Burning the Blueprint – Ian Harte

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

The goal of the Burning the Blueprint articles are simple…I look at the players who are not widely owned, but who have the potential to help you get an advantage on your opponents. Next up for examination is Reading’s Ian Harte.

With so many teams looking very similar in midfield and attack, it seems that many of the best differential now lie with defensive choices. When selecting defenders to complete their squad, FPL managers need a mix of expensive and cheap players. When selecting the cheaper defenders in my teams (who rotate among themselves each week for a starting place), there are a number of prerequisites they must meet.

Firstly, they must play every game. Secondly, their upcoming HOME fixtures are strong and can be easily benched when they are away from home. Thirdly, they possess an attacking threat that makes up for the fact that they play for teams that score less defensive points than their more expensive counterparts. Fourthly, they have to be really cheap – I hate having to bench defenders who cost approximately £5m. Finally, they must rotate well with other defensive players in my team.

In my mind, no player comes closer to matching this description right now than Ian Harte, especially since Marc Wilson is still not certain to return from injury as of today.

The former Irish international defender was on almost everyone’s list of essential players at the start of the season, but lost his place after Reading found life in the Premiership to be more difficult than they had imagined. After conceding 4 to Chelsea and 3 to Spurs, Harte lost his place and would not play again until he regained his place in a last gasp loss to Manchester City in late December. Since them, he has played every minute in the Premiership and has scored a highly respectable 39 points from 9 games (4.33 ppg). It seems as though he has cemented his place in the side and I think he will keep it until the end of the season. Going back to my list of prerequisites, does he play every game?

Check.

Looking at Reading’s next 6 fixtures, Harte’s stock rises further. He has home games against Wigan, Aston Villa and Southampton and away games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton. If you transfer Harte into your team, he pretty much picks himself, thus reducing your need to figure out when to play him. It’s easy. He plays at home and he is benched away from home. No stress. Strong home games?

Check.

Even when Reading have not kept a clean sheet, Harte has weighed in with 3 assists in the last 6 games thanks to his incredible deadball skill. If you think about it, an assist is worth almost the same as a clean sheet. With the danger that Harte presents, you can be confident that he will add an assist to your score now and again, and that is always nice to know when you select him. Attacking points?

Check.

Price wise, Harte is as cheap as they come. He is currently valued at just £3.9 million. That is incredibly inexpensive and is so low because of the spell where he was not starting games. Cheap?

Check.

Finally, Harte and Reading’s fixtures need to rotate well with teams with other teams defenders so that at least one of them has a strong home fixture every week. QPR, Sunderland, Stoke and Norwich all have cheap defenders who have solid fixtures when Reading are on the road.

Check.

So even if you are looking for a cheap 5th defender who will never make your starting eleven, Harte is a much better option than a lot of the players in the same bracket. Considering 4.4% of managers own the similarly priced Ryan Bertrand, who has scored 11 points compared to Harte’s 39 over the last 9 games, it shows the importance of having cheap defenders that can score points when called upon.

Ian Harte is certainly worthy of your consideration. Great home fixtures, good attacking potential, plays every week, rotates well and is cheap as chips.

Bargain?

 

 

Check.

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