DNAjax | Step Three – Squad Analysis

Part One | Part Two


People have different ways to analyse their squads,
– some rely on Assistant and Coach reports and go with what they suggest
– some have an innate ability to just look at attributes and know exactly who will fit where
– some use a combination of reports and match practice
– some make a super in-depth spreadsheet that will analyse every player for them

It will come as no surprise that I fall firmly into the latter category.

I released v2 of my Attribute Analysis Spreadsheet recently and will be using it to set up my Ajax squad.


Having the best players you can at your disposal is the number one priority when it comes to squad management. Depending on the team you’re managing, it can also be one of the hardest things about FM.

With Ajax, I’m lucky to have a large squad at my fingertips. However, when looking at my assistant reports to see what he thinks their best positions are, this could also be seen as a hindrance.

I’m choosing to play a formation that doesn’t use strikers or fullbacks, so if I was to rely solely on my assistant, I’d immediately be letting 26 players leave without a second glance.

This is where my spreadsheet comes in, it gives every player another chance and reassesses their suitability for my formation. Players that could have been leaving may find their future at the club has suddenly become a lot more secure.

In the first two ( 1 | 2 ) parts of this series, I laid out the formation I wanted to play and the personality traits I wanted my team to possess. After setting up my spreadsheet to reflect this, I can now go ahead and analyse my players.

For those who haven’t seen the spreadsheet yet, I have devised a formula that rates each player based on their nationality, personality, age and formation/role suitability. Further details can be found on the spreadsheet download page


First Team

The first team originally consisted of 23 players, which increased to 24 after the squad analysis. Not a big difference numbers-wise but more than half of these players were newly promoted from the B-Team.

7 players were demoted due to being too young to cope with the demands of top-flight football or because their current skill level isn’t up to my standards.

5 players were added to the transfer list for a combined market value of £56m. There are some high profile players on the list, but that’s DNAjax for you – if you don’t fit the club culture then Ajax isn’t the club for you.

Using the best positions report from my Assistant, you can see 9 of the players would immediately leave. Taking advantage of my spreadsheet though, I can easily reassign everyone to their best position on the field based on my formation.

There is still a massive unbalance in the first team, but I’ll revisit this in my next blog.

Following the same process, I can also quickly form my B and Youth squads.

B-Team

Originally 32 players strong, the B-Team has been cut drastically to just 9 players. This is the biggest cull of all 3 squads but it isn’t something I’ll be concerned about as the First Team players who aren’t currently getting match time will be made available for the reserves.

10 players were added to the transfer list for a combined market value of £8.3m. A further 7 will be offered out for a loan in order to receive some match experience.

3 players would have left immediately if I relied on my Assistant Report.

After assigning everyone to the role that fits my formation, I’m more than happy with the balance on the pitch – as previously mentioned, the gaps will be covered by rotating First Team players.

Youth Team

Starting with 27 players, the squad now consists of 12. In the same way that I’ll be using First Team players for the reserves, I’ll be using the younger squad members to plug the gaps in youth games too. The small squad size also lessens the workload on the coaches and gives the chance to offer more one on one coaching for our up and coming stars.

No players were deemed good enough for promotion to a higher level but we have seen 3 demoted into the squad.

A massive 19 have been released from the club, with 2 being offered out on loan.

Only 3 would have seen their careers cut short by the Assistant Manager.

As with the First Team, there is an unbalance in the squad after assigning their roles and I’ll be looking at using players in their secondary roles.


Overview

Out of the initial 82 man squad, 36 players have either been asked to leave or will be leaving as soon as teams come bidding. This is still 16 more than my ideal squad size, but over the course of the season players will naturally drift away from my plans and I’d be open to selling them.

The balance of the squad needs some work but this is something I’ll address in Step Four – Role Assignment. The process will involve reassessing certain players and seeing if they could perform elsewhere on the pitch, for example, could the DLP’s be equally at home as a VOL?

CSKA-Sofia: 5212 WB Tactic

I’m not a tactician so there isn’t a big write up or analysis to follow, but here’s the CSKA-Sofia tactic, used for 3 seasons, that won the Champions League in the 3rd season.

It’s not always easy but it gets there in the end, scores goals and doesn’t concede many. It may need tweaking to fit your squad, but it worked wonders with my CSKA team.

Don’t start with OI but listen to the Assistant’s feedback during the game and make changes based on that.

Against bigger teams, start with an attacking mentality and change to cautious once a goal ahead.

If they equalise, change back to attacking and repeat until the last 10 minutes when you should go very defensive.

DNAjax | Laying the Foundations

In the first part of DNAjax, I outlined what I am aiming to do with the save – it’s something I’ve never done before so I’m going completely out of my comfort zone and there’ll be a lot of learning along the way.

Player ability will still be at the forefront of the save, but there’ll also be a big focus on mentality and personality – it may lead to some big names leaving the club early on but Janneke van Langen is a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.


AJAX is a squad that could fall into the overwhelming category, over their 3 teams they have amassed a total of 82 players.

82 players is a large amount for most clubs:
– how do you manage rotation to keep everyone happy while also developing tactical partnerships?
– how do you ensure your youth players get the right development?

82 players is definitely a large amount for DNAjax.

With such a vast amount of players, there’s no doubt about what’s needed, at least half will have to leave in 2019/2020.

Looking towards the future, a squad size of around 25-30 should be sufficient but let’s not run before we can walk, we’ve got to make it through the first season without getting sacked first!


The first year is all about laying the foundations:
Step 1 – Club DNA
Step 2 – Formation Selection
Step 3 – Player Assessment
Step 4 – Role Assignment
Step 5 – Transfer Targets

Step One – Club DNA

More detail is covered in my first post but here’s a reminder of the type of squad I have envisaged for DNAjax,

Step Two – Formation Selection

The majority of managers would take a look at their squad and decide what formation best suits them based on the players at their disposal. However, to make things even more difficult for myself, I allowed Twitter to choose.

With already having intensive plans for the save, the last thing I wanted to do was create a new formation so I put out an SOS for people to send me their tactics – the only conditions were it needed to include attacking and entertaining football (to satisfy the board) and a DM position (to satisfy my desire to use Daley Blind).

I had a dozen or so sent to me and eventually narrowed it down to the three I liked the look of most. Putting it to a short public vote, a 32410 formation by Ryan_FMTeacher was chosen. I’ll be tweaking it as I go but will be starting from the following base

As you’ll soon see, Ajax is lacking in the first team striker area – currently only having an ageing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at our disposal – so going strikerless could actually work out pretty well!

Step Three – Player Analysis

Player Analysis is one of the most important areas of FM, it’s also one of the most time-consuming.

Imagine if someone made a spreadsheet that would cut down on the number of screens you need to look at.

Imagine if all you had to do was type a players name into a box and all the information you need would magically appear in front of you.

Oh, right, I did that!

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to player analysis so there will be another blog coming soon. In the meantime, here are some more graphics showing the scale of what I’ll be dealing with – a pretty unbalanced 82 man squad.

DNAjax | An Introduction

Chances are if you’re visiting my blog, you’re here because you’ve happened across the Attribute Analysis Spreadsheet I released last year. If you’re a follower of my Twitter account, you’ll also have seen I’m slowly working on some new features for v2 of the spreadsheet.

It’s the biggest FM project I’ve ever worked on so I can’t currently give an estimated release date, but what I can do is give a few sneak peeks!

I’ve been using the essence of it in my CSKA-Sofia save but as that came to a natural hiatus after season 3, I’ve decided to start up a new save to really test it out.


If the image above doesn’t give it away, welcome to my Ajax save!

DNAjax is a save about creating a solid and dependable team – it’s not about signing the best players, it’s about signing the right players.

I won’t go into detail about what DNA means in FM as there are plenty of blogs out there already, Passion4FM gives a great introduction guide and MikaelinoFM has a fantastic Man Utd save going, this is just my own little (and simplified) version.


The FFM DNAJAX

I’ve never needed much of an excuse to throw together a cheeky little diagram and here we are again!

There are 5 key attributes that I want every player to embody that I feel should make a pretty solid squad member when combined

  • Bravery – how likely he is to perform what he thinks is the best action for the team, regardless of the possible physical consequences

  • Composure – how unaffected he is by mental pressure, reducing the chances of making poor decisions

  • Determination – how much he tries to succeed in a match, doing whatever he can to win and develop

  • Teamwork – how well he follows instructions and forms relationships on and off the pitch

  • Workrate – the amount of physical effort he put into a match and the drive to perform well

So Near & Yet Sofia | Season Three

Spoiler Alert: CHAMPIONS!

Lilyana Dimitrova Stats
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Superkupa na Bulgaria

Champions!
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Parva Liga

Champions!
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Kupa na Bulgaria

Champions!
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Champions League

Champions!
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Competition, Club Culture and 5 Year Plan progress
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Competition, Club Culture and 5 Year Plan progress
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Player & Club Records
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Team of the Season
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So Near & Yet Sofia | The Story So Far

As you may have seen on my Twitter feed, I’ve made the decision to stop my regular blog posts about my CSKA-Sofia save. This is mainly due to lack of time and brain space on my part, plus the limited views I get for each post. I’ve found myself playing slower this year just so I can get a blog post out before I forget what’s happened so it’s kind of taking some of the enjoyment away from the game.

My plan now is to start a Twitter thread for each season and post more regularly on there instead, then at the end of each season, I’ll create a blog post with the tweets embedded for those who prefer to read them all in one place. This gives me the option to expand a little more in the blogs if I want to without feeling like I have to.

My previous CSKA blog posts are still available to read here but I’ve also put together a little ‘at a glance’ view of the story so far.


10 seasons to achieve as many competition and award wins as possible
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Lilyana Dimitrova Stats
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Competition, Club Culture and 5 Year Plan progress
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CSKA-Sofia Facilities
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Player & Club Records
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So Near & Yet Sofia | Season 2 | Part 1

Previously in Sofia
Season One


In a bit of belated update, we have reached the Winter Break during Dimitrova’s second season in charge of CSKA-Sofia.

Club Vision

In what could be the biggest turnaround of all time, the board are finally something other than devastated with the club vision of signing high-reputation players! Rumour has it, they were even delighted at some stages during the season.

They are still only satisfied with the development of youth players however they are delighted to see CSKA are maintaining the best youth system in the country. Once the upgraded system has bedded in properly, there is no doubt in Dimitrova’s mind that several Youth Academy players will become a major part of the starting 11.


Parva Liga

Board Expectation: Challenge for the title
Current Status: Very Pleased

It couldn’t really be any closer at the top but thanks to the goalscoring prowess of Evandro, Ali Sowe and Graham Carey (31 league goals between them), CSKA are sitting top of the Parva Liga on goal difference.


Kupa na Bulgaria

Board Expectation: Reach Final
Current Status: Failed

For the second season in a row, CSKA has failed to progress further than the Quarter Finals, with another 2-1 extra-time defeat.


Superkupa na Bylgarija

Board Expectation: Not Important
Current Status: Lost

Even though it’s not an important competition, it’s still heartbreaking to lose on penalties.


UEFA Champions League

Board Expectation: Reach 3rd Qualifying Round
Current Status: Passed

CSKA were not expected to make waves in their first Champions League appearance since the 1989/1990 season, and waves they did not make, losing in the 3rd Qualifying Round as expected.


Europa League

Board Expectation: Be Competitive
Current Status: Very Pleased

After being knocked out of the Champions League, CSKA were thurst into the Europa League once again.

A convincing 4-0 first-leg victory over NK Maribor helped secure their place in the Group Stage for the first time in 10 years. It was there where they caused one of the biggest upsets in the competition, beating Roma twice to finish 2nd in the group and reach the Knockout Stages!

Just reaching the knockout stages is a massive achievement for Dimitrova and her band of merry men, but will they be able to continue the fairytale and beat Man Utd… ?


Transfers

The chequebook has been called upon several times this season, with the money from the Antov sale being reinvested into the squad. It’s unlikely CSKA will have anywhere near the same amount of transfer budget for a long time so the aim was to strengthen the team for the current season whilst also ensuring the majority of the players would improve even more over the next few years.

Karnezis, Antov and Anderson all returned for a second season on loan. The remaining signings were all youth team members and will be covered in a separate post.

{A handful of fringe and youth players who didn’t make the grade found themselves leaving the club }

Awards

The success of the club brought in more awards at the end of 2019,

CSKA-Sofia | Season 1 | Part 3

{ I’m changing up the format of my save game blogs – I’ll be doing more in-depth ones at the beginning and end of each season, with shorter ones in between covering the ‘highlights’. This is the first of the latter }


Previously in Sofia
Part 1 | Part 2


Personal

In the biggest news of the last 3 months, the CSKA board finally gave in to Dimitrova’s requests for a contract extension and she officially signed on the dotted line for another 2 years with the Armeytsite.

Along with the contract extension, the board also permitted Dimitrova to study for a new Coaching Qualification and she now holds a National A Licence after 4 months of intense study.

The impressive start to her professional management career continues and after a further 6 games – Dimitrova has a win percentage of 62%!


Parva Liga

The league run continued and CSKA went 19 games unbeaten before a surprise 1-0 defeat to midtable Botek Vraca. Their fine form propelled them to first place in the league, overtaking historic rivals Levski Sofia in the process.

Officially qualified for the Championship Stage, now only 9 games remain. Can CKSA hold on and win their first Parva Liga title since 2008?


Club Vision: Sign high-reputation players

Before the Winter Break, the board were devastated with the lack of high profile signings. In a bid to appease the board, Dimitrova dipped into the loan market and brought in 2 new squad members.

Former Greek international, Karnezis, comes in from Napoli to provide goalkeeping competition.

Up and coming Ukranian defender, Mykolenko, also arrives and slots straight into the starting 11 at wingback.

The board were delighted both signings, they fitted exactly within the high reputation vision of the club. “More needs to be done”, they said, “more.”


In the next blog

It’s the end of season review: will CSKA win the league and, most importantly, will the board ever not be devastated with the transfer market?