The 5 Stages of FPL Grief

In all honesty, I sought to write this article from a humorous standpoint yet, when I look at the feature picture of the official 5 stages of grief, I can’t help but notice how it can be applied to all walks of life, including – and probably rather surprisingly to you – FPL.

Obviously, the so-called ‘grief’ we experience in FPL is barely even comparable to the kind of grief the theory is truly supposed to represent, but I believe we go through these stages to a lesser extent when playing FPL all the same.

Let’s take the recent Harry Kane triple captain fail for example;

WARNING: The following article features bad language.

Stage 1 – Denial

How many of you exclaimed; ‘I can’t believe he hasn’t scored/didn’t score’ or in this case ‘He’s on the bench – is this really happening’?

I’m betting a fair majority of you did and I’m not ashamed to admit that if I was in the same position, I’d be doing the exact same!

In this stage, we ride out the initial shock loss of our triple captain by blocking words and hiding from the facts.

We start to believe that life is meaningless, and nothing is of any value any longer.

For the 120k ish managers that triple captained Kane, this stage is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

Stage 2 – Anger

As the masking effects of denial begin to wear off, reality and its pain re-emerge.

We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger.

The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family.

In the context of FPL and in this particular case, the anger is directed at Harry Kane for failing to score in either of the games, or Mauricio Pochettino for initially benching him for the Swansea game.

Rationally, we know they are not really to be blamed, emotionally however, we may resent them for being the ones that caused us this pain.

We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us even more angry.

Our good friend Chef, a recent victim of the grief that a failed triple captain Kane can cause, has experienced stage 2, as we can see here;

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 15.55.35

He blames Harry Kane for the pain and he lashes out in anger at him using verbal abuse.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 16.03.41

Jon L Thomsen does the same as Chef, lashing out at Harry Kane in a whirlwind of more violent verbal abuse.

Stage 3 – Bargaining 

The next stage for these two will be bargaining.

The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control through a series of “If only” statements, such as:

  • If only I hadn’t triple captained Kane…
  • If only Pochettino hadn’t benched Kane…
  • If only Kane hadn’t of gotten his illness just before the DGW…

Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable and it’s accompanying pain, though we might not ever admit it to anyone.

This is a weaker line of defence to protect us from the painful reality.

Guilt often accompanies bargaining. We start to believe there was something we could have done differently to change the reality of our circumstance.

In Chef’s case however, his attempt to take control again is by activating his WC;

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 16.10.37


By doing this, he’s giving himself what he believes to be a sense of control to combat the vulnerable state he was in previously, where he felt he had no control.

It may seem like a hasty decision born out of frustration and you may be right to some extent, but underneath it all, it’s a way of coping with the recent grief caused by the shock of his failed triple captain use.

It’s helping him to move to the next stage in order to get past the grief.

Stage 4 – Depression

After bargaining, the attention moves squarely into the present.

Empty feelings present themselves and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined.

We ask ourselves questions like; ‘What’s the point in carrying on?’, ‘Should I just give up now?’.

The answer to this depends on the person. Some might fold and give up, but others use it as a catalyst to spark us into action, into a revival.

You may even think it’s stupid to get down about it. You’ll see people say, ‘It’s just a game’,  which in reality, makes you feel even worse, almost like you’re being accused of caring about something too much.

But it’s a natural stage of the process and there’s nothing wrong with loving/caring/enjoying something like FPL as much as a lot of us do.

The depression phase will go with time. Some will move past it quicker than others, you just need to ride it out and avoid making key decisions whilst in this phase.

Stage 5 – Acceptance

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened – this is not the case.

Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the failed use of their triple captain chip.

This stage is about accepting the reality that our triple captain is gone and recognising that this new reality is the permanent reality.

We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.

Once we accept it, we can begin to make our plans again without any emotional negativity playing a part.

This is the stage we need to get to in order to make rational decisions again.

Any decisions made before this stage are susceptible to your emotions and will unlikely be hasty and made without consulting stats or logical information.


As I stated earlier, this article is mainly intended to be humorous, but when you really look at it, it can be true for a lot of us if we choose to accept it.

In my opinion, we should accept it.

Be proud that you care about it so much and ignore what anyone else has to say.

If you can get to that point, then perhaps something like this may actually help you with your endeavours in this game, whether you’d care to admit it or not.

Decision quote





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