A very long, and very eventful, domestic season has finally drawn to a close with the conclusion of Serie A yesterday.
I could probably do a whole article reviewing all of the happenings from 2020 form coronavirus to the Matching Engine. And maybe I will before long.
But we don’t have time to stop and draw breath in the usual way we can between seasons. We have the conclusion of the CL and Europa very soon and Ligue 1 will be back underway followed by the rest of the leagues before we know it.
So let’s think about what’s coming up in the next few weeks.
Transfer Window: 27th July – 5th Oct
Europa League: 5th Aug – 21st Aug
CL: 7th Aug – 23 Aug
Ligue 1: 22nd Aug
EPL and La Liga: 12th Sept
Serie A: Not set but rumoured also 12th Sept
Bundesliga: 18th Sept
FI Promotional Periods:
– 5x IPD – Until 30th Sept
– Media Madness: Until 11th Sept (All days boosted from 24th Aug not just Media Days).
Nations League: 3rd Sept to 8th Sept (And back in October)
So, lots coming up. Not to mention all of pre-season scouting too as I’ll be looking at the friendlies in detail for Scouting.
The most pressing thing is how strongly the CL/Europa teams who go far will dominate in August. So many Gold Days and so little competition. It’s not inconceivable that some players may return more than they have all season in just a month. Especially with that huge boost to IPDs running alongside.
That’s been the priority I’ve been advising to prepare for – I still think it is if you aren’t happy with the coverage of this you have. The beauty of this is not just for the month it’s that many of the same players carry into next season and the Europa League too.
So where you can find value here for players involved in those competitions the pull is really strong and sooner is better than later.
I think chasing media this late with this around the corner is pure lunancy (I’m not just talking about Sancho).
If you wanted to chase media this summer you could have done it months ago. The debate about “Should I buy Sancho?” is dull and very poor quality on social media.
It’s the wrong question for a start. The question is more “When would it be sensible to buy Sancho?”. The answer was clearly “In January”. It was easy to foresee the Sumer mania coming then. Buying him now at peak hype is incredibly high risk trading.
Not only is it hard for media to keep up with performance in a Gold Day dominated month – it may leave you stuck in players you may not want to carry into next season.
That’s the real point – you can go for some media but it is a bad move to risk being trapped in players you don’t want to keep into next season – particularly where the move can fall over at anytime and leave you stuck.
Contrast that with CL/Europa players who have higher dividend potential AND don’t really have any obvious “bad luck” event that can kill them off and it’s easy to see where the better risk/reward ratio clearly is right now.
Obviously lots of teams will get knocked out fairly quickly but that’s ok – Nations League and the League restart will be right around the corner to pick many of them up.
It’s as close to a free hit as you are ever going to get – usually these big CL/Europa Gold nights can be high risk because a knockout can be costly. Not this time and we should abuse that.
Those big dividends on offer are very likely to wake people up to all this very quickly.
Likewise, the Nations League may seem like a humdrum event but it showcases some big name stars. And often lets them rack up enormous scores by battering small teams.
This isn’t just good for the dividends themselves as they are eligible games. In a Euro’s year it sets a marker down for who is quality to take into that tournament, and high performers will start to get more and more of a premium the closer to Euro 2021 we get.
The Nations League in Sept/Oct means we can’t factor that in soon enough.
Ligue 1 is also looming and it’s just a few weeks away. That’s really creeping up on us. So as per the Ligue 1 preview – sooner is better than later when it comes to signing these players up. There is no excuse for sitting there waiting for big scores to appear in matches! We need to anticipate the big scores through good research and hopefully the preview helped.
Worth noting as well that Ligue 1 get a two week free run as the only League in town. Which is particularly important since they are going to get 5 full match days under boosted IPDs.
So Ligue 1 players are going to be very desirable but we need to take advantage of this now if possible rather than waiting for it to actually get going again.
Then before we know it we’ll have all the leagues back as well as the next Europa and CL tournaments. It’s going to really come thick and fast.
In the background the whole time we’ll obviously have the transfer window up until the 5th October.
As per the Transfers article last week – it’s completely fine to be involved in this but the key is risk management. At this stage of the window we need to make sure we are not at the mercy of bad luck.
There is no such thing as “bad luck” when gambling on transfers. Only stupid risks to take.
With our transfer holds we want situations where we can benefit if they get a good move but we won’t lose (or lose very little) if the move doesn’t happen. This is usually because they are a decent enough hold at the current club and are not at an outrageous price that puts pressure on them to get that one specific move.
The time for betting on speculative transfers is early – as per the Sancho example from January. As the window actually gets underway links start shutting down or actual happen (either can be bad for the price!) and that is at best going to give us a very mixed bag of results.
With so much value elsewhere and more important events on the way, I see no reason whatsoever to over commit to transfer trading right now.
This was fairly straightforward and I don’t have a great deal to add on the Media Review.
It’s fairly low key sensible sounding changes and I don’t think there are many out there who will not support them.
Changes to word recognition, scoring for different words etc. All fine. Can we actually use it to predict who is more or less likely to win? I’m not sure we really can. Maybe when we get a look at the list of nicknames that will become eligible.
But in the main – by it’s very nature – we all know who is mostly discussed in the media often enough to win consistently.
Players who score lots of goals. Players who set their hotels on fire. Players whose contracts are up or who are moving.
Pretty much nobody else. Outside of transfers or very specific stories of course.
The real news here was that there will likely be foreign news outlets included but not until 21/22. Assuming they can make it work properly.
So, as this gets closer we can expect a mild positive feeling towards your bigger foreign stars and possibly a declining sentiment towards big EPL names.
But I think it is far too early to worry about that just yet.
The market is still a strange place. And will continue to be until the “Offer” side of the Matching Engine comes in.
It’s very hard to get a traditional Blue Button price rise out of a player now.
It’s possible but that player has to do a hell of a lot – and most of that market movement seems to be at least started by mass unlisting/listing (some of which is obviously shenanigans from big traders/trading groups to try to get certain players pumping combined with social media campaigns – and it works).
To get an indicator of market sentiment right now what we are actually looking at primarily is the size of the spread. You can tell a lot about a players popularity by how tight the spread is, with tight spreads obviously indicating high demand.
There is very little incentive to Instant Buy unless a super urgent reason comes up. Most of the buying is being done on bids which is more below the radar.
With great players available so cheaply on bids at the moment, why would you pay the Blue Button price? That makes getting Blue Button price rises very difficult.
Lots of players can even be had for the minimum bid although I have noticed personally that for some you have to knock it up 5p or 10p or so to get a match.
But despite it being obviously a buyers market – there is no shortage of people keen to sell good players too cheaply. Or for that matter, no shortage of people happy to pay too much for a player with an immediate reason to hold them.
The most striking things about the current market are:
1) The hopelessly short term minded approach of so many traders. This has always been true and shouldn’t shock us.
2) The sheer amount of fantastic value and wide range of great player choices available for players who have every reason to be more popular in just weeks.
3) The speed at which a spread can close and how quickly you can make a profit when buying a good player on a cheap bid.
So in general I am not taking current prices seriously at all – I trust my own assessment more than what it says on the button right now.
Eventually, as the Matching Engine beds in they will start to look a bit more like real value. But they are all over the place at the moment and that process of adjustment could take 6 months or more.
But lots of traders are influenced heavily by the Red Button price – particularly if the knowledge of a players actual ability is weak.
They tend to cling to tight spreads and avoid big ones – which is often the exact opposite of how you get value.
We should consider how swiftly a Red Button price can change though.
With the Blue Button there as a “marker” as to what people expect a player to be worth – it is very easy for that spread to close from 25-50% to just 5%.
Think of how spreads have closed for players like Goretzka or Cancelo or Chiesa. All obviously strong players that may have had 25-50% spreads just weeks or months ago. Now? 1-10%.
Thing is – these players are not massively better than a lot of others. They’ve just been the ones that happened to show it recently.
These sorts of players are the ones to target. From Scouting etc we know they are good but they may not have proven it recently. You can get them cheap on a bid and yet they have that fit for the upcoming events and the performance strength to make those games count.
We need to have courage to go for such players based on our own knowledge – rather than waiting for them to actually show it in FI scoring when everyone knows about it.
If you are paying that bottom dollar it is so easy, in some cases near inevitable, that that spread is going to close up closer to the Blue Button as next season draws closer.
Insigne is another example of how wild spreads are – a few good performances and the spread tightened dramatically. But Serie A ends and he didn’t win this week? Oh no.
How could we have not foreseen such a catastrophic and shocking turn of events like the scheduled end of a league season?
Yes he may have pulled up injured but in the longer term that’s not likely to make much difference at all. In fact if it drops the price it’s an advantage if you don’t hold.
The spread has now widened to 20%. Yet nothing has changed – you can still pick up a fantastic player for next season incredibly cheaply.
Scouting and recent articles are chock full of examples of this. One thing is for sure – choices of high quality value targets are not limited. The persistent challenge we likely have is freeing up money to go for it and I’ll cover this more at the end.
Straight forward on the trends and the Calendar section above pretty much covers it.
IPD is the obvious significant riser because of the promotion. We should make hay out of this but the I would also say:
1) Don’t let it tempt you into bad picks – there are plenty of good value IPD players who would be worth taking into next season. We are in the Matching Engine world now and we need to make sure that in two weeks or one month there is going to be someone who wants to take that short term IPD player off us.
2) Don’t wait and try to line up a perfect 30 day window – this traps you into buying when a lot of people will want to buy. Generally, missing that extra game to buy a little earlier and selling earlier will help with IPD.
3) Remember that good performance players score goals and get assists too! In fact it is extremely likely else they wouldn’t be good performance players.
We don’t need to chase bargain bucket “IPD players” to win IPD. Sounds obvious but I think a lot of people do this. If we’re signing up some August CL/Europa or Ligue 1 players up soon we’ll get that IPD and they can be held into next season too if we want.
A quick note on Goalkeepers.
When I did the analysis on keepers we were still in goalkeeper mania. They were new and shiny and lots of people had piled into them. Several elite keepers were pushing to £1.50 and beyond, which I judged gave them too much to do.
However, as anticipated, now it’s settled down the bid price on some of these elite keepers has dropped significantly, to £1.20 or £1.10 in some cases.
I think a really elite keeper can easily justify that sort of price and in a category with fine margins that price drop from £1.50 to £1.20 makes all the difference.
I think we will see some keepers consistently and quietly clean up and I changed my mind on them during the course of writing that article. Now that we are seeing price drops to match I think going into next season with 1-2 of the better keepers is a good idea.
Not just because they can win but as they do it might make people realise that GK’s were not just about a short term craze – they have enduring dividend potential in many cases.
This can apply to your Alisson’s and your Ter Stegen’s and Neuer’s but equally to the quality value options like Sommer or Hradecky.
We’re now very much in pre-season mode. We need to set ourselves up for success next season and our decisions now will have a huge impact on how next season starts for us.
Pre-season to October last year was one of the best ever times for me and the site because we took advantage of better knowledge than most about real quality. As others were distracted by short term media or whatever else is going on – this is the time you can pick up great players on the cheap.
Knowing who is good before it appears on the FI scoring is a huge advantage. Not every good player will go onto prove it but many will. And the bad ones who live on hype will generally get found out too. We have more football than ever coming up in the coming six months so that is only going to get more true as the players are tested more.
I think it’s important to remember at this point what really gives a player value and why I think the Key Strategy, particularly the Core Players, are set for a good time in the months ahead.
We really, really, really do not want to get dragged around by the social media garbage right now. Or over react to the gossip or the current market movements.
A lazer focus on setting up for next season is what is needed in my view. What the market is doing this week? I don’t care at all.
In order to be that confident we have to understand what Red and Blue button prices actually are. They are just collective opinions about value. The Red is much more reflective of current opinion, where as the Blue tends to lag behind and is what people were willing to pay some time ago.
This would be alarming because lots of those prices look low even for many good players. Except it isn’t all that scary to me because of the fact that people are currently terrible at valuing players. If you used either Red or Blue button prices to judge real value you’d be on a road to madness.
The longer term (and more important) factor is that those opinions will change as a reaction to events in the calendar (such as new seasons approaching etc) and as a reaction to performance scores as matches get played.
None of that is rocket science but it is very easy to lose focus on that because of the short termist mindest that we see on the market at the moment.
The main limiting factor is still often going to be liquidity – i.e we can’t sell for a good price to move for that great value.
It’s better than it was. But if you want to free up cash the sale can still hurt a lot. If taking a 25-50% hit on a player you need to make that back just to break even and that’s not easy.
This is a careful balancing act and we’re having to make tough judgements.
However we are armed with better knowledge than most about which players are likely to succeed. And we’ve thought carefully about what the key events ahead are.
it doesn’t have to be over complicated. Key Strategy in a sentence is this:
“Buy high quality players that fit the events that matter in the months ahead”.
This is primarily the Core player from Key Strategy but I also branch out into the other categories in Key Strategy like high potential youth too.
To help me focus on this I often do a basic exercise with my portfolio which might be useful.
I looked at each player and ticked or crossed a box if they fitted (or didn’t) one of my Key Strategy criteria i.e performance strength/Europa/CL/Euro 2021.
It helped me identify a chunk of my players that were easy holds and I can put them aside.
Then the remainders were decisions to make based on how many boxes they ticked versus the price.
Not every player will tick every box otherwise you’ll be limited to a very small selection of players. But if they don’t have a particular trend fit, are you paying a price to match?
I expect much, much less of a £1 player than I do of a £5+ one for example.
It’s a really simple thing to do but it helps focus the mind on how suited to the coming 1-3 months ahead our portfolios are. And it’s vastly more beneficial than spending time worrying about who is going to be in the paper next week.
For some of these players I may be taking a 20-25% hit – but if I am also getting a 20-25% discount on a bid for a player I think is a better fit… is that a good call?
Tough decisions and the answer depends on the individual player. But it’s a helpful process to go through as we prepare our portfolios for the new season.
That’s all from me for a little while! I am taking my first ever actual holiday from the site and will be returning fresh on the 14th August. (Thanks by the way to those who have messaged to wish me a nice holiday. Good bunch of folks on this site y’know).
There’s going to be so much to cover and the pre-season games in particular are a big advantage.
Not many people pay attention or have detailed numbers on those – so they can give us a real headstart when it comes to the changes in personnel and tactics for the new season.
Really looking forward to getting stuck in when I get back to prepare for the new season! Equally looking forward to a little break and a few beers!
Take care and see you soon.