A huge day for FI, no doubt.
The Matching Engine is scheduled to launch at 10:00 am as most will know.
It might not be an overstatement to call it the biggest practical change to the platform since performance scoring was introduced.
I’ll be running a Live Blog this morning probably until around midday.
Nothing specific planned – I’ll be watching the market, playing with the new Matching Engine and sharing thoughts as and when I think there is something useful to say!
This article is run in Live Blog format - so start at the bottom and work up!
This was a fun one and whilst I could do this for hours I really have to go unfortunately!
I will be back Sunday with more scouting.
This is a huge day for FI and I am honestly stunned how well this appears to be working.
The spreads are so tight and it’s going to be so much better when traders are setting the sell price organically rather than FI stepping in.
The issue was trust – would people believe that other traders will come in to buy their unwanted players?
The answer seems to be yes they will – most of the time. But we are also in a more grown up world where it will now be possible to get stuck holding a player forever if we aren’t careful.
We’ve got more power over our fortunes than ever before and I think FI just got a bit more fun too.
Final round before I have to have dinner with my girlfriend whilst checking FI under the table.
Wrapping up a selection of other requests:
Griezman. Insigne. Naby Keita. Guedes.
On a lengthy price dive from £2.90 in October to £2.32 now (with an attempted recovery in April back to £2.60).
Current bid price: £2.05.
£2.05 for Griezmann… get out of my office. That’s offensive.
The sticker price is already an undervaluation potentially. He’s struggled at Barcelona but he may settle and he also may hit a big transfer.
Then he is exceptional for France and we have another year ahead where the Euros will dominate thinking yet again.
Nah. Positive reasons he can recover are on the board here and he may get attention once La Liga spins up.
Very strong FI player who has underperformed this season – a lot of the time due to a very very poor run of form for Napoli. That has kept the price low anyway.
£1.92 is cheap so the bid price of £1.62 is a steal.
He could get attention just when Serie A starts up, and he’ll be a contender to win when it does.
Spotting these kind of undervaluations when you know something that most people don’t is important.
Verdict: Easy hold.
Another underperformer – in the sense that if he played 90 minutes regularly I’d back him to do very well. In fact, he’d probably be Liverpool’s best performance player.
But with limited minutes he’s not really been able to demonstrate that to the masses.
This is where you want to do a bit of digging and work out how likely it is that Keita will become a regular starter next season (or even if Liverpool wrap up the title).
If he does, his £1.74 is a slam dunk bargain so his £1.59 bid price definitely is.
But key word: if. If he spends another season as a rotation option you probably don’t get a huge price fall but you might get another season of stagnation.
Verdict: Keep. I can’t read Klopp’s mind on team selection but given the kind price for a genuinely FI suitable Liverpool player (rare beasts) I think it is a solid bet that shouldn’t completely collapse if it goes wrong.
Tough season for Guedes with a long injury. Only just coming back before lockdown. Injury buyers pushed him to £1.40 as he was returning but then he fell back very sharply and is just £1.14 today.
With a tight-ish spread with the highest bid £1.01.
Decent prospect but in FI terms he is an awkward winger. In the forward category he might compete but he is going to get overpowered by the big hitting midfielders especially at Valencia. Transfer prospect is there though.
Also he is a good young player who gets Portugal minutes in a Euros year. And he may get attention when La Liga returns.
Verdict: Pretty straight forward one for me. £1.14 is value and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him back at £1.40 when playing regularly again. Taking £1.01 feels like getting mugged.
I am indeed still going although will have to wrap up at 6! (It is Ms FIT’s birthday tonight so sacrifices have to be made).
Moussa Dembelé. Transfer speculation giveth, transfer speculation taketh away.
We have to be a bit careful with these at the moment as discussed because the transfer market is going to be very unpredictable all Summer. And until a few hours ago, we couldn’t sell anything if it fell over.
That’s a bit different now and it might mean, in some cases, we can be a bit more relaxed with transfers.
But again, I think it is better to stick with the ones that have long term value, rather than gambling that they must hit a specific transfer this Summer or bust.
We can see that because Manchester United rumours appear to have cooled, the best bid for Dembele is today £2.50 a full 20% off his sticker price. That’s an expensive hit.
The reason I have long liked this transfer trade is that it is not all or nothing. If he doesn’t hit his big transfer this Summer he’ll have some interest at Lyon and the transfer speculation will almost certainly return later on.
Because of that, I think it’s acceptable to hold and hope you get lucky with the Manchester United move or similar. It’s not an all or nothing gamble where the price collapses forever if it doesn’t pay off – long term value is there.
Verdict: Keep. If the spread was tighter there would be a better case for selling him but £2.50 for Dembelé feels borderline insulting…. and as I type this I see someone has bid £2.70 for him.
This is exciting isn’t it?
Yeah £2.70 feels more fair. I would still lean towards keeping him but if you are really struggling to free up funds I think £2.70 is a reasonable offer to take.
In my head I think of him as an underperformer this season but looking at the price chart it’s not bad – £1.19 in June 2019 and £1.86 today. He could have been better – I think he does have some performance suitability in him but he may need a slightly bigger club.
The main reason for holding Savic though has been the big transfer which remains on the table.
Verdict: Easy keep for me. High reward if the EPL transfer does pay off yet stable price and a decent long term hold if the transfer doesn’t happen.
Again it’s an example where if a player hasn’t done anything for a while it’s frustrating and you want rid – but we must trade what is in front of us – not make the decision we wish we had made 3 months ago.
Felix was last season’s site darling, similar to how Curtis Jones or Stengs might be for this season. But that all changed when he went to Atletico where I got turned off very quickly.
So glad I ditched him because holding Felix for a year has been a disaster. Even though the price drop isn’t severe the opportunity cost of a stagnating player in a market performing this well is huge.
It shows how wedded people are to their wonderkids that he has held this price despite abysmal numbers, and even now his spread is pretty tight. So it isn’t expensive to drop him – £3.52 is the bid with blue button price £3.71 – that’s only 5%.
On the pitch he was doing better before the shutdown, scoring again. Maybe he will settle a bit. But fundamentally, I can’t see him doing great on FI at Atletico. The long term value could be there but I think he needs another move which feels very unlikely anytime soon.
That said, La Liga might be about to spin back up and he is exactly the sort of player who might benefit almost by default. After all – people bought Haaland in excitement for the Bundesliga returning and Haaland is much worse than Felix.
Verdict: On balance, I’d stick with him and try to profit from some early La Liga excitement. But I would probably sell after a game or two unless he had dramatically improved (which is unlikely).
Suso I’ve covered but Carvajal and Zaha we can do.
Carvajal is another solid player who has taken a price dive. So, for many, like I mentioned just below – the instinct is that we want to sell players who have hurt us recently.
But I think in this case this price drop makes him pretty solid value. He can win occasionally and with La Liga spinning up again there are two reasons why he can bounce back sometime soon.
The spread is pretty tight here, just 9p. So it’s not expensive if you did what to sell. But this probably also reflects that plenty of people out there know he’s a bit of a bargain after the price drop.
Zaha… hmm. Less enthused.
Zaha isn’t going to be winning much on FI from Palace. But he might do better at a good club.
Basically with him it is all about the transfer. We’ve seen a ton of windows where he proved a tricky transfer to get over the line even in normal times. With the transfer market in a mess – do we back this to happen now?
You could say he might get some traction as the EPL looks back but I think most people are aware Zaha is probably not going to win. So this seems thin.
One from the audience:
Let’s see. So Suso is a potentially very strong player who definitely underperfomed at Milan and was generally unsettled which is why he left for Sevilla.
What was difficult about him was the strength of his underlying numbers – whenever he played for Milan he looked agonisingly close to big scores that didn’t come as often as they probably should have.
That made him hard to drop even in rough patches.
If we tap his name into the Members Search bar we bring up my 8 Match match report:
“Suso started very brightly at Sevilla and generally speaking, despite some managed minutes lately, his overall numbers hold up.
But, he is looking quite toothless and the threat is weak. Assist potential is better, but an assist will not be enough.
Frustration at this is kicking in and he’s dropped from £1.90 to £1.69,”
That said he still looks capable of a win and with Sevilla still in this season’s Europa he could be a great candidate for a Gold Day then. And La Liga should be on the way back soon – there are some good reasons why he may rise in the near future.
Despite the severe drop – the spread is very tight which is fair.
This reflects that by now, the current £1.49 bid price would indeed be a bit of a bargain for Suso.
Verdict: Hang tough.
It can be easy to make the trade we wished we had made 3 months ago before a drop. But we can’t fix that now – only trade what is in front of us.
With reasons why he can rise soon just ahead for a decent player who is capable of a win – I’d find it quite easy to leave Suso where he is.
This was a bit of a wild ride of a trade. One I have mentioned for a while as a good potential player, he finally hit his stride in January/February rocketing from 74p to a high of £1.43 by February 3rd. Huge.
Even better, his numbers were showing he deserved his price rise and he could go further.
But then it went bad very quickly – slight injury and filling in at left back for a time did not help the cause. Then with coronavirus on top he plummets all the way back to £1.01 before recovering to £1.08 now.
Currently can be sold for 89p to a bidder – a substantial 21% hit.
This was an easy loss to take – baited in by his good numbers you have every reason to hold – then the drop comes very swiftly and suddenly you can’t sell anyway. Tough luck.
Long term I like him and think he is value. 89p is giving him away but like Neres – it might be in my interest to do it.
It’s such a long time until Ligue 1 is back – even though this is a substantial hit, I can probably do a bit better with the money elsewhere.
That said, I wouldn’t black list all Ligue 1 players – they should enjoy a rise again as people start preparing for next season (July? August?). But there is a long time to go until then.
Verdict: I’ll probably take that bid and sell.
But again, this is a tough call – in a well managed portfolio you won’t have too many outright bad players so we do have to make some hard judgements.
A different sort of dilemma. Curtis Jones.
Season long members will remember him being picked out early in scouting and he’s done really well all season.
Wonderkid type – but there are lots of so called generational talents/wonderkids on FI he is not unique in that regard.
The spread is super low, just 10p below blue button price which tells us that people are confident in him and keen to buy for just a tiny discount.
£2.81 is high for an unproven youngster but it’s not outrageously high given his profile and in comparison with other similar players.
Verdict: Easy hold.
Despite the temptation of the tight spread – I can be comfortable holding this because of what I know. His FI performance numbers are some of the best I’ve seen around in a youngster (like Stengs another of my favourites from this season).
In FI terms at least he is a wonderkid and because I can use that term correctly and do not apply it to other hyped kids who do not deserve it – it makes this an easy call to keep him.
You could make a case for selling then rebuying – but I have a long held theory that he should get more minutes if Liverpool wrap up the title early and I’m happy to stick with that.
Important thing here is that with good research we can make better decisions about what to hold and what to sell when it hits a high price.
This feels like a good example of the sort of player who is a good long term choice but might be a candidate to get sold today if I can get a decent price.
He ticks a lot of boxes for me. Performance suitability. A likely transfer at some point. Young Brazilians are easy to sell. Not much to dislike here.
I put him in my September wonderkids series of articles priced £1.63 – his big transfer had just fallen over and he had dropped from £2.41.
£1.85 blue button price. Nearest bid £1.52 although currently creeping up.
Someone picking up Neres for £1.52 is getting a steal, let’s be honest.
So does it make sense for me to give them that great deal?
It actually feels a bit too early to be holding Neres right now. There isn’t any football for him. Ajax are out of this season’s European competition and he is in an ineligible league. In short – he doesn’t have any opportunities to demonstrate his performance strength anytime soon.
He may drop on a big transfer so I could regret selling. But with the transfer market in disarray this Summer, do we really want to leave success/failure in the hands of the transfer God’s?
And yet, this is a rough decision because the spread is wide – 23%. And I know he is a good player who should eventually increase in price.
Verdict: I’d be willing to sell him but only because I think his price rise will probably come in a few months not now. I can always go back to him later. And I have targets that I think can do better than losing this 23% which is the crucial thing.
I am going to finish going through my portfolio though and see if there is anyone better to move on first.
This is a real borderline/tough call which is why I used it as the first example. And if you were happy to have patience you could easily stick with Neres and call it a good decision.
I think I will do some trading “dilemmas”. I’ll pick some examples from my own portfolio and discuss my thought process as no doubt many people are making a lot of judgement calls right now.
Actually, if you want to send some of your own in via Twitter or email (email@example.com) I could discuss those too, might be fun.
Haha. Immediate Twitter DM asking if I have lost faith with Bruno Fernandes.
As I mentioned in the Portfolio Clinic article – sometimes there will be a player that you want to keep but they have risen so much they have become a very large % of your portfolio value.
I don’t think it is smart to sit there with 7.5%-10% of your portfolio value in just one player – no matter how good – anyone can suffer a misfortune.
So with a small buy of 2.5% I might trim some off if it reaches 5%. Or for a big buy at 5% I might trim at 7.5% or certainly by 10%.
This is just good risk management and it means that if your star man gets a leg breaker you have limited how unlucky you can be with one player.
Yesterday a member asked a great question that I covered in the Q+A which very much seems relevant now watching this.
Will this effectively make players cheaper to buy and hard to sell at their blue button price?
Everyone wants a discount now so the blue buy button now represents the maximum possible price you can pay, rather just the price you have to pay.
So for example, if I want to trim some Bruno Fernandes shares today (because he’s grown to a unreasonably high % of my portfolio value) I’d normally Sell Queue him and be reasonably confident of getting the price it says on the tin even if I have to wait a few days.
Now though? Who is really going to be paying the buy button price when you can probably just bid £9.45 at time of writing and snag him for 3.5% less?
So in a way absolutely – it has probably reduced the price I can sell for in normal times a bit. Although, overall, I think this is going to be great for FI and raise prices in general so is overall a big positive.
However, I may have to get used to using the red Sell Button a lot more (I rarely Instant Sold unless some bad luck occurred before).
3.5% is actually pretty damn reasonable and on a day like today – I would probably rather pay my 3.5% than wait 2 days in the sell queue.
With a big watch list of targets after a long drought with no liquidity – I need money now and waiting the couple of days it might take me in the sell queue would not feel worth it.
In more normal times, it might.
I think we will still be able to use Sell Queue but it might be for players that are in hot demand (because they just won performance or similar) where people are desperate to sign them up immediately.
I expect most traders will want to use bids as their main form of buying now because who doesn’t want to feel like they got a discount?
Following on from the last point I think there is something to say about herd mentality and the reassurance that a tight spread will give to traders.
It should almost become a self fulfilling prophecy – a player with a tight spread will become more likely to get bought.
A player with a large spread looks suspicious and unpopular.
This is human instinct – to want to stick close to the pack and seek the reassurance of others.
But in trading, you often have to flip that around. It will often be the best move to buy the cheap and unpopular player. And to sell the expensive in demand player too.
Lots of people struggle with this because it requires bravery and confidence.
The only way we can be brave and confident (as opposed to foolhardy) is through good research and experience.
This is what good research is for – to give you the evidence needed to legitimately do your own thing and be comfortable with it.
A mental challenge but one we’ll all have to get better at – because seeing the trader generated Sell Price is going to contribute heavily to the already strong herd mentality from now on.
One thing I’ve mentioned a few times in various Matching Engine / Order Book discussions is the new information we will get about how traders are feeling.
We don’t have to just rely on snippets of social media gossip or whoever is loudest in a chat group to judge this anymore. We can see sentiment in cold hard cash.
Usually this would be a “market depth” chart where you can see all the bids and how far down they go. We don’t have that but even just being able to see the Sell Price and know that is a real bid underneath it tells us a lot.
This is no longer FI setting the price – this is real traders.
And you can already see the gaps opening up. Popular players tend to be getting very tight spreads but unpopular ones are struggling so far.
Someone like Tierney who has been obviously overvalued for quite some time is struggling with a 26% spread where as something more in fashion like Aouchiche is just at 6.5%.
For Tierney – that longer term issue of his period of hype but then realisation that he wasn’t all that great is now catching up with him and we will see a lot of this. This would almost certainly have happened sooner if people could sell – instead, it’s happening now.
You can already start to piece together a picture of who is in fashion and who is not based on the spreads – although this is still very early and it will evolve over the coming hours and days.
The important point to remember though is what I mentioned this morning – in fashion and out of fashion is not the same as good trade or bad trade.
This is because the popular consensus is often wrong – and it is where we see spot these differences between real value (as determined by scouting/market analysis etc) and popular perceived value – that is where we will be able to profit.
Even for a Tierney though – being able to sell for a 26% hit is a vastly improved situation over yesterday where you couldn’t sell at all. £1.36 for Tierney is more than generous if you know what he is really worth.
What we are seeing here is the start of my “judgement day” or judgement weeks more accurately.
Right now, all those flashes on the market are a sign of the market prices moving to match the real feelings out there. In recent months – they haven’t because prices have been held artificially high or low by a lack of liquidity.
If this pace keeps up – and these spreads stay this tight – liquidity is not going to be a problem much longer.
*note in the 14:29 entry I just realised I wrongly implied you can make low bids for buy prices, which of course, you can’t – yet!
I meant that buy prices for off trend players are currently low so if we can sell some stuff now for a decent price we may be able to move for them and get a good deal.
Kinda fascinating to watch! And watching the flashing numbers gives us more than just a migraine.
These spreads are getting tight.
Particularly at the top end of the market.
Traders seem perhaps surprisingly generous and seem satisfied with a small discount (2.5 to 5% or even less) on many popular players.
Though, as expected, unpopular or really weak players as you get far outside the top 200 in particular are finding it hard to get a price at all.
This might ease up – people will tend to focus on the big ticket players first and then things should filter down.
Biggest point so far is that this appears to be working.
This market looks like a market again for the first time in months.
That is huge.
It’s going to take a while for all this to settle down and for people to get to grips with what offers they should make and what they should accept.
Eventually people will probably establish a consensus on an informal “etiquette” where you get 2-5% off for a popular player, or up to 20% for something unpopular.
Beyond 20% it starts to get insulting but not everyone may realise that yet.
We might be able to abuse this a bit.
For example if you agree with me that Elite Veterans are going to enjoy a bounce back when people get confident that football is back for good – we might be able to get some real steals here.
This is because the majority of people are still stuck in the age adverse mindset that was appropriate from late November 2019 to around April 2020 but is becoming less and less relevant the closer football gets to a full time return.
This could be exploited in the coming days as people may accept some frankly insulting offers for players if they are desperate to free up funds.
If it becomes clear that people are accepting extremely low offers – it will make it easier for me to sell some of the decent players as I mentioned this morning so that I can use that money on cheap players I think are strong but are currently unpopular.
And this thinking will apply not just to the current Elite Veteran theory – but anytime you have a view that is running against the current mainstream (And I do that a lot).
With the Matching Engine – we are going to get so many more opportunities to make more money when we correctly disagree with the mainstream view.
And of course, more opportunities to feel like a total wally if we get that wrong.
Overall I like that – it raises the ceiling on how good a trader can be (and also lowers the floor on how bad you can be).
Our first little titbit.
If you go on the website you can now click Buy on a player then Place Bid. It doesn’t work yet – but you can see the “Bid Zone” which was mentioned in the original announcement.
This is basically the lowest possible offer you can make on a player, and FI have said this will start at around 60% under the normal buy price.
This will vary though – at the top end of the market (your Sanchos, Fernandes, Foden’s and Neymar’s) I can see a Bid Zone 70% wide. The mid range players like Aouar tend to be 60% and I’ve seen 50% for some cheap under £1 players too.
So it seems the more expensive the player the more you can underbid.
Does this tell us anything?
It used to be that you could look at the size of the spread and work out how risky FI thought a player was. Wider the spread – the less keen FI were to buy.
I’m not sure the size of the Bid Zone tells us the same thing – FI aren’t paying the bill here so it’s not really their problem anymore!
The purpose of the Bid Zone is to prevent really stupidly low offers and I don’t think we should read too much into it.
There is a certain logic to having 70% on expensive players – they are the most at risk of being extremely overvalued after all because they are at very high prices.
Let’s say Sancho or Fernandes or Pogba or whoever had some misfortune that caused a total price collapse, you may actually need the 70% discount to have any chance of moving them because it will be such a high profile and endlessly discussed disaster.
But in most normal circumstances, the real lowest price will be determined by traders themselves and should be well above the Bid Zone.
As I sit here looking at my portfolio, I’m trying to follow my own advice from yesterday and get a clear idea of I want out and who I want in.
The “who I want in” part is actually easy. Well, not easy exactly. It took me dozens of hours of research! But it’s done. All the articles over recent weeks and months plus the Scouting has turned up plenty of targets.
My problem was that I didn’t have enough liquid cash to buy as much of it as I wanted to.
It’s frustrating to have players you think are great picks but not be able to get them – and that’s a feeling that’s going to be common to a lot of traders right now I suspect.
That may be about to change but in order to do that I need to sell, and that is where I have difficult decisions to make.
Coming from Key Strategy where I felt we needed more than ever to have a core of solid picks that can weather uncertain times (and with my usual tight selection criteria anyway) I don’t actually have many I think are outright bad or past their sell by date.
Around 10% of my portfolio I’ve flagged as players I want to move on, fairly straightforward.
Ideally I’d like to sell another 10% to give myself plenty of free cash to bid on players with.
But this is what I discussed in the Q+A yesterday – I’ll be having to sell decent players in order to buy players I think are better. Upgrades, basically.
And these are tough decisions.
For this bunch of players, given I am not desperate to sell them, I think it might be smart to spend at least a few hours looking at the bids that are being made.
It will probably be easier to make the decision when I can see the actual sell prices.
This is a mental struggle though even for experienced traders – this is new and it will be a learning curve for everyone.
For people who have stuff they are desperate to get rid of it is in theory easier but in a lot of cases they may find that player doesn’t move for anything like a reasonable price – if you are holding some real trash there is no guarantee that anyone will take it.
On the other hand, opinions vary very wildly and we may see some absurd bids for the most random of players!
I’ll be back to watch the market and experiment with the Matching Engine at the new launch time of 12:00pm.
To quickly recap – I think there are two main points to understand about the Matching Engine.
The first is that from a business perspective, FI Head Honcho Adam Cole has likely pulled off a masterstroke here. Ending their responsibility for buying unwanted players is heaven for them.
It may be the reason their credit score as a business is now better than ever, as I shared the other day.
And they’ve managed to capitalise on the corona virus circumstances to do it in a way that has caused minimal fuss and even turned it into a positive for many people.
Why do we care? Because in the end what is good for FI is usually good for us. We need a stable platform, and when it comes to things like dividend increases (which is reasonably likely perhaps in July/August time) it might mean they can be more generous than usual.
Again – this puts us on the right side of “lucky” if you own players who are strong dividend returners as they will naturally benefit heavily when and if a dividend increase is announced.
It’s another reason, apart from just the dividends, why I think having a “core performance” chunk of our portfolio as per Key Strategy is important.
The second thing about the Matching Engine is that this market is desperate for liquidity and we may be about to get it.
This could herald the start of what I have been dramatically calling “judgement day”. But judgement day will actually be a period of weeks.
What I mean by this is that we currently have a market that doesn’t really reflect how people feel about players. Values are stuck in places that people may have agreed with a month or two ago and life has moved on. But prices haven’t because nobody has been able to sell anything.
This means that we are very likely about to see winners and losers. The players that are unpopular will drop and the popular ones will attract even more money and rise even higher.
I deliberately used the word “popular” rather than “good”. Because it is often not the same thing! The level of awareness out there about who is really good or bad for FI is pretty damn poor.
This creates gaps that a good trader who really understands what things are worth and the trends ahead can really exploit.
There can also be a bit of frustration – we may know a player is good but not many others might, particularly in the absence of football because they haven’t had many chances to prove their quality.
So I expect mostly the bad to be sold but there will be some good sold along with the bad in my experience.
We are about to get more opportunities than ever before to exploit good player, trend and value knowledge. And by extension, we will have more opportunities to screw things up if we get it wrong!
FI is about to get a bit more complicated but good traders should have nothing to fear and everything to gain.