HELLO DATA HUB.
The winter break is here, and with half the season down, I think it’s time to properly delve into the Data Hub for the first time. After the initial buzz of seeing the Wide Centre-Back added to FM22, the Data Hub became the headline feature I was most looking forward to having in the new game. I had a brief half-season in the Beta with West Ham, where I didn’t use the Data Hub at all, and as things have been going well with Volendam so far, I haven’t felt the need to go delving in yet. That changes now though, this is no time for complacency, and we have certainly not been perfect.
We have been excellent in large spells, though. 15 wins in 20 games, only 12 goals conceded, the only double-figure positive goal difference, and most crucially, a massive 12 point lead. Despite this, I want to check in and see if the data hub will lead me to any areas that we can tweak to improve.
I couldn’t resist putting together a full team overview. I’m not sure how often I’ll stop and go through the data at hand; to my mind, it’s going to be more beneficial when things are going badly rather than when we’re playing well.
I’ve had a few concerns about our main man, Robert Mühren. 10 goals and 3 assists in 20 league appearances is a great return, but Robert seems prone to an anonymous run of form. Twice already this season, he’s had a 4-game-run without a goal contribution. When in-match, I fear that he isn’t effectively leading the line; in a 4-2-3-1 predominately playing with out and out wingers, we need Robert to focus on being in the box and on the end of crosses, especially as he doesn’t have the pace to arrive from deep.
The pass maps above show that Mühren (21) is indeed struggling to be the spearhead of the side. His average position often sits nearly on top of the whoever is playing behind his as the 10, and on several occasions already this season it’s been one of the wingers who has been our furthest man forward on average. I’ve also added successfully received crosses to the analysis. This has shown me that Mühren doesn’t tend to get on the end of crosses as often as my wide players, which means he’s either struggling to get into dangerous positions, or we’re putting our crosses in the wrong areas. Given his deep average position in the pass map, it appears to be the former.
Noticing this is one thing, but ‘fixing’ it is another. First up, he’s still scoring at a goal every two games. Second, he’s playing as an Advanced Forward, so there’s no role I can give him that’s more likely to push his average position forward. I have tried switching things up in the last couple of games by playing Robert as the number 10 in behind another striker. My theory is that if he’s going to have a deep position anyway, we may as well start him there and get another striker on who can focus on getting into the box, especially since my other options to play as the number 10 have been okay, but not spectacular.
Martijn Kaars is a far more limited striker, but offers a decent goal threat and importantly, is quicker than Robert Mühren. So far I’ve tried to utilise the two of them in a partnership of sorts, with Mühren as a Shadow Striker behind Kaars as a Target Forward. It hasn’t been brilliant, Kaars has scored a couple of goals, but Mühren has produced nothing. I may persist for a little while but with Kaars as an Advanced Forward to utilise his pace, but realistically, I probably need to accept that a 32-year-old striker playing in the Eerste Divisie is going to have barren runs; as long as we’re being successful I just need to trust him to come good during them.
Remarkably for a side that have only conceded 12 goals in 20 games, the main negatives I’m seeing are a couple of the defensive scatter graphs. I’m not too concerned though, and I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, the Tackling visualisation on the left; we’re in the lower left quadrant which means that we’re struggling with both metrics, but in reality we’re very middle of the pack. As a side that are winning the majority of our games and keeping an average amount of possession while doing so (50% average possession so far this season), I don’t expect us to be attempting a huge amount of tackles per game so this isn’t a terrible thing to see. Our ‘tackles won’ percentage is just below the league average at 80%, but considering that we discovered tackling is a weakness of the side back in 0.3 | SQUAD ANALYSIS, I’m actually fairly happy with that rate. Of course over time I’d like to raise it to the 85% mark, where VVV-Venlo currently sit, but I’d much rather be in our position on the chart than Helmond Sport, who are attempting the highest average tackles per game, but winning the second lowest percentage of them.
On the right is the Defending visualisation, covering blocks and clearances. It doesn’t offend me at all that we’re towards the bottom of this chart, as much like the lower number of attempted tackles before, it shows we aren’t being forced to defend as much as other sides in the division. Ourselves and Almere City are the two ‘worst’ sides in the league by these metrics, but we sit 1st and 5th in the table. FC Den Bosch, by contrast, and in a league of their own for their number of blocks and clearances, but sit rock bottom of the league table.
There’s no need for a screenshot of the overall visualisation here. I’ve got every available data point pinned to the screen as there’s enough space for all of them. Instead, I’ve picked out a data point that gives a couple of examples of things I’ve been looking out for in the analysis.
I’ve been very impressed with Alex Plat in the first half of the season. One thing I’ve tried to do in this save is rely more on what I’m seeing in the match engine, rather than being entirely guided by average ratings and star ratings. Alex has been solid all season, playing predominately as a CM(D). His game isn’t about contributing going forward, which is handy as he has 0 goal contributions so far, but his ability to break down play and recycle possession has been very important. The above chart confirms what I’ve been witnessing, as Alex ranks second in the division among midfielders for his reliability in possession, as well as winning the ball back an average of 5 times per 90. I’d like to see that number raise slightly, but since we play on the front foot the majority of the time, I can understand why it’s where it is.
This chart has also shown me that something I’ve been trying maybe hasn’t been as effective as I thought too.
Buckle in, it’s story time.
Early in the season I faced Roda JC, a side that I noticed played with a Regista. Having looked at their last match analysis, Xian Emmers was influential in that role, so I decided to man mark the role with my AMC. Boy Duel was first choice at that point, but with a Marking attribute of 4, I decided to drop him at the expense of youngster Walid Ould-Chikh.
Walid is an okay youngster with decent technicals, but wasn’t really close to dislodging Duel or his understudy, Gaetano Oristanio. I literally only went with him because of his Marking (8), Aggression (13) and Concentration (12). I was willing to risk a nominal attacking threat to nullify that threat, Walid was my Park Ji-Sung.
We lost the game, but Walid performed well. Not only did I not see a single highlight where he wasn’t all over Emmers, he also scored the opening goal. However, Emmers and Vossebelt, who rotated with him in the role (Walid was set to mark the role not the player), both had good games with Emmers himself getting on the scoresheet. Throughout the match I was thrilled with his performance so I kept him in mind as the man to play when we needed to mark a defensive midfielder. Looking back at the match stats though, he wasn’t really as effective as I thought. Surprisingly, Gaetano Oristanio is the number 10 who wins back possession more often than the others, despite never being given a man-marking assignment and having truly horrendous defensive attributes. I put it down to his higher level of Anticipation (14) and Determination (14). Whatever the cause, it gives me plenty to think about when I’m looking to set a similar assignment in the future.
That’s my first look at the data hub, I’ll dip in and out throughout seasons and probably do a proper review in the winter break every season. There won’t be a post every time, but I’ll talk about things when they’re interesting or relevant.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, tot ziens!