Thursday, 3 January 2013

Guest Post: Do you really need to be reliant on Robin?

With the second half of the season upon us, our blog will host a series of ad hoc guest articles.  The first one is about FPL's talisman Robin Van Persie (RVP) and whether he is a must or not.  It is written by a person who has not had him in his team all season!

RVP-Free FPL Team & Its Exploits

A tweet related to FPL certainly got my attention this week. Surely no manager can be top of their super league, having not had Robin Van Persie at all this season. Can they? 16 league goals, numerous assists, and bonus points galore. To have the new Man United hit man in your Premier League Fantasy squad is a no brainer isn’t it? Surely? Well not for me.

I’ve been top of my super league since the very beginning of the season (currently by 54 points), and whilst the 5 people below me all have RVP (usually as Captain), I’ve held firm with my strategy of differentiators.

With 1195 points and ranked 7339, I thought it worth reflecting on some of those tough and instinctive decisions that as Fantasy Football managers we all sometimes make.

Robin Van Persie, is now at the £14m mark, and part of 40.9% of teams, having racked up 149 points. Compelling figures for sure. But he hasn’t been a part of my squad at all this season, and as his price continues to soar, it’s unlikely that he will be. Some will see this as a huge error, and suggest that a player of this calibre is an absolute must for any manager looking for success. But the one thing I have tried to remember over the years of playing this ridiculously addictive and frustrating game, is that a squad is there for a reason. For me, it’s as much about finding the hidden and unsuspecting gems, as picking the top goal scorer.

Spending £14m on one player probably means that you’ll be rooting around in the basement for a couple of bargains, or that you may not have many star players elsewhere. A sacrifice that I wasn’t willing to make.

There is an enormous amount of luck involved in the game we love, we know this. Despite all of the hours of research, and fretting over pressing the submit button, it’s so often about that instinctive timing.

At the start of the season, I made a conscious decision to stay clear of RVP, his future still uncertain and other strikers guaranteed games. My first picks were Aguero, Tevez and Defoe. City I thought would get off to a flyer, and with Spurs set to play 1 up front, and Defoe the only recognised striker at the time, my front 3 was set.

I then filled my squad with what I hoped would be goal scorers. Michu is one player I take the most satisfaction from this summer. In from the start, having read rave reviews about him in June and July, he’s been a roaring success. Alongside Bale, Walters and Hazard I was pretty confident that I had enough fire power to get me off to a good start. Aren’t strikers that are listed as midfielders just the greatest thing?!

As always, injuries, suspensions, fixtures and form dictate a certain amount of jiggling about with the squad, but in the main, my squad remains. The one constant, Aguero as captain and no RVP.

As his price began to rise once he joined United, and the goals began to flow, of course I began to wonder, should I put him in? Is it now or never? Will that change the make-up of my squad? Replacing Aguero with RVP would be a significant price jump, and sacrifices elsewhere would have to be made. I continued to hold off, my strikers and midfielders were still banging in goals, so I wasn’t worried at all.

Personally, I’d rather have 4 or 5 players capable of scoring double figures in any given week, then just be praying for a brace by RVP, with nothing else to back me up. You can see it on twitter, the relief of managers that captain RVP every week, when he gets an assist or a goal. Surely spreading your risk across your squad, gives you more opportunity for a decent return each week?

Tevez has been and gone, replaced by Hernandez in recent weeks, who even by coming off the bench for 20 minutes and getting a goal, (which is what United do best to kill teams off) has gained me some decent points. The introduction of Walcott has also paid off, whilst Fellaini, Mata and Toure have all played their part as well. All of which helping to maintain my healthy super league lead, with me still not having RVP within my squad.

I think we all assume that in the form RVP is in, he’ll probably bag 30 goals plus this season, which is an incredible achievement. And quite clearly, with nearly half of the season remaining, my strategy could all too easily come back to bite me. But for now, I’m happy with my choices. Aguero’s injury may further complicate things if it’s any more serious than first thought. That’s a bridge to cross when it comes to it.

The January wildcard poses an interesting dilemma for most of us. My last probable chance of getting RVP in, I’m pretty confident that I won’t cave. Will I regret that? Well we’ll have to wait and see.  For now, I’ll continue to search out the next burst of form, and have a squad that I think capable of scoring decent points each week. For what it’s worth, Papiss Cisse is high on my agenda.

RVP, undeniably a top goal scorer, and for most, a fantasy football dream. But at £14m, and whilst there are 15 players to pick, he’s not the man for me.