All in the Game: No one surprised to see effects of fantasy football

Lorenzo Insigne needs a bigger wallet; Erling Haaland shows off his linguistic talents


“If Leicester keep inviting pressure, you feel the inevitable might happen.”

Take a bow, Ally McCoist.

Number: 6

That’s how many minutes it took Cavan’s own Leanne Kiernan to score a hat-trick for Liverpool against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Speedy.

Fantasy Woes

It’s only January, but it’s highly unlikely that any other academic research carried out this year will produce more unsurprising findings than the results of a study done by sports psychologists at Nottingham Trent University. Their findings? People who are heavily engaged in running their fantasy football team “suffer low mood and anxiety”.

Most players, they found, have a grip on reality and don’t, say, have their weekends ruined by Manuel Lanzini not being awarded an assist, but a quarter of the 2,000 people who responded to the survey reported feelings of “sadness, anger, frustration, tiredness and low self-esteem when playing, researching or thinking about the game”. Thirty-seven per cent of that group said playing the game “actually disrupted their lives”.

To rational folk, this, of course, seems a bit daft, but perhaps they never transferred Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli in to their team, making Martinelli the captain, just before Arsenal’s game against Wolves was postponed last month. Sadness, anger, frustration? In spades.

Word of Mouth

“When everything was agreed, I got into the car and sobbed. It takes me 40 minutes to go home, and probably 30 minutes I cried.”

Everton new boy Vitaliy Mykolenko after his move from Dynamo Kiev was signed and sealed. Whether the tears were prompted by leaving Kiev or Everton being his destination, he didn’t say.

“I love a challenge.”

It’s just as well, Kieran Trippier (Newcastle’s new-boy).

“He is the Benjamin Button of football. Benjamin Thiago!”

Chelsea gaffer Thomas Tuchel after the maestro that is 126-year-old Thiago Silva extended his contract with the club.

“Yesterday they called me to offer me Ribery. I didn’t even know he was still playing.”

Robinson de Castro, president of Brazilian club Ceara, being quite rude about 38-Year-Old Franck Ribery after being invited to sign him by Italian side Salernitana.

Canadian Dream

Perhaps one of the more surprising transfers arranged in the January window so far was that of Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne who will join Major League Soccer side Toronto FC on a free next July.

The 30-year-old Italian international has signed a four-year contract that will earn him $15 million a year, more than double the previous highest salary, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s $7.2m at LA Galaxy.

Napoli old-boy Gianfranco Zola was among those surprised Insigne didn’t join a big European club, but was keen not to sound disrespectful towards the standard of the MLS. Apart from when he was asked about Insigne’s international future. “That’s the end of his World Cup dream.”

Newcaslte’s Latest Coup

Our latest Leaping-To-Conclusions award will be shared among the very many people who reckoned a moment in Borussia Dortmund’s game away to Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend revealed which country Erling Haaland will be heading to next to play his football.

It came late on when Haaland was kicked by Frankfurt’s Colombian international Rafael Santos Borre, the unimpressed Haaland turning to the fella and asking “Que pasa hermano?” (“what’s up brother?”). So, because he asked the question in Spanish, the assumption was that he has been learning the language in anticipation of a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

It should, though, also be pointed out that he had a run-in with Frankfurt defender Martin Hinteregger earlier in the game, the Leeds-born Norwegian turning to the Austrian, both of them playing in Germany and saying, in English, “**** you, ****ing idiot”. He’s heading to Newcastle, then.

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