Du Malone writes: Over the last year I’ve designed two new roles for Football Manager (FM).

I don’t mean thorough-going roles, obviously. Presumably only Sports Interactive can create those.

But I use the word ‘roles’ because I started by thinking what kind of function I wanted a player to fill and then worked out what was required. I could call them ‘functions’ rather than roles, but somehow ‘new functions in FM’ doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

Maybe I should call them ‘roles’ — with inverted commas.

The Sherwood

It’s the final quarter of the game. You want to close the game down. A fresh pair of legs would help, but what exactly do you want them to do?

You bring on your Sherwood.

I call the role that the substitute will play the Sherwood, because I originally dubbed it the Get-out-there-and-run-about-a-bit ‘role’, but GOTARAAB doesn’t make a great acronym, so I went for the name of a manager strongly associated with the notion.

In fact, ‘Sherwood’ is a slight misnomer, because the ‘role’ involves more intelligence than that.

The idea is this: the Sherwood principally aims to help you control space, especially by plugging gaps. (‘Filler’ and ‘plug’ are other names I considered for the ‘role’. And when watching football IRL, at Stevenage, I think of it as the ‘Michael Tonge’.) A subsidiary aim is a negative one, namely to avoid handing possession to the opposition.

I tend to use my Sherwood in a variety of positions, usually in the defensive or central midfield. It depends on where the worst gaps are — typically, those brown spaces that show up on the formation diagram

Talent specification

Attributes

To achieve this I look for players with the following:

  • team work, because this is an unglamorous role that won’t suit individualists
  • positioning, so they can sense where the gaps are

Then:

  • first touch, to help retain the ball
  • work rate, to shuttle between gaps

And:

  • passing, which only has to be good enough to help retain possession
  • tackling — though this guy isn’t a ball-winner: he’s there more to control space than control the ball
  • determination and concentration, neither of which need to be sky-high, because the Sherwood won’t get involved in very many critical situations. But they need to be good enough to prevent the player switching off or just giving up.

Finally, acceleration and/or anticipation, plus perhaps agility — though again none of these needs to be sky-high.

Other factors

In terms of traits (I do like searching by trait), I’d like to have ‘plays short simple passes’ if possible. And I’d like to avoid traits that risk losing possession, such as ‘runs with ball. Recycle it, you idiot!

Ideally I don’t want anyone who’s very one-footed, since that might lead to them losing the ball or perhaps giving away free-kicks.

I’m uncertain about the links between role and personality (I’d be very pleased to hear from any reader with a view on that), but I guess we don’t want ambition: this is a modest role, suitable for someone who’s content to come on for a few minute per game and not do anything remarkable.

Might this be a rare case of ‘unambitious = good’?wordcloudSherwood

Advantages

What’s the point of having a dedicated player, rather than just chucking on one of the usual squad?

Well:

  • actually, using a squad player in this role can be an advantage, as a way of giving them game time. For example, in my current squad I have a player whose best position is winger (on the left of the attacking midfield line), but sadly he’s rather mediocre at that. He is, however, a pretty good Sherwood, even is he finds himself coming on as, at right wing back. Which reminds me, adaptability (as indicated by the player being at least moderately suited to a number of positions, regardless of which ones, is good)
  • looking for Sherwoods broadens my range of search. For example, for the main roles, I look only for players with good determination, but here I can relax a little — which broadens the range of options
  • because Sherwoods don’t need, by any stretch, to be world-beaters, I can often find cheap options, which helps with wage-budget allocation

In my next post I’ll cover the second new ‘role’, namely the Shadow.

 

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