To infinity and beyond!
There is a definite buzz in the air as FPL returns, last season seems a light year away, but this time feels a little different.
For a start we kick off in September, then there is the shadow of the global pandemic hanging over us, meaning we seem a long way from being able to carry out our eye tests from the stands.
Yet, one thing remains, that glimmer of hope, that no matter how much as rational individuals we know it unlikely to be true, that this could be the year we win FPL, which really is fantasy, for most of us at least.
Lofty dreams to one side, it’s good to be back after a frenzy of activity and drafts, so many drafts, with pretty much every player considered, apart from Jesse Lingard. Nobody had him.
The new season brings a more self-reflective FPL Community with a focus on psychology and management of our own behaviour as well as our £4.5m rotating defenders at the forefront of our minds.
Even Mark, who has returned to do battle, seems ready to learn from his mistakes, asking Az and his Black Box to step in should he show any signs of wanting to repeat last season’s errors. I doubt he’ll be recruiting Wesley this time round.
Likewise, I will be continuing my own voyage of personal FPL self-discovery as I look to some prominent FPL managers affectionately known as The Great and The Good to see what I can learn as they plot their course through these choppy waters.
I am delighted to announce the class of 2020/21, which I am sure, as always will meet with universal approval:
Ville Ronka – my enigmatic muse, the secretive Scandinavian guaranteed his inclusion after winning last year’s title. His record speaks for itself, which is handy as he remains silent, with four top 1,000 finishes in his 12-year career.
Az – Blackbox thinker who has been the comeback king of these articles in the last two years with remarkable strong finishes after questionable starts. Don’t question his pedigree with three top 5,000 campaigns to his name, who knows what will happen if he gets out the blocks quick?
Lateriser – Our first new entrant and it was never in doubt, the Pro Pundit, upside chaser who made it to 30th in the overall rankings last year. His clash with Mark already has many an FPL enthusiast bristling with anticipation. Will the master become the apprentice or is the apprentice already the master?
Joe Lepper – The Scoutcast overlord who rules with an iron fist in a dullard glove, he plays a more conservative style with an eye for structure but just as successful with five finishes in the top 5,000.
Matthew Jones – Iceman to many an FPL Maverick, his calculating style meant he only took one hit all season last year. His record is enviable as he has been in the top 2,000 five times. Will he be top gun this year or all apologies?
Tom Freeman – The second of the Pro Pundits to graduate and no need to justify his place as he has ended up with a triple figure rank five times in his career. His record will just make you jealous, loves a differential and having fun with fourth midfielder – which I hear is what got Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood in so much trouble.
Neale Rigg – Back for revenge after leading for most of last season before fading after the restart. Brilliant writer and a 14-year veteran who spends far too long watching manager’s news conferences, so we don’t have to. I heard he was delighted to see the back of the non-committal Eddie Howe and is still waiting for the day Sean Dyche refers to him as Riggsy.
Fabio Borges – A modern phenomenon, has only been playing for last six seasons but finished five of those in the top 5,000. Hall of Fame No 1, newest Pro Pundit and lover of xG. The best thing to come out of Portugal since Nando’s, if in fact they had come out of Portugal.
FPL General – An FPL Veteran who was the third highest scorer amongst The Great and The Good last season so deserves another shot. He has three top 500 finishes and is one of the biggest FPL influencers in the game with a love/hate relationship with Callum Wilson, will a change in club tempt him to be trolled once again?
Magnus Carlsen – Norwegian Chess Grandmaster whose FPL exploits caught our attention last year when he finished 10th overall. Will he open with a King’s gambit and triple captain Aubameyang next weekend or will it be more likely I run out of chess references by the third or fourth Gameweek?
Sean Tobin – Former Hall of Fame No 1 with six top 5,000 finishes, two top 1,000 and he finished 16th in 2018/19 season. His rivalry with Fabio as he looks to reclaim top spot in the Hall of Fame should be one to watch.
Mark Sutherns – Returning to Scout after a short sabbatical where he was probably seeking spiritual FPL enlightenment or at least some more magic beans. He is back in the spotlight again and after winning the inaugural ‘The Great and The Good’ title in the 2018/19 campaign he has something to prove after a slow season last year.
For the more observant of you that means there are a couple of high profile departures but, never fear, I will be keeping an eye on them along with the remainder of the Pro Pundits as they remain part of ‘The Great and The Good’ network. There is no escape from Greyhead’s glare!
New normal service was resumed with the Hall of Fame No 1 Fabio Borges already at the top of the table with 82 points, he was one to benefit from the Mo-trick but also had points from his flying full-backs Justin and Digne.
Mark had the good start he so desperately craved thanks to Salah but also the wise purchase of Reece James who continued his good form from post lockdown with a 14-point haul.
FPL General must have been delighted when he finally got around to watching Match of the Day on Saturday as he had fine score of 80 points despite only being able to put out 10 men with Pulisic AWOL and a bare bench.
The template for The Great and The Good is as follows with number in brackets showing how many teams in which they appear:-
McCarthy (7), Steer (6)
Alexander-Arnold (12), Walker-Peters (9), Mitchell (7), Justin (5), Ayling (5)
Aubameyang (12), Salah (11), Saint-Maximin (8), Bissouma (7), Soucek (6)
Werner (11), Mitrovic (6), Adams (4)
No real surprise there is universal support for Alexander-Arnold and Aubameyang, but perhaps intriguing to note Lateriser was the only one to go no Mo, which he possibly regrets after the first round of fixtures.
Only Joe, Tom and that man Lateriser has any United or City players on the bench with Martial being the pick of Ole’s squad for these three wise men.
PRICE POINTS POWER
Lots of talk about balance, structure and price points before the season started but how did The Great and The Good approach this recurring topic?
Joe is the prince of price points and is well known for his focus on flexibility in his opening day squads, which was reflected yet again in his selection.
His general theory is that this allows him to run away from early season mistakes and move to any player in two moves, but how much have the rest of the managers adhered to these principles?
Looking at the The Great and The Good squads we see the following budget distribution (average price per player):
GK – £4.3m
DEF – £5.4m
MID – £8.4m
FWD – £7.4m
ITB – £0.4m
The majority have adhered to a similar price point model with a heavy-hitting defender (Alexander-Arnold), two big name midfielders (Salah and Aubameyang) and premium forward (Werner). This has then been supplemented with an £8m-£9m midfielder and then a spread of £5.5m-£7m options across their teams giving them a range of prices plus flexibility to backfill should any fail to fire.
However, there are a few variations which may raise an eyebrow with Fabio Borges selecting the double pivot of doom in midfield with two £4.5m options in Bissouma and Lemina. This would certainly seem to handcuff his ability to move in any mid-price midfield alternatives quickly, although there doesn’t seem to be much depth to this price bracket: though James Rodriguez caught the eye this weekend and we’ll see if Greenwood can continue to make a mockery of his xG stats when he returns against Palace.
Similarly, Magnus Carlsen has put faith in his starting three defenders, one of which is Walker-Peters, by selecting two £4.0m options in Mitchell and Douglas. This can only be a short-term tactic as the Palace man’s starts won’t be guaranteed for long when those in the Selhurst Park medical room return from injury, and I doubt the Leeds defender will get many run outs.
Interestingly, this risky approach contrasts with Matthew Jones who has a very strong bench with Ayling, Taylor and Soucek amongst his substitutes. This may be a sign that he is preparing for any last minute COVID quarantines or restrictions hampering his ability to get out a full eleven and certainly fits with his more cautious approach.
Lateriser has invested the most in the forward line with an average spend of £8.5m per attacker plus he has the most in the bank with £2 million waiting to be spent. He’ll be hoping his friend Martial starts with a bang next week and my spies tell me he has already invested some of that cash to swop in Bruno for Havertz.
So, a balanced squad and good set price points looks to be a FPL must if you follow The Great and The Good model, certainly for this season with so many unknowns and if for nothing else it gives you the chance to move on those Spurs players that were talked up in pre-season.
The first Gameweek is over and the real game starts now with big decisions to be made, some will go with their planned transfers for Martial, Bruno and Greenwood, many will dump Southampton and Spurs players whilst others are being distracted by the bright performances of Everton and Wolves who have a lovely run of fixtures to add extra enticement.
Whatever your first week score it’s a long season ahead so enjoy the highs and learn from the lows. I’ll keep you updated on these prominent managers but good luck to you all and I wish you a great and good season.
Whilst I have your attention, there is some good news in an exciting-ish development I will be introducing a chance for members of the Community to beat The Great and The Good.
As mentioned elsewhere, my mini league originally entitled The Great and The Good will give the overall winner the chance to join the hallowed ranks next season (code jxisbl – closing date 11:00 BST Sept 19th), but if you are impatient for glory then I am offering a taste of stardom this year.
I just need twelve victims/volunteers who I will pit against The Great and The Good in a couple of special articles during the international breaks and FA Cup weekends. In exchange you will get bragging rights, if you beat them, and a chance to showcase your FPL talents to the wider world.
This is a chance for many of the community to put their money where their mouth, so don’t be shy and form an orderly queue.
Just direct message me or comment below with a quick one-liner as to why you should be selected, and fame or misfortune could be yours. Selection is completely at my discretion so no moaning if you don’t get in and I respond well to flattery.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now and remember don’t have nightmares.
For those effected by any of the topics raised in the above article then you can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Greyhead19