FM15: Selling our best player to our main rivals

.. okay, not quite.

Following a successful 18 months at Southampton, I suggested that if a decent offer came in for me to move elsewhere, I’d accept it. Well Joachim Loew had just won the EUROs with Germany, and felt enough was enough, resigning following his second successive major tournament win. The man to replace him: Jurgen Klopp.

When Dortmund come calling, you don’t say no. I don’t usually like managing an already large club on FM, but it’s slightly different when you don’t just drop yourself in there at the start. Maybe that’s just me.

First order of business was to put Marco Reus on the transfer market. And when the £41.5m bid came in from Bayern Munich, to accept it. There’s method to the madness. Hear me out.

Having being inspired by Cleon’s post on focussing on attributes over position (here: http://sisportscentre.com/meet-the-deep-lying-forward/), I decided I’d analyse the Dortmund squad and see if FM & my own eyes were misleading me in what I thought of each player.

So I set up an Excel spreadsheet, and plugged each player’s attributes in. Then I simply took the average of all the attributes for each specific role, and this gave me a player’s ‘rating’ in each role. I then did some mathsy stuff to allow me to compare each rating (because it’s a lot easier to get a good rating on a 7-attribute role than a 22-attribute role), et voila; out of 10 ratings for each player for each role. This sort of thing is never perfect for analysing players but it gave me different perspectives on a number of players.

– Sven Bender is a tremendously good defensive player. He rated as the best player in the squad when in his preferred roles. The spreadsheet also told me he’d make a marvellous defensive forward — something to consider when Bayern come to town.

– Newish signing Max Kruse, who scores goals for fun for Gladbach in real life, is a wonderfully gifted deep-lying playmaker. Who knew? There were a few other

– Alongside Bender, Shinji Kagawa and Ilkay Gundogan are the men to build the team around. Kagawa is primarily an AP-A, meaning a switch from my beloved 4-2-2-2 to a deep 4-2-3-1 may be in order. Gundogan should fulfil the Schneiderlin role well, with a touch more elegance on the ball.

– Marco Reus. Whilst versatile, he’s not my best player in any of the roles. His best role, so Excel tells me, is as a Poacher. We don’t play with a poacher, but not a problem, what’s his second best role? IF-S. Oh, um, we won’t use that either. IF-A? Nope. SS-A? Nope. T-A? Nope. You get the gist.
Even if we did use these roles, there are players who are superior in each one. In FM, it appears Reus is a jack of all trades, master of none. I’m sure Bayern will get some excellent football out of hi, but £41.5m? Yes please.
It was a big sale so the last thing I did before confirming was check his 2015-16 radar.

Yep, goner.

The Reus money should give the club coffers a much needed boost; with the transfer budget to move from ~£20m to ~£60m. But where do we need to spend?

The main area we’re seriously lacking is full-backs. Durm, Schmelzer, Piszczek and Großkreutz are the options. Via my Excel calculations, Durm is the worst player in the squad, and Schmelzer and Piszczek aren’t far behind. Großkreutz is a really good player, and can play a number of roles, but he’s most effective much further up the field in a high pressing system.

So in reality we’ve got no good full-backs. Definitely need to spend some money there.

Elsewhere, we look good.

Up front, we’ve got players who can drop deep (Walter, Max Kruse), and those who like to play closer to goal (Ciro Immobile). Another player who I quite like in real life but who came out poorly in the Excel squad comparison is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, so he’s gone.

The base of midfield houses Gundogan and Bender; much like at Southampton where the Schneiderlin/Wanyama pivot laid the foundations for our success, two of our best players are in CM/DM. Milos Jojic represents a good value backup for Gundogan, as well as Max Kruse being an excellent option. If Bender is unavailable for whatever reason, I’ll be looking to use Sokratis at the base of the midfield.

Then we have a couple of handy midfield options. Mkhitaryan, Kagawa, Großkreutz, and Douglas Costa all represent versatile, good quality options. Jonas Hoffman is a reasonable player, but at an FM value of £9m, could bring in some decent transfer funds.

Next update will highlight the Summer’s activity and how/why certain players were signed or sold. I’ve joined the club in late July, so don’t really have a pre-season to operate in, but I’ll do my best.

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14 comments

  1. Tim

    Really interesting post! I use a similar spreadsheet, but I’m curious what your “mathsy” things are to account for roles with more attributes.

    • 13s

      It’s pretty basic stuff.

      Essentially my logic is that you can’t compare the values for a specialist role like Limited Defender against a much more ‘fluid’ role like Box to Box midfielder.

      So what I did is re-set the squad mean and standard deviation to 6 and 1 respectively. Previously, the results had various means and SDs so you couldn’t really compare them. I still think it’s difficult to compare, but with equal mean and SDs, it’s certainly closer to a true comparison than it was previously.

  2. PeeDub

    Good stuff! If you wanted to thumbnail the “mathsy stuff” I’d be very interested. I’ve done something similar, so I would love to see a similar approach.

  3. Philip

    I’d definitely be interested in a more detailed, blow-by-blow account of your “mathsy stuff”. That’s the kind of assistance my FM playing needs!

  4. neuroticFM

    Not quite sure how you have mad a detailed simulation game more detailed! Guys like you & Cleon are opening the game up to such individualism, it’s brilliant.

  5. Shrewnaldo

    Interesting stuff, as always. Couple of questions really, stemming from this quote:

    “So I set up an Excel spreadsheet, and plugged each player’s attributes in. Then I simply took the average of all the attributes for each specific role”

    When you say “the attributes for each specific role”, do you mean the attributes that the game suggests are valid for each role or your own view on the attributes?

    As you read in my own update, I tried to look at the stats for a season’s worth of play to see what actions the players were actually carrying out. So whilst the game may not think that it’s a valid attribute for a particular role, if a player is, in “reality”, attempting 8 headers a game then I should really be looking at jumping and heading for this role.

    I guess this goes hand-in-hand with your radars approach but just wondered which focus you’d taken with that quote.

    • 13s

      Yes, for now it’s the attributes the game suggests. This is a rather time-consuming process so adding another element wasn’t top of my agenda. As you say, though, the game isn’t right in what it suggests.

      I’ve definitely got plans to do this. Assuming I don’t get the sack, Dortmund will be a medium/long-term destination for me, so I’ve got something of a tactical vision for my time here. As I get more clarity on that vision and actually have the players to implement it (usually around 18 months in), it’ll be far easier to tell what I’m looking for. Right now, I’m just using it as a basis and fitting players in. I’ll be doing another post on this soonish which mentions how quickly I play the first season of a new club (after a very slow pre-season), largely because I don’t like playing with a team that isn’t mine. I don’t know if that makes sense but fitting players into my tactical vision isn’t the thing I enjoy about FM — intertwining player development & tactical visions and reaping the long-term rewards is the thing I really enjoy.

      In short; yes, you’re right. Coming soon. 😉

  6. fivestarpotential

    Love these updates, and the radars. Quick question, how do you export all of the players from all league’s data into one excel document? Do you do it all separately at the end of the season?

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