Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic

Stalin bidding

Red mist: Afterwards the mood changed dramatically when he realised the player he’d just bought was out injured for the rest of the season

IT HAS never been remarked upon that any team won a top-level football league because they ‘transfer windowed well’.

In the brief hiatus between the end of the season in May and the start of the World Cup in June, whoever the winners are will be noted for their long-term strategy, the conviction instilled into the team by the manager and most of all their luck.

They may have signed a useful player in January who immediately gels with his teammates, but that will only be a footnote in the side’s chronicle of success.

The Kenna League takes pride in reflecting this particular nuance of modern football. In every Kenna season to date, the winning manager’s preparations in the summer, his approach to the auction, the core of team purchased therein and good fortune, has decided the campaign.

That’s not to say that transfer windows are obsolete, despite the Pikey Scum manager’s claim today that his Senderos/Jenkinson swap in the last window was like ‘rearranging the deckchairs the Titanic’. To remain competitive Kenna managers must ensure their peripheral players are making appearances – it’s little surprise that three of the bottom four managers didn’t attend the October window.

Transfer windows are as integral to the Kenna League manager as they are to the Premier League manager, but for the most part of the season they must both rely on the finite resources at their disposal.

Which is why other, much less exclusive fantasy football competitions have got it wrong.

If any manager wants to remind himself of the superiority of the Kenna all he needs to do is enter the ‘official’ Fantasy Premier League.

At this point it would easy to list the many faults of this contest, that everyone ends up with pretty much the same players in their team, the ridiculousness of picking a captain and vice captain each week, the folly and oversight of not giving prominence to manager darts entrance music, but the argument will be kept to one strain – transfers.

The season is one long transfer window. The manager is essentially picking his team from one squad of every player in the Premier League. No player is off limits. How does that mirror the game?

Of course, the banner advertising on each page hints at why the FPL wants ‘managers’ to keeping checking back on their selections for the upcoming week. The Kenna suffers from no such obstacle to improving manager experience, as the trifling amount of visits to these pages testify.

But satisfying sponsors at the expense of sophistication is nothing compared to FPL’s single biggest foible.

The crucial period of the FPL manager’s week is time between Friday morning and Saturday lunchtime, between squads being announced for the weekend’s fixtures and the cut off point for making changes to your team.

So why does the chairman kick himself every week five minutes into the Saturday early game on the Kenna HQ kitchen radio? Because for any self-respecting Kenna manager this 36-hour ‘transfer window’ is dedicated to planning, executing and recovering from a Friday evening’s entertainment after the working week.

Almost exactly a third of the way through the season it’s a welcome reminder of why the Kenna was founded, and why the preferred time for the next Kenna transfer window is a Friday night.

It’s also the best way to explain why the chairman is bottom of every FPL league he’s entered.

Canesten Combi Cup – group stage standings after two match weeks

Week 2 cup standings - 26 November 2013

Week 2 cup standings – 26 November 2013

Kenna table

Kenna table week 12 - 26 November 2013

Kenna table week 12 – 26 November 2013

Weekly scores

Manager Points Goals
1 Dynamo Charlton Alex 37 2
2 KS West Green Stix 37 2
3 Pikey Scum Jack 31 1
4 Young Boys Denney 30 2
5 Newington Reds Dudley 30 1
6 Team Panda Rules OK George 28 3
7 Hairy Fadjeetas Aiden 28 1
8 Bala Rinas Lewis 26 2
9 This is Sparta…Prague Rich 26 3
10 Dulwich Red Sox Luke 20 1
11 Rapids De Cullons CF Jorge 20 1
12 Lokomotiv Leeds Ben S 19 0
13 Northern Monkeys Hugo 19 0
14 FC Testiculadew James N 18 2
15 St. Reatham FC Mike 17 1
16 Just put Carles Carles 16 0
17 Headless Chickens John N 15 0
18 Judean Peoples Front Sholto 15 0
19 Piedmonte Phil 15 0
20 PSV Mornington El Pons 13 1
21 Sporting Lesbian Ben M 13 1
22 Still Don’t Know Yet Pete 13 1
23 Spartak Mogadishu Abdi 7 0
Points Player
Player of the week 15 Lampard, F – CHE – MID
Club Dynamo Charlton

The Djemba-Djemba factor

Eric Djemba Djemba

Ominous: Eric Djemba-Djemba only managed one more appearance for Manchester United than his squad number (photo courtesy of MihleStrand)

FLURRIES of foreign footballers being signed by English clubs are a staple of the summer.

Unlike George Weah’s cousin, many new players arriving in the Premier League have proven success in other countries, but that doesn’t always translate to the rough and tumble of the English game.

Take Eric Djemba-Djemba. An impressive debut season in Ligue Une earned the tough-tackling midfielder a dream move to Manchester United in the summer of 2003.

Viewed as a potential long-term successor to Roy Keane, it soon became clear that Eric’s biggest impact in a Red Devils shirt came in his debut game – a clattering challenge on Arsenal’s Sol Campbell branded ‘obscene’ by Arsene Wenger.

Fading from the first team over the next 18 months, the Cameroonian was sold to Aston Villa for £1.5m – a £5m loss for United. Competition from Gavin McCann and Steve Davies meant Djemba-Djemba played only once for the Villains before being farmed out on loan to Championship club Burnley.

Only the most devoted followers of Qatar SC, Odense BK and Hapoel Tel Aviv could add nuance to Eric’s 162 appearances and six goals following his release by Villa in summer 2007.

Djemba-Djemba never featured for a Kenna side, mainly because the bulk of his meagre Premier League appearances happened before the Kenna’s creation in 2005. Official Kenna records from the period are as patchy as the Bible, but it’s believed he did spend some time as a Titus Bramble player in 2006/07.

Be that as it may, his combative ‘Claude Makalele’ role in front of defence meant he was more likely to pick up bookings than assists and goals, a highly undesirable trait considering the Kenna’s scoring system.

A glut of new midfielders have flooded into England since Sporting Lesbian lifted the Kenna title in May. It remains to be seen which of those new recruits have the X factor and which have the Djemba-Djemba factor, but that won’t stand in the way of bold predictions based on national stereotyping and sweeping generalisations. When it comes to the auction on Saturday, on whom will managers gamble?

Paulinho (Spurs)

The list of Brazilians to flake in the Premier League is long and distinguished, but Paulinho’s formative years in Eastern Europe give the impression he can deal with a lot chillier and more hostile climes than a wet Tuesday night in Stoke. A likely first-team starter for Spurs and no stranger to the score sheet, although if his season goes too well a protracted transfer saga to Real Madrid next summer looms. Djemba-Djemba factor: 1/5

Fernandinho (Man City)

Another box-to-box Brazilian with experience of Eastern Europe’s icy depths. Manchester should be a stroll compared to any winter’s night in Donetsk. Maybe not guaranteed the starting place of his compatriot above, but lightening pace and a powerful shot. Djemba-Djemba factor: 2/5

José Cañas (Swansea)

In the last four years and 66 appearances, Cañas never scored for his former side Real Betis. Djemba-Djemba factor: 4/5

Aleksander Tonev (Villa)

The wiry Bulgarian international collected an Ekstraklasa runners up medal last season with Lech Poznań and offers width and pace. A former young Bulgarian footballer of the year, Tonev clocked up his first goals for the national side in March – scoring the first hat-trick of his career in a 6-0 thumping against Malta. How much will he feature? Djemba-Djemba factor: 3/5

Leroy Fer (Norwich)

Nicknamed ‘The Bouncer’ for his physical approach to the game, the Dutch international played in a range of positions throughout his early career but is now seen as a defensive midfielder in the mould of Patrick Viera. Not many goals or assists expected. Djemba-Djemba factor: 4/5

André Schürrle (Chelsea)

Certain to go for big money at auction, the German scores a goal every three games at club and country level. Unlikely to be the next Marko Marin. Djemba-Djemba factor: 1/5

The Sunderland midfield

Phil Bardsley may have been rebuked for that casino snap, but it’s his club paymasters who are spinning the wheel for the highest stakes. Paulo Di Canio’s wholesale replacement of players means the team that finished last season could be unrecognisable from the one lining up next week. El-Hadji Ba, Cabral, Diakite and Giaccherini all have no experience of the English game. Will the Italian’s gamble pay off? No one knows, but even his critics would say Di Canio always tends to be right. Djemba-Djemba factor: 4/5

Victor Wanyama (Southampton)

An African defensive midfielder who for the last two years has honed his skills in a league even more unfashionable than France’s. Are you Eric in disguise? Djemba-Djemba factor: 5/5

Jeff’s transfer bazaar opens for business

Life of Brian haggling scene

’10 for that you must be mad’: Players’ true market values will be reflected at transfer windows

PLANS to introduce a new open market system to Kenna transfer windows were unveiled today.

In what league blazers have smugly branded ‘Jeff’s transfer bazaar’, managers selling players in the season’s two windows will only receive what another club is prepared to pay for them. Previously, managers received the price they’d paid for a player.

The Chalkstripes in Kenna HQ’s speculations department predict the move will introduce a new dimension to the league, with less money sloshing around windows than last season and individual performance deciding a player’s value.

The announcement comes comes 11 days before the annual Kenna auction, where managers will gather in the pub to buy their teams ahead of the English football season.

In a press conference this afternoon in the saloon bar of the King’s Arms in Waterloo, the chairman said: “Managers will have to be a lot more wary of who they outlay the big money on at the auction. You don’t want to be stuck with a £30m out-of-sorts Andy Carroll on your hands, or even worse a Titus Bramble forfeit player.”

The changes to transfer windows wasn’t the only change in the new season’s Kenna rules and regulations published today.

A top secret brochure of players to be sold in set order will be distributed to managers immediately before the auction starts – a move away from the traditional method of managers taking turns to pick players at random.

The chairman has hit back at critics of the plan, who think it will lead to less spontaneity: “To improve the auction experience, every manager will have one wildcard pick each, so that they can introduce a player of their own choosing at any stage of the auction.

“Five selected lots will be sold in a first-price sealed bid auction – where potential buyers will secretly write down their maximum bid, with the highest winning.”

No indication was made of who exactly the forfeit players would be for the auction, but Kenna HQ did confirm a 23-strong squad.

Made up of 11 young or loaned out Premier League footballers (The Bramble Youth) and 11 high-profile individuals who have earned notoriety off the pitch (Titus Bramble’s Pub XI), the Titus Bramble squad will be used as bogey players for managers breaking the rules.

Kenna archives reveal secret to success

Roy Castle

Record breakers: In its eight-year history the Kenna has never had a single ginger manager (photo courtesy of D*J*P)

WINNING Kenna teams score 33 points a week and losing ones 22 points, according to league records published today.

Archives show that in the eight football seasons since the Kenna League was founded each player in the winning team picked up three points a week on average – 111 points a season.

Stats also show FC Testiculadew’s ‘Kenna in the bag‘ championship in 2011/12 was the league’s most dominant.

FCT romped home a record 129 points ahead of the pack, were the highest scoring team ever and clocked up the best ever Manager of the Month performance: 251 points in January 2012.

Vasco De Beauvoir hold the golden boot record with 80 goals scored during their double-winning campaign of 2009/10.

Enjoying considerably less renown are the Fat Ladies, who two seasons after winning their 2007/08 Kenna crown pulled out the worst league performance in history, finishing 205 points adrift.

In the same year, Dynamo Temple ended the defence of their Kenna championship by picking up just four dismal points in May’s Manager of the Month contest.

Kenna managers will hope to be breaking these records when they assemble in a London pub to attend the annual auction next month ahead of the English football season.

The Kenna chairman, who last week was confirmed as the most decorated manager in the league’s history, said: “Perhaps the greatest honour should be reserved for the Judean Peoples’ Front manager. He produced what is officially the most mediocre campaign ever, finishing within a point of the average score.”

The name’s Bonda…

A quick thought for former Kenna player Pascal Chimbonda, who today joined Evo-stik League outfit Market Drayton.

The chairman and other sundry Kenna managers spent many an underage Saturday enjoying the pubs and ‘club’ of the Shropshire town.

Chimbonda first appeared in the Kenna in 2006/07 season, picking up 66 points for the Fat Ladies as they reached fourth place.

In the next campaign the French defender was signed by the Barking Hackney manager, but released in October after only scoring nine points.

Chimbonda was last seen in the Kenna scoring 42 points for the Pep Guardiola XI as they finished lower mid-table in 2009/10.

All-time records

All-time records

Highs and lows:

2005/06 – season review

2005-06 table

2005/06 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings

2006/07 – season review

2006-07 table

2006/07 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings


2007-08 table

2007/08 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings


2008-09 table

2008/09 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings


2009-10 table

2009/10 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings


2010-11 table

2010/11 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings


2011-12 table

2011/12 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings and form guide


2012-13 table

2012/13 Jeff Kenna League table – final standings and form guide

Vasco confirmed as Kenna’s most glorious

Vasco da Gama cigars

Cigar?: Vasco’s two Kenna championships and two Canesten Combi Cups make them the most successful team ever to compete in the league

THE FORMER manager of Vasco De Beauvoir has been announced as the best ever to compete in the Kenna League.

Despite getting sacked in two months ago after leading the side to relegation for the first time in an eight-year career, the Vasco manager tops the charts through winning two league titles and two Canesten Combi Cups since the Kenna was founded in 2005.

The Worcestershire man also holds 11 Manager of the Month (MOTM) awards, the league record.

The Young Boys, FC Testiculadew and Dynamo Temple managers – all with one league championship and one cup apiece – will be mindful that they could take top spot in the all time stats if they scoop the double in the upcoming season.

Mr Terry's Ice Cream

Yes, you can retrain: The Dan Terry Seduction manager took a vocational route out of the Kenna

Kenna managers past and present with at least two campaigns’ experience were ranked against each other on leagues won, cups won, podium finishes and MOTM awards.

The veteran managers of Piedmonte and Newington Reds, the only others apart from the Vasco gaffer to compete in all eight Kenna seasons, find themselves down the rankings with just two podium finishes each and no silverware.

The Dan Terry Seduction manager is statistically the worst manager ever to have entered the Kenna, with three Turkey of the Month wooden spoons and a relegation. He left the league two seasons ago to apply his particular talents with more success elsewhere.

The Devils boss, who led the club between 2006 and 2010, is the highest ranked female manager with one podium finish. A condescending and cringe-worthy corporate awards ceremony involving flowers and chocolates awaits.

The former Vasco manager, who is also the Kenna League chairman, said: “To be fair, if I hadn’t always had a feeling that two championships and two cups meant I was the best ever Kenna manager, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time working out the damn stats to prove it.”

Rumours abound as to which team the chairman will manage in the new term. Westgreenspor, Eintracht Mind, Getoverit 96 and Total Network Failure have all be linked to the former Vasco boss.

The publication of ‘Jeff’s hall of fame’ comes 25 days before the ninth annual Kenna auction, where managers will gather in a London pub to buy their teams in preparation for the Premier League season.

Jeff's Hall of Fame - 2005 to 2013

Jeff’s Hall of Fame – 2005 to 2013

Kenna auction to be the most competitive ever

Daft Punk Homework

Homework: Kenna managers are advised to familiarise themselves with the best 14 players from each Premier League club (photo courtesy of CarlosVaZquezCHJ)

MANAGERS preparing for next month’s Kenna auction have been warned to ‘do their homework’ as competition for players will be at an all time high.

Around 25 managers have expressed their interest in entering this season’s contest, a 25 per cent increase on last year’s record membership.

Top footballers are anticipated to attract sky high bids – while even prices for those of middleweight quality are predicted to swell – compared to previous auctions.

At the unveiling of the new player list this afternoon, exactly one calendar month and a day before the auction, the Kenna chairman said: “It used to be that quality players came to England from around the world and managers could get lucky at the auction.

“If they want to be competitive this season managers had better do their homework. As membership of the Kenna has gone up over the years we’ve seen more money spent on the most desirable players, and we expect this trend to continue. This auction will be harder, better, faster, stronger and more drunken than anything that’s come before.

“Whereas Sergio Aguero fetched a record £40m last August, we expect him to go for a lot more than that this year as managers come face to face with the task of securing the best talent.

“The maths is simple: if 25 managers attend next month’s auction it will take 275 players to fill all the teams. That means an average of nearly 14 players from each Premier League squad will go under the hammer.

“It won’t just be English players fetching a premium. Continental Europeans, South Americans, Africans and even Asians will cost a fair coin, and there’s always something about US players that makes them popular.”

1992 Mercedes 190e

Sharp exit: The chairman was last seen speeding away in a  1992 Mercedes 190e after announcing a league entry fee increase (photo courtesy of Spottedlaurel)

The ninth annual Kenna auction will take place in a London pub on 10 August, one week before the start of the Premier League season.

Each manager will start with £100m to buy their eleven players in a 4-4-2 formation.

Under rigorously-enforced league rules, no team may contain more than one player from each Premier League club.

Two opportunities to keep teams fresh will be offered during the campaign, at transfer windows in October and February.

At this morning’s press conference, the chairman refused to be drawn on rumours of a new open market transfer window system for the 2013/14 season. Confirmation is expected in the next few weeks.

The chairman did put down reports the auction was to be broadcast on Radio 5 Live.

“We thought with the turmoil and BBC evolution (or, whatever, revolution) 909 medium wave might be interested in buying the rights, but it turns out it clashes with a cricket contest we’ll all be glued to anyway. We probably should have pitched it to niche broadcasters – you know how these people in digital love something different.

“Oh yes, and did I mention the entry fee rise? No? I thought I did. Oh well, one more time: we’re putting up the entry fee to £25 per manager,” said the chairman, as he climbed into the back of the league’s executive prestige car just before it sped off.

Most expensive players at the August 2012 auction

Sergio Aguero, Vasco De Beauvoir – £40m (player lost under the Titus Bramble ruling)

Wayne Rooney, Greendale Rockets – £38m

Fernando Torres, Newington Reds – £37m

Luis Suarez, Sporting Lesbian – £36m

Robin van Persie, Still Don’t Know Yet – £35m

David Silva, Just Put Carles – £32m

Carlos Tevez, Dynamo Charlton – £30m

Juan Mata, PSV Mornington – £28m

Eden Hazard, Hairy Fadjeetas – £26m

Did you spot all the Daft Punk song titles? First to get all nine different track/album names in the comments wins a postcard from Kenna HQ. 

Attack, Midfield, Defence: winners and losers

Anders Breivik

Attack: The Still Don’t Know Yet front pair came top in a straight comparison (photo courtesy of Pan African News Wire)

THE KENNA League is jumping on the pundit bandwagon about the Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny partnership being the basis of Arsenal’s realised European ambition.

The four best defences in the Kenna this season helped their team to a top-half finish. Joe Hart, Ashley Cole and Jose Enrique shared a tremendous season at Judean Peoples’ Front to crown the team best at the back.

In midfield, the Just Put Carles manager’s decision to stick with his starting four of Arteta, Silva, Osman and Henderson – more likely through not turning up to transfer windows than anything else – paid dividends.

Despite winning the league on Sunday with the most goals scored of any side, Sporting Lesbian fell short in defence and midfield for which the front pair of Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero more than atoned. Only Robin van Persie and Arouna Kone at Still Don’t Know Yet did better.

The Sporting manager’s celebratory tweet today suggests a William Hill account has taken a bit of beating over the last few months.

Defence (final league position)

1 Judean Peoples’ Front (3) 543
2 Piedmonte (4) 466
3 Spartak Mogadishu (8) 463
4 Just Put Carles (5) 420
5 Pikey Scum (15) 415
6 Newington Reds (11) 409
7 Sporting Lesbian (1) 400
8 Bala Rinas (13) 392
9 FC Testiculadew (2) 386
10 Lokomotiv Leeds (7) 383
11 Greendale Rockets (17) 382
12 Headless Chickens (16) 372
13 PSV Mornington (10) 368
14 Vasco De Beauvoir (18) 356
15 Northern Monkeys (12) 355
16 Woking (20) 346
17 Wandsworth Window Lickers (19) 343
18 Dynamo Charlton (6) 337
19 Hairy Fadjeetas (9) 266
20 Still Don’t Know Yet (14) 207

Midfield (final league position)

1 Just Put Carles (5) 474
2 Dynamo Charlton (6) 456
3 Hairy Fadjeetas (9) 440
4 Headless Chickens (16) 399
5 FC Testiculadew (2) 395
6 Northern Monkeys (12) 393
7 PSV Mornington (10) 376
8 Sporting Lesbian (1) 375
9 Piedmonte (4) 362
10 Spartak Mogadishu (8) 336
11 Wandsworth Window Lickers (19) 334
12 Pikey Scum (15) 332
13 Newington Reds (11) 331
14 Greendale Rockets (17) 318
15 Bala Rinas (13) 305
16 Lokomotiv Leeds (7) 296
17 Judean Peoples’ Front (3) 295
18 Woking (20) 283
19 Vasco De Beauvoir (18) 268
20 Still Don’t Know Yet (14) 243

Attack (final league position)

1 Still Don’t Know Yet (14) 397
2 Sporting Lesbian (1) 378
3 FC Testiculadew (2) 297
4 Lokomotiv Leeds (7) 278
5 Dynamo Charlton (6) 278
6 PSV Mornington (10) 264
7 Newington Reds (11) 258
8 Northern Monkeys (12) 256
9 Spartak Mogadishu (8) 254
10 Judean Peoples’ Front (3) 251
11 Piedmonte (4) 251
12 Vasco De Beauvoir (18) 236
13 Hairy Fadjeetas (9) 218
14 Greendale Rockets (17) 209
15 Pikey Scum (15) 198
16 Bala Rinas (13) 197
17 Just Put Carles (5) 184
18 Wandsworth Window Lickers (19) 169
19 Woking (20) 163
20 Headless Chickens (16) 152