I’ve been writing about Football Manager on and off since 2017. In that time I’ve never singled out a new signing to talk about in isolation. However, I’ve also never had a new signing hit the ground running like my new idol, Thomas Amang.

In today’s post I’ll be taking a deep dive into Thomas Amang’s blistering start at Tokyo Verdy. We’ll be looking at why I signed him in the first place, how I planned to integrate him into the side and whether that has come to fruition, and what has allowed him to be so effective. 

There will be minor spoilers for the early part of season three in this post, so if you aren’t up to date with the save so far you can check out the season two summary here.

Why Thomas?

Thomas Amang was one of many free agents offered to us by his agent, having left his previous side Orange County of the USL Championship in America. To be honest I was dubious, as he’s spent the past five years playing his football at a lower level than we’re currently at, both in America and the lower levels of Spanish football. Despite these concerns, I liked the look of his profile, and so brought him in on trial to take a closer look.

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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what tempted me. Physically, Thomas is a beast, he’d hold his own in any of the best sides in the world in that regard. Lightning quick, with good levels of agility and balance, but also the strength and jumping reach to be an aerial threat despite being just 5’9” tall. Add into this his amazing work rate, with the determination, bravery and aggression to win the ball back, and what I like to call the X-factor in his elite flair and good off the ball. He really is a potent threat in a lot of ways, but there is obviously a reason he’s available to us and not playing in the Premier League.

In terms of technical ability, Thomas is left severely lacking. For those unfamiliar with the semi-attribute approach, each colour represents a different attribute range. Every single technical attribute that matters to an attacking player is within the 6-10 bracket, and that did leave me with some concerns about his ability to deliver in the big moments.

Anybody who has played Football Manager for a while probably has experience with this type of player – exceptionally quick but technically lacking – and in the vast majority of cases they do very well in the match engine. However, I have been burned before. I signed Stanley Ohawuchi in season one because I believed he was this sort of player, and that was a disaster.

The fact of the matter is I love a player who can blow others out of the water, even if only in one aspect of play. I don’t believe that the J League’s best defenders will be able to deal with Amang’s combination of pace and power, and to me that made the signing a no-brainer.

The Gameplan

I identified Thomas as a player who could come in and raise our level, but that isn’t much use without a way to integrate him into the side. With last season’s successful signings of Léo Artur and Ten Miyagi, plus youngsters like Hidemasa Koda and Iván Acosta looking to kick on, I’d actually not planned to recruit in attacking areas until Thomas was presented to us.

Despite scoring 61 goals last season (the fifth highest in J1) things weren’t always seamless, and I often tinkered with the striker’s role in order to get the best from Hiroto Yamada and Michel Douglas. The season started with an Advanced Forward as we had used in J2, but with neither performing I switched to a Deep-Lying Forward and allowed the Shadow Striker to become the main goal threat. This switch seemed to work especially well for Yamada, and apart from the odd change to a Target Forward for specific opponents or situations, this became our new Plan A.

This left me doubting Michel Douglas’ future at the club. I’ve mentioned before my intention to not recruit an excess of foreign players that I can’t use in every match, and with Thomas being from Cameroon I felt I needed to move somebody on. Michel was the obvious choice, at 33 and now second choice. This not only gave me a foreign spot, but a space in our attacking options that I believed Thomas would raise the ceiling of.

One thing Thomas is not though, is a Deep-Lying Forward. If he was going to come in and replace a centre forward, I needed to either change what we need from a striker, or have a shift around. I identified three different ways that we could set up to include Thomas alongside our existing options.

The most obvious integration was to shift Léo Artur inside to become our primary Shadow Striker, something he had done with increasing regularity throughout season two, and play Amang as an Inside Forward from the left. Amang’s pace out wide would be sure to terrify full-backs, and despite his relative lack of finishing and composure I was confident that he’d get himself into goal-scoring positions often enough to make a good contribution.

Plan B was to identify Amang as our new primary number 9, and adjust the role to suit his skillset. At our level I would be amazed if there is a more effective Pressing Forward than Thomas, but my concerns lay with how this tweak would affect our overall play. The change to a Deep-Lying Forward saw better performances from Hiroto Yamada, who in all honesty deserves a regular run of games, but also from the Shadow Striker, whether that be Léo Artur or Ten Miyagi.

Plan C, by far and away my least favourite, was to put Amang on the right as an out and out winger, asking him to use his pace to just burn past opposition full-backs. The upside of this is allowing our two best attacking players from last season to carry on where they left off, and giving Yamada a run as our undisputed first choice striker. The downside is that it gives Amang a very one-dimensional role when he is not a one-dimensional player. It doesn’t make use of his aerial ability, or especially his ability to press. It almost feels like a bit of a FIFA move, just stick a rapid player out wide and job done. However, there’s no doubt he would probably get some assists.

A Hot Start

It took Thomas just 33 minutes to score his first competitive goal for the club, bagging what turned out to be the winner in a narrow 1-0 win over newly promoted Imabari. He then scored 11 minutes into our next match, away at title favourites Kashima Antlers. Although we would go on to lose the game 3-2, Amang played excellently and had 2 goals in 2 games playing as an Inside Forward on the left. However, in the next game against Yokohama F. Marinos, things started to change.

Putting Out Fires

With Thomas starting the season on the left, new Vice Captain Hikaru Nakahara was still our first choice on the right. However, he was injured for the Kashima Antlers game, so Hidemasa Koda came in for him. 13 minutes into the game however, Koda also got injured and needed to be replaced. With Amang playing so well on the left I was reluctant to change, and so Koki Sugimori was brought on. He dropped an absolute clanger, and really damaged his chances of regular game time.

For the Marinos game, I had a decision to make. Nakahara and Koda were both still injured, and Sugimori was a liability I wasn’t ready to entertain. I felt I had to move Amang to the right, and bring in the so far criminally underused Ten Miyagi.

Despite going 1-0 down early on, 32 minutes in, Amang bagged what was quickly becoming his customary goal per game. Miyagi took on his full-back and flashed the ball across the face of goal, with Amang on hand to poke in from close range. With an hour gone we were looking stale and unlikely to find a winner, so in a moment of madness/genius, I switched Amang to a Wide Target Forward, a role that I have had zero previous success with. In an attempt to flesh out my theory slightly, I asked us to play more direct passing, and focus play down the left; the intent was force Marinos to commit men to defending down their right, and then hit a quick switch to an open Amang. It worked like a dream – Amang scored his second of the game on 71 minutes to put us ahead, and then won and subsequently scored a penalty on 79 minutes to seal both the game and his first hat-trick for the club.

Tactical Tweaks

Seemingly unplayable no matter the task we assign to him, I’ve also used Thomas as a key asset when tweaking things mid-match. One of my favourites is to play him through the middle for the last 15 minutes of a game as a Pressing Forward to harass tiring defences and put his pace up against them to stretch their backline.

He has also continued to have short spells playing as a Wide Target Forward from both sides; this is more prominent in away games where our play is slightly more direct by nature, and in a Mid Block his ability to press high is less important.

The last is that he’s been asked on a couple of occasions to play as part of a front two alongside Yamada when we need a goal. The combination of Amang’s pace and running the channels combined with Yamada dropping deep has given defences late headaches and seen us rescue matches on more than one occasion already this season.

Output and Data

A look at his stats and the data available shows just how impressive Amang has been, even if the sample size is relatively small at 707 minutes.

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Starting with the obvious, 11 goals and 1 assist in 8 games (in all competitions) is an incredible return. The fact that he is outperforming his xG by almost double is frankly ludicrous, and although he is underperforming his xA, this is more a criticism of those around him than his ability to create.

Getting 63% of his shots on target is not only incredibly impressive and clearly a huge reason behind his goalscoring form, but also remarkable considering his player trait of ‘Tries First Time Shots’. To be able to hit the target with such regularity while not needing the time to set himself means that defenders, and more importantly goalkeepers, will be caught off guard and in future will second guess whether he will pull the trigger immediately or use his pace and power to burst into space first.

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Being presented with a pizza chart can be fairly intimidating if you aren’t sure what you’re looking at, but in this case there is a fairly simple rule we can follow – the bigger the bar, the better. The data shown is compared to players in the top 20 leagues (based on reputation) and each faint circle is equivalent to 20%.

Therefore, a bar that only fills the first circle would show that a player is in the 20th percentile for that metric. In other words, 80% of players in the top 20 leagues are doing better in that metric. For further insight, there are different charts for different positions, so you can compare your player to others that are asked to perform a similar role. As I have been using Amang as both a wide forward and a striker, I will be comparing his metrics to both in the above pizza charts.

Whether you compare Amang to strikers or attacking midfielders one thing is clear – he is crushing it in basically every aspect.

Now some of this can be explained away by the fact that his data doesn’t change when the pizza chart does. For example, his passes completed looks poor when compared to attacking midfielders and he sits in the 20th percentile. This is because the attacking midfielder group includes central midfielders and central attacking midfielders who will always be expected to see more of the ball and make more passes. When looking at the same metric compared to strikers who generally play less passes, his game time out wide sees him look much better in comparison and he now sits in the 80th percentile despite his metric being the exact same.

Let’s go through my most notable takeaways.

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Despite only starting a quarter of his games as what I’d consider a ‘creative’ role (ie. a Winger rather than an Inside Forward or Striker) he still sits in the 90th percentile for Expected Assists per 90. This, combined with his solid numbers in both Dribbles and Progressive Passes per 90 show that he is heavily involved in our build-up play and even when playing in a role where I’d expect him to offer more of a goal threat, he’s still capable of laying on chances for his team-mates.

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Thomas loses the ball a lot. Over 15 times per game on average. This puts him at around the 20-25th percentile (depending on the position we compare him to), and although ideally he’d lose the ball less often, I actually don’t mind it that much. Much like the example above, this is another metric that shows that Thomas gets plenty of time on the ball; if he wasn’t being found by his team-mates then he wouldn’t have the opportunities to lose the ball. On top of this, Thomas is a player with pace to burn and a lot of flair, and I want him taking players on because he has the ability to make something special happen. He isn’t perfect and it won’t work every time, but I don’t want him to become afraid to fail and lose what makes him special.

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For a man who is only 5’9”, Thomas wins an incredible amount of headers per 90 at 6.11. He does have good Jumping Reach and Strength, but it feels like due to his height he should be starting at a disadvantage in the majority of his aerial duels. (Height isn’t as important in the match engine as jumping reach, but a significantly shorter player will still start at a disadvantage.) However, a quick look at the league comparison screen shows that the division’s average height is only 5’10”, and for defenders this only rises to 5’11”. I would imagine that due to playing the majority of his minutes out wide, occasionally as a Wide Target Forward – a role that attracts more of the ball – a good number of these aerial duels are up against Full-Backs who are the same height or possibly even smaller, giving more context to the impressive looking metric.

For further insight into Pizza Charts and how data can be used to assess a squad and make improvements, I once again turn to friend and maestro Mustermann FM, and this video from his PAOK save.

The Data Hub

Comparing Thomas to the average using Pizza Charts is great, and gives as lot of insight into his game. However, for more tangible insight into where he is excelling compared to the rest of the J1 League in particular, I’m going to take a look at the Data Hub to offer some additional information.


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Thomas is one of only two strikers in the division averaging more than 3 shots per 90 minutes at this point of the season. The other is Jay Roy Jornell Grot, who is thought of highly enough to make the league’s Media Dream 11. As I mentioned earlier in the post, Thomas is getting 63% of his shots on target, which is outstanding but not the highest in the league. However, nobody hitting the target more often than Thomas is having more than 2.2 shots per 90, and therefore nobody is being afforded opportunities regularly enough to compete with his output.

Expected Attacking Output

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This might be my favourite data point of the lot. As I mentioned above, until I looked at the Pizza Charts in a bit more detail, I was surprised to see Amang’s xA of 0.28 per 90. I had been considering Amang almost exclusively as a goal threat, and when playing him as a winger I felt I was sacrificing the key component of his game. In reality, in the context of the division, Amang is both an elite goal threat and creator, and not a single player can hold a candle to him. He isn’t the best at either, but he’s the only one excelling at both.

Physical Output

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Although again not the highest in the division, I think it’s admirable and worth pointing out that Thomas is one of the hardest working forwards in the league, while also scoring the most goals and offering a high level of creativity. I’d have liked to have seen this chart with Pressures Attempted in place of High Intensity Sprints to see how that would have compared, but alas, still a very impressive showing.

Last but not least, I couldn’t end the post without sharing this nugget of gold from my Assistant Manager…

I like Thomas Amang enough to have dedicated an entire blog post to him, but come on, that’s a bit much!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I didn’t plan to write this post at all, much less turn it into a look at Pizza Charts and the Data Hub. The next post will be a look at our Training set up as promised at the end of the last post! Until next time…


  • adam_otbfm

    Adam, known in the Football Manager (FM) realm as @adam_otbfm, is a fervent gamer and content creator. With a penchant for football simulations, Adam delves into the intricacies of FM, sharing his findings on his blog "On the Break." His creative ventures include replicating football legends like Kaka in the virtual pitch, showcasing a blend of nostalgia and modern gameplay. Adam's musings extend to social platforms like Twitter, where he actively engages with the FM community, sharing his gaming journey with @SJK_Seinajoki. His insightful content and avid participation enrich the FM community, making him a valued member in this virtual football world.

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