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Assessing your Squad - Lower League Help

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Hey all,

FM noob here. I've never player FM before, and my football knowledge is moderate at best. I have recently started out a save in the lower leagues. I've taken over mid-season for an underperforming Sperrymoor. Expected to finish 4th, currently sitting in 18th, so on paper at least I should have a decent squad. I really enjoyed this thread, and was looking to take a similar approach, although of course I'm midseason already. But I'm still struggling a bit with the learning curve in terms of how to assess my team and figure out what we might be good at.

In that thread, Rashidi recommends that "you want Acceleration, Positioning/Off the ball, Work rate, Bravery to be between 10-12", and then also additional tactical skills based on role. (I agree with Rashidi, that Team Report looks like it could be helpful, but man it's confusing.) 

So, I just wanted to start to look at my roster I took a quick look at my roster, and I have exactly zero players on the whole roster who meets those requirements. I don't even have a player with all 10s, let alone 12s. Now, perhaps this is representative of why we are underperforming. Perhaps 10-12 is a high bar for Vanarama North. Just looking at the data, I averaged out all of those numbers for my players. 

  • I have 7 players who have at least 8 in all 5 of those attributes.
  • I have 7 players who average >= 10 for all of those 5 attributes.
  • I have 9 players who average <10 but >= 9 . 
  • I have 6 players who average <9 (including one with a whopping 6.6 average, making 31k p/a and listed as 3.5 stars).

So, a few questions:

  1. Does it make sense that I should think of the 7 who have at least 8 in all of those attributes as "likely to be worth hanging onto"? Or do I really need to look at more before I make that decision? If more, what do you think I should be worth looking at?
  2. I'm getting the sense that certainly those bottom 6 are likely spots worth looking to upgrade. Same as above, is this data enough to be making this decision, or should I really be looking at other stats.
  3. I have several players in the "mid" and "high" tiers above whose average is skewed by a particularly high or low score. For example, Francis' 17 Off the Ball rating gives him the top average on the team, despite his 6 Acceleration and 8 Bravery. How would you recommend I factor stuff like this in? For example, since this is Vanarama North, do I err on the side of keeping players with one exceptional score? Or should I look to move on from someone like Francis because his weak acceleration and bravery make him a liability?
  4. Rashidi mentions how physical characteristics can be difference-making at lower levels. I took a look at my roster's physical attributes. Cahill's 17 pace and 14 acceleration stand out. He's a 2.5-star attacking midfielder who is listed as a fringe player and who my assistant doesn't even want in the starting XI. He was also decent in the analysis above with a 9.4 average. Is this someone I should be taking advantage of somehow? From the physical standpoint, does anyone else jump out at you?

Finally, Rashidi mentions that you want technical attributes for the roles chosen to be between 8-10. I've been searching but haven't had much luck finding a decent definition of what technical attributes are most important for what roles. Any ideas?

Any thoughts on this or general advice on how to assess a squad when you first get there would be greatly appreciated! :)

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Let me see if I can help out..

So you need to simplify the noise of attributes to help make determinations on players not only in team selection but in what attributes to develop.  The challenge is that you need to tie this into your style of play to create your Club DNA.  So let's take a look at my club DNA:


So I'm playing a high tempo short passing high pressing 433 formation.  So I need complete footballers.. Decisions, Anticipation, Teamwork, Composure, Vision and these mentals affect both defending and attacking play.  Defenders and midfielders need good bravery (so they put in a challenge) concentration, positioning, tackling.  Attackers need flair, acceleration, off the ball, first touch, passing, technique.. sure I care about finishing but that is the difference in who my starting striker is vs. who is coming off the bench in many cases.

Notice that the view and color system makes it very easy for me to look at players and evaluate what player I need for a particular game.. so I want to talk a bit about team selection and using the Club DNA to make decisions on which players to play in which games.  So same view but let's analyze who we want to play in the midfield:


so why is Kai Havertz on the bench and Mason Mount is starting over him?  Kai appears to have better mentals and better attacking stats than Mason Mount.  The problem is we are playing a very important league game against Arsenal and while I'd love Kai's creative attacking properties this will be a tight intense affair and I feel that I need better defensive cover and work rate in the midfield in order to win the midfield battle that I know will ensue..  If anything I'd look to replace Hakim Ziyech with Kai Havertz as the attacking option in the AMR slot but again even though Kai's defending stats are a bit higher than Ziyech's it is Ziyech's 15 work rate vs. Kai's 12 work rate that gets him the nod.  But definitely a good option for a sub later in the game if we need to introduce some fresh legs and creativity.  Now against a lower classes team where they might sit deeper and look to hit us on the counter I'd want Kai's creativity over Mason Mount's hard work.

So let's talk about a different style of play.. the above is a good template for a possession based system but let's say you are a big underdog and want to play on the counter.  In that case we can simplify our DNA down to the following:


Sit deep.. stay compact.. defend with intensity (aggression is one the key attributes here but be careful combining high aggression players with the Get Stuck In Team Instruction or the Tackle Harder PI).  Again we look for our front attackers to use acceleration, pace, anticipation, and work rate to make those breaking runs in behind or work to join a counter attack break.  Sometimes you don't even really need to change your system.. by changing your player selection you can tweak your system to be just a little different.  Even my system changes based on who I play in the midfield and even fullback roles.

So you either design a system and get players that fit that system.. or you design a system based on the players you have and their strengths.

So what style of play do you want or what style do you think fits your players best?  We can discuss what the key attributes for that system are to create your Club DNA and then use that to analyze your players.


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This is great help, thanks, although I'm still way behind the learning curve. :) It's my intent to play a more defensive, counterattacking style of play, as we've got just one clean sheet in 22 matches . Looking to do a 4-4-2 DM. We've lost probably our best MF for the season with a knee injury, and we have some strong strikers. So, looking to have a more defensive setup and get the ball up to those strikers to do the damage.

Edited by steve.battisti
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1 hour ago, steve.battisti said:

This is great help, thanks, although I'm still way behind the learning curve. :) It's my intent to play a more defensive, counterattacking style of play, as we've got just one clean sheet in 22 matches . Looking to do a 4-4-2 DM. We've lost probably our best MF for the season with a knee injury, and we have some strong strikers. So, looking to have a more defensive setup and get the ball up to those strikers to do the damage.

Are your strikers good in the air?  How is there jumping reach, heading, off the ball, anticipation?

What about your wingers?  Pace, acceleration, crossing, dribbling attributes?

So best midfielder went down.. what do your replacement options look like?  You need two hard working midfielders to pull off a 442.. so what is their positioning, concentration, work rate, stamina like?  You can get away with a holding and more creative midfield so something like DM-D, VOL-S or if you have the player for it DLP-D, VOL-S but you will need one solid box to box midfielder to pull that off.  Another option if you don't have the midfield personnel is to go with something like a 352 where you can put 3 in the midfield instead of trying just two.

So what does the above look like and we can settle on a formation and begin from there?

Also what is the avg pace and acceleration in the league you are playing in?

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What @Rashidi gave you are guidelines and it will be impossible to find players that fit all of them and that is when you have to think in terms of combination of both players and roles and how they compliment each other. for example you may have a full back who is good going forward but lacks defensively; what you would do is on that side of the pitch you'd out players on that side that are defensively sound. 



watch these 2 Rashidi videos. you'll understand better 

I also recommend watching the playlist "how to stop loosing to the AI"

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