SMW-Squad-Cap

One of the topics that always seems to raise it’s head on our forums and is always a heated subject it the issue of squad sizes and whether there should be a squad cap in place in Soccer Manager Worlds. I’ve recently revisited some of these posts and one of them will give War & Peace a run for it’s money! If you ever come across that thread I strongly suggest you leave an evening free and crack open a bottle of wine whilst you read through it.

From all of what i’ve read over the years the general consensus is that certain managers hog players. There is a general agreement that this is a problem and only a few people have argued that it isn’t because there are thousands of players on Soccer Wiki. Yes, that may be the case but when you dig down into the stats only a certain percentage of players on the database are bought by the vast majority. This has always been the case and it will always be because managers buy (in the main) players that they’ve heard of and from the bigger leagues.

The suggestion that is put forward time and time again on how to address player hogging is to have a squad limit:

“First team has a cap of say 35 players. Youth team allows for a further 15/20 players however they must be rated 85 or less. If a member of the youth team reaches either 22 years old or 86 or higher then they are automatically placed into the first team.”

“Have a squad cap of 25 1st team players and then a squad cap of 20 youth team players but have a max rating of 87 and raise the age to 22.”

“For me a 100 is a good number for a max squad rating as that allows a 30 man first team, 30 man reserve team and a 40 man academy.”

“There should be a squad cap of something like 50 youth players and 30 first team.”

I could carry on quoting numerous managers but you get the idea from the handful that i’ve posted in that there is no general consensus on what limit (if any) should be brought in. I don’t think a squad limit is the answer to player hogging but unofficial caps are. They are in place at the moment and you may not even realise this.

When Soccer Manager Worlds was relaunched on 2 December 2015, we made numerous changes to the Game World economies and you can read all about them here. One of the changes that naturally contributes towards an unofficial squad limit is the increase in player wages (especially for the better players) as this in theory should stop player hogging and force people to sell top players they are not using.

I wrote about the impact of the recent financial changes in January and it’s worthwhile revisiting this article. If you recall I said that I always try and keep a small first team squad and it currently stands at 20 players with an average rating of 93. I have a dozen or so younger players out on loan and my first team is complimented with a handful of players in my youth squad that are 85-86 rated.

I made the decision to have a small squad to keep a rein on my finances as well as ensuring that I don’t hog players that I don’t need. The numerous changes to the Game World economies has made it even more important than ever for me to be sensible and in a sense it also dictates how many players I have. Operating in this way also means that I turn a profit each season.

I wrote last week about the strategy that I use in the transfer market and this has enabled me to keep my squad competitive each season. This goes on to the next point which I believe is key. The scouting of players. One of my main joys of Soccer Manager Worlds is the scouting of players and then the signing of them for my Castilla. I’ve seen managers argue that by putting a squad cap in place then this would take this aspect of the game away. The counter argument to that is if there is a limit then it’d make you more selective in who you actually bought. I briefly touched on that in my last article.

The other unofficial limit in place other than your financial constraints is the player concerns feature. You can read all about player concerns in the Help under the article of the same name. It’s a very useful article and if you’ve not read it then I can recommend it as it contains a wealth of information.

I’m quite proud in that none of my players (either in my first / youth squads or loaned out) have any concerns or had any in the past (if you exclude the old wage concern that has now been phased out). This is because as i’ve already wrote I have a small squad and I also rota my players sensibly and don’t just field the same XI week in week out. I’m also not afraid to throw in a 86 rated wide player in my 4-3-3 formation to compliment my two 96 rated strikers for example or even field a 83 rated defender in my back line. More managers should do this and be confident in the squad players at their disposal.

If they did this, kept a smaller squad, rotated their players and were more sensible in the players that they bought then they wouldn’t develop concerns. I always visit the Concerns List in my Game World and i’m always surprised to see some big name 88 to 90 rated players on there. How they’ve let them develop concerns and get to a Level 3 or 4 always amazes me!

When I dig into some of the players on there I soon realise that some are there due to mismanagement but the vast majority of them are from what you’d class as player hogging. There is currently an 89-rated keeper on a Level 4 concern due to lack of games. He’ll more than likely hand in a transfer request in the coming weeks. When I look at the club he’s at I notice that he’s currently their No2 as the manager’s first choice is a 90-rated player. There’s only a year apart in age of both keepers and he doesn’t need both of them but yet neither are on the transfer list and you can argue he’s simply player hogging.

If I look at other players on the list the story is the same. They are developing the lack of games concern because they aren’t being played and the managers is simply hogging them. It’s also the case with the players that have developed concerns about being loaned out. An 88-rated 25-year-old has a Level 3 concern about being loaned out. His position is D(RL). When I look at the manager’s squad he has 8 players that can fill in at D(L) and 9 that can cover at D(R). So the question is why is this manager loaning a 25-year-old out who is surplus to requirements instead of selling him?

If you go back to the 89-rated keeper on a Level 4 concern due to lack of games, I know for a fact that he would be first choice for half of the managers in Game World ID 3065 because there are only 47 89-rated plus keepers in the game. I suppose only the manager who owns him will be able to say why he still has this player.

In Game World ID 3065 we started a new season, Season 22, a few weeks back and the Loan List caught my eye as well. The number of what i’d call average players in the 85-88 range on the list was staggering. I understand fully putting players 22 or under on the loan list as they’re still developing and haven’t yet reached their potential. However, that is different to putting an 87-rated 25-year-old D(C) or 88-rated 29-year-old DM,M(C) on the list as there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t develop any further. If you dig into it a bit deeper and actually look at some of the players that a club has out on loan then you sit here scratching your head trying to understand the logic behind loaning out a 83-rated 28-year old Brazilian journeyman for example.

So even though there is an unofficial limit in place with the player concerns feature, I don’t believe that it’s working as it should do as it isn’t harsh enough and fast enough (in that it takes too long for a player to develop a concern). I think that if this area is revisited and improved, then along with the numerous changes to the Game World economies they should in theory should stop player hogging and force people to sell top players they are not using.

About the author – Steven Gore

Steven is one of the co-founders of Soccer Manager and has been playing SM Worlds since August 2005. He can be found in Gold Championship 7 (Game World ID 3065) managing Castilla if you’d like to join him.

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