As you’d imagine, there are several different schools of thought around TFG picking tactics.
Along with the more obvious school of home advantage and the slightly less obvious school of potential away advantage, you may wish to consider the following idiosyncrasies:
- Recent form… good or bad!
- Players who are missing because of, or returning after, an injury or suspension
- New manager syndrome
- Weather impact (the “can they do it on a cold, wet and windy night at the Brittania” adage springs to mind)
- African Cup of Nations impact (every other year)
- Jet lag following World Cup Qualifiers
- Distraction of the January transfer window
So, what seems like a relatively simple task i.e. picking a team to win each week, immediately takes on a more problematical complexion.
If that wasn’t enough, remember the golden rule of TFG… Never, ever, in any circumstance, rely on West Brom to either a) win at home to the bottom of the league or b) lose away against the current league leaders. They have been, are and will no doubt continue to be an absolute TFG enigma. Take heed TFGers, you have been warned…
There is of course the ‘Pick ’em whilst they’re hot’ approach… i.e. good recent form. This method sees TFGers picking teams in a rich vein of form, but not necessarily against relegation fodder. Last season Crystal Palace and Watford enjoyed good starts to the season but later went on long losing streaks – those TFGers that picked ‘em whilst they were hot were laughing when others were left having to pick them during their out of form run-in.
The flip side of the ‘Pick ‘em whilst they’re hot’ system, is the lesser celebrated ‘Pick ‘em whilst they’re cold’ strategy… i.e. bad recent form. This is where you choose a team in current terrible form to lose. The aforementioned Palace and Watford, as well as Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland all had long spells of the season where they were a shoe-in to lose, regardless of the opponent.
A veteran of previous versions of TFG once told us to “save your big guns” for the tricky Christmas period. This is when the Game Weeks come thick and fast, squads are depleted, the weather may prove to be a leveller, and consequently there is normally a pattern of unpredictable results.
Alternatively, the new “pick whoever’s playing bottom of the league” approach is proving to be popular. Last year, Aston Villa could only manage 3 wins and 8 draws all season long. That would have put you firmly in the prize places in the TFG public league. However, last season was a bit of an anomaly in that respect; Villa’s points total of 17 was the third worst in Premier League history.
If all else fails, you can of course rely on divine inspiration. Visions, dreams, superstition, nagging gut feelings or even asking the cat – if it works for you, keep doing it! Take this route and enjoy the utter elation of defying the odds – remember miracles do happen!