Interview time! Four key FPL questions answered. Part 2
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 Fabregas, 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 superstars 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.
If you enjoyed Part One of the interview, then you won’t be disappointed by Part Two. I am joined today by some FPL heavyweights, but that’s nothing that Slimfast can’t sort out. I am delighted, nay overwhelmed, to introduce to you: die-hard, Fellaini loving Red Devil Fergie’s Henchman; FF247’s very own pre-season friendly roving reporter The Gallant Pioneer; 2012/13 FPL World No1 Matt Martyniak; our Fixture table chief-colourer Inittowinit; and last, but certainly not least I give you the Jim Bowen of FF247, our very own competition King, Potty.
Cookie: At this stage of pre-season what preparations are you making in building your squad?
Init: Well I have actually started which is unusual for me! I have a tendency in the past to leave it on auto-complete until the Friday before but I have decided to start putting in players I think I want, so that I can mull it over for the next few weeks as the budget looks tight this season if you want the likes of RvP and Yaya in. I’ve built a squad and I’m utilising the ‘Add to Watchlist’ tab on FPL to build up a wish list of players as and when I come across them during pre-season and spotting any nuggets that people are posting on the site.
Gallant Pioneer: Right now I am still doing lots of research on statistical information from past seasons and reading up on the past histories of the new players to come to the league. I am also looking at how everyone else on FF247 seems to be lining up so far. I have decided to begin in my favoured 3-4-3 formation again this season and I have a first draft team which I am reviewing position at a time and looking at alternatives to see if I am able to improve on what I have. I see this as being better than looking at the whole picture at once. Now that I am happy with my goal keeper’s – I move on and look at each defender individually and consider all alternatives at his price.
Potty: For now I am watching pre-season matches like a hawk as I like to get a feel of how the Premier League teams are lining up – normally after the 2nd fixture of any club’s tour I know who I want. My own train of thought is currently derailed (only joking) as I am the Casey Jones of FF247. I will, this season, be sticking to a rigid 3-4-3 formation and will not swaying from it at any point.
Fergie: The usual kind of stuff really, keeping an eye on pre-season results, line ups. Watching for new names to pop up and seeing how other managers are setting up their teams.
Matt: At this stage of pre-season I usually prepare my squad by firstly looking at the FPL rules and the scoring system, including the bonus point system, which has been tweaked slightly from last season. I know this sounds basic and obvious, but often this part of the game can be overlooked or misread, even by an experienced FPL player as myself. I then look at the players and their prices to see which players suit the scoring system best and why, and are they of FPL value or not.
I take into account the players latter season form and fitness, and also their summer form and fitness if played, or not played, in the World Cup. I take into account if a player is having a full pre-season with their club, or are they on a late holiday due to their national team going deep into the World Cup. A full pre-season player usually hits the ground running from Game week one (GW1), whereas the players who join their squad late are often not up to speed by GW1, and therefore, they maybe a little slow off the mark – if they are not benched or subbed early by their manager that is. In this day and age, Premier League player’s fitness, including mental well-being, has to be up to speed to play in the intense Premier League environment, otherwise injuries can occur.
I also look at the players upcoming Premier League fixtures for the first 3 to 4 games. I then pick a draft team and leave it! There’s no real point in looking at my team everyday at this stage of the season as I’ll only probably change it every time and end going round in circles! A week Is a long time in football, and I’ve always said that a week is a long time in FPL too! With so much pre-season activity going on that includes games, transfers, injuries, form, fitness, managers formations, tactics etc – we will only truly know what is best for GW1 in the first managers press conference of the season the day prior to the opening Premier League games on August 16th.
I usually finalise my FPL team/squad on the final Friday evening, or even on the final Saturday morning just prior to the opening deadline. This way I give myself the maximum amount of time and information to pick my best available squad.
Cookie: Who are the must-haves in your opinion?
Fergie: It’s a bit tough to judge “must haves” right now as we are early in pre-season. However currently looking at Fabregas, Ramsey and RVP as my building blocks. Another £10mln to build my squad would be most helpful though!!
Potty: My “magical must have’s”….Mmmmmm, well with a summer’s rest due to the Taffies struggling at International level, for me its Aaron Ramsey and he will be donning my Captains armband. And also last year we had the SaS but now we have the RaR and its not a tube of toothpaste, RvP and Rooney, who are to be bang inform this term with Van Gaal in charge, select them or you may regret it.
Cookie: Both Rooney and RvP Potty?
Potty: Yep. Don’t make me repeat myself?
Potty: I said, don’t make me…..ahhh you git.
Matt: You two finished yet?
Cookie: Yeah sorry Matt, carry on.
Matt: It’s difficult to think of ‘must haves’ at this stage of pre-season. Although I think RvP, if fit, could be FPL gold under their new manager, Louis van Gaal, and the revamped Man United team, who also have a good opening two months of the season as they play most of the ‘lesser teams’ during this period. Man Utd also have no European football to distract them, which benefited Liverpool clearly last season in terms of Premier League focus and player match fitness. One game a week for RvP and a Man Utd team looking to get back in the top 4, or even challenging for the title again, with the added supply coming from their new signings, is mouth watering prospect for FPL managers.
I also think Hazard could do well again and become a must have, especially if he finds the form and consistency from the off. The new bonus point system is now rewarding successful dribbles, as well as continuing to reward key chances created. Hazard is no stranger to these. Hazard should continue on penalties, as well as continuing his excellent has eye for goals and assists from open play. So for me he’s probably a big a ‘must have’ as they come at this stage of pre-season.
Alexis Sanchez could be a real must have gem of the 2014/15 season, but it’s probably too early to say at this stage. Sanchez certainly has all the FPL potential to rake in the points on a constant basis if he continues his Barcelona La Liga form from last season, which produced a superb 19 goals and 12 assists. He is classified as a midfielder, but he will surely play ‘out of position’ in a front three on either flank, or even maybe a spell at centre forward at times. Being a midfielder, he’ll get the extra point for the goals and the clean sheets over a forward. Only snag is, he’s a tad expensive at 10.5m for a FPL newcomer, so I think a fair few FPL managers, including myself, may just play the ‘wait and see’ game to see how he settles in, especially as there’s is no shortage of top class FPL midfield players on offer this season, and at a much cheaper rate too.
I’m not sure about the Man City main FPL duo, Yaya and Aguero, who for many managers were must haves last season. Can Yaya keep up his incredible 40% conversion rate of goals to shots ratio like last season? I’m not so sure he can. Also can Aguero get mentally, not just physically, right again for the demands of the Premier League, week in, week out? Unfortunately he seems to be a hamstring injury, or calf injury, waiting to happen.
Gallant Pioneer: Yaya Toure. Although, I didn’t have him straight away when the game went live, so maybe that is a bit of a contradiction! The reasons should be obvious enough and even if he doesn’t match the 241 of last season, if he stays fit I think you could guarantee at least 150-170 from him this season. Since he revealed he was happy at City (must have been some make-up birthday gift), then I knew I would probably regret not having him. He is the only player I would be nervous about NOT having.
Init: I think it’s a brave manager who goes without one of RvP or Rooney. The decision over which one may simply come down to a money issue for a lot given the 2mln difference. A lot are viewing RvP as a better bet as they expect he will be back to where he was two seasons ago under Sir Alex now that he has a manager he wants to play for again, which I agree with but I also think Rooney is being slightly overlooked here. Elsewhere I think given their opening fixtures some Chelsea cover is essential and I’m plumping for Costa to hit the ground running. He’s a great striker with a fantastic goal record and is exactly what Chelsea have been crying out for since Drogba left – someone to lead the line but also just be in the box to finish off the chances. If they’d had him last season they’d have won the league.
Cookie: Have you spotted any bargains out there?
Matt: Tadic looks a decent FPL prospect. From the clips I’ve seen of him, the Southampton new signing looks like a Lallana Mark II, if not better. He looks a bargain at just 7.5m, and is classified as a FPL midfielder, but he is versatile, and therefore, should play high up the pitch where the goals and assists are. His stats over the last four seasons, albeit in the Dutch top division, have been excellent, scoring 42 goals and providing 57 assists. Not bad for a classified FPL midfielder! Southampton’s early season fixtures aren’t bad either after their difficult opening trip away to Liverpool.
Newcastle’s new signing, Siem de Jong could be a good FPL bargain too. Again he is from the Dutch top flight league, and again he’s an attacking player classified by the FPL as a midfielder. He has consistently racked up of goals and assists over the past few seasons with Ajax. I noted in a Newcastle friendly recently he was on free kicks in his debut match, where he scored a good goal! De Jong is certainly one to watch, if not from the start. At just 7mln, he could be a bargain.
If you don’t fancy a FPL newcomer, and would rather go for a tried and test Premier League player, then I think Loic Remy could well be a FPL bargain this season, especially now he seems to be on the verge of a move to Liverpool. He is valued at just 7.5mln, which is a snip of a price for a quality forward playing in a top four team. Liverpool under Rodgers should continue to go ‘goal hungry’, despite the loss of Suarez. I expect Remy to become a regular Premier League starter at Liverpool in a front two, or three. The reason being is that he is a goalscorer – he scores goals, which is just what Liverpool need after losing Suarez and his incredible goal scoring record. Remy is a nice cheaper alternative to Sturridge to cash in on the Liverpool’s FPL points potential. Also with Sturridge being now the main forward at Liverpool now that Suarez has departed, he will not get the space like last season as Suarez was the main man who took on most of the opponents defensive attention, leaving Sturridge in space quite often. Remy could just be this seasons Sturridge.
Init: I like the stats that back up Kieran Trippier at Burnley. Twelve assists last season and with the new bonus rules slightly favouring full backs again he could be a bit of a Seamus Coleman for me. He possibly won’t weigh in with as many clean sheets as I would like though purely because of the team but definitely one to watch. Over at QPR they have a raft of defenders at 4.5mln and I fancy Harry will keep things tight plus they have a very good opening fixture sequence but it is upfront that I fancy we may see a great bargain in Charlie Austin at 6mln. 17 goals last season plus he’s on pens. As Matt said I also really like the look of Tadic. His stats are hard to ignore despite them being in Holland. Koeman’s a smart guy and a good judge of a player and moved for him straight away. I fancy many will be taking a wait and see approach but I think I will be taking him from the off.
Gallant Pioneer: I think Tim Krul at 4.5mln is a fair bargain. I think Newcastle will have a good season and I think he has been underpriced. In defence, Calum Chambers could be a great buy at 4.5mln. I like the look of Southampton’s fixtures until the end of November so I will be taking on the right back. I know it’s a punt as he is up against Clyne, but with an assist and a goal already pre-season, he should see some game time and once he is in, hopefully he’ll stay in. Staying with Southampton, I’d go Steven Davis in midfield. He got 100 plus points last season and is priced 5mln. He has scored pre-season and I think he could be relied upon to be an adequate fourth or fifth midfield. In my midfield as it stands I will require to use him alternatively so I am making a commitment to playing him and not just owning him.
Finally I like Nikica Jelavic at 6mln – with a supply line of Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass, a good decoy partner in Shane Long and a good opening five fixtures, there could be goals for the big man. I probably won’t own him all season but COULD be excellent value to start the season with a few goals.
Fergie: I quite like Rio Ferdinand as QPR have a decent set of opening fixtures and I think ‘Arry will look to keep QPR tight at the back. I’m also watching a few mid-priced midfielders closely. I’ve also heard good things about Tadic at Southampton. Joel Ward at Palace looks good value too especially if he is played in a more advanced position again this season.
Potty: For me I believe there are many bargains out there and I give you “Potty’s Poundshop Saver” – this lad is a seasoned pro and full of goals. So splash the cash on Nugent of Leicester City and you will outfox those in your Private Leagues.
Cookie: 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?
Fergie: I am planning for the first 5/6 game weeks and will look to use my wildcard early. I feel there is more to be gained by using it early than there is holding it until later in the season.
Init: I’m changing tact completely this season. I usually look to keep my wildcard for the DGW’s later in the season but I felt I wasted it last year by doing so and saw a few great examples (B-Bash being one) of managers shooting up the leagues having wildcarded early on once the trends and patterns began to show themselves. They were able to switch their sides around to encompass the lot whilst those who didn’t laboured toward the same goal over a number of weeks, missing out on a load of points in the process. My plan is to pick my initial squad solely based on the first three GW’s with a view to wild carding soon after that. If it turns out that I don’t need to then great, but I’m pretty sure I will as those first few weeks throw up a lot of unknows.
Gallant Pioneer: I aim to assemble a squad for a few months with a few season keepers. At the moment these would be Yaya Toure, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Eriksen and Diego Costa. I said to myself that I would ‘trial’ an early wildcard this season. Probably to try to take advantage of the trend players I missed out on last season. But now I don’t think I will use my WC like that. The squad I have just now I have checked through to the end of November and I’m happy that I could field a team I would be satisfied with each week. Also, I would have very few instances of players playing against other players in my side – this is a major factor for me when planning. Finally, I have coverage from all the big teams and exposure to all the teams with good early fixtures.
Potty: In the 2013/2014 campaign I got off to a flyer but then I got complacent. But not this time around! My aim is a slow consistent start building into a momentum that nobody can match. Nobody. I will be the TR7 of FPL for sure and I know I will do so well again.
Matt: I’m unsure exactly yet regarding what tactics to employ this season. Two years ago at the start of my FPL title winning season, I went ‘hard and fast’ from the start as I was always going to wildcard GW2 after the opening GW, which was a Double GW. Last season was a DGW1 too, but I decided to change tactics and applied a conservative approach with ‘season keepers’ and with a view of holding my wildcard. But 4 to 5 GWs into last season, I realised that the FPL game had changed significantly from the season before, due to the new bonus point system. As a result, my FPL team suffered, and I dropped to around the one million ranking position overall.
If I had reacted earlier with my wildcard last season, maybe GW2 or GW3 like the season before, I may not have slipped so low down in the early season rankings, and therefore, I ‘may’ have achieved a higher position than my 175th overall rank by GW29, or achieved a higher position than my final ranking of 995. The bad start cost me a significantly higher finish. So this season I hope to start fast again like the season before. However, with no DGW1 this season, the early wildcard may not be as profitable as the two previous FPL seasons, and this is why I’m unsure exactly at present what tactics are the best to go with.
All the best everyone for the upcoming FPL season!
Thank you Matt and good luck to you, Init, Fergie, Gallant Pioneer and Potty for the season ahead. Thank you very much for joining me today – your views, comments and observations have been riveting to listen to and a pleasure to hear and I’m sure a great help to the FPL community.
Thanks for reading Interview time! Four key FPL questions answered. Part 2. This interview was conducted by Cookie (@SteveCook9)
Don’t forget to join our leagues –
The Season League
Join Our Members League – Quick Link
View league standings
Manager of the Month
Join Our Manager of the Month League – Quick Link
View league standings
Help your fellow fantasy managers by taking a second to vote in our latest poll regarding that all important 3rd striker….