Dafuge & Data: Choosing (Stats and) Violence
Choose Life. Choose Long Throws. Choose Hard Tackles. Choose Stats. Choose Directed and Purposeful Violence.
Just when you thought football at Scarborough couldn’t get anymore thuggish! We’ve managed to escalate the level of grievous bodily harm found on the pitch, home and away. But it’s not mindless thuggery and violence. Oh no. It’s targeted and informed by statistics. We have a few stats, new and old, in the game that we have been using to further bully the opposition. We’re a small team, sat at the big boy table, so we’ve made some room for ourselves with our elbows. Literally.
If you’re interested in shithousery then take a look at the Strikerless post on it too.
Thanks to chatting to FMStag, who’s excellent adventures can be read about here, new stats were revealed! On the Player Overview page for player stats in the league, there is the option to select from a menu of different statistics. Rather than the defaults.
If you select the header you can change some of the stats. There’s a massive list and there are some statistics on there that you can’t see anywhere else in the game. To my knowledge anyway. xG per 90, xG against per 90, xG per shot, and contested headers. As well as blocks, interceptions and clearances per 90.
Now when you select it you only see the top few players on this screen. But if you click on the stat title again it takes you through to a list of the top 20 for that stat, on the detailed player stat page. It won’t appear in the menu on the left if you go directly to the page, you have to select the title to get there. Top UI experience.
Also worth noting that xG per shot is completely borked.
xG per 90
A great stat for looking at which players are producing a good amount of xG per game. Really helpful for seeing what the per game contribution of an attacker is, and adjusts essentially for any spikes or freakishly high xG totals for individual games if looked at over enough matches. It’s a stat that I’d been working out for assessing my strikers much earlier in the save.
But I’ve decided to use this list for other purposes. Evil purposes.
I’ve taken to checking the list before every game to see if opposition players are on this list. If they are a top 20 xG threat. And if they are, and they make the starting 11, I target them.
The added violence was achieved simply by using the Opposition Instructions. It would depend a little on their position but usually this involves putting tackle harder on, as well as pressing them and maybe marking them more tightly so the violence could be administered quickly. What the hell, if they play on the wing I’d stick show onto weaker foot. Mainly so you can then break the stronger foot.
The xG per 90 was used to paint a giant target on their backs.
The first match I used this in was against Notts County, and their striker Ben Bishop, from the table above, got the treatment. He was the 2nd most ‘dangerous’ player according to xG per 90 in the league but managed to do sweet FA in the game. We kicked him all over the pitch and he never held any sway on the results. In fact, I’m worried that we kicked him so hard he decided to leave England. A few weeks later he departed for the safer and less physical climate in the MLS. Enjoy Toronto Ben.
This was kept up with pretty much every game since. It’s not always possible as the list only tells you the top 20 players for xG per 90, but when in doubt you can roughly work it out using a squad view. Not by adding it to a squad view. Oh no. Can’t do that. But you can just work it out mentally by taking their xG and dividing it by minutes played (and then converting back to 90).
It hasn’t always been completely effective. For example despite kicking lumps out of Harvey Blair he still bossed the game against us and snuck in a late winner.
But we made him pay for it in blood. Regardless, it is an enjoyable and effective stats driven application of violence. You could use the information to just mark someone out the game or change your tactics. I use it to take them out of the game physically.
Other Stats with Violence Thresholds
I’m no stranger to using Opposition Instructions to inflict pain. We have been driven to violence by other statistics in the past. Again this was partly inspired by conversations with FMStag, who is no stranger to using stats to target players.
Alongside the above use of xG per 90 I’ve been applying violence in game, using the player stats around passing. If an opposition player hits 3 key passes I pause and go over to the OI’s, and select tackle harder. Again I’ll add more if I’m feeling fancy but the important thing is that they are being too influential and must pay.
I could focus on dribbles, or clear cut chances but I think key passes is a good indicator of who potential creative playmakers are. Who the opposition artists are. The puppet masters. The players that need their strings cutting and their canvas ripping.
I often get news items about not being able to control my players, or about how the game never really got going because of our fouls. But actually, the players were doing exactly what they were told, and the game never got going for the opposition. It was going just fine for us.
Another way of applying painful and violent pressure to the opposition is through the use of specific players. Picking players who can bully specific opposition plays by just being there. We have a slightly odd, Klingon Warrior inspired, tactic. At it’s heart it is a 4-4-2 but we have the right winger pushed up as a wide targetman.
This is the blunt tool we use to victimise opposition players. Specifically the left-back. Left sided players are special and delicate creatures. Rare and, in the lower leagues, often flawed due to the limited pool to choose from. They are a potential weak spot to exploit.
I mentioned in a DTG article about how 3 strikers can be used to force open space, or how the targetman role can be used as like crowbar (or sledgehammer) to break open defences. A similar approach is being used here with our WTM but he will be creating space and starting moves by flattening the left-back.
Along side checking the xG per 90 before a game I also check whether the opposition are playing with a leftback, and if so check the following:
- How tall is he?
- How good is his jumping reach attribute?
- What are his aerial/contested header stats like?
- How good is his positioning?
- Is he strong?
- How agile and good at balancing is he?
Depending on how he stacks up I deploy a particular WTM. If they are short, struggle to jump and aren’t very strong then I favour Javier Torres. Tall, strong and good in the air he will bully them, flatten them, and win aerial ball after aerial ball. He will be flicking it on to the BBM or PF all day whilst the short left-back picks himself up off the floor.
If the opposition left-back is a bit more physically imposing and good in the air then Sonny Winn comes on. He’s not bad in the air but importantly he is fast, agile and well balanced. Ideally his anticipation would be a bit better but all combined it means we can left the left-back have his time in the air whilst Sonny puts him under pressure and then gets to any 2nd balls faster than the left-back can.
I have to admit though, I much prefer the situations where Torres gets to play as not only does he destroy the left-backs but he often ends up putting them in the treatment room. Either through a battle of attrition or some well time elbows during one of the many aerial victories.
Why choose violence?
It’s fun. But also as mentioned in the pragmatism post, it’s about the right of the weak. I’m a small side and I need an edge, and sometimes the simplest one is physical play. Stats can be used to improve your performance, but they can also be used to work out how to sabotage your opposition.