Thinking about personality: beyond good and evil

Du Malone writes: There's a natural tendency, when thinking about personality on FM, to adopt a Manichean mentality, seeking to divide personality types into those that are good and those that are bad. There is, I think, some truth in this. Take, for example, the mercifully rare 'spineless' type. I haven't managed to think of … Continue reading Thinking about personality: beyond good and evil

What the goalie said to himself

25 April 2020. The Karpathian foothills. Goalkeeper Amir Agalarov is on the MFC Mykolaiv bench, waiting for the game at Prykarpattya to get under way. I'm hoping that Yaroslav Kotlyarov will get injured in the first minute. Not badly, of course: I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But just enough for him to have to come … Continue reading What the goalie said to himself

At last — at long, long, last — an injection of talent

Late February, 2020. Grigor Pasha, the manager of Ukrainian second-tier club MFC Mykolaiv, is sitting at home, smoking a pipe of Turkish tobacco and staring at his laptop. His sleeves are rolled up. When I arrived here in the early summer -- My! That sunlit world full of dreams appears in my mind now like … Continue reading At last — at long, long, last — an injection of talent

An old war horse bows out

Early December 2019. A previous post revealed that, back in the summer of 2019, Ukrainian second tier club MFC Mykolaiv decided to sign Volodymar Kornutyak. Scene: the Kornutyak household in their rented accommodation in Mykolaiv. Personae dramatis: Volodymar Kornutyak; Mrs Kornutyak KORNUTYAK: Well, perhaps it's just as well that we haven't quite sold our house in … Continue reading An old war horse bows out

Yes, I can trust the gaffer, but…

Late September 2019. MFC Mykolaiv right-back Roman Kunev is enjoying some gentle autumnal sunshine in Shevchenka Park, ruminating: Last time I was sitting here, back in the summer, I was wondering whether I could trust Grigor Pasha, the newly installed gaffer at MFC Mykolaiv. When I joined the club, a condition was that he'd strengthen … Continue reading Yes, I can trust the gaffer, but…

Tactical review at the Atmosfera bar

End of the working day, 6 August 2020. Atmosfera bar, Central Avenue, Mykolaiv. Dramatis personae: Grigor Pasha (MFC Mykolaiv manager); Anatoliy Didenko (assistant manager) [PASHA places a familiar diagram on the table.] PASHA: So, half a dozen games in: what's our view of the tactic? DIDENKO: Even now, every time I look at the graphic, … Continue reading Tactical review at the Atmosfera bar

Player acquisition: a simple process for making complex decisions

Du Malone writes: Once the 2021-22 season had closed, manager Grigor Pasha decided that he needed to make some changes in the goalkeeping department. The problem He wasn't happy with the no.1 choice, Vlad Mutiu. It wasn't that he made glaring errors. It was just that every now and then a goal would go in … Continue reading Player acquisition: a simple process for making complex decisions

Tactical transformation on the Black Sea: the advent of wingers

Grigor Pasha writes: I've written before about the advantages of a winter break. Here in Romania it's long enough to introduce a new tactic. During the break we (that is, Farul Constanta) host three cup competitions, so that we can not only train a new tactic but also test it in match situations. I didn't … Continue reading Tactical transformation on the Black Sea: the advent of wingers

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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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