It may still be almost a month until the start of the new Premier League season, but at least the Fantasy Premier League has started up again so that aspiring managers and football junkies suffering from withdrawal symptoms during the long summer recess, can start tinkering with their teams again.
The only significant change to the new game sees the demise of the “All Out Attack” chip––always something of a lottery––to be replaced by a “Free Hit” chip. Despite the name of this new chip being suggestive of some kind of physical attack on your opponents––Zinedine Zidane on Marco Materazzi, or Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer, or Eric Cantona on Matthew Simmons spring to mind––the reality is rather more mundane, but that is not to say without its merit.
The “Free Hit” chip allows you to change your entire squad of 15 players for one week only, with the team reverting back to its original membership for the following gameweek. Useful. There are plenty of potential scenarios where it could come in handy: during a short-term injury crisis; during a gameweek with a reduced number of matches; during a gameweek with an increased number of matches. I have often found myself employing a strategy of saving my––most typically second––wildcard until just before a double gameweek, but this new chip effectively renders that strategy unnecessary. It is an intriguing addition to the FPL armoury and has a far better chance of adding––or losing––points to your team’s score than ever did the “All Out Attack” chip, which can only be a good thing.
I have already chosen a new team name for the 2017/18 season; already made my initial squad selection, although I anticipate that this will change multiple times between now and the start of the season.
This will be my fifth season playing FPL––a relative latecomer by most fans’ standards. I confess that I had dismissed the concept, if not exactly with contempt, certainly with disinterest for a long time: now, I have the evangelical zeal of a recent convert.
FPL makes me view the real Premier League in a different way; makes me watch out for results with which I would have otherwise had little vested interest. I have cheered on teams I would have never previously dreamed of supporting purely because of the hope of obtaining a few extra FPL points for a double captain; crossed my fingers that no late score ruins my defensive bonus for a clean sheet.
All together now: “Loser!”
When did it become
Okay to prize the virtual
Over what is real?
© Donnie Blake; image after René Magritte
Donnie Blake pre-empts his critics.