Quick Reminder, Real Life
This was the season when all of the money invested started to pay off in a big way. Lots of shiny new objects came into the squad with the corresponding spare parts mostly going out on loan. Some of them fit - Yaya Toure, David Silva - while some of them didn’t - Jerome Boateng - and the jury is still out on others - Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, and Aleksander Kolarov. Still, at the end of the day, the money produced results in the form of an FA Cup trophy and an invitation to Europe’s biggest dance, the Champions League, for the upcoming season. Can’t really argue with that... unless you are turned off by teams just buying big names like the real world were just a big game of fantasy football.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
Given their results on the pitch, you’d think that there would be more fantasy success around this group but that’s just not the way it turned out. The size of the squad and the frequent rotation between very good and pretty good players kept fantasy output low. The unquestioned fantasy studs were Joe Hart and Carlos Tevez with Kompany and Kolarov putting up solid numbers as well. Beyond that, players like YToure and Silva were much more productive on the real pitch than the virtual one.
- Switching Argentines - For all of Tevez’s excellence on the pitch, he can’t quite seem to get comfortable off of it. I don’t know if he is really that much of a family man or if it’s just an excuse to agitate for more money but he seems intent on leaving with Inter (not really any closer to Buenos Aires) the likely destination. Regardless, his replacement has already arrived in the form of one Sergio “Kun” Aguero who looks likely to light up the league with a little less drive but a lot more skill and technique than his countryman.
- Another ex-Gooner - To mimic the great Bill Simmons, when you can continue to overpay for over-rated players who one of your close rivals never complains about letting go you’ve gotta do it, right? Does anyone remember Wenger complaining bitterly about potentially losing Kolo, K2, or Clichy? I haven’t.
- That Other Guy - With Jerome Boateng headed immediately back to Germany having made almost no impact, Citeh have brought in Stefan Savic from Partizan Belgrade as a replacement. The 20 year-old Montenegran has represented his country at all youth levels and has recently broken into the senior team. He seems unlikely to start over the Richards/Zabaleta/Boyata/Onuoha bunch but he should offer cover at RB and CB (maybe pushing Lescott?) as well as promise for the future.
2011-12 Outlook, Real Life
On paper, there’s a ton of talent here and we saw last season that it can fit together at least reasonably well. With Chelsea seemingly in a bit of a holding pattern if not slipping back ever-so-slightly as their core ages, you have to think City are primed to make a serious challenge for the second spot and could even make a serious run at the top spot if a second year together for most of these players helps them become more than the sum of their very talented parts. If Kun at least reasonably approximates Tevez’s production without the constant whining about not wanting to be in Manchester then second place seems like the lower limit of their ambitions.
Probable Starting XI
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, de Jong, Toure (Y), Silva, Milner, Dzeko, Aguero
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - Hart is really the only player here who has proven to be worth a high price. Tevez is technically still on the roster as of this writing but I’m assuming he’s gone or at the very least de-valued by the presence of Aguero.
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Aguero (newcomer) is going to be really good. There is probably not much need to write more on the topic, everyone will be picking him up.
- Balotelli (relative newcomer) never really got settled in last season. He is undoubtedly talented but about as immature as they come. His price isn’t too high so if the light turns on, he could be a great bargain. More likely it won’t and he’ll be a spot starter and frequent reserve.
- Dzeko (relative newcomer) never really got settled in last season. The reasons are different because he seems to be a solid citizen (pun sort of intended) who just hasn’t found his way into a style of play that doesn’t really suit him as well as it could. Still, if things start going his way he’ll be solid value.
- Traps - As with the other “big” teams, there are a bunch of potential traps in the form of high priced players who got that way playing regularly elsewhere but who now are rotated with regularity - Milner, Kolarov, Clichy, and Lescott are all priced over 10 and at great risk of giving you a big fat ZERO on any given weekend.
2011-12 Outlook, Official PL Fantasy
Studs: New club captain Vincent Kompany is a massive fantasy stud at 6M. He should start week in and week out at CB alongside Lescott (at least until Toure comes back) and is relatively ‘cheap’ for a Top 4 defender. Bonus points should come his way as well. I highly recommend him. David Silva has looked superb in pre-season and if it wasn’t for his price (9.5M) he’d be as automatic in my fantasy lineup as Kompany would be. The Spaniard’s issue, of course is lack of goals. He should easily surpass 10+ assists this year but will he score more than 4 or 5 goals? He’ll need to to keep City in the Champions League places and I really believe this will be a break-out season for the Spain international. At 8M or even 8.5M he’s unbelievable value but at 9.5M and with Van der Vaart, Nasri, Nani, and Ashley Young priced in the same range - fantasy managers will have some very very difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.
Duds: Adam Johnson and James Milner (both 7.5M). I love Johnson’s speed and trickery, and if he receives 30+ starts in the league he’s a stud, but I can’t trust Mancini and his rotation policy on the wings. Let’s monitor Johnson’s development and if he becomes ‘undroppable’ due to some early season form he could become a stud signing (and could ease financial burden for fantasy managers who ‘downgrade’ from Silva’s 9.5M to AJ’s 7.5M and still keep City exposure). Milner is a dud. He was an amazing fantasy signing a few years ago at Aston Villa but has lost all set piece duties and is not guaranteed a starting role.
On the fence: At the back, new signing Gael Clichy (6M) is priced right but has competition from Kolarov and Zabaleta so is less of a ‘sure’ thing and must be placed on the stud/dud fence. Yaya Toure should start regularly, but it remains to be seen whether De Jong (5M) will continue as his ‘protector’ - freeing up Yaya to rampage forward, or whether the former Barcelona man will be trusted with a more defensive role to free up the classy Silva. If it’s the latter it will be hard to justify spending 8M. If De Jong starts regularly and pushes Yaya forward, he’s a good signing. Up front, it’s all up in the air. Aguero, Dzeko, Balotelli and Tevez (though he will probably move clubs) are all good options but Aguero and Balotelli stand out as the most explosive if Tevez leaves. Bellamy and Adebayor, ironically, have great experience in the Premier League but aren’t even listed in the Official PL Fantasy game and will be loaned out.