The importance of Media Predictions and odds
For the past weeks we have been enticed with hundreds of new Football Manager 2014 features and improvements. Some of them are very basic and perhaps boring, while others are added to increase the realism of the game. One of these, is the improvement to the general media predictions screen which now shows a number of new odds, including managers predicted to be fired or hired, which will be an addition to match and competition odds in FM13; one of the key elements of the pre-match media prediction screen.
As I tried live betting at Williamhill the previous weekend and was looking at the odds of my selected football matches it made me think about match odds in Football Manager and also all those complaining about their tactics not working, as they record loss after loss, and are asking me for help.
I thought it was time to take a closer look on Football Manager match odds, media predictions and how it influences Football Manager. Hopefully by providing you with more information about this topic, one of the more advanced Football Manager statistics, you will become better to understand how to use that sort of information to your benefit, when both creating your own tactics and approaching the next opposition. By studying odds for competition, you might even set your board expectations accordingly, or aim to cause an upset in a given cup.
Even though this might not be the article for all of you wondering why you've lost numberous matches, as this will be covered in the future, it might be a worthy read and something to think about the next time when feeling bad because of a loss, or wondering how to change your fortunes.
Football Manager; Its statistics and information
The massive amount of statistics and information about players, player performances, clubs and leagues are somewhat overwhelming.
When playing the game, I would presume you will only discover a tiny percentage of the overall amount of statistics made available for all competitions, leagues and players. We can't of course delve into all available statistics and information provided in Football Manager 2014 in this article, but we can look at what's common with all available statistics; why they are in the game.
A mathematician will say Football Manager is all about math and more specificially: probability. However, a pure football fanatic will say it's all about the tactic, the match situations and how to use your players in the benefit of the playing style. But in the end, it's a matter of both those things! No matter how you twist and turn on it, your success in Football Manager is determined by probability and how the Sports Interactive developers have created Football Manager 2014. Then it's a matter of how you use the available information to your benefit and what you do in order to make the best out of it.
What's common with all the different sorts of statistics, and what Football Manager really is about, is the probability and odds for occurring events; how likely an event will happen or not. For example the information about how many shots will influence on the probability of a goal is scored, which is as highly relevant to crosses and the amount of it. Having 20 shots on goal will not determine X amount of goals, as it all depends on the situation, the players skills in finishing (and his composure, decisions, technique etc.) and finally, how Sports Interactive have set the probability level of an occuring event. But what we can both agree on is that it will definitely increase the odds for goals scored, when the number of shots increases.
But let's take a closer look on the match odds, a key part of the FM14 pre-match media prediction screen.
Football Manager Match Odds
The Football Manager match odds is shown in the pre-match screen the day before a match and describes the probability of an event; how likely it will be for a club to win, draw or lose the match. The match odds are delivered as part of the media predictions of the next fixture. Odds are used to express the ratio of the probability of a certain outcome of the match happening against the chances of it not happening. You can choose to have the Football Manager match odds displayed in two ways, depending on what you're used to (your region of the world). The two display options of odds are:
A) Fractional format: 4-1; is the format most used in UK and on British betting sites. It shows the odds against an event and might be the most difficult to understand the probability of.
The first figure represents the number of ways of failing to achieve the outcome and the second figure is the number of ways of achieving a favorable outcome. This means that when the first figure increases (50-1), it will be more difficult to achieve a favorable outcome, which in this example is a win.
In order to understand the probability of an event occuring you can easily convert fractional odds to probability and percentage chance.
If the odds are 6-1, we have a 1 in a 7 chance of achieving the outcome. To get the probability of the odds, you will need to take the odds 6-1, divide 1 by the added up two digits, which equals 7. This is how it looks: 1/(6+1). The answer will then be the probability of the event = 0.14. If you should convert it to percentage, you will need to multiply the number by 100 = 14%.
B) Decimal format: 1.25; is the format used in most European countries, and might be the most common when visiting EU betting sites. This is the type of odds I'm most accustomed with. Here, odds of 3.50 means the outcome is more difficult to achieve then if the odds were 1.20.
If you want to know the probablity of decimal odds, it gets even easier, as you can take 100 and divide it by the decimal odds: 100/1.25. This will give you a probability of 80%!
While Football Manager's media prediction and match odds is just a tiny bit of all statistics and information shown in FM14, this information provides us with some vital information about the next fixture.
How to change the Match Odds format in Football Manager 2014?
If you are struggling to understand the conversion rates of the different fractional or decimal odds, please check out this table.
What can we read from the match odds of media predictions?
If we look closer to match odds and the fractional format, which display the clubs chances for a win, tie or a loss. If we use the 4-1 example from before, this will tell us how likely your team will win one match from 5 occasions. So in 1 out of 5 occasions the team will win the match, or 20% probability of a win.
The match odds will tell us if your team is predicted as the favorite of winning the encounter, drawing or losing the fixture. The media will compare both teams and label them as favorite, evenly matchd or underdog. But one question remains; how can we use match odds information to the benefit of the next match?
For the AI Manager, the match odds will influence on their choice of starting line-up, how they set their formation, and finally, how they will set up their starting strategy in order to increase the probability of a win according to their form.
For you as the manager it will also provide you with some vital information, such as your teams reputation compared to the opposite and your current form. Your clubs match odds will also be influenced by if you are playing at home or away. It will not take in account which players you choose for your starting line-up or which players are eligible to play, or the quality of the players playing. But it could be one factor influencing on your approach to two important pre-match assignments, whether you are described as a favorite, an underdog or are evenly matched:
i) your choice of tactical strategy, playing style and formation.
How the media predict your chances of a win, draw or loss, will determine which strategy to choose. For a match you are comfortable favorites for, it might be beneficial to choose attacking strategy, while a match you're a clear underdog in, might be beneficial to choose a defensive or counter attacking approach, depending on your level of quality in squad compared to the opposite players.
ii) your approach to pre-match team talk based on your teams form and probability of a win, as you can use team talks to influence the players motivation and morale. For example against a higher reputational club, where your team is clear underdogs, it might be wise to tell them to have fun, enjoy the match and play without pressure, while when you're a clear favorite and players are overconfident, it may be important to demand more from them.
Match Odds for the better or worse?
As match odds are clearly one of many elements we can look upon before next match preparation in additional to tactic analysis and other reports about next opposition, such as team comparison, it would be foolish to not understand what the information really tells us. Despite all other analysis and statistics, the media preditions on match odds is the only clear hint about your chances of a win.
When I hear someone complaining about a tactic that doesn't work or why they keep losing or think they're under-performing, once they look at the match odds it's no wonder why they might be disappointed, as they perhaps are favorite only 60-70% of the time. I don't know about you, but I do tend to look at the match odds and often get the wrong expectations for the encounter, as the media predicts me as a clear favorite for the match. But what the data doesn't show you that clearly, is that when you got an odds of 1-2 in fractional odds or 1.50 in decimal odds, it is still 33% chance of a loss! The opposition team base their tactic around the media expectations so when the odds are high for a loss, they will of course defend, and you will of course attack as you might think it's a walk in the park. Most likely you will be hit by the counter as your defensive line is higher than it should.
What the data doesn't show is how your players fit your tactical preferences and playing style, and how the players interact. As we all know, anything can happen on the pitch. You can be rewarded with a lucky penalty in the 90th minute which secures you a late win, or you can lose as your team went down to 10 men early on. So do the match odds give us false expectations? Or can we use those expectations to try to predict the outcome before the match?
One thing we do know is how the opposition team most likely will behave in terms of strategy and level of defensive line. For example when encountering a Premier League side when in Championship, we will expect the PL club to attack, and play with a high defensive line. In 2 out of 3 matches they will win, if the odds are 1-2. In order to grind out a result you will need to think about the other sides weaknesses and adjust your strategy to them, introducing the element of surprise.
By playing in a manner the opposition team wouldn't expect you can increase the chances of a win. If you have downloaded a tactic, you might change the setup of touchline instructions and strategy in order to adjust width, defensive line and closing down. As the odds are likely to change between home and away matches it's perhaps time to start having additional tactics to choose from. This means that instead of playing one tactic with the same strategy and the same preferred shouts, it's time to actually use the 3 slots of match tactics preparations. These 3 tactics will have different strategy and playing style depending on the teams overall media expectations throughout a season; favorite, underdog and evenly matched, or if you are playing home or away. Note that a match against an evenly matched team will label one of the teams as favorite.
By understanding the probability of a win, I guess you will take more precautions before fielding your squad, as you actually will need to consider how the opposition team will approach the match. One thing I've learn through years of playing Football Manager, is that you can take nothing for granted. In order to be a manager, you will need to analyze all the data and information. You will need to analyze the opposition team, use the match adapting tools given and analyze the match. You will need to watch the match and take actions in order to score goals or not concede them.
And then the Football Manager match odds might become just a flavour, something that might guide you in the right direction instead of looking at it as a clear cut chance.
How do you use the data and information provided by match odds in Football Manager, and how will you approach to it be in FM14?