Dead Parrot – Winner of Telegraph Fantasy Football 2016/17

Long-time fiso member, Graham Dolan, finished 1st overall in TFF during the 2016/17 season. Here is his winning team story as told on fiso’s forum but you can also read his report on the Telegraph website.

Dead Parrot’s story of his winning team:
Starting XI (5-3-2)
GK – Stekelenburg (Everton)
DEF – Coleman (Everton)
DEF – Baines (Everton)
DEF – Williams (Everton)
DEF – Francis (Bournemouth)
DEF – Cook (Bournemouth)
MID – de Bruyne (Man City)
MID – Hazard (Chelsea)
MID – Sanchez (Arsenal)
STR – Aguero (Man City)
STR – Ibrahimovic (Man Utd

A simple formula to start the season. I picked the biggest front five. Proved and reliable high scorers, though Ibrahimovic was new to the EPL there was little doubt that he would score plenty of goals with Manchester United.

Obviously those five were expensive but the returns were highly likely to justify it and no risky choices.

The budget then required bargain defenders. Everton conveniently combined a better than average defence with relatively cheap options who also had a good goal threat. Bournemouth were extra cheap so filled the gaps nicely and had an unknown potential that could be a bonus.

That remained the basic team then until Christmas barring a few transfers for injuries, notably to Coleman and (from memory) to Aguero but went into the new year having used only four transfers. This proved to be important as the transfers in hand made a big difference in the spring.

Now it was time for a bit of good luck (actually a lot of good luck).

Everton had started well defensively but were beginning to creak. Tottenham were emerging as a surprise top team and Chelsea were running away with the league. So now for a big review of the team. In early spring I made drastic changes bringing in a complete Spurs defence plus Alli and Kane with Son flitting in and out. (Usually out after good scores and in again before lean periods!) The Chelsea boat had been missed so little point in taking that route now. (Had gone heavily Chelsea in a few alternative teams)

That turned out to be the key to a successful season. No great insight but plenty of lucky timing as Tottenham proceeded to provide loads of clean sheets and goals which propelled the team rapidly up TFF.

And so to the final weeks. I had amazingly hit the top so needed to be careful with transfers to stay there. The movements of other teams at the top implied one or two Spurs heavy teams but still mostly Chelsea defences. So I gradually shifted the balance of the team to hedge against Chelsea doing too well in upcoming easy fixtures. This was almost my downfall as I also removed Kane near the end because fixtures didn’t look promising for him and I thought I needed to afford Chelsea defenders.

Unfortunately Kane then remarkably scored about seven goals in two away games which drastically reduced my lead at the top and going into the cup final was only seven points ahead. The ominously rising team in second place had Kane!

Had he got any transfers left? I had none having squandered them in a profligate few weeks trying to gain those extra few points, so could do nothing to change anything now. If the challenger had a transfer remaining he would surely swop Kane for Costa. I was sure he had one more Chelsea defender/goalkeeper than me, and possibly an Arsenal defender.

Final XI (4-5-1)
GK – Lloris (Tottenham)
DEF – Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
DEF – Cahill (Chelsea)
DEF – Holgate (Everton)
DEF – Alonso (Chelsea)
MID – de Bruyne (Man City)
MID – Hazard (Chelsea)
MID – Alli (Tottenham)
MID – Sanchez (Arsenal)
MID – Sane (Man City)
STR – Jesus (Man City)

The first half of the cup final went well. Arsenal unexpectedly scored so critically no big Chelsea defence points available. Then, inevitably, Costa scored which probably doomed me to second place. Quite possibly on goal difference (scored – not good for my team) as he would have seven points, cancelling the margin.

It had been good while it lasted…….or so I assumed until belatedly discovering the truth that I didn’t finish second after all but 1st!