New Traders often ask me the same questions: can I still make a profit starting fresh without bonuses? Can I still find value when other people have been here so much longer? Can I do this if I don’t have a lot of time every day? 

I think the answer is absolutely yes. But rather than talk about it, it’s probably more helpful to show how it can be done.

Starting from scratch with a £1,000 balance on day one of the new season, I am tracking my progress showing not just each trade but my thinking behind them.

The rules: 

1) no direct use of bonus cash, 

2) start with a blank portfolio, 

3) long term and time efficient style, with no constant phone checking or watching every game.

Notes for New Readers

I’ll be trying to show not just the trades but my thought process and reasons behind decisions I make. The specific players I pick are less important.

You can check out the original post where I introduce my overall strategy and explain the opening selections.

As I obviously have an existing portfolio, I will not make these exact trades but they will be tracked realistically.

I will also own every player on this list for real so the selections will get my full attention. Generally, I select players I have talked about positively on the site.

I always say though, don’t blindly follow any picks you see from others including mine. Do your own research and if you see what I see, great, but you have to know why you have bought the player and be happy with it.

The £1k Challenge Portfolio

  • Portfolio Value: £2021.85
  • In the bank: £7.96
  • Value Increase from £1k: 102.9%
  • Value Change from Week 21: +14.46%

Portfolio Performance

Regrettably I did not manage to update the Challenge at all in February. With the Members area opening up, I had a lot on my hands. But it would be a shame not to continue the Challenge because I am told people found it useful and we were doing pretty well! I’ll try to do better from now until the end of the season.

So,  there are a lot of trades to cover, far more than usual, because that end of transfer window period in January heading into European competition is a big transition point in the season for me. 

February performance was pretty great overall and we just edge over a 100% profit from Day 1 of the season. There were some big wins but also with a few pretty disappointing players to level things out.

Starting with the good, Joao Felix has taken over from Thorgan Hazard as the man currently carrying the portfolio on his back. The surge was crazy. Selected way back in October in Week 15 of the Challenge for just £1.97, not even I thought he would hit £6.44 as of today (and he was pushing £7 not long ago). 

Paulo Dybala, the buy from the last update, has chipped in with a bit.  Fabian Ruiz, another long standing player in the portfolio has done very well for us too increasing from £2.48 to £3.13 today (and winning a dividend).

And some of my new buys from the end of January  (discussed below) have done well too and helped the cause.

I also made some good cuts from the port at the end of January that have saved money or at least stopped a big chunk of my cash stagnating (see the sells below). 

On the downside, some of the long standing players like Aguero, Thorgan Hazard have gone backwards (despite dividend wins).  And others like Werner, Thauvin, Anton and Savic have been fairly stagnant. 

But, overall, with Felix doing that well, it would have been difficult to come out of the month with a loss. The important lesson here is that you do not need to get every trade right. You need to get most of your trades right and be swift to cut off the ones that aren’t working out.

Sells and Holds

Aguero, Savic, Thauvin. Werner and Thorgan Hazard are not doing much for me at the moment. But, I will stick with them for various reasons. Aguero has European involvement and my portfolio is very light on that otherwise. The other 3 have some credible transfer rumours so it makes no sense to ditch them now. 

Milinkovic-Savic in particular probably looks like my worst trade of the season so far. He was a day 1 pick. I’ve only lost about 50p value on him but that’s not the point. He has been a waste of nearly 10% of my starting bank all season. I have been too patient with him, although it is easy to say in hindsight. He started the season as one of the strongest performance prospects but has had a very poor season by his standards.

The time I should have sold was January and I did consider it however his performance stats did improve at the turn of the year and that convinced me to keep faith. However, he is a quality player having a bad year and he has some big transfer links, so having held this long, it makes sense to stick around now. I can’t erase January’s mistake by making another one – I have to look at the facts as they stand. 

Dybala was the buy in the last Challenge post in January. At that time I said: 

“My main thinking here is to increase our coverage for the big European competitions which will start to hot up…. but if I want to hold him beyond the Champions League, his prospects for a Summer transfer move are decent and that’s another way I can win.”

What happened since is a good example of my “more than one way to win” thinking. My hopes for a strong Champions League performance from Dybala were bang wrong. He didn’t even play. However, those absences also fuelled the second way to win – transfer speculation. So, I’ve still got a decent price rise out of that trade. He’s worth hanging onto. 

So to the deadwood. In the end I went for a fairly big clean out at the end of January as the transfer window ended. It’s a big transition period for me as we start to switch away from performance as the primary factor into European competition and towards the end of the season and the Summer. 

Out went Bertrand Traoré, Kamano, Plea, Mendez and Aouar.

Traoré was struggling. He made a great start to the season and I think he will come good for next season. But in December/January he had been in and out of the team and had argued with the coach etc. So it was a fairly easy decision to offload him. That was a bit of a hit though and one of the few losses taken, he was bought at £3 and I’m selling for £2.20 here, ouch. He really tanked in January and I clearly held him too long.

Kamano, Mendez and Plea were stagnating too and the stats told me this wasn’t just unlucky, so out they go. The smaller your portfolio is the more aggressive I think a confident trader needs to be. So whilst in my real portfolio I might be a little more patient, with a relatively limited budget I need all my money to be working hard. 

I believe all 3 remain solid long term holds for a patient portfolio holder, though. 

Aouar was a more marginal call. In January he was putting up some decent underlying stats and was unlucky not to get at least a couple of goals and do better than he did. But, he was a tying up a fair amount of my budget and having bought at £3.10 I was happy to take £4.19 for him. He may be one to revisit for the Summer depending on transfer links.

Buys

So with those sales I had just over £500 to spend. For the Challenge, I tend to stick to buying players that are discussed favourably on the site. 

When thinking about longer term, performance suitable picks for the next 4-5 months, a big chunk just had to go to consistent site favourite Bruno Fernandes. I’ve probably mentioned him more in the last year than almost any other player. He is such a quality performance player and the transfer links were near inevitable. His form all season has been good. His February form was just sublime.

Elsewhere, we bring in some bang on trend talent with good transfer links for the Summer. In come Ziyech, Chiesa and Brandt. Ziyech is another who I have highlighted for a long time and he was given the chance to prove it vs Real Madrid. Lots of traders are going to be remembering that come the Summer, and the transfer links are credible. 

Chiesa and Brandt are also very solid performance suitable choices currently at smaller clubs and expected to make a step up to elite level teams.

What's next?

We’ve got a near fully committed bank so if we want to make changes, it’s sell to buy. 

With the Share Split on Monday, it would be a better idea with a larger portfolio to have a bit of money free to give you flexibility. 

Here, I am being aggressive and putting it all out on the pitch. My thinking is that by holding predominantly youthful, attacking players it is very unlikely that anything in the Share Split announcement specifically kills off this type of player. If anything, changes will likely benefit this sort of dividend friendly player. 

So, my chips are all in and it’s a case of waiting for the dealer to flip over the cards. Once I see what is in the announcement I may make some tweaks. Or if my bet is correct, I may be perfectly happy. 

The point here is that dealing with a big announcement is mainly about your preparation. After the event, there is only so much you can do because everyone will have the same information and the right short term move will probably be very obvious. 

I’ll try to do better at providing more regular updates on the Challenge for the rest of the season!

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