8 Players to the Lower Leagues, an Experiment

Experiments are quite popular in FM, but in my opinion, to many of them are the same. What if we gave a Lower League Club a Billions Pounds, what if we put the worlds best youth player in the 8th Division of the English Football League, that sort of thing. I’ve even done a couple of those, but one of the thing’s I am interested in doing are Experiments with a little more behind them.

This experiment was directly influenced by a video Dr.Benjy did, in which he moved Erling Haaland to Bath and locked him into a 15 Year contract there. You can find the first video in that series here:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I wanted to go a step further though, and make this a multiplayer experiment.

I put 8 younger players, who at one point in time were (or in the case of the youngest are) considered wonderkids, and moved them to teams in the Vanarama North and South. The goal was to see if any player could help get their squad to the Premier League before they retired or their contract ran out (more on that here in a few). It took some trial and error to get the experiment up and running, but eventually I had success in running the edited database.

Was the Experiment a success?

Yes. And No.

The Experiment ran a total of four videos, what follows is a breakdown of some of the issues I discussed in the video, and some of the issues I encountered as well. You can find the video series here:

First, the players and Teams I moved them too:

  • Kylian Mbappe, to Blyth Spartans in the Vanarama North
  • Erling Haaland, to Hemel Hempstead Town in the Vanarama South
  • Ansu Fati, to Dulwich Hamlet in the Vanarama South
  • Sebstiano Esposito, to Ebbsfleet United in the Vanarama South
  • João Félix, to Eastbourne Borough in the Vanarama South
  • Yusuf Demir, to Fylde in the Vanarama North
  • Rayan Cherki, to Chorley in the Vanarama North
  • Jadon Sancho, to Curzon Ashton in the Vanarama North

In the editor, I made sure none of the player CA/PA was on the low side, but I also made sure they weren’t maxed out either. I locked them into 18 year contracts, with future transfers to the MLS (where all older European players got to dominate). I loaded just the English Leagues this time around, with about a 28K size player database.

My logic in putting those players on those teams was simple: The better players I put on teams picked by the pundits to finish in the bottom half of their respective table. Both Blyth and Hemel Hempstead were relegation candidates. The younger players I put on teams that had recently been relegated, or had missed out on promotion the previous year. My train of thought was a player like Ansu Fati would not have to share the load right away, while Mbappe could (and would) put the team on his shoulders and carry them as far as he could.

I found the Experiment interesting for a variety of reasons. First, if you did not get promoted quickly, there was a possibility you could get stuck in a League for quite a while. Secondly, if the team did get promoted, would the AI be able to surround the Youngster with players able to help them stay up and get promoted. Thirdly, at some point in time the Youngster would start to decline, was the team he was on set up to avoid relegation?

My goal was to see if one or more players could get their team to the Premier League. I didn’t expect any of them too, honestly I don’t believe the AI is good enough to get as team promoted in 6 divisions in 18 year on a consistent basis, heck even us human players are hard pressed to do that sometimes.

My expectations were met. None of the teams managed to get to the Premier League, but a couple of them came close.

Click to embiggen

As one would expect, Kylian Mbappe had the best progression out of all the plyers, in fact I would consider his and Blyth’s movement up the Pyramid to be be the template going forward: Immediate promotion in the first year, 3 promotions in 9 years, and then when the player is at or just beyond their peak, competing in the Championship for a shot at the Premier League. Blyth’s best finish was 13th, but digging deeper I realized that was almost pure luck.

There were more than a few reason’s player’s like Cherki, Felix and Sancho never got out of non-league, and most of those were my fault. First, I did not check the teams professional status before assigning the players to them, and as a result, Cherki, Felix, Sancho, Mbappe and Haaland ended up on Semi-Professional squads. Compounding this issue were the player salaries, they were all locked into €1000 p/w contracts, with a yearly 5 or 10% raise. If this experiment had consisted of just one player, that would not be as big an issue, but with eight, you ran into a situation where a semi professional teram had to get promoted, and quickly, in order to get Professional status. This would let their payroll expand, and they would have the opportunity to sign better players, but I suspect (because I can’t prove it) that by the time some of the players, Felix Sancho and Cherki, were making more money than anyone else on the squad still, and as a result their teams did not have the wage bill to bring in players to help them. The best example of this is Jadon Sancho, in the last year of the save Curzon Ashton was relegated to the EvoStik, and he was making €4700 p/w…

Mbappe and Haaland are both good enough that they were able to get promoted, and quickly, but then that’s where the other behind the scenes issue arose, and that’s the AI’s inability to work a good transfer market and improve the squad. The best example of this is Mbappe of course. From 2029 to 2035 Blyth were in the Championship. This is their Transfer Spending in that timeframe:

2029/30€1M (and 3 players on loan at €315K)€46K
Blyth Transfer Spending while in the EFL Championship

By Comparison, Reading was also in the Championship at the same time, and both teams finished within shouting distance of each other more often than not, and their Transfer spends were 18.75M/28M, 7.25M/26M, 20.5M/33M, 15M/5.5M, 14.5M/35M in the same time frame.

The clubs that did get promoted did improve their facilities, as an example Blyth ended up with Great Yout and Training facilities, but I also wonder if the quality of coaching, especially for those players who did not get promoted right away, also played a factor in their development.

This is Rayan Cherki’s Progression thru the midpoint of the save:

Rayan Cherki 2020
Rayan Chekri 2023
Rayan Cherki 2029

He did pick up some more traits, and became comfortable at a few more positions, and in fact actually came down a point in a couple of attributes. A lack of full time training perhaps?

That said, even if their attributes didn’t improve, they were more than good enough to be their clubs primary scoring threat for much of the save. What follows are a few tables to illustrate that:

Players Goals by Year and Division
Players Assists by Year and Division
Another View of Player Goals and League

There’s still a lot more to do in terms of player charting and the like, but for the moment, here are my takeaways from this experiment:

It was pretty fun to run. The data from this comes from my third attempt at running it, the first was marred by a series of PBKAC errors on my end, the second by some behind the scenes stuff I didn’t realize could happen, IE Hard Brexit, and as a result Esposito and Cherki didn’t qualify for a work permit due to lack of International Experience, and spent the last twelve years locked into a team they could not play for nor get released from. Mbappe getting a team close I sort of expected, but I was also hoping a younger player like Esposito would do well in that regard. And I learned a lot from it, especially what to do if I want to run this experiment again later, which I might. If I do, I probably won’t have Mbappe or Holland on it, but younger players like Boadu, Zirkzee and others. I would start them at a lower salary, and if I could, ensure they all start on Professional squads.

If you’ve made it this far, Thanks! Any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will answer them as best I can. If you have an idea for an experiment, let me know as well, am always interested in seeing what other creators come up with that’s different than the usual out there.

Plans for the Future?

I have many plans for the future.

Although as I am fond of saying:  “Custer had a plan, too.”

FM20 brought about some very nice changes to those of us who are spreadsheet fanatics.  From my point of view, the changes they have made to player status’, and contracts, and not to mention the fact you now have some more control over coaches salaries and the like is very cool.

The fact we cannot export to .csv is still very, very annoying.  I will be the first to admit when it comes to programming I am not the person you want to go to for that sort of thing.  But it’s 2020 SI, how hard could it be to add that functionality?  That’s an honest question.

When FM20 was released, I didn’t have a lot of spare time.  I had a small personal playthru with Palace to try and familiarize myself with the new changes, then started a Beta save with AC Milan, which you can watch here. However, this was a particularly bad time of year for me time wise.  Work was busy (Yay!), but the family life was a bit hectic, and then then November and December got terribly busy as other, more important personal project took over most of my time.  Forza Milan! was three episodes a week, MWF, at least I tried for three episodes a week.

Then my laptop started having issues.  It’s a very nice laptop, an Alienware 17 that’s been very good to me since I bought it.  But it started, glitching, for lack of a better term. Had it cleaned out, replaced a couple of parts, and nothing seemed to make it better, but at the same time it didn’t get worse.  I like laptops, because of the nature of my work I spend the majority of my time on one, but upgrading them is a pain, and after talking with Household Six, I figured if I am going to invest in a new system, I’m going to get a tower, and one I can upgrade in the future should I want to.

So, after doing some research, I built a system over at MAINGEAR, and said this is what I’m looking at doing.  And a couple of hours later I received a reply that said essentially “You case is to big for what you have selected, and if you downgrade to this one you save some money, and your machine will be more efficient.”  To which I said “I am totally spending a goodly amount of money with you now, here’s what I want, can I get it by Christmas?”

And they said “Maybe?  We’ll try, but were super busy.”  So, on December 21st, the new Mistress, as Household Six calls it, arrived.

For those geeks out there reading, here’s what I have now:

Chassis: MAINGEAR VYBE Mk. V – Matte Black
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero w/ WIFI – ATX
Processor: AMD RYZEN 9 3950X 16-Core 3.5GHz (4.7GHz Boost)
Processor Cooling: [Closed Loop Liquid Cooling] MAINGEAR Epic 240
MAINGEAR Redline Processor Overclocking: AMD Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking
Memory: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4 3200MHz (2x16GB)
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB GDDR6
Power Supply: EVGA 750W SuperNOVA B2 80+ BRONZE

FM looks great on it.  All of my games look and run great on it.  Jellico is a very, happy gamer.  Not a better gamer, but happier.

Over the Christmas break I did a little recording, and this past weekend I’ve been editing what I recorded.  It took a 36 long minute video in Resolve and compiled it to 1920x1080HD in MP4 format in 8 minutes.  Now, this was sort of the 21st Century I was promised.

But, Forza Milan! was intended to be a short term save.  I’ve finished the 2nd season, and am about a third of the way thru season three, and then that’s it.

So, the question then is:  What next?

I had plans of doing a single club save, another road to Glory, but I’ve done that three years in a row now.  It’s fun, but part of me wants to do something like an Eastern European only journeyman save.  The pronunciation errors alone could be worth it.

I am looking at doing something like a Skins review, because I can never use just one, and it’s not something I’ve seen on Youtube.  Of course, my search-fu could be weak there.

Anyhow, plans for 2020.  Go back to five uploads a week.  Skins review, new save.  I’m writing these with Jell-o on a hot Phoenix sidewalk, so what could possibly go wrong?  🙂

Thanks for the feedback on previous posts, and I will say, no mo matter what save I do, I’ll probably still be tinkering around with the spreadsheets.

As soon as I get everything transferred over to the new system.  Good thing I have a ten year old to help me with that…




The Beginning, just a couple of tabs, I swear…

I’ll be the first to admit, I am not the most knowledgeable soccer/football fan. I played it as a kid, followed it, although not too closely, when I lived in Europe in the 80’s, and while I know of the Premier League, Bundesliga and the like, until about 2017, my knowledge of world football was, at best, a PowerPoint slide or two deep. As an American, soccer/football just wasn’t something I followed too closely.

I am a gamer though. Board, miniatures, computer, pen and paper, dice, that was (and still is) a hobby of mine. There’s a Youtuber I follow named Quill18, who does a lot of “Let’s Plays” for various games I also play, and one day his followers challenged him to play FM17. And he did. And I sat there the whole time watching him play with a quizzical look of “What the hell is this and where has it been my life?” I know Madden, I like Madden and other sports games (Heck I was a Tecmo Bowl League my sophomore year of college, and yes, that makes me old), never played FIFA (because, well, Soccer…), but Football Manager was more than either of them. So, so much more.

So I bought it, and started to learn it. And two and a half years later, a couple of thousand watched videos on YouTube, and countless hours of streams by other content creators, it has become the game I play most. Like many games, it’s very customizable in the detail level you want, how much control you’d like. For most FM17, and most of FM18, I was a hands off coach. Tactics, some scouting, and press conferences, that was it.  I spent a decent amount of time following up the scouts recommendations, but I never too full control of the club I was running.

That’s changed with FM19. After my initial Beta Test save (with Crystal Palace), I knew what save I wanted to do, and I also knew I wanted to exercise more control over, well, everything.  But I needed some help to get that done.

In my day job, I’m a Geographer/GIS Analyst. I take data and represent it visually. Lot’s, and lots of data, and shapes, and details. I do also get to make some cools maps (Aswijan for example), but really, 75% to 90% of my job is manipulating data and making it not only understandable to the end user, but accurate as well. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and the end user will only see the last 10% or so of your efforts, but it’s the other 90% that makes things go.

On top of this, I am what I like to refer to as a “Least Amount of Effort” type of person. While that sounds bad, in actuality what it means is that if given a task, I’m not going to take any shortcuts to finish it, and I’m not going to add any chrome to it to make it flashier. If a job requires ten steps to get done, I’m going to do it ten steps.  Not six, not fifteen, but ten.

I’ve been on projects with those sorts of people who do both. I’m not a fan.

I work with a lot of tables, and spreadsheets, and I like to be my job as easy as possible, so I will manipulate them to try and make my life easier. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, well, thank god for CTRL-Z.

Early on, one of the things I wanted to do in FM17 with my first main save, was track how my players attributes improved. One of the things Football Manager is good at is the data it creates for, well, most everything. One of the things it’s not so great at is representing that data usefully.  While that is a criticism, I understand why SI have done the things they have done when it comes to data and how they present it. But they do make it easy to export a lot of data, and with a little application of application, there are some things a manager can do to make his job a little easier. And that what I set out to do.

This is Sophiane Bouris Belle. He’s my very good youth striker in my current save with SC Bastia:


There’s a lot of data here, and a lot of it is quite useable. Attributed wise, I can tell by the little green arrows next to most of them that he is improving in all those areas. How much? Well, that’s where I run into some issues.

Clicking on Development→Attribute Changes gives you this screen:


Not a bad way to display this IMO, but there could be better ways.

And it’s not bad, just incomplete, at least for what I want to do. Especially when you consider that if you turn on all the Attributes you get this:


To much data on one screen makes it unusable.

On some players, if you relax one eye you can see the sailboat…

But there’s better way of seeing these changes, at least for me.

First, you have to create a Squad View of all the Attributes. And make sure the column order of this view is the same order as the player attributes. And do not mess with the columns after creating this view, or you will make a mistake. Yes, that’s from experience. You can add other items of info you want to the end, I find that makes it easier, but YMMV.


I Can’t stress this enough, don’t move these columns after you export the first time…

Now, open your spreadsheet program. I use Calc by Libreoffice, but I have it set up to use Excel formulas, so what follows should work without a problem on Excel.

Now, go back into Football Manager, and under the FM button, scroll down to ‘Print Screen’ and Print as a Web Page, Select the folder you want to save it to, rename the file, to whatever you want, and click ‘Save’.

Helpful hint, if you have a set folder where you want all this data to go to, the next time you get to this screen, hit the ‘Recent’ drop down on the right, and a list of folders you’ve recently used, including the one your exported data is going into, should pop up.


A handy shortcut

Navigate to that folder, click the file, and it will open in your browser.


Basic HTML output.

Select the data you want, copy it, go to your blank spreadsheet, select the cell you want the data to start in, and then this is very, very important:

Right Click, select Paste Special, and then select ‘Unformatted Text’


Very, very important!

This is very important, if you do not do this some formulas and calculations will not work!

This has to do with how Excel/Calc ‘see’s’ and interprets whats in the cell.  Sometimes it sees ‘12345’ as a number, sometimes it sees it as text.  Sometimes it will not ‘see’ text in a cell as part of a calculation, this is due to the cells format.  Pasting everything in as ‘Unformatted Text’ should default most text to text, and numbers to numbers.  There may be cases where you will have to go into the spreadsheet and set a cells format, but most of those occur later.

When you paste, you’ll get this:


And you can format this however you want. You will also want to rename the tab. I rename it whatever month I took the Attribute Screen Shot.


The next time you export an Attribute Screen Shot, create a second tab, cut and past the data the same way, and rename the tab.

NOTE: Your Attribute Screenshot does not have to have the names in the same order each time you take it. I promise.

Now comes the cool stuff: Conditional Formatting.

A conditional format is a rule you set up for data on the page, and that rule says that if a cell, or group of cells, is equal to the condition you set, whatever change you want to apply to that data will be applied.

Changes can range from font changes, to color changes, to both. You can have multiple conditional formats on a page, but you have to be careful how you apply them, as there is a priority/hierarchy to how they are applied.

Create a conditional format, set the condition to Formula Is and enter in the following formula:


What I set for the style is to change the cell color to Red.

Now, an explanation of this formula, and what yoy may have to change to get it to work on your spreadsheet:

C3 is the first cell you want the formula to start looking at.  Don’t use C2 if it’s your first line of data, the formula doesn’t like it.  I’m not sure why.

A3 is the cell your Players Name is in.

TAB! is the name of the tab you want searched.

A$2:$AL$99 is the range of data being searched on the tab.  This also means it will search all the data and names, including the first row.

So what this formula is saying is this:

Look at Cell C3. Compare it Value to the Value of the Cell where the name of the player in A3 of whatever tab your referencing; if that name isn’t in A3 search for it A2 to AL99, and once found, compare the numbers in the columns between the two tabs. If the number in tab2 is less than the number in tab1 by -2 (or more), turn the cell red.  Clear as mud, right?  I’m not sure how I could explain it better, any suggestions would be great!

The next formula should be:


I set this to turn the cell dark green. This is looking for Values that are +2 or more that have changed between tabs.

Next formula is:


This is looking for Values that are -1 from Tab2 to Tab1, I set this to change the background to Yellow.

The last formula is


This is looking for Values that are +1 from Tab2 to Tab1, I set this to change the background to a lighter Green.

These formulas have to be entered in this order, when you arrange them in the condition box it has to read +2, -2, +1, -1.

This is because Excel and Calc are very hierarchy oriented, so if you have the -1 rule at the top, when the formatting formula is looking, it will see 8 is at least 1 less than 10, and turn it yellow, and because a condition has already been applied, it will not turn it read when it goes to apply the -2 change.

Once you have the formulas entered, hit ok/apply, they should take effect, and this:


I turn the background grey to cut down on glare.  If you see my YT vids you know why.

Should turn into something like this:


Now how much easier is this to read?

When you need additional tabs, what I do is right click on an already filled out tab with the conditional formatting applied, copy it with a new name to the spreadsheet, then delete the names and data on the page. That way the formatting stays behind. The only thing you have to do now is go into the conditional formatting formulas and change the tab you want referenced.

One last note, which I mentioned before:


The formula used does not look at the column headers, but the Player Name, and once it finds the match, it will start comparing the values of the columns associated with that name from left to right. If you move the columns around between screenshots and apply the formula, you will get some strange results.  I once couldn’t figure out how all on my players Physicals dropped -2, then found out I had deleted a column…

And that’s also the very cool thing about this formula, it looks at the name before it starts comparing. No matter where it is in the name column, if in your tab2 it finds the name in tab1, it will compare the numbers and apply the formatting.

As proof of this, the above is taken with the names in Ascending order.

This is a screenshot of the same tab with the names I descending order:


You’ll notice the formatting has moved with the player.


I’ve found this very useful for tracking not only my players growth every three or so months, but it’s also coming in quite handy as a training session aid as well. If my players are improving quite a bit in say their technical skills, but not their physical skills, I know I should start emphasizing more physically oriented training sessions. Likewise, it will show my youth players development, and when my older players start declining. This is a screenshot of my squad, comparing their progress from June of 2018 to June of 2019.


That’s a lot of green….

Everybody above the red line is a youth player.

The stats circled in blue are the physicals of my players aged 31 and older.

A little bit easier to interpret than a bar graph, right?

And that’s going to be it for Part 1 of this series. I don’t know how long it’s going to be to be honest, but I do know the next couple of parts are going to be the Attribute Analysis comparison graph, the Wage Budget Calculator I use, and the Schedule Tab, and all the things you can do with it.

A big thanks to the people over at the MrExcel forums (MrExcel.com) for help with a lot of the formulas used in this project.

Thanks for reading, and if there’s something you’d like to see please let me know.


Find me @FM_Jellico on Twitter!