“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!”
TOP MARX RETURNS
This was my pre-match team talk to The Great and The Good as they went into battle against Top Marx’s Hall of Fame. I was fired up, probably still high spirited after the New Year’s celebrations, whilst they looked confused as to why I was talking about wolves (not the Doherty and Jiménez variety) and shields. I’m pretty sure Mark was asleep in the corner.
It was the FA Cup gap week and, as I staggered from tavern to tavern muttering about the latest Eden Hazard captaincy failure, I found myself face to face with my arch nemesis Top Marx. Probably after a little too much Dutch courage I threw down the gauntlet to the Hall of Fame once again. He very kindly picked it up, smiled with a degree of pity, put down his cup of tea, and allowed me access to his sparkling spreadsheet for one of The Great and The Good articles.
The graph above shows the ranks of the The Great and The Good over the first 21 gameweeks. The vertical scale is from rank 1 to 2m. The distance between the ranks corresponds to the number of points separating them. For instance, there are 249pts between rank 1 and rank 100k and 111pts between 100k and 1m. The graph gives an idea of how difficult it is to move up the ranks as you near the summit.
The level of difficulty to reach the higher ranks has already increased since the last time we looked at this back in GW8 with the gap between rank 1 and 100k only at 136 at that stage.
The average rank of The Great and The Good has improved since GW8, but not as much as you would expect with more data available. It was 107,000 at that time compared to 97,000 now.
The peak for these teams was back in GW17 when they hit an average of 47,000, which shows how damaging the festive period has been. It was at this time that Salah punished many of his sellers, City players were underperforming, as well as few of them jumping on the Son/Pogba bandwagon early enough.
Jay has shown the biggest rank increase since GW8 gaining 290,000 places, reaching a high of 123,000 in GW15, but his campaign stuttered as his Salah-less strategy cost him the 61pts that the Egyptian scored over that 6 week period.
Mark has steadily climbed the ranks and David has proved a great signing for The Great and The Good with his captaincy picks pushing him into the top 10,000. Under the radar has been Joe who in the last 10 weeks has achieved 8 green arrows and is at his highest rank for the season. A classic example of the tortoise beating the hare.
Niemi and Az have lost ground over the last few weeks, particularly heart breaking for Az who had worked hard to get into the top 100,000 in GW17. In an official statement both managers have been given the full confidence of the board that they will turn it around.
The table below gives us a view of the transfer success of The Great and The Good based on the data provided via FPL Statistico. This doesn’t reflect the fact that transfers are generally made with more than one fixture in mind, and that patience in an underperforming player can pay off.
It does make interesting reading for The Great and The Good. There is no doubt that Mark made some great transfers earlier in the season but he currently sits at the bottom of this statistic, particularly when considering the 9 hits he has taken. His early season purchases of Hazard and Sterling proved master strokes but more recently his transfers of Holebas, Van Aanholt and Shaw have less successful.
The transfer king has been Joe who has gained 105 immediate points from his transfers before hits. Pogba is a recent success for him.
This is the metric where Mark and David have really stood out from the pack, and it shows how important armband choice is to compete at the top level. Both have averaged over 20pts for their captain picks this season, which is a key reason that they sit in the top 10,000. Mark has just edged it with his willingness to gamble successfully on Hazard in GW5 and GW19 which gained him 40 and 30 points respectively.
There have been 12 different captains picked by this group of managers. Salah leads the way at 38% selection plus with an 18.4 average contribution when picked has also been the most effective. The early season rotation of Salah/Aguero has stalled with Kane/Sterling getting more run outs in recent times.
THE GREAT AND THE GOOD VS THE HALL OF FAME
So, with Neil Warnock type claims that The Great and The Good stole the transfers of Ronka and Mark from underneath the noses of the Hall of Fame ringing in my ears we now get to the key question: are The Great and The Good still the greatest?
To compare the two groups I have taken the best Career Hall of Fame managers not signed up by The Great and The Good. Therefore, The Hall of Fame line up looks intimidating and as follows: Grant Barclay, Matthew Jones, Marlen Rattiner, Owen Walker, Richard Clarke, Paul Gee, Lester Cheng, Kenneth Tang, Rick Beamish, and Bruce Savage. The table below shows the total points and position for each group of managers.
Still in the lead, by the margin of a John Stones goal line clearance, is The Great and The Good!
They achieve an average points tally of 1278 and an average rank of 97,156 whilst the Hall of Fame manage an average rank of 108,680 and 1275 points.
The Great and The Good have four in the top 20k with Mark, Ronka, and David leading the charge but the Hall of Fame are catching up and have the highest ranked manager from the two groups in Marlen Rattiner, who sits at 3,390.
The transfer strategy is similar in terms of the overall average number of moves and hits but with each team there is a divide between the patient and the cavalier. Ville Ronka and Matthew Jones have yet to take a hit all season whilst you have the more aggressive Lester Cheng and Mark who have taken 9 hits. All this proves is that there is not one holy grail and playing your own game is likely to be more successful that looking for the silver bullet transfers.
So, what have we learnt from this exercise?
Firstly, keep your eye on ball as you can very quickly lose or gain ground with a couple of smart decisions. Second, slow and steady can win the race so don’t panic if you are not making headline grabbing green arrows as consistency pays off. And third, captain picks can make or break your GW and season.
The Great and The Good are still the Greatest (just)!
Back to normal service next week and remember don’t have nightmares.
TOP MARX’S POST-MATCH INTERVIEW
Since our last article ahead of Gameweek 9, the Hall of Fame have closed the gap on The Great and The Good. Although we are going for more than just the ‘applying pressure trophy’ – there is pride and reputation at stake here! But before I fall into the trap of quoting the immortal words of Kevin Keegan – we all know how that turned out – let’s take a look which managers have stepped up to the mark.
I highlighted Marlen Rattiner in my previous report, and he has continued with a bold and successful strategy. He’s taken 28 points in hits so far this season but with an overall rank of 3,390 it is clearly working. He’s been switching around his premium players with Salah, Kane, Aguero, Hazard, Aubameyang, and Sterling all featuring for the ‘Randominators’ this season.
In Gameweek 16 he settled on a two premium player up front strategy as Raheem Sterling was transferred out. The fixtures turned in favour of Arsenal and Spurs, so both Aubameyang and Kane were drafted in. Over recent weeks Marlen has identified key players ahead of time including Son, Felipe Anderson, and Digne.
In the most recent gameweek his three premium players were Kane, Aguero, and Hazard, but he’s since made three transfers ahead of the deadline so it’s anybody’s guess which premiums he’s on now.
If Marlen is the Hall of Fame hare then Matthew Jones (aka Numb) is the tortoise. Yet to take a hit this season, Matthew waited until Gameweek 19 to play his wildcard and managed an astonishing gameweek rank of 2,426. He hasn’t made a transfer since. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Like Marlen, Matthew has also settled on a structure of three premium players. His trio are Kane, Salah, and Hazard. In addition to them he’s picked Son and Pogba in midfield, with a value backline of Doherty, Alexander-Arnold, and Digne supported by Wan-Bissaka and Bednarek. His premium ‘RAM’ defence of the early gameweeks very much a thing of the past.
The third Hall of Fame manager currently in the top 10,000 is Rick Beamish at 6,667. Rick has owned Salah since Gameweek 1 and his surge up the rankings has coincided with the Egyptian’s upturn in form. He owns the same premium trio as Matthew – Kane, Salah, and Hazard – the only other premium player he has owned this season is Aguero, who made way for Kane in Gameweek 15 in a well timed transfer.
Despite showing patience in his premium players, Rick has still managed to take 24 points in hits. This is tempered by 97 immediate transfer points gained. He seems to focus on bringing in players who are undervalued for whatever reason, for instance with the change of manager at Manchester United he clearly feels their players represent value for money – Rashford, Pogba, and Lindelöf are now all in his team.
He has a little more money in defence than Matthew – Lindelöf features alongside Robertson, the duo are joined by Doherty, Digne, and Wan-Bissaka. And unlike Matthew’s expensive midfield, Richarlison has been a cornerstone of Rick’s team featuring in 18 of the 21 gameweeks.
So three different approaches from three equally successful managers. As ever, there’s no one way to play the game.
I said before that I feel such contrasting approaches will eventually see us overtake The Great and The Good and I stand by that – we are breathing down their necks!