I Kinda Sorta Called Daniel Sturridge a Motherfucker

A guest post from the wonderfully frustrated @EPLFanForLife

Walt is an FPL fanatic from the USA who wants more than anything to visit England to watch a match in person. For now, he spends his time enjoying the EPL world vicariously through his Twitter friends all around the world. You can find him at @EPLFanForLife tweeting about football and general nonsense. Give him a follow.

8-9 days out of 10 I consider myself to be a somewhat reasonable guy. Sure, I have the typical work related stresses that make me want to occasionally toss a light, half-hearted f-bomb at a coworker after they've done something to piss me off or make my job harder, but that's pretty normal. What is admittedly not normal is the venom, vitriol, and blind fury I unleash with no apologies or ability to control myself during a particularly bad weekend of FPL. Like this past weekend for example.

I am a big Daniel Sturridge fan. I'm happy for the resurgence he's shown in a red uniform and for the success he's had at Anfield. Sure, I think his goal scoring dance celebration is a little cooky and awkward, but so what; to each his own. I'm even cool with him outshining his buddy Suarez every now and then, even when Suarez has the armband. All of this stuff is normal. He's a wonderful talent, and as someone who has played the game, I have the utmost appreciation for what he's able to accomplish on the football pitch. Nothing about him would lead me to think at any time that I would want to say bad things to or about him, let alone get so upset that I would insinuate that I think he did or should engage in an act so heinous as to be almost unspeakable. Some sequence of events had to happen in just the right way for me to totally flip my lid. Some wild conflagration of independently painful incidents had to combine together to cause a momentum of spiralling pain, frustration and vision-blurring anger that would culminate in a moment where I would ball it all up into 140 characters and unleash it out into the world without pausing to think "Is this really a good idea?"

So what the hell happened? It went a little something like this.....

Rewind to GW25. After a humiliating start to the FPL campaign, I quietly strung together a series of decent gameweeks, gaining 13 out of 14 green arrows and climbing over 1.6 million spots in the overall ranking. By the end of GW25, with the wind at my back, I was feeling pretty damn good and was hoping that the great train of progress would just keep on chugging down the proverbial tracks. I had momentum. Beautiful, wonderful, intoxicating momentum that had me feeling like a halfway decent FPL manager; and I didn't want it to stop.

Gameweek 26: I drop RVP to join the SAS train, picking up Daniel Sturridge, who has already gained some momentum of his own. For my first week of SAS, I captain Suarez and watch as Sturridge notches a goal, 2 assists, and 15 total points to Suarez's 2. It's good and bad. I'm happy that I picked up Sturridge at a good time, glad he produced, and SUPER glad that I gained 13 additional points that I wouldn't have had if I had kept RVP. At the same time, the joy was tempered by the fact that if I had captained him, I would have been living La Vida Loca and would have been basking in 32 SAS points instead of 19. One opportunity gained; one lost. I still had a respectable gameweek, notching 70 points, and interestingly enough, moved to within 1 point of the quite famous, very highly regarded FPL team of @InsideFantasyPL. I've never considered myself a pundit, wasn't quite sure how I became lucky enough (or unlucky enough it sometimes seems) to be a part of a Pundits FPL League, and until GW26, didn't feel much like I belonged in the league at all. But now, after a long, hard climb, I was within 1 point of a juggernaut and started getting a little bit of the "What If's". The possibility of climbing into the Top 10 of that league seemed plausible, where two months earlier my goal was simply avoiding the cellar. Another green arrow and huge optimism heading into GW27. Let's go!

GW27: With the so-so SAS situation of GW26 behind me, GW27 offered up another attractive proposition for captaining one of the dynamic duo. Despite Sturridge's point tally, my memories of GW26 went back to Suarez being in dangerous positions, rattling the post HARD with a 35 yard volley, and various other sequences of the GW26 match where Suarez seemed a little unlucky but heavily involved in the chances that were created and definitely as dangerous as Sturridge had been. Despite many FPL consultants pointing to Sturridge as the choice for GW27, I considered GW26 an anomaly, easily saw Suarez regaining his spot as main danger man, and Sturridge coming back down to Earth. I'm gonna keep the faith. Armband, SUAREZ.

Well, in addition to me being wrong (again), we all know what happened points-wise that gameweek. Suarez managed an assist, but it was Sturridge doing the heavy damage, with 2 goals and an assist, notching 16 FPL points in the process to Suarez's 5. Now I'm pretty pissed AND I'm watching as all of those who captained Sturridge are laughing their way to the FPL bank as they rocket past me in the rankings. I notch 26 SAS points this week compared to the 37 I would have notched had I captained the right guy. Those 9 points lost are the difference between the green arrow I could have had next to my name and the red arrow that ended up there; my first red arrow in 7 weeks. And the 1 point gap between me and @InsideFantasyPL, who smartly captained Sturridge, exploded to 19 as I also dropped spots in the Pundits League. So much for keeping pace with those guys.

I'm dazed, stunned, and painfully, painfully wrong. But it wasn't just the points difference that was so telling to me that week. Whereas in GW26 Suarez was lively, dangerous, and seemingly unlucky, it was the opposite in GW27. I, along with many others, looked on in astonished bewilderment as Suarez pressed high on defense, and then upon regaining possession, dropped back and to the side, completely outside of the penalty area, almost in a supporting midfield role. He was far from the action, in non-attacking positions, and in many cases a mere bystander as all of the attacking play and juicy action went on in front of him. He also looked sluggish and tired. I couldn't believe my eyes. Sturridge was without a doubt the center of the attack and involved in almost all challenges made upon the Swansea goal. I decided then and there that Sturridge had fooled me twice and I would not let him do it again.

Gameweek 27 over and still stinging from the punishment, I had more than the Liverpool captaincy to think about. Careful planning for the upcoming GW29-31 period was necessary and grabbed most of my attention. Which was good, because I needed something to shake off the pain. I was feeling fortunate to be able to enter Gameweek 28 with an almost full squad, and carefully plotted and planned the right move(s) to make for what I planned to be my next assault up the tables.

Gameweek 28 planning: In addition to the Liverpool captaincy problems that had been making a mockery of my FPL managerial decisions, there was one other ingredient that combined perfectly with these captaincy problems to create a perfectly seasoned recipe for the disaster that would be Gameweek 28. That other ingredient was optimism. And lots of it.

Oh man I was so psyched. I had 13 potential players to choose from for the gameweek and the fixtures looked juicy. Usually I look at the fixture list and envision a number of different scenarios, some of which usually result in a raised eyebrow as my mind thinks, "Hmmm...not really sure what to expect from that one". But I had a good feeling about these fixtures and lined up with a 4-3-3. Marshall was in goal to visit a tired Tottenham side who unfortunately were buzzing off of the come-from-behind Europa victory over Dnipro a few days earlier. As part of my long-term planning I brought in Olsson who was facing an Aston Villa side that hadn't scored a goal since February 1 and still appeared a little clueless, to be generous. To be honest, I didn't consider a clean sheet to be a slam dunk but saw a distinct possibility. I had Koscielny facing a Stoke side that I could easily see Arsenal keeping at bay, Ivanovic against a Fulham side that were struggling, and Ward going up against a bruised, battered and beaten Swansea side that had just been dumped out of the Europa League and would be exhausted and dejected. Hoping for 2 of 5 clean sheets did not seem to be asking too much given these circumstances and the possibility of some added defensive bonus points had me licking my chops.

4 of my 6 attacking players would be tied up in the Southampton-Liverpool affair, but not expecting a clean sheet for either, I could easily see the potential for returns from all 4 of Lallana, Rodriguez, Sturridge and Suarez. Based on the prior two gameweeks, you already know I moved the armband from Suarez to Sturridge, being determined not to be fooled for the third week in a row and after seeing Suarez so deep and wide during the Swansea match.

My other 2 attackers were Hazard, a captain option, away at Fulham, and Christian Eriksen, who I had been trying to offload for weeks, but who inexplicably showed up against Dnipro with a Man of the Match performance that had me once again highly optimistic that his form had returned and that he would play an important role in the home game vs. Cardiff. Even if not, I had Noone backing him up and ready to come on if Sherwood decided against him.

Cue the evil laughter, because shit is about to get ugly......

Saturday morning, March 1: My daughter turned 5 years old on Friday and the 4 of us were excited and ready for her big 5-year old birthday party at Monkey Joe's that would take place at 12:30 that afternoon, the exact time that the Southampton-Liverpool game would kick off. The day starts out with kind of a weird feeling FPL-wise, as I don't realize until I've turned on the television that there is no early game. That's okay, I'm pumped about my squad, have a lot of preparing to do for the party, and can wait until 10:00; no problem.

10:00 rolls around and I'm lucky enough to get the Fulham-Chelsea match. The sun is shining brightly in London and I feel great and optimistic as hell. 3 other matches kick off at the same time and I start my normal routine; I set up one internet tab on my phone with my FPL team and another tab is set up at ESPN.COM for live updates. I will keep my phone by my side at all costs over the next few hours and steal peeks at the scores as often as I can. Most everyone around me will have no clue what I'm doing.

Although I'm surprised at what's going on at Hull City, there are no goals scored in 3 of the 4 matches during the first half. Without any FPL investment in the Hull-Newcastle match I nod interestedly as I keep tabs on who might be reaching form but none of it affects my score. Second half here we come; I'm still rolling with clean sheets possible for Koscielny and Ivanovic, and I glance up at the tv to see that Chelsea has broken down Fulham; Hazard assist. Nice! I decided not to captain him after reading somewhere on Twitter that he might possibly be rested (stupid Twitter rumours!) for the Fulham match. I don't know why I bought into it, but will admit it was in the back of my mind when I decided on Sturridge.

As usually happens, I stepped away from the tv after the 70th minute had passed and came back a few minutes later to a kick in the balls and an uppercut to the chin: both Koscielny and Ivanovic had conceded. "Fuck me", I thought, "How the fuck did THAT happen!?!..those were my two most likely clean sheet candidates, and they both shit the bed within 2 minutes of one another. And conceding to Johnny Fucking Heitinga!!! Ffffuuuucccckkkk" What happened to the beautiful sunshine and my bright FPL fortunes? I don't have time to dwell on it. It sucks but it's not the end of the world. Plus, it's time to head to the party.

We walk into the indoor bouncy house wonderland that is Monkey Joe's, where 24 of my daughter's loudest 5-year old friends are ready to bounce, jump, scream, cry and spill their way through a two hour birthday party that coincides with the Southampton-Liverpool match. After the disappointment of Koscielny and Ivanovic losing late clean sheets, I'm still secure in the thought that Mr. Goal Machine (Sturridge) will continue his goal-scoring ways for the 9th fixture in a row while Suarez feeds him assists, thereby capitalizing on the maximum point production possible, as exhibited during the previous 2 fixtures. I also know that Liverpool's chances of keeping a clean sheet are poor and that Lallana and Rodriguez may very well pitch in with a cheeky goal and assist between them. Let the birthday party AND the points party begin! I'm nervous, anxious, and buzzing with excitement/anticipation.

4-5 minutes in I sneak behind a big blow up slide and check my phone.... nothin'. Time to chase some little kids around and act silly. I run around, chasing and teasing kids, talking to my daughter's friends and their parents; you know, being an all-around good Dad and building up some positive karma that I just know is going to result in good news the next time I check my phone.

20 minutes in... I'm on the main floor of the playroom amidst 5-7 jumpy, chatty, "gimme gimme gimme!", "My turn my turn my turn!" little kids, half of whom are climbing on me and the other half whom are climbing on THEM, when I pause during a short lull in the festivities, take a few steps away, and pull my phone out of my pocket. ESPN.COM says 1-0 Liverpool! I click again to get to the details.... LUIS SUAREZ. I freeze, take what some might call a gulp of air, and smile at my phone.

Not a happy smile mind you, more of a "nervous...holy shit I might be totally fucked... of course it was Suarez" kind of smile. The kind of smile you see in the movies where the guy has watched black come up all night at the roulette wheel, and in a moment of temporary insanity, he places his life savings on black and then watches as the mark settles on red. THAT kind of smile, where as you're smiling, your mind is racing and you're thinking, "HOLY SHIT, I can't believe this is fucking happening to me right now, let's just take a deep breath and chill the fuck out because the day is still young and things could still turn around, but HOLY FUCK is this really happening and is this the beginning of the worst day of my life!?!" THAT kind of smile.

I put my phone away as fast as I could, as if putting it away quickly might mean that what I just saw didn't actually happen, but it was too late. My mind had already started racing, I was already beating the shit out of myself for what could possibly be the third week in a row of being fucked by the wrong Liverpool captain pick, and I cursed myself for being so amazingly stupid. I had flashbacks to all of the FPL captain's points I've been losing over the past 3 weeks and looked on in horror as I daydreamed of a big FPL vacuum in the sky sucking up all of the points I could have had, and of all the FPL managers in the world who had made the right Liverpool captain pick each week, sitting up in the sky, way above me in the rankings, pointing down and laughing at me from the very spot I could have been sitting at with them.

I turned my attention to the party as quickly as I could, trying to do anything I could to keep my mind off it and to stem the growing tide of fear, horror and nausea that was quickly welling up and overtaking me. After a little while, I faked having to go to the bathroom (you know you've done it) and checked again; it was halftime. No further damage, and Sturridge still had a lot of time to get me some points. No news is good news. For now. Back to the party.

25 minutes later. Knowing that time is now slipping away, I checked my phone with more urgency. Finally, another update. 2-0 Liverpool. Here it is; my chance to scrape some points back and gain a little respectability..surely this will be good news!! I click for details.....

Sterling goal; Suarez assist. I don't see the name Sturridge anywhere. That's the moment I lost it.... my heart raced, I stared expressionless at my phone as if I had seen a ghost, steam probably was coming out of my head like some crazy cartoon, and my fingers took on a mind of their own...

I remember exactly where I was standing as I typed with an angry, "fuck this shit", rage-filled thumb. If Twitter allowed more than 140 characters I had a lot more where that came from. I hit "Tweet" and went back to concentrate on the party, and thank God for those kids. They were a blast... funny, loud, crazy, playful, everything you look for in a 5-year old birthday party. Looking back, every single one of those loud, goofy, screaming, tantrum-prone 5-year olds was acting way more mature than I was that day. That's what FPL will do to you, I reckon.

And now, with a painful and torturous Saturday of FPL behind me, it was time to reep what I had sown. My rantings had made my own proverbial FPL bed, so to speak, and although I had 4 players suiting up on Sunday who could potentially reverse the damage, and despite a deep-down yearning and hope above all hope that the assured slide down the rankings would be minimized, I innately knew where things were headed and that I was completely and totally screwed. The writing was on the wall, and you all know what happened from there:

Marshall conceded in the 28th minute vs Tottenham (thanks for shooting me down early and not stringing me along). Eriksen didn't play - and neither did my midfield backup Noone; and my xfer Olsson conceded 4 against an Aston Villa side that couldn't hit the side of a barn for the past 3 weeks. Special thanks to FPL for allowing my sub3 Luke Shaw to come on and contribute the 1 measly point he "earned" during the Liverpool debacle.

And oh yeah, see ya later 40,000 overall FPL ranking spots.... I got what I deserved.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart...Mommy and Daddy Love You!

And of course.....last but certainly not least..... Daniel Sturridge, I'm really sorry for kinda sorta calling you a motherfucker.

Cheers,

Walt

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