If you decided to give this article a go, it’s not because you are thinking of picking a Newcastle player in your first FPL team. That’s okay, I’m not either. But just as sure as I am that Mike Ashley intentionally forgets to swipe his nightly steak and ale pies at the local Tesco Metro self-checkout, you WILL be paying for a Newcastle United player this season.
This theory hinges on the obvious. To transfer a toon member in, you can’t have one, to begin with. Only four players are more than 1% owned. It’s easy to list reasons why serious FPL managers aren’t kicking off with anyone from NE1.
A: THOSE FUCKING FIXTURES
Ouch. After our now traditional curtain raiser against Tottenham, the only green on the FPL fixture ticker is a trip to newly-promoted Cardiff City second up. Last season we lost to Spurs on the opening weekend, before travelling to another promoted team in Huddersfield. We put in a woeful performance, going down 1-0. Then after our usual early League Cup exit, we got our season going with a 3-0 home victory over West Ham. This campaign, no one would be surprised if we were winless heading into the winter months.
I do expect us to pick up some points during the opening weeks, potentially straight away against a depleted Spurs side. But FPL is a prediction game and managers are staying away. I’m not sure we’d be seeing Salah’s current 50% ownership if he had our early season run of games.
B: UNINSPIRING SUMMER SIGNINGS
(FPL Relevant) Transfers In
:: Forwards ::
Muto – £6m
Rondón – £6m
:: Midfielders ::
Kenedy – £5m
Ki Sung-yueng – £5m
:: Defenders ::
Schär – £5m
Dubravka – £5m
Our signings might sell more Fun88 sponsored shirts in Asia but most of them fit the blueprint of our black-hearted owner…Premier League security on a shoestring. Their FPL prices are more than double what Mike Ca$hley has released to Rafa in transfer fees this window.
(FPL Relevant) Transfers Out
:: Forwards ::
Gayle – £6m
:: Midfielders ::
Merino – £5m
:: Defenders ::
Mbemba – £4m
Among the ex-mags is a favourite £4m sometime starter, Mbemba. We are heading into the season with a trimmed set of 23 senior players. Just how the fat controller likes it. We do have four strikers this season but they all have the potential to be pretty shit for large stretches of the season. Mint.
C: OUR POOPY PRE-SEASON FORM
Played – 5 :: Won – 1 :: Draws – 2 :: Lost – 2
Goals For – 4 :: Goals Against – 7
Top Scorer – Irrelevant
We couldn’t beat a Hull City side that just got hummed by Villa, then failed to score in our last three friendlies. We went to Portugal for two games and got severely outplayed by two decent footballing teams. Dubravka played a blinder in a lucky 0-0 with FC Porto. That display is one of the reasons I’m tipping him to be our top FPL point scorer this season. The one win we did get was a 2-0 stroll against Irish opposition. In a similar fixture last pre-season, I went to Dublin to see us win 6-0 against similar opposition. Read into that what you will. I prefer to draw more conclusions from Rafa’s interview face after the recent 4-0 defeat to Braga.
D: OFF THE FIELD ANTICS
I’ll try to keep this on point and relevant to FPL. Player morale in the camp isn’t great. Reports are coming out that there is another player bonus dispute brewing. We had a similar scenario the last time our squad had some strong personalities back in the Joey Barton days. They didn’t let it affect their competitive performances and I expect a similar outcome now. Still, it’s not golden is it!!?
I’m feeling pretty fucking depressed right now so that’s enough of that. Here’s why you eventually want in on Newcastle assets.
1: OUR FIXTURES TURN DRAMATICALLY IN GW9
If we can get to game week nine with a few points on the board, we should have a successfully swerved the national media induced meltdown that always follows a run of bad results at our Club. Every other team has a top six ‘red’ fixture during this part of the season apart from us. We should start to climb the table.
This might also coincide with your first wildcard squad overhaul. Between GW8-9 is the second international break. This presents patient FPL managers with the perfect opportunity to assess who is fit and showing some signs of form ahead of this attractive fixture run. We won’t be impacted massively by international departures and this is when I expect us to go about getting our season back on track.
2: OUR HOME FIXTURE HOME STRETCH
If you need more fixture convincing, the above run of home games from the end of January should just about do it. As long as we haven’t completely imploded by then, you can’t ask for better rotation material than this. At the prices Newcastle players are, that is exactly what you are paying for. Time to load up at the black and white bargain bin come game week 23.
The expected ‘home banker’ for every team against Cardiff comes in for us on the 19th of January, followed by five very attractive games at St. James’ Park, sandwiched between the visit of City and Liverpool for our last home match of the 2018/19 season. The price of Newcastle FPL assets makes finding an attractive cheap rotation pairing very appealing.
Our form in the second half of last season was what secured our unlikely 10th place finish. It crept up on a lot of fantasy managers who didn’t buy into our upturn in form. We tailed off during the FPL chip portion of the season, but we were safe by then. I expect we will still need points when we are in April this time around. On a recent Planet FPL podcast, James laid out a very strong case for when we will be playing our second wildcard, free-hit and bench boost chips this season. They coincide with this block of fixtures, so if you passed on the early plum ties, you may want to reconsider Newcastle assets at the business end of the FPL season.
While there is never a good time to play City. Liverpool could be fighting on several fronts again in May. There is also the possibility that it’s Rafa’s last home game in charge of our once great Club. His contract is up next summer and there no signs he’s going to pen a new deal. A full house of 52,000 Rafa worshipers, all singing vitriol at their owners seems written in the stars. In the case of our Club without Rafa at the helm, it will probably feel more like staring into the abyss of a black hole.
3: YOU CAN RELY ON RAFA
Beyond the subjective attractiveness of the two fixture runs I’ve detailed, there is one surefire reason you will be transferring in Newcastle player. The answer is consistency in the shape of Señor Rafael Benítez Maudes.
Rafa is quite simply a better football manager than 90% of the current Prem bosses. Add in the inevitable panic mid-season appointments of Allardyce and Moyes at struggling teams and you can rest assured that we will win matches as long as he remains in charge of our Club.
He plays 4-2-3-1 without fail and every player that takes to the field knows exactly what is expected of them to get something from that football game. It falls short against the better teams, it is almost foolproof against lesser opposition.
For an FPL owner, he will get this Newcastle squad playing to a consistent standard, good and bad, which in return will deliver you consistent points, or not. You know when we will be shit and you know when we will shine. The points will come from the same sources, so pick the players who are returning and your points will tick along while all your mini-league opponents are sleeping on us.
If there is one player that has artistic freedom in Rafa’s system it’s Robert Kenedy Nunes Nascimento, Kenedy to his friends and adoring Newcastle fans.
I’ve heard countless pre-season pods talking about Kenedy as a checklist for your go to Newcastle pick. Mainly because he’s £5m. Here’s what you need to know about this FPL prospect.
He is the chaotic cog in this well-drilled Newcastle machine. He plays from the left when we are building possession or trying to repel attacks. When we get possession on the counter-attack – which is Rafa’s tactic of choice – Kenedy is often the outlet in to feet, beating the press with quick heels that feature a trick or two. He possesses surprising strength. His job is to then bust a lung to exploit gaps anywhere across the attacking line that they present themselves. He’ll get a shot off or pick a pass to keep the move going. If he fails, he puts it out of his mind quickly and goes again at the next opportunity. He didn’t demand the ball enough last season and needs to this time around.
The problem last season was only Shelvey and Perez were on his wavelength and able to play to his strengths. We haven’t improved the players around him although I think he could form a good relationship with our under the radar signing, ‘Yosh’i Muto. He had 15 attacking returns (10g 5a) in 30 Bundesliga games last season. Playing to Japanese football stereotypes, he should add to our quick interplay, off the ball movement and front-line pressing that is required to catch teams not in their defensive set.
Kenedy, having started the FPL season at his parent Club, Chelsea, is unbeatable value* at £5m. The stats show he scored two goals and put on three assists in 13 games. What it won’t tell the casual FPL manager is that he also hit the woodwork three times and was passing to terrible teammates. His goals came in the same match, he has brace potential. He’s also on corners (sometimes they are good). He has a bit of bite to his game and does what’s required defensively. He’s a Richarlison lite and at £5m, will be your fifth midfielder at some point this season. Here’s a five-minute video of him doing whatever the fuck he likes with a football:
I’ve included a second Kenedy video because it’s unintentionally the worst highlights package I’ve ever seen created. It deserves your time.
*The one concern I have about Kenedy (apart from our diabolical opening run of fixtures) is his fitness. It took him a while to get up to Rafa’s fitness demands and formational standards. When he is was on the pitch, he played like a lunatic for short spells of a game and usually had to come off after 70 minutes.
Digging through the dumpster fire that was our pre-season, Kenedy came on as a sub in our first game and last game. I don’t pretend to know what happened in between. He hit the post in the first match and put one on a plate for Murphy who muffed his lines. He can’t be match fit right now and that’s why I would advise against taking a punt on him facing even a weakened Spurs side and a promoted Cardiff City team before the fixtures turn real nasty. Having said that, he has returned to training with bleach blonde hair and probably has a few more tattoos in places only footballers and South American drug cartel members can put them. Makes me want him even more tbh.
So why did he come back to Newcastle?
It’s been reported that his deal is a loan with an option to buy. I have no doubts that he has a get-out clause or two in there. He has eyes on a bigger stage than we can offer him in this current climate and I have no problem with that.
At 22 years old and the type of player he threatened to be at times last season, St James’ Park is the perfect platform for Kenedy. A lot is always made of Newcastle number 9’s. It’s true we’ve had some magnificent talisman wear the shirt down the years. But what Newcastle fans REALLY fall quickly in love with is a particular brand of left-footed inside forward.
It started with Wor Jackie Milburn who graced seemly centimetres above the Newcastle turf during the Second World ‘Wor’ and FA Cup winning goals. A little-known fact is that he was related to Newcastle’s other famous sons, Bobby and Jack Charlton. Milburn’s impact on NUFC went beyond his blistering pacey tough and tricky style of play that started the Newcastle number 9 tradition. He passed away in 1988, this is a photo from his funeral procession.
My left-wing idols growing up where David Ginola then Laurent Robert. Every so often we get a good one. I want to believe that the boy from Brazil can feel over 70 years of tradition every time he gets the ball at his feet and eyes up his how to take on his opponent. That the half second gasp of silence from 50,000 fans somehow resonates with him before we unite as one to a roaring chorus as primal as they come at any modern football match…
“GO ON LAD!!!!”
If he can channel a bit of that magic into his game at every home game. He is a must-have in your FPL team.
5 :: Price drops and Points Per Game Differentials
If you are looking to get in on the action in other areas of your squad. There are a few picks that might present themselves. The benefit of our fixture list is that there could be some potential under-priced assets for you to pick up just as they come into a green patch of fixtures.
Anyone with Newcastle players at the start of the season will likely come off them once they start blanking. Lascelles is the only player with serious ownership at 9%. He will drop if he doesn’t score or clean up on bonus with an unexpected clean sheet. The other factor is the FPL algorithm seeing that combination of lower ownership and a lack of game points requires a steady decline towards a price drop or two to entice new owners.
On the back of his end of season form, Perez is the most expensive squad member at £6.5m. I would be pleasantly surprised if he delivers at that value, other than his customary 5 match spell of attacking returns. Only three – four if you include Rondon – Newcastle players scored over 100 FPL points last season:
- Captain Lascelles (116pts) – £5m –
- Matt Ritchie (116pts…talk about consistency!) – £6m
- Ayoze Perez (124pts) – £6.5m
I would avoid all three of these picks in favour of some better differentials and bigger value prospects.
Both Dubravka (£5m) and Kenedy (£5m) joined us in January and ended the season with a higher Points Per Game than the three lads listed above.
I have predicted that Dubravka will be our top FPL points scorer this season but he’s in that £5m dead zone of a price slot. Between the sticks. FPL Towers might read his 0.6% ownership as him being too expensive. If he drops to £4.8m in the first half of the season, he’s a lock for my second wildcard.
At the back, Schar is a new addition this season. We splashed out a whopping £5m in real life money on him. He has 12 goals in 119 league starts across Switzerland, Germany and Spain and comes with a bit of international pedigree. He fancies himself as a bit of a ball player, which means he will probably make a lot of pressured mistakes in the first half of the season, reducing the appeal of Lascelles who is the better, more established Premier League player, but also £5m. Lejeune is a similar player to Schar in style, but unfortunately the Frenchman looks out for the season with a knee injury. Clarke (£4.5m) is always an able deputy and could start the season, leading to a price drop for our new Swiss recruit if he isn’t getting the minutes. If Schar settles, he could be closer to £4.5m for the second half of the season.
What’s Next ::
I promised James a Mike Ashley rant post when I signed up to Planet FPL. This was supposed to be it. But like any Newcastle United fan, once you get talking about Rafa’s black and white team, all of that shite just fades to grey. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Rafa being unhappy but I promise you, you won’t have seen half the shit that’s been shared by Club insiders. The transfer window is about to slam shut on another year without a significant signing. It’s likely you won’t have to wait very long for my next Newcastle point of view.
In Case You Missed It ::
If you haven’t read my first Planet FPL effort on squad structure, it’s worth your last-minute team attention. It’s had an amazing response from the FPL community and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank James and Suj, for their hard work to support all the correspondents during pre-season.