It's agonizing, right? We're smack dab in the middle of the off-season, the official #FPL site has gone dark, the transfer window is officially open for business, and the only certainty is that there are roughly 2.5 million people sitting on the edge of their seats with all questions and no answers.
After sitting back and thinking for a moment, there are actually some things we do know, but they too are really only things we know about the past and the present; not the future. These things too, as they relate to the FPL season to come, also lead directly to one place; more questions.
When it all boils down to it, there are three distinct variables that connect last season's FPL season with the season we all now anticipate. They are:
1) What happened last year
2) What has happened since the season ended
3) What is going to happen between today and August 17
What Happened Last Year
Wouldn't it be great if last season's performance was a direct indicator of how players would perform this year? I have no statistics to correlate one season's performance to the next, but it's only natural to look to the Van Persie's and the Michu's and the Bale's and the Lambert's and the Gerrard's and the Mata's and the Jaaskelainen's - Jasskelainen!?!? - to pay rich dividends this time around as well.
But what about the guys who came on strong at the end of last season? What about Coutinho and Sturridge and Kagawa and Lukaku? Will the strong end to the season carry forward through the long summer and into the first few fixtures of the season to come?
Although it's easy to assume that that is the case, things have definitely changed and will continue to change over the coming month and a half. But just how much? Enough to make last season's statistics a mistaken indicator of what's to come? New managers, new players coming and going, World Cup qualifiers, Confederations Cup, pre-season tours, time off on holiday, stress surrounding potential contract extensions or transfer rumours. All of these things affect a player's outlook, attitude, and ability to gel with a new squad or manager. Some players are affected positively and some players are affected negatively.
How much will last year's performance influence the 15 guys you select to start your 2013-2014 FPL season with? Many FPL managers will struggle with this thought over the next 41 days, and I will be right there with you.
What's Happened Since the Season Ended
For all intents and purposes, the 2012-2013 English Premier League season ended quietly. Manchester United had long ago wrapped up their title and the bottom of the table was all but sorted. May 19, 2013 seems like forever ago.
Since then, 5 teams have undergone managerial changes - with 4 of them being in the top 6 sides. That leaves Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas as the only two managers in the top 6 to be leading their sides into the next campaign. Everyone else - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton - all have managerial transitions to endure and the inevitable acclimitization period that such a change inherently brings with it. Make no mistake about it, these changes will impact these clubs as the new season gets underway. Don't forget DiCanio and Sunderland either - he has caused quite a stir both inside and outside the club with his sometimes unorthodox approach to managing professional football players.
In addition to the managerial changes and full-scale club transitions that they involve, there have been 101 confirmed transfers since the season ended on May 19. Of those 101 confirmed transfers, 43 have involved players moving into the EPL from a different league, 51 have involved players leaving the EPL, and 7 have involved players being transferred from one EPL team to another. Keep in mind that the large majority of these 101 confirmed transfers have been confirmed during the past 6 days!
Notable transfers that may affect your FPL outlook as we make our way through the summer include:
Carroll from Liverpool to West Ham
Mignolet from Sunderland to Liverpool
Sanogo to Arsenal
Ratt to West Ham
Figueroa to Hull City
van Wolfswinkel to Norwich
Stekelenburg to Fulham
Navas to Manchester City
Fernandinho to Manchester City
Schurrle to Chelsea
Amat to Swansea
Kolo Toure from Manchester City to Liverpool
McGregor to Hull City
Mannone from Arsenal to Sunderland
Shelvey from Liverpool to Swansea
Anelka to West Brom
Van Ginkel to Chelsea
Paulinho to Tottenham
Again we're left with more questions than answers.
Which Carroll will show up for West Ham this season, having finally settled somewhere he feels wanted? Will Mannone start for Sunderland? How will Schurrle and Van Ginkel fit in at Chelsea? Will Fulham's defense improve and make Stekelenburg a viable FPL option in goal?
How will Fernandinho and Navas slot in at City and where does that leave Dzeko, who conceivably would benefit greatly from Navas' ability to jet down the wing and lob crosses into the big man week after week? How will Shelvey's move affect last year's Newcomer of the Year, Mr. Michu, and his position on the pitch? What does Paulinho's move mean for Tottenham's midfield, specifically Sigurdsson, who was used sparingly following a pre-season full of significant hype following the arm-wrestling match between Rodgers and Villas-Boas?
How will Moyes respond to the unenviable scrutiny of following the most celebrated manager in the history of the English top division? How will the players respond? How will Martinez keep Everton's momentum going with the 3-4-3 formation he seems intent on installing (Seamus Coleman anyone?) How will the circus act that was Chelsea fan's relationship with their manager play out this year, now that the Chosen One has returned to the team he "has always loved"? Will Pellegrini bring stability to the clubhouse of millionaires that make up the Manchester City squad? What will happen to the poor Sunderland souls who are caught with any variation of sugar, natural form or not, pulsing through their systems following DiCanio's institution of modernly bizarre team rules?
How will new boys Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and Hull City fare? Are they worth investing in at any position?
It's only July 6. There are 41 days left until the season begins on August 17. Given the questions raised by the moves made to date and the changes that will have each of our heads spinning, there is still so much more to come that may completely change our approach to the new FPL season.
What Will Happen Between Now and August 17
The greatest league of the most popular sport in the world is never short of excitement. With no games being played there is really only one thing to keep the thousands of journalists whose careers revolve around the Premier League in business; transfer rumors. Log onto Twitter for 30 seconds and you're bound to run across a handful or a dozen of them. It's what keeps the EPL world spinning on its axis between May and August. And the rumors are flying fast and furious.
The Thiago Alcantara move to Manchester United has been "confirmed" multiple times since shortly before he led Spain to the UEFA Under-21 European Championships earlier this summer. If that move ever materializes, coupled with Moyes' insistence that Rooney is going to stay at ManU this season, where does that leave those of us convinced that Kagawa finally seemed like he was beginning to settle in as a long-awaited and much-needed consistent midfield Manchester United FPL option as the season unfolded?
Will the John Ruddy rumored move to Chelsea materialize? Where will that leave Norwich? What in the world is going to happen with Suarez? Will the Higuain deal to Arsenal finally go through, and which Gonzalo will show up if it does?
And these are only the rumors we know about now! Many more will come, and unfortunately for those of us who are unsettled by this fact, the transfer window will stay open right up until gw3 of the coming season. I hate that!
So for now, there is a lot that we know, a lot that we don't know, and a lot that we don't yet know we don't know. The next 6 weeks are going to be a roller coaster; a roller coaster that many of us secretly enjoy because it includes the final pieces of the puzzle that all stews together in mid August to give us all of the information we'll have available to us for that all-important few days prior to August 17 when we finish fiddling, complete our tinkering, say a final good luck prayer, and click CONFIRM TEAM.
Enjoy it FPL'ers....I know I will.