Mind games and identity theft: how Villa players reacted on FPL to “ban”
After accidentally telling the world that Jack Grealish was hurt, Aston Villa players were reportedly “banned” from playing fantasy football last week.
If you’re interested in FPL, you probably already know the story.
On Friday February 19, just after the FPL deadline for GW25 had expired, it turned out that several Aston Villa players and staff had transferred Jack Grealish out of their FPL squads, strongly suggesting that the midfielder of pitch would not play against Leicester on Sunday.
The transfer deals were highlighted by a Twitter account called FPL Insider, although Aston Villa’s mini-league, Tea League 4, is very public and accessible to all.
⚠️🔻 [AVL] Several initiates have transferred to Grealish!
– FPL insider (@insider_fpl) February 19, 2021
The so-called “insider trading” caused an uproar. Leicester, almost guaranteed to face a Villa side without a Grealish, had almost two days to plan accordingly. Whether it was due to the ‘leak’ or not, Villa lost Sunday’s game 2-1.
The next morning, Martyn Ziegler, chief football correspondent for The Times, revealed that the club had banned its players from playing fantasy football.
NEW: Aston Villa bans players from participating in fantasy football following Grealish injury leak https://t.co/aPjBWYKbOj
– Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) February 22, 2021
“Although the club chiefs do not believe that the players who replaced him were the reason for the leak, they do believe that it is inappropriate that potential insider knowledge could be used in the game,” Ziegler wrote. .
It was 11 days ago now, so have the Villa players stopped playing FPL? Do they have any bullshit.
Dean Smith lives in the real world
On Friday February 26, four days after Ziegler revealed that Villa had banned his players from playing fantasy football, Villa manager Dean Smith appeared to question that report.
“Yes, I have been made aware [players playing FPL]”Smith said.” Am I aware that he might be called? No, I don’t think a lot of other players and staff were too… I’m sure they certainly won’t do the call again. same mistake after knowing what they know now.
But if those comments suggested that the ‘ban’ fantasy was being met, another statement suggested otherwise.
“There are simple solutions,” he said. “For me, don’t play it or make sure your name isn’t on the user’s name.”
In Smith’s eyes, therefore, it would be normal for Villa players to continue playing the game online as long as they use pseudonyms. So, was there really a ban? Or just a warning to be more tactful?
“I don’t play it,” Smith added. “I live in the real world, not the fantasy world.”
John McGinn takes Dean Smith’s advice
If you browse the FPL mini-league containing the players and staff of Villa’s first team, you might notice that the manager with the highest overall ranking (238.5K) is someone called “Jesus Garcia Pitarch “.
“Pitarch” made 24 transfers during the season and currently has three Villa players on their squad.
And if you’re familiar with the recent history of Aston Villa, you might know that Jesus Garcia Pitarch, also known as Suso, is a 57-year-old former Spanish footballer who, between October 2018 and July 2020, was the Villa sports director.
Does it seem strange to you that Villa’s top FPL mini-league coach is a 57-year-old who was sacked from the club last summer?
It should, because ‘Jesus Garcia Pitarch’ is actually Villa John McGinn’s midfielder.
How do we know that? Well, aside from the fact that we’ve already reviewed the Villa mini-league in GW9, there are a few quirks with the ‘Jesus Garcia Pitarch’ account, such as:
- He participates in the “Scotland” Global League
- He’s had John McGinn on his team all season
- Her team name is ‘Quarantina’, the same name John McGinn used
We also don’t think John McGinn was a huge fan of the real Jesus Garcia Pitarch. In July 2020, as the man who signed Mbwana Samatta was sacked, McGinn urged the club to start signing better players.
– Telegraphic football (@TeleFootball) July 27, 2020
We think John McGinn assuming the identity of a former club employee is exactly what Dean Smith wanted, but other players and staff have responded to Villa’s FPL ban in different ways.
Matt Targett at least made an effort to restore balance after the scandal. On February 22, the day the ban was reportedly enacted, he transferred the injured Grealish to his FPL squad, presumably in an attempt to confuse his opponents.
An equally skillful approach was taken by midfielder Jacob Ramsey, competing in the Aston Villa Under-23 FPL mini-league, which now bears the pseudonym “Long Fingers”.
But other FPL bosses within Villa’s ranks have been less astute.
One of the club’s performance analysts sold Grealish ahead of the GW26 deadline, hinting that the player was still out. And the academy player Tyreik Wright, currently on loan, has done the same. He also participates in a mini-league called “John Terry has AIDS”.
Tom Heaton is the only Villa player to have Grealish as his captain, although that’s likely because he hasn’t touched his side since before Christmas.
So, have any lessons been learned? It doesn’t look like it: Villa players do live in the fantasy world.
Through Benoît O’Neill