What started as a drunken idea in a bar has morphed into this - a fantasy football podcast from me and my mates. The goal: make an interesting and entertaining fantasy podcast that might help you do alright, but hopefully not as well as me. We've heard what's out there, and we reckon we might be able to do just as well as those other duffers, maybe even better.

There's also some FC Tokyo stuff on here, but I now blog on all things Gasmen at On the Gas (click on link below).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Sorry State of FC Tokyo

Four days, that's long enough isn't it? Surely it is. Surely it's enough time for the rage and contempt I felt towards the players, and manager, of FC Tokyo as I left Ajinomoto Stadium on Saturday night to have died down enough to consider our position rationally? Well, my throat has calmed down after a hearty booing session, but it doesn't change the situation, that, whichever way you look at it, we are up shit creek without a paddle in a world of trouble, and the way we are going, the dreaded "r" word will rear it's ugly head very soon.

There have been worse results this season than the 2-0 home loss to Hiroshima last Saturday (the previous Wednesday's dismantling by Cerezo Osaka, for example), but the complete lack of system, of ideas, of any awareness of an opponent's tactics and a plan to counter them, made that evening at Aji Sta the most frustrating and infuriating of the four years I have been regularly attending home games. The hostility of the home end as the players plodded around on their lap of "honour" will hopefully still be ringing in the players' and manager's ears, because something needs to change, and sharpish.

The simple reality of our situation is that, after 20 games, we sit 14th, winless in our last nine league games, having been in the bottom half of the table since the eighth week of the season. Another loss this Saturday night in Kobe, coupled with a Sendai win over Shonan (likely, considering how utterly shite poor Shonan are), will see us drop to 16th, and that, my friends, is in the RELEGATION ZONE - there you go, didn't take that long at all for the "r" word to appear....

So where did it all go wrong? We were the team on the up, coming off 6th ('08)and 5th-placed ('09) finishes the past two seasons, and basking in the glory of that sunny Tuesday last November when we played Kawasuckisaki off the park in the Nabisco Cup Final. Well, our home form is one massive reason we are where we are - we've not won at Aji Sta (or Kokuritsu) in the league since the first weekend of March, when everything was rosy after our opening day 1-0 win over Yokohama. Seven consecutive home draws followed, before the gutting 93rd minute loss to Nagoya, and the abject display last weekend against Hiroshima. Ironically, the two heroes of the week one victory over Yokohama, Naohiro Ishikawa and Sota Hirayama, have been two of our biggest under-performers since, but there are plenty more in the same boat.

The home draws, even though there have been some decent-to-good performances amongst them (the 1-1 against the champions, Kashima, and the 2-2 with Shimizu in the last game before the World Cup), I believe, show the lack of tactical awareness of the manager, Hiroshi Jofuku, who has simply failed to come up with a system to counter the defensive approach of teams who come to our place and set up to stifle us. Quite simply, teams have worked us out, and know that if we are denied space, there's little invention or creativity in our midfield and forward line. Last season, it was just give it to Ishikawa and watch him go, but he's not the same player since his injury, and now all Jofuku seems to be able to come up with is having the wingers switch sides every now and then (he even tried it with the full backs on Saturday!). Don't get me started on players out of position, but how about adapting formation to whats put out in front of us - case in point: why not counter Hiroshima's 4-5-1 from Saturday with wingbacks in a 3-5-2 (since he's trying to turn Hokuto Nakamura and Toshihiro Matsushita, who both came to us as wingers, into full-backs anyway)?

I'm sure most (almost all?) Tokyo fans believe we're too good to go down, and that our squad has too much quality to see us relegated, but its up to the manager now to pick players in their right positions and think on his feet more during games. I don't believe it's a stubborness in Jofuku, and there have definitely been mitigating circumstances: Takuji Yonemoto's serious knee injury in pre-season, and Yuto Nagatomo leaving on loan after the World Cup; but he needs to show more adaptability and raise his players for what lies ahead, or we'll be off to Gifu and Kita-Kyushu, amongst other J2 stops next year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Higashi Rinkan FC Week 2

It's half time of the late Saturday game, and here's the look inside my team selection for this, the second week of the fantasy season...
Well I got very lucky last weekend with Drog's hat-trick, which helped me sit in third spot after Week 1, on 62 points, after I had gone to bed on the Saturday night thinking I would be lucky to break 30 points for the week. Those 62 came despite an assist rudely (but correctly) being taken off Essien, and nothing to speak of from my Stoke keeper and defender combo, Stevie, Arteta, Petrov, Defoe and Boselli. So basically, without Drog I would've been royally fecked.

For Week 2, I did give some consideration to bringing in Stephen Ireland, as he could fit in very nicely at Villa, and obviously I would've loved to have either Fibreglass or my personal role-model Robin the *%&$#> in, with the Arse home to Blackpool, but with doubts over their fitness I stuck with Stevie ahead of The Future of Barcelona(TM), and turned to Darren Bent (who ended up doing sweet f#ck all tonight) to replace the injured Defoe.

There was also a formation change, as I fancied Brum to get a clean sheet at home to Blackburn (didn't happen) so put Dann in ahead of Boselli, who dropped in value this week for some daft reason - can't imagine there would've been that many people who had him in in the first place for transfers out to make much of a difference.

I did think hard about using one or both of my Newcastle subs in the XI, but I'm not quite ready to put my trust in them just yet.

Higashi Rinkan FC (4-4-2)
                                           1: Sorensen
2: Evans J                3: Dann                 4: Alex                  5: Shawcross
6: Arteta                  7: Essien                8: Gerrard            9: Petrov
                            10: Bent                        11: Drogba (C)

12: Mignolet
13: Routledge
14: Perch
15: Boselli

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Higashi Rinkan FC Week 1

Well here I am starting this at halftime of the 3pm (UK time) games on the opening day of the new Fantasy Premier League season. Just thought I'd go through my team and explain some of the reasons for selecting the players I did - even though so far things couldn't have gone much worse!

I decided the way I've done things in the past couple of seasons had to change, finishing god-knows-where in 08/09 and seventh last season meant that it WAS broke, so I had to fix it. So as much as I love Pepe Reina, I plumped for Sorensen as my keeper, and had to have a Stoke DF in, so that naturally is/was Shawcross (they're 2-0 down at Wolves at HT, and I've just been sick in my mouth). The other big call in defence, and this was the hardest of all the decisions I made, was putting a Scumchester United player in, after a FULL SEASON of none of that shite. With Wio crocked that had to be Evans. Alex is an injury doubt for Chel$ki, but with Carvalho out of the picture, I was happy to take the risk.

In midfield the dilemma was Fat Frank. I don't like him one bit, but he's one of the top three players of the modern fantasy era without question (sure, I'll tell you, the other two are Henry and Gayboy), and he was in my team for most of the pre-season. All it took was Stevie G's two goals for England in midweek, though, and the fat man was kicked to the kerb, and S.G. MBE was in. I wanted a Chel$ki MF to replace fatty, and for the price Essien is (as noted by L.M.S. Champion The Monsieur in Podcast Episode 1) he could be the value buy of the season. Arteta is Arteta and picks himself when fit (still gets no respect - 8.5 mil?!), and Martin Petrov is my out-of-left-field choice, hoping he will be rejuvenated by his move to Bolton.

Up-front, Drogba is in and my Captain for Week 1, Defoe got the nod over Bent (who of course scored in the first half) and Boselli from Wigan is my bolter.

Higashi Rinkan FC (3-4-3)
                                        Sorensen 5.0
           Evans J 5.5            Alex 6.0               Shawcross 5.0
Arteta 8.5               Essien 7.0           Gerrard 11.5             Petrov 6.0
           Defoe 9.0               Drogba (C) 12.5         Boselli 6.0

Subs: Mignolet 4.0
Dann 4.5
Perch 4.0
Routledge 4.5

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A brief history of the L.M.S.

The summer of 2001 was a heady time in Japan, Junichiro Koizumi was a few months into his first term as Prime Minister, Kashima were on the way to their fourth J. League title and it was also the time when an irritable Australian and an affable Welshman, co-workers and toto tragics, decided to go in on a fantasy football league. They didn't know it at the time, but in creating the Last Man Standing, they were to change forever the lives of all those brave young men who would join as members over the years.

That first season, 2001/02, will forever be regarded as the * (asterix) season by some, as the two founding fathers were the only competitors, and the young tyro from the land of red-back spiders and Vegemite soundly defeated the man from the land of (insert whatever Wales is famous for at a later date....nah, still can't think of anything).

In the 2002/03 season, though, the Welshie would have his revenge, and with the number of managers swelling to 10, there was a decent financial reward for his success, as well as a raggedy Detroit Red Wings notepad presented as inaugural Head-to-Head winners.

Word had quickly spread throughout the male, football-loving, English-teaching community in central Kanagawa (admittedly, a small demographic) of this demanding, competitive league, and with enough prospective managers knocking on the door, the next season, 03/04, saw the L.M.S. expand again, to 20 teams, and also saw the introduction of The L.M.S. Cup. That was the season a young Yorkshireman took all before him, and with the number of teams capped at 20, managers looking on from the outside had to wait for someone to wuss out a team to go into administration before they could have a shot at glory. One man took his chance by the bollocks, and the league by storm, in 04/05, and became the first Geordie manager in league history and first Geordie champion in the same season.

For the next three seasons the traditional powers returned to prominence, with two league titles for the angry Aussie sandwiched around another for the wily Welshman, but then in 08/09 a canny Scot made the breakthrough he had been threatening (often verbally) for several seasons and took his first title.

Finally, in May 2010, a haddock fisherman from Grimsby became the 09/10 L.M.S. Champion, the sixth manager to win the ultimate prize in football. Nine seasons have passed under the bridge and 10 managers have come and gone, but, without question, the 20 that remain for the upcoming 2010/2011 Last Man Standing season are the absolute cream of the crop.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LMS Fantasy Podcast Episode 1

As an absolute numpty when it comes to anything techy, its taken me a while to sort out how to get Episode 1 on here, but I think I've finally sorted it! Not sure if you'll be able to download it, but you can listen to the podcast via the link below, or click on the Podcast Logo to the right to take you to the website where its hosted.

It's a decent listen, 45 minutes, and we cover a few important things to consider before the season starts this weekend. And yeah, I made a mistake when we talk about the new own-goal rule, should've been Frank, not Trevor. You'll know what I mean.

So then, without any further ado, here it is, recorded last Friday, August 6, featuring reigning L.M.S. Champion Mathew, and the newest L.M.S. manager, Pete. Enjoy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Away we go then....

Well, everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd start this here blog. Originally, it's purpose was to simply host the Fantasy Football Podcast that Monsiuer Morris convinced me to start (I'm still working on how to get the first episode we recorded August 6th online and on here!), but seeing as though I'm a passionate Liverpool fan and a frustrated season ticket holder at FC Tokyo, I'll be posting about them as well.

I've lived in Japan for the last 10 and a half years, and in 2001 I started a Fantasy Football League, the Last Man Standing, which is into, starting this weekend, its 10th season. Its a 20-team league with most managers living in Japan, but others in Australia, England and Wales. We were ground-breakers in having a seperate Head-to-Head competition and Cup long before the official Fantasy Premier League game introduced them.

So, the Podcast then: we've sat around on many a Friday night, few beers, general chit-chat, but ultimately, the conversation always turns to football, and in particular, fantasy football. You know how it goes: how many changes this week?; who's ya captain?; ah I wish I'd put so-and-so in me team; etc etc, and when The Pride of Grimsby(TM), Mathew the Monsiuer, suggested we make a podcast of conversations like that I thought he was bonkers, but he chipped away and turned me round on the idea.

So that's what we'll try and do, recreate those Friday nights down at TGIs. A few beers and fantasy football chat and opinions - thats what you'll get. Actually, no, you'll only get beer if you choose to have one while listening. We don't claim to be geniuses, and probably won't be giving away too many secrets (we are in a competitive league, after all!) but hopefully our Podcast will inform and entertain.

There you go, then. Play on.........