DNAjax | Part Four – Role Assignment

Part One | Part Two | Part Three


Versatile – able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities

Q: What is better than a player who can perform to a high standard in one position?
A: A player who can perform to a high standard in multiple positions.


In my last blog, I analysed my Ajax squad using my Attribute Analysis Spreadsheet – this involved assessing each player against the DNA I wanted them to possess and also the formation I’m intending to use.

DNAjax: Stage One Role Assignment

As you can see, I was left with positions I didn’t have an out and out player for. I could go straight to the transfer market and scour for someone world-class as money isn’t an issue for a team like Ajax, but why do that when there are 24 first team players I can choose from.


Step Four – Role Assignment

To gain a place in the Starting XI, a player must fit 2 criteria

  1. 60%+ rating in Squad DNA
  2. 60%+ rating in their role and squad formation
DNAjax Squad Notes

This immediately rules out 5 players, those who don’t fit the DNA just yet but I feel will after a season of training alongside the First Team or a loan spell, leaving me with 19 players for 11 positions.


Each player is then put through another assessment based on their formation suitability and potentially given a place in the starting XI:

Perfect Fit
DNA is above 60%
→ Formation suitability is above 60%
→ Best role within the formation is also their strongest role overall

In what could be seen as a bit of a shock, 19 year old Schuurs is the first name on the team sheet. Whilst he needs to work on his tackling, Schuurs is a natural CD according to my analysis and will hopefully thrive alongside some more experienced teammates.

DNA: 76%
CD (D): 63%

Good Fit
DNA is above 60%
→ Formation suitability is above 60%
→ Best role within the formation is their second strongest role overall

Blind is the epitome of DNAjax and with his Model Citizen personality, he’s going to be pivotal on and off the pitch this season.

DNA: 82%
DLP (S): 72%

DNAjax Andre Onana Profile

Onana just makes it in as first choice goalkeeper, his DNA is exactly on the cut off but he is still young enough to see an increase in his teamwork and workrate attributes.

DNA: 60%
G (D): 74%

Okay Fit
DNA is above 60%
→ Formation suitability is above 60%

The players whose strongest overall roles don’t fit the formation but who still rate high enough in the roles to do a good job – you could say these are the most valuable squad members as they can perform in more than one area – they are versatile.

DNAjax Joel Veltman Profile

Veltman is the second strongest CD (C) in the squad, second only to Magallan who is away on a prearranged loan for the season. My only concern would be his high aggression, he’ll need to keep that in check!

DNA: 77%
CD (C): 71%

Promes is destined to cause problems on the wing – his traits are underpinned nicely by his speed and fitness. At 27 years old, he’ll be an Ajax stalwart for many years to come.

DNA: 73%
IW (A): 69%

Making up the last of the defensive line is Tagliafico. Despite plying his trade as a left-back, his attributes suggest he’ll easily make the transition to CD.

DNA: 71%
CD (D): 72%

At 30 years old, Tadic is the second oldest in the First Team squad. Equally adept at playing on either side of the pitch, his physical stats are starting to dip but his flair, passing and vision are still strong enough to cause problems for the opposition defence.

DNA: 67%
WP (A): 72%

Choosing to use Huntelaar in my starting XI was a difficult decision to make. On one hand, he fits the criteria and is prolific in his history. On the other hand, he’s 35 years old so it’s a worry as to whether he’ll last the full campaign.

DNA: 64%
SS (A): 69%


After reassessing my squad, I can now see for certain where I need to invest in new signings

DNAjax Assigned Roles Stage 2

The priorities will be:
DM to play either role as Blind can perform well in both
→ DNAjax have nobody to play the CM positions so that is 100% a must buy
→ I would also like to look for a SS in their early to mid twenties so I can alternate with Huntelaar when he gets fatigued.

DNAjax | Part 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?

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