What is Site Key Strategy?

The members area always has a live key strategy which helps put all of the scouting, transfer and market information into context. 

Some members like to stick to it, others pick and choose bits they like, and others just like to see the discussion and have their own plan. 

All of this is fine. People have different skills and time commitments to work with and are the Captain’s of their own ship at the end of the day.

The biggest factor influencing our total returns is how well you nail the trends at the correct time – we need to get our strategy set before we worry about the individual players.

Without a clear strategy, you can end up just following the market stampedes and you are going to get, at best, a mixed bag of results.

So, let’s get to it.

The Road Ahead

First, let’s look at what we can expect from November to the end of January.

We are currently at the end of my Early Season Key Strategy which is in a great position right now. 

This has been doing well ever since the season started as it nailed the trends correctly and in Scouting I was able to accurately predict who most of the best performance players would be (and who they weren’t which is just as important). 

Following the bonus and dividend increase, the strategy has now got rocket boosters under it. 

Very satisfyingly, I’m seeing lots of social media activity from some quite big accounts in recent weeks posting seemingly “Eureka moment” tweets about them having recently made a “strategy shift ” to strong performance players with CL/EL and Euro 2020 involvement. 

That’s where we have been for 3 months already in Key Strategy, and if you have been using it, you will have seen the profits come through very strongly in your portfolio.

When people switch onto your strategy later than you and buy your players at a premium, you know you read the trends correctly three months ago.

"I felt it was necessary to offer my congratulations on your site and the overwhelming success of the latest strategy. This strategy alone has made me well over £10k, so I'm very happy as you can imagine! In fact, I've broadly followed the past 3 strategies and each has proved more lucrative than the previous."

FI NSNO - Site Member


That’s all great and we should take a moment to celebrate the success. If anyone has any good stories from this last few months it’s really helpful for me to know about them and if you don’t mind be able to share them (Contact FIT button at the bottom). 

Equally, if you have been using Key Strategy and not seen great results, it’s probably even more important you get in touch, I might be able to spot why and help correct the issue.

But after we take a moment to celebrate the success, it just becomes history, and we need to keep making progress from here.

Often when others catch up with you, it can be time to move on and do something else. Not always though, and that’s the key decision I had to make in this Winter strategy which covers November to the end of January.

Whilst I like a flashy trend shift, what I like most is good results and the reality is the market is still moving towards us and it would be too early to completely change our core strategy now.

The theme of focusing on the strongest possible performance players with the “full season” fit through domestic dominance, the CL or Europa and Euro 2020 involvement will continue throughout this period.

That is the “core” of the portfolio and I expect that to be the case for most of this season. I expect traders to be funnelled more and more into this area of the market as the season goes on. Why?

Firstly because the weight of their consistent high performance scores will drive traders towards them especially following a dividend increase where those wins are now seriously attractive and profitable. 

Also, the first Gold Days are coming up, and we want to have the strongest players with the greatest possibility of winning Star Player because those first wins could be huge, another reason to stick around.

Secondly, because such players with that “full season fit” will hold their value well into 2020, when other players without European club involvement or Euro 2020 involvement will suffer from “end of season sell off” fears. 

When people sell players around Feb-July once people start chattering about “end of season sell offs”, it will be the “full season” trend fit players that not only hold their value best – they will attract the money coming out of other players too.

By January we want a strong portfolio that will resist any end of season sell off fears.

So, those who have been with me a while should be stacked with plenty of these already and as long as the reasons we hold them stay true, we can broadly keep them throughout the next 3 months even if they are hitting very high prices.

We will have to stay on the look out for any dipping in form or desirability, and keep adding new ones to that core as they emerge or become priced at value. 

So, we will have to keep trimming and adding to this core, it’s not something we can sleep on and forget about.

And, the list of viable targets is not at all limited to these Core Picks. There is the transfer window, genuine high potential youth players, IPD, elite veterans, underperforming players with potential and even the premium end of the market to look at. 

I estimate that for this strategy, around 60% of the cash in a Key Strategy portfolio will be formed of core “full season fit” players, with the remaining 40% in the other categories mentioned above. 

I have set out a very specific selection criteria for the core 60% below. What makes up the remaining 40% can be flexible depending on a trader’s preferences, provided they meet my below definitions of what a solid player in that category looks like.

These Guides are long reads but they are some of the most important content I produce all year for members. This is the 4th strategy, and all 3 previous ones have delivered outstanding success. They are crucial to getting the most from site membership!

Let’s get into the details.

Winter Strategy - Summary

This is a Summary of the Cornerstones of the strategy covering November to the end of January.

Keep building and refining a "Core" portfolio of "Full Season Fit" players with very strong performance quality throughout November, which should make up around 60% of a portfolio. Aim to have any general buying done as soon as possible. Any Buys from December onward should be as a reaction to events, not routine stocking up.

Cornerstone 1

Look out for good value opportunities in the areas of the market described in detail below to fill out the remaining 40% of the portfolio. How much to take of each of the below options is flexible depending on individual preferences.

Cornerstone 2

Trim our portfolios to keep them lean and focused, particularly looking for good opportunities to move on players who lack the "Full Season Fit" or another reason to hold them into late season like a transfer. Ensure by January our portfolios are resistant to any "end of season sell off" fear.

Cornerstone 3

Portfolio Balance

I am recommending a 60/40 split with 60% coming from the Core Selections outlined in Cornerstone 1 and 40% coming from the options in Cornerstone 2 which can include youth, transfers, premiums, underperforming quality or IPD. This is explained further below.

It’s a rough guide, I’d expect a portfolio balanced roughly along these lines, give or take 10% each side in each category depending on preferences, to perform well going forward provided the players who make it up are good quality (with assistance from the site Scouting/Transfer Centre).

Note that not all players fit neatly into boxes. You might be able to find a gem of a player that meets “full season fit” criteria but also counts as a high potential youth player. That’s great! As many positive factors as you can snag the better, and don’t worry too much about making sure the 60/40 split works out perfectly, it’s just a guideline.

Note that I always keep a small portion of my bank free (approx 5%) so that if I see new targets I do not have to panic sell to buy. I only commit “all in” when there is a bonus or similar. This is optional but I think it is good practice.

For a new entrant.  This is a note for traders who are new to the site, and are not particularly stocked up on the kind of Core player that is rising very strongly now and has been part of Key Strategy since July. 

I still think it is essential to have a good stock of Core players as outlined in Cornerstone 1, they are fundamental to this season. You should find the best possible value in this category with help from the Scouting section. 

But I would flip the portfolio balance around and target 60% in Cornerstone 2 picks and 40% in Cornerstone 1 picks instead. 

This will help ensure you are only targetting the best possible value in the Core selections.

How many players in a portfolio?

I would encourage members to read my article on aggression and portfolio make up and consider how many players they want to hold and how much they put in each player.

At this stage, I now want to be refinining my portfolio down to around 30 picks, with flex to 20 or as high as 40 as an upper range.

Any higher than that is unlikely to acheive optimal results and this is a very common cause of underwhelming overall returns despite picking some good players.

The second common cause of underperformance is having too much money allocated at the premium (perhaps £4+ although what counts as “premium” is changing as the market rises) end of the market and not backing good value low to medium price bracket players with enough money. Again, the article on aggression linked above explains this.

The article also contains further advice about finding the right balance for you between aggression (potentially higher profits but higher risk) or a more diverse approach (moderate potential profits and more moderate risk).

This is essential reading and understanding this concept and having a strategy for this is HUGELY important to your total returns.

You can pick all the good players you want but if your portfolio is a flabby mess, your results will be mediocre.

Winter Strategy - Cornerstones

Keep building and refining a "Core" portfolio of "Full Season Fit" players with very strong performance quality throughout November. Aim to have any general buying done as soon as possible. Any Buys from December onward should be as a reaction to events, not routine stocking up.

Cornerstone 1

What is a “Full Season Fit” exactly? Regular readers will know because I have been banging on about it for months. But to be clear:

A very strong performance player who can be expected to compete for performance dividends at club level week in week out, with CL or Europa League involvement and Euro 2020 involvement (for a decent team) come the end of the season.

That, to me, has been my template for a really successful player this season. It has proven correct so far and was the key feature of the last strategy written in August.

And I think they will continue to rise over the coming period provided:

a) their performance strength continues to hold up and they challenge for and win dividends, as reviewed weekly through the Scouting section.

b) their wider factors such as first team place for club and country, or any transfer rumours needed to hold their price remain live. And they stay injury free etc.

These players will form the “Core” and around 60% of the total value of my portfolio overall throughout the next few months.

We can’t just let them sit there and do nothing, though. They must be carefully monitored because whilst the dividend increase can allow them to rise further, they will need to deliver consistent good scores to do so.

And who people consider to be the strongest players now will not be entirely the same come January, we need to keep on top of that and it will be monitored each week through Scouting.

We will want to trim those who weaken as we go along. I won’t be selling quality assets just for 3-4 bad games. But if something fundamental changes I may do so.

As new targets emerge, or value appears, we can be adding to this “Core”. 

If we do not have enough of these Core players already, we should sign them up sooner rather than later.

For the consistent winners, I would not want to still be buying them come late November or December. 

Below are the site selection criteria for Core players.

*Note – for the demo version of the site the Selection criteria for Core players has been removed to protect members content. 

Look out for good value opportunities in the below areas of the market to fill out the remaining 40% of the portfolio.

Cornerstone 2

The vast majority of my portfolio from November to the end of January will be made up of the “Core Selections” who meet the criteria from Cornerstone 1. They’ll make up around 60% of my portfolio value, flexible to 50% or 70% depending on preference.

But there are other areas of the market that will offer value too. I estimate around 40% of my portfolio will come from these areas and as long as the selections are sound and meet the requirements for each category below, traders can balance this however they see fit.

The only thing I’d say to avoid is overfilling your portfolio with very highly priced premiums (more than 10% total portfolio value) as this is a very common way to scupper your overall percentage returns.

High Potential Young Players

The first area to look at is high potential youth players. This is markedly different from the overpriced garbage that has been peddled recently (and is now tanking heavily).

What I am talking about is young players of genuine performance potential. Stengs is a recent example from Scouting and the recent wonderkids series. He has genuine quality and has even delivered a win already (Not luck, I picked him for a reason).

There is currently a youth player bonfire going on as of late October. I expect that will continue as people continue to free up funds to target performance players. 

Traders don’t often know which are genuine quality and which aren’t. 

This can create opportunities particularly if the firesale continues throughout November. Where we have a youth target of genuine quality, we should be looking to aquire them in large quantities if:

– They are high potential, at least 3 out of 5 stars and ideally 4 out of 5 stars for performance potential in my ratings.

– The price drops to good value level, at least under £1.50 or £1.75 for extremely high potential players.

– They have a reasonable chance of getting a good transfer rumour come Summer OR can realistically play first team football at a performance suitable club next season.

Avoid, like the plague, the overpriced garbage that is dropping. A price drop for a weak and massively overvalued player does not make them good value even though before long we will have people on social media saying it does as they try to claw back their losses. Ignore them.

Examples from Scouting: Stengs, Curtis Jones, Dani Olmo, Pedrinho, Aldulkadir Omur, Alphonso Davies, Martin Terrier, Leon Bailey. 

Quality Underperformers

So far this season there are a few examples of good quality performance players who for various reasons have not quite shown their ability. This could be a lack of pitch time, injuries, poor form or difficulty settling into a new club. 

It can also mean the player just isn’t as good as they used to be so through Scouting I try to work that out and my reports on individuals are there.

Where we think the dip in form is temporary, it can open up solid value opportunities as the price often dips or at least stagnates compared to others who are rising.

This type of player can easily become a “Core selection” if they deliver a few good performances and prove their strength to the market and I see good profits here if, through Scouting, we can work out the ones worth keeping patience with.

Examples from Scouting: Brandt, Havertz, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Corentin Tolisso, Suso (arguably, he has won a dividend already but is off the boil), Cengiz Under, Calhanoglu (improving recently), Demirbay (possibly, check scouting), Dybala (not so underperforming lately but historically).

Transfer Prospects

Another factor in this period is going to be the January transfer window. We shouldn’t go too crazy for this. 

It’s a minor window and most major players who are moving on will do so in Summer. 

However, for those key few players who do move in January, there could be good profit available in this area so this is something we will definitely look at through the now revamped transfer center.

With January transfers we want to be buying them now and in November. We do not want to be buying them in December or January itself. In fact, if we acheive a high price rise before January, we may want to sell them then and not worry about whether the transfer will actually happen or not.

We can also think ahead to Summer. If we have a quality player who lacks Euro 2020 but does have a good Summer transfer link to a good club, that can be a solid substitute for a lack of Euro 2020 involvement.

So, as long as the player keeps a reason to hold them in the Summer, they can dodge the end of season sell off.

If they have BOTH Euro 2020 and a good transfer rumour, even better. Picture the market reaction come late Feb/March for a decent performance player with Euro 2020 and big club transfer rumours combined? They’ll be very desirable and could acheive an outrageous price.

These “combo” players are a great one to target if you are playing catch up and trying to increase the % of “Core selections” in your portfolio, since there are multiple reasons why the price can rise further.

Examples from Scouting: Federico Chiesa, Bruno Fernandes, Insigne (maybe?), Moussa Dembelé, Kai Havertz, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Fabian Ruiz, Rodrigo De Paul. 

In Play Dividends

IPD’s remain lucrative now, provided the players are ideally under £1 and up to £1.20. It can also add a bit more value to an occasional performance challenger in the 2 out of 5 stars or 3 out of 5 stars range.

Traders may be a little down on IPD now as they did not get an increase recently. But they remain generous and I still think good value can be had here.

Strong goal scorers particularly if they also provide assists are set to return nicely and they don’t need to be superb trend fits or strong performance scorers in general. 

In fact, where the player is not on trend they can be particularly great value for that reason. An elite veteran at 31 years old for example could well be near his goal scoring peak but be very cheap because of the usual fear of decline. 

But for IPD purposes this does not matter very much and his goals are all going to payout the same during a big streak.

In the last strategy we exploited a lot of the elite veteran IPD players to good effect. This works best in early season but I think that can still be done for the rest of 2019 and the market is now a bit less fearful of older players. 

Come 2020, I’ll get more cautious on older players again.

Note that not every player slots neatly into just “IPD”. They may be decent for IPD and some other good factors. Plea is a good example. Fringe France involvement, a possible transfer prospect, an occasional performance win. 

That means you can be happy to pay a little bit more at £1.52 because there are more ways to win the bet. Where a player only had IPD and no other prospects you’d want to be looking under £1. 

Examples from Scouting: Dost, Andre Silva, Belotti, Quagliarella, Paciencia, Plea 

Premium / Media

I have not held premium priced players (top 10/15) since I sold them to traders getting far too excited by them in advance of the Share Split. Since then, this category of player has had a rough time generally since March. 

They have recently bounced back though following the dividend announcement.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in portfolios shared with me looking for advice is a tendency to hang on to too many over priced premium players too long. For the last 6 months, that was particularly punishing. Even if you don’t see losses, the money locked up in there can be the silent killer of a total ROI because the opportunity cost is huge.

However, circumstances change. With the dividend increase, I do see value in a limited number of premium picks for those who like to, but kept to reasonable levels, probably around 10% of total portfolio value and not much more than that if a trader wants to shoot for optimal ROI.

To support a premium price (let’s call it £5+) I want genuine and consistent returns for my money in BOTH media and performance. Not vague promises of “potential” where 7 different events have to happen before they start justifying the price.

I’ve said in Scouting for a while that Neymar is my best example here as he is proven and still in his prime with no worries about retirement anytime soon. Messi is fantastic but those background age worries will always be there.

Sterling is improving all the time and does look close to delivering consistently but you do pay for it.

And then something like Mbappé I would leave alone because his performance credentials are shaky and media appeal isn’t there yet.

Something like Pogba… he’s good in the EPL but whilst the threat of leaving the EPL remains I would not go near it.

I try to avoid picking on individuals in these strategies but I’m trying to illustrate the thought process when aquiring the premiums. Perhaps this sums it up: 

At these premium prices you want to buy proven results not speculation.

When buying speculatively you want a cheap price tag to match.

Examples from Scouting: Neymar, Messi, Sterling, E Hazard. 

Trim our portfolios to keep them lean and focused, particularly looking for good opportunities to move on players who lack the "Full Season Fit" or another reason to hold them like a transfer.

Cornerstone 3

As we move forward we will want take some profits and there are a few areas where we can do this.

The guiding principle here is that by January, we want to have a portfolio that will resist any fears of an “end of season sell off”.

“But FIT!” People will cry. “Why are you talking about an end of season sell off in October!? Isn’t it too early?” No! Some said prioritising Euro 2020 players in August was too early too but it wasn’t. The success of the Key Strategy has been built on doing things before everyone else is really thinking about it.

Come January, we will see that sort of doom and gloom end of season chatter and we want our portfolios to be as bullet proof as possible by then.

The first area I would look to offload over the course of November-January would be any players that lack performance quality. This could be either because you just bought a dud, they did not live up to expectations, or they have declined.

Players need to be delivering good scores and winning or looking like potential winners, particularly if they are carrying high prices. As the season goes on, weak players do get found out. Nothing kills hype like relentlessly weak performance scores.

So, take out the trash and keep our portfolios full of quality. Most portfolios I look at have some decent players but they are held back by over attachment to weak or previously overhyped players.

Don’t fear selling at a loss if you have lost confidence in the player and the evidence shows it’s not going to get any better. Move on.

Secondly, we may have a decent performance player that has done well and risen nicely. However, if they lack a key element of the full season fit, perhaps no European involvement, or won’t be playing in Euro 2020, it may be wise to cash in on them if they have reached Guide Price levels or above. I’d look to do this by December/January latest before people start worrying about an end of season sell off.

Players we are holding into 2020 want a reason to keep them beyond just this season. That can be Euro 2020. It can be a good transfer rumour.

But, in my view, they must have something which stops people pressing the sell button once they start thinking the season is getting close to an end.

It may feel like we are still in early season and we are, but come January, the end of season talk will start. We should not be holding players that will be vulnerable to that by then. 

Finally, we can start to *carefully* take a bit of profit from our “Full Season Fit” players over November – January where they have risen so much that a very large % of our portfolio value is now in a single player.

So, for example, let’s say I had 1800 shares in Gnabry, as an aggressive pre-season buy at £1.15 per share. My aggressive buys are usually around 5% of my portfolio value. That would be around £2,000 purchased in Gnabry (These numbers are just an example!). 

By now, Gnabry is £2.99 and I could well have £5,000+ in Gnabry. 

Now I want to keep him but he may now be hogging quite a large % of my total portfolio value. That’s not too clever because what if he gets injured or suffers some other misfortune?

So, trimming off 300-600 shares in that example over the next few months is good risk management. This leaves me with a healthy 1200 to take forward as well as some solid profit to reinvest.

But I’d want to do this to market NOT Instant Sell and ideally at a moment when Gnabry wins again and people are buying. 

There is no excuse for Instant Selling a quality player unless something goes wrong, it’s burning money.

Cornerstone 3 Examples from Scouting: Gomez, Coutinho, Parejo.

Note: The above are examples of the sorts of players who can be worth holding now but could be worth trimming as we move towards and into January – i.e they are strong but are missing a key part of the key selection criteria like Euro 2020 involvement. This could lead to them being involved in any “end of season sell off” worries from January onwards.

Final Thoughts

It’s been a great few months. The purpose of Key Strategy is to see where the market is going to be in a few months time, plant a flag on it and wait for others to catch up.

From setting out the last Key Strategy prioritising the right sorts of players, then identifying who the consistent winners would be in Scouting before they became common knowledge, it went according to plan.

But, most of the market has now joined us and are elbowing into the same space. That’s great, they are feeding our profits. But, it also starts using up our elbow room and we can start to feel a bit crowded in.

At this point, you have two ways of proceeding. One solution is to try to find a new trend, sell up, and move on to where you think the market will be in February.

That isn’t always possible though. Because in February, I think the market will still be fighting over the same category of elite players (which is something I said at the time of the performance scoring changes). 

However, who those exact players are will change and we must stay tuned to this.

So, in the absence of any sensible major trend shifts (which mainly take place in late season), we again need to gain our advantage by being better at selecting the specific targets through Scouting.

Those targets who look the strongest, most consistent winners with the “Full Season Fit” may look very different come February than they do now, and we need to stay on top of that, selling the weak and adding the strong to our Core portfolio.

We should be looking outside of the Core selections for value in other areas such as genuinely high potential youth (particularly if they keep dropping in price), transfers and emerging performance talent that others haven’t noticed yet.

The landing point is to get to the end of January with the best possible portfolio that will be highly resistant to any end of season sell off chatter that will be appearing by then.

And, whilst this is the big picture for the next few months, stay tuned to the weekly State of the Market updates (Tuesday usually) where I give my week to week commentary on every twist and turn along the way.

I hope you’ve had success from the previous Key Strategies, and for those of you joining for the first time, welcome!


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