PreSeason-3. Zeitgeist

I had planned to write about my strategy for this season today, how I was going to approach GW1-4, my early feelings on chip playing and which teams had caught my eye after fixture examination. However my whole thought process has been hijacked by the uncertainty hanging over us right now.

This new season is going to be a balance board, which requires patience and flexibility. More so than any other season before it, this is the COVID effect. And what’s more it will be ongoing for 38 weeks.

Alongside the bunching of fixtures, resulting from a late start, we have other perils such as unavailable players due to isolation/quarantine (which should recede as the protective bubble re-emerges). I wonder too, if the International matches & European ties may need to be ‘managed’ due to the ever changing travel corridors/isolation guidelines enforced by the government of our island.

We are wired to face uncertainty with fear, we have to train ourselves to override this.

My mindful coping mechanisms

  • realise I can’t control everything but I can control how I react
  • accept it’s going to be uncomfortable, cut myself some slack
  • keep positive. I will set small targets and give myself rewards
  • reflect on information before acting
  • make the best decisions I can with the information I have, focus on good processing not any bad outcomes
  • have contingency plans: I use Plan Bs as a gym workout for my brain, conditioning it to alternative outcomes.
  • let go of any bad outcomes quickly and move on
  • support: I can and do talk out the anguish with my trusted friend. I dump it.
  • take time away, I recharge with exercise outdoors
  • embrace the changes, where there is chaos there is opportunity, everyone faces the same issues, I aim to be proactive not reactive

Some thoughts from Scott Parker, Fulham manager, April 2020, on the uncertainty before restart.

“I am a person who likes to set targets, but we can not really plan,”

“My job is just to be honest with everyone about where we are at and what we can do right now.”

“One thing I have been able to do in this time is to look back at loads of bits from the season; it has been good for reflecting.”


I am treading cautiously this season, flexibility in my team and my outlook. There will be no risky tactics from me, involving maverick chip playing, I am resorting to the comfort of successful outcomes from previous seasons’ learning curves. Vanilla. Strategic, rational, and systematic.

I am leaving you with this insight from arguably one of the greatest football managers ever

Observation is critical to management. The ability to see things is key—or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see.

Sir Alex Ferguson

II. The Voices: Flashback 2019/20


I won a mini-league last season, which piqued my interest. 

This season I’m all over it!  (subscribes to all content I come across)

I’m religiously absorbing information left, right & centre. Podcasts, YouTube shows, articles, chat rooms… pulling ideas from everywhere. The plan that I’ve unconsciously adopted is to simply, be part of the herd, not really caring about the finished puzzle, just ensuring I have all the pieces.

That sounds like a really good idea, plus, they must know what they’re talking about!

Which player did that person just bring in?

I’m gonna change my whole approach now.  (8pt hit)

That asset just hauled, I’m getting him in!

This asset will haul eventually, I’m keeping him until he does. (another hit)

I continue like this all season until the pandemic induced break, treading water,  all season, in the overall region of 1M – 1.2M convinced that my “plan” can still get me a <100K end of season rank.

“Check yo’ self, before you wreck yourself…”

I realised – during the break – that people process the same information according to their mindset, which is always conditioned to a lesser or greater extent.


I applied a lot of critical thinking to social media’s Covid19 conversations, as the noise on the interwebs was raucous! I came back to the restart of FPL management with the same cognition. Maybe knowing that it was a small, set number of quick-fire matches, I could see the bigger picture and thus took all of the games into account, as opposed to just the next immediate short-term encounters, as the baseline model.

The short of it… I rose approximately 700K places by season’s end.

Being aware of one’s own susceptibility is vital to success. 

Personality equals style. What looks good on you, will not on another (and vice-versa), and even if you and said others look equally great… there will always be degrees of!

Style.  Know your own.

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1. Pre season thoughts…

The OfficialFPL game opened last week, and I’ve tried my best to not keep altering my team everyday since. However, having seen numerous drafts on Youtube, Twitter and Discord, it’s pretty hard not to overthink and alter your team right?

I always ask myself ”Is there a correct strategy for going into a new season?”
– Do we choose players who did well last season and then scout for players who are on form going forward?
– Do we pick players based solely on their gameweek 1 fixture?
– Do we pick a team based on their first couple of fixtures?
I think the answer is yes to all, but your decision depends on which strategy you feel most comfortable and confident with.

The consensus will be that Liverpool assets will be highly owned from gameweek 1 throughout the season, and why shouldn’t they be? Mo Salah (£12m) and Sadio Mane (£12m) will be amongst the highest owned players throughout the entire season, however most teams will only own one of them, I don’t see many teams going with both. I think teams will favour the Liverpool defence more. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) was the highest scoring defender last season, known for his assists and set piece ability. Andy Robertson (£7m) and Virgil Van Dijk (£6.5m) finished the season 2nd and 3rd highest in points from defenders.

Man United and Man City having blank gameweeks throws a spanner in the works for every manager who wanted them in.
Is it possible to pick a team that is good enough gameweek 1 to get you points, and then will you be able to make the relevant transfers easy enough to get United and City players in your team for gameweek 2 and 3 etc?
– Do you pick a team with players at the same price points as the United & City players you want in, so the transfer is easy?
– Do you keep money in the bank to make future transfers easier?
– Do you get Man United and Man City players in gameweek 1, bench them, and put them in your team gameweek 2? This option will avoid the early wildcard and minus points hits, but it also makes your team less strong and runs a risk of your gameweek points total being lower than other teams so you’re already playing catch up.
– Do you use an early wildcard to set your team up after gameweek 1 or 2?

I personally believe that if you can hold off using an early wildcard, then you will be in a better position going forward than what early wildcard uses will have. Keep in mind that the Premier League transfer window (for international purchases) closes on the 5th of October and the domestic transfer window closes on October the 16th (which will both be before the start of gameweek 5)
I don’t think taking a possible -4 or -8 during gameweek 2 or 3 is a bad idea, especially with it being this early in the season and having plenty of time to make those points up. Just think of the players you’ll be getting in and their points total come the end of the season.

Another question is, beyond gameweek 1, how far into the season do you dare go without owning one player from either team, or a player from both? The most obvious picks would be Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m), Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) and Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) as the premium options. A possible £22.5 million tied up in 2 premium players? Would it be a better strategy to maybe have cheaper options and spread the spare money further around your team?
For example, you’d have more money to spend elsewhere if you opted for players like Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) and Phil Foden (£6.5m) from Man City, or Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) and Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) from Man United as your midfield options, and for striker options you have Anthony Martial (£9m) from Man United, and not forgetting Sergio Aguero who is priced at £10.5m which is the lowest starting price he’s been since he’s been in the Premier League.

On a side note: Both Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford have been changed to Midfielders for the 2020/21 season as opposed to Strikers last season, and Anthony Martial made the switch in the opposite way, from a Midfielder to a Striker.

As for the other 2 teams who blank:
Burnley have a few options to consider, maybe a Nick Pope (£5.5m) & Bailey Peacock-Farrell (£4m) goalie tandem which will cover Burnley. James Tarkowski (£5.5m), Ben Mee (£5m) and Charlie Taylor as defensive options, and Chris Wood (£6m) as a potential striker option.
Aston Villas options however, may be less appealing to managers, especially when they blank gameweek 1. Jack Grealish (£7m) lead the team in points last season with 149, and was by far their stand out player. He ranked 10th in all midfielders in points. With the recent news that number one goalie Tom Heaton (£4.5m) could miss the start of the season, this means that there is a chance that either Ørjan Nyland (£4m) or Jed Steer (£4m) will start in goal until Tom Heaton is fit. A playing budget goalie for a team that only has 3 red fixtures in their opening 14 games of the season.

Another choice is do you go with a set and forget Premium goalie? Or do you pick 2 goalies to keep rotating?
The only trouble I’ve found with the 2 rotating goalies is I ALWAYS seem to start the goalie who got the least amount of points in that particular gameweek, a set and forget goalie takes this decision out your hands and with the goalie been a premium, theres a lot more chance of clean sheets, but they wont get as many save points.

Another question I keep being asked is would I pick players who are new to the premier league? For example, Timo Werner (£9.5m), and Hakim Ziyech (£8m) at Chelsea, Ferran Torres (£7m) at Man City and the newly promoted teams. My answer is yes I would be willing to take a chance/punt on them, especially if they are proven elsewhere.
Timo Werner has scored 78 goals and got 27 assists in 127 games for RP Leipzig in the Bundesliga over the past 4 seasons, as well as 11 goals in 29 games for the German national team.
Hakim Ziyech impressed for Ajax and has scored 38 goals and got 51 assists in 112 games in the Eridivisie over the past 4 seasons as a Midfielder, and was a huge part of Ajax’s Champions League run in 2018/19. He has also scored 14 goals in 32 games over the past 5 years for the Morocco National Team.
Ferran Torres has scored 6 goals and got 7 assists in 71 games for Valencia in La Liga, but keep in mind he’s still only 20 years old.

I’m a bit conscious of the promoted teams though as last season they were the better teams in the league, this year they will be underdogs, so will their performances from the Championship carry over to the Premier League?

Stand out potential players for me are:
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6m) Striker from Fulham, (26 goals and 3 assists in the Championship last season)
Luke Ayling (£4.5m) Defender from Leeds, (4 goals, 4 assists and 22 clean sheets in the Championship last season)
Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) Defender from Leeds, (5 goals, 3 assists and 22 clean sheets in the Championship last season)
Matheus Pereira (£6m) Midfielder from West Brom, (8 goals and 16 assists in the Championship last season)

Keep an eye on Twitter and club news for any potential signings in and out, as well as pre season line ups. You need to remember that all your players need to get through pre season and the Internationals unscathed, so this could also alter strategies.

I. Meditations: “Cogito, Ergo Sum.”

All I really know is that I have the capacity to think.  This should not however be confused with actual thinking. I mean, “…you only need to select the best assets, right!”.  Right. 

Question Mark, Important, Sign, Problem, Search, Help

The Voices.  Chaos.  Mental notes.  Ego.  

Ok, so I admit, I’m not as good at this as I think I am, or more to the point, it’s not as easy to get good at this as I thought it would be.  I thought that consuming information, any and all, would be right. It’s logical: more data, more informed, more points.  

Or not as it turned out. 

The Knowledge (as a fellow blogger quite rightfully termed it) is… points.  

Points, points, wherefore art thou points? 

Looking at my gameweek history, points were not something I was conducive to accruing. Though saturated with data, last season was abysmal.  

Why? Thinking!!

It took a pandemic enforced break to kick my ego into touch (or is it action?).

With my mind devoid of FPL, by the time Project Restart commenced, my FPL brain had had a full reset. The Siren Song no longer enchanted me, couldn’t care less what the voices are saying anymore. Ego. 

Knowledge, without a cognitive plan of application, equals red arrows

It was a surprise to a logical mind like mine, that I thought I was thinking… when in reality, the thought never crossed my mind. 

I needed to introduce myself to me.

Intro: Meditations

So the season will soon be underway and I’m eerily clear-headed. 

This is a first.


I am part of the chaos, yet detached from involvement, really though, I’m just better prepared. 

Man, Human, Evolution, Body, Prehistory

I have a plan.

Now, I’m evolving on the fly here. The 2019/20 season concluded just 28 days ago! In this time, I’ve collated the mental notes of mistakes made last season, which now lend to The Plan. Thus, I’m adopting. I’d heard about price-points before, but it was gobbledygook! I even read an in-depth article about it, and still didn’t get it! 

During the progression of last season I became more and more aware of my chaotic management and how price-points can allow me to find order.  I guess the saying is true, you have to learn it for yourself.

Step one in learning for yourself, is accepting that you do not have a clue. 

I suspect this is where ego comes in.