How to think about attributes: or how bad players succeed

Du Malone writes: I imagine FM managers will be surprised to find me reblogging a post about plant science ‘A plant’s adaptive traits don’t follow climate conditions as you might expect’. Almost as surprised as its author will, doubtless, be to find his work popping up on a site dedicated to a football simulation.

So let me explain. This post reports a study into how trees adapt to climactic variations in. It states that one “might expect things like xylem vessel diameter and density to change more or less monotonically (i.e., changing in a consistent manner as elevation rises or falls)”.

The truth, however, is more complex: “In fact…we found that different species modify certain traits in different combinations to adapt to local conditions, meaning that the monotonic expectation doesn’t always hold for individual traits”.

Evidently one needs to think not in terms of one trait at a time, but in terms of clusters of traits and, perhaps, the interaction between them. It was perhaps that word ‘trait’ that somehow put me in mind of FM.

And I was reminded of a post that I’ve cited before, namely the Facci Sognare post on Bradley Kuwas. Kuwas, according to the author, is by ‘all possible measurements’ a ‘poor player’ — yet he’s doing wonderfully well and scoring sensationally well.

I suspect this paradox arises from monotonic thinking. One might expect that a low finishing attribute (4) would a poor goalscorer make.

But supposing we look at Kuwas more broadly? He does have the ability to get into goal-scoring positions (NB acceleration, dribbling, work rate, acceleration pace). His technique is good enough to enable him to get some sort of effort in. His flair means that he’ll sometimes do this in unexpected ways, perhaps catching the goalkeeper out. And his long shots show he at least has a shot on him and can gain confidence from scoring that way, even though most of his efforts are from close in.

If someone said to me, here you are, sign this guy: he’s got finishing 4 and composure 8. He’ll be a regular goalscorer’ I would decline the offer. But the evidence suggests I’d be wrong.

As the author, CJA Bradshaw, wrote in the original post: “Basically this means that without the benefit of measuring multiple traits, you might incorrectly predict a trait value at a certain elevation assuming monotonic behaviour”.

I should add that I actually follow ConservationBytes to learn more about conservation and ecology. I find it an excellent read, so invite you to explore the site.

31 Mar 20 Kuwas


Just a quick post today, my last one for March. Like probably most of you, I’ve been trying to pretend to be as normal as possible despite the COVID-19 surrealism all around me. But even COVID-19 has shifted my research to a small degree.

But I’m not going to talk about the global pandemic right now (I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief). Instead, I’m going to go back to topic and discuss a paper that I’ve just co-authored.

Last year I went to China’s Yunnan Province where I met some fantastic colleagues at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden who were doing some very cool stuff with the variation in plant functional traits across environmental gradients.

Well, those colleagues invited me to participate in one those research projects, and I’m happy to say that the result has just been published in Forests.

Measuring the functional traits of…

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I’ve never been in this situation before and I don’t know what to do about it

Du Malone writes: In his second season (2020-21) at Farul Constanta our manager, Grigor Pasha, was tasked with a top-half season. The season got off to an uncertain start. Mid-October saw Constanta hovering, unconvincingly, just above the relegation zone. Try as he might. Pasha couldn't get his 3-2 (wing backs)-2-1 (trequartista)- 2 system working. After … Continue reading I’ve never been in this situation before and I don’t know what to do about it

When It Just Isn’t Working…

Du Malone writes: On our Links page we have links to a couple of posts on what to do when you’re in a crisis. This post, which we reblog from The Tactical Annals, isn’t quite that. Rather it’s about what to do when you start off and find that performances are mediocre.

The Tactical Annals

Football Manager 2020 - game artworks at Riot PixelsYes, I am back on Football Manager, finally. After my much documented (if you follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey) technical problems with my laptop I have eventually been able to afford a new laptop – thanks to all who helped me pick one – and given our current existence of lockdown and me working from home as a teacher, I’ve had plenty of time to get back into FM20. Despite that, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been easy, but more on that later. Before I continue, I do want to plug “The Italian Job”, a new Twitch series I’m doing with my good friends @watadam20 and @turntostone_ as we manage in Italy Image result for italy flag gif *insert Gazzetta theme*. I’m managing Sampdoria, and keep up with my Twitter for more info about when we’ll stream etc.

Anyway, back to my exploits since returning to FM20. My save is with Torpedo Zhodino…

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We need to talk about the central defence

Grigor Pasha writes: At present we are playing, In Romania's Liga 2, with a 3 - 2 (WBs) - 2 - 1 (trequartista) - 2 formation. The main challenge arising from this decision is finding a sufficient number of decent centre backs (CBs). Here's how I've tried to solve that problem On the right, as … Continue reading We need to talk about the central defence

We need to talk about goalkeepers

Grigor Pasha writes: When I took over at FC Farul Constanta, in the summer of 2019, they had two goalkeepers on their staff. The senior partner was the club captain, Vlad Mutiu. And the understudy was the promising Andrei Udeanu. I like building determined teams, so I welcomed Vlad's determination. I also welcomed his roundedness: … Continue reading We need to talk about goalkeepers

By far the most boring team in all Romania

Grigor Pasha writes: In my previous post I left you, in my first season with Farul Constanta in Romania's Liga 2, with spring approaching and the team falling towards the relegation zone. The 4-0-3-1-2 formation patently wasn't working. Something needed to change. Tactical reform With reluctance, I introduced a 4-1-3-1-1, where the 1s stood for, … Continue reading By far the most boring team in all Romania

Tactical misjudgement: a case study

Grigor Pasha writes: The story has it that, just as Orpheus was about to emerge from Hades with his beloved Eurydice, he made the fatal error of turning to look backwards at her -- causing her to disappear. I think I committed a similar error with the previous blog post. The moment I decided to … Continue reading Tactical misjudgement: a case study

Escape from Romanian hell

Grigor Pasha writes: In my previous post I explained how my first season with Farul Constanta in Romania's Liga 2 got off to a dire start -- bottom of the league after 6 matches, with only two points. Clearly time for a rethink. I retained the 4-1-3-0-2 formation but made three big changes. First, I … Continue reading Escape from Romanian hell

Rapid descent into Romanian hell

Grigor Pasha writes: In my first pre-season at Farul Constanta I wasn't able to organise any matches against big teams: those that were available wanted too much money. I sought to create interest by organising three cup competitions -- imaginatively named the Black Sea Shield, Black Sea Trophy, and Black Sea Cup -- against the … Continue reading Rapid descent into Romanian hell

Day One at a Club: an iconoclastic approach

Grigor Pasha writes: Here are some key features of the context in which I have begun to manage Farul Constanta in the Romanian Second League: we have virtually no spare budget for wages (or transfers); we have no scouts; it's 27 May; the players return fro training in late June. Go online, there are numerous … Continue reading Day One at a Club: an iconoclastic approach