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Black credits luck and instinct for success

Dugout king: Black’s title charge was powered by early moves for Vardy and Mahrez (Photograph by Kyle Hunter)

Being crowned The Royal Gazette Fantasy Football champion for the 2015-16 season was a ray of light in an otherwise bleak campaign for Matt Black.

“The win was a bit of solace for me because I’m a Newcastle United fan,” he said.

Luckily for the 23-year-old from Southampton, rather than follow Steve McClaren’s ill-fated tactics, he kept to his own selection blueprint as he led his team, Feed the Romelu, to glory and a first prize worth $1,000.

“I had a bit of luck, and early in the season I brought in Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, which served me pretty well,” he said.

“I did quite a lot of research from last season.

“Obviously, I had Mahrez and Vardy from the get-go, but the back four and goalkeeper were built from teams who had done well and not conceded many last season — Southampton, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

“Then I just moved around players in midfield and up front on instinct. Mesut Özil was decent as well in the first half of the season.”

Black originally envisaged building his team around Romelu Lukaku, the Everton striker, hence the name, but had to ditch that game plan because of “statistics and upcoming fixtures”.

Two other factors helped him secure champion status: the Fantasy Football app, which allowed him to stay on top of team changes and enabled him to finish an impressive 144th in the world rankings, and the nuggets of advice, wanted and unwanted, from family members once they had discovered how well he was doing.

Black called them his “assistant managers”.

Despite the victory, Black could not help throwing in a dose of football fan pessimism for next season.

“I’ll probably end up doing a Chelsea,” he said.