HALF-TERM REPORT: DODI

Dodi’s capacity to surprise, entertain and confound continues, unabated, with this year’s crop of doldrum-dwelling reprobates turning up a potent mix of high-performance and high-comedy.

Surprisingly, Northern Borras and Michael Jones lead the chasing pack after avoiding blowing their load in the first few GWs; Jake Evans and Die Lawro Die are trying to salvage the Evans name; Colonel Getafe seem to be finding form after a slow start; and it’s two familiar faces at the bottom with The Westicles nicely poised for another second-half renaissance whereas it looks like the end of the road for Jon Jolley.

Team: Northern Borras
Predicted finish: 1st
Grade: A+
GW High: 83
GW Low: 38
GW Average: 61.15
Best signing: Raheem Sterling

These are rarefied times for Northern Borras. Traditionally, they’d be mid-table and plummeting about now, but after a DoWo season that followed that exact pattern, Michael Jones seems to have learned from his mistakes and shaped a solid, consistent side that’s barely put a foot wrong this campaign.

Stability seems to be the key with Northern Borras hitting the top early and only briefly relinquishing their place at the summit before powering on again. An unspectacular Christmas keeps them in a commanding position, but as the teams below begin to stir, questions remain about Jones’ ability to sustain title-winning form for an entire season—at 19 GWs, he’s already smashed his personal best. With credible challengers in the shape of Jake Evans and Dewi Rhys-Jones still in his wing mirrors, you feel Northern Borras will still have to earn this one.

Team: Die Lawro Die
Predicted finish: 2nd
Grade: A-
GW High: 78
GW Low: 39
GW Average: 58.15
Best signing: Richarlison

There’s a lot to admire about the way Jake Evans and Die Lawro Die have gone about their business this season. After becoming the first side to earn their place through FT B, Evans has watched his DLD side kick on to become one of the divisions top teams. Unfortunately for him so far this season, Northern Borras have shown an uncharacteristic consistency, but Die Lawro Die are still in the hunt through a mix of bold captain choices, a proclivity for a defence-heavy set-up that served so well in those early free-scoring weeks, and a level-head that’s cut through the chaos the division regularly kicks up.

Whether they win the DoDi title or not, the failures of the DoWo sides above look to have made that 2nd place spot a certainty for promotion—and what a moment it would be for the younger Evans to relegate his veteran brother if things stay status quo.

Team: Colonel Getafe
Predicted finish: 3rd
Grade: B
GW High: 96
GW Low: 39
GW Average: 56.57
Best signing: Mo Salah

After a slow start, there’s finally some life in Colonel Getafe and Dewi Jones. Off the pace and seemingly set for a mid-table slugfest with DoDi stalwarts, DTA, Jones’ loyalty to the mighty Mo Salah has paid dividends. Just as teams across the league ditched, him, Jones doubled-down on a captain that’s spearheaded their charge from mid-table mediocrity to staring up at the Top 2. A barnstorming 96-pointer in GW19 marked the highest GW score of the season across the league but with a 100+ point difference between themselves and leaders, Northern Borras, promotion would be a successful season for the other DoDi newcomer.

Team: Dougie Town Athletic
Predicted finish: 4th
Grade: C+
GW High: 74
GW Low: 35
GW Average: 55.94
Best signing: Eden Hazard

The “Prince of DoDi” is back in his spiritual heartland, and Stephen Davies seems to be doing everything he can to stay there. Things started brightly as DTA vied with Die Lawro Die for second place as Northern Borras streaked but they’ve tailed off badly as both Evans, and now Dewi Jones, have moved ahead of them in the table. With a wildcard and a free hit both played, DTA lack some of the late-season firepower of their rivals, and while it’s unlikely Davies will be bothering the DoDi title race, it’s equally implausible that they’ll ever be relegated either as long as Jon Jolley remains in the division—a season of mid-table obscurity beckons.

Team: The Westicles
Predicted finish: 5th
Grade: C
GW High: 84
GW Low: 38
GW Average: 52.73
Best signing: Mo Salah

Depending how you look at it, Daniel Paul Huxley and The Westicles either make it interesting or difficult for themselves. A bad first half to the season usually means a commanding second half; a commanding first half usually means a race to the bottom against whichever circus Jon Jolley is managing. Still, for the manager behind the highest-scoring TC on record and a series of giant-killing exploits in the cups, season-on-season, The Westicles show improvement. It’s easy to forget that three years ago, they were Fantasy fodder – even by DoDi standards – consistently finishing bottom by 100+ points. Now, even with the hapless Paulisa Fekir in the league, relegation isn’t a pre-season certainty with some outstanding performances from last year a demonstration of how far they’ve come. “Most Improved” can often come across as a patronising platitude, but in the case of The Westicles, they’ve become the neutral’s favourite.

Team: Paulisa Fekir
Predicted finish: 6th
Grade: D
GW High: 66
GW Low: 30
GW Average: 49
Best signing: Roberto Pereyra

It’s tough to know where to begin with Jon Jolley but it usually ends with relegation—and this season is set to be no different based on these first hopeless 19 GWs. Cut adrift at the bottom of DoDi like a hapless potato-shaped Wilson, it’s hard to see where the 80+ points needed to avoid being relegated out of the league will come from. Jolley’s maverick style once had his side sitting 100 points clear at the top of DoWo yet, somehow, that season ended in relegation. This campaign, he hasn’t had that start, or that buffer, and after a record number of wheeling and dealing last season, his litany of transfers, even at this stage of the season, are set to deliver the FT B coup de grace.

Still, it’s hard to believe that for all of his failure this season, Paulisa Fekir are yet to disrepute and Jolley has, in his own way, found a consistency in a GW average of 49—just shy of the 50 standard most managers hold themselves to. That stat suggests the league has kicked on and there’ll be no passengers in future—for a flawed maverick like Jon Jolley, we should enjoy him while we still can because we’ll probably never see the likes of him again.