Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Come Fly With Me...Part One

Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away
If you could use some exotic booze
There's a bar in far Bombay  Kings Cross
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away...
 
Ok, the third line doesn't scan as right as it did when Ol' Blue Eyes sang the original, but I'm no Sinatra. Anyway, this is my FPL season review, and he's now long gone and unable to sue me for copyright infringements so who cares?
 
Well, where to start? The beginning I guess. No, not the beginning of this season, but a little bit further back with my FPL credentials. Unfortunately I'm not much of a record keeper, and it is a crying shame that previous seasons data is not archived and accessible in my opinion. All I have to go on is my final rank in previous years and as you can see, I have been an FPL aficionado for a fair few years now. 

2009/10 and 2007/08 are obvious highlights, and it is a pity I cannot remember how high a ranking I had actually achieved during the season, but I do recall being very high and taking a risk that backfired in 2009/10, but that did still result in a very respectable final standing.

2010/11 and 2011/12 were obvious disappointments, but in my defence I was out of the country for 6 months in 2010 (with very sporadic internet access) and I had a heavily pregnant Mrs Fly to contend with during the 2011/12 season! They're my excuses anyway, and I'm sticking with them...

This season, I decided to make a concerted effort to improve my fortunes, and try to endeavour to climb as high as I possibly could. I was helped with the amount of time I could devote to FPL by having an infant son who has not slept through the night in 2 years, and this allows me to access the internet and the FPL Manager App and Twitter in the middle of the night whilst he keeps me awake screaming.

And so we arrive at GW1. DGW1 no less, with an opportunity of loading up on Chelsea and Aston Villa players in an attempt to steal a march on those less experienced managers who may not have factored this in to their pre-season planning.

 
DGW 1
 


As you can see, I went with the safe option of Hazard as captain, stuck Petr Cech in goal, and took a gamble on Cesar Azpilicueta getting the nod as starting full-back. He didn't. Not until GW12 at least, by which time I had obviously dumped him. The only representative from Villa was Bentekkers who did ok for me until I dumped him for his Belgian counterpart, (and fellow tank) Romelu Lukaku. More about him later...

And so, a successful GW ensued, I definitely got lucky in that Azpilicueta was auto-subbed for Norwich City defender Steven "Forest" Whittaker, who scored and assisted in a 2-2 draw against Everton. This was the only thing he did all season. So yes, definitely lucky rather than an inspired pick.

This left me in 158,872nd position; a useful platform to build from. I believe a good start is extremely important, if not essential to your FPL fortunes in the main. Although it can be argued it is harder to defend a lead as opposed to chasing your opponents down. For proof of the latter, we only need to look at the fortunes of this years "Arsenal" manager, Luke Weston (@theSilvaSurfers) who was ranked number 1 in the WORLD for an astonishing 17 GW's (including a "longest run" of 9 consecutive GW's), and who was still No.1 going into GW36. He eventually finished 8th after being hunted down and overtaken at the final hurdle. Interestingly though, Luke made a fantastic start to the season (835th after DGW1) and although he slipped to 4334th at the end of GW2, he never looked back from there. Sorry for bringing this up Luke - if you're reading - but hopefully you are not too disheartened by your final ranking as it needs putting into context with the stunning season as a whole. We'd all like to be in your position, let's put it that way!

But, back to my own fortunes, I then suffered an early season collapse. Red arrows in 3 of the next 4 GW's saw me plummet to just outside the Top 1million. Not good. And to be honest, I was always playing catch-up from there.

GW 2-5




What happened here then? A poor points return in GW2 was compounded by a selection of RVP as captain (4 points) which had me a whole 10 points behind the GW average, with Eden Dzeko as my highest points scorer with a not very impressive 8. The following week I switched captain TO Dzeko, who did even worse than RVP and only scored 2 points after a 44 minute appearance. Hmm. 44 points was the average, and I scored bang on 44 points. This was when I SHOULD have noticed a certain Yaya Toure. He quietly picked up 11 points after scoring, keeping a clean sheet and picking up all 3 bonus points during Man City's 2-0 win over Hull City. I SHOULD have noticed this. But I didn't. Instead, I brought in the newly signed Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil. He did ok in GW 4, picking up an assist (and 6 points), but he was the wrong Arsenal midfielder to have in your FPL team, as history went on to prove. His assist points were picked up in making the goal for Aaron Ramsey. He also scored another that day. And got all 3 bonus points. The other assist for his goal game from Olivier Giroud. Who also scored. And who got 2 bonus points. The Gunners were hitting form after a shock opening day defeat to Aston Villa, and I had the wrong choice in my team. Bugger.


At least captain RVP scored, but it left me only 7 points above the GW average which, although resulted in a green arrow, was not making the gains I wanted. So I brought Giroud IN. And captained him! Result: 4 points. BUT, Ozil made 3 assists so that was good news. But hang on, if they weren't for Giroud, who was he assisting? Sagna, Mertesacker and that man Ramsey.

Time to bring him in then. OUT went Pablo Hernandez (!!) and IN came RAMSEY. Actually, I need to admit this here; I used my Wildcard. Yes, yes I know! I panicked early! We were only in GW6 and I had relinquished my "Joker" that in previous season's had proved to be an invaluable "force multiplier" in the dark days of Winter with rearranged postponed fixtures due to weather, unforeseen cup replays and advancements in European competitions meaning lots of juicy DGW's. But I took a calculated risk to try and start climbing again. What happened next in GW6 still brings me out in a cold sweat. Whilst fiddling around in my sleep deprived state, the deadline passed and for some unknown reason, I had not hit "Confirm Team" and this happened:

GW 6




Yes, that's right. Ramsey. Sat on the bench. With 13 points. At this time it didn't appear to be a complete disaster. As you can see from the screenshot, I had also taken the opportunity to transfer OUT the underperforming Christian Benteke, and bring IN Lukaku. After giving him the armband I had FINALLY stumbled upon the correct captaincy choice after 5 straight weeks of mistakes. Just out of shot is the 9 points received from also transferring IN Yaya Toure. I did something extremely foolish just three weeks later though; I transferred Yaya OUT - and didn't bring him in again until GW32. More about THAT error later...


Despite the benching of Ramsey, GW6 saw me pick up a very respectable 73 points and saw me embark on a run of 8 weeks of consecutive green arrows shooting me through the rankings to just outside the Top 25k. This was despite some abysmal captaincy choices; Giroud (4 points) in GW7 and Lukaku (4 points) in GW8.


What happened from GW9 until GW19 became arguably the season defining moment for many many FPL managers.


THE SUAREZ/AGUERO CAPTAINCY WHEEL OF FORTUNE


Your fortunes during these Gameweeks would have been directly impacted by not only owning both of these FPL powerhouses, but crucially - WHICH ONE YOU CAPTAINED!. For those managers out there who refused to believe the hype and delayed the transfer in of either of these players, I would suggest your overall rank after GW38 was not as high as it could/should have been. Luckily for me, I managed to select the correct one for the armband consistently time after time. Let's take a look:

GW 9-13


 

The formula during these weeks was simple: KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Captain Suarez when Liverpool were playing at home, and Aguero when Man City was at home. In GW9 Suarez bagged a hat-trick against West Brom. Meanwhile Aguero scored the consolation goal in City's defeat away to Chelsea. I decided to bring him in for GW10 and give him the armband as City were at home to Norwich. They crushed the Canaries 7-0 with Aguero scoring one and racking up a hat-trick of assists. Meanwhile Liverpool and Suarez were losing 2-0 away to Arsenal.

 
GW11 saw Liverpool at home to Fulham and Man City away at Sunderland. The armband went back to Suarez who scored two and assisted another. Man City lost 1-0 to the Black Cats. In GW12 it swapped again; Liverpool away to Everton saw Suarez score and assist, but Aguero had the captaincy as Man City destroyed Spurs 6-0 at the Etihad with the Argentine scoring two and assisting another.


 
The formula couldn't fail! The fixture computer had somehow managed to alternate Man City and Liverpool's home fixtures and we had two of arguably the world's best strikers in red hot form, particularly on home soil! GW13 proved unlucky for many. As the formula dictated, Aguero got the armband as Man City were at home to Swansea. They cruised to an easy 3-0 victory, but Aguero decided to have an off day and contributed appearance points and a yellow card. Not a massive disaster as Liverpool were busy losing 3-1 away at Hull with Suarez also having an off day. A green arrow was still gained as I was at this time fielding not one but TWO Arsenal midfielders (Ramsey and Ozil) who brought in a combined 26 points. Nice.


 
GW14-19
 

 
GW14 saw a resumption of normal service; Liverpool at home to a poor Norwich side. Suarez with the captaincy and probably the individual performance of the season (DGW's not included). 4 goals plus an assist, obviously all 3 Bonus points and a very welcome 48 points. Aguero also scored as City beat West Brom 3-2 at the Borethorns. But wait! What was this? A red arrow! And a fall in rank some 12,000 places?!? But...but...Suarez? 48 points? What is this nonsense??? The FPL world has gone mad! And I don't mean Nicklas Bendtner scoring in Arsenal's 2-0 victory at home to Hull...

I was missing something. I looked at my team. Suarez. Check. Aguero. Check. Ramsey. Check. Rooney. Check. Ozil. Check. Hmm...Well, I had transferred Oscar out prior to GW14 and drafted in Jordan Henderson. That had backfired. However, as we shall see, he proved to be a vital insurance policy in a couple of weeks time. Nope, I couldn't see what I was lacking. Crystal Palace were starting to rack up some clean sheets, but I was happy with my defence. I had got rid of my Chelsea cover but Oscar was dropped by Mourinho and never recaptured any consistent form for the remainder of the season.

I know now what I was missing. Because hindsight is a wonderful thing. I had fallen victim to a phenomenon I later wrote an article on for this very Blog; Player Prejudice. I was overlooking two crucial FPL players that ultimately prevented me from reaching the very highest ranks this season. Step forward Mr Hazard and Mr Toure. That's Yaya by the way, not his extremely useless brother Kolo. Yep, in GW14 Hazard contributed 17 points and that man Yaya a useful 15. And I had neither. Why? Well, as you have read I had both earlier in the season. My prejudice saw my adamant that Hazard's form would drift off as the winter nights took hold (don't forget GW14 was early December) and Yaya is primarily a defensive midfielder who was getting lucky with the odd free-kick. And we all know not to put defensive midfielders anywhere NEAR our FPL teams don't we? Gareth Barry anyone?

So, a red arrow it was and I ignored the danger signs because I subsequently went on another run of consistent greens (except GW18).

GW15 saw the formula work its magic again; A goal and 2 assists for that man Suarez as Liverpool beat West Ham 4-1 at Anfield, and a goal (plus a booking) for Aguero as Man City were held to a draw away at Southampton.

In GW16 I made a mistake. I strayed from the formula. Logic dictated NOT to captain Suarez as Liverpool were away at Spurs. Suarez goes on to score 2 and provide a hat-trick of assists as the Reds demolish Spuds 5-0. Hmm. The formula said I should have given the armband to Aguero as Man City were taking on Arsenal at home. But I predicted a 0-0 bore-draw with both teams cancelling each other out. Man City won 6-3. Luckily Aguero only scored the one, therefore accumulating the same number of points as the man I did decide to throw the armband to - Wayne Rooney. Man Utd comfortably beat Villa on the own turf 3-0, but Wazza only clocked up 10 points with the captaincy, compared to the 44 points Suarez would have returned with the armband. Nuts. But, this is where my insurance policy came up trumps, as the Jordan Henderson differential provided 13 points. As did the goalscoring, clean sheet gaining, Jon Flanagan. Those 17 missed points with an incorrect captaincy choice would have been mighty handy at the end of the season though...

GW16 was also memorable for being the end of any worthwhile contribution from Sergio Aguero. An injury in the Arsenal game saw him out until mid-Jan, when he returned with a goal and assist in a cameo appearance against Cardiff, but it was a false dawn. He went off in the following game (GW23) and didn't return until mid-April. In fact the next time he played 90 minutes was in GW38.

A new striker was needed. I chose Lukaku. Hmm.

I learned from my captaincy mistake though and Suarez got the armband in GW17 and 2 goals and an assist later, I was quite happy. Lukaku meanwhile picked up 2 appearance points. Hmm.

Aguero's injury had ruined the formula. GW18 had Liverpool away at Man City, and despite all of the alarm bells ringing I stuck with Suarez as captain. Mistake. 2 appearance points. Plus 2 from Lukaku. Hmm. Rooney provided some form of damage limitation but GW18 was a personal disaster. 35 points. Big red arrows. Looking back now, guess who was in the GW18 Dream Team? Yep, Eden Hazard. I still didn't see it.

GW19 was rescued by my defence. I lost confidence in Suarez (although he did provide an assist for Skrtel in Liverpool's 2-1 loss away at Chelsea. I had zero confidence in Lukaku (Hmm) but was sticking with him, so the armband went to Rooney. Who didn't play. By this time I had brought David Silva in for some Man City representation. Yes, that's David Silva. Not Yaya Toure. But the Spanish maestro was in a run of decent form so I had selected him purely as a differential as his ownership stats were still under 5% compared to every man and his dog (except me and Matej - @CalledItFPL) owning Yaya. But Silva only provided 4 points so it was up to my defence consisting of Liam Rosenior (clean sheet), Jonny Evans (clean sheet and 3 Bonus points) and Seamus Coleman (goal scoring and 2 Bonus points) to salvage some pride. Surprisingly, GW19 saw a green arrow and I broke into the Top 10k for the first time this season.

And so, that concludes Part 1 of my own personal FPL review. Stay tuned for Part 2 as we explore GW20-38. And I will finally reveal what happened that day in North London when FPL worlds collided as @FPLHints (The Chief), @CalledItFPL (Matej) and @FantasyYirma met up in person for DGW31.

Hope you enjoyed reading. Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me directly.

FLY

@meet_the_gadfly