“Every move you make. Every vow you break. Every smile you fake. Every claim you stake. I’ll be watching you”
Welcome back FPL we’ve missed you! Although with the early launch I am sure many a manager was suffering from draft fatigue by the time the actual action kicked off.
Despite numerous protests, mainly from The Great and The Good themselves, I am back for a 2nd season to watch over them.
As a reminder The Great and The Good are a handpicked group of FPL celebrities (?), FF Scouts or prominent managers who I will follow to see what we can learn as they navigate their way through the season.
After weeks of pre-season scouting, an overwhelming number of RMTs and option a,b or c questions now was the chance for FPL managers to see if they were to achieve that important fast start.
I am delighted to introduce the class of 2019/20:-
Mark Sutherns– The man who started Scout and the top performer in last year’s series. His team picks always attract attention in the FFS world. Using the special Sutherns summoning incantation I have woken him from his slumber.
Ville Ronka– He shies away from the public spotlight but this elusive legend remains one of the best managers around with a point to prove after last year. Already demonstrating his famed patience – his team ID is the only one over 1 million.
David Munday– Editor at the Scout and after his breakthrough season last year it will be interesting to see if this continues or whether he’ll be a one hit wonder. A FPL Chesney Hawkes if you like.
Let’s Talk FPL Andy– FPL You tube veteran. His second-place finish behind Mark amongst The Great and The Good last year secures his place. Just keep him away from Sanchez.
Az Phillips– Scoutcast regular. Possibly controversial based on last year but his strong finish means he keeps his spot. His specialist subjects are Brighton and wingbacks so ask him anything about Montoya.
Joe Lepper– Scoutcaster, famous for both his goals imminent table, his meet the manager series and his dullard tendencies he had to keep his place in the squad.
Sean Tobin– I’ve gone big for my first summer transfer with the signing of the current FFS Hall of Fame number 1. He’s very very good so worth following – enough said.
FPL General– Podcaster, FPL veteran, 3 out of last 5 finishes in top 500 but best not to mention his shocking season last season. Can he martial his troops and strike back?
Matthew Jones– Before we go any further click on the link to Matthew Jones’ team and look at his 10 year history. Now go and find me someone more consistent … A true FPL giant. Here we are now, entertain us.
Jules Breach– The presenter of the FPL TV show will bring some much-needed style to proceedings. She has steadily improved over her 3-year FPL career and finished at 22k last time round.
Geoff Dance– FFS Community Manager and his inclusion has nothing to do with his editorial control over this article. Absolutely nothing. Although he did want me to mention he once finished 49th overall and has 5 top 20k finishes to his name.
Neale Rigg– FFS Deputy editor and press Conference Guru on FFS, his ability to decipher Pep roulette will be invaluable to the squad. A 13-year veteran of the game which he means he has fond memories of Graham Alexander. No? Me neither.
This means Torres Magic, Granville, Niemi, Jay Egersdorff are now left to their own devices although I will be paying them a visit during the international breaks to see how FPL life is treating them.
What a start to the FPL season with the average score at 65!
Here are the first week scores and rankings for The Great and The Good (the pretty table will be back next week).
Ville Ronka – 90 – (OR 296,431)
Andy – 89 – (OR 343,610)
Sean Tobin – 89 – (OR 343,610)
Jules Breach – 87 – (OR 458,690)
Az – 86 – (OR 523,251)
Mark – 84 – (OR 669,883)
Joe – 84 – (OR 669,883)
David – 83 – (OR 750,059)
Geoff – 82 – (OR 839,678)
Matthew Jones – 82 – (OR 839,678)
FPL General – 82 – (OR 839,678)
Neale – 78 – (OR 1,230,883)
In a week of good scores Ville Ronka is the one to lead the way with 90 points although there is only a dozen points from top to bottom this week.
It was a week of fine margins with much dependent on your choice of keeper and which two of the three Liverpool defenders you picked. Ville got all the decisions right with Ryan, VVD, TAA all chipping in alongside the core Sterling and Salah points bonanza.
Neale was left at the wrong end of the GW1 table thanks to Heaton predictably returning little against Spurs and his gamble on the Tottenham men Lamela and Walker-Peters not paying off.
For once we should feel a little sorry for Mark who would have surely topped the table had he played Dunk and McGinn, in total he left 21 points on the bench.
With all the tough decisions being made before the big kick off perhaps the easiest one was to “Go with Mo”, as all The Great and Good opted for the Liverpool talisman. He repaid them with a goal, assist and even some rare bonus points.
The template for The Great and The Good looks like this :-
Pope (9) Button (7)
Digne (10) TAA (8) Lundstram (8) Robertson (7) Zinchenko (7)
Salah (12) Sterling (11) Dendoncker (8) Perez (7) Moura (4)
Wilson (9) Greenwood (8) Jota (7)
* brackets show number of teams they appear in
Not a huge surprise to see Salah and Sterling as the most popular picks with only Jules Breach going without the City man much to her cost.
Elsewhere The Great and The Good seem to have decided on a double up on Liverpool defenders despite some claims from pundits that they don’t appear as strong as last year at the back.
The cheap and cheerful options of Lundstram, Dendoncker (not a big fan of VAR) and Greenwood seem to have picked themselves but it’s the fourth/fifth midfield spot where there is indecision with Moura currently leading the way.
In terms of differentials across the teams, the newcomer Jules is doing her bit to stir the pot as she is the only one to have picked Kane and Martial. They both proved excellent picks and made up for Sterling’s absence from her squad for this week at least.
Ville Ronka also appears to have taken a punt in his choice of Murray, with the normally risk averse Fin picking the Brighton evergreen striker.
FORMATION – GOING BIG AT THE BACK?
It seems every season the arguments become more compelling to invest more heavily in our rear guards as the value in defence and the age of the attacking wing backs logically points to the deployment of four maybe even 5 at the back. This coupled with fewer consistent big-name forwards should in theory lead to the end of the go to formation of 3-4-3.
Yet, looking back at last season The Great and The Good overwhelmingly went to 3-4-3 as default using that formation 43% of the time over the 38 weeks.
However, closer examination reveals evolution over the season with 3-5-2 the preferred option in the 2H as they looked to capitalise on the multitude of options in midfield, which meant it moved to 45% utilization from GW 21 to GW38.
So back to the now and the current season. Is this the year 4-4-2 or even 5-3-2 becomes the new go to formation? The early RMTs seem to suggest the FPL community were willing to invest in LARD as Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Laporte and Digne caught the eye, however what of The Great and The Good?
The majority (58%) of them have jumped onto 4-4-2, however the more traditional types Mark, Joe and David have stuck to 3-4-3. It will be interesting to see if their resolve is tested should the lure of a double Liverpool and double City back line gains momentum.
Jules has gone with 3-5-2 which was Az’s starting formation until the Trossard train was derailed and his non-appearance meant a detour into a 4-4-2.
Perhaps Neale’s approach is the one that stands out, daring to go 4-5-1 and break the golden rule of flexibility. It is a big jump from his budget options Wesley/King to Kane/Auba if those big guns continue to fire. What will he do? Well, wildcard probably.
So, the first week is out of the way which for once felt very predictable. However, waiting for the line ups was especially nerve-wracking as we all paced around like expectant fathers waiting to see if our 4.0 and 4.5 certain starters were actually just that – certain starters.
Now that first adrenaline burst is gone what of our targets for the season? With every season getting more difficult as more players join the fray and more data available some would argue we need to revise our goals? Is a top 50,000 finish the new top 10,000?
For some it may be enough to achieve mini league glory, defeat a rival (hello Top Marx) or just to beat that annoying bloke who claims he knows the Liverpool team sheet 2 days ahead.
Whatever your motivation enjoy The Great and The Good ride!
Anyway, that’s all from me for now and remember don’t have nightmares.