August 12th

 

Haaland or no Haaland?

A match at home to unfancied Bournemouth on the back of an opening week 12-point haul at West Ham has seen a further 2% of TFF managers scurrying to bring City’s new signing into their team(s)

But what of the wisdom of making such an early transfer?

Back in 2013-14, Luis Suarez propelled Liverpool to within a whisker of a first title in 20+ years with 31 goals in 33 PL games and was by far and way the leading points scorer in TFF (290pts to next placed Giroud with 214 pts)

But is Haaland going to leave the likes of Salah and Kane trailing in his wake when it comes to the Golden Boot awards, and TFF scores?

Will he figure as prominently as Suarez did in a Liverpool team unburdened by European football, or will Pep use hIm more sparingly?

Remarkably, overall TFF winner in 13/14, Gregory Wright, called on Suarez for just 59 of his 2,014 pts total

And his advice to fellow TFF managers – “don’t waste too many transfers early doors, you can always make up any points deficit later on with second judgement”. (www.telegraph.co.uk)

2022-23

August 2nd

Three days before the big kick-off, and TFF managers are tasked with finding

Eleven players for £50million, an average of £4.5m per player.

But then there’s Salah (7.0m) Haaland (6.9m) Kane (6.8m) Seung-Min (£6.7m) and any combination thereof you’d like to bring in.

Not to mention Trent (5.5m) Van Dyke (5.3) and Robertson (5.2) at the back.

Enablers

Enter the “enablers” – “value” selections of £4.5m or less who could rack up circa 150 points or more and facilitate a few of the above selections.

Last season, we had Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher with 159 pts and Marc Guehi, 141 pts, for a bargain £2.7m and £3.0m

In 2020-21, West Brom’s Matheus Pereira (£3.7m) accrued 141pts – despite his side’s relegation.

And the season before, the Sheffield United defence, headed by Baldock with 155pts for a paltry  £2.3m.

Could any of these have been confidently predicted?

With the exception of Pereira – who totted up the most assists, 17, in the Championship the previous season – probably not.

Perhaps the trick, like last season’s TFF winner – take a bow Peter Marshall – is to latch onto the likes of Gallagher after some impressive early returns – hauls of 13pts (wk2) and 8pts (wk3) followed by 11pts and 8pts in weeks 10 and 11.

But before a ball is even kicked, here are a few to look out for.

William Saliba (Ars) £2.5m

Yet to make a competitive appearance for the Gunners after three seasons on loan in France, Arteta has said he’s now ready from the PL

And with Arsenal’s match at Palace a day or two ahead of the remaining PL fixtures – should he not make the first XL, TFF managers can remove him from their team ahead of kick-off (8pm GMT) without affecting their 40 transfers per season allowance.

For those who put store on the fixture difficulty of a player’s selection’s team, Arsenal play two of the promoted sides, Bournemouth (a) wk 3 and Fulham(h) wk4 – with the increased potential for clean sheets? – in their opening six games.

Bruno Guimaeres (New) £3.6m

5 goals in 11 games from 50% of his shots put the Brazilian on his way to 77 TFF points since his mid-season arrival, suggesting a sharp-shooter…. or purple patch. Previously described as a defensive and deep-lying midfielder.

Another mid-season signing to hit the ground running, Dejan Kulusevski (Tott) posted similarly impressive figures – 90pts from 15 appearances– but a value of £4.8m excludes him from our “enabler” category. He’ll also take up one of the forward, rather than midfield, positions for TFF managers.

Brennan Johnson (Nottm F) £2.5m

Selected in 24% of all TFF teams at the time of writing– the eight most popular pick – following an eye-catching goal for Wales in the summer.  16 players have come through the door at Forest in the summer, their survival prospects hinging on how the new guard gel with the old as a team.

Harry Wilson (Ful) £3.0m

In contrast to Johnson, picked by just 3% of teams and therefore with a better “differential” (impact in terms of overall league position) for those who select him. Contributed a league high 19 assists to Fulham’s promotion last season.

Kieran Trippier (New) (3.3m)

Newcastle’s club captain and free-kick expert scored two goals and 29 TFF points from just six games before a season-ending injury to 21-22.

Previous seasons have also been hampered by injury – his best TFF season, for Tottenham in 2017-18, 140 pts from just 24 starts.  Either way, it may be best to bring him in AFTER the Magpies opening fixtures against City at home (wk3) and Liverpool away (wk5)

Emile Smith-Rowe (Ars) 3.6m,

Another possibly to hold for now after failing to make the squad for the Gunner’s final warm-up game against Sevilla.

But on the back of ten goals in 33 appearances and a call-up to the England squad last season, more could come from him in a number 10 role just made for both scoring and creating goals – if he gets the game time.

With just the top eight stoppers exceeding £4.5million, defenders offer the most options for those looking to free up some monies.

 And a block defence?

Five points for a clean sheet (subject to playing 60 minutes or more) – the same for a goal – is the attraction of a block defence made up of players from just one or two teams are obvious.

A boom or bust strategy perhaps best suited to shorter competitions, such as The Euros.?

Central to such a strategy – Identifying an emerging defence – such as the Liverpool back-four, which took the Reds from 4th in 18-19 to their first title in 30 years the following year. And catapulted Adrian Frost’s winning TFF team into the top 1,000

in December – with ZERO transfers used.

Could Conte’s Spurs follow suit? Maybe not all the way to the title but the likes of

Dier (3.2m) Romero (3.6m) and Davies (2.9m) could still post improved numbers in a full season under the Italian and allow plenty of funds for elsewhere on the pitch. And the stand-out selection would appear to be Perisic

(8 goals in 34 Serie A games for Inter last season) for £3.9m

Though unlike the Reds back four, there’s the potential thorn of squad rotation from Conte, with the Italian adding depth to a squad in preparation for the Champions League and up to five substitutions per game this season.

The writer believes Perisic, Spence and Sessegnon will be preferred at wing-back ahead  of Reguillon, Royal and former TFF favourite Matt Doherty (183 pts for Wolves in 18-19)

Spurs are one of three teams – Liverpool and Wolves the others – playing at least three from the promoted sides or those closest to relegation last season (Southampton, Everton and Leeds) in their opening six matches- and therefore with the optimum prospects for clean sheets.

 

Built on players exclusively from Liverpool and Man City bar one, Southampton’s Redmond, the following team found themselves in the top 1000 in December with zero transfers made:

Allison, Van Dyke, Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez (all Liverpool); Mahrez, Sterling, Sane, Salah, Redmond; Aguero.

But with £50million to spend on 11 players, how could he afford such a team?

Whilst City had finished the previous season as champions, the Reds – with van Dijk signed mid-season – had trailed 25 points behind in fourth.

Hence the entire Liverpool back line of Allison (3.7m) Van Dyke (4.3m) Robertson (3.8) Alexander-Arnold (3.6m) and Gomez (3.3m) totalling £18.7m (now a combined £23.7m).