Analysing A Squad Using The TPBCM

Following on from my brief  INTRODUCTION it is time to take a look at the club which I will be inflicting this style on. Aside from a few interesting points, I am not one to go too much into to the history of a club, I’ll leave that to you to do as homework. I will, instead, try to outline what I plan to do with them.

The back drop for out time in the Netherlands will be the lovely (I’m assuming) city of Arnhem. It boasts the zero time Eredivisie champions Vitesse, probably more famous outside of Gelderland for its affiliation with Chelsea than its own success. A third place in 1997/98 is as close as they have come in over 100 years to winning the top division. A KNVB Cup win in 2017 their only notable silverware. Apologies to any Vitesse fans reading if I’m butchering your history but with the defensive football I have planned for you, it may get worse before it gets better.

What is the reason for Anti-Football I hear you ask? Well, my main aim is to have a set style of play, whether it wins something or not I want to have a club identity or a ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ if you will. The method for choosing players may not be the best or most successful but if I see my style shining through then I will be satisfied.

Throughout my introduction I mentioned my long-suffering support of Stoke City, an affliction which could well get worse should they suffer relegation this season. Although an established Premier League side at the start of this season, a lack of direction or style of play in recent seasons has left a poor squad without any true identity. Sure there are better players now, Xherdan Shaqiri would likely edge out Jonathan Walters in a game of heads and volleys but his lack of work rate leaves the fans frustrated.

The run to the FA Cup final in 2011 was perhaps where Pulis’ Stoke and the glory of being a fan peaked. Since gaining promotion to the top league in 2008 the side finished 12th, 11th and then 13th but did so on hard work, stability and defensive strength. During the 2010/11 season, the side conceded just 48 goals, the best of anyone outside the top eight. Compare that to the current side who have shipped 61 league goals with still six games remaining. They had to be tight at the back as they would score a meagre 46 goals in the 2010-11 league campaign, Kenwyne Jones top-scoring with nine. Although having scored just the 29 goals during this current season, perhaps those days were a little more entertaining for the fans than now.

Emulating a style

People can say what they like about Pulis, and many of his own fans eventually chose to do just that, but he can set up a side to get results. During his time at Stoke he knew what he wanted from a player and that was not always so obvious to the fans in the stadium who likely preferred to see flare and excitement. So what are the key parts of Pulis’ brand of football that I can bring to the good people of Arnhem? First and foremost our aim in each game will be to keep a clean sheet. At times during his West Brom days, Pulis would deploy a back four consisting of all centre-backs. The central midfield pair during the 2011 FA Cup final was Glenn Whelan and Rory Delap, one fairly creative but aggressive playmaker, the other who could likely throw a kettle over a pub with little difficulty.

Aside from the defensive nature of the team there was attacking threat and flair in the shape of wide men Matthew Etherington and to a less extent Jermaine Pennant providing pace from the wings. The top two was more often than not Kenwyne Jones, a strong and powerful forward but lacking in finishing and Jonathan Walters, a hard working and tireless forward but also lacking in finishing. Then let’s not forget set pieces. Premier League champion Robert Huth was riding high in the scoring charts at the end of the season with six goals to his name, mostly from corners, free kicks and the infamous Delap throw. All these aspects are something I will try to instil into my side.


As mentioned already the defensive stability I’ll be aiming for will start with a rigid back-four. The fullbacks will be tasked with defending first and foremost with the centre-backs also just performing to their strengths. In past saves I look at crossing and creative aspects of a fullback but this will not be the case here without the defensive side to back it up. Key attributes I will be looking at are: Tackling, marking, heading, strength, and bravery.

For each of these areas I want to play with at least 12 out of 20. I’ll also be taking note of the height of players to give that extra advantage.

Above are the senior defenders who’s attributes are filtered for what I see as the key areas for a solid defence. Using the patented ‘Tony Pulis Baseball Cap Metric’ or TPBCM as it’s widely known, we can decide who should be starting in our Anti-Football system as they have over 12 in the key attributes.

Guram Kashia 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Arnold Kruiswijk 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Vyacheslav Karavaev 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Van der Werff 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Lassana Faye 🧢🧢🧢
Alexander Büttner 🧢
Miazga 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢 (on loan)

Including Miazga, who I am currently trying to extend his loan for another season, I have five defenders all with 4 🧢 or above. Looking at the B team, only Boyd Lucassen at the moment has enough to challenge for a first-team place. He is a 3 🧢 defender and has 10 for bravery so is already in contention for a place on the bench at 19-years-old. I have set his training to ‘defensive centre back’ with an extra focus on strength as you cannot train bravery directly.


The deep-lying playmaker, the Glenn Whelan of the side, will be the main source of creativity. This will be the only role which will include vision into the metric but there still must be an element of Work Rate to help support the team as a whole. For our DLP we will be grading them on the following areas: Passing, Vision, Long Shots, First Touch, Work Rate.

Thomas Bruns 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Mason Mount 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Thulani Serero 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Julian Calor 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Van der Werff 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Navarone Foor 🧢🧢🧢🧢

We have some good options for this role with six players all scoring 4🧢 or above on the TPBCM. Mason Mount is on loan and, given that he is only average in all areas, I will be unlikely to try to renew it. There is no doubting he will become quality in the future, but his value will be higher than I can meet.

Alongside our playmaker we need a worker, runner and, because we are a defensive side, a decent tackler. In Stoke’s side it was someone like Dean Whitehead or Rory Delap if he wasn’t on the right. Delap is more famed for his long throws but a manager like Pulis wouldn’t allow him to be in the side on that alone. With these points in mind I will be looking at the following key attributes: Tackling, Team Work, Stamina, Work Rate, Passing

Thomas Bruns 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Thulani Serero 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Julián Calor 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Miazga 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢 (on loan)

We have a number of good options for this place. Bruns looks the most rounded and will likely start but Serero peaks higher in the hard-working attributes. Again, like for defence, Miazga is one of the more suited players for the role but until his loan extension is confirmed I will use sparingly. It will be interesting to see which position suits him best.

Our plan is to play solid and defence-first football but when we get the chance to break we need to do it quickly. Our main attacking build up will come from the wide midfielders, similar to what Matthew Etherington was to Stoke. When fit he would break with pace from the left and cause problems with his dribbling. He would also chip in with a few goals in each season. I will be looking for the following in the Vitesse squad: Acceleration, Crossing, Agility, Passing, Dribbling

Alexander Büttner 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Bryan Linssen 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Mitchell van Bergen 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Roy Beerens 🧢🧢🧢🧢

Büttner was a surprise to find as he is a LB/WB so I missed him in my initial view of the squad. He is only a 1🧢 rated defender under the current metric but he will be a starting LM winger for my side. In general we have four good options to move between and vBergen looks good for an 18-year-old.


The defensive forward is one of the key attacking areas, just not necessarily with regards to goal scorning. In his 226 appearances for Stoke, Jon Walters scored just 43 goals, one in every five. The most he ever scored in a single Premier League season was eight and yet in the three league seasons between 2010 and 2013 he missed just two games. Clearly in the side to provide something more than just goals I will look for a similar player in my side.

The characteristics I will be looking for are; Work Rate, Team Work, Aggression, Strength, Stamina. Below is how the Vitesse squad score on the Pulis scale:

Navarone Foor 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Thomas Bruns 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Bryan Linssen 🧢🧢🧢🧢🧢
Mitchell van Bergen 🧢🧢

Bryan Linssen has the attributes but would likely be better suited to the winger role. Bruns is most suited but had already been considered for the CM slot so I will likely go with Foor who also has a good rating.

Goals, the weakest part of the anti-football style of play, especially from open play. With so much focus on defence, it is always going to be difficult to create a high number of good opportunities. However, one goal will be enough to secure the three points if we keep a clean sheet. To partner the hard-working defensive forward I will use a more attacking advanced forward. Much like Kenwyne Jones I want a strong and fast player who can take the ball forward. The better the player is at scoring on his own the more successful we will be.

Using the following attributes I can better see who will be my Kenwyne: Strength, Off the Ball, Pace, Dribbling, Heading.

Tim Matavz 🧢🧢🧢
Luc Castaignos 🧢🧢🧢🧢
Thomas Buitink 🧢🧢🧢

Castaignos looks to be the best option but is on loan. I will try both him and Matavz in this role but will start scouting for a quality replacements as soon as possible. Buitink has youth on his side so with training and game time once he is 18 he should improve.

With the above in mind, we expect to take the field in our first game in a 442 but more on that to come next time in a tactics post.

If you managed to stick through that and get to the end please let me know what you thought. It is not the most educational post I am sure but I intend to try something new for myself in this save and to have a definite goal and style in mind as I am creating the side.

Please feel free to contact me on @accordingtofm on Twitter or FMSlack.


2 thoughts on “Analysing A Squad Using The TPBCM

  1. Pingback: Using Tactical Tweaks To Perfect My Anti-Football | according to FM

  2. Pingback: Implementing a Recruitment and Squad Evaluating Method in FM19 | according to FM

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