Moneyball in Football Manager 2019: IV

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Right, we’re back with the 4th update of the Moneyball in Football Manager 2019 series with Glasgow Rangers, and we’re at the end of the Summer transfer window, and partway through the beginning of the league season. Once again I want to thank everyone for the support so far, and in case anyone has missed any of the updates so far, they are here, here and here. In the third update, we ended the first season with Rangers, winning the league title by eleven points from Celtic, and making the First Knockout Round of the Europa League. Of course, this time we would have the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League group stages. We also assessed the Moneyball transfers I’d made throughout the first season, and on the whole, they were a success. However, we now have a second season of data to analyse, and one of the key tenets of Moneyball is to trust long-term trends more than anything as a way to evaluate true performance, and therefore value.

As a reminder, the conditions or rules that I’ve applied to my save come largely from the concepts outlined in Moneyball, but also from the excellent football economy books Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, and The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally. If you need a reminder, below are the rules I’m using.

Moneyball in Football Manager 2019: III

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Before we kick off with the 3rd update of this save, I just want to say thank you very much to everyone that has plugged, promoted, liked or read these updates so far. I’ve had a fantastic response to the save so far, and this is the most successful this blog has been – in terms of views – since my beloved Bayer Leverkusen save back on FM15. Anyway, back to Moneyball – in case you’ve missed this save so far, here are the first and second updates. In the last update, I covered the first half of the season, which had gone very well, with us five points clear of Celtic at the top of the league, into the Knockout Round of the Europa League against Hoffenheim. We had also made some classic Moneyball transfers, bringing in 4 complete unknowns, whilst moving out those who had statistically proven that they weren’t good enough to play for Rangers.

The conditions or rules that I’ve applied to my save come largely from the concepts outlined in Moneyball, but also from the excellent football economy books Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, and The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally. If you need a reminder, below are the rules I’m using – this is the last time I will post these in the actual article, from now on they will be added as a link:

Moneyball in Football Manager 2019: II

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Right, time for part two of Moneyball in Football Manager 2019. For any of you just catching up with this save now, in Part 1 we outlined what my theory behind Moneyball is, the rules I’ll be following throughout this save, and who I’ll actually be playing as, Glasgow Rangers. As I said in the last update, I selected Rangers because I feel given their tentative financial position, they’re an ideal option to test out pure Moneyball with, and see whether I can utilise this concept to not only topple Celtic at the top of the SPL, but return Rangers to European football and competing at a continental level.

If you remember, the conditions that I’ve applied to my save come largely from the concepts outlined in Moneyball by Michael Lewis, but also from the excellent football economy books Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, and The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally. If you need a reminder, below are the rules I’m using:

  1. Players are undervalued for a range of biased reasons such as age, personality, appearance. None of these matter. All that matters is production on the field, which can be analysed through statistics.
  2. Several countries are overvalued in the market, such as England, Holland and Brazil and there is better value for money off the beaten track.
  3. Wage spend correlates to success far more than transfer expense.
  4. Prioritise identifying and improving your weak spots in transfer windows. This is the best way to improve your team.
  5. Strikers cost more than they should and can be poor value for money.
  6. Ensure that all potential signings are thoroughly scouted – the wisdom of crowds – before their statistics can be analysed. 
  7. Don’t buy players who performed well solely at international competitions. These are a perfect example of ‘small sample size’, where stats have no true value to them as they can’t be trusted to be replicated. 
  8. Long term, producing your own players and developing through the academy is more cost effective. 
  9. Football is won by scoring more goals than the opposition – like baseball is won by scoring more runs – and therefore attacking stats must be a main focus.
  10. Some of the best value can be found in identifying players who are no longer wanted by their clubs, and are likely to vastly undervalue them.

Moneyball in Football Manager 2019: I

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Right, it’s time for a new save on the blog, and it’s time for a save concept that I’ve been wanting to do for several editions of Football Manager now, Moneyball. Moneyball as a concept has been done several times on editions of FM by other content creators – most notably by the excellent Alex Stewart in his brilliant Bristol City series on The Set Pieces – but with all due respect to those content creators, I somewhat disagree with their interpretations of the Moneyball model and how it’s been utilised in their saves. My beliefs around what Moneyball is, and how it can be implemented come largely from the utterly brilliant Michael Lewis book ‘Moneyball’ which I’ve studied in depth. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you do. The film of the same name is also well worth a watch for pure entertainment value.

The book covers the 2002 season of the Major League Baseball team, the Oakland Athletics. The book centres around the Athletics’ – or A’s – GM Billy Beane, and his use of data driven analytics to create a team that could compete for the World Series despite a far lower wage budget than the New York Yankees. I’ve also read plenty of articles around the topic, and there are aspects that I’ll use from other writing focused on footballing economics, such as Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, and The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally – hence why a couple of my guidelines below are similar to Alex Stewart’s, because I agreed with a large amount of them. From the books and other articles I’ve read about Moneyball, here are the key concepts I’ll be working around in this save:

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