I had to make this graphic especially for this update! I was not planning another update until the end of the season but – for me – the best way to solve a problem can sometimes be to dive head first into it. Here are the first five fixtures following the previous update, with a full set of match stats available by clicking on each thumbnail:


Four draws and one victory is not exactly what I’d call title contender form but, luckily, Varnamo went 3-2-0, GAIS went 2-3-0, Osters went 2-1-2 and Varbergs went 2-1-2, meaning we didn’t really lose pace. Yet, things just didn’t feel right with our game play. The lack of any clean sheets does not sit well with me but I also felt that our attacking play was a little bit rigid and forced and we lacked the little bit of a spark needed to put the games to bed. We’re tired, obviously, as late goals in the last three games (although the Ostersunds goal was a little more than a consolation) shows that both fatigue is an issue as is my use of substitutes.

But I also wanted to break it down further than that, so this is what I did:


I compared each of the five games with our overall season averages, where possible, and looked to draw any conclusions from the opponents we were facing. What I found most interesting though came through some deeper diving, look at the shots and shot quality from each area of the pitch. I know that I have one striker compared to five midfielders, but seeing a maximum of 16.7% of all shots taken by them feels a bit concerning, but, a shown by the green cells, two of the games saw some very good chances – with Mattson somehow missing a 0.90xG open goal in the GAIS tie. The majority of shots are coming from midfielders, which is great overall, and the quality of them is generally better than what Engblom and Matsson are getting, but they aren’t strikers for a reason! I dug even deeper into this and watched all the moves that led to midfielders shooting and a good proportion of the time – of the total 48 shots – the ball was worked back to the edge of the box where the majority of them were before a long shot came in. The higher xG shots really skewed the overall stats and it just felt pretty clear that, by the time we’d got forward, the opposition defences had recovered and, as such, we were outnumbered in the box.


So, I did this. We already regroup when we lose the ball and our rest defence is really strong but I’ve added the Counter instruction to try and increase the pace that we break at, creating – hopefully – more opportunities where we can have numerical advantages, or, at least, not such disadvantages in and around their box. My hope is that this allows our midfielders better shooting options and gives more chance of the ball finding our strikers, who are – predominantly – in the team for their finishing ability.

My little change ran for two games before I decided that I’d already written enough words in this update…


Rule one – don’t make five subs when 4-0 up at half time with a completely complacent bench! Rule two – utilise the counter! Ten goals scored feels like a strong turnaround statistically, particularly the Orebro result, as they are a team of a similar stature. We created 5.13xG against Karlstad from a total of 24 shots, which did include one penalty whilst two of the goals came from midfield in Palsson and Damus. 2.77xG from 19 shots against Orebo with strikers scoring none of them also feels like I’ve half fixed this issue.

Again, it’s one to let run and to monitor as time goes on!


This man.

I think that 95% of the comparison idea came from seeing ‘Yaya’ on the back of his shirt burst through the midfield, making me think of a fellow Ivorian-born midfielder with a similar name. Whilst, at 5’11”, he does lack a little bit of the stature that Yaya Touré had, I do see my Malian man as being a key cog in the team and someone who can help us drive forward. I used a Bleacher Report article to get a nice explanation of the change in role that Yaya Toure went through following his move from Barca to Man City:

“There he was asked to sit deep, break up attacks, play simple balls to the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and generally do the leg work in order for the attacking players to shine. It was an incredibly narrow remit for a player with such an obvious array of qualities. He was eventually usurped by the emerging Sergio Busquets, an out-an-out defensive midfielder and a native of Catalonia who had risen through Barcelona’s youth set-up. The former City boss, Roberto Mancini, who had made his interest clear months before, wasted no time in bringing him to City once the transfer window opened. Under Mancini, everything changed. Suddenly he had licence to run at the heart of the defence with his pace and power. He was central to City’s attacks, becoming a box-to-box midfielder and exerting influence all over the pitch—a far cry from being a small cog in the glittering Barcelona wheel.”

I think that this role is absolutely perfect to our style of play. With that in mind, I created a little comparison between FM24 Fofana and FM12 Yaya, who – at the time – was 30 and playing at Man City. The results were, thankfully, pretty much what I expected – a man who lacks a little bit of defending quality plus that overall top-end strength that Yaya was synonymous for when moving with the ball. Immediately, my development plan for Fofana has switched from VOL(a) to BWM(d) with a Defensive Positioning focus; he’ll still play, for now, as a Volante, but this will allow him to both learn his new DM position and develop a couple of his weak areas.


Without FM12 to fire up to get a direct, SI Games comparison and, to be fair, without FM12 having the depth of stats that FM24 had, I was able to dig into another Bleacher Report article to find out really what made Yaya good on the pitch:

“The outstanding form of Fernandinho has been key to Touré’s brilliance so far this season. Fernandinho has been superb for much of this campaign, offering excellent protection to the back four. He is consistently in the right place at the right time, and his energy levels mean he makes tackles and interceptions all over the pitch.

That has allowed Touré to increase his performance, as demonstrated by the stats below. He has scored seven league goals in 14 appearances, and has managed an incredible 92 percent passing accuracy level. He barely ever gives the ball away, and is adding more goals to his already accomplished game.

Passing, Chances & Goals:

·         2012/13 – 90% pass accuracy, avg length 17m, 22 chances created, 2 goals and 2 assists. 63.5% of his passes are forwards.

·         2013/14 – 92% pass accuracy, avg length 17m, 17 chances created, 7 goals and 3 assists. 65.3% are forwards.

As these stats show, Touré is more clinical when in possession and is making better use of the ball this season compared to last.


·         2012/13: 40% shot accuracy, 25 shots at a 8% chance conversion rate.

·         2013/14: 65% accuracy from 15 shots at a 41.2% chance conversion rate

His shooting accuracy and conversion rates are also up considerably on last season.

His powerful bursts from midfield are an incredible facet to his game, and gives City an edge that few other sides can match. Touré moves through the gears at pace, with his close control and sheer strength meaning he can beat players and take City up the pitch within seconds. This season, he has a 70 percent take on rate.”

Whilst I can’t measure pass length, I can quite easily look at two metrics that made Yaya stand out: High conversion rates and highly progressive ability – mainly through passing.

With that in mind, and, with this essentially being my first signing for the first team, I wanted to get a deeper analysis of his play, so dug into his first six games with us. Below you can see the combined map for passes, dribbles and shots:


The role that I’m creating is really niche and, prior to this, had trusted Pichkah with it, without really making a concerted effort to find out whether or not he was actually good at it. Below are the statistics that I was able to collect, with a comparative colour at the bottom – but more on that later on.


feel that Bleacher’s stats on ‘forward passes’ must include sideways, too, because that rate is far far higher than what I have seen, even with such an aggressive role in the VOL(a) one. However, looking at a total of 79% not-backwards passing feels pretty decent, although I do feel that his defensive outputs are lower than I’d like and his scoring exploits, minus a goal against Ostersunds, could be much better. Overall, I didn’t feel that he was enough of the heartbeat of the team, but I did – and still do – feel slightly conscious about making him an RPM(s) because a) the support role will mean less aggressive play than an attack role and b) I don’t necessarily want to use a playmaker as I feel it can take a little away from a pacey and, ultimately, lethal, counter attack. So… I modified his player role, as seen below. Adding Dribble MoreShoot More Often and Take More Risks, as well as asking him to Move into Channels when the team has the ball would hopefully make him engage with the attacking phases of our play, creating, essentially a 3-2-5 shape from the 3-box-3 that we transition with.


Obviously, this run of form coincides with a slight dip in our own fortunes and I must remember that this is a man who, initially, was without match sharpness, new to the country and not being able to speak a word of Swedish and new to the tactical setup, without being even competent in the DM role. With that in mind, I do feel he’s done a pretty stellar job of adapting, yet, I am ever the perfectionist and think he’s capable of more!  Which makes the next two games even more satisfying – both to watch and to analyse. New instructions in place and a chance to get some minutes in against a lower league team in the cup and a team of equal standing to ourselves in a tough, tough league game at home.


In red, I am able to compare where a statistic has decreased in value compared to the previous set of games and in green where it has increased. Whilst Yaya has made fewer forward passes, his overall total of non-backwards passes has risen to 84%, which has allowed an increase to 3.7 key passes a game and a 7% increase on the percentage of total passes that can be classed as ‘key’ – certainly a nice step forward. Now also created an xA of around 0.5 per/90 and registering an assist in each of the two games is – albeit a small sample – an example of extra impetus going forward. His attacking outputs, registering a goal in each set of matches, is quite similar and he’s completed less dribbles but I do feel that there is progress here.

His overall output from six games looks pretty top draw, if I’m honest. I can’t wait to see just how far he can take this role! My thoughts for his continued development are:

Develop traits of ‘Runs with ball through the centre’ and then ‘Tries killer balls often’ – I believe that both of these will work with his attribute set and allow ability to progress the ball more, especially as dribbling is one of the weaker areas of his statistical output at the moment. I may then look at ‘Plays One-Twos’ as I do think that has progressive qualities but when you look at how we build up, below, I think it’s important that I give him the space and freedom rather than dragging him closer to others, as this trait may encourage.


Following that, I may look at a Finishing trait, such as ‘Curls ball’ or ‘Places Shots’ given his high levels of Finishing, Technique and Composure and the fact that he’s a right footed player predominantly cutting in from the left.

I will – almost definitely now – be back at the end of the season for a wrap up and, hopefully, some good news on the promotion front!


  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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