In a thrilling finale in the race to be crowned Fantasy Premier League champion for 2022/23, Ali Jahangirov claimed the title after a 52-point haul in Gameweek 38, but it was a close-run thing for the manager from Azerbaijan, who must have had a nervous time watching the matches unfold.
Jahangirov’s team FPL Gunz led the race by 18 points going into GW38, and one key transfer proved decisive in helping him win the crown.
Erling Haaland (£12.4m) has been rotated in recent weeks and, because of the risk of the Manchester City forward not starting at Brentford, the world No 1 elected to transfer in Harry Kane (£11.5m), and it proved a smart move.
Overall FPL rankings - Top 5
|1||Ali Jahangirov||FPL Gunz||Azerbaijan||2,776|
|3=||Joanne Hales-Owen||Twist Tigers
|3=||Craig Marshall||slam tent||Scotland||2,770|
|5||Khaled Zaki||Kani FC||Eygpt||2,763|
Kane was one of two changes that FPL Gunz made. The other was bringing in Martin Odegaard (£6.9m) in place of Kaoru Mitoma (£5.7m).
The Arsenal captain produced only three points in the Gunners' 5-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. While it was two more than Brighton & Hove Albion's Mitoma, who was a second-half substitute in their 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa, Jahangirov had taken a four-point hit to bring in Odegaard.
"Winning FPL is a dream come true and millions of PL fans would love to be in my place," Jahangirov said, sharing a photo of himself in front of a statue in Baku of the Azerbaijan assistant referee Tofiq Bahramov.
Bahramov is a legend in Azerbaijan for running the line in the FIFA 1966 World Cup final at Wembley and deciding to award a decisive third goal to England against West Germany after Geoff Hurst's shot had hit the bar and bounced out.
"It is a huge honour to represent my country and share a common football ground with English football fans once again," Jahangirov said.
Missed opportunity for AZZURRI
For second-placed Abdullah Amr and his team AZZURRI, it was a case of "What if?" as he finished only five points off the top.
The world No 3 heading into the final round of matches, Amr put pressure on Jahangirov thanks to his two successful transfer moves.
He sold the same two players as the overall leader but his decision to recruit and captain Kane, along with buying Harvey Barnes (£6.6m), yielded 39 points. Barnes scored the opening goal in Leicester City's 2-1 win over West Ham United.
However, he opted to start Callum Wilson (£7.3m) against Chelsea and was left disappointed when the forward was named on the bench.
To make matters worse, Wilson was subbed on in the second half for a one-point return and blocked AZZURRI's substitutes from coming on and earning him points.
That proved decisive, because he had Ethan Pinnock (£4.4m) as his first substitute.
Had Wilson not come on, Amr would have been named this season's FPL champion.
Joanne Hales-Owen's Twist Tigers ended up joint-third, which is the highest finish by a woman manager in Fantasy.
Prizes for winner
- Seven-night break in the UK including VIP hospitality at two 2023/24 Premier League matches
- Week’s worth of experiences at popular tourist attractions courtesy of Visit Britain
- Hublot Connected watch
- Copy of FIFA 23
- Laptop computer/smartphone
- Noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones
- Nike manager jacket
- FPL goody bag consisting of a rucksack, t-shirt, mug, water bottle, stress ball, pen, pad and key ring