Riding high on the crest of a wave, I went into DGW31 quietly confident of improving my pre-GW overall rank of 1959th. In all honesty, I thought by now I would be inside the Top 500, with an opportunity to hunt down those above me as we enter the final stages of the season.
Why was I confident? Well, I had a Masterplan. I had studied the form, the upcoming fixtures and had put into action early my transfer strategy that would enable me to field 10 DGW players. The plan was public knowledge. It is on this Blog and I had tweeted about it regularly.
Here it is again as a quick reminder:
Straight forward enough. But then Murphy's Law came into play. First of all Vincent Kompany got himself sent off after 9 minutes away at Hull City. Secondly, Chris Smalling picked up a hamstring injury. Double Whammy.
That was two of my DGW players out of the game. Kompany for the Fulham match, and Smalling for both. That left me with only 8 DGW players. No problem.
This is when I should have accepted my fate and NOT PANICKED! I'm a cool customer. I've been playing FPL since 2006. I know that DGW's don't ALWAYS pay off big. Fielding 8 players is still acceptable. Plus I still had my FT for GW30. So what did I do?
I took a -8 Points hit to transfer Smalling, Lallana and J-Rod OUT, and bring Dummett, Gerrard and Carroll IN.
Even just reading that sentence back has made me go cold. A points hit to take two in-form high scoring FPL assets out in the form of Lallana and J-Rod. What was I thinking? I was thinking they didn't have a DGW. Crazy. I also thought that now was the time to take a gamble. Andy Carroll, returning to action with only a few months to book his ticket to Brazil. West Ham with two home games in DGW31. One against Man Utd, where surely England boss Roy Hodgson would be in attendance. A chance for Carroll to shine. Or so I thought...
And so it transpired that sat in the Euston Flyer in North London on the afternoon of Saturday 22 March 2014 my season started to unravel. To make matters worse, it was done under the judging eye of The Chief (@FPLHints), Matej (@CalledItFPL) and Ryan (@FantasyYirma). I would have struggled to have found better FPL Royalty to have my weaknesses exposed to!
By that evening, I had accumulated 87 points (79 with the points hit). Stories were rolling in of 150+ scores (The Chief himself had amassed 170 odd!). My overall rank plummeted from 1959th to 9792nd in the space of several hours.
Not to worry, there was a second half to DGW31 as we all knew. It didn't get much better; 37 points. Giving me a grand total of 124 points (116 with the -8 hit) from a DGW that had promised so much. My rank "improved" to leave me with a final post-DGW31 standing of 6722nd (4763 places lost).
But I still had a plan, right? Wrong. If you cast your eye up above, the plan had called for Curtis Davies and Romelu Lukaku to be brought in. Had I done that? No. I had Paul Dummett and Andy Carroll in my squad instead.
How had this affected me though? I've worked it out. Davies (12 points) and Lukaku (18 points)would have cost me -4 to get in, but returned 26 points after that deduction. I would also have kept Lallana (but would have benched him anyway according to the plan).
Dummett (8 points), Gerrard (11 points) and Carroll (4 points) returned a total of 23 points, but it cost me -8 to bring them in. So after deduction, 15 points.
Net loss: 26 minus 15 = 11 points.
Not as bad as first feared, but 11 points at that overall rank is an awful lot of positions to lose.
I then sought to find out the reason DGW31 had gone so wrong. Jordan Mutch (16 points) as my 3rd sub? Yeah, that was a factor. But I had never seriously considered him for my starting line-up as Cardiff only had the single game. But, rest assured I won't make THAT mistake again!*
No, in reality, the real reason my season started to collapse was down to one man. And you know who that is. The man who will not be able to keep his point scoring run going. Step forward Yaya Toure.
This is what punished me. Missing out on the 31 points he scored in DGW31 was the difference between increasing my rank from 1959th, to plummeting back out of the Top 5k.
But, no use crying over spilt milk, he wasn't part of the plan yet. The plan called for me to transfer him in for GW33. So, what did I do?
I ignored the plan, which would have had me save my FT, and instead transferred the now in-form David Silva OUT and bring Yaya IN. But in order to fund that I had to free up cash elsewhere. So OUT went the injured Koscielny, and in preparation for DGW34, IN came Palace defender Scott Dann. Who I benched for GW32.
And there we have it, a -4 points hit before a ball was kicked in GW32, which left me at a disadvantage in terms of improving my overall rank (6722nd) before I had even started.
But now I had Yaya. And all those lovely points he consistently brings in (for everyone except for me and Matej it appeared).
With baited breath I waited for him to do what it is he does and bang in 5 goals, make 3 more, get awarded 4 bonus points (he gets 1 extra for being Yaya) and then bask in the glory of being a Yaya owner.
1 point and a booking.
Excuse me?!?! 1 point! I was close to having a Walt-esque meltdown (@EplFanForLife). THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!! To make matters worse, the transferred out Silva scored. And I'm not even going to go into what the until-very-recently-owned J-Rod and Lallana did to Newcastle. Bad times.
By Sunday evening, with just Monday's fixture to come, I was sat on 31 points (27 points actually, with the -4 hit) and my ranking had PLUMMETED from 6722nd to 13902nd! So much for getting back into the Top 5k, I was heading out of the Top 15k!
The Monday night fixture was Sunderland vs West Ham, which promised little - although I did have Vito Mannone, Adam Johnson and Andy Carroll to play. The team news came in, Johnson benched. Again. Second week in a row. Screw you Poyet! But wait, what was that? Jordan Mutch as my first sub? Sat on 10 points? Yes please!
*I never did learn that lesson about benching Mutch
Things then started to go my way. An Andy Carroll goal. Then an assist. Ok, it was preventing Mannone from picking up points, but Carroll scoring was waaay more important, being my risky differential.
Then Adam Johnson comes on. For a 1 point cameo (as I tweeted). No sooner had I sent the tweet he went and scored! And got a bonus point! 7 points! Woo-hoo!
And who would have thought that 12 point Andy Carroll would have scored higher than 9 point Luis Suarez if you'd captained him? I didn't, but that's not the point!
But, it was just damage limitation; 31 points became 52 (or 48 after the transfer deduction) and although I came soaring back up the overall rankings to finish 7920th, it was still a fall of 1198 places.
Having not encountered red arrows in consecutive GW's since GW2 and 3, I was in new territory here. So what did I do?
I HAVEN'T PANICKED!
Not yet anyway. No early transfers. No unnecessary points hits. I feel obliged to leave Andy Carroll in for one more week, against his old club Liverpool. He may have a score to settle there.
Planning for DGW34 is underway. Here is a sneak preview.
If I have learnt anything from the last two GW's, it is the following:
1. I have seriously missed out not having Yaya Toure
2. Cheap bench players are a necessity, but throwing them in once in a while may surprise you
3. A plan never survives first contact with the enemy (Helmuth von Moltke the Elder)
4. That said, it's important to have a plan
5. Always captain Suarez. Still holds firm, even when players like Hazard and Yaya score hat-tricks
6. No matter how tempting early on, try and hold on to that Wildcard for DGW's - just ask The Chief!
7. There is nothing wrong in "only" fielding 7 or 8 players in a DGW
8. DON'T PANIC!