Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is the grass going to be greener for Milner?

"James Milner might think the grass is greener at Manchester City. He may be in for a shock." (Stephen Ireland)

Seeing as I'm on Malaysia time, I have several hours to burn before the Saturday news starts rolling in so I thought I would lay down some random thoughts on the Milner / Ireland trade that could have fantasy impact immediately and throughout the season.

James Milner

The general consensus seems to be that City have been mugged by Villa and overpaid for the services of Milner. 43% of readers think that the move is a bad one for Milner personally which implies they think he won't get enough playing time at City in the coming months and years. I disagree. I think people often underestimate the effect that it has on a manager's team selection when he signed a player - which is not the case for De Jong, Barry, Wright Phillips and Johnson. If any of these players are dropped by Mancini, and hence considered busts, it is Hughes' fault but if Milner does not play that Mancini will be blamed.

He may not like it, having stated his desire to play inside for both club and country, but Milner's ability to play on the right gives him an even better chance to feature most weeks as he is only really competing with Wright Phillips as a pure right-sided player which is great news given SWP's ineffective performances at the end of last season and against Spurs last week.

The BBC suggest that Milner will fit in a 3 man midfield with Barry and Toure and I totally agree. I think Mancini will go with 4-5-1 with Tevez and Silva behind Balotelli allowing Tevez to slide forward and Milner to slide right to give the team a 4-4-2 shape if required. Of course, players like Johnson, Adebayor, De Jong and Wright Phillips might come and go but I think this is his best team and Milner will feature as much as anyone from here on out. I'd set the line for the number of Premier League appearances he ends the season on at 28-30 and I'd still be buying that total.

As for his fantasy impact, that is slightly trickier. I have generally cautioned against players who move clubs due to the time required to settle in, get to know your teammates, possibly learn the language etc. These factors are less troubling with Milner than say David Silva but still a concern. I am personally going to watch this situation through GW3 and GW4 after which City have some dynamite fixtures that will make Milner very appealing if he is playing the right role. I am hoping for an advanced role in that 3 man midfield (think Iniesta) with Barry (Xavi) and Toure (Busquets) providing the protection. If this is the case then Milner has top 5 midfielder potential and is a steal at 9m. The development here could be one of the key things to watch in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for some chalkboard analysis when the games have been played.

Stephen Ireland
I'll put my cards on the table: I like Stephen Ireland a lot. Trawling through my blog archives you can find comparisons to Steve Gerrard and general admiration which has not wavered even if his status at City did. I thought he was desperately unlucky to be pushed out at City, and even if his recent comments are a little arrogant, he is probably not far wrong. At Villa he should slot right into Milner's role, flanked by talented players in Young, Downing and Petrov which should present plenty of attacking opportunities. There are also Milner's 35 bonus points to go around, which Ireland should have a decent shot at winning (he won 16 of his own in his landmark 2008/09 season).

When the season is done I think Ireland has the chance to be the best player available for under 8m and will give some of the 8m+ players a run for their money (not bad for 6.5m).

I am very high on Malouda and Valencia so I have tough choices ahead of me if I want to get Milner in too. Ireland however, is only 0.5 more than N'Zogbia so I plan to make a double swap next week, losing Vidic or Terry for one of their cheaper teammates allowing me to bring in Ireland in time for 3 decent home games (Eve, Sto and Bol).

I imagine this will be somewhat controversial as everyone has an opinion on City's transfer dealings so why not post your thoughts below to spark the EPL debates for another weekend.


skipdeedy said...

In a moment of weakness, I went against prevailing opinion and spent 4 points to bring in Fab for Valencia. I planned on bringing in Fab next anyway but some posters on FFS convinced me there was going to a goal fest at Blackpool and Fab would get at least 60 mins.

Transfer remorse is setting in.

Just thought I'd share.

Chris Glover said...

Skip - I can't tell you the number of times I've done that. If there was ever a time to burn 4pts it could just be Arsenal at home to Blackpool. Good luck.

auburn.tigers2011 said...

I plan on waiting to see what Milner does and how he fits in over the next 2 gameweeks for City. Then Ill consider bringing him in if Nani is still only returning 2-3 points for me. Barring a horrible opening from Ireland, I plan on bringing him in for next week

skipdeedy said...

All the luck in the world didn't help Chris. Turns out it was a goalfest but only the 1 sorry point for Fab. He didn't even have the decency to sit the game out so one of my subs cold come in.

Who would have predicted a Walcot hat-trick? Well no-one except the guy leading in my office league.


skipdeedy said...

Hey Chris, is Bale a must buy now?

Ryan said...

Tough luck skip. Everyone will have these moments. I almost captained fabregas because of the anticipated 'goalfest' but luckily switched to the drog in the 11th hour. Chris, your captaincy ranking saved my arse! Keep up your good work!

The Gaffer said...

@skipdeedy: Get Bale before his price rockets. He'll contribute to assists and bonus points all year along.

Thommas said...

GOD! What happened this weekend? THREE 6-0 matches? That's just sick!

Allways thought Bale was a must have this season, I'm glad i had him from the start =)

Andrew said...

I rate Ireland pretty highly. I plan to bring him in next week for Albrighton since I was forced to do Modric to Bale this week.

Chris, looks like you are having a fantastic start to the season! THanks for giving me the confidence to get Perch on my team, allowed me to have Perch and Malouda instead of Warnock and Arteta. Too bad I had Carroll behind Albrighton on my bench this week to come on for Rooney.

Chris Glover said...

I agree on Bale. With Wigan at home next and his terrific form and stunning goal I think he becomes must own on the basis that it will be a free 0.1m or so even if you own him for a week. I have pulled the trigger on him for the earliest transfer in a GW I've ever made. I brought in Alex for Terry to save some cash as Alex looks to be a fixture in that defense as appose to Ferreria at RB.

Chris Glover said...

Andrew - great call on Carroll even if he didn't make your team this week. I remember someone talking him up pre-season so well done if that is you. I managed to catch a chunk of that game and he looked tremendous. I am tempted by him over Kalinic after that display. I have said before I like Newcastle (not to the tune of 6-0 though!) and I think they have goals in them this year. Nolan is also a sneaky option as he is playing in his favoured role behind the front man - from where he has a very good season in 05/06 for Bolton.

Bale so far is my worse prediction of the year. In two weeks I have gone from thinking he is overrated to giving him 'must own' status. I am still concerned that he might be inconsistent but when the good is this good we can handle some bad too.

There seems to have been a ressurgence of wingers of late (Malouda, Bale, Walcott) and perhaps these are the key to fantasy success over the centre mids who seem to be playing deeper than in previous years. I think this subject deserves its own post so check back shortly if that might interest you.

Thanks for all the comments - it's been a great start to the season.

Andrew said...

To be honest I only initially had Carroll in my team because my mom's maiden name is Carroll and he was cheap cheap cheap! Looks like it might net me some money though.

I was also speculating about the value of wingers over central mids too. My team is chalk full of wingers (Bale, Albrighton, Malouda, Valencia) and so far so good. It will be interesting to see if the position's high performance continues.

auburn.tigers2011 said...

Well I did the opposite of what I said I was going to do... I picked up Milner instead of Ireland. I hope it works out

Anyone else looking to do the same?

Anonymous said...

this is really a great blog. by far the best concerning the official game. the captain and clean sheet rankings are excellent. keep the updates coming more often if you can.

as for the milner/ireland debate-

ireland has proven in the past he is a reliable fantasy option. he has a guaranteed spot each week and his value is sure to rise, especially once the rest of the villa team is healthy. ive added him for gw3 as villa have a nice stretch of games coming up. im willing to be patient as he settles in.

milner is a stud when he is playing, which i think he will do most weeks at city. but at 9, he is expensive for someone not guaranteed a spot. i prefer value players, like ireland, to go alonside the likes of fabregas and drogba.

and btw- bale is most definitely a must own player. his value will rise at least 2 mil by the end of the season.