Irishman wins Premier League Fantasy Football with daring last day team selection
"With this decision I would probably be either first or 12th."
Galway man, Michael Coone, pulled of a tactical masterstroke on the very last day of the season to not only win the Premier League Football Fantasy competition, but also record the highest ever overall points total in history, with 2680.
The 35-year-old has been playing Fantasy Football leisurely for about 13 years, but this year he took it to a whole new level of dedication and analysis.
"I was involved in a mini league at work, but up until this year I wasn't really doing well," said Coone. "I started really well and put a lot more attention and effort into it. With Covid going on, I was watching a lot more games because I didn't have anything else on."
If you're imagining someone locked in a basement with their walls covered in stats, graphs and red strings connecting dots together to crack some sort of mad algorithm, then you will be disappointed. In fact, according to the gaffer himself, stats aren't even the most important thing.
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) May 24, 2021
"I wouldn't be a big fan of it," admitted the Irishman. "Fantasy Hope is a website that specialises in all of the statistics, and they go really in depth, to like how many shots are in the box and all of this kind of stuff, but I didn't really use it that much.
"For me it was all about fixtures. Watching the game is obviously important. I think they call it the sight test, seeing who is going well, then seeing if they have a long run of fixtures that are quite easy and managing your transfers well in advance.
"There were a lot of double game weeks, so teams playing twice in a week because of Covid and all of the squashed up fixtures. So, there's a lot of planning to make sure that if you get through a double playing week that a lot of your players are playing twice, so it was more planning with the fixtures than it was with the stats."
Going into the last game of the season, Coone was third and nine points behind the leader. Being a Liverpool fan himself, the obvious choice of selection would have been Mohamed Salah, particularly as he was fighting for the golden boot.
However, at the very top of the table, most teams are all the same, so if everyone picks the same player then they are pretty much going to get the same points, resulting in one not actually progressing any further up the table. This led to Coone making a bold decision.
"I thought that I will probably never be in this situation again, so I made this decision that would mean I either finish first, or 10th or 12th, and I was happy enough to take the risk.
"I saw Mané playing on Wednesday and he looked okay, missed a few chances but also getting good chances, so I could see him having a good game and he does really well against Crystal Palace. I think he's got nine goals in the last eight games against them.
"He got a couple of lucky goals and I was delighted, especially when I saw the team sheets and everyone in the top 15 had pretty much picked Salah. That's probably the decision that won it for me, as I made him captain as well."
A daring decision indeed, considering that Sadio Mané was having his worst season yet in a Liverpool jersey. It also means that Coone now wins a free trip to the UK, including VIP tickets to two matches of his choice, along with a new laptop, smartwatch and some managerial joke goodies.
One other peculiar decision Coone made was his choice of team name, opting to call his The Teddy Bears.
"So when you get to the top there's a lot of gamesmanship and people would report offensive team names that could get you kicked out. My team always had my surname in it and it was suggested that it could be deemed as some sort of a racial thing and I was advised to change it.
"I was being a bit sarcastic and went with the most politically correct name I could possibly think of and that was The Teddy Bears."
To the average Joe, teddy bears may remain a soft, cuddly and unassuming toy, but for Fantasy Footballers everywhere, it will remind them of one powerful foe who conquered all.