How I Approach Squad Analysis in Football Manager; Team Report and Squad DNA
No matter the Manager, no matter if you’re starting a new save or taking over a new club, we’ve all been in the position of inheriting a squad brought together by your predecessor.
Perhaps, in the unfortunate incident, the squad is made up by a mix of different player types from different managers visions and tactical styles, both in age, spoken language and origin. Something we’ve seen the result of at Manchester United after having four different managers in three years, all with their different football philosophy after Alex Ferguson retired.
Taking over the managerial position of any club let you inherit an unique squad featuring 20+ individual players, all with their unique personality, characteristics (e.g traits and skills), strength and weaknesses, can be challenging. Entering a new club with it’s unique history and culture can be equally challenging, as the board, the fans and your players have expectations about how to play.
How shall you approach the challenges of entering a new club and how shall you quickly get an better insight of your players at your disposal? How can you tell if your tactical visions can become an immediate success, or requires time to implement that specific playing style?
The answer is squad analysis and today I’ll be revealing how I approach squad analysis in Football Manager to get an overview of the players at my disposal. At this stage, it’s the question of turning the pieces of the puzzle, spreading them out and taking a deeper look at each piece to see how they fit within the overall picture.
By getting a clearer image of my squad and its player’s characteristics I’ll be able to discover how the current crop of players fit my tactical visions and preferred football philosophy. It gives me an idea whether I need to alter my tactics according to the players and are required to spend a longer time (the first three seasons) perfecting the squad to my tactics, or if I’m better off creating an entire new tactical system that fits the players at my disposal and be ready to compete for promotion and titles from the first season on.
No matter the situation, squad analysis will be a vital task to complete to discover the state of the team in relationship to your football philosophy. Which alternative you go for will be decisive for the level of challenge for your save.
The Objectives of Squad Analysis
The main objective with squad analysis focus on getting a clearer picture of your squad and identify valuable first team members, potential future talents and discovering potential weak links. Basically, it aims to discover the strength and weaknesses of your squad by carefully assess every player within the squad and fit them into the bigger picture; your tactics and football philosophy.
There are many benefits of analyzing the squad immediately after taking over the team. My personal objectives of conducting a squad analysis are;
- Reveal the Squad DNA; to get an overall idea of the characteristics of the players – what type of playing style suits them?
- To get an overview of the squad depth; players positional and roles abilities – Do I got sufficient cover? Do I got too many players competing for one positions?
- Herein to identify the best XI and evaluating the 22-25 players that shall form the first team and identify players who deserves to train with the first team.
- Discover weaknesses within the squad to spot areas of their game to improve in training
- Analyze Attributes and (playing level) Abilities; to get an overview of individual players skills and traits – How do each player fit into my tactics? What are they good at? What are their weaknesses?
- How does each individual player impact the squad and the club finances? How’s their age, cultural background, contract status (incl. wages and value) and personality? – Are there individuals who may disrupt the team cohesion or dressing room atmosphere? Are there ‘hidden’ tensions and potential conflicts impacting the current state of the team?
- Identify promising talents with the potential to become a valuable first team member
- Identify targets suited to be transfer listed to get money for future incoming transfers – Who are starting to reach the top of their career and who are likely prospects to sell/loan out for lack of development / continuing development elsewhere?
- With more knowledge of your players you’ll be in a better position to set up individual training and monitor player development
Approaching squad analysis in Football Manager can be carried out in three different ways, all with it’s own purpose. These areas are;
I’ve listed them according to how I generally approach it – from scratching the surface of the new team to uncover its true potential. Personally, it’s a matter of starting the analysis out rather generic before specializing and getting more in-depth.
What you’ll notice when moving up the ladder of this pyramid is that the more you know about the players the better prepared are you for making a plan for your team. It gives you a better foundation to make measured decisions, either it’s in the event of setting up playing path ways for under-21 players (contract renewals), handling incoming / outgoing transfers and establish a successful player recruitment program. In the end you’ll more suited to avoid making unnecessary (or poor) signings, or simply setting up training schedules and a training philosophy that fits your tactics.
Below, I’ll detail each process more specifically to give you an insight of the information you can find and how it’s useful.
1. Overall Team Report
An overall team report aims to provide you with an overview of the squad and its capabilities. It’s based on facts and data about your squad, either it’s compared to the other clubs within the division or an general overview of its strength and weaknesses (also accessible via the assistant report).
By visiting the ‘Team report – Overview’ section immediately after starting a new save you will be faced with a blank Best XI, as no tactics is selected. While some might immediately click away and set up a tactic they have in mind, I want you to spend a few minutes carefully going through the different sub-categories of what this section got to offer next time. Here you’ll get a useful hint about what I’ll entitle as the squad DNA and get access to reports that will come in handy not only in the first stage of getting familiar with your team, but also later on in your career to assess whether the club is moving in the right direction relating to the performance of the squad (e.g. squad depth and abilities, tactics and statistics).
While there is no right or wrong order to kick off the squad analysis I prefer to start off with looking at some of the facts about my squad and particularly taking a look at the club’s average age and the domestic player bias (vital if doing a home grown talents save).
You can either click ‘Facts’ within the Team Report to spot the level of average age, or make a more thoroughly approach by going to the General tab of Comparison and select the average age per positional unit (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers).
The average age let me get an insight to whether I’m dealing with an aging squad at the prime of life or if I might have to expect spending time to make the squad competitive. While there’s nothing like an ideal average age of your squad, going through real life title winning squads of the last decade most squads finds itself around an average age between 25 to 28. But at all means, the average age is not a barometer on it’s own for success.
With an average age between 25 to 28, it means that there is a great mix of experienced players and youngsters knocking on the first team door. And in the ideal circumstances you got a squad who have played a long time with each other.
A squad average age of below 24 means that most of the players are under the age of 23 and are still developing. At this stage of their career, their tactical understanding and the level of consistency is below par meaning you might have to expect varying results (both in terms of form and performance).
You can’t win anything with kids. Alan Hansen
In the event with Leeds, the average age is 24, compared to the average age of the Championship at 26.
By browsing the general comparison and show only the facts about each unit, we’ll discover that the average age of the strikers are 20.75, while the defenders have an average age of 26.80, while the others got 25.5 (GK) and 24.42 (Mid). Looking closer at the strikers unit I got 4 strikers, 3 of them under the age of 21, but bagged with potential, and only one experienced player (but one who are rather well-rounded able to both play as a lone forward or in a partnership).
The defensive unit is the most experienced within the team and therefore more in danger of having to upgrade it within the first two seasons, not only due to their age and starting to get on top of their career, but also relating to declining physical abilities such as quickness and pace, which is vital in modern football.
If you have limited your options at player recruitment by employing a specific transfer policy, you can use the average age and the domestic player bias as barometer of reaching your goals. At least that’s what I do. And going from there, it gives me an indication of how much work that lies ahead, one way or the other.
B. Analyst Report: General Performance & Squad Comparison
While the Analyst report on the right side of the main overview section will be more insightful the longer you progress in your save, the general performance provides you with some of the main characteristics of the current crop of players and the state of your squad depth. It provides you with some hints about what the squad is capable of.
This type of analyst report provides you with a quick snapshot and summary of the comparison tab, giving you an quick overview of the areas of the game with the highest average and which stands out – pinpointing you to the most suited playing style for your current squad. Herein, the attributes with the highest average compared to the league average relating to technique, mental or physical capabilities set out within the Comparison tab.
The comparison section is a comprehensive tool, depending on how deep you go, letting you analyze each department of your squad (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers) level of abilities and compare their level to the other clubs within the league. You can either get a brief overview about the levels of the players, relating to technical, physical or mental abilities for all your players within your squad, or go a bit deeper by showing only the levels of your defenders compared to the others within the league, the midfielders physical capabilities or the strikers technical skills with the ball.
The general tab let’s you get more generalized information about the player wages, letting you see which unit that’s most costly, international caps, unavailability, height and weight.
The comparison section can visualize in a graphical form, based on numbers and data, the level of your players. Using it is a more scientifically approach to squad analysis as you’ll get a four digit number letting you visually see the average attribute level for each unit. You can then take a note of this figure and use it in the future to check whether you’ve improved a particular area of the squad’s game within a period, or whether your club is falling behind in tactical knowledge against the other clubs within your league.
If our starting point is that we don’t know what playing style or tactical style to use, the comparison section gives you an insight to the best attributes within the current squad, and provides you with an clear identification of what type of football the players at your disposal is most suited at – which we can call the current squad DNA.
Since each playing style has its own set of ‘required’ key attributes that’s preferable to possess to get a certain level of success, we can say each tactical style has it’s own DNA. For example playing gegenpress requires your players to possess determination, work rate, aggression, stamina, quickness and off the ball to succeed with it, while possession football or Catenaccio will require totally different types of players.
If you got a specific system or tactics in mind and the squad DNA diverts from it, it will take longer time to successfully employ the tactical style, meaning you either need to develop players in that form or use the transfer market to shape the squad. Then, it’s a matter of maintaining, building and developing a squad with a DNA that fits your preferred football philosophy.
In the case with Leeds, the immediate analyst report for the first day tells me that I got a team, where both individuals and the collective displays high levels of teamwork, with many of them possessing great levels of composure featuring players with the ability to rely on their first touch.
By looking closer at the comparison of my team compared to the others within the league I’ll be more capable of assessing the strength and weaknesses of the squad.
Here is a brief overview of the highest attributes of the different departments;
- Technical; First Touch and Technique
- Mental; Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Off the ball, Teamwork and Vision
- Physical; Pace and Stamina (Both above average)
At the other end of the scale, my players is worse than the average in;
- Technical; Heading, Long throws, Marking and Tackling
- Mental; Leadership and Positioning
- Physical; Jumping and Strength
If we should use this to conclude, you can say from the outlooks of things that the current squad is perfect for possession football. Incorporating the tiki taka tactic of mine should pose few troubles and should take little time, as from the outlooks of things, the squad is perfect for it. But if I should create a new tactic based on a different tactical style, I’ll face a tricky task and a long process of rebuilding the squad to fit a counter-attacking or gegenpress tactic.
As you’ll notice, the comparison of attributes is very valuable, but only reveals a blurry picture of the state of the squad. The only way to get a clear image is by analyzing each individual player more specifically. See chapter 3.
C. Assistant Report: Weaknesses & Strength
As a secondary option to squad comparison we got the assistant report, where the assistant manager have compiled his own report of the strength and weaknesses of your squad – providing you with a visual table of the different attributes and their levels. Green points reveals areas of the game at the highest level of quality, while slight green is above average. Orange are areas or attributes at a poor level, while red indicates areas the assistant manager finds worrying – which you should address immediately or which are at the worst case possible.
The assistant report can be used as an extension to the squad comparison or be used on its own as the first step for deducting a squad analysis.
Here the assistant manager will go through player attributes and areas of the game, such as showing you that the off the ball or the teamwork is excellent. But, in difference to the squad comparison view we talked about above, the assistant report pinpoints player partnerships, potential key players and concerns he may have over the finances (current level of transfer and wage budget) and squad depth (either overall or within a position), in additional to promising talents you should be aware of.
It provides you with a more overall image of your club and the current state of it, and is therefore a great companion to the squad comparison tool.
2. Squad Depth
The next step is getting an overview of the squad depth. Located in the Team Report screen of Football Manager, the squad depth screen is a handy place to check immediately when starting a new save. Despite you’re left with a suggestion of the best XI alongside the brief team report and overview of your squad when getting welcomed to the club, it features a number of great solutions.
The squad depth solution would be the equivalent option to sorting your squad by position and ability / position within ‘Squad Overview’ looking through each player one by one for their natural positional abilities and role suitability.
Not only will it save you time, but will give you some eye-catching information that might may you think twice about your squad and which positions to improve.
You can ask a specific staff to get their opinion of the squad depth, and if you got an assistant manager, he will be selected by default to take charge of it. But you can also ask the Under-23 Manager, Reserves Manager, Head of Youth Development and other coaches to give you their recommendations.
In order to get an accurate as possible review of the players abilities (current ability, potential and role suitability) it’s important that the person you’d get the opinion from has great levels of judging player ability and judging player potential. The higher his attributes are, the more accurate the star rating will be. This also relies to the staffs level of player knowledge (related to how long he’s been in your club). If you decides to replace the assistant manager with a new one, the star rating of the players will not be entirely accurate as he has poor knowledge of your players. Learn more about the staff responsibilities in this in-depth guide.
With that reminder, let’s look at the different options of the squad depth tool, starting from the left moving to the right of the screen.
P.S. Ticking Customization On or Off simply let you remove specific players within a position. Handy when you prefer an individual to be featured in a more natural position for him.
A. Show By
Current Ability / Potential
The first option is to show the squad depth in a specific formation by current ability or potential. It gives you a visual representation of the players who are able to play in a position (DR, MCL, AML or ST) listed from the ones with the highest ability/potential to the worst.
Showing by current ability or potential is a great option to plan for the future as you’ll get an insight to areas of the field you’d need to improve (for the short or long term).
By filtering the squad depth view, you’re able to display the ability and potential of the reserves and under-18 team players as well.
This might come in handy when you are looking at suitable targets to promote to the first team and looking for potential breakthrough players that will aid his development by staying in or around the first team.
The role suitability let you either browse through the different available roles within a position and see a visual representation of each suitability within that position. By clicking the number in the right corner it opens a new window displaying a list of all the players able to play in that position alongside key information about them and most importantly in this instance their best role.
TIP: From this place, you’re actually able to scout for players within that role by including the preferred position and desirable attributes.
Personally, I find the role suitability a better option when you’ve set up your preferred tactics (feat. formation and player roles/duties) as you’ll be able to see how suited each player are at the specific roles. It let’s you easily discover positions you lack cover in or positions that’s weaker than the others. By filtering with the minimum ability of 2 stars you’ll be able to get an insight to the best XI and by removing in-going and outgoing loans you get the real truth about your squad.
Position Overview (Current Ability/Potential)
The last option I’d like you to turn your attention to is the position overview. It provides a clear display of the squad labeling their ability or potential from poor to great for each position. It gives you an alternative, and perhaps better option, to plan for the future, either it’s through signings or player development.
In the case with Leeds, we’ll see that I’m well covered in the centre of the park with 8 players able to play there, while I got poor cover on the DC (mainly two players), WBR and WBL – meaning I either need to sell some players up front to get the money to buy wingbacks fitting the 2-3-2-3 formation of Tiki Taka. In total there are only 9 players available to play within the defensive unit (D/WB RLC) and 3 to four of them aren’t either not good enough or doesn’t suit playing possession football.
Looking closer at the wings, the team has four players at loan from bigger clubs but few prospects outside them to make an huge impact as inside forwards / wingers. Leeds got two highly versatile players on both sides of the pitch in Ezgjan Alioski (27) and Stuart Dallas (28), but both could be described more as defensive wingers due to their workrate and stamina rather than a technical winger packed with quickness, dribbling, passing, agility and off the ball.
This option might be the one you’d like to select from the beginning. Here you’ll able to browse by all the formations available in FM and display the best line-up with their best role featured alongside their star rating. It gives you an unique insight to the squad you possess and which players you should consider for your starting line up.
Alongside the option to show the players by positions, ability and potential you’ll find the ability to select either the recommended formation (based on your players in the opinion of the assistant manager) and the default formations that’s available in Football Manager.
NB! The recommended formation in this instance, is the preferred formation of the assistant manager. Yet again, we see that it’s useful to find an ass.manager with similar tactical identity as what you intend to use.
With 50+ formations all from a generic 4-4-2 formation to somehow more complex shapes with three at the back or systems without wingers, you’re able to get an visual interpretation of how your squad fits a formation.
Similar to the ability to filter by formation and who to get the opinion of, you’re able to sort by roles.
The role option is inactive for ability, potential and positions overview, but excels when it comes to role suitability and best XI. From here, if you’ve loaded up a tactic, you’re able to display the most suited players for either the currently selected player roles for the tactic, custom roles or the best roles for the player within a specific system.
The custom roles will display the default roles used within the formation, while the best roles displays the players best positional abilities and role suitability when preferred foot and attributes is taken into account.
The assistant manager’s suggested roles gives you an indication of which players, in terms of current ability, is most suited to feature in a position and the role he should be given (according to the players natural position and role suitability).
2.B. Filtered Views
Another method to get an overview of the squad depth, is to take advantage of ‘Filtered’ views within the Squad overview page. It let’s you show only players within an unit; Goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders or attackers. You can further constrain the filter by showing only players capable of playing on the left, right, or in the center (typical DC, MC or AMC). With a squad view showing a players age, preferred foot, current and potential ability you’ll get an overview of the depth within a specific position.
By filtering the squad view, you’re able minimize the amount of players making it easier to deduct an individual player analysis – browsing through the players with the highest current ability star rating available at the club, looking closer at agreed playing time, personality and skills.
Individual Player Analysis
Until now, most of the analysis has been aimed at facts and reports from your staff. We’ve been able to get an overview of the players; the likely best XI, the positional depth as well as the overall role suitability in specific formations / for your tactics if loaded up/created.
Now it’s time to get a closer insight to the players at the club by turning the attention to individual player analysis. In this situation, we can’t come away from the demanding job of browsing through your squad, clicking through each player at the time and writing down notes about them. It’s a long and demanding process which takes time, but will be worth your weight in gold once completed.
The information we’d like to get from conducting an individual player analysis is;
- Players natural position (also known through analyzing squad depth)
- Players Role Suitability (also known through analyzing squad depth)
- Players Skills: Attribute levels, Preferred foot and Personality
- Player Traits
- Hidden Attributes
Individual player analysis is a systematic process which aims to;
- discover each players strength and weaknesses…
- … which in turn let’s you spot areas of their game they might have to improve to earn a place within your squad or be suited for a specific role
- spot traits that does not fit the playing style and might collide with the preferred role and tactical instructions of your tactics which may put a dent to the success of it.
- let you take more informed decisions when setting up individual training of each player (e.g. additional focus, player trait learning and player role/position training).
- make more informed decisions on who to keep and whom to sell.
- detect promising talents who can form part of the first team in the future and therefore requires your utter attention
If we should think about the club in general, individual player analysis also aims to reveal contract terms and issues regarding it, such as agreed playing time, as well as social factors like how the person is part of the squad hierarchy and his relationship with others, which impacts the squad dynamics and general happiness, which in turn affects morale, team cohesion and performance on the pitch.
The more knowledge you have about a player (how he reacts to team talks, his injury history and fitness) will be beneficial for you in the long run when you’re about to assemble a first team and plan for the future.
Conducting an individual player analysis can be done in a number of ways. Below I’ll go through some of the methods you can use – some that may even save you time.
A. Analyzing Coach Reports & Player Profiles
The basic method when learning about your players is to click through each of the players, firstly for the first team, then secondary for the reserves and youth team. With 15 players at the minimum for each side, it could take hours.
While it may be quite a work going through each player I feel it’s worthy.
In this case it’s a matter of analyzing the player profile, his attributes and traits, and trying to see if you’re able to fit him in your tactics.
Similar to the team report I talked about earlier, the player’s coach report shows you a breakdown of the players skills and weaknesses. The more the assistant manager or the coach knows about the player, the better, as the report will be more comprehensive. The Coach report can be found within a player profile under the Reports drop down menu.
Within the report you’ll get pros and cons listed in a table about the players strongest and weakest attributes, his hidden attributes and how he fits within the dressing room alongside his playing level and training performance.
It could be considered as the first stop for assessing the player as it shows a number of things we’ve discussed earlier, and which might would require you to click around to find.
NB! But be aware that the coach report may be inaccurate if the person in charge of delivering it has poor judging player ability or potential.
What I normally look to track within the coach report is;
- Hidden Attributes; looking normally after positive hidden attributes such as versatility, consistency or whether or not he enjoys big matches.
- Strongest / Weakest area of their game; are the weaknesses important for his role? How can I utilize his strengths?
- Current / Potential Ability (Division); how far can the player reach and which level of football is he currently at?
Following is an practical example of Alfie McCalmont’s coach report – a 19 year old central midfielder who’s also able to play in the defensive midfielder spot from Northern Ireland.
Alfie McCalmont’s player profile reveals a player who have not yet been given a first team debut, but who’s close to the first team level. He’s role suitability labels him at best suited for the deep-lying playmaker role. His profile shows a well-rounded player who I believe could become one of the best playmakers in England with proper development
His best attributes are;
- Agility / work Rate / Stamina
His weaknesses are marking, tackling, strength and aggression. Standing only at 168 and with a fairly low jumping reach he draws similarity to Xavi. The fairly average level of tackling (9) and marking (8) can be improved by training focus Defensive Positioning coupled with ‘Deep-Lying Playmaker defend’ as position/role/duty training.
From the coach report he’s labelled as a technical player with the potential to reach Premier League level, but is currently operating at a League One level.
His hidden attributes are versatility and consistency.
Looking closer at the comparison, I’ve got Jamie Shackleton, Adam Forshaw, Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips all ahead of him in the ranks. The solution is either to loan him out to continue his development or work on his role abilities.
After further analysis I discover that he’s got far better off the ball movement (12) and dribbling (12) than marking or tackling. He’s far better at the attacking third than in the defensive third, with acceleration and finishing better than defensive technical abilities. Re-training him to an advanced playmaker, where I’ve currently got only one designated player (Mateusz Klich), as well as the creative 17 year old wonderkid Mateusz Bogusz, will be far better for the team in the long run. The only thing that concerns me is his lack of flair, but this will be developed naturally by training on the Advanced Playmaker Attack role/duty and weekly training sessions learning to ‘Play Out From The Back’ and ‘Attacking Patient’.
Alfie McCalmont will be in and around the first team. I look at him as a valuable player for the future and he will start on the bench before getting 10-15 matches for the first team against weaker opponents (cups and coming on at comfortable leads).
B. Squad Views
Squad views are an highly valuable asset. It let’s you get information, statistical data and useful knowledge about a players performance in training and matches, as well as contract terms and happiness. I’ve personally set up a number of squad views – all dedicated to a particular task; whether it may be analyzing and setting up individual training, plan the squad for the future by looking through player’s contracts (expiration date and bonuses) or getting information about stats and player skills.
Even though it’s a beneficial process of browsing through each players profile and learning more about the player through the coach reports and basic contract or player information screen, squad views done right can help you streamline the process of gathering data.
Instead of 20-50 clicks times two (player profile + coach report) you’ll get the identical information in one screen. It’s easier to browse through and saves a lot of time. As you’ll discover from my custom views megapack featuring The Reckonists training views I got two squad views particular useful for squad analysis. These are;
1. The Player Skills Assessment
2. The Squad View Tiki Taka DNA
Now I won’t discuss these views anymore than to say they compiles player attributes sorted by the most important attribute in FM alongside valuable skills for the playing style. But the overall design of the Tiki Taka DNA view is;
Important Attributes for any player in FM: (Determination, Anticipation, Decisions and Teamwork).
DNA: Vision, Composure, Technique, Passing and First Touch
In Possession (attacking): Dribbling, Agility, Off the ball, Flair (plus Work Rate and Stamina)
Out of Possession (defending): Positioning, Concentration, Tackling, Marking, Aggression, Strength and Bravery
Crossing: Heading, Crossing
Quickness: Acceleration, Pace and Balance
Set-Pieces: Long throws, Corners, Free kicks and Penalty Taking
Finishing: Finishing, Long Shots
A similar DNA can be created for each tactical style (not that I’ve done it yet). By listing the most important attributes first let you get a quick overview of a players profile. Since it’s a squad view you can assess and compare players, their natural position, role suitability, style of play and best duty in one screen!
It even let you discover the players who are best at taking corners or who the best markers are by clicking on the column and sorting it either from best to worse or from worse to best. Hold in the ‘SHIFT’ key of your keyboard and you’re able to sort by two or more factors, which I’ve done in this example below:
For the attributes within the DNA it shows me that the general level is around 13-14, which is actually good. Should I improve the squad, I’ll need to look at players with better levels than that.
If this was another club, the attribute levels of the tactical DNA might have been completely different. A low one would tell me that I would need long time (perhaps years) to introduce a possession game within the club – forcing me to not only develop the players in the mould suited for possession football, but also target players with the correct characteristic.
The analysis above shows me that the attacking midfielder Pablo Hernandez, despite being at 34, is the archetype for possession football. Together with Kalvin Phillips, a tireless midfielder who’s able to dictate the tempo, they are two of the star players at the club.
On the other end of the scale we’ve got Eunan O’Kane (28) and Ouasim Bouy (26), both capable of playing in the defensive/central midfield position, who is clearly not good enough for Championship level nor Premier League level if we should promote. They might be valuable backups, but with wages at €15K per week for O’Kane and €4.6 per week for Bouy, I’d rather look to sell them and enhance my transfer budget of only €1,1Mill.
The final method and the one I think would be the quickest and most efficient way to analyze your squad is through the player attribute analysis spreadsheet by The Female Football Manager. With a simple trick of using a specific squad view and saving the view into excel, the spreadsheet takes care of the rest providing you with data about each players best role and position, the top 3 players within a position and an overall stat of the role suitability in percentage for each player.
It bases itself on the player attributes, preferred foot and natural positions and provides you with both an comprehensive and quick overview of the players at your disposal and can let you discover weaknesses and potential issues that might not have been evident at the first glance.
As part of analyzing the squad and its players, we can’t come away from situations where you find two players akin. Perhaps they have the ability to play in the same position, in the same role and with almost the identical attribute levels. Then the question rises; who to put your faith in, who to select and who suits the role the most?
It’s here the build in Football Manager feature ‘Comparison’ comes into play.
You can find the comparison tab within a player’s profile and with it you can compare the player against other players within the club or external players you’ve just visited the profile of.
It let you compare attributes, statistics, positional and role abilities in additional to basic information about the player (such as age height or position alongside a gameplay diagram featuring an overview of the attributes within an area of his game).
In the case with Leeds they have several players and good depth at particular two positions where the amount of spaces for my tactic is limited. It’s in the striker position (as I’ll be using a lone forward formation) and in the middle as I’ll be playing with a holding midfielder behind two central midfielders – either a 4-1-4-1, 4-1-2-3 or 3-4-2-1 wide strikerless.
For the central midfield position it seems like Leeds got 8 players capable of playing in that spot. Six of these have fairly good ratings or above and could be potential prospects for the starting line up. In attack, I got 3 suitable prospect for the lone forward position, plus a highly talented player in Ryan Edmondson, who’s at the age of 18.
While the only experienced striker is Patrick Bamford who suits the position as a natural deep-lying forward it’s interesting to see how, or if, I can take advantage of Tyler Roberts, a player who looks to be able to play in all attacking positions (AMRLC/ST) and who got superb ratings for the senior team, and secondary Eddie Nketiah who’s on loan from Arsenal at a rather high cost (no matter if he’s playing or spending time on the bench).
PS. It says the loan can be terminated but it will not be available until a month has gone.
To learn more about how I can fit Eddie Nketiah and Tyler Roberts in the team it’s useful to conduct a player comparison of them two.
Following is an practical example:
From the outlook, Nketiah and Roberts seems like two players very much in the similar mould, at a similar age. Both labelled as Advanced Forwards. Both at a similar level in terms of vision, technical, mental and physical areas of the game. The coach reports pays particular attention to their speed, while their crossing is labelled as a major weakness. Both players are accomplished at playing on the wing, but does not seem to be their best position considering their low crossing and average passing.
By looking closer at the attributes it reveals a slight difference in the current level of abilities. Eddie Nketiah is a minor step in front with his development being notable quicker and better off the ball. Meanwhile Nketiah is more mature (in terms of attributes), more tactical intelligent and a better team player due to his determination, teamwork and work rate, Tyler Roberts is a better passer and is more accurate with his long shots.
Tyler Roberts could be a suitable prospect, with some development, to become a great false nine, while Nketiah seems more like a distinct goal scorer who wants to attack the space behind the opponent’s defensive live. He’s also more two-footed than Roberts but demands twice as much in wages and cost. Leeds are forced to play €250K per month (either if he’s playing or not).
The conclusion I’ve come to, is to develop Tyler Roberts as a False 9 and use Nketiah as either an option to come off the bench when I need goals or play in the left Inside Forward role due to his preferred right foot. I could use him as an IF-A, inverted Winger or Raumdeuter Attack. For the moment I can’t guarantee neither of them a starting position. I got Hélder Costa on loan from Wolverhampton at a high cost as a great fit for the inside forward role right, due to his strong left foot and Jack Harrison on loan from Manchester City able at playing inside forward right or left, but is very one-footed (left only).
The main issue is to fit them all in for the inside forward left position, as neither are perfect players for it. It’s either their preferred foot, their capabilities as wingers or their skills and traits that makes them not ideal. In the likes of Jack Harrison he got the trait to hug line but will cut inside from the right.
Nketiah could be considered more of an regular starter than Roberts and could be a regular starter on the left. The amount of matches given to them will depend on their performance playing out of their natural role, and whether or not Bamford will both create chances and score goals.
PS. All these players mentioned who are on loan is described as wingers and would ideally play on the left wing. Due to their preferred foot, they’re considered on the other flank.