Once again, the DoDi circus rolls into town for another season with a cast of characters that veer from the fresh and the focused to the chaotic and calamitous. Year after year, it’s a division that inspires in all of the wrong ways but, every so often, it spits out a team and a manager of some quality. Historically, for one team, escaping these Fantasy doldrums has been made to look easy – as the rest of the troglodytes try to work their opposable thumbs on the app – but with an injection of new talent this season, standards in the maligned, if entertaining, division look set to rise.
For Jon Jolley and Paulisa Fekir, the only way is up. After a miserable season that saw his Men Behaving Chadli slide flirt with all the wrong records and only avoid relegation on a Downs-inspired technicality, this season is a chance for redemption. Arguably one of the most talented managers in the league, his maverick style combines flashes of genius with crashes of calamity—if he can find the balance that saw his side top DoWo a few seasons ago, the good times could return.
One manager used to the yo-yo rollercoaster of the lower divisions is Stephen Davies. As the most relegated team in the league, DTA know the lows of going down but Davies also tasted glory with a commanding DoDi title-win with his only piece of silverware. An old hand in escaping the madness of the league’s bottom division – but not particularly good at staying out of it – many argue that DoDi is DTA’s level whereas Davies counters it’s more of their “spiritual home”. Whatever it is, DTA fans don’t want to stay there for too long, but in a division with rising quality, their escape route isn’t guaranteed this season.
As one of two new managers making their debut this season, Jake Evans’ Die Lawro Die are looking to follow in the footsteps of his title-winning brother, Wes Evans. In the first sibling rivalry in the league – Jon Jolley’s claims to be everyone’s “brother from another mother” withstanding – if Evans can lead his team out of DoDi at the first time of asking, and Evans Sr. can preserve his DoWo status, 2019/2020 will an all Evans DoWo affair. That’s incentive enough for Evans Jr. and after a solid showing in FT B, the talent is there to make it happen.
Dewi Rhys Jones and Colonel Getafe made a similarly strong show of things in their FT B campaign last season too, and the famously fastidious management of Jones should pay dividends in a division riddled with apathy, controversy and stupidity. A dedication to research and statistics, Jones’ moneyball leanings display a level of professionalism many in DoDi lack. It should be enough to see him out of the division but as the competition increases, does Jones have that little bit of stardust to mix his game up? Time will tell.
Daniel Paul Huxely and The Westicles have become a DoDi fixture over recent seasons but the team’s rise from the bottom has been remarkable. Once the laughing stock of the league, Huxley has steered his side from basement whipping boys (calm down, Will) to a solid mid-table side. Improved showings in the cups, a record captain score and an impressive third place almost saw The Westicles earn promotion—this season, Huxley’s aim has to be going one better, and escaping the division they’ve always called home.
At one stage, Michael Jones and Northern Borras showed signs of becoming a DoWo powerhouse, but in the face of other sides’ blistering form, fell away when quality and consistency counted. A pitiful relegation followed and they’ve struggled for form ever since, slipping to a lowly 4th place in DoDi last season. Questionable team selection and a determination to play it safe have been contributors but longstanding fans of Borras are beginning to question whether Jones has the quality to keep them in DoDi, nevermind get them out of the division. If Jones doesn’t get his mojo back, this once great club could be plying their trade in FT B next season.
THE PUNDITS’ PREDICTION
1 – Die Lawro Die
2 – Col. Getafe 3 – DTA
4 – Paulisa Fekir
5 – The Westicles
6 – Northern Borras
1 – DTA
2 – Paulisa Fekir
3 – Die Lawro Die
4 – Col. Getafe
5 – The Westicles
6 – Northern Borras