Dafuge & Data: Stats and Summary Season Two

Another season, another summary, another batch of stats. If you want to catch the journey from the start go back to here, or try this link here to see the various stats related posts. In this blog I’ll be going through our second full season with the Seadogs. I’ve already hinted at some of the progress we made in the Striker Health Check post from earlier.

Recruitment Summary

We tried to shore up the team with a few key signings. Some more key than others. A running theme in the slideshow below is height. I like tall players. We play a long ball game and encourage the opposition out wide so we can deal with crosses instead of players running right at us. So height is important.

The big signings were McDonnell in net, and Cannonier and Salisbury upfront. I’d singled out our original keeper Allen as an issue last season with him giving away many more goals than the xG against would suggest. He was leaky. A new keeper would hopefully stem the tide (along with the improvements I’d made last season at right-back).

Cannonier and Salisbury came in after I failed to find a good Targetman to replace the man, the myth, the legend, Kayode Odejayi. The initial plan was to move the free-scoring Ethon Varian over to the TM role and let one of the newbies take over PF. This changed as you can see in the stats heavy striker post.

Everyone else we signed was either going to be cover or long term replacements. Most of them were rated as having league two or one potential. This would be more exciting if our scout wasn’t half-blind from staring into the Scarborough sun.

Season Summary

We hit the ground running and didn’t really drop much below 9th all season. We were in playoff form throughout without ever really threatening for the title. The gap flattered us in the end. Thankfully though we kept up enough pressure to get into the playoffs for the 2nd season running, with a slightly higher seed this time. Ethon Varian had recovered nicely from the broken ankle at the end of last season.

Once again the board weren’t expecting a playoff place, or promotion, so we could go into the playoffs with little pressure. Other than the kind we placed on ourselves. I didn’t want another season in the Vanarama North if I could help it. Every season here was one more we could risk losing our best players in, and would anger the Seagull God.

The Play Offs

First up we had Tamworth. A team we had beaten twice already. And we…beat them again. We made it look easy in the end with a 3-0 victory. Salisbury, recently installed as a starter by this point grabbed an important brace.

This then left us with Flyde to play. We did not have a good record against, this season or last. I feared this is where the run would end. We started brightly or as brightly as route one can begin. We were 2 goals up just after half time and then crumbled as Flyde got level 15 minutes after our 2nd goal. They then battered us until we scored a lucky goal, from a long punt upfield, by the hero Varian.

So off to the final we flew. A short flight as we played it in the Flamingo Land Stadium. And it was all drama as usual. Sort of rivals Boston took an early lead and then it remained quiet, and low quality, until the final 3 minutes. Salisbury popped up with another brace. By this point, Connor had scored 8 in 8 games and had earnt himself free rides on the dodge-em’s for life (Note: Make feature request for FM22).

And there we have it. We made it up with a few last-minute goals from Salisbury. A player who only got his start because of the stats analysis I’d done earlier on.

The Stats Summary

I’ll be a light touch on the stats here as we delved deep for the striker information. We scored almost 28 more goals than expected, and only conceded about 5 more than expected. Over performance and improvement across the board here which meant on expected points were actually finished 8 positions higher than justice demanded. In some ways that’s a little worrying as although we’ve peaked this season and done well, we could regress in future seasons. This is in part nullified by the promotion though. As it’ll be hard no matter what.

Across various key stats, we did quite well. Jackson got plenty of blocks in at left-back, frustrating cross delivery as well as blocking shots. Richards had an amazing clearance record. Our shot conversion rate was just shy of 20%, almost 5% better than the next. We made it into 2nd place for headers won which reflected our aerial dominance and vindicated in part the selection of giants where possible. We snuck into the top 5 for fouls as well. Which seems like an odd stat to be proud of but as I want the team to be aggressive this is one of the markers we aim for. Fouls disrupt play after all.

Stats and DNA

The next big stats foray for me is going to be looking at DNA. I’ve mentioned the general principles behind it in this post. But I usually go about it slightly differently to others. Whilst I know what sort of things I should be looking for in players to fit my play style and club ethos I also know that FM doesn’t always work the way we expect it to.

Back in FM19 when writing for Dictate The Game, I took a slightly different approach. I worked out what stats or KPI’s best represented the style of play I was trying to engage in first. What is the output of a successful hoofball tactic essentially? Then with some stats wizardry, I worked out which attributes in my players best predicted those outputs. What attributes actually align with those KPI’s within the context of my tactic, and my team.

I got a few surprising (at the time) results, like Bravery and Jumping. And importantly a lot of KPI’s that I would have expected to be predicted by certain attributes (Like headers by heading, and goals by finishing) were actually better predicted by other variables.

It gave me the insight I needed to really focus my recruitment and make my time as hoofball-y and violent as possible. At the end of next season, I’ll have 3 seasons worth of data with my team and this tactic to work with as a base.

Other Stats?

I’ll be honest DNA wasn’t what I was planning on doing next initially but a lot of the other things I’d like to look at in more depth are hindered a bit by the state of stats in the game. Blocks and clearances for example aren’t on the squad views yet, and key tackles still don’t register. All this makes an in-depth look at my defense a lot harder to achieve.

I will be doing stuff related to this but I’m just holding out a little longer until the next patch. I’ve raised a fair few bugs about stats in the forums. If you spot any please raise them as it’ll save me losing any more hair.

Looking Forward

As the confetti and cold chips strewn about in celebration are swept up by the long-suffering ground staff we have to look forward to next season. In the national will be minnows again which I’m happy with. Long ball works well when teams give you space behind them because they are attacking, so that’s what we have to look forward to.

Our brand of aggressive direct de la Vega ball has hit the mark with the fans, and the board. As always rumours about a takeover from a fans group and then a consortium are ever-present. I have a feeling once we make it out of non-league there’ll be some buyers.

Which would be nice as we have no money and have been forced to spend another £35k to bring the stadium up to spec for the national. Our wage budget is jumping up to 11k a week as well. I’ll try not to spend all of it but we have plenty of areas to work on. I don’t think we need much to survive, even if we did massively outperform our stats this season. So I’ll be looking for extra depth and quality across the pitch, and will maybe blood some of the potential stars in the youth team like Murray.