HomeFPL ContentFPL 2022-23 winner reveals tactical strategy behind success

FPL 2022-23 winner reveals tactical strategy behind success

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The dust has settled on the 2022-23 Fantasy Premier League season, with managers around the world starting to plan ahead for the next season. It’s also a time to reflect on their performance over the last 10 months, so who better to learn from than new champion Ali Jahangirov?

Ali, from Azerbaijan, won his first FPL title, beating 11.4 million other managers and coming out on top by just five points after a tense final day. His team FPL Gunz had been top since Gameweek 33 and went into the finale with an 18-point lead.

However, watching the action live from a bar by the Caspian Sea, he saw his team slip to second place with only 30 minutes to play as second-placed Abdullah Amr overtook him. In the end, it all came down to the fortunes of Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson.

Wilson’s substitute appearance in the 69th minute meant that Amr couldn’t benefit from having Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock on his bench. Wilson had been a lucky charm for Ali throughout the season, and he admits that luck, as well as strategy, played a role for him.

However, some of his decision-making was certainly key, particularly in Gameweek 36, a double gameweek, when he had to choose between Alexander Isak and Wilson. His gut was to go with Wilson, against the more popular Isak, but he put it to a coin toss to try and decide.

He told YouTuber Gianni Buttice: “I flipped a coin three times to decide between Wilson and Isak. When you flip a coin you’re rooting for one of them and I wanted Wilson. The first time it came out Isak, the second time Wilson and the third time Isak and I went ‘no, I want Wilson, forget the coin!’.”

Captaining Wilson for that week certainly showed that he was right to ignore the coin, with the Newcastle striker earning him 48 points. Going against the flow also worked out in the end in the final week when it came to working out how to hold onto his first place.

Ali attributes much of his success to timing and knowing when to keep players in when others took them out, and vice versa. For the final weekend it came down to whether or not goal machine Erling Haaland would play, knowing that champions Manchester City might rest him ahead of their two cup finals.

Ali had been planning to pick Liverpool’s Mo Salah as his final captain, but switched to Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, against the advice of his friends: “The captaincy pick for me was really challenging because I didn’t have much time before the deadline. I was set on Salah but once the news came through that Haaland was benched I knew I needed to get Kane even though my mates were against it.

“I checked how many transferred out Haaland and how many transferred in Kane and it was top of each table. So I thought ‘this is happening’ and I couldn’t see Haaland damaging my rank with a 30-minute cameo.”

Again, his strategy worked, with Kane earning him 32 points as captain and helping him to his first ever title. Having come 215th in the previous season, Ali is clearly one to watch in 2023-24.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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