Du Malone writes: Grigor Pasha’s post below makes sense on its own. But it will make more sense if you’d care first to listen England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott talking about Brian Clough, here (from about 1:10) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3NbgNr_Rbk.
The gist concerns former Derby County winger Alan Hinton. When Boycott watched him he thought Hinton was too timid. But Clough’s response was “I don’t pay him to get involve din the tackles. I pay him to cross the ball onto my centre-forward’s head — and he’s bloody good at it”.
Grigor Pasha writes: In my three seasons in the Bulgarian second tier, at Neftochimic 1962, I haven’t devoted a lot of energy to scouting.
Initially this was because the budgets for wages, transfers, and scouting were so limited that there didn’t seem to be much scope for, or point, in extensive scouting.
And then I developed a series of hacks that meant I could scout effectively without too much work.
My scouting hack
To be precise, I developed three and a half hacks.
Here I’l just tell you about one. It’s my favourite.
But before I go on, a health warning. If, when it comes to football management, you regard yourself as a sophisticate, don’t read on. You won’t like it.
Especially if you one of those far-too-hip-to-worry-about-attributes types.
I simply search the database by pairs, as follows.
- I hate having players with low determination, so on the page on which my search its are displayed I insert a column for determination and then order the hits in descending order according to this attribute.
- I set a maximum wage.
- I also stipulate that selected players must be able to speak Bulgarian. I don’t want to pay for language courses.
- I then search by pairs.
The main pairings are given below.
Note that, when I search like this, I don’t want lots of hits.
When I search for, say, quickness (i.e., acceleration + pace) I don’t want the database to generate a lengthy list of players who are pretty quick.
No, I just want outliers. I want to identify only the best in class — or, at most, the best two or three.
The logic here is that when we search by attribute we usually search by a whole cluster. For defenders we might, say, search for tackling and marking and positioning and heading and acceleration.
Fair enough: the attributes, in this example, are all pertinent to defending.
But by searching for a cluster we will tend to find quite rounded players — indeed that’s the point of the cluster strategy.
What we miss are the players who aren’t so rounded — but who bring something different.
So I repeat: I want to identify outliers. Players who are outstanding at something.
Then it’s my job to work out how to harness their talents.
Appendix: Pairs of search terms
- acceleration + pace
- agility + reflexes
- jumping + heading
- stamina + work rate
- first touch + technique
- dribbling + flair
- finishing + composure
- marking + concentration
- passing + vision
- aggression + composure
- leadership + teamwork
- agility + balance
- long shots + decisions
- penalty taking + composure