Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – The Midfield Conundrum of Salah, Hazard and Mane.


Here’s new FFGeek contributor Paul Williams with his bi-weekly ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ series. This week he’s looking at the issue many FPL managers will be facing.  That is the midfield conundrum of Salah, Hazard and Mane.  Paul is one of the Top 10 FPL Managers I follow and finished 412 overall last season, 1,382 in 16/17 and 7,164 in 15/16.

Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – The Midfield Conundrum of Salah, Hazard and Mane.

You can read more from Paul in his Diary of an FPL Manager’ series on his facebook blog using this link.

For those of us who dedicate a large proportion of our thoughts to FPL, a two week break can cause us to question everything – even the unthinkable, such as life without Mo Salah. Undoubtedly, an FPL Manager would sleep a lot easier by going with the majority and having the little Egyptian wizard permanently fixed to their team. However, there are currently a few murmurs of people looking at alternatives – and I can understand why.

If ever there was a time to take a risk, grow a set of balls and try-out a Salah-less team, now is the moment. It has been well documented that Liverpool’s fixtures over the next month are:

fpl manager

Now, in anyone’s book, that is an incredibly tough run and that’s ignoring the possibility of rest and rotation. You’d have to imagine that Klopp will be looking to give a break to the majority of his team at some point – including Salah. It might not be an entire match, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the sight of Mo applauding the Liverpool fans (as he’s substituted around the seventy minute mark) becoming increasingly common.

This is where Hazard enters the fray. One of the most frustrating things about owning Hazard from an FPL perspective in the recent past has been his incapability to play the full ninety minutes, particularly under Conte. However, the signs are looking good that Sarri intends to substitute the CF position (Morata and Giroud) and the RF position (Pedro and Willian) leaving Hazard free to terrorise the opposition for the whole game including from the eighty minute mark onwards. Plus, take into account the fact that Hazard is on penalties and the mercurial Belgium starts to look like an attractive alternative to trial over the next month.

In addition, it could be argued that Mane’s increasing productivity and in turn rising ownership (approx. 41%), gives you enough Liverpool ‘attacking coverage’ during their difficult run of fixtures. I have owned Salah and Mane from GW1, but I’m not necessarily sure that I want to keep both over the next month.

Ideally, I think we’d all like to keep Salah and sell Mane for Hazard in the short-term. However, a lot of us have value and price rises tied up in Mane which is a factor to consider for those thinking about selling. Salah’s ownership is slowly dropping and if he blanks against Tottenham, there will be another huge surge of sales – but I don’t see his price bombing. Take a look at the price comparison sites and you will see that it will take hundreds of thousands of sales to decrease his price by more than 0.1m and a lot of his owners will be set and forget players who have not have looked at their team since they created it.

Ownership levels and the value of your team aren’t enough to give you green arrows though – this is something a lot of FPL Managers can lose sight of. The amount of points you have dictates your rank and for this reason, we should all be looking to own the players who we think will deliver the most points in the immediate future. I believe there is good reason to be fearful of not owning Liverpool assets, in particular Mo Salah.

Along with City, Liverpool are the most dynamic attacking unit – with Salah the jewel in the crown. However, if I was really pushed into saying who I thought would deliver the most points in the next four GWs out of Salah, Hazard and Mane, I would probably have to say Eden Hazard. As a result, I have filled a lot of this endless two week break from FPL, finding different ways and combinations to try and get him in my team. When I look at Chelsea’s next fixture (home to Cardiff), I think they have the capability to score big and Hazard, in particular, could punish those who over-looked him.

What is more, it is arguably an opportunity for those managers, like me, who feel as though they are slightly behind the pack. If you were reactive and a bit slow to dedicate more funds to your defence, you now have a chance to be proactive and break the mould. However, if you are thinking of temporarily removing Salah, I wouldn’t want to be spending points to do so – and I’d want to make sure I had a way to get him back in quickly if he starts to really turn it on again. Make no mistake, although he costs thirteen million, Salah justified that price tag by breaking all kinds of records last season.

So, in answer to the Midfield Conundrum, only two out of Salah, Hazard and Mane is realistically possible without drastically altering the structure of your team. If you’ve owned Mane since the beginning of the season, it would be a bitter pill to swallow to sell him now given his terrific start to the season. However, if you’re brave enough to try life without Salah, it would make sense not to spend too much of the excess money, as he has more than enough ability to kick you in the newly formed set of balls that you grew in the first place to get rid of him.

Read more from Paul in his Diary of an FPL Manager’ series in his facebook blog using this link.

Paul is one of the 10 top FPL managers I follow

See also the bandwagons and sinking ships article Rob Reids August review the FFGeek contributors imaginary wildcard teams part 1,  the underlying stats GW4 article, Jordans wildcard team, the early thoughts on the FFGeek team article and thefixture ease article

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3 thoughts on “Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – The Midfield Conundrum of Salah, Hazard and Mane.”

  1. Hi Paul,

    This was an interesting read for me as this is exactly what I’ve been pondering over the past week. And I have decided to roll the dice with Hazard over Salah for the next 4 gameweeks. Along with the reasons mentioned, Salah will not be a captain option for me in all but 1 of the next 4 games (the home tie with Southampton). I would assume the same applies to most of his owners. Therefore the damage, should this gamble fail, should be minimal, as it is hard to envisage Hazard returning little over the next 4 gameweeks given their opposition. I have also replaced Robertson with Trippier as Spurs have a much easier run of it next 4 games. I just hope he plays all those games.
    I will be keeping the funds in the bank to get both those back for GW9 on.

    Best of luck with whatever route you take.

  2. Hey Ian,

    I’m glad you found the article interesting. I agree with what you say regarding your Salah to Hazard move. There’s always going to be some risk attached to going without such an explosive and highly-owned player like Salah. However, there are a fair few reasons to think this may be a good time to do so. If you really fancied getting Trippier in, you could have arguably waited a week longer… I’d like to say good luck to you with that, but I still own Robertson!

    Hopefully Hazard hauls though.

    All the best to you too.

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