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FM20 | Moneyball | Part 2

Welcome back to my Moneyball series. If you missed part 1 you can check it out here, and if you have no idea what Moneyball is you can check out my FM19 series here. This time we will be looking at how the tactics I’m using are shaping my search for signings. We’ll also take a dive into my results so far, and compare my January targets with similar players and my own squad.


This year I am employing an attacking 4-2-4 formation, taking inspiration from the “Mighty Magyars”, Hungary’s “Golden Team” who were the best team in Hungary’s football history, and some would argue the first team to play something close to Total Football. I wrote more on this over on my site, but essentially, they played a 3-5-2 or MW formation, shown below.

Hungary utilised this formation along with fluid, dynamic play to humiliate England 6-3 in their own back yard, Wembley. Sebes, the Hungarian coach, encouraged his full backs to attack, his central players to cover, and his forwards to roam, drop deep and utterly bamboozle the structured English team. Indeed Zakarias dropped so deep he was essentially playing as another centre half.

“Two full-backs, two central defensive presences, two players running the middle and four up front: the Hungarian system was a hair’s-breadth from 4-2-4

Jonathan Wilson – Inverting the Pyramid (pg. 92)

Taking this formation as a starting point, I have followed through to the logical conclusion.

The aim of the IWB is to occupy the space left behind by the advancing Mezzala, with the Winger providing width. On the other flank we have an overlapping CWB, with the DLP here providing cover. The False 9 drops deep to create space, a role which Sandor Kocsis fulfilled in “The Golden Team”. The AF is our Puskas, pressing the opposition high and occupying the centre halfs.

In terms of instructions I want a compact side, which is why we play and defend narrow, press urgently and use a high line. Those with a knowledge of Total Football may be aware of Sacchi’s 25 metre rule. The ideal while his side were out of possession being 25 metres between the front and the back of the team. This makes it difficult for the opposition to play through the lines. Combine this with high pressing and a high line, and you can win back possession very quickly and effectively.

Mid-Season Results

As of January we sit top of the table on 33 points. Ferencvaros, arguably our biggest competition and the biggest club in Hungary, sit just over our shoulders, with less goals scored.

We started poorly with a loss at home, but we’ve seen ourselves improve drastically. The crowning achievement a 3-0 home win against Puskas Academia (everything that is wrong with Hungarian football)

If you aren’t aware of Viktor Orban, Puskas Academia or the state of Hungarian football, you can find more information on that in Tifo’s brilliant video below.

January Targets

So, into the actual Moneyball. Using my spreadsheet I’ve identified we are underscoring our xG. Essentially this means our strikers aren’t doing the business. With Liverpool legend David N’Gog up top, I can see why. We’ve also conceded quite a lot of goals compared with the rest of the league, though we are conceding less than expected. Another CB could improve our chances at the back. In both situations we’ll look at all players aged 19-25 who represent realistic transfers.

Striker Comparison

Upfront we have one player performing well in Davide Lanzafame, who has __ goals in __ games, (GPM) mainly from False 9. However, our advanced forward is struggling to return. We’re looking for a player with a high Goals/90 and ShT/90.

Goals per 90 v Shots per 90

The figure above shows several players who fit the bill (circled). The player with the ridiculous ShT/90 is Dzenan Plojovic. There are ten players in total circled, there are the ones we’ll be looking at in more detail over January.

Defender Comparison

At the back I’m looking for a player who can win every tackle, and make a lot of interceptions. Below is a comparison of all known players, comparing these stats.

Tackle Ratio v Header Won Ratio

With high ratios in both areas, these eight players will be the ones we look at signing. From here all players will be compared again, and the whichever represents best value for money will be signed.

Thank you for reading, the next post will conclude the Transfer window, showing our signings and the reason for them. I’ll also look at the results going into the final few games of the season and comparing potential signings over the summer.

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Written by FMVars


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  1. Hi FMVars!

    I’m an Italian Football Manager and football fan. It’s only because of your blog post that I found the Moneyball (I’ve watched the film and read the book) and the statistics approach.

    Very interesting and enjoying method of playing this game, and therefore I read Soccernomics and (I’m finishing to read the Numbers Game) for improving my knowledge of football.

    In this day I watched also ‘Believe in Miracles’, and I’ll get started a new save based on Clough 442 (classic with only a Wide Playmaker). Would be appreciated a sort of tutorial that explain how to use the spreadsheet.

    Thank you again, I can’t wait the new post on this series!

    Bye 😀

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