We’re asking them to not just play, but to think about what they’re doing all the time…not just blindly going, chasing about the field and playing with their heart.

Gareth Southgate, England Manager

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.

Tom Landry, Hall of Fame football coach

Principle. A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.

My FPL ideology revolves around reducing the variables (and maximising opportunity). So this season I am trying to get my team to build itself – subsequently minimising the decisions I have to make and in turn allowing me more time to focus on the positions I have considered differential.

Harry Kane says that England have “a vision” on what they can achieve under Gareth Southgate after reaching their third semi-final in three years.

keeping Ukraine on a lead for most of the first half…a second half that you could be forgiven for thinking had been scripted…An hour into a European Championship quarter-final, substituting important players to give them a breather for Wednesday’s semi-final…Another clean sheet, their fifth in a row in this tournament…so impressive as they simply overpowered Ukraine

Take the initiative and keep moving forward. Control.

Team structure planning is fundamental to getting a good start, so why I am I trying to be so detached ? So hands off. So formulaic.

Because now is not the time to follow your heart, to give into your need to possess the beautiful ones that the zeitgeist is shouting as must haves a whole 6 weeks before information becomes complete.

Now is the time for emotional intelligence, to determine a squad that allows you to capitalise on form and value players as they emerge over the opening game weeks. Getting the basics brilliant is key to FPL success.

more balls than most

After 5 years playing FPL, I bring considerable baggage, my own experiences coupled with the hypotheses gathered from listening to other managers, but what I have come to realise and Churchill said it best, (FPL) it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

My game plan is shaped by a combination of statements, ideas, and tactics which are opposed to one another – that’s just how FPL life is.

Letting the team build itself, perversely paradoxical, yet ironically fitting.

But I am the one who is setting the parameters, getting the basics brilliant. And if I do this now, in a quiet considered fashion away from the hype that dictates the final hours before the game week one deadline, I can be objective.

Having a plan helps protect from ‘the noise’ , and the negative knock ons of knee jerk reactions, irrational and erratic behaviour.

Planning will ensure objectivity (sticking to the facts) rather than subjectivity (being driven by emotion and bias).

Having a team structure is more important in FPL than people realise. Keeping an organised structure can help build foundations of a good team and keep you on the right track to ensure that no major transfers are needed. 


Where do I start the planning process ?

My principle of reducing the variables is my launch pad, to get my head in the zone I compile a list of don’ts, which of course generates a list of dos. This forms the basis of my plan.

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do

Add in some team structuring factors devised from game play tactics, fixture difficulty ratings and stand out ‘value players’ (eg Raphinha), and the plan progresses.

This is how I build a blue print, a map for the great unknown the start of the season. It will keep me on track but offer me a degree of flexibility to move onto form players as they arise. Hopefully it will keep me up with the pack until the first wildcard.

I take control. But paradoxically I like to expose myself to the theories of others – it’s more efficient to borrow abilities and thinking

winning culture


Pre season planning started with analysing the fixtures to determine strong captaincy options, these will be my first additions to my squad, they help shape my team structure. 2 places gone.

Tactically, I like to use the player price point structure, choosing the most expensive outfield options in each position – this means I can move easily between assets with a single transfer. Another 3 places allocated.

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” ― Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor


Every new season is an adventure into the unknown, our only signposts are the fixtures. We all need a direction, some purpose, focus.

My blogging style is not to offer detailed advice on which player to select, but it is more muse like, to be a source of inspiration for creativity and thoughtfulness.

As I write this, we are hours from the second semi-final game in the Euros, where England face Denmark. I am English, I am an England fan, there is a national feeling we are on the brink of something.

Gareth Southgate, the ‘quiet man’ manager of the England team is emerging as a man of substance. No surprise then, that he is on my mind as I discuss the importance of strategy for a winning culture. Aim. Ethos. Tactics.

https://www.thehighperformancepodcast.com/episodes/gareth-southgate key phrases I took from listening to this

  • getting the basics brilliant
  • resilience – hard times build inner strength
  • context and balance
  • set your mind to a goal – focus
  • winning culture – drive/team first/good habits

This team have put down lots of historical performances in the last couple of years, made their own stories and this is how they should view this game. It’s an opportunity. 

Gareth Southgate, England Manager


the paragon of borrowing efficiency, immense piece by Chris Tan

”You must conscientiously know which structure your team falls under and conduct your transfers given those constraints.”

”I will be using the midfield premium’s structure. Let’s go through my first draft and see why I have adopted this strategy.”

fast forward to 2:46 warning he goes Bruno-less