Sometimes love comes from the most unexpected of places. It can strike you from nowhere and leave you helpless. Unable to sleep or eat, it completely consumes you, gives you butterflies, makes you do things you would not normally do. On today of all days, we must celebrate love, of all kinds, shapes and sizes.
As Hugh Grant said at the beginning of Love Actually: “General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there.”
Love for me, and 3,093,930 other Fantasy Premier League managers this season came without warning, in the form on John Lundstram. Back in the hazy days of August with the summer sun still beating down on our backs word started to spread of an error at FPL HQ.
It is unknown how or why this error happened, but it gave us the best damn six months of our lives. Lord Lundstram, as he has been affectionately named by the community, was listed as a defender on the game, despite having never played anywhere along the backline in any of his 265 games as a professional football.
The up-to-date stats show that he has played in a central midfield role 215 times and defensive midfield role 39 times, but in Chris Wilder’s 5-3-2 system, things looked promising. Oliver Norwood was the preferred pivot in the Championship and was set to continue in that role in the Premier League, allowing John Fleck and Lundstram himself to support the forwards.
Things started slow on the opening day as Lundstram picked up just three points, but he did play 77 minutes in central midfield and incredibly cost just £4m. An absolute bargain. The following week, the wider FPL community sat up and took notice as he scored his first top-flight goal and kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace, scooping 14 points, including three bonus points.
The love affair had begun. The secret was out.
Three weeks later he scored 12 points against Everton. But his biggest haul came in gameweek eleven as he scored twice and kept a clean sheet against Burnley. 21 points followed for one of the cheapest players in the game as he price climbed and his ownership rocketed. We were in love. Like any good love story, he had his highs and lows bouncing from huge totals to low scores. But we were with him every step of the way.
Now priced at £5m and with Sheffield United flying near the European places, it seemed impossible that this love story would ever end. The difficult Christmas period came and went and we were right there as January came around. Then disaster struck. Wilder broke the Blades’ transfer record to bring in Norweigian midfielder Sander Berge and panic struck.
The £20m man came straight into the team and the Lord was dropped to the bench. Impatient FPL managers got rid fearing the worse as for the third game in succession, he was named on the bench. Love is blind however and despite all of the statistics and signs, over 40% of us simply could not bring ourselves to get rid of him. Others were trying to get over him. Many thought the love affair was over. Then he came off the bench to score the winner last time out. I can’t let him go. There are too many memories between us.
The sad thing about these six months is that there is unlikely to ever be another Lundstram. He has effectively been a cheat code in a game where every single point matters. Never again will an attacking midfielder be listed as a defender for £4m. He is a complete anomaly and that is one of the many reasons that we love him.
All hail Lord Lordstram. The greatest Fantasy Premier League player there has ever been. Our love is not dead yet.