So, I am ready go with some tactics testing, having spent time doing as much as I can to cancel out any background noise I might find.
For the record, we are in the Slovakian second division for the purposes of these tests, though it doesn’t make any difference – I am just going to play repeated friendlies between my two chosen clubs, so it might as well be anywhere.
Cancelling out the background noise means, as I explained in this post, making everything as equal as it is possible to be. With that in mind, the squad with which I’ll be testing has players who all look like this – the same age, identical attributes (visible and hidden), the ability to play in one position, and all two-footed:
It ends up looking like this, with everything identical. (This shows I was wrong in my earlier post, when I said there was some randomising factor going on, which sometimes drops a 12-rated player to 11, and sometimes lifts him to 13. That’s not the case – if you have too much, or too little, Current Ability for the attribute levels you are trying to fix in place, then you will gain a bit, or lose a bit. Every day is a learning day.)
The 13-level squad is my opponent. I look like this:
So, the AI – or, in the first instance, a second human manager, so that I can control what’s going on with the defensive line, pressing intensity, marking, distribution, whatever – is 30 per cent better than I will be. As someone who has never been a marvellous Football Manager tactician (but believes I can become one, and this is the way to do it) it’s going to be tough to keep the opponent out.
All the background noise has been dealt with. I have two squads of 40 players each, with all 80 players identical in terms of age, fitness, happiness, and tactical familiarity (you can control for those last three with the in-game editor), and all players only able to play in one position. A left wing-back is a left wing-back – no fancy notions of utility men here, thank you very much), with the only difference between the players being that yawning three-point attribute gap. Still, 40 players gives you a lot of flexibility, especially as I’ll be simulating a friendly match, meaning extra subs. I can easily sub off a right-back for a right wing-back, stick in an extra defensive midfielder, or bring someone on to offer support to a lone striker, and so on.
So, it is down to my tactical ability, or lack of it. I am expecting some resounding defeats, but in the much longer term, I expect to be able to answer questions like: “What’s the best way of dealing with a bold opponent who dares to play three forwards against me?” Good, useful answers will be a while in coming, but, as with the training, the drunken and stumbling approach will pay dividends eventually.