Championship Amateur Conjecture – Pay Your Subs And Pay Attention To Subs

It’s 7:30pm on a Thursday night and I get a new Twitter notification from Champ Man 01/02 Fantasy Premier League. The teamsheets are in. 

Having checked if Ian Harte starts, my next port of call is to check the substitutes at each club and specifically whether there are any subs who play in the same position as one of my attackers.

If there isn’t, I can settle back safe in the knowledge that my frontmen will be getting the full 90 minutes unless getting sent off or injured. If there is a suitable sub, I spend the next two hours fearing the worst that my strikers get subbed off pre 60 minutes for a one pointer.

When it comes to leaks, in some ways I actually think I’d prefer to have the bench leaked, over a handful of starters. For starters, if the bench is a who’s who of youth players, we’d know a full rep was happening. Also by knowing the subs, we could have a highly educated guess at the starters and alongside this, a bigger educated guess at who gets 90 minutes.

We got this from Leeds last week.

If Chelsea had a plum home game with Mario Stanic the only winger on the bench, I’d be transferring in Boudewijn Zenden over Benito Carbone, as we’d know there was no threat to Zenden’s minutes on the bench.

It’s worth pointing out that just because a player on the bench can play in the same position as one of the starters, there’s no guarantee that a sub will be brought on. There have been plenty of examples where Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Dwight Yorke have played the full 90 minutes in matches this season, when both Andy Cole and Paul Scholes have been amongst the substitutes.

It’s just the extra anxiety of knowing that the sub could happen.

For example. Sunderland very rarely have a left midfielder on the bench so Julio Arca is pretty much permanently safe from being subbed off. The same for Mickael Silvestre at Man Utd. It could be a valid strategy to load up on wingers who never have competition for their spot on the bench.

It was for this reason that I decided to take out Juan Pablo Angel for Yorke last week, despite Angel having a great home fixture vs Spurs.

I took the opinion that only one Villa striker was guaranteed more than 60 minutes each game, but it was unclear which it would be.

Angel always starts and then it’s almost a 50/50 call which of Dion Dublin or Bosko Balaban joins him. Whichever doesn’t start is always on the bench.

Then the majority of the time, the non-starting striker gets brought on for whichever starting striker is performing the worst in the match.

Given that the 15-minute block between half time and 60 minutes seems the most common for a substitution, this means that in the example of Aston Villa:

  • 1 striker starts and gets subbed around 57 minutes = possible 1 pointer
  • 1 striker is subbed on for a 33-minute cameo = possible 1 pointer
  • 1 striker plays the full 90 minutes = possible 2 pointer

Although the substitution occurs on 61 minutes in this example, you get the gist.

This is something to consider for other teams too, as Villa are far from the only side with three strikers competing for two spots, where the rep between the trio isn’t especially big.

Here’s some homework for you all now to try to work out the teams where the strikers are most nailed and substitutions limited, either by a lack of them being on the bench or those on the bench rarely being called upon.

(We all know Arsene Wenger has a tendency to haul off Thierry Henry before 60 minutes even if Arsenal are losing!)

There were numerous reasons I opted for Yorke this week as Angel’s replacement:

  • Man Utd had an incredibly attractive home game with Watford
  • I couldn’t afford Van Nistelrooy but wanted more attacking assets
  • It was leaked that he started
  • I wanted a differential
  • I had no concerns of a pre-60 sub, even if Cole and Scholes were on the bench

Through some research ploughing back through the screengrabs on the Fantasy Champ Man Screenshots Twitter page, I established that it isn’t often that Yorke got through the 90 minutes, but only once all season had Man Utd switched a striker before the hour mark. This was Cole away to Arsenal when playing a 5. I couldn’t see a Man Utd attacker having such a lowly rating at home to Watford.

So although I now have a less nailed starting striker in Yorke, I can at least be confident that if he does start, I’ll get at least 2 points from him. And getting around 70 minutes in attack for the best attacking team in the game is alluring.

It paid off last week as Yorke was fouled for the penalty, thus giving him more points than Van Nistelrooy, but it’s an extra layer to consider before making a transfer, an extra thing to get stressed about when seeing the teamsheet and an extra negative to focus the mind on at half time during the live stream.

All the stress and worry suggests this game isn’t that fun. Somehow it is.

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