The Final Fantasy video game franchise was never really my cup of tea - in fact, so underwhelmed was I by the eighth instalment, I decided to sell it to a schoolmate for a measly fiver. Being more of a Fifa man myself, the money most likely went towards the latest EA Sports creation of the time, but what if the two games were merged together? Let's take a moment to envisage what a season in Final Fantasy: Football would look like... Mesut Ozil is an Arsenal stalwart and plays every match without getting injured, Sunderland only have to endure a 20 game winless run at home, it's finally Liverpool's year in the Premier League and England lift the World Cup in Russia. These may all sound like ridiculously far-fetched scenarios, but the final fantasy football blog of the season shows how dreams can come true - at least for Hasrul Rasyid who was crowned King of the FSM Superliga. And the best thing is that much like Final Fantasy, we intend to go on for many years yet, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to win great shirts! Speaking of which, congratulations to third-place Matt Pendrey, who took advantage of a "double rollover" to claim the coveted end of season prize!
This season will be remembered in years to come for Manchester City's centurions, who surpassed Chelsea's previous record of 95 points achieved in 2004/05. Guardiola is a perfectionist and the way he celebrated Gabriel Jesus' 94th minute winner against Southampton, which ensured City reached the 100 point mark, told you everything you need to know about his mentality. Perhaps then it is not surprising that Pep still feels his team can improve, despite also breaking the following Premier League records:
Most wins in a season - 32
Most goals in a single season - 106
Biggest goal difference - +79
Most consecutive wins - 18
Biggest winning margin - 19 points
Most away wins in a season - 16
Most passes in a game - 902 (v Chelsea in March)
Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger finally called time on a 22 year tenure at Arsenal - a decision that will most likely result in Arsenal Fan TV's administration. For many football fans including myself, he is all we have ever known at the club and I'll gladly eat my hat if any future manager matches his feat. Although he had his detractors in recent years, the Frenchman completely revolutionised the way the game is played in this country and the fact he could lose his next 100 games and still have the highest win percentage of any Arsenal manager, speaks volumes of his legacy. Then again, by my calculations that would leave them rooted to the bottom of League One, which would probably see AFTV replace the BBC as the national broadcaster.
At the wrong end of the table, we had to say goodbye to Swansea City, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. The odds on these three teams going down at the start of the season would have been huge given they had all established themselves in the division and with the exception of the Baggies, played in Europe. As it was, the three promoted clubs stayed up for the first time since 2011/12 and for only the third time in Premier League history.
Manager - Hasrul Rasyid
Gameweek Points - 62
Overall Points - 2,391
The champagne has been on ice for what seems like an eternity and at one stage the bookmakers stopped taking bets on where the title was heading. Despite a brave challenge from John Lee's XhakaLaca, Hasrul can finally celebrate after HRH17 CF were crowned champions in the inaugural season of the FSM Superliga. A fairly mediocre 62 points (by his standards) in the final gameweek could have left the door open for John Lee to capitalise, but ultimately XhakaLaca's 64 point tally was some way short of the 112 required to overturn the deficit.
What has defined HRH17 CF's success is the selection of those more 'unfancied' players such as Florian Lejeune, whose clean sheet and assist in Newcastle's 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea contributed 11 points to the cause. Elsewhere, the Burnley duo of Kevin Long and Johann Berg Gudmundsson have performed well above what their respective £4.1m and £5.0m price tags would suggest, but were unable to prevent a final day 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth. However, Hasrul still had to select the big-budget players to score the goals and any team with Mo Salah as captain was always going to be in safe hands. As well as picking up an assist, the PFA Player of the Year opened the scoring in Liverpool's comfortable victory over Brighton to finish on 32 goals - the highest ever total in a 38 game season. HRH17 CF's other main source of goals has come through Harry Kane, who bagged a brace in Tottenham's epic 5-4 win against Leicester. It has since been alleged that Kane tried to claim the other three goals which would have seen him overtake Salah in the scoring charts, but the FA have this time failed to see where he had the final touch. Finally, Hasrul's recent addition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has helped HRH17 CF over the line, with the German scoring four in his last three, including the winner in Arsene Wenger's last ever game. We still haven't worked out what HRH17 CF stands for, but from now on the Fantasy Football King shall be known as His Royal Highness.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Manager - Drew Sanson
Gameweek Points - 102
Overall Points - 2,221
AFC really did save their best till last, as Drew Sanson made the most of the 'Free Hit' to score a colossal 102 points in gameweek 38. Whether AFC is a reference to Drew's favourite club or he simply forgot to add the second part of the name, it is probably quite fitting that a team with these initials finished fourth in the final FSM Superliga standings. That is to take nothing away from Drew, who should feel more than proud to finish in such a respectable position given that we had 133 entrants in total! His shrewdest acquisition of the week was undoubtedly Patrick van Aanholt, who effectively achieved a 'full set' with a goal, an assist and a clean sheet during Crystal Palace's 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion. If that wasn't enough, the other Palace goalscorer Wilfred Zaha also added a further 10 points to round off a perfect afternoon's work in South London. As is the case for most Fantasy Football managers, Mo Salah was the automatic choice as captain and so it was left to vice-captain Marko Arnautovic to round off the points scoring with a goal and an assist in West Ham's home win over Everton.
As mentioned earlier in the blog, huge congratulations to Matt Pendrey, whose team The Landmark has been a consistent performer all season! He took advantage of a "double rollover" and will receive the below 2017/18 Real Madrid Ronaldo shirt in time for this Saturday's UEFA Champions League Final.
Well done to those who managed to make it into the top ten and of course to everyone who participated! We hope to see you again in August for another instalment of the FSM Superliga!