Dafuge & Data: Season Summary 10 – It’s a nice round number
We’ve made it to season 10. Hurray! Actually because my wordpress has been a steaming pile of Seagull droppings I’ve actually finished season 11 but all the posts are backed up. This post is brought to you by the Tor browser, and my l33t hacking skills.
If you want to catch up on the last 9 season then please check out all the Dafuge and Data posts here, including the end of season reports. To save you time though we’ve risen gently up to the Championship, like a helium balloon released by the sticky hands of a child at Flamingo land.
I think technically the quickest we could have made it to this stage was four or five seasons so we’ve been taking a comparatively scenic route. Maybe on our nice round number of season 10 we could have a bit more success?
Cash was splashed. The board gave us about 250k to spend so I spent about 200k of it on Kamagate. A towering Ivorian defender. He can play in the middle and on the right but I think this season he will be firming up the centre and elbowing forwards in the head. One thing I noticed early in the season is that his body language is almost always aggressive or frustrated. He seems very tightly wound so we just need to point him at unfortunate opposition players so he can break their legs.
A less expensive and less violent recruit was Perez on a free from Sheffield United. He would be competing for a first team place with the other central midfielders, and with being able to play in the AMC role as well as MC would give us additional flexibility.
A little later to the party, in August, was Vlad (the impaler). Though not actually that aggressive he would give us cover on both flanks, but largely on the left with first choice Marks.
So not a huge recruitment drive, but after last seasons solid performance (at the end anyway) we didn’t need to go overboard. We also couldn’t afford to go overboard for the players we really wanted either. I did have a few on the list but they all wanted extreme wages, often 3-4 times what our maximum was. I don’t know if they’ve ever seen Scarborough but that kind of money definitely wasn’t to be found on the seafront.
Tactics: The Raumdeuter
As is the tradition we had a massive misstep at the start of the season and our performances in our first few games were underwhelming. I want to be whelmed at the very least at this stage.
One of the telling things was how exposed our Target 10’s tactic was leaving us on the left flank. Which when you look at it seems pretty obvious. Because we don’t really have one.
Last season it seemed to work but we were having very little joy. The AMC was still working well though. I love the wide targetman still and I’m allergic to having anything but four at the back. I think it’s the fear of angering Tony Pulis that does it. So where was I going to get an extra player to fill in the left flank and give me a bit more there?
Would I have to drop a striker into the AML slot maybe to give myself a 4231? I was a bit stumped so I did what all good managers should do in this situation, and I consulted FMStag. The madman suggested a raumdeuter on the left and given I’ve never tried this role before I obliged.
There’s lots of good stuff out there about the raumdeuter role so I dived in, locked myself in the bathroom, and read this article from the ESDF on my phone. After spending long enough in there to worry my wife I came out with a better understanding. A raumdeuter is a space invader or investigator depending on how aggressive you want to be. So for Scarborough they would be an invader.
It seemed like they could either do this invading by carrying the ball with them, or invade the space without the ball and be ready to receive it and do some damage from an unexpected place. I was happy with either to be honest and it would really depend on the type of player I could use. Sasaki was the obvious choice to drop into that area based on both his preferred positions and his general performance. In the match engine although he was the quickest or most skillful he was very good at finding space. Beyond him, I wasn’t sure but consider giving Pablo a shot and training him into the role. His mental attributes seemed like they would have some potential there.
As a tactic though I was hoping it would all hold together well anyway. With goal threat Fairs still in place, with support from behind, and the flanks. With the wide targetman hopefully pulling players to the right before switching it over to the left for the raumdeuter. Or, the opposite happening with the raumdeuter causing chaos on the left and then bringing in others. Either way, they should be stretching the play.
I was also partly hoping I would be able to tap into the stats and theory behind this Where Goals Come From series of articles by American Soccer Analysis. It’s a beautiful nerdy series based on real football. The TLDR summary is that certain passes are better than others (bad news for crosses, good news for progressive passes), and passes into certain zones from certain other zones tend to be more dangerous as well. Can you hear that? It’s Big Sam muttering “POMO POMO” between slurps of gravy.
As you can see from the beautiful graphics above via American Soccer Analysis it really aligns well with our direct approach as we’re more likely to be playing progressive passes. Longballs, through balls, and progressive passes? I’m not sure we do much else. And with the raumdeuter, striker, wide targetman and (deep breath) the AMC we were now covering zones 13- 18. A striker in 17, an AMC providing from 14 or bursting into 17. A raumdeuter potentially cutting in or drifting into 14 and 17. The wide targetman in practice would be bullying defenders, pulling players wide to open space and cutting the ball into zones 14 and 17.
A deep-lying playmaker, a CM on support and a defensive unit that would rather hoof than move too far up the pitch and get altitude sickness would compliment this all by keeping the long progressive balls coming. Beautiful in theory.
The impact of the change was pretty much instant.
The performances improved, we created more, and we didn’t seem to miss the extra striker. Largely because the raumdeuter in Sasaki was arriving late at the post or for a weighted through ball. We were effectively ending up with 3 to 4 players upfront anyway.
Sasaki started to get the goals, and then later on his understudy, Pablo started to as well. In fact towards the end of the season Pablo started to make a case for being the first choice. The boy from Boreham wood (via Spain) soon stopped complaining about being played out of position when he was scoring.
The form picked up and we launched ourselves forward like a gull stealing a chip. We went from makeweights to potential promotion candidates with an impressive run of form.
With the last few games to go we were riding high but could feel the hot sandwich breath of Middlesborough, Sheff United, and Birmingham on our neck. The squad was young and ramshackle so I had some real doubts about whether they were mentally strong enough to make it to the end. The title was beyond us but automatic promotion became the aim instead. I don’t think I could take the stress of the championship playoffs.
Towards the end of the season, we hit a massive snag when hitman Joe Fair broke his toe. Such a humbling injury for our record goalscorer. As a result, we have to scramble for a replacement, and rather than shift too many players around youth backup Dowse came in.
Originally meant to be a targetman back when we played two up top it looked like his time was up with the Seadogs but he actually was a fantastic replacement. An almost Targetman/Poacher hybrid he managed to grab a few goals and help build up the play of others.
So it came down to the final day of the seasons, us against Preston. A win and we were up, anything else put us at the mercy of those retrobates from Middlesborough, Birmingham and Sheffield. We would more than likely end up in the playoffs with anything but a win…
Despite the injury issues…we made it! With Fairs coming back from his broken toe to lash the 1st goal in against Preston in the final day of the season.
End of Season
Pop open the box wine! We’re off to the Premier League! We’ve got a parade along the seafront booked, with regular stops to wave at local crowds outside the arcades, chippies and the hotel one of the Bronte’s died in. The entire team have been rewarded with a modest payout, a season ticket to the Sealife Centre and a queue jump pass for Flamingo Land.
What can we say about Joe Fairs that I haven’t already covered in previous blogs? He’s just banging them in no matter the level we are at. I think he started in league 2 with us as cover for the legend that is Varian and hasn’t looked back. He’s just shy of 150 league goals for us and he’s only 23. Can he do it against the bigger boys? Yeah probably. Plenty of the bigger boys were relegated into the Championship so I have faith that Fairs will still be doing the job next season.
Pablo did a good job for us this season. Picked up for peanuts from Boreham Wood of all places last season this year we retrained him to act as cover in the raumdeuter spot. He moaned, he complained, he did the work needed almost every game. Not a huge tally but if the game actually recorded xA I think he would have been raking it in. He was a creative force at times and caused plenty of problems. I’m not sure he’ll do the same next season but I thin he has the potential to become a bit of a star on the Scarborough seafront.
Lets not forget Varian either. Ethon Varian, legendary goal scorer. We gave him a little bit of game time, even though he’s not scored the past two seasons. We were rewarded with a rare goal. The first in over 38 games. He’s not got what it takes anymore but bizzarely in the match engine he moves well. He just doesn’t have quite enough acceleration, first touch or composure to really be the lethal force at this level. He has scored almost 150 league goals though, and has over 300 appearances. He’s been with us from the very first season and because of that, heart over head, he will get at least one start next season. A goal would be great but I’ll be happy to give him a squad spot so we can say he played at every level for us. Take a bow.
Once again we owe FMStag a debt. He’s created some useful spreadsheets. They break down attacking and defensive contributions, as well as interesting tidbits like how much a player is costing you per minute they’ve actually played. Looking at this would help me work out where some deadwood or costly players could be trimmed as well as any players that might have been quietly performing.
I've put together a calculator that allows you to see how much per minute played a player is costing you in basic salary.— FM Stag (@FM_Stag) July 14, 2021
I use it make decisions on who may be a logical, economical choice to sell.
'Wages left to pay' may also help by seeing what you'd save in wages.#FM21 pic.twitter.com/diZPEk1p0P
A few standout points. Fairs has obviously contributed a lot but we have surprises like Vlad popping up for defensive contributions. He seemed solid if uninspiring during the season but the data seems to suggest he was a bit better than this.
Brad Cross never really made much of an impact so it’ll be time for him to move on, saving me some cash. Gale and Bonsu also on the chopping block as a result of poor defensive contributions when given a chance. Perhaps a surprise for me is Wheatley. He’s actually had a transfer lined up since very early in the season, long before I looked at this, but despite being the top performer according to these stats he will be off. He wasn’t starting enough and moaned, so I just sold him. If I had known about these stats maybe I would have tolerated his bitching a little more.
These are great spreadsheets, and I think I’ll be checking them mid season as well as end of season to ensure I’m getting the best out the team. I’ll need every advantage I can get and things like this might stop me from shooting myself in the foot by getting rid of good performers.
The board can’t back out of plans now! Unlike last summer the board had to commit to making changes as the Premier Division requires at least 12.5k seats. Old Flamingo land wasn’t going to do the trick so plans were made for the new Scarborough Athletic Stadium.
Not massive, and only a couple thousand more seats than the bare minimum. But given that we only had 5k before it is a nice change. The price seems okay and the only downside seems to be how long it will take. But you can only have two of cheap, fast, and good. We seem to be taking our time to get a good price.
The gives us an issue in terms of where to play for the next two seasons? We couldn’t return to York as it was a touch too small. Would we ground share with Hull at the KC? Or over at Middlesborough? Or I guess maybe Scunthorpe or Doncaster? No? Okay getting a little far out now. Huddersfield? Leeds?
No. Oakwell. For about two seasons our fans will be making a trip over to Barnsley. From North East Yorkshire to South West Yorkshire. Passing several better picks along the way. The only reason I can see for doing this is that they are offering the best price at £275k a season.
Over 20k seats though, and we won’t be there forever. Hopefully putting my earlier fears I wrote about (inspired by Wimbledon’s issues back in the 80’s/90’s) to bed.
The Plan for Next Season
We may (by default) be the highest placed team in Yorkshire next season. With us being the regions on representatives in the Premier Division now Leeds have been relegated. But we will be minnows in comparison with basically everyone else. We have one of the smallest budgets in the Championship as it stands, so when we are playing with the bigger boys we are likely to get outspent left, right and centre.
That said, you can see that with the influx of Premier Division cash, we do have a bit to spend. Over £20m seems like a decent amount to fritter away. Using the stats above I think we are going to be trying to shore up the defense, maybe sort out an actual raumdeuter, and try to find the elusive Premier Division quality keeper.
Survival is the only thing that matters next season. By any means. We will be summoning Big Sam and throwing any cup games, getting physical and counter attacking like our lives depend on it. But… we will be pragmatic. Every signing made will be done with one eye on the Championship and bouncing back up, and using the money for long term prospects and infrastructure improvements. New facilities if possible, and a penny slide arcade on every corner.