The 10 final whistles blowing across England’s rain-soaked cities and suburbs weren’t the only clues that the 20/21 season had reached its conclusion on Sunday. A far more sinister sound skulked its way through the streets: quiet at first, but reaching a crescendo the moment Official FPL’s website finally caught up with the day’s action.
The sound, of course, was the collective sigh of relief amongst FPL managers that this season, punctuated by disruption and corruption, had finally met its end. Even the best managers seemed relieved to see the back of it.
Irrespective of your individual success (of which this writer had very little), the 20/21 season will be remembered as one of the most attritional yet. Only 28 of the 38 gameweeks could boast a full roster of matches. Not even the sanctity of Gameweek 1 was immune to the reaper’s thirst for fixtures; a classic piece of foreshadowing if ever there was one.
With this in mind, it’s all the more notable that the most distinctive features of the season had very little to do with FPL. As though the COVID-hit calendar wasn’t a sufficient sacrifice to the footballing Gods, the integrity of football itself was also thrown onto the altar. With football fans on their proverbial knees, the European Super League saw its chance to get a head-start.
But here’s your FPLMERCH hot-take: football is still here, innit. In spite of COVID, in spite of excessive corporate greed and even in spite of Virgil van Dijk’s early-season injury, football has defended itself better than Chelsea under Tuchel. And it’s the good kind of football that has endured; the kind of football in which the likes of Arsenal can suffer the consequences of mediocrity just like everyone else.
The 20/21 season was the season that survived. Once the dust has settled, that’s what it’ll be remembered for.
If you’ve done well this season, you’ve managed to navigate the quagmire of disruption to your advantage, which is a feat worthy of as much pride as one can justifiably extract from FPL-based achievements.
If you didn’t have a good season, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re still here, football is still here, and there’s always next season. That’s plenty to be grateful for, right?