The Week Ahead - Manchester Derby Edition

Funny, I've only made the commitment to tweeting in the last 24 hours but already I feel more connected to people.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I gained a lot of Twitter followers (and thank you to everyone who decided to follow me @nealjthurman) while I was sleeping last night while our Facebook following has slowed to a small steady growth.  Don't get me wrong, steady growth toward 3000 "Likes" is great but tripling your number of followers FEELS like a more significant accomplishment even if the number isn't that impressive.  In any event, for those who haven't embraced the Twitter, you should give it a try.

Moving in a completely non-sequential manner, I have two follow-up thoughts to the Deloitte Money Table posts from yesterday.  The first is that those leaving comments related to profitability are correct.  Revenue is only a part of the equation.  I'm guessing that part of the issue for Deloitte is that due to varying ownership structures and the sporadic availability of "bottom line" data I'd guess that a real accounting of profitability of all clubs would be more difficult than just compiling revenue figures.  I may be wrong but it certainly seems that way.  The public companies must of course disclose their profitability but I'm not sure there's any obligation for the Glazers or Abramovic or any other private group to disclose their profits.  Revenues are easier to get at since most of those figures are available from other sources if the clubs don't cooperate.  In any event, I'd enjoy the opportunity to get profitability numbers as well (although there's little doubt who would sit atop that table).

My second thought is an ironic one.  The lagging reputations of German clubs, especially vs. the big Italian clubs.  Germany has more people, a much stronger economy, and I'm not aware that they support a culture of corruption and match-fixing.  That said, outside of Bayern Munich, you'd be hard-pressed to guess which German club might finish second in revenue in a given season and the movement - two clubs out of the Top 20 and two new ones in - seem to indicate that there is little consistency.  The Deloitte report mentions that the pay TV market in Germany isn't terribly mature compared to the other countries.  That said, despite knowing a LOT of soccer fanatics, I can't think of anyone who isn't German who really spends much time thinking about German clubs outside of perhaps a big Champions League match.  German clubs rarely compete financially for huge names.  When people mention the best leagues in the world, they inevitably mention England, Spain, and Italy in some order.

Is it the weather? Is it still residual bitterness/dislike from the World Wars? Is it that the Germans, despite their aggressive tendencies in the first half of the 1900s, didn't leave behind a legacy of German-speaking countries around the world that are obvious targets for expansion?

I'm particularly interested in the comparison between the popularity of German and Italian clubs.  I think we can all understand that England and Spain have logical advantages stemming from the large English and Spanish-speaking populations around the world.  With that head start, they have been able to afford better players and the relative popularity of those leagues has grown.  Why I don't understand the gap between Germany and Italy is that it isn't like there's a great imbalance between non-natives elsewhere in the world who speak one language or the other.  Both national teams are extremely successful.  Both national teams play an uncompromising style that neutrals are likely to call "technical" or "effective" rather than "stylish".  Is it that the Germans are more conservative with their money and more cautious about taking the risks that would improve their revenue streams abroad?

In any event, those are the thoughts I had once I moved beyond the summary articles I linked on the blog yesterday and actually read the full report.  I hope you enjoyed that.  If not, I promise that there won't be any additional economic analysis in the immediate term unless someone has a great insight in the comments section or I'm asked a question I feel like I have a useful and interesting answer for. 

We now return you to your previously scheduled fantasy analysis:

Where we separate the matches that will provide fantasy managers real advantage from the ones that LOOK like they'll provide advantage from the ones that are very unlikely to provide it at all. NOTE: In a match week where there are many (8) teams with double matches, we'll list teams individually rather than calling out specific match-ups.  The latter would be really complicated.

Real Advantage
  • WBA - Granted they haven't been playing terribly well but they're home against two teams that have been even worse over the course of the season.  The only worry is that both Wolves and WHU have more recent momentum than the Baggies.
  • Arsenal - Great news that the Djourou injury isn't a bad one.  Yes, he'll still likely only get one match of the two but with both matches at home to mid-table-at-best opposition, Arsenal should be fertile ground for managers.  The only risks will be the rotation with Barca coming up.
  • Blackpool - They seem to have played about 100 home matches in a row but this match week features two more.  I'd be concerned about the defenders and goalkeeper because they leak goals but the attackers should be interesting.
  • Birmingham - Two home matches with beatable opposition.  The quandary is that Birmingham are 16th for a reason so don't get TOO excited and put all your eggs in this basket. 
False Hope
  • Newcastle - I'm sure there will be a lot of people who got on the bandwagon on the heels of the big comeback and then noted that NUFC play two matches against opponents who don't exactly scare the pants off anyone.  Just note that they've only scored multiple goals on their travels once this season (against WHU at the deepest depth of their incompetence) and one of their two scorers that day (Carroll) is no longer with the club and hasn't been adequately replaced.  Looks like a trap to me kids.
  • Stoke - 10 points and 12 goals from 12 away matches and both of them are away this match week - not saying they'll lose both but you can hardly expect them to be exceptional.
  • Wolves - 4 away points all season and both are away including Arsenal - 'nuff said (sorry Chris)
Not Sure
  • Spurs - So many factors here - injury uncertainty with Bale and VDV, prioritization uncertainty with the AC Milan match coming up, spotty recent form, two away matches.  Still, this is a top five team and the opposition @SUN and @BPL isn't frightening.  Sorry to do this to you but I'm going to leave a very tough call up to your gut.  I got nothing here. 
  • RvP - Yes, the price is pretty high but with the double week the price looks a lot better.  Yes, as I mentioned above there is the risk that he gets rotated on one side or the other of the Barca match but I'd imagine he at least gets 120 minutes. 
  • Odemwingie - The price has gone down a bit and the match-ups with strugglers at home are more than you can really pass up.  Hard to say "no" here.
  • Martins - Obafemi! Obafemi! Obafemi! Just fun to say it and with two home matches and a low, low (re)introductory price he's a solid bet if you're buying at retail.
  • Carew - I like him more on the BD at 1.97 but even at 5.36 he doesn't need to do much to justify his price and we all know how Arsenal are against target strikers on teams that can get the ball into the box (see Eth and Pennant).
  • Defoe - I'm not sure why but someone is going to score for Spurs and you get the feeling one of those crazy multi-goal matches out of nowhere is coming soon.  I can't guarantee this is the match week but it certainly seems like it might be and if it is, I'd guess it'll be the Blackpool match.
  • Adam - See RvP - certainly better if you have him at a discount but worth it at retail.  The only worry is that he's one YC away from an automatic suspension (hat tip Nik).  That aside he's THE guy to have.
  • BFDB - Solid price, two home matches, phantom point machine with a big target striker for him to aim at - how can you argue with that?
  • Cesc - He hasn't been on the strongest roll ever but he's the safest bet to produce in the ARS midfield.
  • Wilshere - The cheap answer in the ARS midfield if you can't afford Adam, Cesc, RvP, and Odemwingie with the rest of your squad.
  • Brunt - Don't love the price/recent production ratio but he's still a great bet given the match-ups.
  • Gardner - Takes PKs and he's been having a quietly great fantasy season.
  • Koscielny - Not a GREAT bet but a solid bet for the money.
  • Jiranek - Like Koscielny, I don't love the pick but the math works.
  • Enrique - A bit out of left field since I'm not thrilled with NUFC's double but it's hard to like BPL or WBA defenders given their tendency to ship goals by the bunch.
  • Jara - If you must but I don't advise it.
  • Stick It Out - Kolarov, Kelly, Coleman (or whomever you have at a really good discount).
  • Szczesny - The hope is that Song and Djourou will be back for both which would be huge.
  • Foster - A bit expensive but a solid bet.
  • Begovic - Just a good keeper and when there isn't great value elsewhere, sometimes that (and a double match) is enough.
  • Myhill - Has to be mentioned but I'd only do it as a last resort if you need a cheap option to make moves you really believe in elsewhere in your line-up.


  1. First! Question on Facebook - not sure which of these you answer faster :)

  2. G-man8:19 PM

    I'm also thinking WBA's Shorey could be a nice cheap gamble, and have a gut feel that it will be K. Jones, not Carew, as the big target man doing the works for Stoke next two games

  3. scole118:26 PM

    Any thoughts on keeping this week's single gamers with discounts at this point in the season? I'm talking about the large discounts of 5+ some of us have on VdV, Nani, and Kolarov. I think it's worth holding, especially in the case of Nani who has a double next gameweek.

  4. @scole11 - I'm keeping Kelly, Kolarov, Nani and VDV at large discounts. I'm getting to the point in the season where a discount has to be pretty heavy for me to be swayed though. My standard is a little lower with defenders because there are so few strong options that are affordable. Hope that helps.

  5. Anonymous11:09 PM

    I have 10 DG's this week, with keeping only Kolorov as a single gamer.
    I'm BIG on the BG's, BUT this week, I don't think it's THAT important because of rotations....sure a mid of Walcott and Cesc might be good, but They might only get 1 game a piece, who knows...

  6. Anonymous11:19 PM

    what us the facebook page called???

  7. Birty1:52 AM

    German football isn't run for profit like the other leagues. Every club has a 51% fan ownership so the money grabbing antics of the premiership's clubs. They're not chasing the almighty dollar and are more interested in being part of the local community then that's probably why they aren't on the list.

  8. Anonymous3:24 AM

    No mentioned of Walcott, Neal?

    I'm torn between these three: Walcott (12.77), Barton (11.08), Odemwingie (retail). Can only pick two of the three. Who'd you suggest?

    -Bombay Blues

  9. Dave29:13 AM

    O'Hara could be a decent low-cost option if you need a MF "filler" in the low range. He took his share of FKs last game and has a good YFF pedigree. Yes, he was subbed on 65 mins, but looks set to start again.

  10. Anonymous10:55 AM

    I got Saha at a fair bargain price, do u think he's worth keeping? or should I trade with fwds that plays twice?

  11. Dead Leg United11:11 AM

    Have to start thinking about Zigic again for the first time since the beginning of the season. It's not a coincidence that he's scored two games in a row now that he has proper service in the form od BFDB...

  12. Anonymous1:22 PM

    What do you guys think about Andy Carroll, is he worth holding on to for the rest of the season assuming that he comes back sometime soon? I'm thinking of going with Nasri when he comes back.

  13. @adyady2 - Saha is injured and out for some time. Get rid of him.

    @Anonymous - same with Carroll - ditch him until he's back and playing.

    You can get to the FB page via the FB widget (top right of the page)

  14. I heard some interesting analysis on the football experience on BBC's World Football Phone In (if you have never listened then check the podcast out, most interesting football analysis around).

    One point made was that German fans outright refuse to pay high ticket costs, limiting stadium revenue. Fan power is a lot more important in German football, which may partially account for the effect mentioned above.

  15. jambulani11:03 PM

    fab4/jara or bentley/sagna or walcott/jara