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  • Writer's pictureFMBhikkhu

"A Data Revolution" - Vaya Con Dios, FM23

May 18th, 2023




It's been about 6 months in-game since I introduced our 4-4-2 diamond system. After a difficult start (kicking off the season away at Barcelona is never fun) we seem to be settling well into the new tactic. Club improvements continue, players come and go, and Compostela are well on their way to becoming a known name in European football. This is a mid-season update post, so naturally will be slightly shorter. I've been taking a bit more time to improve my knowledge of data, and to implement it into how I'm playing the save. Perhaps 'Data Revolution' is exaggerating, although it is something I've been using with increased prevalence as our transfer expenditure increases. This has been assisted by FM Stag's excellent new player performance calculator, helping me in choosing between targets when tapping up the Eastern European and South American goldmines of talent.


The Season So Far

We entered the mid-season break off the back of a very shaky Copa Del Rey victory against 4th division side Mieres Deportivo. They dragged us to extra time, and our saving grace came in the form of Kamel Badaoui who rounded out his hat-trick in the 96th minute. Compostela ultimately came out on top in a 4-3 win, escaping a potentially very embarrassing result.

That game reflects our league form heading into the break pretty nicely. As the squad celebrate Christmas 2027, we're currently occupying 8th place in the league. That's a position I'm very happy with and will be thrilled if we can battle for European spots come the end of the season. I've stuck fairly rigidly to our 4-4-2 diamond shape, and so far it seems to be effective. As it stands, Compostela are undefeated at home this season, which is impressive given our stature. I've pulled up some of our metrics to show how we're performing:

  • xG Table: 19th - 18.4 xG

  • Average Possession: 19th - 40%

  • xG Against: 20th - 33.08

  • League Goals: 8th - 22

  • Headers Won: 1st - 780

  • Goals Conceded: 9th - 22

  • Conversion Rate: 3rd - 13%

Its clear that we invite a lot of pressure. In fact, we invite the highest number of expected goals against in the league. We have essentially conceded 11 less goals than we should have done. Plenty of teams play us and take upwards of 20 shots against us. However, the low block restricts many of these to coming from outside of the box, forcing the opposition into speculative long shots which they're less likely to score. A lot of this can also be accounted for by the excellent form of our new star keeper Rafaël Ianc, who has been even better than I expected. He's on the list of players who could meet our objective of nurturing a wonderkid to international acclaim.

The title of current top scorer goes to last year's winner Felix Afena-Gyan, who has 7 league goals at the time of the winter break. It's difficult to prove without the stats to compare but he looks to be a bit more comfortable when presented with chances and less likely to rocket the ball into the stands. He still gets booked too much, and he still gets caught offside too much, but I think he's improved. His goal tally is closely followed by someone I didn't expect - Ratko Vojvodic. I was slightly perturbed when he was sent off 8 minutes into his debut against Barcelona, but since then he's really hit the ground running for us. As for his stats, he's recorded 2.18 dribbles per 90, so isn't phased about taking on defenders. Annoyingly, he picked up a 4 week injury at the end of November but hopefully he'll continue his good start in the latter half of the season.


Deadline Day (And Slightly Before) Signings

I hinted in the last post that a few more signings might be on the way before the end of the window, and indeed they were. Three more players joined in the late stages of the window to round out our transfer activity for the year.

First up was the loan signing of Enzo Loidice from RB Leipzig, with an optional future fee of €2.6M. I wanted a player who would fit the Carrilero role better than our other options, and after a few failed attempts for other players I opted to sign Enzo for a loan fee of €205k. He's used to playing in Spain having spent 4 seasons at Las Palmas previously. He's spent his last two years on loan at Boavista and FC Metz, and made 29 appearances for both. It was that experience, and his good performance at those top division clubs that led to me picking him. He's started in all but two games for us this season and is fast becoming a permanent choice on the team sheet. He's probably a better playmaker than a carrilero due to his lower work-rate, but he's competent enough. He's also a player who can receive the ball under pressure and make the right decision on releasing it which is important for that role in our system.

With Hugo Bueno departing to Las Palmas, and David De La Vibora being somewhat disappointing, a new first-choice left back was a priority. I missed out on top target Dimitris Giannoulis to Torino, and another first choice - Josh Tymon - was out of our price range. I had set a recruitment focus to find the right player, and one of the highest rated reports was Girona's Miguel Gutiérrez. Homegrown players aren't required in La Liga, but its nice to keep a Spanish flavour to the squad. I would've liked a player with a higher work-rate and stamina, but you can't have it all. Despite that, I can't find many other faults with Miguel (except perhaps that he doesn't enjoy big matches) and I'm happy to have picked him up for just €3.2M. He's put up some impressive performances so far, making 2.75 tackles per 90, 22.89 sprints per 90, and 4.36 progressive passes per 90.

Lastly, our only actual deadline day signing. Pontus Dahlberg had become disgruntled at the signing of Rafaël Ianc, worried about being replaced. In fairness, he had every right to worry, as I was completely set on Ianc being our starting keeper. I'm thankful that he put some good performances in last year, as it led to interest being shown in him and when Torino made an offer of €3M I couldn't turn them down. With Carlo Francis going out on loan, that left just Saban Kolic and Ianc as our only senior goalkeepers. Christian Joel Sánchez had been on my radar for some time (even back when I was managing in Leipzig) and was available for €800k from Levante. I can't imagine he'll play unless Ianc is injured, but he's a capable backup. Also, he's Cuban, which is awesome. I can't imagine Christian will play much, but I won't be too worried if he has to.


Data-Guided Scouting

Heading into the winter break, there aren't many areas of the squad that I think need urgent improvement. However, I have been selecting a few players from my recruitment focusses that I might look to buy if other clubs are showing an interest. I've wanted to implement the use of data into my football manager games for some time, but I've never really got into it as much as I would've liked. So, I've decided to change my approach a little bit. Rather than being 'data-led' I've opted to take a 'data-supplemented' approach for now.

What I mean by this is I will select players that I like the look of (taking into account attributes, personality, traits etc.) and then comparing them to other potential signings by taking a look at their statistics. I've selected a couple of players that I've been taking this approach with to show how I've been identifying targets. These players are potential replacements for Peru Ruiz in the deep-lying forward role, or as an attacking midfielder in our diamond shape. Whether I'll actually sign any of them is uncertain, but I wanted to outline how I'll be deciding between different targets as we move forward.

  1. Sebastián Roldán

In the process of writing this post, Roldán was actually signed by Boca. I knew they were interested, but should've noticed the Argentinian transfer window was open - they triggered his release clause and signed him the day after. I'm annoyed to have missed out on signing him, as I think he could be the perfect long-term option for the deeper half of our front two. Still, I'll be keeping him on my radar, as some of his statistics look promising:

  • Pass Completion: 85%

  • Dribbles per 90: 4.74

  • Open play key passes per 90: 1.18

  • xA per 90: 0.25

  • Conversion Rate: 25%

2. Zoran Ristić

Besides potentially serving up some lovely Serbian link-up with Ratko Vojvodic, Ristić could be a decent alternative to Roldán if the need for another supporting striker arises. I would also be quite happy to play him behind the two strikers as a number 10, and he's putting up some decent numbers to back up my interest:

  • Open Play Key Passes per 90: 1.30

  • Progressive Passes per 90: 2.04

  • Shots On Target per 90: 0.81

3. Manuel Ossa

More of an out-and-out striker than the other two, Ossa's creative statistics aren't much to write home about. However, if I wanted a more clinical young finisher, he might be a good option. In an annoyingly similar manner to Roldán, Ossa has been snatched up by Arsenal and will likely be unavailable unless his time there doesn't go well. His striking numbers in Colombia were excellent:

  • xG overperformance: 6.95

  • NPxG per 90: 0.30

  • Shots On Target per 90: 1.66

  • Conversion Rate: 19.35%

So two out of the three targets I identified have been snatched up before I had a chance. That's naturally quite annoying, but it does prove that this approach could work. If Boca and Arsenal are signing my targets, it shows we're taking interest in the right players.


So, a long way to go to achieving our targets, but we're on track. I'm hoping we can maintain a bit of form and clinch a European spot this year, as that could potentially cement our status as a top-flight club and provide a platform to start challenging the juggernauts of Madrid and Barcelona. I'm expecting my blogging output to decrease over the next month or so, as I'm in the middle of moving cities which is taking up a lot of my time. I'm also fairly sure I've picked my team for next year already, which gives me plenty of time to prepare some #creativeFM blog posts which is something I've planned for a while but just couldn't quite get right. I'm also looking at moving the site over to a different provider at some point, perhaps Wordpress, and taking the whole blogging thing a bit more seriously. Watch this space, anyway.

As always, thanks for reading! And if you don't already, I'd suggest following my Twitter to keep up to date on the save.


Patrick - FM Bhikkhu

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