We have had another strong hint that performance scoring changes are on the way as the latest FI survey dropped into our inboxes this week.
It said an announcement would be made shortly which to me almost certainly means it will take effect in the new season.
If you have not already, it is worth reading the original Performance Changes article where I looked into an overall approach and which players might benefit.
To recap, my approach was to:
a) identify the changes I think are likely because they are non-controversial and generally popular;
b) find players who are good value even if nothing changed but may get even better if an anticipated change happens.
I still think that is right.
I expect these changes to make good performance players better rather than make current no hopers suddenly brilliant. So to me this is all about finding good value strong players who we know have been good and should get even better.
For more discussion about likely changes, check back on the original article. This time I will focus on the new hints given in the survey.
So what can we read into this survey?
The first thing that stood out was the question about whether certain games should get a higher weight in performance scoring.
This comes from last seasons deep Champions League games which were somewhat spoiled by rescheduled Ligue 1 games clashing with them. We could get into a big discussion about the rights or wrongs with this but let’s focus on what matters for this article.
Without this change, CL and EL late games may be something of a damp squib again as traders will say “what’s the point Ligue 1 will only spoil the day”. So, traders who hold these sorts of players will want this change.
The thought did cross my mind as to whether they would start trying to rank the leagues (EPL harder than Ligue 1 so get’s a bonus). This feels unlikely though and would cause havoc. It seems to be specifically to solve the CL issue which was unpopular with many.
This boils down to a potential positive for big ticket players with Champions and Europa League involvement (helpful for site strategy picks). If this was announced it would increase trader confidence in them. So I am quite happy to see this on there personally.
I think it will happen because FI worry about most new customers who will want to bet on the big CL games without worrying about Jaquez De La Noname in a Ligue 1 rescheduled match stealing the show.
Onto the specific performance changes.
The above is a shot of the questions and it hints at Aerial Duels, Dribbles and Key Passes being added pretty strongly. This is line with expectations and would not be a surprise at all.
Interesting to note here we appear to be focusing on successful actions which I think is positive. So it’s not just the number of dribbles or aerial duels, it’s the number of ones you win. That’s good as I do not think we should reward players who dribble 20 times a match and lose the ball 75% of the time.
I would go further and give a negative score for failure like with a giveaway pass which would balance this out and reward the better players. But it is unclear whether that will happen or not.
This has been anticipated for a while and was actually an idea designed primarily for defenders when first discussed. What hasn’t been widely discussed yet including by me is that many midfielders and forwards could benefit from this too.
It is possible that target men who score a lot and win a decent number of aerial duels should see a decent benefit here. However, as discussed further below, this type of player is often quite weak on FI underlying stats to start with so it might not be enough to make them competitive in many cases.
What’s a bit alarming is that FI are asking whether an aerial duel should be worth more than a tackle. Whether a football fan values one more than the other is up for debate but the fact is successful aerial duels are much more frequent than successful tackles. So, if you were to award 5 for an aerial duel that could have a notable impact.
Here are some solid performance players I think could benefit nicely from more points for aerial duels (based on last season data):
With some very basic maths, taking average number of aerial duels won by most decent players into account, I could say I expected this to add 10-20 points to a good aerial duelists score in most games. That’s probably right broadly speaking. However, it’s a pretty variable stat.
Some teams just set up to play long ball and in those matches you can have huge spikes in a players aerial duel stats. A good aerial duelist may get 8-10 successful aerial duels in such a game. That could be a whopping 40-50 points at 5 points per duel! Hopefully FI have clocked this. This is why I think they may/should do something to punish losing the duel too or it could get out of hand.
Alternatively, you could award 3 points per duel won to keep things sensible.
Again though, this is another defender stat that is fairly difficult to predict. We have lots of quality defenders on that list above and it may allow them to shine through a bit more often but equally they could still get eclipsed by a talentless 7ft head on a stick who faces a long ball team that week.
I am not entirely convinced this will change the fortunes of defenders without unusual goal threat but we shall keep that under review.
When it comes to the attackers, despite all the fuss that will be made of aerial duels for them, when looking through the stats there were very few outfield players that got me really excited for their aerial duel prowess.
You can find these players of course, but they tend not to be players that fit a good performance scoring profile in general. At this stage, my speculation would be that players who are very strong in the air may not excel in other areas that are also required for good performance scores.
So, you could pull an obvious example in Troy Deeney. If a generous 5 points are awarded per success he could easily add 30-40 points to his scores in some games. But the rest of his scoring is lousy so it is extremely unlikely that even that would tip him towards a performance dividend challenge.
But, we will need to see exactly what the scoring system is before we can say too much about this.
We discussed this in the original article and the use of the word “successful” by FI is good for the list of players set to benefit that I put together.
I focused on players who don’t just make a lot of dribbles/take ons, they beat their man too the majority of the time.
So this list required no editing. This is existing strong players who should get even better if getting credit for dribbles/take ons. I’ve marked those who could benefit particularly strongly with a *.
An addition of a Key Pass metric seems very likely. A Key Pass is defined as:
The final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.
So basically, it would reward any existing assist heavy players because they are no longer getting punished for the striker fluffing the chance they made.
Last time, I looked at both Key Passes and Passes in the Final Third as both could have been used. On this survey’s clue, it seems like Key Passes is the one to go for.
So let’s focus in on that and see who should benefit significantly from Key Passes.
If this looks like a familiar list, it’s because it should be for members of this site! Many of these are known quality performance players and the takeaway here is that the players set to benefit most from these changes are the type of player who are already strong for performance scoring.
Performance changes will cause a ruckus there’s no doubt about it.
But in reality, these changes are very unlikely to completely change the picture of what a good player looks like.
When these changes are announced, if late comers sit down and look at who gets more dribbles/assists/key passes/aerial duels, it would point them towards many of the above players as the first port of call.
Some will try to dig out hidden gems who were previously poor and yet could benefit from these changes, and some will exist, but in general, I think a poor player is going to remain a poor player even if they have some of these new desirable traits.
Come the new season it will be big scores driving prices and we want to hold as many of those likely to score big as we can before everyone else does.
I’ll keep a close eye on this and members will get further updates and analysis once we know more from FI.