Du Malone writes: In this, the third post in my series on learning from Arrigo Sacchi’s approach at AC Milan, I consider what kind of players to acquire.

Total football?

In the account of Saccho’s tactics that I treat as canonical, namely Raghunandhanan Narasimhan’s article on Football bloody hell, reference is made to Sacchi’s admiration for total football.

And also to ‘universality’: “Sacchi demanded that his players be well equipped in playing all positions. He was a firm believer in his doctrine of Universality that his players be tactically and technically proficient“.

But the first of the video diagrams in Narasimhan’s account tells a slightly different story. In general, Sacchi’s players needed to be versatile — especially Ancelotti, Baresi, and also Gullit. Others, however — notably Costacurta and perhaps van Besten — seem to have stuck more consistently to a single role.

To me, this looks less total than total football. In deriving an approach for FM20 I have, therefore, replaced the ideal of ‘universality’ with a less-demanding one, namely adaptability.

Criteria: requirements

On this basis I have used the following search terms to identify suitable players:

  • teamwork
  • work wordcloudsearchsearchrate
  • first touch

The first two of these are explicit in Narasimhan’s comments and third is obviously implicit in the quotation from Sacchi above.

In addition, I require at least one of the following:

  • positioning
  • off-the-ball

In addition I have used the following, because they apply to all my teams, regardless of tactics:

  • determination
  • natural fitness

Criteria: preferences

There are other attributes I would have liked to employ as search terms, namely:

  • technique
  • stamina
  • decisions
  • flair

I haven’t used these as search terms, simply because the more search terms you have, the few players you identify. The league I’m playing in (Bulgaria) isn’t as full of such qualities as, say, the top flight Spanish, English, or Italian leagues presumably are.

For the same reason, though I have tried to locate players who aren’t strongly one-footed, I haven’t enforced this as a requirement.

I have, however, rejected any player who can play in only one position.

This approach enables the identification of a pool of candidates. More fine-grained criteria — in particular, relative to position — can then be applied.


Next in the series: team training



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