Sheffield FC – Improving Quality

Score Lines in real life can be deceiving and the same goes for Football Manager too. The results don’t always tell you what happened other than what the final score was. This isn’t always a good thing though as you could play poor and score three goals, yet all three might have come from the penalty spot, been own goals and maybe even set pieces. So you need to be very careful when viewing results as they don’t mean you’re playing well.

I can hear some of you saying ‘what’s it matter if I won though?’ and you’d be right. However it still matters in the grand scheme of things because what happens if you are only winning because of pure luck and not by creating quality play? What happens when the luck runs out and those one nil wins turn into one nil losses? Hopefully this article can shed some light on why context is everything in Football Manager.


These are the results from my first eight games since taking over the manager’s job at Sheffield FC. On face value it looks like a great start and we are scoring plenty and keeping it tight at the back, but is this really a true reflection of what’s really happening during a game. These are the results from my first eight games since taking over the manager’s job at Sheffield FC. On face value it looks like a great start and we are scoring plenty and keeping it tight at the back, but is this really a true reflection of what’s really happening during a game. If we stick with the face value theme we can have a quick glance at the stats from those games to see if they reflect the score lines.


I seemed to have frustrated the opposition to long shots while not giving them much quality. Ourselves seem to finish the chances we got but during the first half we only had two shots, so that suggest we either struggled creating chances or the final ball was poor, either way it amounts to the same thing which is hardly any shots. The second half was an improvement but why? It might have been down to the players connecting better with each other, the opposition might have become tired or maybe they changed shape. None of those questions can be answered though without looking back at the match or watching it all unfold live. So it’s something we need to revisit later.


Here in this game it seems it followed the theme of the first match, poor first half in terms of creating chances but we got better in the second half. Well when I say better, I mean just in terms of shots we had I have no idea if these shots were good or bad yet. We also seemed to have only really had long shots which could be a hint towards poor or lack of movement. But again I’m just guessing or thinking out aloud here but those tend to be the reasons as to why you have long shots. All in all it seems like a scrappy 1-0 win.


Goals, goals, lots of goals! That’s how this match went down and it looks like we created a lot, much more compared to the first two games we played. However we still had a fair amount of long shots but we proved in the first game that we don’t always have to have long shots so why was this game different to that? Maybe the opposition sat deeper and they frustrated me to long shots. Maybe it was a formation issue and I couldn’t provide enough runners or have enough support players so players had no options but to shoot. Overall I’m happy with the scoreline but still left asking questions.


Again we created a decent amount of chances but the quality seems very poor as only four shots were on target. We also had a lot of long shots. We can already see a pattern emerging here from the game stats we’ve looked at so far but we still have no idea why it’s happening.


Statistically this game was very much the same as the other 1-0 win we had but less long shots this time, which is pleasing. There are two other patterns that I’ve noticed and not really mentioned so far as well. One of them is that the opposition don’t seem to create quality chances against us which is a good thing as we are limiting them somehow. The other theme is we are a second half side. We seem to up our game in the second half and that’s when we seem to create more chances.


The long shots aside I’d take game stats like this every day of the week. You don’t need to create 15+ shots a game. You just need quality over quantity. 10 shots, 5 on target and 4 goals that’s fantastic. These are the sort of balanced stats that long-term I’ll be aiming for and hopefully this article goes a long way to putting us on that route.


Same as the game above really, we seem to be finding our feet now and while not creating vast amounts of chances we are scoring a lot of goals. There could be a few reasons why we are starting to find some form now though which I’ll touch upon at the end of part one.


One step forward and to steps back is how this game feels. Yes I won but it seems we lacked the quality of the previous couple of games and had far too many long shots.

So those are the games I’ve played so far, I’m very much playing and writing as I go along but it seems enjoyable at the minute doing it this way. In past series that I’ve done I play ahead and then write-up afterwards which is easier but this time I’m struggling to find playing time so have to do it as we go along.

What can we learn from the matches above then? Nothing really, we get a quick snapshot but it all lacks context which is vital. But saying that we have noticed a few little patterns.

  • Long shots are an issue and we need to get to the bottom of this.
  • A lack of quality shots in some of the games and a low amount of shots on target is a concern.
  • Twenty two goals in eight games we have scored and fifteen of them have all come in the second half of games. So it’s not only are we creating in the second half of games we are also finding a way of finishing the chances too.
  • Do we lack movement? Do we have players creating and using space? I need to figure this out because at times based on the stats alone looks like this could be an issue.

Those are the major things I’ve noticed so far. Maybe you can spot something I’ve missed, if so please let me know below.

I was beginning to think that my play was getting better towards the end of those eight games all bar the last match. One of the reasons for this could be that my players are all getting fitter now and while I had a preseason, it takes much longer for semi pro and amateur teams to raise fitness levels of their players. So when the season began I still had a lot of players lacking fitness even though I’d played nine preseason games. Another reason should be down to tactical familiarity as this is also increasing and getting better and better each game so the teams are becoming better. The same can be said for team cohesion too.

Now we’ve looked at the results we now need to analyse the games to see how the 3-5-2 plays and how the players all link up. And also focus on the issues, patterns I mention above and to see if we can spot why it happens. Fixing them will come at the very end as I split how I view things happening in the Match Engine into three easy ways ;

  • Analyse
  • Identify
  • Fix

It really is that simple. Anyone can watch games and anyone can identify tactical issues, even if you think you can’t. You start small with things like seeing your playmaker is actually creating for others. You’d look at his passing options, the space he has, the time he has and who he is passing too. Then you can determine if it’s what you wanted or expected and if not then you can approach fixing it which can be the tricky part. But I see people all the time saying they struggle to identify issues but this is the easy part, maybe just start with the things I mentioned in the sentence before. Look at players individually not as a collective just yet if you feel daunted or inexperienced. Before you can fix anything though you have to identify issues, or you’ll not know what to fix right?!

When I started writing this particular post I planned on it being all one article and mentioned so on Twitter. However it seems to have spiralled out of control and would have ended up a 15k word piece which probably would be far too long. So I’ve had to split it up into sections. The first of those sections is this post obviously then I’ll follow it up over the week with two other parts. This will make it easier for those who struggle with this side of the game too. The other parts will consist of;

  • Analyse & Identify
  • Solutions & Fixing

I think by keeping them separate I can be more detailed and keep the identity separate from the fixing article so it’s not information overload. As it’ll be a lot to take in with this mini series inside a series approach. It’ll be less confusing and allows me to explain all the possible solutions or approaches you can take. Something which I might have cut down if I kept it all as one article as I was getting wary of the word count.

9 thoughts on “Sheffield FC – Improving Quality”

  1. You duplicated the statement in the opening paragraph , but nice to see someone else write as they play. I keep thinking about writing and every time I say no, I read another one of your informative posts and get suckered back into that chain of thinking. Very nice a simple 3 points , I go by 4 but interested and vested into seeing the next two and improving my thought process along the way if I can

    1. It’s due to the keeper hitting it long as I think that’s what I want him to do but I keep changing my mind. Also my defenders have like 3 in every attribute so that doesn’t help either, they just whack the ball forward constantly. So it’s intentional from the keepers behaviors but also a player quality issue.

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