Heading into the International break off the back of the first chunk of Fantasy Premier League playtime, Ben Tallon is back with his latest creative offering of words and illustration that can galvanise us all.

After a loaded summer of World Cup football carried us breathlessly into the Premier League season, the 1st international break of 2018/19 is a more barren wasteland than any I can recall. For some Fantasy Premier League addicts, it promises salvation - a breather and a chance to piece the mind back together. Or maybe an opportunity to prove that you are indeed listening to your partner without distraction from ‘that bloody game’ as they flesh out the order of this week’s big shop list to avoid any back steps from the world foods aisle to the veg bays. With no club football, these things do matter.

As a weekend with only flaccid internationals on offer slowly comes into view like pylons, the night sweats start to pour, existential crises hang heavy on waking minds whilst hiding in suburban pub bathrooms, trapped at the birthday party of a one year old with no escapes, no distractions through the FPL app. On patios we are forced to listen to aunty whoever detail her monstrous, ever growing medication requirements over soggy sausage rolls and fingered egg sandwiches. The pain is searing and alcohol alone is not enough.

Something vital is missing.

Coasting in an unusually lofty position of 6th in my forfeit league, I feel vulnerable. With no sporting excitement on offer, there’s every chance that beers could lead to wanton, immediately forgotten transfers, an unnecessary reshuffle only to learn that four of my players have come off the flight home in plaster and it was all a mistake. Last weekend saw another league member’s triple captain wasted on Sergio Agüero and a post wildcard horror-show for the angry sports journalist, the most valuable chip vanishing without a trace, followed by several more rage transfers. Along with several thousand other Salahnoraks, he lost his temper and transferred the Egyptian out in a grand tantrum before messaging me threatening to delete his account.


For the players with regrets, this break is cruel.

International breaks leave us to confront the person in the mirror, a stark reminder that no matter how bad the addiction to FPL is, we in fact do not manage or coach these players and will never meet them, let alone set them a training ground drill. With the social condom removed, England will deliver false promises in apathetic games as we are left bare and unprotected in real life. We’ll paw at our pockets, muscle memory kicking in on our way around a forgettable trip to buy Swedish furniture. Jaded parents will shout at the kids just a little louder than during a FPL game week.

I especially like to study the behavior of those who are not accustomed to failing, who find themselves in a struggle. With two empty weeks to procrastinate and think about the consequences of finishing bottom, they eat themselves whole as the gap widens. I’ve been there. In 2010, I ran off to New Zealand after meeting a girl and it proved a costly distraction. Even though I told myself I’d still have the internet to stay up to speed on what was what in the Premier League, I fell apart at the seams, shedding points on transfers in prolific fashion, taking long walks on lonely beaches, far from home and wrapped in anguish. The time difference caused all kinds of hassle. Thankfully back then the game did not carry the threat of a public shaming.


My brother, a former champion, jokes and repeats José Mourinho’s ‘respect!’ mantra in social media threads, jovially brushing aside the jibes from other league members having found himself 15 points off the bottom, but I see the fear in his eyes, his little chicken legs kicking desperately as the steam gathers heat, wafts up, brushing his trembling arse. Two more weeks down there and it’ll pull him under. Logic dissipates. You start to think about what happens if footage of the eventual shaming leaks into the work environment, how upper management might take it.

But I digress. To get back to the horrible international breaks, they’re simply boring, aren’t they? What are you up to? In fact, don’t tell me and I won’t tell you. We’ll save the tears for the christening. Let’s all make tweaks, share the screen shots of our transfers with each other and hope that game week 6 comes quickly. Fellow addicts helping each other through the trials of a weekend without gambling our happiness on men who do not even know we exist.

You can see more work from Ben Tallon here

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