Pre-season MMXXI/XXII: “Dread Thought”

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For me this is probably the most challenging part of the season. We have the least amount of relevant data possible. The only reliable known-knowns are that some teams are better than others, and within those better teams, some assets are most likely to be in the starting 11.

Beyond this, you open yourself up to ever-increasing speculation.

With this in mind, my first thought is to unlearn and disassociate the conditioned thought of last season, take on a broader view of the empirical data to date and marry that with the opening fixtures. I also use P90 stats, a lot! I gather this data from Fantasy Football Hub. I know that other Opta data providers also relay this (Fantasy Football Scout, Fantasy Football Fix, etc..,) but I prefer the way FFH present the data. #personalpreference

Unlearning learn unlearn relearn

This is a very important concept!

Looking at the historical data of an asset, I can take an educated gamble on an asset given the total minutes & points accumulated per season played in the Premier League to evalutate their probable starting 11 chances. It’s a totally simplistic view, which is ironically refreshing as there’s no current season data to complicate the matter. 😀

On top of this founding thought, I layer mitigations. I don’t want to over-extend on any club, no matter how convincing the history maybe. Even the mighty City were pretty dog-shite at the start of last season, notwithstanding the obvious anomaly of the wider picture with Covid and all that that entailed, as all clubs were in the same boat.

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So, definitely no tripling-up to start off with. Furthermore, no assets that were not playing in an England based league last season (sorry Sancho 😝) #ku. No teams that changed managers during the summer, even if their opening fixtures are top rank, Everton 😝 #ku/#uu. Being particularly wary of teams that have had what could be deemed as an important cog leave the club during the summer, Ben White #ku! Assets that went deep into the Euros also give me pause for thought… 🤔

You see, I feel that there are enough unknown-unknowns as it is in pre-season, so adding known-unknowns into the mix just increases the chances of me putting dud assets into my GW1 squad, and one of the very important known-knowns that I’ve come to realise, is that a decent GW1 points haul will echo throughout the rest of the season… as will a poor one!!

Your GW1 points total will inevitably paint the backdrop of your management approach for the next few gameweeks, if not, your entire season! No pressure! 😈😂

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As I wrote the above paragraph, I heard a voice say, “But, we’ll get data from the actual pre-season games the clubs will play!” Hmmmmm…🤔 I reckon that apart from looking at formations and minutes on the pitch, the rest is unreliable. I mean, will Ziyech get a hattie vs Palace come GW1?! Shit, he’ll probably be lucky to get any minutes at all! He only played 1164mins all of last season, returning 2 goals and 3 assists, plus, he was playing an understrength Peterborough, hardly inspiring stuff! 😂 #kneejerk

Anyway, I digress… Getting back on track, I’m not going to be thoroughly boring 😁. I will dabble in the odd unknown-unknown, tempered with said empirical data combined with ownership, as some assets pick themselves as potential necessary shields. 🛡 Toney of Brentford being a case-in-point. Who’s to say that his form carries over to the Premier League?! That said, the very good thing about the game launching so early, is that you can be sure that it is the hardcore #FPLCommunity managers of Twitter, that make up the vast majority of the early onboarders, thus, when an asset is highly owned at this stage, during the first few weeks of the game going live, you need to pay attention! #Exploration

It makes sense to go with the flow sometimes, at the very least, you’ll protect your rank!

By draft 2, which I did within 24hrs of the game launching 🤓😆, it dawned on me that I couldn’t quite digest what I feel is too much of an overall compromise (at least for my liking), having 3 high priced premiums. This then quickly progressed to 2 high priced premiums. So, now I only have one 🤯. This structure is now weeks old and I still feel the same! Value for money is featuring extremely high in my reasoning.

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The tool shown here is FPL Tools, It’s a Google Chrome plug-in. It only works on PC.

I see things a bit differently it seems. I know that many will baulk 😮 at the money I’ve benched, but in my head, I see a way to build in the flexibility of moving between formations incorporating the relating fixtures, whilst the strength in depth can allay the need for immediate free transfers and/or hits, simultaneously providing cover should an asset not start at all! Also, I’m future-proofed against the notoriously inevitable price rises of early season on assets I covet.

My management style compels me to have as many options as possible, hence, I try to have no dud spots in my side. At all. Only Foster is the asset that I’m unlikely to use. The remaining 14 assets could see themselves in the starting 11 given the better immediate gameweek fixture. There are obvious gambles here, but, they’re accepted risks which I feel have a high chance of paying off. In my world, increased options, equal increased opportunity to amass points.

I really like the pricing from FPL Towers this season, as it’s really put the cat amongst the pigeons in my view!

Known-knowns: The better teams accumulate the most points, every season, so naturally, I’ve gravitated to assets from those teams. > Defensive assets, especially attacking ones, provide immense value for money! > Some players are more talismanic than others. > Some teams have easier opening fixtures than others. #Facts

In #DreadWorld 😂 , my GW1 squad needs built-in longevity, in order to allow me to tackle the unknown-unknowns as well as the known-unknowns that will inevitably reveal themselves during the first 10 gameweeks of the season. I need my FTs to tackle these, as opposed to firefighting! Hits?! They’ll be reserved for either immediate and/or longterm gain (monentary and/or strategic gain, like an asset exploding out of the blocks). Absolutely no hitting to simply douse fires!! 🧯🔥

THIS IS FINe. Cartoon Yellow Animated cartoon

I’ve endeavoured to include as many known-knowns as possible. Obviously, we’ll learn some relative data between now and GW1, so assets in the positions shown may change most likely for another asset within the same club. Endowing my squad with as many #Facts as possible, should equal points!

Assets that are untried, are not, in my view, the best options to have in my squad, not now, and probably not for the season as a whole! I know that I don’t know, so, I’ve tried to limit the assets that pose #Questions. 🤔

Lamptey. I don’t know if he’ll recreate last season’s known early form, before he succumbed to injury, but if he does… #Intuition Again, not going overboard on intuitive picks either!

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Could having two cheaper assets provide more chance of accumulating more points than a single high price premium asset?! 🤔🤓

Raphinha and Harrison cost a combined £12.5M, or essentially, one Salah/Bruno/KDB/Kane. When you add up the minutes played, the points accumulated (from last season), and then extrapolate the greater chances of at least one of two assets returning points on a weekly basis as opposed to the inevitable blanks of a single asset, it does make you think… #foodforthought 🤔🤓

Now, I have no idea if any of my reasoning will result in the good start I crave which would then set me up for a good season, but, this unknown, alongside the hope that I’ve provoked thought with this article, well…

That’s the fun of it!! 😀

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L. Learning

At the very least, this season has set me on the path to managing my FPL Squad in a way which is synchronised with my own individual thought and whim. Gone are the adopted “rules” which I took on as a noob, rules which I required, at the time, as I had no idea, none whatsoever!

Breigel - Blind leading the Blind

Where in essence, it’s simply a game of picking and then fielding the best 11 out of 15 players, the process undertaken to produce your chosen 11 will be as complex or as effortless as you make it. This was my first realisation this season.

The second was understanding that not all information and/or sources of said information and/or the format that information is presented in, is for me! You see, we’re all wired differently and I had to decipher what works with my cognition, what is easily broken down into ABCs and 123s. There is absolutely no gain in absorbing data that you cannot easily make sense of!

When it comes to management, we are all unique in our Style.

Your personality, in essence your mentality, the way your head works, will determine your unique process. You need to get in tune with this and feed it accordingly. This is the very basis to becoming confident in your own cognitive process which will lead to much reduced, or even the elimination of, second-guessing. From there you’ll naturally progress to process-based evaluations as opposed to results-based evaluation. The latter of these being the demon which haunts many!

Freedom concept

My Process. This is where I found my Freedom. The freedom to unlearn the contraints I consciously, and unconsciously, had adopted. The freedom to take a suggestion onboard, or outright disregard, and still stay my course. The ability to recognise something I overlooked and adapt accordingly, The ability to evaluate all results objectively, in the knowledge that there is always an element of Chaos which I have absolutely no control over! If one or two assets don’t go as anticipated… well, that’s why I chose another 13 assets, right!

Liberation, to do what my intuition leads me to place more faith in.

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I’m yet to fully understand nuances of my cognitive mindset, Convergent, Divergent or the combined two resulting in Lateral thinking, either way, this has been my journey this season, and I’m excited to see how the discovery and forging of my own path will benefit me, or not (as this is also a possibility) come next season!

A third realisation is my impatience, a common pitfall of ambition, which I’ll need to temper next season. I transferred out 5 goals this gameweek. Bale, Aguero & Foden. I would’ve capped Aguero if I had kept him (as was my original plan, purely for nostalgic purposes), but my reasoning around Bale looking abject at home with managed minutes, Kun consistently rumoured to be “unfit” and assumed rotation for Foden. Oh, and I benched a goal in Son. 6 goals. So, yeah, keeping the faith, may be something I need to practice next season. I already knew they were decent assets with that “X” factor, where they can produce moments of brilliance which cannot be accounted for in stats alone!

My main goal next season however is Captaincy. This one thing will help to mask a multitude of poor choices, if I can nail my captain choices! The correlation between the two is naturally obvious!

Season analytical data courtesy of… FPLStatistico

So, until next season it is then! Between the above and also the ability to download your season data from LiveFPL.Net []… I’ve got a lot to review, as well as analysing the players that helped or hurt me, how they’ve performed over the past few seasons and then add those standout options to a pool of players to pick my GW1 squad from… Oh and that I’ll indulge, for the first time, in some Euro 2021 Fantasy Football!

Gotta keep that brain sharp, right?! I’m not really one of those who needs to take a break, I find analysing anything to be therapeutic in a weird way. That said, If you are taking a break, then that’s a good thing, forget about FPL, enjoy other things and come back fresh and invigorated for the 2021/22 season!

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XLIX. xJoy & Atmosphere

It was some point during Tuesday morning – GW37 deadline day – that I heard the news prompting the realisation that my punt on getting Kun in BGW36 was destined to be a complete failure!

Kun would not be fit for the trip to the Brighton Amex Stadium, where City, on the back of a Cancelo red card, lost 3-2 in front of delirious Seagulls who would never have dreamt that the one match the selected few would have the pleasure of seeing this season, was their boys being the first to inflict defeat on the current Champions!! Football aye!! 😍 #moments

On the flip-side though, I also got Foden in for BGW36. 😊 I started him, again, on the assumption that he must get a run out in one of these final league games of the season. 🤔 Somehow, the little maestro – with City already down to 10 men – produces a sublime individual goal where he single-handedly took on the Brighton defence and all 3 bonus points, despite the loss! You 10pt Beauty!! 🥰 He may well be a GW1 choice for me!

So, with that Kun news, out went Aguero (to complete my GW37 -8 💉💉) for Rodrigo, who got an assist! I really expected more, but I’ll take that, his next match is at home in front of fans! Cavani!! Well, he scored an ultimate xJoy inducing cheek of a 40-yarder!! He also claimed full bonus points too! The injured Jota, replaced by Salah…. Well, he just kinda huffed and puffed his way to 3pts. Not vintage Salah at all!

All this intuitive, high-risk captaincy picks and hit taking has been immense fun! Even though Bale©️ turned out to be an #indamud moment! 😁 How utterly abject are Spurs?! 🤮 🤣 I feel totally vindicated in my decision to dump Harry… for Kun, so that I could get Bale! 🤣🤣🤣 I joined the chorus of boos from the Tottenham fans in the stadium echoing from my vision box! 📺 🗣 👻

I really wanted to ditch both Bale & Son, but for now, Son is benched. Foden, who I expect to be rested, leaves for Torres. Bale gets kicked out for a real punt of xJoy in Tielemans! IF I do end up ditching Son, it will be for more xJoy in Willock, what an end to the season he’s having!!

The fortune I had this gameweek were the blanks by Kane & Salah, both heavily captained this gameweek! For the final gameweek of the season, I’m betting heavily on a collection of must win games, at home, in front of their fans! Liverpool, WHU, Chelsea & Leicester have a lot to play for!

Leeds?! Well, they’re just Leeds!! 😁👌🏿

58 (-8 💉💉), all out. 😁


Spaceship Crash - Digital Matte Painting

After my heady voyage through the Stars in TGW35, it’s a Crash-landing in BGW36. I was convinced that we’d see a relatively strong Manchester City side take on, and demolish, Newcastle United. So I invested accordingly. I’m of the mind that Pep will need to keep his CL starting-11 sharp? So naturally, Pep plays essentially a B Team and thus in a BGW I’m immediately down 2 players! Foden & Aguero are nowhere to be seen, and although as I anticpated, goals are put past Newcastle, 4 to be exact, I get no FPL points in this haul. 😤 Torres scores a hat-trick. He was completely off of my radar, again!

So, Bale had the v©️ and now held my hopes for points with Kun not even on the bench! Luckily for me, Bale gets a Fantasy Assist and a bonus point for a total 14pts. The rest of the story however, is not very good…

Jota joining Kun and Foden as a no-shows, left me with only 9 playing assets. Oh well. just one of those things. Jota out, Salah in, and onto the next. Next, being xJoy! I’ve disembarked the Wood train. #AintGotWood 😁 Leeds look like they’re just going to go out and steamroller teams, so a punt on Rodrigo 💉 is absolute Joy!! Gotta have that fix right! 😁 #injectit!💉 Just the one hit mind… Further Joy is sticking to my plan of actually giving Bale©️ the armband. He gets to play in front of his fans as a Tottenham player for the first time since he left! I expect he’ll put on a show for them and AVL seem to be very leaky of late!

43 (-8) The team doesn’t go bad overnight right?! So I’m expecting to return a decent points haul for GW37. #bangaverage

#DreadThought: Everton did fuck all, like I thought they would, as I said to anyone in Hangouts that cared to listen. 😄

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😍 Don’t you just love Alisson! THAT goal & THAT post-match interview though! 😍

Should I be captaining a Leeds asset instead? #DreadThought 🤔

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XLVII. Stars

The Orion constellation. Credit: iStock

I’ve always been one for making early transfers. It’s the way to make money, especially early in the season. Which it is not now. 😁 Thing is, I know what I want. I’m a go-getter and once my mind is set, I just want to crack-on! Ok, maybe I’m just impatient. 🤣

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I wanted rid of Kane, I figure Bale‘s the better pick and I simply love Son, so I needed to change my Spurs double-up. With my 1-week punt on Matheus Pereira falling flat and Michail Antonio fresh from injury, both less fatigued than others, with good fixtures…🤔 It was a no-brainer.

John Stones was languishing @ 3rd bench in what turned out to be BGW34, but only because of #PepRoulette. I cashed my chips in and bought some stability in Andy Robertson. It feels good to have both him and TAA in the back-line for the first time this season! 😊👌🏿💯

So, I had already had my double-fix 💉💉 and enabled my final chip, #BB, by the time I heard about the Triple-Gameweek! WHAAAT!!! #TGW!!! 😳

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It didn’t take long to realise that I was now in a vulnerable position, I could get outflanked and wiped out by an army of Bruno Fernandes owners! Yes, he’s off form. Yet, No, I’m not gonna bet against him! The underlying stats aren’t exactly awful… 🤓😊

What about Salah, I hear you say… Well, I’m betting that the Robbo/TAA partnership will cover him off. I have Son, & Bale covering Kane, so all dangerous high-ownership assets are now covered with Lingard to Bruno, to complete the triple-hit. Yes, Lingard, I’m betting on Antonio to cover him off. You just gotta know when an asset has run it’s course. 😆 “You gotta know when to hold ’em…” #knowwhentowalkaway

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Now, I’ve been playing “#fastandloose” since GW30, being all liberated an’ all. It’s a personalised brand of management that is still evolving, but god-damn is it fun! 😁

At its core, is a solid belief that un-registered thought (we’ll call this #DreadThought) garnered through daily Hangouts chats, BlackBox, The FPL Wire, FF Hub Tools & Stats, amongst other discerned sources that appeal to the way I consume The (FPL) Knowledge, is all churning around in my head and if I just play intuitively, I’ll simply make more good calls, than bad, based on all of the unknown-knowns swirling around in my head! I mean, it’s simply about making better educated guesses, right?!

It’s Chaos, but, it makes sense to me! At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. 🤓

TGW35 – Day 3

Panenka! 🤣 Kun getting me points when I’ve not even bought him yet! 😄👌🏿Full Disclosure: transfer discussions are almost complete, he could very well be my BGW36 Captain!! Iheanacho’s contract has been unceremoniously terminated! 🚫 As has Bruno’s! 😈🤣 #oneweekpunt

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#DreadThought, has landed me with this Very Differential squad full of Stars ⭐, no intentional deliberation or scrutiny was put into creating a specifically differential squad, yet, here I am. Interesting. Like I said, I’m being more creative/intuitive here. As I write this, as far as my assets are concerned, I’m exactly at the halfway stage having played 15 out of 30.

😈 Shout out to Steve-O! TC Maguire was not a bad decision, it was just… 😈

Pereira 🔄 Bale hasn’t returned, but, the latter will outscore the former over the remaining games, I feel the same to be true for Kane 🔄 Antonio. Luckily a few decent returns from other assets has allowed me to absorb the negative return on the hit 💉 for Bale. Stones 🔄 Castagne, even though the former was rested anyway, the latter still hasn’t made the punt worth it. My gameweek score is hiding some rather disastrous hits. Lingard 🔄 Fernandes has paid off. Even though I’m hitting him out again, I’m still 11pts to the good! 😁👌🏿 So, I’m rolling the die again with a -8 💉💉 for BGW36! 😄

Fernandes; Greewood; Iheanacho 🔄 Foden; Raphina; Aguero©️

I really wanted to get Mahrez, I’m quite sure not having him this gameweek will come back to haunt me, Raphina will need to repay my faith, in opting for him instead, pretty promptly. I forget the reasoning that made me go for him over Riyad, but I guess that’s what happens when I base my decisions on subconscious sub-routines.

My quest for maximum xJoy continues with Kun Aguero ©️😁 and Bale v©️. Reckless (says Buffy), he’s probably right and I get his point that giving the v©️ to Son would be more sensible, but sensible is not part of my closing strategy! 😆

I was really kinda impressed with my Bench Boost Chip success, until I saw Pauly’s bench! RIDICULOUS!!!

This TGW will have an enduring fond memory as not only being the 2nd of 2 in FPL history, but also the first I ever managed in and it coinciding with the most points I’ve ever accumulated in a gameweek!

Absolute Stars! 🌟 😁

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XLVI. Carnage

I’m all for making a point. Having endured The Shit Show of Statler & Waldorf (aka Hicks & Gillet) who where well on their way to bankrupting our club, I feel a camaraderie with United supporters in respect of The Glazers. That said, breaking into the ground immediately undermines the point being made.

Flipping it again however, the fact that in the end, the game was postponed, has played havoc with the fixture schedule, (probably not what Utd need right now) and must’ve also affected the revenue stream, at least temporarily, for all of the leeches involved! So a message has been delivered! Much like the two muppets pictured directly above were, the Glazers are also parasites!

To my delight though, as I’ve said before, I revel in Chaos!! It turned into carnage for many FPL managers who own Man Utd or Liverpool, not to mention City and Chelsea assets! 🤣

I’ve seen squads up to 6 assets deep for this game and I’m sure they’ll be an avalanche of hard luck stories come the end of the GW34 Blackout. To accompany this, Rüdiger was injured, with Pep & Tuchel rotating nigh all their defensive options! This has left managers with anything up to 8 assets, not returning a single point! “UNLUCKEEEY!!” 😁

But, that’s not all!! Kane blanked! In a match where Bale scored a hat-trick, and Son got a goal and an assist (with another goal marginally called offside)! If you capped an option from ManU/Liverpool?! #InTheMud!! 🤘🏿🤣

Now all of this may have added up to working in my favour, as my “break all the rules” uninhibited closing strategy continues. Naturally, going into the now BGW34 😯, a single hit 💉 (-4) was never going to cut it! 🤣

Instinct warned me I’d have a defensive headache, even before the Rüdiger injury news, so when that particular news greeted me on Friday morning, well… another hit 💉 and Welcome! Castangne (2pts. Net -2)! 😄 It could’ve been Stones 🔄 Cancelo, but, City don’t have a double-gameweek and the triple Chelsea defence has run its course.

Leicester held the clean-sheet until the 61st minute. Which is a minute beyond when the clean-sheet points get added, right?! You couldn’t make it up! 🤣 The way the gameweek had gone up till now, it was no surprise when my cap choice, Matheus Pereira, blanked. Alas, Wolves huffed & puffed in the Black Country derby, yet Pereira returned less than my bus team captain choice of Iheanacho (he just keeps delivering!). I’ve ended up with a 60k rank drop to 1.29M.

At least I’m not back at the 1.3xM mark! 😁 I’m going to console myself with double Liverpool defence and pop my BB Chip to reinvigorate my xJoy!

Like, why the hell not! #fastandloose with the now obligatory double-hit! #norules 💉💉😁

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