New Kidd on the block

Dictate the Game’s newest writer is kicking us off with a data analysis breakdown. Since FM 17, data analysts have played an increasingly bigger role in the game. In Football Manager 20, data analysts have the power to turn draws into valuable league wins.


No, not the striker kind, the bit at the start of some writing that gives some backstory. I’m Matty, and i’m lucky enough to have been invited to write for this amazing team. I don’t claim to be a football manager genius, i’m a regular guy just wanting to make my Football Manager experience the best it can be. And any priceless nuggets of information i find along the way, i shall pass on to you. Kinda like a Robin Hood character in a virtual football world (new save idea?)


Yes, that kind now. Direct, and to the point.

Show of hands, who here knows everything there is to know about Football Manager? If your hand is raised, you’re only lying to yourself.

Football Manager is an Aladdin’s cave of hidden secrets and wondrous treasures, and together, we’re going to discover them.

I’ll keep it short and sweet for my first piece. I’m going to tell you about my favourite tool in the Football Managers arsenal. 

Toby Lacey’s “Data Analysts: How important are they?” covers the whole data analyst spectrum, i’m going to focus on the match analysis, specifically opposition reports, as they can often be the difference between a 0-0 and nicking a goal to get the 3 points. 

The Engine Room

Or the midfield if you will (see the pattern emerging?)

We all know (we do, don’t we?) Football Manager uses a simple grading of data analyst facilities; basic, good, state of the art etc. You can find it in club info – facilities if you don’t know your teams. But you should, because it’s one of the first things you should look at before joining a new team. If the “facilities” equate to what is basically a Compaq Portable III (look it up) in the corner of the groundsman’s hut, i’m channelling my inner Craig David and walking away. 

Data analyst initial report
A basic team analysis report sent to a managers inbox

Better analysts with better facilities will provide more thorough reports, and include further details such as set piece analysis. They will provide you with average positions and movements of players, their passing habits and crossing tendencies, and so much more. Before any game you can adjust tactics to counter specific threats, and give instructions to attack a certain way if you notice any weaknesses.

This Leicester team for example, like to attack down the wings, and are fairly direct, with only a small amount of passes going backward.

Data analyst in depth team report
Analyst reports contain the same information. Good analyst reports contain better data.
Data analyst goal report
Goals and assists locations can help in pinpointing where to attack, and where you are most likely to be attacked.
Data analyst formation report
You can find formation analysis and the number of chances created for and against each formation.

The rearguard

(Match) Data analysts can be one of the most valuable and underused tools in Football Manager, especially among the players who have a rigid tactic that doesn’t change over the course of a season. If used correctly, they can be the key to nullifying a star striker on an 11 game scoring streak. Or to unlock a defence that hasn’t conceded in 5 games.

In the Leicester example, i’d be looking to nullify the threat down the wings by changing my full backs to a more defensive mentality, and maybe getting them to close down more urgently. For the direct passing approach, i could potentially drop the defensive line a little lower to give them more time to react, or perhaps look to play a higher line and catch them offside. This all would depend on my defensive players attributes and how well they could read a game. It may be you choose one method only to find it isn’t working so well, so change during the game. Team reports also highlight key passers in a team, so if the direct play tends to come from one or two specific players, it may be worth looking at closing them down quicker or even marking them out of the game completely.

I challenge you to it. Spend some time on your data analyst reports of teams, including your own; they can sometimes point out glaring weaknesses in your own team that you may have overlooked. 

After all, data analysts are becoming all the rage in football, so why not bring it into your virtual game.

Let us know how you use data analysis in Football Manager via Twitter or comment below!

If you enjoyed this, here’s a few other Dictate the Game articles you might enjoy, aswell as the Podcast available on anchor and other platforms.

Written by Luke Hume

Luke is the Assistant Manager at Dictate The Game, and he has been a trusted part of the team since joining in August 2016.


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  1. This has arrived at the right moment for me. With limited finances I focused on improving training and youth facilities, but not data analysis. What advantages would you say it would bring to the table if our facilities are already average?

    • I think data facilities usually fall by the wayside because they aren’t fully understood. An average facility should produce good enough reports, it’s the below average and basic where I’d start to worry. I have found boards to be fairly accommodating when it comes to upgraded data facilities though

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