Following on from the popular ‘FPL Season From Hell: Where Did It All Go Wrong?’ article (which can still be read here), I thought I’d look at some of the less tangible reasons why a FPL season can go belly up. Hopefully this honest and laid bare opinion piece will start up a robust debate on the part that luck plays in the game.
In the FPL General’s The 59th Minute Podcast entitled “Gameweek 1 Watchlist 2019/20”, he – without meaning to – highlighted exactly 50 players who he is interested in going into next season. This nice round number really got me thinking. There are 50 players who could potentially do well and score heavily next season. I agree with almost all of the picks – at any given point of the season, they could indeed explode into life, go on a run, rack up the points and show some of that lovely consistency we all crave.
The obvious problem is this. We can only start 11 players in any gameweek. What if the 11 players we choose just so happen to be the 11 out of the 50 who conspire not to score points? Sure, we can study the stats, watch the games, read the articles, listen to podcasts and canvass opinion to make sure our players don’t blank, but what if we just get unlucky and keep missing the points? What if gameweek after gameweek events conspire against you and your team and you keep sidestepping the players who are scoring goals and getting assists?
Looking back at the players I had last season, they were primarily very good players backed up by the stats and by the eye test. But no player returns every week. In general, blanks are more common than returns. What if, as you make your transfers week after week, you get the timing all wrong? And as things get worse and your overall rank plummets, you get more desperate, chase points, take hits and keep bringing in good players at the wrong time? I think this is where – like in real football – confidence can come into play. In FPL, if things are going poorly and you are being pummelled by red arrows week after week, you confidence ebbs away, a low feeling engulfs you and you resign yourself into thinking that each transfer decision won’t come off.
Plain dumb bad luck compounds matters – and sometimes when the cold, unfeeling FPL Gods are feeling particularly cruel, it can be unrelenting. Take Man City for example. Sterling and Aguero can very easily score big in any game. What if you back Aguero with a transfer and/or an armband, but then Sterling bags the hat-trick while Sergio blanks in a high scoring game? Would anyone have been surprised if Aguero scored heavily? Could anyone say with 100 confidence that Aguero will blank in a plum fixture? But these things happen – football is random and difficult to predict. A deflected shot here, a bundled home melee in the 6 yard box and a 1-inch goal line decision there. There are so many 50/50 calls in the game and no FPL Manager has a God-Given right to get them all right or even get one of them right.
Bournemouth is another classic example. Who scores the points for Eddie Howe’s team? Usually it’s one of Wilson, Fraser, King or Brooks. You pick one or even two of these four players in your team, but it’s perfectly possible that it’s the one guy you don’t own who scores all the points. They are all capable of scoring well, but it just happens to be the player you don’t have who scores. And there is nothing to say that this cycle can’t repeat itself gameweek after gameweek and throughout the majority of the season. It takes a lot of bad luck for this happen (and the confidence seeping away from you can certainly lubricate and oil the wheels of this bad luck), but it is eminently feasible.