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[FM22] Statman and Robins


Shrewnaldo
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On 19/01/2022 at 11:05, Sonic Youth said:

Tough start to the Prem. 6/14/-8 for 8pts from 9 games is tight at the back but not enough goals going forward. Hopefully there are three or more teams struggling and in a worse position.

Aye, at the moment we're relying heavily on West Brom, Norwich and Burnley being worse than we are. 

On 19/01/2022 at 11:49, Sonic Youth said:

I was going to say: Is there a way to make skins that put these stats in a more organised and logical arrangement? But then re-read your mentionings of the dilemmas from where to pull the stats from.

I noticed that it could for some, put game-by-game singularity stats might not be so possible (though that could mean they change after ever game and or require a bit more knowledge of writing a code that collates the stats wanted when putting into a skin if possible).

Would collecting and keeping stats in-game of all leagues loaded in view/full league modes add much to processing times and game sizes?

It would be good to have more passing stats. They already record and show pass maps. Surely it wouldn’t be a stretch to add pass distance, vertical/diagonal/horizontal/forwards/backwards/lofted passes into the game along with pass percentage. If they’ve got this, breaking down were the passes happen (ie into final third, into the box, line breaking, into space) could just as easily be worked out. From that we could get Packing Rate, xT and other stats included. Though just having xA would be a start. And separating all the stats from set piece/penalties (non-penalty goals for example) would be hot on xA’s heels!

I'm not sure if custom skins could make the stats available on all screens. It would definitely be worth a question in the skinning forum.

I know that some skinners can do brilliant things with the octagons - making them into custom attribute groups and I wondered if those could be customised into groupings of statistics. Way beyond my capability there though.

On 19/01/2022 at 16:57, SixPointer said:

Tough step up in class. But the fact you felt hard done by in a couple of games, drew with spurs and beat West Brom and Bournemouth I think you can mix it up they're and give a good fight. 

Thanks. We've had another couple of absolute whallopings but we're scraping a point here and there. Still very much in trouble but also competitive so that's good to see.

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A brief note on summer recruitment

So following on from the preceding monologue on recruiting a creative 10, we signed Harry Wilson from Fulham for a deal starting at £9.5m. In addition to the creativity described above, it was his set piece prowess which ended up swinging it - ironic as it was this effectiveness from set pieces which we were trying to remove from his statistics as a distorting factor. Helpfully, Wilson got injured in pre-season and would miss the first two games.

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We also brought in Sasa Kalajdzic from Stuttgart - available for just £4.2m due to a relegation release clause, he fit the bill for a physical striker perfectly. He'd scored only 4 goals in 14 starts for Stuttgart but had hit the target with an impressive enough 46% of his shots with exceptional aerial ability. With the 10 and physical 9 priorities filled, the next order of business was a right-back.

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Ethan Laird had spent the season on loan at Swansea from Man Utd, and had been the Welsh club's outstanding player by some distance. A league-leading 7.03 dribbles per game from right-back and the third most effective creative player with 0.34 assists per game. His 10 assists exceeded all of my fullbacks put together. My scouts were a little hesitant about his defensive capability, particularly in the air, but our system really does rely on the fullbacks for creative width and it seemed like a no-brainer at an initial £3m,

Both Laird and Kalajdzic have gone on to have really pleasing impacts in the Premier League.

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That was almost it for the major business. Ousseynou Ba, Jonathan Bolingi and Ben Thompson had all been on loan with us in the second half of last season and all had impressed sufficiently to be given permanent deals - although I confess that I probably wouldn't have signed Bolingi had I known that we would be promoted.

Ben Thompson is an interesting one, though. 

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Essentially deemed surplus to requirements at Millwall, he's now an important part of a Premier League squad, even if not a regular starter. He's clearly not the best player in the world but he is absolutely reliable. His excellent mental attributes - not least his work rate and bravery, see him tearing about midfield and regularly putting in vital challenges around the edge of our box. He's a great player for bringing on late in the game when we just need some energy in the middle to lift to harry the ball and protect a lead. One of those players who you really like even though you know they're not all that good.

Lastly, you'll have noticed that we also brought in Manuel Lanzini on loan from West Ham. It very quickly became apparent that Weimann and Bolingi weren't going to be good enough to play at 10 in the Premier League and, with Alex Scott loaned out to Forest to get consistent game time in the Championship, we needed some short-term, risk-free quality so a loan deal seemed ideal.

We've already reached the break for World Cup 2022 and we've done ok.

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That Liverpool game was awful. In truth, we played worse against Leicester, Man Utd and probably even Spurs but, FM being FM, everything Liverpool touched went in and, having conceded the first two shots on target, my 'keeper ceased functioning as a living entity - the FM morale crisis for 'keepers is mad this year.

But a handful of good results and really, really unlucky in some games. Against Newcastle, for example, we fell to two Lewis Dunk near-post headers - in the 2nd and 94th minutes. Against Norwich we conceded a late pen.

Kalajdzic, as you can see, has been great - a real shining light and one of the few players with the quality to score at this level. Antoine Semenyo has done ok when we've used him as a poacher, playing on the shoulder of the last defender against slower defences - particularly against Burnley - but is just not quite quick enough to pull it off against decent sides. Meanwhile our defence has been absolutely shocking. 

I remain unconvinced that any of our centre back options - Zak Vyner, Ousseynou Ba, Nathan Baker or Tomás Kalas - will ever be good enough for regular Premier League football. Ethan Laird has been great at right back and Jay Dasilva has been adequate on the other flank but two centre backs and an absolute priority for summer recruitment if we stay up - perhaps even something we should gamble on in January. As is a 'keeper, with Daniel Bentley - who excelled in the Championship - saving just 69% of shots against him, compared to an expected save ratio of 86%.

It may be that again turn to the loan market - looking to bring in some Premier League quality without pushing our finances too far whilst facing the risk of relegation.

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Edited by Shrewnaldo
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It’s a real dog fight down there. But your battling hard!
Frustrating against Liverpool sometimes no matter what you do your going to have a heavy defeat. Like you said the world of FM can be cruel at times. 

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Super tight, isn't it. Basically 12th down is still very much involved in the relegation scrap.

Unusually, I'm really liking the extended mid-season break for World Cup 22 as it's giving me quick a bit of extra time to concentrate on recruitment - specifically on finding a centre back to buy in January.

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2 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Super tight, isn't it. Basically 12th down is still very much involved in the relegation scrap.

Unusually, I'm really liking the extended mid-season break for World Cup 22 as it's giving me quick a bit of extra time to concentrate on recruitment - specifically on finding a centre back to buy in January.

I also enjoyed it with my Sparta save. I used it to fine tune both my tactics and I’ve had good success since. 

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January 2023 - A defence would be nice

The first 15 games in the Premier League had been a chastening experience. Watching our attempts at defending against the likes of Leicester and Spurs was bad enough, nevermind Liverpool and Man Utd. Zak Vyner, our centre back with the most minutes before Christmas, saw the side conceded 2.35 goals per 90 minutes he'd played. Ba, at 1.91, and Baker, at 1.14 having missed the 12 goals shipped against the big guns, weren't really much better. It was blatantly obvious to everyone that at least one new centre half was required.

With 18 months worth of scouting data available, I was relatively confident that we could find someone within our longlist that should be able to improve upon the dross currently in the squad. A 5-minute trawl through the data bank narrowed down my search to four options.

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Just as a reminder, I can't see the numeric attributes and I'm forcing myself into using the scouting network and statistical data for all recruitment decisions - this isn't a case of just knowing who is good or is listed on some wonderkid list and picking them up. Our scout in Austria, Bernd Schneider, was very keen on Rapid Wien's Leo Greiml; whilst Brian McDermott had long touted the talents of Adam Webster, relegated with Brighton last year, and Nottingham Forest's Scott McKenna. Lastly, we had Chris Smalling who had fallen out of favour at Roma and whose agent had called looking for a move.

My initial gut feel was that Webster was the way to go - Premier League quality, great on the ball, two-footed, scouts loved him. However, at £16.5m he was the priciest option by some distance and sadly there wasn't a future fee clause in his previous departure from Bristol City that would provide a kickback on the deal. But a closer look at his statistics gave me real cause for concern - his 68% successful tackle ratio was just rank. That similar concern applied to McKenna, someone I'd been very keen on last term as a Championship side.

Greiml looked great across the board but I was wary that his statistical output came in the Austrian Bundesliga - a significantly weaker league. He had, however, broken into the national team and had looked really good in his single cap to date - despite his side losing 3-0 to Switzerland. And then there was Smalling, who had no statistical data at all due to being dropped.

Thankfully, having retained a save file from May 2022, I can go back and pick up statistics from previous seasons - data which is otherwise wiped from the game.

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And what I saw I liked. Ok, not the largest sample size in the world but in a relatively strong league he's hitting the 80% mark for headers won, impressive in the tackle and excellent with the ball. Which should come as no surprise for a player like Smalling. At £700k it was an absolute no-brainer to bring him in, even at 33. His quality is clear and his Model Citizen personality makes him an ideal character to have around the club. Really, really pleased with that signing.

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It also meant we had plenty of money to bring in another centre half and the statistics made it very clear that Greiml was the way to go. £9m up front with another £1m if we survive and £1m once he makes 50 appearances, the only downside to the deal was that Greiml insisted on a minimum fee release clause of just £38.5m for Champions League teams. If he does end up triggering that, however, it will still represent good profit on a player who will clearly have impressed.

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In an unusual move for me, it's been a busy January window with two more players joining. Andy King, at 34, was after first team football and was allowed to leave for Jeonbuk. Whilst Jonathan Bolingi, who was signed on a pre-contract when I was expecting to be in the Championship, left for £3.4m to León in Mexico and Callum O'Dowda, not good enough for Premier League football, went to Stoke for £1.6m.

That left us a little short on numbers in the centre of the park and I swooped for Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson when his agent made me aware that he was available for just £2m. 

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My assistant wanted me to make him captain on the day he arrived and he may well end up fulfilling that role but he's much more than just strong mentals. His statistical output at the Dons, albeit in a weak league, was impressive - particularly in its combination of tackling and interception statistics with creative output. On both occasions that I "went to watch" him play, he scored and absolutely ran the show from the middle of the park so £2m was a steal.

The other day was a bit more of a punt and outwith the parameters of the save a little. Our first-choice leftback, Jay Dasilva, tore his hamstring in a Boxing Draw draw with Wolves and will do well to be back before April. The wingbacks are a key component of our tactic and Dasilva's normal back-up, Cameron Pring, has the unfortunate combination of being bang average and a bit of a twit. He's been moaning for game time and earned himself a transfer-listing. So a new left-back was a top priority.

We had a number of options to look at - but mostly at back-up quality as I hadn't anticipated needing to replace Dasilva at all. But Omar Richards popped up on the transfer list - the former-Reading man having been deemed surplus to requirements at both Bayern Munich and then Ajax. Our scouts were keen but I didn't have any stats to go by at all and no games to watch so it was something of an informed risk to bring him in. £2.4m for a homegrown option though - that'll do.

And that now leaves the squad assessment looking something like this:

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Which is a whole let better than it could have been, to be fair. The one area where I'm likely to strengthen further in January is genuine pace up front. As I've said a few times, Semenyo is ok and probably will be good enough as Premier League back-up, but we lack anyone with real, genuine, frightening pace. There have been a number of times this season where we've managed to get our shadow striker to break beyond the line, the 9 having dropped off to create the space, but then lacking the sheer pace to get away from the defence. At this level, lacking that blistering speed massively blunts your attacking options and allows defences to play high lines against you, knowing that you can't really get away from them.

I've looked at a few options - primarily Stoke's Tyrese Campbell, Elche's Lucas Boyé and Sturm Graz's Kelvin Yeboah. But all are outwith our financial pull just now and I'm more likely to wait until the summer, hope we stay up and can afford it then. So a loan option is a possibility. I did, once again, look at former-Robin Sammie Szmodics. My scouts still think he's terrible but his statistical output is great - both at 9 and 10 - and I figured he'd be a cheap option for 6 months then an able back-up. But Peterborough, now in League One, want £4m for him and so toodle-pip to that idea.

One more loan to give us an extra option up front could be the difference, though. It's a mightily tight affair down at the bottom and we're definitely in the mix. Our form has also been improving recently, even if we've still struggled for results. It took Arsenal a 73rd minute penalty to beat us at the Emirates but draws with Brentford and Wolves were massive missed opportunities, particularly the latter when Jonny was sent off on the hour. With 18 gone, we've played 10 away and just 8 at home. Our next three are at Ashton Gate though and could really define our season - Everton, Leeds and Norwich. A nice wee run here could massively boost our push for survival.

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A tale of two matches

I've taken this season very slowly. Individual matches have taken a LOT of micro-management, particularly defensively with Opposition Instructions and specific man-marking. This often made little difference as the gulf in class was patently obvious to all. But in life, you learn the most during adversity and I guess it's no different in Football Manager. As the season has progressed, and particularly since the recruitment in January, we've grown into a much, much better side. Having just played the return match against Leicester, the two games against the Foxes provide a clear window into our improvement.

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The home game was our second match of the season and we got absolutely battered. Donny van de Beek's hat-trick was the least the away side deserved, as evidenced by our 'keeper being our best player. Our shots mostly came from set pieces and a couple of efforts from distance - indicative of our goal-scoring issues throughout autumn,

Come the return game and things were much, much different.

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We were great. Ok, we only drew the game but Leicester are 5th and we were away from home. In the first half we dominated and created lots of strong chances. On multiple occasions we created space for central runners but, as I'd identified in previous posts, didn't have the pace in either Wilson or Lanzini to get away from the defenders. So those 13 shots would be much closer to 20 with the appropriate personnel. 

Leicester came back at us in the second half, getting much more from their wide men and took the lead through a corner. And yet we still had the mental strength to get back into the game and score a late equaliser, Omar Richards breaking beyond the defence on the left and crossing for Sasa to get his 15th of the season. Indeed, we could have won it with the big number 9 putting the last kick of the game inches past the post.

It may have been just a point, but the difference between the games is enormous. Completely outclassed in August, we've held our own 6 months later. We're currently out of the relegation zone, on 20 points after 22 games and I've never been more confident of our chances of survival. Our remaining fixtures include home games against the majority of our relegation rivals - West Ham, West Brom and Burnley. 9 wins and 9 draws should see us stay up and we're currently sitting on 5 of each. If we can with those three key home games, we just need one more win and there's a handful of candidate games that look much more likely given our recent uptick in form - Villa at home, Bournemouth away and Brentford away being those I've got my eye on.

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My one concern is that we pretty much need to have survival sorted by the end of April. We have four games in May but they're horrible. Our final two home games are Man City and Arsenal, whilst we visit Everton on the final day. Only a trip to Molineux looks likely to yield points and that could prove to be a high-pressure match given Wolves' position.

In the meantime, I'm carrying on our post-xmas scouting as if we'll survive. So, referring back to the recruitment strategy, that means no general scouting assignments but instead sending scouts to watch individual players that we're looking to target. The three key positions are 'keeper, centre mid and pace in the front three. So plenty to get on with but, on the pitch, it really feels like we've turned a corner.

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Love the recruitment process, makes you deep dive into a player and actually makes the game a lot more realistic than a bunch of numbers saying what there good at.
 

Great result against West Ham as well. Huge month like you say with the tough fixtures at the tail end of the season!

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1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

Love the recruitment process, makes you deep dive into a player and actually makes the game a lot more realistic than a bunch of numbers saying what there good at.
 

Great result against West Ham as well. Huge month like you say with the tough fixtures at the tail end of the season!

Thanks. I have to admit that I'm absolutely loving the recruitment side of this save - it's right up my street.

Was really pleased with that West Ham game too, we played it perfectly. But the less said about the next three games the better. We had an absolute shocker at Bournemouth, losing 4-0. Then Man Utd put 5 past us for the second time this season, before their city rivals beat us 1-0 in the cup. Next two games, Villa and West Brom at home, are key. Let's just hope our morale hasn't taken too much of a hit.

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I am absolutely loving this, Shrew. The thoughts you're sharing on recruitment are wonderful and really giving me lots of things to apply myself. Wishing you all the best; although I don't want you to take any points from the Villa game!

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5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I am absolutely loving this, Shrew. The thoughts you're sharing on recruitment are wonderful and really giving me lots of things to apply myself. Wishing you all the best; although I don't want you to take any points from the Villa game!

Are you a Villa fan? You'll be pleased to hear that they're more or less safe now

The interesting thing I've noticed about the stats is how they seem to average out across the leagues - e.g. 80% header win ratio is "good" for every league. But is 80% in the Austrian Bundesliga equal to 80% in the Premier League? No. So I need to apply some sort of quality factor. That's going to make it more and more difficult as we get better. I imagine it'll be really tough to find elite players

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14 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I am absolutely loving this, Shrew. The thoughts you're sharing on recruitment are wonderful and really giving me lots of things to apply myself. Wishing you all the best; although I don't want you to take any points from the Villa game!

Likewise. I know use guys are stats men and reading both your threads is really getting me to dig deeper into it. Rather than being so tactically focused. 
I think recruitment wise I used to only really check strikers goals to game ratio but now I’ll definitely be putting some off your ideas to use. 

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I love these news items - one of my favourite 'small features'.

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Seven points is s decent gap with 5 games left but our run-in is horrible, even if Burnley's is worse. That game at Molineux could be massive and they are probably the most likely of the three sides to catch us.

 

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8 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

I love these news items - one of my favourite 'small features'.

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Seven points is s decent gap with 5 games left but our run-in is horrible, even if Burnley's is worse. That game at Molineux could be massive and they are probably the most likely of the three sides to catch us.

 

Wolves certainly have the best run in for sure. But I think your buffer of 5 points should keep you a float. 
 

Team talk “every game is a cup final”

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6 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Wolves certainly have the best run in for sure. But I think your buffer of 5 points should keep you a float. 
 

Team talk “every game is a cup final”

Burnley lost to Villa and ManU and are confirmed down. Wolves lost to Leeds and got absolutely destroyed by Leicester, so it's 8 points gap and they've only 3 to play.

Basically, I'm now at the point where I'm considering which Wolves players to nick when they do go down

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3 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Burnley lost to Villa and ManU and are confirmed down. Wolves lost to Leeds and got absolutely destroyed by Leicester, so it's 8 points gap and they've only 3 to play.

Basically, I'm now at the point where I'm considering which Wolves players to nick when they do go down

I said early on i that you had the metal to stay up. Seems that you’ve breezed it in the end 

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4 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I said early on i that you had the metal to stay up. Seems that you’ve breezed it in the end 

Well we've just lost 2-1 at Wolves so it might not be quite as comfortable as all that... Oh dear

 

EDIT - nevermind

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Edited by Shrewnaldo
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May 23 - Survival and recruitment planning

We did it. In the end, it wasn't that tight but we've survived in a rather unspectacular meander. With Bournemouth also surviving, we have the unusual situation of just one promoted club, West Brom, bouncing straight back down whilst Brighton will come come back up alongside Blackburn and, at the time of writing, one of Sheff Utd, Fulham and Stoke. Noting that we were predicted to finish dead last, I've got to be happy with anything which avoids relegation.

So now we have to look at "the difficult second season" and what we can do to improve upon our 17th place and 34 league points.

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I'd identified back in January that we really needed three key additions and it was on these positions that our scouting has focused since January. Those three roles - 'keeper, centre mid and pacey attacker - remain key targets, if anything the second half of the season has reinforced my opinion of our squad's obvious deficiencies. But I'm not convinced that just the three key problem areas will cut it - on a squad level it's clear that we didn't score enough (37) and our defence, conceding 73, was awful. So I wanted to take a more detailed look through the squad's stats and be ready to strengthen elsewhere too.

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^^^Squad statistics with players ordered by number of minutes played.

In goal, we've already covered that Daniel Bentley isn't good enough if we want to progress. He ended the season with an actual save percentage of 71%, versus his expected of 86% - giving him such a poor Expected Goals Prevented statistic that he isn't in the top 20 for the league and is somewhere below Lukasz Fabianski's -8.21 (although so, oddly, is Ederson). Why, oh why this statistic isn't available anywhere except this very limited table in the league detailed stats I'll never know.

At wingback, signings Ethan Laird and Omar Richards have been exceptional, first and fourth in the league dribbles / 90 statistics respectively and providing, between them, about an assist every three games. That now means Jay Dasilva has become our second choice left back and is a sound back-up, as is Zak Vyner on the right - not good enough as a centre back and surprisingly able on the flank.

At centre back, Smalling has been a much more successful signing than Greiml - outperforming the young Austrian across the board. This gives me quite a bit of cause for concern as, at 33, Smalling clearly doesn't have long left at the top level. Ousseynou Ba is a decent back-up, but probably no more than that and so a fourth centre-back to contest first team football with Greiml has quickly become a second-tier priority for me.

Midfielders' defensive stats

Into midfield and Matty James' return from injury has been problematic. On the ball, he's as good as our other options but his defensive output is very poor compared to Massengo, Tyreeq or Williams. With Lewis Ferguson arriving in January and outperforming James in both defensive and offensive statistics, it's likely that the older man will be phased out. This chimes with our earlier identification of central midfield as a priority purchase. The three roles in the middle are relatively stable, with Massengo and Williams almost always our first choices carrileros, flanking either a DLP(D) or CM(D) in the centre. Tyreeq has been our main man in the central role but I'm a little underwhelmed by his offensive output.

Midfielders' Attacking Stats

Just one assist, the lowest key passes / 90 of any of our midfielders and just 0.15 chances created per game is pretty poor for a playmaking role, albeit a withdrawn one. He does, however, have the physicality to play the carrilero role and his stats would suggest that his output can match, if not exceed, Williams - the most likely candidate to make way.

So a deep playmaker with physicality is what we're looking for in the middle.

The front three have also become more settled this year. Kalajdzic's performances have been absolutely exceptional. He's outperformed an already impressive xG, gets a lot of shots away and hits the target regularly. He leads the line well and still creates chances for others. I love the guy and my only concern is that someone activates his release clause before I can afford to improve his contract.

Attackers' Stats

Kalajdzic's form has meant the 9 role has been nailed down as a DLF(A). The two 10s behind him have then typically been Harry Wilson on the left as an AM(S), proving a link role with the midfield, and a shadow striker on the right looking to break beyond and get on the end of through balls.

Wilson has been a little underwhelming, particularly considering his price tag - underperforming his xG, just 4 assists and not getting on the ball enough for my liking. Meanwhile, our deficiency at shadow striker has been clear with none of the options having the combination of pace, movement and finishing ability to provide the attacking threat we need. With Celtic and Brighton sniffing around Wilson, I'd be tempted to let him go for decent money and then look to bring in two new 10s. Alex Scott will be returning from an excellent loan spell at Nottingham Forest and was, bizarrely, voted #17 in the world wonderkid list. He'll definitely be coming into the first team squad but most likely as a rotation option next year.

With Lanzini and Barkley's loans ending, and Weimann moving on, it's a key focus area for recruitment and I've spent an awful lot of time in the last few days "going to see" options. One of the major reasons I've been doing this is to make sure the players' output is simulated using the same match engine as is used for our own games. Typically, the detail level of your game will be set so that the vast majority of matches are simulated in a different, less resource intensive way. By asking my scouts to watch particular players, within active leagues, for a certain number of matches, it means that these games are changed to full detail level. I can then select the match from the club's schedule and access full analysis, data and a replay of the full match.

So, after all of that, it's clear that we have our three main targets and, should finances be available, another centre back and a ten should be next on the list. After that, it's just a case of reacting to any unwelcome departures. A busy summer beckons.

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Edited by Shrewnaldo
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Congratulations on survival my man! Breezed it in the end. Have you set a points target for next season yet? Or waiting to see how the recruitment goes?

Looking forward to the recruitment drive after reading your breakdown of why and where you need to strengthen.

One thing stood out that you weren’t happy with your playmakers key passes/assists I’ve found that adding more direct passing as a PI helps him become a weapon in that regard. Especially with the withdraw role it can help with switches of play. Also plays killer ball trait is a good one to train. 

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There’s those three worse team :brock:

Congrats on staying up, well earned.

I think your January recruitment drive was key with staying up, even more than the preseason recruitment. Looking forward to seeing who you recruit this preseason after reading your squad analysis breakdown. Will be interesting to see how you add creativity into the team in the form of a deep lying physical playmaker (technical as well I hope).

Sasa was awesome for you last season, but definitely needs someone else to score 10 goals or so.

Got my fingers crossed that you have a smooth preseason.

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Just caught up with this Shrew, enjoying your way of playing. 
Well done on the unlikely promotion and then surviving.
One interesting aspect of you using stats is you’re not getting the same players as you see everyone else signing. 
The downsides are stats don’t carry over season to season (creating a separate save file helps) but also if you don’t have the league loaded it doesn’t give you any. 
As you hopefully progress will you add more leagues to give you access to the stats of more players as you try and find more “gems”?

With regards to the tactic do you think you’ll adapt it or have you seen enough that makes you think it will work long term with better players?

Dan

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11 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Congratulations on survival my man! Breezed it in the end. Have you set a points target for next season yet? Or waiting to see how the recruitment goes?

Looking forward to the recruitment drive after reading your breakdown of why and where you need to strengthen.

One thing stood out that you weren’t happy with your playmakers key passes/assists I’ve found that adding more direct passing as a PI helps him become a weapon in that regard. Especially with the withdraw role it can help with switches of play. Also plays killer ball trait is a good one to train. 

I think we should be aiming for 40 points really. The board still expect us just to battle bravely and I think that just avoiding relegation should be the first target.

Agree with your point re the playmakers. I've already brought in the signing for centre mid and was swayed by his trait for "likes to switch ball to the wide areas". This is perfect for what I want - the midfield recycling possession and then hitting the attacking wingbacks in advanced positions. I did have a thought that this might not be reflected in the stats, as it's neither a chance created nor a key pass. One to keep an eye on.

10 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

There’s those three worse team :brock:

Congrats on staying up, well earned.

I think your January recruitment drive was key with staying up, even more than the preseason recruitment. Looking forward to seeing who you recruit this preseason after reading your squad analysis breakdown. Will be interesting to see how you add creativity into the team in the form of a deep lying physical playmaker (technical as well I hope).

Sasa was awesome for you last season, but definitely needs someone else to score 10 goals or so.

Got my fingers crossed that you have a smooth preseason.

Surprised that Wolves were one of them though.

Absolutely agree on the goalscoring. Sasa was out top scorer on 24 and next came Semenyo and Wilson, on just 4 each. If we can get that shadow striker to come in and get 10-15, then we'll be on the right track for sure

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3 hours ago, danielgear said:

Just caught up with this Shrew, enjoying your way of playing. 
Well done on the unlikely promotion and then surviving.
One interesting aspect of you using stats is you’re not getting the same players as you see everyone else signing. 
The downsides are stats don’t carry over season to season (creating a separate save file helps) but also if you don’t have the league loaded it doesn’t give you any. 
As you hopefully progress will you add more leagues to give you access to the stats of more players as you try and find more “gems”?

With regards to the tactic do you think you’ll adapt it or have you seen enough that makes you think it will work long term with better players?

Dan

Hello Dan. Thank you for reading and your comment.

I also actively try to avoid all the common players, or players that I've signed before. I just find it a bit more interesting to play, as well as potentially read about.

I've loaded quite a few leagues to try and get round the issue you've highlighted. Currently I've got Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey loaded. Precisely for the reason you state and that I wanted to have statistics from a range of top tiers to rely on. And whilst checking the old save files to go and check is helpful, it's also a total ballache having to go back and load the saves to check each time.

Re the tactic - it's a good point and something I've been contemplating. But, similar to the players thing, I'm trying to keep it different by using a system different to what I'd ordinarily use. It's not all that different to a 4-3-3 really, most of it is in my head but it's keeping me happy. I do wonder whether it's hindering me defensively though. I've tried to get round that with some PIs and specific marking requirements but it's not ideal.

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38 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Hello Dan. Thank you for reading and your comment.

I also actively try to avoid all the common players, or players that I've signed before. I just find it a bit more interesting to play, as well as potentially read about.

I've loaded quite a few leagues to try and get round the issue you've highlighted. Currently I've got Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey loaded. Precisely for the reason you state and that I wanted to have statistics from a range of top tiers to rely on. And whilst checking the old save files to go and check is helpful, it's also a total ballache having to go back and load the saves to check each time.

Re the tactic - it's a good point and something I've been contemplating. But, similar to the players thing, I'm trying to keep it different by using a system different to what I'd ordinarily use. It's not all that different to a 4-3-3 really, most of it is in my head but it's keeping me happy. I do wonder whether it's hindering me defensively though. I've tried to get round that with some PIs and specific marking requirements but it's not ideal.

That’s a good range of leagues Shrew, 
Yeah I always try and avoid the same players as previous saves to add variety also helps that each version is a different standard of league for me.

With regards to stats is there anything you’re finding improves with better analysts? 

Haha yeah it’s another 433 but it’s not really. Formations are just a number anyway as you know the roles will soon change how they line up. Also love wing backs  but I’ve struggled this year to get offensive outputs from both at the same time, it’s either one of the other each season 

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24 minutes ago, danielgear said:

That’s a good range of leagues Shrew, 
Yeah I always try and avoid the same players as previous saves to add variety also helps that each version is a different standard of league for me.

With regards to stats is there anything you’re finding improves with better analysts? 

Haha yeah it’s another 433 but it’s not really. Formations are just a number anyway as you know the roles will soon change how they line up. Also love wing backs  but I’ve struggled this year to get offensive outputs from both at the same time, it’s either one of the other each season 

Sadly, I've found the analysts to be utterly pointless. I can't see that they do anything except provide the Analyst's Report - which you can't even ask for specifically, instead it just gets rolled into the request for full scouting. The Analyst's Report then looks something like this one for Nick Pope.

image.thumb.png.d113a637ca4f64d5f55c1efd47c750c2.png

That's just not useful at all. Tackles won ratio for a 'keeper?! 139 clearances makes puts his 68th in the league, but so what? How many per game? Is that good when compared to other 'keepers? And I can get all those stats myself on other screens without having to wait until the scout / analyst report is collated. So, sadly, completely useless.

What would be ideal is if you could ask your Recruitment Analysts to pull together data from a particular shortlist, and request this is provided in the scattergraph format for certain parameters. E.g. request that data is analysed for my 'top targets' shortlist to gauge their suitability as a creative forward and produce scattergraphs for chances created per 90 and key passes per 90, plus shots on target % etc etc. Just anything to make them useful.

In truth, I've found the whole stats thing really frustrating. The inconsistency in statistics, the haphazard way in which stats are recorded (some per 90, some not) and the bizarre way in which they are presented on different screens in such an inconsistent way... it's just made difficult for the player to access the data that's available and I can't understand why they'd chose to do that.

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5 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Sadly, I've found the analysts to be utterly pointless. I can't see that they do anything except provide the Analyst's Report - which you can't even ask for specifically, instead it just gets rolled into the request for full scouting. The Analyst's Report then looks something like this one for Nick Pope.

image.thumb.png.d113a637ca4f64d5f55c1efd47c750c2.png

That's just not useful at all. Tackles won ratio for a 'keeper?! 139 clearances makes puts his 68th in the league, but so what? How many per game? Is that good when compared to other 'keepers? And I can get all those stats myself on other screens without having to wait until the scout / analyst report is collated. So, sadly, completely useless.

What would be ideal is if you could ask your Recruitment Analysts to pull together data from a particular shortlist, and request this is provided in the scattergraph format for certain parameters. E.g. request that data is analysed for my 'top targets' shortlist to gauge their suitability as a creative forward and produce scattergraphs for chances created per 90 and key passes per 90, plus shots on target % etc etc. Just anything to make them useful.

In truth, I've found the whole stats thing really frustrating. The inconsistency in statistics, the haphazard way in which stats are recorded (some per 90, some not) and the bizarre way in which they are presented on different screens in such an inconsistent way... it's just made difficult for the player to access the data that's available and I can't understand why they'd chose to do that.

Oh 100%, this was the biggest issue I found in my Kaiserslautern save a few years back when I went attributeless, they offered nothing, I actually gained more from watching the players play but obviously time consuming and dependant on AI tactics. 

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On 06/01/2022 at 21:30, Shrewnaldo said:

Youth recruitment at the club will be totally ignored. I have already released all the staff from the u-18s team and have, so far unsuccessfully, asked the board to cut back on youth recruitment et al. I can't quite 'do a Brentford' and kill off the newgen intake completely but the plan will be to run with purely a first-team squad of around 25 players by the end of season 2

How are you getting on with this Shrew? Did you manage to get them to cut back on recruitment? 

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3 hours ago, danielgear said:

How are you getting on with this Shrew? Did you manage to get them to cut back on recruitment? 

Sadly not. They are also absolutely delighted with the amount of opportunities I'm giving to academy graduates, which is a little odd

Sadly, because we now have the Premier League money, they just keep saying there's no financial incentive to cut back youth recruitment or junior coaching. I've emptied both the u23s and u18s now so I'm doing what I can. I'll need to check what the infrastructure is costing us next time I'm on

Funnily enough, we've had two good players come through the intakes so far as well. I've stuck them in the senior squad and out on loan but they might end up coming through into the first team regardless of the save idea

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2 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Sadly not. They are also absolutely delighted with the amount of opportunities I'm giving to academy graduates, which is a little odd

Sadly, because we now have the Premier League money, they just keep saying there's no financial incentive to cut back youth recruitment or junior coaching. I've emptied both the u23s and u18s now so I'm doing what I can. I'll need to check what the infrastructure is costing us next time I'm on

Funnily enough, we've had two good players come through the intakes so far as well. I've stuck them in the senior squad and out on loan but they might end up coming through into the first team regardless of the save idea

That’s a shame. Maybe it’s because I’m in Greece but I’ve not had the annual “do you want to enter u19s in league” email this year, have you been getting them and rejecting? 

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2 minutes ago, danielgear said:

That’s a shame. Maybe it’s because I’m in Greece but I’ve not had the annual “do you want to enter u19s in league” email this year, have you been getting them and rejecting? 

Ah yes, I did have that and I dingied it. There were still a handful of friendlies arranged despite not having any players in the squads. But at least we've got rid of that. My squad is now 33 players in total, I think

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2 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Ah yes, I did have that and I dingied it. There were still a handful of friendlies arranged despite not having any players in the squads. But at least we've got rid of that. My squad is now 33 players in total, I think

Hopefully at some point the board will be smart enough to realise the lack of value. 

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Have been bogged down in work and family lately so haven't been keeping up with 'recent' threads but I'm glad I finally looked at this one.  Really interesting in both the recruiting process (love the breakdowns) and the skin that removes the attributes.  The stats element can make my head spin sometimes (not a strong suit of mine) but I love that you have to really dig and and do the work before you sign players.

Especially on the attributes - I've wanted to do a save more like this for a while but...never have made any concrete steps towards making it possible.  I think the colored stars is a really nice way of doing it.  I tend to like to do the 'eye' test in terms of signing players - what do they look like when they play, what kind of success do they have relative to their side and how successful they are - but it's just too tedious to actually watch targets play in games all the time, even if that's what I'd definitely do in real life.  So yeah, I always end up using attributes more than I'd like, though I'm trying to use scout reports/personalities more.

All this is a long way of saying - I'll be following this one.

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18 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Have been bogged down in work and family lately so haven't been keeping up with 'recent' threads but I'm glad I finally looked at this one.  Really interesting in both the recruiting process (love the breakdowns) and the skin that removes the attributes.  The stats element can make my head spin sometimes (not a strong suit of mine) but I love that you have to really dig and and do the work before you sign players.

Especially on the attributes - I've wanted to do a save more like this for a while but...never have made any concrete steps towards making it possible.  I think the colored stars is a really nice way of doing it.  I tend to like to do the 'eye' test in terms of signing players - what do they look like when they play, what kind of success do they have relative to their side and how successful they are - but it's just too tedious to actually watch targets play in games all the time, even if that's what I'd definitely do in real life.  So yeah, I always end up using attributes more than I'd like, though I'm trying to use scout reports/personalities more.

All this is a long way of saying - I'll be following this one.

Hi, thanks for the feedback. Always nice to hear and appreciated.

Similar to you, I'd had the intention to make my recruitment process more stats-focused in a few saves recently but the attributes are just too easy to use and then my own laziness takes over. It's been much slower doing it this way, particularly, as you say, with going back to watch matches from prospective signings. But it's been a lot of fun. I was saying to my boy the other day, even though I lost 22 league games last year, it's been one of the most fun seasons I've had in a long time - just helping to bring back that element of challenge.

I've got my summer recruitment update coming shortly so hopefully it keeps you all interested.

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Summer 2023 business

I really do love player recruitment - that side of squad building is always one of my favourite parts of Football Manager and perhaps even more so this year with the statistical focus, attribute restrictions and structured methods I've put in place for scouting. Those methods have proven to be very effective - particularly in allowing me to move for the chosen targets very, very quickly. With our comparatively low reputation, this is especially helpful in activating release clauses and securing contracts before any bigger clubs come sniffing around.

image.png.59289cf3826b3350cc196027566b9ad1.png

We've also thus far avoided big club attention for any of our own players - the only significant departures being that of Andreas Weimann and Antoine Semenyo, both joining tycoon-owned St Johnstone for a combined £12m. Bizarrely, Liverpool also came in for our back-up Irish 'keeper, taking him for £350k, giving him a £32kpw contract and then sticking him in the reserves.

Hopefully our own recruitment could be much more sensible than that.

Our top three priorities were clear - a 'keeper, a central midfielder and a quick, goal-scoring 10. And we'll start with the most difficult - the 'keeper.

With the restricted attributes view, it's really difficult to identify good goalies in this game. The statistics that are available for pretty minimal and I struggle to trust those that are available. We know, for example, that our own 'keeper topped the "Expected Goals Prevented" charts by a long way in the Championship - but then was so awful in the Premier League that he didn't even make it onto the stats table. Which meant I was very sceptical about the merits of my initial targets, Boro's Joe Lumley and Stoke's Joe Bursik, who topped the same table last season.

image.thumb.png.eeac57f60aeebf5bdada6e73382f3c8c.png

I was also confused how a player with an Expected Save Ratio of 96%, but an Actual Save Ratio of 76% could have such a positive Expected Goals Prevented statistic. Surely by underperforming against the saves he is expected to make, he'd actually prevented fewer goals than would be expected to have been scored?! The logic seems lacking to me.

But then I noticed that no 'keeper, not a single one, comes anywhere near matching his Expected Save Ratio and so I began to wonder if they were actually recorded the wrong way around...

At this point, I very nearly just ignored the stats altogether and went with my gut feel based on players I know. The three relegated 'keepers in particular interested me - Burnley's Nick Pope, Wolves' José Sa and West Brom's Sam Johnstone. In the end, though, I decided to commit to the premise of the save and simply take the hit if it turned out to be a mistake. As such, River's Augusto Batalla, whose stats are unflattering in the above screenshot when he'd played only 3 matches, won out. He'd impressed on loan at San Lorenzo last season (which I could check through the retained save) and went on to some impressive stats for River. At just £1m, it seemed like a cheap gamble worth taking.

Midfield was a much more straightforward proposition, at least in terms of available statistics. I was looking for someone with a combination of defensive stats and creative stats for the withdrawn playmaker role, but what really settled it for me were player traits. Swooping early, we were able to activate Nicolas Seiwald's release clause Red Bull Salzburg. With standout physical attributes, he should be able to run all day - ideal for our midfield three - and that Likes to Switch Ball to Wide Areas trait is absolutely perfect for us. At times, the midfield five can get a little congested and having a player who wants to hit the wingbacks out wide will help us to stretch defences with quick switches. Lovely.

image.png.0aacf54493ab6acdd6c626bcbf116126.png

And then came the search for a 10. Here we were frustrated many times over with our initial targets failing for various reasons. Marcus Edwards, for example, chose to go to Southampton over us, similarly Kelvin Yeboah joined Liverpool only to go into the u23s and be listed for loan... something which tempted me a little. Onurhan Babuscu, who I was particularly keen on, failed to gain a work permit and has subsequently moved to Napoli - just incredibly frustrating. And Ebere Eze, who eventually decided that he wanted to join us for Premier League football, remained stubbornly unobtainable as Palace dug their heels in and wanted more cash than I would happily part with. In the end, though, I'm very happy with our moves.

image.thumb.png.2ae8afaf074e9ab9d679be7f6dfa5ffe.png

First we brought in Reiss Nelson from Arsenal for a little over £23m. There weren't many stats from last season due to a lack of game time at the Emirates, but the preceding season he'd been on loan at Feyenoord and done well - albeit from a wide position rather than the 10 I'm looking to fill. But his scout reports were great and, most importantly, he has that combination of pace, dribbling and finishing that is key to the shadow striker role. And the first game of the season was at Arsenal, so of course...

In the end, though, I didn't settle for just one 10. No. I ended up bringing in three because, well, why not.

1033407715_JuanHernandezstats22-23.png.fe78af9924a6ed5b7d2dd50e719f75c5.png

In the course of my scouting, I'd been to watch Watford a few times - again eyeing up Domingos Quina, who I'd considered so heavily last season. In those games, another player really grabbed the eye and, after adding him into the shortlist funnel, his stats stood out. Comfortably overperforming his xG, hitting the target regularly but also with solid creative stats (>1 key pass / 90, >0.25 chances created per 90). With Semenyo leaving, I also wanted a 10 who could double up as cover for Kalajdzic at 9 and Juan 'Cucho' Hernández fit the bill perfectly - the little Colombian also having obtained an English passport to avoid any work permit headaches.

The last 10 was a player I've never heard of - Oostende's Nick Bätzner. I've been increasingly frustrated by how utterly useless Recruitment Analysts are in FM so I decided that I would go an do their job myself. I started with the Player Search screen and tried to add a series of parameters that suit what I'm looking for. Sadly, this doesn't work because SI have fixed the dropdown options for the stats, rather than offer free text or even just increments which make sense. I mean, who in their right mind thinks that these are sensible gradients for searching for key passes per 90?

image.thumb.png.d4f2a039078c735e1ba2e3d27e58e2be.png

Frustrated by that, I ended up simply trawling through the Player - Detailed stats screens in the top leagues and then asked my scouts to report back on a few selected individuals who appeared across multiple screens for desirable statistics. Surely this is something that you should be able to ask Recruitment Analysts to do? Analyse the data across the top leagues and report back on standout individuals for further investigation? Perhaps in a future FM that'll be possible.

Anyway, for our purposes it let to the signing of Bätzner. Again it was the combination of creative and finishing stats - with the capability to play as both the creative 10 and the running 10 that made my mind up - not to mention those traits, ideal for a shadow striker.

image.png.76bc511e72cb675d1fab97e54b21f4ec.png

With that, our business was almost finished. Jack Butland joined as an additional back-up 'keeper with O'Leary having gone to Liverpool; whilst Willyan Rocha came in as the fourth centre back for just £1.4m - his defensive stats being exceptional and having a Perfectionist personality, one to help mould the squad's personality to suit.

Our entire squad is now made up of just 31 players - the under-23s and under-18s having been jettisoned completely. There are a handful of younger players in the first team squad - including four promising newgens who have come through the academy despite me not having any youth coaches or a Head of Youth Development. The plan is to loan these guys out, along with Zac Bell, the last remaining player from the original Bristol City youth team. Outside of that, it's senior squad players only and I'm really happy with the balance of the side. Our first and second choice teams now looks something like this and, I feel, should be good enough to steer well clear of relegation this season.

image.png.86325f6a2c8d2a4ee6232264268679ce.pngimage.png.fd242e1199432dec5553943be2b61c63.png

Just in case, we've still got £10m in the transfer budget (Prem money is crazy) and can strengthen come January. With any luck, that won't be needed.

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Partly blaming @danielgear here for his insidious question on tactics that's been living in my head rent free for days, partly blaming @_Ben_ for his equally insidious tactical posts and reminding me how much I love a 4-1-4-1 with inverted wingbacks... but I'm seriously considering switching away from the 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' into a 4-1-4-1

In truth, it wouldn't end up being very different in possession at all, more or less reverting to the 2-3-5 sort of attacking shape that a lot of systems prefer. It's primarily defensively where my temptation is coming. Defending in the 4-3-2-1 just leaves so much space in the wide areas and the three centre mids don't react very well to the carrileros being dragged wide. If I retrain my carrileros to become IWB fullbacks, then retrain my attacking wingbacks into playing at MR and ML... it's pretty much the same thing but just with better defensive stability.

Food for thought.

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12 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Partly blaming @danielgear here for his insidious question on tactics that's been living in my head rent free for days, partly blaming @_Ben_ for his equally insidious tactical posts and reminding me how much I love a 4-1-4-1 with inverted wingbacks... but I'm seriously considering switching away from the 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' into a 4-1-4-1

In truth, it wouldn't end up being very different in possession at all, more or less reverting to the 2-3-5 sort of attacking shape that a lot of systems prefer. It's primarily defensively where my temptation is coming. Defending in the 4-3-2-1 just leaves so much space in the wide areas and the three centre mids don't react very well to the carrileros being dragged wide. If I retrain my carrileros to become IWB fullbacks, then retrain my attacking wingbacks into playing at MR and ML... it's pretty much the same thing but just with better defensive stability.

Food for thought.

I love a 4141, slightly different with inverted midfielders rather than defenders but creating a 343/334. It’s one of the most adaptable tactics in the game though. 
Like you say it gives a lot of defensive stability. I do like the look of @_Ben_one though. 

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3 hours ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Summer 2023 business

I really do love player recruitment - that side of squad building is always one of my favourite parts of Football Manager and perhaps even more so this year with the statistical focus, attribute restrictions and structured methods I've put in place for scouting. Those methods have proven to be very effective - particularly in allowing me to move for the chosen targets very, very quickly. With our comparatively low reputation, this is especially helpful in activating release clauses and securing contracts before any bigger clubs come sniffing around.

image.png.59289cf3826b3350cc196027566b9ad1.png

We've also thus far avoided big club attention for any of our own players - the only significant departures being that of Andreas Weimann and Antoine Semenyo, both joining tycoon-owned St Johnstone for a combined £12m. Bizarrely, Liverpool also came in for our back-up Irish 'keeper, taking him for £350k, giving him a £32kpw contract and then sticking him in the reserves.

Hopefully our own recruitment could be much more sensible than that.

Our top three priorities were clear - a 'keeper, a central midfielder and a quick, goal-scoring 10. And we'll start with the most difficult - the 'keeper.

With the restricted attributes view, it's really difficult to identify good goalies in this game. The statistics that are available for pretty minimal and I struggle to trust those that are available. We know, for example, that our own 'keeper topped the "Expected Goals Prevented" charts by a long way in the Championship - but then was so awful in the Premier League that he didn't even make it onto the stats table. Which meant I was very sceptical about the merits of my initial targets, Boro's Joe Lumley and Stoke's Joe Bursik, who topped the same table last season.

image.thumb.png.eeac57f60aeebf5bdada6e73382f3c8c.png

I was also confused how a player with an Expected Save Ratio of 96%, but an Actual Save Ratio of 76% could have such a positive Expected Goals Prevented statistic. Surely by underperforming against the saves he is expected to make, he'd actually prevented fewer goals than would be expected to have been scored?! The logic seems lacking to me.

But then I noticed that no 'keeper, not a single one, comes anywhere near matching his Expected Save Ratio and so I began to wonder if they were actually recorded the wrong way around...

At this point, I very nearly just ignored the stats altogether and went with my gut feel based on players I know. The three relegated 'keepers in particular interested me - Burnley's Nick Pope, Wolves' José Sa and West Brom's Sam Johnstone. In the end, though, I decided to commit to the premise of the save and simply take the hit if it turned out to be a mistake. As such, River's Augusto Batalla, whose stats are unflattering in the above screenshot when he'd played only 3 matches, won out. He'd impressed on loan at San Lorenzo last season (which I could check through the retained save) and went on to some impressive stats for River. At just £1m, it seemed like a cheap gamble worth taking.

Midfield was a much more straightforward proposition, at least in terms of available statistics. I was looking for someone with a combination of defensive stats and creative stats for the withdrawn playmaker role, but what really settled it for me were player traits. Swooping early, we were able to activate Nicolas Seiwald's release clause Red Bull Salzburg. With standout physical attributes, he should be able to run all day - ideal for our midfield three - and that Likes to Switch Ball to Wide Areas trait is absolutely perfect for us. At times, the midfield five can get a little congested and having a player who wants to hit the wingbacks out wide will help us to stretch defences with quick switches. Lovely.

image.png.0aacf54493ab6acdd6c626bcbf116126.png

And then came the search for a 10. Here we were frustrated many times over with our initial targets failing for various reasons. Marcus Edwards, for example, chose to go to Southampton over us, similarly Kelvin Yeboah joined Liverpool only to go into the u23s and be listed for loan... something which tempted me a little. Onurhan Babuscu, who I was particularly keen on, failed to gain a work permit and has subsequently moved to Napoli - just incredibly frustrating. And Ebere Eze, who eventually decided that he wanted to join us for Premier League football, remained stubbornly unobtainable as Palace dug their heels in and wanted more cash than I would happily part with. In the end, though, I'm very happy with our moves.

image.thumb.png.2ae8afaf074e9ab9d679be7f6dfa5ffe.png

First we brought in Reiss Nelson from Arsenal for a little over £23m. There weren't many stats from last season due to a lack of game time at the Emirates, but the preceding season he'd been on loan at Feyenoord and done well - albeit from a wide position rather than the 10 I'm looking to fill. But his scout reports were great and, most importantly, he has that combination of pace, dribbling and finishing that is key to the shadow striker role. And the first game of the season was at Arsenal, so of course...

 

In the end, though, I didn't settle for just one 10. No. I ended up bringing in three because, well, why not.

1033407715_JuanHernandezstats22-23.png.fe78af9924a6ed5b7d2dd50e719f75c5.png

In the course of my scouting, I'd been to watch Watford a few times - again eyeing up Domingos Quina, who I'd considered so heavily last season. In those games, another player really grabbed the eye and, after adding him into the shortlist funnel, his stats stood out. Comfortably overperforming his xG, hitting the target regularly but also with solid creative stats (>1 key pass / 90, >0.25 chances created per 90). With Semenyo leaving, I also wanted a 10 who could double up as cover for Kalajdzic at 9 and Juan 'Cucho' Hernández fit the bill perfectly - the little Colombian also having obtained an English passport to avoid any work permit headaches.

The last 10 was a player I've never heard of - Oostende's Nick Bätzner. I've been increasingly frustrated by how utterly useless Recruitment Analysts are in FM so I decided that I would go an do their job myself. I started with the Player Search screen and tried to add a series of parameters that suit what I'm looking for. Sadly, this doesn't work because SI have fixed the dropdown options for the stats, rather than offer free text or even just increments which make sense. I mean, who in their right mind thinks that these are sensible gradients for searching for key passes per 90?

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Frustrated by that, I ended up simply trawling through the Player - Detailed stats screens in the top leagues and then asked my scouts to report back on a few selected individuals who appeared across multiple screens for desirable statistics. Surely this is something that you should be able to ask Recruitment Analysts to do? Analyse the data across the top leagues and report back on standout individuals for further investigation? Perhaps in a future FM that'll be possible.

Anyway, for our purposes it let to the signing of Bätzner. Again it was the combination of creative and finishing stats - with the capability to play as both the creative 10 and the running 10 that made my mind up - not to mention those traits, ideal for a shadow striker.

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With that, our business was almost finished. Jack Butland joined as an additional back-up 'keeper with O'Leary having gone to Liverpool; whilst Willyan Rocha came in as the fourth centre back for just £1.4m - his defensive stats being exceptional and having a Perfectionist personality, one to help mould the squad's personality to suit.

Our entire squad is now made up of just 31 players - the under-23s and under-18s having been jettisoned completely. There are a handful of younger players in the first team squad - including four promising newgens who have come through the academy despite me not having any youth coaches or a Head of Youth Development. The plan is to loan these guys out, along with Zac Bell, the last remaining player from the original Bristol City youth team. Outside of that, it's senior squad players only and I'm really happy with the balance of the side. Our first and second choice teams now looks something like this and, I feel, should be good enough to steer well clear of relegation this season.

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Just in case, we've still got £10m in the transfer budget (Prem money is crazy) and can strengthen come January. With any luck, that won't be needed.

How’s Alex Scott looking? Do you think long term he’s a viable premier league starter for you? 

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23 minutes ago, danielgear said:

I love a 4141, slightly different with inverted midfielders rather than defenders but creating a 343/334. It’s one of the most adaptable tactics in the game though. 
Like you say it gives a lot of defensive stability. I do like the look of @_Ben_one though. 

I really like CM(A)s and mezzalas this year and that'd really work well in a 4-1-4-1 where the wide midfielders stay wide and the IWBs provide the central stability. Like you say, such a versatile system and quickly adaptable to in-game circumstances. I was also thinking that it would give me scope to use the dribbles/90 statistics more in recruitment. Bit easier to use stats for those players than the carrileros...

Also a fan of Ben's system, but personally I'm not too keen on the Half Back. I decided to use the Carabao Cup to give this a quick shot - albeit only against Crawley - and used a regista at DM to provide the central drive. Really worked well. Definitely food for thought.

 

11 minutes ago, danielgear said:

How’s Alex Scott looking? Do you think long term he’s a viable premier league starter for you? 

He's definitely got potential. After his loan last year, he's getting first team cup starts and sub appearances for me this year. I've been using him mostly as a shadow striker but he'd fit in well with the 4-1-4-1 at mezzala too. Ignore the valuation, it's insane, but he's starting to look very handy indeed

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10 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Also a fan of Ben's system, but personally I'm not too keen on the Half Back

I normally stayed away from a half back but after reading Ben’s thread it gave me food for thought. 
Mainly as a starting point for games where I’m a massive underdog it would help provide defensive cover as my wing backs push on forming a back 3 to help stop the inevitable counter attacks from the opposition. 
Also with the right player traits he can take the ball under pressure before helping build the transition as the wing backs look to get forward to increase the numbers in the midfield. 
It’s something I want to look at going forward. 
 

:eek: Alex Scott’s transfer value!!
Young and English I suppose, His attributes look to be trending in the right direction too. Have you thought about any traits for him? 

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19 minutes ago, danielgear said:

I normally stayed away from a half back but after reading Ben’s thread it gave me food for thought. 
Mainly as a starting point for games where I’m a massive underdog it would help provide defensive cover as my wing backs push on forming a back 3 to help stop the inevitable counter attacks from the opposition. 
Also with the right player traits he can take the ball under pressure before helping build the transition as the wing backs look to get forward to increase the numbers in the midfield. 
It’s something I want to look at going forward. 
 

:eek: Alex Scott’s transfer value!!
Young and English I suppose, His attributes look to be trending in the right direction too. Have you thought about any traits for him? 

Funnily enough, I was just thinking about traits - primarily because I was thinking about sticking him in a mentoring group. Whether in the 4-3-2-1 or a 4-1-4-1, he's going to be a midfield runner / goalscoring midfielder so suitable traits like "Gets Into Opposition Area" are going to be first on my list.

I just went with the 4-1-4-1 in a league game and absolutely battered Brentford 2-0 - the second a Reiss Nelson tap-in after Scott's shot from distance was parried, and this was the first.

 

Lovely finish from Scott, but the amount of room created by Kalajdzic dropping off for the one-two is mad. Pretty much had three runners going to exploit the same gap.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Shrewnaldo said:

Lovely finish from Scott, but the amount of room created by Kalajdzic dropping off for the one-two is mad. Pretty much had three runners going to exploit the same gap.

 

 

I’d say that was the most pleasing aspect, Whilst Kalajdzic took the “best” passing option he had a pick of 4 that could have all led to a goal due to the runners. 

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Looks like some decent additions to your shrinking squad. Going to be interesting to see your next intake, if there is one.

How has Nicolas Seiwend settled in?

Liverpool might have taken O’Lery because he’s a cheap British squad player.

Have you settled on a tactic yet?

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8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Looks like some decent additions to your shrinking squad. Going to be interesting to see your next intake, if there is one.

How has Nicolas Seiwend settled in?

Liverpool might have taken O’Lery because he’s a cheap British squad player.

Have you settled on a tactic yet?

Seiwald has been good. He is intermittently considered the 'key player' at the club, the AI usually switching between him and Smalling at random. He also scored an absolute belter of a free-kick against Brighton to win us the game. Harry Wilson would usually be on set piece duty but, having gone off, Seiwald was auto-selected so good to know that he's got that in his locker.

Aye, O'Leary has an English passport so likely to be the reason - for much the same reason we went and picked up Butland.

Very, very tempted to go for the 4-1-4-1. Assessing the squad and how it would fit, it definitely works:

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It really isn't that different from the 4-3-2-1, it only really affects how we defend and 4-1-4-1 is much, much more reliable than the 4-3-2-1 on that score. Once we have the ball, both just morph into a very similar 2-3-5 shape - the 4-1-4-1 having the added advantage of the IWBs sitting slightly wider than the carrileros. For example, here against Brighton using the 4-3-2-1, our average positions with the ball:

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Ignore the two 10s - I swapped their sides throughout the game and it ends up looking like that on the average positions map.

And then against Bournemouth using the 4-1-4-1

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Again, ignore the 7 (Reiss Nelson) - he went to play left wing in the second half so his position is skewed slightly. Nevertheless, you can see the absolute similarities. In the 4-3-2-1, the wingbacks are the widest players in the attacking 5, it's the wingers in the 4-1-4-1 - with the added advantage that they seem to sit higher up the park. Similarly, in the 4-3-2-1, it's the carrileros who are the widest of the central 3, in the 4-1-4-1 it becomes the IWBs. I've always liked this change because it means that your fullbacks have much less distance to cover in order to recover defensive shape in transition - moving from centre mid to fullback. The idea originally occurred to me way back in 2014 (A tactical vision to re-ignite my joy of FM | FM Veteran (wordpress.com) and https://footballmanagerveteran.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/fm15-time-to-revisit-the-tactical-vision-that-failed/) but at that time looking to create a 3-3-4 shape in attack. Reading Ben's thread has really re-ignited the idea in my head... So I think I'm going to go with it.

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Really interesting going with IWBs over carilleros. Really like the shape and seems like you’re getting the play you want.  Funny how sometimes you have to change your “shape” to put players in the roles that end up giving you the shape you actually want. Had the same thing with my Portsmouth save - want a 3-4-3 but get a better version now running a 3-5-2 with two mezzalas. Have you retrained the CMs, are they both decent in those positions, or are you just doing it despite the games’ horror that you’d play people out of position? 

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Great summer recruitment albeit a frustrating one. Like the ideas behind the tactics. Why don’t you use both systems. The offer lots of similar things but enough. Variation to cause the AI problems. 

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15 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Great summer recruitment albeit a frustrating one. Like the ideas behind the tactics. Why don’t you use both systems. The offer lots of similar things but enough. Variation to cause the AI problems. 

Aye, that's probably what I'll settle on. I've been giving the 4-1-4-1 a proper run and it's working out great against bigger sides - certainly cutting down on our defensive woes and even brought about a 2-1 victory at Anfield

Downside is that it's a bit toothless against weaker sides. We struggled to a draw with Blackburn and went 2-0 down to Stoke before recovering to win. Post-Xmas, I'll be switching back to the 4-3-2-1 against teams where I'd expect us to win. Still not a lot of those games but missing out on those easier points will really hurt us.

As it is, we're well clear of relegation so can now have a "free hit" at preparing for future seasons

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