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Can FM accurately aid in predicting real-life football matches? An experiment..

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Afternoon all.

The purpose of this exercise is to establish how accurate and useful a tool Football Manager 2013 is when betting on real-life football matches.

I have had an (un)healthy interest in both FM and betting for a number of years now but have found it too tempting to chase losses, follow my heart rather than my head, and generally bet illogically.

Being by far the most developed football management game ever created, Football Manager 2013 may therefore provide an edge. I will first state, not for the last time, that this is a simulation exercise only and at no point would I advise any money is staked on the suggestions made. Gambling can become a serious addiction and a strain on many aspects of your life and whilst there are a number of organisations available for help (www.gambleaware.co.uk/ is one) the ease and availability of betting websites means your gambling can easily spiral out of control.

There are a number of factors in this experiment that I can control. I shall be taking over as manager for the two teams that are playing each other in real life. I will be reading local and national news sources to pick the probable starting XI for each side, and in the typical formation which they play in. I cannot control the weather, injuries, morale or form – all of which can have a real impact upon the final outcome of a football match. In order to make the matches playable, they shall be set up as friendly matches – therefore I cannot control other factors such as the real-life team needing points to win the league, avoid relegation, get into Europe, etc. It is for the above reasons, and others, that I re-iterate this is a simulation exercise only.

I am aware of similar experiments being run in the past, with varying levels of success. I am not looking to have a 100% record or even a 50% record, as this would be totally inconceivable bearing in mind, after all, this is only a computer game (sorry..). What I hope to achieve is finding out whether or not the most information-heavy simulation game on the market can give us an insight into real-life events.

For the record – I shall be trying my hand across a number of European leagues, from top to bottom – if the league is playable in Football Manager 2013 then it is valid for this experiment. This will be more achievable with some leagues than others – for myself, it is much easier to find team line-ups and formations on the English leagues, as opposed to the Slovakian league. But, I’ll give it a go.. I shall select my team line-ups and formations and then leave the Opposition Instructions and Team Talks to my assistant (who shall be the assistant in real-life too). Each game shall be played just once, to simulate the random aspect of both real-life and FM. I shall then review the outcome and advise on my thoughts for the real-life match – which may involve the first goalscorer, final score, half time/full time result, number of corners, whether there was a penalty/red-card etc.

For example, Team A beat Team B 3-1, having been level 1-1 at half time. The first goal was scored by Player X and there was a late sending off for Team B.

As stated, I am not using real money for this, but instead will have an imaginary bank of 100 Units. My thoughts would therefore be:

Team A to win @ 2/1 – 10 Units

Player X to score first @ 7/1 – 5 Units

Draw HT/Team A FT @ 7/4 – 4 Units

Penalty awarded @ 3/1 – 1 Unit

This should help me to keep track of how the exercise is performing overall, and areas for improvement.

I am aiming to simulate one game a day to start off with, increasing as I improve the whole thing and become more confident. Today’s game shall be the televised League Two encounter between Gillingham and Wycombe Wanderers. Thoughts for the game shall be posted before kick-off.

Of course, I would love to hear any suggestions or ideas you all have, and hope you look forward to seeing how we get on.

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The game can never simulate the matches completely as there are too many variables . it will only be able to give a rough guess which is the same as what you could do anyway looking at league tables and match history

Manager ( sackings and new managers )

Players ( Injuries , loans , confidence , substitutions , picked or not picked )

Getting the game to play to the exact same formation and style (with the correct injuries and changes at the same time as the real match

Refereeing decisions

Weather Conditions

State of the pitch

There are far too many variables and the player data can never be 100% accurate on player statistics

To show this look at previous FM games and look how often Wolves became a top team in those versions quite quickly whereas for real they got relegated last season

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This could be very interesting. I'm imagining the results will be very mixed, and the conclusions will either be "Don't do it" or "Maybe do it, maybe not", but it will certainly be an interesting experiment to try out.

One other facet would be the "shock" factor. Would real life end up being "more shocking" than FM? That is, are there more results that upset the odds? I would wager that FM may produce more consistent results, but again that would be interesting to see.

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EA likes to make predictions with their own engine, such as with the NHL series. They predict the outcome of different games during weekends, and predicted the last Stanley Cup. They all do it for fun. The FM engine is more advanced IMO, so I don't see any problem with that!

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Bobble2002 - I agree completely, as mentioned in my opening statement there are a number of variables which I cannot control, but this should give an idea of how a game should play out 'on paper' - whilst definitely recognising many games do not play out as they 'should'.

forameuss - Thanks for the input. Hope you check back to see how we get on.

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Ollep7 - I had EA in mind whilst considering doing this, they have mixed results, some are alarmingly accurate however this could easily be attributed to luck rather than judgement - but we'll see!

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I agree that there are too many variables, but never the less, this is an interesting and exciting experiment.

I will follow it closely, but keeping my money tight.:D

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Open question - do you think just recreating the game once is suitable, or should it be done multiple times? Part of me thinks that playing a game through 2 or 3 times may be worthwhile, as if the same outcome happens each time (e.g. home win) then arguably that re-enforces the tip to back that.

However I then think that if it is done 3 times and an average taken from that, it doesn't serve much purpose - after all the average of three random events doesn't give much more insight as it's still just as random.

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Match One: Gillingham vs Wycombe Wanderers

FM result: Gillingham 1 (Deon Burton 17), Wycombe 1 (Jo Kuffour 9)

Thoughts for real-life game -

Draw - 1 Unit @ 4.33

Correct score 1-1 - 1 Unit @ 7.50

Draw HT/Draw FT - 1 Unit @ 6.50

Jo Kuffour first goalscorer - 1 Unit @ 13.00

All odds are from bet365.

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Sorry but this is ridiculous. Players morale plays a big factor in real life and you cannot replicate the players morale within FM as what it is in real life. Also, why use FM to use as a prediction when you could use the past history between the two clubs? (Even this is not to be taken literally because there is simply too many variables in a real life football match that make each match one of a kind and cannot be replicated.

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nonleague - ridiculous it may be to you, but let's be honest, when you really think about it dedicating the amount of hours and days to a computer game is equally as ridiculous! Personally I'd argue this method could be more fruitful - we'll see.

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don't think so, 3 seasons in Villa got to the champions league, Everton got relegated, Millwall and Derby got promoted Colchester are mid table League 1, Stockport County got to League 1 etc.

won't happen.

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nonleague - ridiculous it may be to you, but let's be honest, when you really think about it dedicating the amount of hours and days to a computer game is equally as ridiculous! Personally I'd argue this method could be more fruitful - we'll see.

As someone who has bet on football for many years I'm talking from experience. Wish you all the best with your quest but please, do not bet any money on this test until you have tested it sufficiently. Good luck.

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This is a totally different discussion to have but the majority of the events you mention above are, theoretically possible.

Over the course of a season, FM may have some odd occurences but over a single match, it could be more realistic.

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As someone who has bet on football for many years I'm talking from experience. Wish you all the best with your quest but please, do not bet any money on this test until you have tested it sufficiently. Good luck.

That's fair enough - I've been betting on football for over 10 years now so have plenty of experience.

I won't be betting any money on the outcomes, no matter how successful, this is simply an experiment.

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This is a totally different discussion to have but the majority of the events you mention above are, theoretically possible.

Over the course of a season, FM may have some odd occurences but over a single match, it could be more realistic.

You also have to compensate for form. This again cannot be replicated in FM to be exact of that in real life.

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You also have to compensate for form. This again cannot be replicated in FM to be exact of that in real life.

As mentioned in my first post.. "I cannot control the weather, injuries, morale or form – all of which can have a real impact upon the final outcome of a football match." :)

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As mentioned in my first post.. "I cannot control the weather, injuries, morale or form – all of which can have a real impact upon the final outcome of a football match." :)

Hence why I stated that this experiment is kind of pointless.

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Hence why I stated that this experiment is kind of pointless.

I am not forcing anyone to read this thread, or place bets on what FM comes up with. Thanks for your previous input but at the end of the day if you don't think it can work, or are just looking to find holes in it, please feel free not to follow it.

roykela - thanks :)

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I've done the same in the past, just for myself.

Mostly only with Arsenal, before the match started. Ages ago now though. Probably when it still was Championship Manager.

But it was fun.

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You should use FMRTE to change players morale based on their recent games, for example, if Team A is on a 4 match win streak in real life, you should set their players to good/very good/superb with the same applying if a team is in a bad run of form with their morale should be poor/very poor.

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That's a decent idea jcoll. Unfortunately even if a player has won their last 4 games they can still have poor morale and vice versa.. but it's something I'll look into depending on how these first few tries go. Thanks for your input :)

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That's a decent idea jcoll. Unfortunately even if a player has won their last 4 games they can still have poor morale and vice versa.. but it's something I'll look into depending on how these first few tries go. Thanks for your input :)

I agree but if you want to go into detail you could look at the players individually on their recent performances and using morale as a measure of how good their performances have been. Obviously this won't be true in real life but I think it will reflect the players current form on FM very well as morale is a big factor in FM terms.

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SI did this prior to World Cup 2006 themselves, which was then compared to EA's prediction with FIFA World Cup 2006, the official game for the FIFA WC 2006.

Only could find a German article: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/tech/wm-simulationen-sogar-ronaldos-heimweh-wird-berechnet-a-421548.html Each run obviously can produce very different results, but the latest prior to this article predicted Germany-France and England-Italy to be the semi finals, not too shabby.

I wish there was a simple way to predict the outcome of matches via FM, like picking two teams from the starting menu and then each manager and team having a go at each other. Yes, it's only "fun", but as FM is the only sports sim that simulates football all the way through rather than in one-way actionish ways such as FIFA and PES, it's arguably the most advanced computer sim of the sports, in a commercial video game anyways.

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I'll follow this thread with intrest. Not because I'm expecting results to be accurate, but it's a bit of fun. Good luck with it. Your Gillingham Wycome prediction was only a goal out.

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I'll follow this thread with intrest. Not because I'm expecting results to be accurate, but it's a bit of fun. Good luck with it. Your Gillingham Wycome prediction was only a goal out.

Yes this thread is fun to see how it compares but it's madness to actually bet money according to the FM results. Oh and a goal out is still a loss, regardless.

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I wouldn't take much notice of FM. Galatasaray won the champions league in the first season in my current save.

It's not very realistic.

Drogba and Wes their now may not be too unrealistic IRL ;)

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Just because of this i was keeping an eye on that game :D

Was really hoping for an equalizer there.

Close call though.

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Indeed, a close call. If Gillingham had found an equaliser, or had shut Wycombe out, then the draw and draw/draw ht/ft predictions would've been successful, with the 1-1 scoreline almost happening. Jo Kuffour also had a number of chances - so, overall and despite not landing any of the predictions, I think it was a reasonably good start.

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I wouldn't take much notice of FM. Galatasaray won the champions league in the first season in my current save.

It's not very realistic.

How about a 4th tier side in England reaching the league cup final, is that realistic?

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If it were me, I'd probably try to predict the result first, then play it out in FM and then wait for the real life result. Then compare my performance against FM to see who is better at predicting the real life results.

No money involved of course.

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Starting bank: 100 Units

Current bank: 96 Units

Matches played: 1

Correct outcomes: 0/4

Match Two: Cheltenham vs Bristol Rovers

FM result: Cheltenham 2 (Elliott 9, Penn 40) - Bristol Rovers 0

Thoughts for real-life game -

Cheltenham win - 3 Units @ 2.00

Correct score 2-0 - 1 Unit @ 10.00

Cheltenham HT/Cheltenham FT - 2 Units @ 3.10

Steve Elliott first goalscorer - 1 Unit @ 29.00

All odds are from bet365.

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Do you edit the squads as well so they're up to date?

If you do; do you update injuries and so?

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Yes, I use an updated database with all current squads.

I read match previews and club forums for injury/suspension news and update this accordingly, also looking at predicted starting XI's, starting XI's in last fixtures, etc.

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I wouldn't take much notice of FM. Galatasaray won the champions league in the first season in my current save.

It's not very realistic.

At the start of the season you probably would've said Bradford could never make the COC final (as mentioned), Villa would be 19th, Wolves 21st, or Luton would beat a Premiership side away from home. It's a funny old game.

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Yes, I use an updated database with all current squads.

I read match previews and club forums for injury/suspension news and update this accordingly, also looking at predicted starting XI's, starting XI's in last fixtures, etc.

Awesome stuff :thup:

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"Everton signed a deal to use the FM database to scout players and opponents." :eek:

Madness when you think all they had to do was purchase the game and use it in the same way that we are allowed.

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Thank you for taking the time to come back and post.. but really, if you've got nothing worthwhile to say then you don't have to post anything buddy :)

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