The attributes polygon is one of those little things that most people ignore, like the calendar bar, the note icon, or the bookmarks screen. It’s easy to understand why – all it really does is convert the more exact, numerical data in the attributes panel into a graphical representation, and for many it does its job less effectively. Recently I’ve found the polygon extremely useful and it is actually a key feature in my day to day management, mainly because of it’s simplicity, rather than in spite of it.
If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll have seen that we posted a link to @furiousukfm‘s post on Squad Building. That post emphasises the importance of variety in a squad, and that is a point that I really agree with – I like to have three or four different style players for each position and sure, you can achieve this by knowing your players very well, but when developing a squad rapidly, you can’t always do that. I like to use the polygon for this.
Here you can see my defensive midfielders (the exclusions are either out on loan, too old or preferred in other positions) – all top players I’d trust to start in rival matches or European ties and all suited to the role in their own ways. De Madre has been promoted to the first XI for his first full season, Coda just kept his place at the club, Anderson used to be a wing-back but has been shifted to a more central position, and Khedira is just coming out of his prime. This last close season was one of the busiest I’ve ever had at Udinese, as I recouped £46m from fringe players and youngsters with nothing to offer, and many of those decisions came from the polygon.
I could easily have cashed in on Khedira for a good £5-10m and saved another £2.5m a year in wages, money I will probably never get for him again. But his polygon convinced me otherwise; he has the wiliness and intelligence that is unrivalled in my squad and probably most around the world. His mentals are incredible.
De Madre was always going to be kept – he’s too good to let go – but it’s interesting to see in the polygon how well rounded he is. He is exceptionally fast and a defensive rock, areas I now know I don’t need to add to the squad in this position.
Anderson is quite similar to De Madre but has terrific technical and attacking attributes, left over from his days as a wing-back. He is no quicker than De Madre and no wilier than Khedira, but he provides us with a trustworthy solidness in so many areas that he is indispensable.
As for Coda, his polygon, I suppose, explains why he was close to being shifted out of the club. He is unspectacular, not great at defending nor attacking and old enough that his days of rapid development are gone. His aerial ability is his saving grace, with good strength, jumping and heading, and it is for this ability that he was kept. Comparing him to any other of my defensive midfielders, he was unrivalled in the air and therefore had to be kept.
I suppose my philosophy of having different styles for the same role is not really out-there, but using the polygon to ascertain who should be kept, who should be flogged and who should be bought is probably something that not many do. Give it a try.
As I talked about in ‘The importance of team selection’, I like to pick my team based on the threats of the opposition. The polygon is incredibly useful in doing that, especially after developing a varied squad using it. Get yourself a scout report, make a rough guess at what their team will be and in what formation, and then you can start making decisions on who starts, using the polygons (shock shock!).
I have a match against Sassuolo to prepare for, and with that comes a re-think of the starting XI. Their best two centre defenders are Luizao and Jose Fonte, both quite tall but ageing by this point in the game. I haven’t got their full profile of attributes (who knows what my scouts have been doing) but I can guess they’re your classic strong but slow centre halves – so, clearly, I need a fast, aware striker to break the line. I have three strikers, one who is physically superb, Klicka, one a raw, classic poacher, Jebali, and my only non-regen, Fierro.
What I’m looking for here is good speed and mental attributes, the former quite obvious and the latter needed for intelligent movement and timing of runs to. Klicka narrowly wins on speed and mental but clinches it on his superior attacking (which importantly contains Off the Ball) so I’ll switch it round to compare Klicka to Fierro:
Klicka is faster, better mentally and only narrowly loses on Attacking, probably because Fierro is a good passer. I’m not interested in passing here though, I just want a line-breaker kind of striker, someone to catch the centre-backs flat footed, and Klicka fits that perfectly; a lucky coincidence is that Klicka will give the defenders a good battle in the air because he’s really strong and tall. In the match, he pushed the two CBs into 5.7 ratings, clocked up an assist, and missed out on a couple of chances as we cruised to a 3-0 win.
I do something similar for each position in the team, depending on the needs of the team and which player from the opposition is likely to be playing against them. I can often get it wrong because managers can spring surprises, sometimes even play a completely different formation, but I try to fill my bench with different options so I can respond to this, either early on or at half-time if you think your alternative can cope.