Football Manager – Moneyball Guide – Player Recruitment

Welcome back to another extension post on the Moneyball Guide. If you missed the introduction guide, then you can access this HERE. If you missed the Staff Recruitment guide then you can also access this via HERE.

In today’s extension post, we will be detailing the simplest ways to recruit players. As mentioned in previous posts, this is a very simple high-level way of doing this, however, if you want to go more in-depth, then make sure you check out the following post:

I progressed a season with my home team ADO Den Haag to detail the steps to conduct player recruitment. The team are in a bad financial state and has a very low budget, so this should cater for those who take on a team with a low budget as well as teams with a higher budget.

Leagues To Load:

When starting your save, the most common question is usually “which leagues do I need to load”. Now, this fully depends on a few things:

  • The team you are
  • The performance of your PC/Laptop
  • Style of recruitment

This can easily be made to be so complicated however, I will simplify this as much as possible.

With my ADO Den Haag save, I wanted to recruit mainly Scandinavian players, who are typically cheaper to buy and usually have a higher sell on fee. My PC performance is okay however, I have set the below to “view only” rather than playable which I have noticed helps the running of the game. However, it has been mentioned that if it is set to view mode, then the game can use a different match engine to generate player stats from games compared to if you fully load the leagues. So, we must bear this in mind when selecting the leagues. Ideally, you would want to have the leagues you need as playable, but totally you call, depending on your recruitment style.

From the above, these leagues data will be found within my search when it comes to player recruitment. You can limit this or extend, as mentioned depending on what your PC/Laptop can handle. Of course, initially with ADO Den Haag, I wont be able to start signing players right away, so in the long term I will make use of the above, not so much in the short term.

The First Season:

The first season is usually the one where it’s difficult to recruit any players based on the Moneyball theory, as there is no statistical data to go by to make a judgement on if to pursue the player or not. Of course, there are occasions where your lacking depth and you really need to improve the side in the first season, therefore the loan market is the best approach. This is because you are not paying any money and you are in simple terms borrowing the player. Even when you are loaning the player, you can either loan a player just based on who you think is good for that position or if you want to be clever, you could look at the contract expiry date or the future transfer fee, so if that player does well, then you have a chance of securing them in the future.

For the ADO Den Haag save, I am playing a total football style and with a false 9. I really needed a striker to help us fill this gap and with no money to spend and very little on wages, I delved into the loan market. With what I mentioned above, I secured the loan of the below player who was free to loan and no upfront wages:

This player also fitted into our style of play after requesting a scout report, which is also a good way to get a better picture of the player. Here, we can see that Sieb can play the false 9 role which was hard to find, therefore I snapped him up for the season.

Take Advantage Of Youth:

I would suggest having a review of your youth team and either loaning them out for experience or having them play in the reserves for more competitive game time. Brentford has in real life scrapped their youth model and instead made a B team who plays against more competitive opposition, where the players can be tested and develop better. In FM, this is not as straight forward but for ADO Den Haag, I moved all U18 players into my B team and then decided who was loaned and who remained.

Player Profiling:

When looking to recruit, either if it’s the first year or later down the line, it is important to firstly buy a player who will fit your style of play. For example, with ADO Den Haag I am playing a total football style, so when it comes to recruiting, I need to look for certain things from my players.

For example, my centre-backs are ball-playing defenders, therefore the main metrics I would be looking for are their passing ability as well as composure. Of course, I would like them to be good in the air etc, but these are one of the main metrics I would be looking at.

Free Signings First Season Allowed?:

The short answer is yes you can. So, the Moneyball theory is not just by only signing players by statistical data, as mentioned there is the loan market you can look into if you need urgent cover. Another thing you can do is, if you see a free agent young player that has potential, then you can initially trial them to see what they do and what the scout report tells you after a week. Although my wages were limited with ADO Den Haag, I was able to offer the below player a youth contract, which barely made a difference to the overall wages and then I can loan out or keep them in the B team for development.

As we can see, he has the potential to be a 5-star, which in the future could make us some profit for sure, especially since we got the kid on a free. In this case, this is more about trusting your scouts and the development of the player, rather than looking into the statistical side, which is more for perm first team signings.

Fast Forward To Near End Of Season 1:

important note:

So, as the season goes on, the data will grow. I recommend that a month before the season ends, you start to shortlist a few players per position as the data will refresh just before pre-season. The season I suggest a few players per position initially is due to a few reasons:

  • In case a player in a certain position leaves inexpediently, so you can easily have the cover ready
  • The top shortlisted player may not come to you for many reasons such as if another club beats you to the signing or wages etc
  • Shortlisting the ideal players for your system, rather than having players just to fill the gap from the first season

First of all, after you played the majority of your season, you will start to see all the metrics populate and gather more detail. Looking at just this view, it may seem like a view with a load of numbers on it but this needs to be broken down. For example, as mentioned, I play with ball-playing centre-backs, so I am looking for the passing completed per 90 to give me a decent figure. An example is, Kemper who managed to complete 90.05 passes per 90 which is a good number to have as a threshold. As mentioned before, there are other factors to bear in mind but you can start with the requirements per your tactic and go from there.

This will make a bit more sense in a moment when we start to compare the players per position when shortlisting.

Data Hub:

Before we start to shortlist, you will want to look at your Data Hub. This, in short, will provide you with a good idea of how your team is performing firstly, then you can start to see how your players are performing against the other players in the division.

We don’t need to start studying this section too much but it will give you an idea of how the team is performing and the main key takeaway points. Note: This will only be available if you have a performance analyst at the club, if not then I would look to recruit one.
You can also look at the team tab and see how the team is performing against the opposition in the league. However for a high-level view of this, we will jump into the player section. In this write-up, we will look at recruiting a centre-back, so I will show you how I would view the Data Hub firstly to help me identify which type of player I need.
First of all, the section per position will just have the odd report there, but to add all the relevant available reports, then follow the below:

Once you have done that, your view should look something like this:

So from the above, what does it tell me?

  • One of our centre backs is making a lot of tackles and strong tackles also, whereas the other is making fewer but when he does they are strong
  • They are not dribbling as much with the ball, they will rather pass it out (which will be as per instruction on the tactic)
  • Passing-wise, one is doing very well but the other is making lots of passes but not all accurate
  • Aerial-wise, one is doing decent as he is making lots of headers but the other is making less

What you will find is that there will be a pattern emerging here. The player performing better will be typically showing on the better side of the graph reading. Therefore, you have already identified that you need to bring someone in who can be at the same level as this defender as the one partnering with him at the moment is falling behind.

Shortlisting:

So, in this section we will be looking at how to shortlist players before potentially signing them. For this write up, we will look at shortlisting a centre back.

For the search, we need to ensure we are covering the right bases, below is an example:

You will want to add the countries or divisions that you have selected as per what we covered near the start of this write up. So, in this i have included all the scandinavian countries plus Romaina/Poland etc. The other important one to add is the number of appearances should be at least 10, so you can have a fair result on the data. This is because, a player could have played just 1 game and did amazing, therefore they would appear at the top of the search compared to someone whos played 30 games over a season.

Once this is done, you will select your position and the age is down to preference but personally I find its best to pick a player at oldest during his peak, so there is always a potential to have a good sell on fee. if you buy someone who is over 30, you are probably less likely to get a decent return.

For the additional searches, I do not want to add too many specifics here as A) my team isn’t exactly a top-tier team and B) I have to work with the budget given. However, what I can do is pick out the key requirements, which for my tactic is passing and then aerial wise I want them to do well (going back to the data hub readings). You can play around with the numbers, depending on the result return you get, for instance, if you getting a good few hundred players, then you may want to go up a notch, so it comes back with maybe 50ish would be a nice number, basically the lower the better.

Once you search, it will look something like this. For my example, I narrowed this down quite a bit and for me, I shortlisted the highlighted players. In this view, you can customise what you want, I just did a high-level search with the key metrics such as passing, shooting, goals, heading etc.
Already, Abubakar looks like a good CB with a good passing score as well as he’s heading. Van Dijck, although played lesser games, looks like someone who has potential, because of his high scoring on headers per 90 and a high interception rate. I would want to have a closer look at him but Abubakar is the main player for me.

Once you have done this, you will go to your shortlist. From here, go to exclude and untick the box for your team. This will show up your players too, which will mean you can compare them to your current squad. One thing I would do here, is also set the filter to appearance = 10 games initially, especially if your looking for a first-team player, if it’s a squad player then you don’t really have to do that.

Once done, your screen will look something like this. You can add this view below by downloading the following link HERE and then apply this view.

From here, you can go to the relevant metrics and start sorting them in the highest value order and start to see which shortlisted player is worth looking into more. For this example, for looking for a CB, I would be looking for the following (also tactic dependent):

  • Passes Attempted
  • Pass%
  • Passes Completed
  • Headers Won
  • Tackling
  • Interceptions

What we have to bear in mind is that not all teams play the same way. So, although a player may show up as being less of a passer, for example, it does not mean they can’t be trained to do that.


Just from this reading, I would be looking at Abubakar, because he is similar in terms of passing compared to my players but he is better stats-wise when it comes to his aerial work. For interceptions, he made less but compared to the others shortlisted (highlighted), all-round but Abubakar to me is the front runner. From here, I would scout him and have a closer look at him. Typically, this list would be with more players, so you may have a bigger pool to play with but due to a few reasons, I am limited.


Once shortlisting and scouting, from here you can make the call if you want to sign the player. You would want the scout report to come back saying the player has the potential to grow, which potentially means you can profit from the player later down the line and then repeat the same process again and again.
This is when eventually after some seasons, you will start to make more money.

Other Ways To Get Ahead Of The Game:

Here, I will provide a few useful ways which will help the recruitment process.

Scouting Range:

If your scouting range is poor, you may want to consider going up a level depending on if you have the money to do this. Here is how to upgrade your scouting range:

This will mean, you will have access to viewing more players, which will give you an extra edge when it comes to shortlisting.

Scouting:

Another way to get a head, is by setting up your scouts. Again, I will run through this very high level but if you want a in depth look then, I suggest you take a look at Zealands videos on youtube:

So, when you are in the scouting assignment view as per below, you will set your conditions. I would typically look to pick a specific country rather than an area such as below as you will get more in-depth reports. The main takeaway here is that you want to pick a player with at least a good future potential but in this example, I want to find a player that is 18 or younger with a great future ahead of them and by spending less than 100k ideally.

You will get scouts recommending you some players from time to time, depending on their potential ability, I would look to scout them anyways and then shortlist if they seem a good fit.

From time to time, you will also get players such as the below appearing which at the time may seem out of your range but I would still shortlist them and keep tabs on them over the coming years.

For instance, if I manage to sell a player for a million and then get promoted, this same player may be more of a realistic option. However, you will then need to compare the player statistically too as mentioned previously.

Conclusion:

So that wraps up the high-level write-up on player recruitment. We need to remember that we need to do a full review before just picking a player purely by stats. For example, you may be managing Man City and finding a player who scored 40 goals with a high Xg in the Vanarama North but this does not mean he will start doing the same in Man City’s team. The scout report should also tell you the player is not good enough for the team. You do need to rely on a little more than just the data itself and make use of those scouts to do further checks.

The next and final extension write-up will be on save ideas with Moneyball in mind. If you have any questions meanwhile on player recruitment, then please do DM me over on my Twitter HERE.

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