FM20 has a huge range of player traits to change, improve or occasionally disrupt your players behaviour on the pitch. In our last article we ran an experiment to see what impact ability had on certain striker traits like lobbing or rounding the keeper, and placing or powering in shots. It was a bit of a bust as we found that ability alone didn’t seem to have an effect. It was useful for partly busting myths about certain player traits being better for mediorce strikers. But it didn’t help us much with which is the best trait to aim for.
One way to try and determine this is to focus on which attributes predict success for players with certain traits. Then we can apply this back to our own players. Rather than running an experiment we can use the data that exists within the game. In this Football Manager 2020 article we use data from five seasons, across the top two divisions of England, Spain and Italy to determine which attributes seem to be the most important for the player traits of likes to lob the keeper, likes to round the keeper, tries first time shots, places shots and shoots with power.
Striker Player Traits
So what are Player traits? I’m lazy so I’m going to lift this straight from our first article on striker player traits.
There are a huge range of Player Traits in FM20. Some govern movement like ‘Cuts inside’ or ‘Gets Forward Whenever Possible’. Others cover technique or specific actions like ‘Tries Tricks’ or ‘Tries Killer Balls’. These all give indications of things that players like to do, and will try to do. Note that doesn’t mean they will always do it, or even do it well.
Depending on the player role there are some moves or traits that are more appropriate than others. For example strikers might benefit from moves such as: likes to place shots, shoots with power, likes to round the keeper, and tries to lob the keeper.
The situation you find the striker in might have a knock on effect when you consider these potential moves. As can the type or attributes of the striker. One common train of thought is that shooting with power is more beneficial for strikers who aren’t actually that good at finishing. The accuracy of the shot is lowered by the power makes it harder to stop. Whereas a striker that is a little more skillful will benefit from placing shots in difficult to reach places.
Rounding keepers is another option for fast skillful composed strikers. They might not be the greatest finishers but they might often find themselves one on one with the keeper. Likewise those with flair, technique and good dose of decision making might be well suited for the occasional lob over the keeper.
In the right circumstances all of these moves could help your strikers get more goalsPlayer Traits for your Strikers: Place, Power, Round or Lob?
After that handy bit of self-plagairism you can see that there’s a suggestion that some attributes might be better suited for some player traits than others.
Our Last Experiment on Striker Player Traits
In our last experiment, found here, we established that there wasn’t much difference in traits when it came to scoring goals (no one trait is super powered). We also discovered that ability (mediocre or fantastic) had no influence when combined with different traits. Shooting with power for example wasn’t better for weaker players than the alternatives.
So far so good. But what does make an difference to the striker player traits? We want to know which traits are going to better for certain strikers. What works for technically gifted strikers? And what about athletic strikers? Which attributes do we need to focus on to get the most out of players who try first time shots, or those who like to round keepers? We know what common sense attributes should work but how that translates into the match engine on FM20 isn’t always clear cut.
Rather than setting up an experiment using our edited league we can instead use the data from normal seasons in a game to help work out which attributes predict success for strikers with certain player traits. With enough holidayed seasons, with enough players, we can plot which attributes are linked to better performance (goals per 90) for strikers. Some of these attributes may seem like common sense, but without testing we wouldn’t know for sure.
Attributes that predict Player Trait Success
To generate the data we need we holidayed the 2019/20 season five teams, with the top two divisions of England, Spain and Italy active. From this we then filtered out the players with at least one of our five striker player traits of interest: Tries First Time Shots, Likes to Lob the Keeper, Likes to Round the Keeper, Places Shots and Shoots with Power.
This gave us a total of 4755 players with at least one of the traits. Using a slightly adapted version of The Female Football Managers player search view that has all the attributes we were able to extract all the attributes and goal information for those players. From there it was into a spreadsheet to tidied up. Then into the software we use for the number crunching (SPSS for the nerds).
We want to know which attributes contribute to increases in goals scored per 90. This can be done by using a form of analysis known as a multi-linear regression (more nerdiness). It basically allows you to take a group of values (predictors) and see how changes in those values impact on one other variable. In this case how does a change (an increase) in our attributes change how many goals per 90 are scored. If you want a bit more information on this check out my DNA article where I used it to work out what my team DNA needed to be for the tactic/style I play.
Tries First Time Shots
For those who love a cheeky first time shot the biggest contributors to increased goals per 90 were Off the Ball, Work Rate, and Strength, with finishing being important (but not quite as important). Finishing is no big surprise (and you’ll see it for most traits) but I was fairly surprised by the role of the other three attributes. Presumably being able to jostle past defenders, move well off the ball into the ideal shooting position (so you can, well, shoot first time) and working hard to do all of that is key.
Interestingly Flair was negatively linked to goals per 90. Almost as if shooting first time requires no showboating…
Likes to Lob the Keeper
They are not for everyone but a good lobbed goal is beautiful to behold. Ask any Huddersfield fan who got to see Pawel Abbott on the pitch. The attributes with the strongest significant links to goals per 90 were (in order) anticipation, strength, finishing and perhaps oddly aggression.
I’m not sure why aggression would be involved. I’m wondering if this is an error but if you can think of why being aggressive might translate to more goals for those who love to lob let me know in the comments.
Anticipation seems to be a key mental attribute here. If you can predict and anticipate the actions of the keeper you are better place to leave them with their head in their hands after an audacious lob.
Likes to Round the Keeper
A striker player trait that is likely to lead to memorable goals. This seems to rely heavily on concentration, agility, strength, and finishing. Technique almost contributes significantly as well, but falls just short of being a significant predictor of goals per 90.
As always finishing makes sense. Strength can as well if the rounding of the keeper involves beating the last defender, riding a tackle or even riding the tackle/dive of a keeper.
The standout attribute here though is agility. All about how to move, change direction and pace. All key for the twists and turns, stops and starts, needed to out fox a keeper.
A favourite striker player trait for many. Improving goals per 90 with this trait seems to rely on finishing (obviously), concentration, strength, first touch, anticipation and determination.
Determination is a bit of a wild card. Again if you can think why this might be important let us know in the comments. Strength again makes sense as strikers might be under pressure when they make the shot and need to jostle or shield the ball.
First touch is potentially useful for controlling the ball ready to strike it sweetly, or gain the space needed to then strike the ball well. Anticipation like with lobbing means the striker can better anticipate the movement of the keeper and therefore place it appropriately. Technique and finishing don’t matter much if you always shoot where the keeper already is. You’ll have strikers like this, you know the ones I’m talking about.
Concentration has popped up again. Concentration is a hard attribute to pin down as it basically works in tandem with another attribute, decision making. Whilst decisions governs the quality of choices made by the player concentration deals with how focussed or attentive a player is. By extension this covers the quality of decsions they make. If they are not paying attention or concentrating they will make poorer choices. With placing shots and lobbing this makes sense. If a player isn’t concentrating they might make the wrong choice when placing the shot, or miss an opportunity to place/lob the ball well.
Shoots with Power
This player trait throws up a few unexpected attributes. Finishing and Strength are to be expected by this point but concentration, decisions and technique perhaps less so.
As above concentration and decisions are all about being able to make the right decision, and being focussed enough throughout the game to make them or not miss the opportunities at least. This seems to suggest that shooting with power is more complex than just sending a rocket at the keeper. It’s about choosing the right moment to send that thunderbolt goalward. Maybe strikers with powerful shots that lack these attributes are the ones powering it over the bar or wide?
Technique could fit this explanation as well. Personally I would have thought there would be more technique involved in placing a shot. However it seems like technique is also needed to keep a powerful shot on target.
Are we sure about this?
The first thing we need to do is recognise that this isn’t flawless analysis. The sample size is good, but it could always be better.
Another issue is that these are from a range of players who are playing a range of different positions, roles, tactics and teams. We’ve not controlled for this. We’ve just relied on the large sample size and the type of analysis to reduce the impact of this issue. Which is does, but it’s always a concern.
One more thing that you may have picked up on is…what is a player has more than one of these player traits? It can happen but it is fairly rare. I wasn’t able to find any players that had all five player traits. One player had four of the traits, four players had three and then between 30 and 40 players had a combination of two traits. This is around 1-2% of the sample. This we can live with.
How do we use this?
Despite this it does give us some interesting insight about the attributes involved in some of the striker player traits – or more importantly the attributes that contribute to better goal scoring for players with these traits.
We know that if you have a striker who is has high agility that they might be a good shout for learning the round the keeper trait. Likewise if they have good anticipation you might want to consider placing shots or lobbing. Which one might depend on how good they are when it comes to their first touch, concentration and strength. We can use what we know from the analysis above to try and improve our strikers goal scoring by selecting striker player traits that fit them better. We can also use it to try and remove traits that don’t suit our players. Remember, just because a player has a trait doesn’t mean it is actually useful.
That’s not to say other attributes are not important. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a striker with good composure, or pace and acceleration as it’s always helpful. But I know that other attributes are more important for these traits. If you don’t have cash to splash on a perfect striker you can use what we know above to squeeze extra goals out of your players.
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