There is now a substantial debate about the most effective use of our two wild cards. I have been asked to add my ha’penceworth to this debate, so here goes.
The first thing to note is that the January wild card may be used at any time in game weeks 22 to 24 inclusive(from after 11:30 Jan 1 until and up to 11:30 Feb 2), that is 4 weeks grace, leaving 35, effectively 33 other weeks when you may deploy your other wild card, assuming for the sake of this article that no funny buggers are going to do two cards in a three or four week period!!!
There are two or three prime reasons for deploying your wild card. Firstly, you may have lost faith in your team, and feel the need to transform it with, shall we say, more than 4 transfers, implying at least a 12 point hit. Secondly, we managers are always keeping an eye on the overall value of our team, with a view to being able to afford more than 5 “big hitters” therein; and a suitable opportunity arises to chase one or more fast rising players over an extended period – say an international break. Thirdly, there may be a marked change in fixtures, where a previously favoured team hits a trough, while one or more other teams face a run of kind home fixtures. There is also “Injury Creep” to worry about, where one suddenly realizes that three of one’s team are injured, and there is only one substitute available, perhaps not even viable! On the wilder shores, there are also those who plan to “get the drop” on their rivals; choose a team for game week 1, and then wild card in game week 2. I wouldn’t advise the latter course to anyone but hardcore fanatics!
Starting in reverse order, here are some of the pros and cons of the various options. For those hardy souls, such as Tosey, who have gone very early, it will be difficult to choose which are the viable players, as most teams won’t show their true colours for at least two more weeks. Is Hazard the real deal? Is Adebayor match fit? Will Swansea, West Bromich Albion and Fulham maintain their form? On the upside, team values will soar, with Michu, Tevez and Hazard already guaranteed double rises, Dyer on the way, and plenty of tasty players on a single rise. Fixture wise, the picture is mixed, with only Everton experiencing a real upturn … In game week 4!
Injuries, etcetera … Ah, my Manchester of yesteryear! Koscielny! Ban der Vaart – what’s that all about? And last, but far from least, the hammer blow that is Aguero’s damaged knee. Well, if you have been really unlucky, and suffered fallout from all of the above … NOW is a good time!!!
The international break starts as soon as FPL is up again on the morning of Saturday September the 1st. This will be, in my opinion, the time when the majority of managers will wild card. Firstly, the aforementioned upswing in Everton’s fixture fortune. Expect an influx for Baines! Secondly, there are two whole weeks for any rises/falls to take effect – so transfers in of all the game week three scorers/assisters/bonus darlings are de riguer, while out go the losers/red card receivers/penalty missers!!! Team value, managed well, can and may well soar in this period! Thirdly, most of us can probably grit our teeth and get there without any hits!!! A big bonus, this one – if you have had to take a hit, you should probably try to keep your card! Christina is a big advocate of this strategy:
“Yeah, I wild carded with the first Int. Break last year as well, and it turned out well. Build some team value over the 2 weeks, assess possible injuries owing to International Fixtures and get clarity on Dempsey/Rvp vs Rooney/Adebayor/Ba vs Cisse and the Aguero injury.
Also makes it possible for me to get the Michu’s/Petric’s/Guthrie’s/Hazard’s of this world if they are still fit and the flavour of the month. Without any hits!
Someone mentioned that there is no swing in fixtures after gw 3, but I disagree. I want Everton/new players and since I don’t have any of them it makes sense for me to WC.”
The most obvious downside to this option is the actual loss of the card, for double game weeks/bad weather/injury freak outs etcetera. Also, I personally have found that the first dozen game weeks are my most difficult period, and the “comfort blanket” of the wild card, still in my pocket, I hope will help me navigate this!
The next International Break starts directly after FPL lockout on October the 6th. It is arguable here that Chelsea have a downturn in fixtures, while Sunderland’s, perhaps, brighten up. Furthermore, there is a long run of 14 game weeks without break, so getting one’s team set up at this juncture would be strategically sound. That also takes in the run-up to Christmas. If you are not going to keep your wild card for a rainy day, this is possibly the best time to use it, certainly in the first half of the Season, in my opinion. However – it does mean that you use it! Also, you have to get that far in one piece …
Immediately after the Third Round of the F. A. Cup, comes the January wild card: “The January Wildcard can only be used after Gameweek 21 starts (1 Jan 11:30) until Gameweek 24 ends (2 Feb 11:30); as the January wildcard isn’t available until after the Gameweek 21 deadline, the earliest these transfers will be active is Gameweek 22.” So the next possible use of the floating wild card is after FPL lockout on February the 9th. May we disregard this? What it would really mean is that you have made a mess of the timing or substance of your January wild card – or both!!!
However, we then come to the March the 16th. Lockout, which would set up your team for the final 8 gameweeks. If you still have your wild card here, then you would be blessed indeed, in my opinion …
Peripheral issues: if you have clearly made a bog of your goalkeeper selection, the wild card may be your only option. Ditto your forwards. Everything else – muddle through!
Remember, a wildcard is like a bee’s sting – effective, of course – but to use it is to lose it!!!