Last time in the lab, we worked out the attributes that formed the DNA of my hoofball side. In this post, we’ll be comparing FM19 tactics. To do that, we’ll compare that hoofball tactic against a range of others from Dictate the Game in a tactical showdown.
We discovered, as a result of the analysis, that for my angry hoofballing side the (common sense) attribute of aggression was not the only key for success. So were surprise attributes like positioning and jumping reach. This has changed the way I approach my recruitment in my save games. I’m over-performing in both of my saves using this DNA; whether it’s in sunny Tahiti with minnows, or with cash strapped Warrington.
Does this analysis apply to other playing styles? And, what is the DNA for other approaches? The first question is easy to answer. If you have the data then you can do exactly what I did. The hard part is getting the data. Which leads us onto the next question. I’m going to answer this in the current article by getting the teams in my experiment league to adopt a range of different tactical styles taken from a range of Dictate the Game articles! We’re going to discover not just a little more about what makes these approaches tick, but which might be the strongest in our Tactical Showdown! In the words of the Highlander, ‘There can be only one!’
Comparing FM19 Tactics
Members of DtG developed all six of these tactics!
Team A: FMVars’ Inter Milan
Team A will be setting up with an Inter Milan inspired tactic by FMVars. This Mourinho inspired replication favours pragmatism and harks back to the successes in Europe they enjoyed under his stewardship. The original article can be found here.
Team B: Eric St.Peter’s Man United Treble Winners
A Man United Treble Winners replication by Eric St. Peter is what Team B will be going with. It looks like a 4-4-2 but it aims to reproduce the spirited attacking football of 1999. Compared to our other tactics, the team instructions here are light. How will it hold up? It can be downloaded from steam here.
It was the Summer of 1999…
Team C: Eric St.Peter’s Libero Diamond
Another tactic by Eric involves the interesting use of a Libero in a diamond set up for Team C. It is the only tactic in our experiment sporting the Libero role. It can be downloaded from steam here.
Team D: Crusadertsar’s Roma Tika-Taka
Team D take their inspiration from Crusadertsar’s Running with Wolves Roma tactical set up. A Tika-Taka approach that emphasise the use of one-twos. A potential issue here might be that with the blank slate players lacking PPM’s that the one-twos are missing. The original article, and link to download, can be found here.
Team E: Crusadertsar’s Porto 2004
Mourinho’s influence is apparent again in Crusadertsar’s replication of the 2004 triumphant (against the odds) Porto team for Team E. The original article, and link to download, can be found here.
Team F: Pelham/FM Tahiti’s Hoofball
Now Team F! This is just my earlier 4-4-2 semi-hoofball approach from the DNA Test post. Whilst we already knew the DNA for that, it’ll be interesting to compare a more unfashionable approach against the others. A little bit more on this and the DNA for it can be seen in the original article here.
Comparing FM19 Tactics: Setting Up
Our original Experiment League from the very first Lab post makes its’ return. Six teams will play each other eight times to give a 40 match season. We’ll play a season, restart (loading the database from scratch) and then run the season again. We’ll do this until we reach 10 replications. All the teams are at the same same level- from the facilities, to the reputation, to the amount of players. The managers? Unsackable.
The only areas of difference are small:
1. The tactics used (the variable we are changing)
2. The exact attributes of the players
Each team has a squad of 22 players, covering most key positions and roles. Each player also has a CA of 150. and a PA cap of 150. This means that they’re comparable in both ability and potential. However, all the attributes are firmly set to zero. This allows the game to randomly assign a value based on the position weightings and the CA available. As a result, all players will be of a comparable ability, but will have some variation in the exact attributes. If we gave everyone identical attributes, how would we know which have an impact on playing style? This cuts right to the heart of our DNA analysis.
Therefore, the setup not allows us to work out the best tactic, but also reveals the most influential attributes.
Comparing FM19 Tactics: The Results
The Tactical Showdown League
First let’s take a look at how the tactics did overall, before we try to unpick the DNA. Below we have a table with the average values for key team stats across the 10 seasons.
As we can see we have one or two that seem to have performed really well. The replication of the Man United Treble winning tactic just about managed to get the best points on average. That said, to its credit, it also had the most wins, fewest loses and best goal difference. Honourable mentions: Porto 2004 for the point haul, Hoofball for the least conceded (and most draws!), and the Libero for goals scored.
In one season my glorious hoofballers managed to propel themselves to 76pts and first place! The shame felt by the other teams was palpable. Remember, though, that these are just what we call descriptive statistics. I might need to hold off on the early celebrations (I definitely do). They tell us what the data might suggest, but we need to run statistical (inferential) tests. Do the results derive from a significant difference between the tactics? Or are there just lots of freak results? Only after conducting tests over many seasons can we answer this compelling question.
To do this we can run a test known as an ANOVA. This compares the difference in these means between each of the six teams. It then lets us know the impact of any change in the dependent variable: the tactic. For more information on tests of difference like this check out the first two FM Statistic Lab posts.
When we run the ANOVA we find that we do have a winner for out tactical showdown! Drum roll please…
Man United Treble Winners!
Eric’s replication got significantly more points, a better goal difference and statistical fewer losses than all or most of the teams (p <.05).
You couldn’t separate Team B and Team E on points, or Team B, C and E on goals scored (ps >.05). If you’re not sure what this means check out the earlier lab posts where I go into more depth about statistical significance. Long story short: there’s a big difference between the Man United tactic and the others.
There was also a tiering of the tactics. Teams B, E and F (go hoofball) generally performed statistically better than the others.
These are obviously just a few examples from Dictate the Game’s writers. The results might be very different if we included all the different tactics and recreations. Take a look at them here and see if any take your fancy. We also have the DTG Writers Cup going on at the moment. Want to see some of us pitting out tactical wits against each other? You can see the first week of results here.
Some of the tactics are pretty fancy and rely on more than just the tactic. This is inevitable: we’re FM players. They also need the right PPM’s and attributes- ours were randomised. Be that as it may, even with these randomised attributes, we can dig deeper into the DNA. We can then work out what attributes each tactic is lacking.
I’ve taken a broad approach to the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to use here. I knew exactly what I wanted with my hoofball tactic. However, we have a range of tactics below; I wouldn’t be finished in time for FM21 if I incorporated all the potential KPI’s!
With brevity and my sanity in mind here is what I have used:
- Key Passes
- Key Tackles
- Chances Created
- Key headers
All per 90 unless otherwise stated. This should cover the defensive, the offensive and the creative aspects that are core to most approaches.
Team A: FMVars’ Inter DNA
Leadership pops up more often than I’d perhaps expect but it seems to align itself with more defensive KPI’s. Hardworking, composed, and high concentration leaders seem to be key generally. Agility and technique are key for goals and chances for this Inter Milan replication too.
Interestingly (though perhaps not suprisingly for a Mourinho inspired set up) flair is negatively related to key passes.
Team B: Man United Treble Winners 1999 DNA
The most successful of the tactics is missing a KPI. There were no clear predictors of key passes but there were, perhaps fittingly, lots of goals.
Importantly there is only one single technical attribute that is a predictor of a KPI – tackling for…tackling! But for everything else there is a blend of mental and physical attributes. To me, this suggests that you could replicate our tactical showdown winner with a technically limited team. This might be a tactic that you can get some success out of even in the lower leagues.
Team C: The Libero Diamond DNA
The Libero Diamond did okay in the tactical showdown; it was no slouch. We see quite a different range of attributes predicting success here. Crossing and dribbling were integral towards predicting goals and chances created. Pace and acceleration also make a showing. A lot of ball carrying and crossing is going on here. This tactic could be a good fit for those who love swashbuckling, dynamic sides.
Team D: Running with Roma Tika-Taka DNA
This tactic is built on one-twos. None of the players had that PPM; the experiment was set up on a clean slate. This is why it perhaps underperformed. But this really drives home the importance of the details. It also drives home the importance of PPM’s when considering your own tactical set up.
As a result, take these findings with a pinch of salt. However, there are hints of the importance of first touch, anticipation and balance; all important parts of a pass and move game.
Team E: Porto 2004 DNA
Porto 2004 was our tactical showdown runner-up, giving a good all-round performance. By a single point, the Man United Treble Winners pipped them.
Stamina, Strength, Determination, jumping reach are all key and perhaps unsurprisingly so for a tactical replication of a underdog team.
Again very few technical attributes stand out considering how successful this tactic was.
Tactical Showdown Summary- Comparing FM19 Tactics
We now know that Eric’s Man United replication reigns supreme over the other tactics on offer here. Perhaps more importantly we also know more about the DNA for each tactic, with some surprising results.
The two stronger tactics, Team B and E, don’t rely much on technical attributes in their DNA. Good technical attributes won’t hurt. The real predictors of success, though, seem to be from a blend of mental and physical attributes instead. That’s good news if you play in the lower leagues or have a limited player pool to work with. Your don’t need a team of well rounded superstars to potentially succeed with the Man United and 2004 Porto replications.
Interestingly we got an idea of the flavour of some of the tactics by seeing what the DNA involves. For example, if you want a dribble heavy tactic, the Libero Diamond should be perfect.
Let’s say you’ve picked one of the tactics above to run with. They are all good, even the ones that didn’t pull in big numbers. Remember they were all competing against each other. For every winner there has to be a loser.
- If you’ve got your tactic, you have your DNA.
- As you’ve got an idea of the DNA for your chosen tactic you then know what attributes to value.
- Know what attributes are valuable to you? The next step is to recruit players that have this, who might be undervalued elsewhere.
- If there’s a player on the transfer list that looks technically one-dimensional, but has all the KPI’s, snap him up!
That’s right: you can take a step into Moneyball with this approach. Shift the players who don’t add much to your DNA but have value to other clubs. In addition, bring in the players you value, but other clubs who know nothing about your DNA overlook.
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