Interview time! Four key FPL questions answered. Part 1.
With still over three weeks to go until the start of the season I admit to having had a small play with my team, but struggling to get the likes of Hazard, Costa, RvP, Sanchez and Yaya all in without having ten other numpties in my squad. I want 15 options for my squad, not a bench full of the cheapest nobodies who, even if they do play, will contribute nothing. This is driving me mad, the constant tinkering, the hours of changing formation and personnel every day only to end up with something that is worse than what I started with. Does this sound familiar? Well, fear not, for I have asked some well-known fantasy football gurus to help us. For our sanity I have called on some mates to help us on what we should be doing with so much time left until the season kicks off on 16th August.
Joining me today in the first part of the interview are Banterbury League founder and CEO, Bench; FF247’s own Top Tipper Kop; gambler extraordinaire and ex-referee (he liked the uniform) Mutley; website maestro and world no.1 ‘tinkerman’ Richie (Floydeth); and two Twitter twits from across the pond, Mito and Walt.
The interview I trust you will find both helpful and entertaining – please enjoy part one.
Cookie: At this stage of pre-season what preparations are you making in building your squad?
Walt: Right now I’ve put together a first draft of a squad and am looking over the balance of my investment in each position, picking two decent rotation options (one at GK and one at defence), considering a number of different two-person swaps I could make (example; Sanchez/Bony or Eriksen/Costa), and scouring the price list and transfer rumours; always knowing that almost every one of my current 15 players is subject to change between now and opening day.
Bench: I am just picking a spine of a team, watching how pre-season goes and just keep an eye out on how teams are lining up, who is on form etc etc. So at present I have 2 cheap keepers that rotate, always looking for cheap rotating defenders as 9 times out 10 I will play 3 at the back and have at least 2 playing at home every game week, leaving me with as much as possible to spend on midfielders and strikers.
Mutley: I’m trying to secure a £20 million loan to go with the standard £100 million but not having much luck! Apparently, my bank manager has no confidence in me. Can’t think why.
Cookie: Maybe due to your performance last season mate?
Mutley: Yeah ok, ok, let’s move on swiftly! I’m trying to find a balance, with a few cheaper players but making sure they are all starters for their respective teams, including a reserve keeper, but it’s looking like either the midfield or the defence will be a little weaker than I originally planned. The prices are again proving to be a huge obstacle in selecting a strong squad all round.
Richie: I have made a “watch list” and stupidly started when I had spare time at the airport lounge, but have stepped away from that for now until more pre-season friendlies have been played and transfers completed.
Mito: I’m just chillin’ and letting the pre-season play out and seeing what other signings occur. For now I will only start making a list of the fixtures and seeing what teams I would prefer to have players from. Once I have decided where I would prefer to focus on than I will assess who is likely to start so I can start building my squad. However I won’t start building a team until 2 or 3 days out from the deadline. I figure why stress over something I will only change my mind about 100 times, so I just wait until I have gathered as much information as possible before truly setting out to build a squad.
Kop: I’ve done very little if I’m being honest, I’ve made no attempt to build my squad since I pressed the auto-complete button – there’s plenty of time left to tinker and freak myself out. At this stage of pre-season most teams are still fielding the kids, their reserves and going substitution crazy so there’s little to nothing to be learned from such games. Once the friendlies start becoming a little more competitive I’ll start paying attention particularly to formations, but I won’t get overly carried away if someone knocks in a few goals in pre-season. We all remember the likes of Danny Graham and Mauro Boselli scoring freely in pre-season only for the goals to dry up once the season started.
Cookie: Who are the must-haves this season in your opinion?
Mutley: RVP. Most may not agree, but read on. If you start with him and he doesn’t perform in 3-4 week’s time he can be sold and the rest of the squad can be strengthened. However, if you start without him and he sets off like a train (great United fixtures at the start) then you will have huge problems raising the cash to get him in, it could potentially cost you your wildcard. At 12.5mln he’s not cheap, but still 1.5mln cheaper than last season. So, in my mind, it’s better to start with him than without him, if it goes wrong, it’s an easier problem to solve.
Bench: Three Man United players to start the season as they have a cracking start – also looking at Fabregas & Ramesy.
Kop: At this stage of the season I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘must have’. At this stage last season nobody expected Ramsey and Yaya to go on and have the seasons they had. In saying that, I fully expect United to provide such a player this season as they have no European football to worry about and they have an excellent manager but I’m prepared to wait and see who that might be.
Mito: I have never really been a proponent of labelling someone a must-have “per se” and it takes quite a bit for me to get to the point of calling them that. In the last two seasons only two players have convinced me that they were worthy of such an honour. I might possibly consider certain players a need for a game or a span of games, but only Bale and Suarez ever made me feel that it was FPL suicide to not own them since I have been playing. Looking through the current crop of players I am not sure I see anyone that I be willing to assign that title as of yet. With time one of them may show their face, but for now I will take a wait and see approach.
Richie: Hazard and RvP at the moment. I’ve only tried one draft so far and trying to fit too many “big hitters” is weakening my squad too much.
Walt: For me, right now the must-haves are very few, though United’s opening fixtures make either RVP or Rooney a must-have for me. RVP is my top must-have but I will be watching to see how much action he sees in pre-season and keeping up with news regarding how his World Cup issues have responded to rest. If all signs point to him being fully fit for opening day, he’s my number 1 guy. Eden Hazard is my other must-have. Unless something happens during the rest of preseason, Eden will be in my squad no matter what.
As a manager buying into cheap defensive rotation, the other must-have for me at the moment is finding a rotating pair of defenders from QPR and Crystal Palace. I like their rotation and believe a pretty good rotation can be set up between these two squads cheaply.
Cookie: Have you spotted any bargains out there?
Mito: Hard to say until the pre-season is done. Is very possible that a bargain today is bench fodder tomorrow. For now I have singled out 4 players that I feel are capable of being good value. I will track them over the next couple of weeks and see if they seem like a player that might provide great returns for their price. For now I have avoided the so called cheapies and have decided to track middle of the road priced players. Schurrle, Zarate, Cabella and Siggy will be under heavy scrutiny from my scouts. I want to see Mourinho give Schurrle playing time, want to see Allardyce play with two up top, want to see what role is given to Cabella and want to see Siggy slot straight back into his previous role with Swansea . If any of these happen in a way that are of my liking then there is a good chance one or more of these players will be in my initial squad.
Mutley: I hope so! I’m hoping Tom Ince can get a good run early on, but I’ll give you a different tip than everyone else will – Joleon Lescott. (I can hear the laughter now). Seriously, hear me out.
In the seasons 06/07, 07/08, and 08/09 he scored 164pts, 196pts and 172 points respectively playing at left back. Then along came a certain Mr Baines and Lescott was sold to City where he was either played out of position CB or dropped, and his points took a massive dive. If he can claim the left back position for himself at West Brom playing week in week out, then 5mln for a player who can easily score you 150pts or more throughout the season seems like a bargain to me.
Richie: I haven’t done enough research yet due to being on honeymoon, but I think Snodgrass will be great value this season and will benefit from his move to Hull.
Kop: I haven’t done any research yet so I’m not best placed to answer this question, but two names have come to my attention. The first is Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom who has moved to West Brom on a season long loan. He’s just 21 and has already played 14 times for Liverpool and spent last season on loan with Derby County in the Championship where he made 34 appearances. He can play either right back or centre half. I will seriously consider Wisdom who is priced at just 4mln.
The second player is Ben Davies who has moved to Spurs and is priced at just 5mln. Despite Spurs conceding a number of big scores last season they still managed to keep 14 clean sheets and I expect them to be a solid unit again this season under Pochettino.
Walt: Most of the bargains I’ve seen have been players who have moved to stronger teams since the price list initially was released. As Kop has just mentioned, Ben Davies completed his move to Spurs is one I’m considering as a bargain for sure at 5mln. Debuchy at 5.5mln as the assumed starting right back at Arsenal also looks like a steal. In attack I feel that both Giroud and Dzeko are potential bargains at 8.5mln; especially in light of the news that Alvaro Negredo will be out for a few months. If City do not splash for a reinforcement up front, combined with Aguero’s fragility, Dzeko could be the bargain of August.
Bench: I agree with Siggy and Davies, and also Loic Remy if he completes his transfer, could all be great steals at their current prices. Also maybe the living legend that is Michael Duff of Burnley – he played 40 times for them last season, though he is a year older and a league higher!
Cookie: OK chaps, last question. Are you looking to build a squad for a few months, together with some “season keepers” or are you looking to go “hard and fast” at the first few fixtures with a view to wildcarding early?
Kop: I don’t know! I used to always try and keep my wildcard until the latter half of the season so as to take advantage of the DGW’s but after a shocking start last season I used it in GW10. However, I still managed to take advantage of the DGW’s. So with that in mind I might actually build a squad with a view to wildcarding early.
Walt: I consider myself to be a fairly (sometimes very) conservative manager.
Cookie: As conservative as Kop?
Walt: Well, ok, maybe not that conservative!! I typically aim to build an initial squad of nailed-on starters who I expect to perform well over the course of the season. I would prefer to hold onto my wildcard as long as possible and will almost certainly not go “hard and fast”; although having said that, I had a horrid start to the 2013/14 campaign and the painful memories are causing me to consider changing things up as I approach the new season. Overall, my typical approach is to tend towards the “season keepers” and reliable starters until things settle and the more unpredictable managers show their hand and certain players have had a few weeks to show irresistible form.
Richie: I’m initially looking at the first four gameweeks and aiming to leave money in the bank to pick up the inform players and ditch the deadwood. I’ll also try and jump a few bandwagons early to help raise funds for later in the season. I’m going to try and hold off using my wildcard until nearer the end of the season…..but knowing me, that’s unlikely to happen!!
Mito: I don’t hold a near and dear place for my wildcard, I will play it when I think it is advantageous. I chase every week to a degree and don’t really plan way ahead. I make a personal fixtures tracker and single out what teams I would likely prefer to focus on, but I will adapt if things change or players look in good form that I was not accounting for. The only player that has ever made it with me a whole season was Suarez last season – well, after his suspension of course. So to answer your question, I am unlikely to build a squad for a few months, nor have any season keepers and even though I will go hard and fast, it doesn’t mean I will feel the need to use my wildcard. I will play it, when I play it.
Bench: Definitely a squad builder and I want 15 players who are regulars! No benchwarmers in my squad! I like to keep the wildcard in the back pocket for when it’s really needed.
Mutley: I’m hoping to have the main nucleus of my squad right from the start, i’m not a fan of the early wildcard, it can be worth a lot more near the end of the season However, if needs must then I will play it. Of the players i’m starting with, i’m hoping the following will be “season keepers” injury aside. DeGea, Lescott, Sanchez and Costa and with a little luck a couple more as well.
Walt: Thanks for including me; this has been a lot of fun. Good luck with the rest of your pre-season planning; I look forward to spending a lot of time on your site this season.
Cheers Walt, always a pleasure to see you. And thank you to Kop, Bench, Mutts & Mito as well of course. Brilliant to hear from you all and we appreciate your time and thoughts. Good luck to you all this season, we look forward to seeing how your different strategies pan out for you!
Interview time! Four key FPL questions answered. Part 1. This interview was conducted by Cookie (@Stevecook9)
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