The Week Ahead - Never Manage Alone Edition, Part 1

The original reason we started the blog seven years ago was to keep a group of friends, increasingly separated by geography and the responsibilities of life, together around the Yahoo! fantasy game.  Over the years we’ve been doing this, one of the best parts of this experience for me was the opportunity get to know Jeremy as well as I have. [Jeremy's note: Right back at you, Neal!] We knew each other a little bit from common friends and socializing during the brief time we overlapped in Washington, DC but he was on his way to the sunshine of San Diego as I was returning from living in Atlanta for six years.  Without the blog, it is likely that our passing connection would have eroded over time, as would have the bonds among that larger group of friends.

I won’t bore you with the details of how the blog grew over the years but one of the best parts about it, and one of the things that drew me to starting the blog in the first place, is the idea that it is more fun watch games and play fantasy sports when there is a community you can share it with.   Thanks to the blog we've been able to maintain connections with our original circle of friends, but also we've now built relationships with people that, in most cases, we’ve never met in person.  I’ve gotten to know those who comment on the blog, on Facebook, or participate occasionally or regularly in our Saturday live chats.  We talk about the matches, the players, fantasy implications and move beyond them all to finding out bits and pieces about all of the people who participate.  I am not going to mention individual names because I don’t want to slight anyone as we appreciate everyone who reads and participates – even the ones who think we’re idiots some, or all of the time.  Suffice it to say, for someone living in a place where watching the Premier League isn’t the most popular activity on a Saturday, building a virtual pub of friends around the world has been fantastic. 

The reason I’m writing about what I love about the blog and specifically the fact that I’ve enjoyed the relationships it has led to is that this season sees us taking the next step in our evolution as a website and adding new relationships.  There are two major aspects to this growth. 

An Expanded Team
As you all have no doubt noticed, we have spent the last few weeks collaborating more and more closely with two other blogs – Yahoo Assistant Manager and Never Captain Nicky Butt.  This has just been the prelude to officially joining forces to create what we think will be the premier fantasy soccer blog available.

The first thing I want to make clear is that this is a coming together of peers.  Jeremy and I have enjoyed reading Y!AM and NCNB and presumably they have enjoyed our work enough to start in on the conversation about joining up.  For those of you not familiar with these other blogs, here’s a little background.

Nik (Y!AM) brings great perspective to the Yahoo game as well as an on-the-ground pulse of the English supporter that isn’t available to Jeremy or me located here in the States.  He also brings to our new blog home a core of passionate readers who create a great environment in the comments section.  The debates are constant, interesting and in almost all cases respectful which is an amazing combination in the social media age.  For those who think that I bring too much Arsenal bias to the blog, Nik will also offer a marked counterpoint as a devoted Spurs supporter.  Nobody’s perfect.

Never Captain Nicky Butt adds a respected voice and expertise in the official game.  The Premier League game is the most popular EPL fantasy game in the world and adding NCNB’s focus on it to FEPL and Y!AM’s focus on the Yahoo! game will make us a much more complete fantasy football resource.  He has a good sense of funny side of the game too, something we've long appreciated.  Between our live chats and NCNB's Twitter feed, we're going to have a really strong collective ability to integrate our audience into the larger fantasy game experience before, during, and after the matches. 

The four of us are brining our three sites together to create what we hope is a bigger, better one.  We are joining forces with and will be hosted on their cutting-edge platform.  The SB stands for Sports Blog and SBNation aggregates sports blogs across many sports.  They are concentrating heavily on developing their coverage of soccer and we are excited to be part of that growth. 

Our association with SBNation will give us the opportunity to collaborate with people who write dedicated blogs on Premier League teams, MLS teams, and over time on other topics specific to the beautiful game.  Over time we hope to find ways to give our readers a progressively better experience as we all figure out how to work together.  We are in the closing stages of moving onto the platform and getting ourselves oriented to the new publishing tools.  We will certainly let you know when the switchover becomes official. 

The Name
A new site requires a new name.  The common theme that unites all of the things we love about the blog and all the big changes that are happening is again, that the experience is more fun together and that the more people and resources we can bring to you, the better.  For those of you who have been with us for a while, we thank you for helping us get where we’ve gotten and hope you continue to participate and enjoy.  For those who are finding us for the first time, we hope you like what you see.  For all of you, we hope that now you know this community is here, you’ll Never Manage Alone.

With all of that as prologue, we can now turn towards The Week Ahead in fantasy Premier League...

The Schedule 
In which we remind you of our analysis of Top 10 overall finisher Mo’s season strategy (hint, picking players playing at home is a BIG deal) as we present the schedule for the week and its impact on your fantasy line-up:
The Home Teams
·         Citeh vs. Swansea – Sure, there are lots of questions about rotation in the City line-up but with one of the contenders for the title playing at home against a newly promoted team, you have little choice but to double down on their players.
·         Liverpool vs. Sunderland – Like City, we’re not sure who exactly is going to be ready to play and what the rotation will look like but this should be a strong home match-up for Liverpool against a Sunderland club that are likely still trying to figure out who each other are.
·         Fulham vs. Villa – Fulham have been excellent at Craven Cottage in recent years regardless of who the manager has been.  With Villa weakened significantly by the losses of Friedel, Young, and Downing you have to think Fulham will have a distinct advantage.
·         Spurs vs. Everton – This appears to me to be a defensive struggle waiting to happen.  Spurs should look stronger with Friedel at the back and Everton’s attack is hardly dominating under any circumstances and even less so on the road.  The question will be VDV’s health and Spurs ability to generate an attack if he’s out. This match has been postponed.
The Away Teams
·         United @ WBA – I think we all recognize how great a summer United had in the transfer market.  Before you dive all the way in, contemplate the following.  WBA had a pretty darn good summer too.  United weren’t very good on the road last season.  DDG already had a reputation in Spain of letting in goals from distance and he showed that off last weekend on Dzeko’s goal of questionable quality.  There will certainly be points to be had from United but don’t go too far in – that’s how guys like Mo beat the rest of us.
·         Chelsea @ Stoke – Unlike United, Chelsea didn’t really have much of a summer unless Modric arrives between now and Saturday.  They have started slipping a little bit down the spine and I’d be wary of making too many expensive bets on them on the road.
·         Arsenal @ NUFC – This fixture was a house of horrors for Arsenal last season.  The summer doesn’t appear to be ending on a positive note with Cesc and Nasri likely on the way out.  The one reason to have hope is that in the pre-season, the late collapses tended to come with decidedly second choice players involved. Regardless, probably not an away team you want to invest in too heavily on the road.

Coming Thursday: The Week Ahead, Part II – Player Picks


  1. Congrats guys. Will be interesting to see how the Official game is blogged with the Y! game. Personally, I am a little disappointed with the new name, should have gone for "The Blog Roundtable Barn Door" haha! Just kidding, looking forward to another great season of ff and blogging from you guys!

  2. "Who is K2" came in a close second. ;-)

  3. When does the new site go live?

  4. excellent news - sb is a good blogging platform - look forward to seeing you all over there. I'll start writing fan posts straight away.

  5. Cool. Site bookmarked.

  6. Any views on the Wigan game?


    Pretty reliable line-up for Wigan v Norwich

  8. @neal jeremy-I am sure this is going to be raised a lot. One of the BEST parts of AM's site was its chat room. I know we will be chatting about this today. The ideal solution, to successfully combine all 3 sites, is to include the chat room on this page. I don't know if its possible or not, but it would really seal the deal.

  9. @chrism What is the chat room? am new here

  10. Mehicoradio9:24 PM

    @Helmo the chat room is "The AM chatroom" from Nik's blog, it is/was ran through chatroll which allowed it to be on 24/7 (Thus you could any time of the day and talk about upcoming games and what have you).

  11. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Jose Enrique, start or not......?

  12. The widespread topic that joins Event Management Group all the things we love about the blog and all the large-scale alterations that are occurrence is afresh, that the know-how is more joy simultaneously and that the more persons and assets we can convey to you, the better.

  13. Hi,
    My question is When does the new site go live?