QED.

PPS: Any Spurs fan that thinks it’s a top 6 – fuck off and come back when you’ve won something. QED.


		
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