Subject: Index in your Inbox |005| 12/11/2019: Positional Changes

We're back, and after last week's newsletter was brimming with positivity - we take a look at something that has been slightly annoying for a lot of index users recently. Player Positions. 

Liam, Trader, Buzzing paul, Ginger Pirlo and I are back, and this time we're doing something interesting. This newsletter, and every newsletter going forward will have a theme. This could be anything. Absolutely anything. Hit me up on twitter @FiGuide if you think you've figured it out, or just tweet it out with the hashtag #Indexinyourinbox 
Liam

Positions are an essential part of football. You often associate a player with their position almost immediately in most cases and you don’t think twice about it. Yet, on football index, it seems positions can never be taken for granted and in this game, positions are more than just a mere detail. Not only is the scoring matrix different for certain positions (namely defenders compared to all over outfield players) but the difference in the competition players’ face and the implications on other player’s values can be the difference between winning and losing dividends.

The averages for dividend winning spots so far this season on gold days are as follows:
-Defender: 231
-Midfielder:264
-Forward: 251
Star (of which over 60% has been won by midfielders): 281

It’s pretty obvious from those stats alone that there can be huge disadvantages to being categorized incorrectly. Players who are much more like forwards who are categorised as midfielders are going to find it very difficult to outscore midfielders under the current matrix, for example, and this definitely hinders there value.

In the same way, having a player put in a more advantageous category is not great for the platform either. Take Kimmich for example, although he seems to have an advantage as a defender when he plays in midfield frequently, it’s not all great news. Firstly, the disadvantage to others of having to compete with him (ignoring TAA for the sake of argument) lowers the probability of them winning quite largely, devaluing them to some extent. Secondly, and most importantly, even as a holder of Kimmich taking advantage of his situation, you are constantly unsure of what will happen to his position next. The risk of being changed to a midfielder is an expensive one. Since the matrix change, he would struggle hugely to be the highest-scoring midfielder in Bayern’s team nevermind of the whole day and even if you were one of the first to spot the change, you’re best case scenario is probably a 10% loss when taking into account spread and commission. (for full disclosure I do own Kimmich and this is just an example but he does fit the bill the best for this scenario.)

These reasons are exactly why a transparent process needs to be put in place to allow traders to evaluate the dividend potential of players they are investing in in the long run without having to try second guess football index’s latest stance on their position. We’ve seen significant repercussions of random positional changes in the past, causing all kinds of knock-on effects. To take Kimmich as the example again, he was changed to a midfielder at a time last season and suffered a rapid drop, people then started buying Alaba and Sule because of their new increased chance of winning. This was one of many changes that day that had similar ripple effects, only for the positions to be changed back again a day later and have everyone reversing what they’d previously done at a big expense because the goalposts had been moved. Not to mention the recent Benzema-Rodrygo issue on the champions league match day-that was a real Wooki Mistake. It’s the kind of problem that gets complained about for a day or so then swept under the rug while everyone is making money and in a forgiving mood but it is an issue that needs sorting and blaming Opta all the time isn’t good enough in the long term, they need to use the force they have as a big customer to make the product they receive less standardised and more fitting to football index’s needs. Although I didn’t hold any of the players involved I was quite annoyed that Football Index didn’t pledge to pay out on Benzema originally, namely because they’re whole advertising campaign is built around onboarding customers who are sick of being ripped off by traditional bookmakers and to then drop the ball in this manner and not offer some form of goodwill would not have done them any good in their quest to differentiate from other bookies, but they didi payout in the end which is more than fair enough.

Hopefully, now the issue has resurfaced, it will be brought back to the forefront of football index’s attention and they will look to find a viable long term solution. For me, I would love positions to be dynamic with players being categorised based on where they play on a given day, using an outlet like Opta or Sofa score where we can all see it for ourselves rather than taking their word for it. Although this would mean some players like Kimmich would sometimes be defenders and sometimes be midfielders, you would know that when you bought him and the probability of playing in each could be factored into his price rather than a complete unknown of when he may randomly be changed and if he’ll be subsequently changed back. It also makes the scoring more fair in the sense that everyone would be being scored and assessed based on where they were playing that day, not where they played last season for example. Of course, the next challenge comes with categorising those subjective players like wingers or attacking full-backs but at least in this way it could be done based off standardised formations where everyone playing in a certain position in a certain formation is categorised in the same way and you don’t end up with things like Willian being a forward and Pulisic being a midfielder despite playing the exact same position on opposite flanks.


Trader
Playing position can make or break a player’s prospects on FI.

Not long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before the matrix changes and before the dividend increase, Forwards were the undisputed King’s of FI and would easily command the highest price tags. They still do, but midfielders have gained fast and may even overturn them, certainly in the mid-priced bracket.

We may see forward’s remain dominant in the very top end of the market, perhaps in the top 20 or so. They still have other advantages which balance out the Gold Day Star Man appeal of midfielders - usually better IPD and Media prospects (prolific goalscorers on average get far more column inches and reach global star status more easily).

Forwards still have a greater chance to win a normal dividend because there aren’t as many competitors, and the average score they need is substantially lower. But goal scoring midfielders, because of their higher general involvement in play, can on average blow the competition away more often and run away with the now incredibly lucrative Gold Day Star Man.

One of the first things I said in my initial reaction to the dividend increase on my Live Blog was what a premium this would give to the real big hitters like Kroos or Parejo and others and over the following weeks their prices duly rocketed. That ability to take Gold Day Star Man is crucial and everyone has seen that by now.

I suspect at some point, possibly next season as they review dividends, they will want to make some kind of tweak to the scoring system to balance this out. Whilst I think the performance changes improved things overall, it has fixed some problems and created new ones.

I think this will be a constant battle FI face and it will require seasonal tweaks to the scoring system. This is good and rather than fearing these changes, I see them as opportunities where good analysis can find value. Not everyone will agree!

A huge issue right now is the positional classification of players. Adam Cole tried to clarify this on a blog in pre-season and it seemed to make sense. But in practice, I am probably more uncertain of exactly how positional changes are determined (and when) than ever. Is the waterfall model really happening, or are playing positions encased in carbonite?

FI’s official podcast has an interview with OPTA this week and I’m really hoping for some brave clarity rather than a “don’t upset the market” defensive answer. That would be a wookiee mistake.

Winger’s are a particular problem. There are huge inconsistencies at every price point as to who gets put in what bracket, even though they occupy almost exactly the same on pitch position and role in the side. It feels like a lottery. Yes we can trade on this basis and I do but we need some kind of consistent method of knowing in what circumstances and when a player might be changed.

Because of this, I manage these risks by not holding a player where I think a) a change is likely and b) it might be severely detrimental to their prospects.

A player like Insigne, a forward who plays as a winger has a massive advantage over someone like J Correa at Lazio who is a midfielder playing as an out and out forward. Correa doesn’t have the baselines to compete in midfield where as if classified as a forward he’d be more likely to challenge.

Yet Insigne occupies similar positions to Coman and Gnabry at Bayern who are both midfielders. So should Insigne be a midfielder too? Or should Coman and Gnabry switch to forwards? I have no idea what OPTA’s policy is here and in the meantime all I can really do is risk manage as above.

Long term, the solution Adam Cole mentioned of them being counted in the actual playing position they have in an individual game is, I think, the right one. 

FIG

Consistency is key in everything you do. Alongside that, I'm a big, big believer in transparency. 

Whether that's with your friends, your employees, your boss or your customers - it's important to remember that most people are reasonable. If you've messed up, and it's not a collosal, company ending mistake - I would always be upfront about it. That first Leia of transparency is very important, in fact imperative in the modern day for building trust with your customer base. Now, this isn't to say that Ani mistake you make should be communicated, but that trust component is very important in my eyes.

There are things that FI cannot be totally transparent about. There are things that we could debate, around whether or not FI should be transparent about. Then there are things most people think, FI should be transparent about. Positional changes definitely fall into the latter category, in my opinion. I'm going to look at the wider picture, instead of focusing on RodrygoGate, just because I think this is a symptom - but not the source. RodrygoGate is the by-product of a poorly structured system, but it's a symptom - not the source. 

Force of all, I have no idea how positions are categorised by OPTA, the 3rd party provider Football Index use for PB and positions, actually categorise positions. What makes someone a forward, and someone a midfielder? What makes Milot Rashica a midfielder, when he's played up front or on the wing for his club and country for much of 2019? What makes Jadon Sancho a midfielder, but Hudson-Odoi a winger? What makes Willian a forward, but Pulisic a midfielder? I would absolutely love someone to communicate this to us FI users. 

I see a lot of talk about spreads, and how people have debated whether they change the value of the bet. For me they don't, the cash out option has just been altered - but that's just my opinion. With player positions, it's a bit difficult to argue a position changing, should be accounted for when first putting your 3 year bet down. Frankly, it shows how long FI have to go in terms of really attracting huge users, that like to have everything vacuum tight. 

For me, a more fluid system would be far more dynamic - and probably make more sense. If Kimmich starts in defence, he should be a defender for that game. If he stars in midfield, he should be a midfielder. I know that might seem strange as FPL and FI so far, have announced positional changes - but it would be difficult to argue that it wouldn't make sense. The other option, could be to have quarterly positional reviews. The bit I don't like about this is that traders will constantly be on edge when those reviews happen. Will the player I hold 3000 of suddenly become devalued? I guess it's always a gamble - but again, this solution isn't exactly air tight. If you take a 3 year positon on a player, and he's a defender when playing in defence, a midfielder when he plays in midfield and a forward when he plays up front, you kind of know where you stand. 

This would be my preferred solution, and I know many won't agree - but I've thought long and hard on this, and it kind of makes sense. For now, we wait until FI make an announcement at some point in the future, about the subject. I don't think they'll do anything in the future as drastic as my proposed solution, but change is definitely needed.
Back to the futures - Buzzing Paul

This week marked the relaunch of IPOs. IPOs are essential for the longevity of the platform, and whilst the process is far from perfect, lots of traders get rightly excited for the #footballindex launch of some of the hottest prospects in world football.

As a reward for tolerating my laborious twitter campaign for the relaunch of IPOs, I thought I would share an MDD breakdown for one of the most promising youth prospects in the world.

The Match
AZ Alkmaar v. Astana Thursday 24thnd October 2019

The Star Player
Teun Koopmeiners scored 351 points in this 6-0 victory. The second highest score from any player not currently available to purchase on Football Index.
The majority of the points he scored were from his attacking output
· 182/351 points were earnt for his attacking output
o 3 Goals @ 35 = 105
o 1 GWG @ 45 = 45
o Win @ 18 = 18
o 3 Shots @ 3= 7
o 3 Shots on Target @ 5 = 15
o 1 Big Chance Missed @ -10 = -10

Other attacking output 24/351
o 3 Shots @ 3 = 9
o 1 Fouls Won @ 4 = 4
o 2 Corners Won 5 @ = 10
o 1 Attempted Dribble @ 1 = 1
His passing output was typically impressive:
· 99/351 points were awarded for passes
o 90 Passes @ 1 = 90
o 10 Giveaway Passes @ -3 = -30
o 3 Key Passes @ 6 = 18
o 3 Cross @ 3 = 9
o 3 Accurate Cross @ 4 = 12
He rounded out his incredible score with a splattering of defensive points
· 46/351 points were award for his other defensive output

o 9 Recoveries @ 3 = 27
o 1 Interception @ 5 = 5
o 3 Tackles @ 3 = 9
o 3 Tackles Won @ 5 = 15
o 2 Foul @ -5 = -10

If you have any feedback for me, I mostly hang out on #footballindex and @IndexGain Slack’s community. Find me on both @BuzzingPaul. Any suggestions for future performances are most welcome.
Ginger Pirlo's Short Term Game

What position do you play, mate?

So, that Rodrygo thing was a bit of a balls up, eh? Customer services came out very casually half an hour after full time and sent out a tweet saying the following;
“Good evening Traders, we can confirm Rodrygo has been correctly adjusted to his correct information and position after a slight fault with the feed. To confirm, Rodrygo is a Forward and Lo Celso will be the Top Midfielder for the night.”
That was very nice for them to say and very nice for Lo Celso holders who grabbed the top Midfielder Divs. They have now come out with an apology, explanation and gesture of good will to pay up on Benzema Divs also.
This is good and a nice bonus for Karim holders. However, I must take issue with something they have revealed in their explanation. They say they purposely didn’t change Rodrygo back to a Forward until after the match to “avoid instability”.

Some may think this was a fair way of doing it, but I will make my feelings on that decision clear, this was a big mistake. How can you let traders carry out trades during the game based on a false perspective on purpose? How is this correct?
Would a bookmaker leave a horse in a race on its website, even though it has fell, and continue to take bets on it? This may be a poor example, but you can see what I am saying. Traders made decisions based on Rodrygo being a Midfielder right up until after the final whistle.
I myself was one of them. I bought Rod in-play but had no interest in holding him as a Midfielder so listed them and they sold when the full-time whistle blew. This was at £3.66. He was then jacked up to £3.82 in about 10-15 mins after, but I made my decision and took it on the chin, as he was still a Midfielder at this point.
However, for him to then be changed back to a Forward later was a surprise and annoying to say the least. I can’t say for absolute certainty that I would have kept those shares I listed but it would have been a lot more likely. Which would have brought an extra 20-25p rise, a save on 8p worth of commission to pay and a player I like in my port.
Now that we have been made aware that they knew the WHOLE TIME his information was wrong and purposely left it that way, it’s a total piss take. For clarity, think of the alternative. If they had flicked Rodrygo back to a Forward during the game, would anyone complain?
If so, how many? Why would they? What would they complain about? If they didn’t buy him before kick off as he was down as a Midfielder, than this is unfortunate but not FI’s fault as they weren’t aware of it at this stage.
Benzema holders have been paid bonus divs for a forward that came second. Nice gesture. What about those that sold Rodrygo based on false information too early? What about those that may have sold Lo Celso too early after finishing 2nd? What about those that sold other Madrid midfielders as they thought they now had too strong direct competition?

You may not think the above are smart trades but that isn’t the point. They were made based on false information that Football Index KNEW about and chose to sit on it until half an hour after the game was finished. When exactly did they become aware? 10 mins into the game? This is important.
Why not send a tweet out saying ‘he is actually a forward but will be put back after the match’ if you don’t want to change it during game time? Why not? Why keep it a secret? It’s ridiculous. I made my trading decision and I can take it, but it stings knowing it was based on false info. I won’t be the only one.
I don’t want to slam FI too much as I love the product, we all do, but they really don’t help themselves time after time. They are not a start-up company anymore so start thinking like a grown up. Holding onto and keeping false info open to your customers is wrong. End of story.
In terms of Rodrygo, I was impressed with his PB winning score of 217 with a GWG the other week, as he didn’t really have to put in a worldie performance. This kind of potential in an 18-year-old, possibly playing regular, was a huge pull for me and one to keep an eye on. He could be really special. Crucially though, as a forward.
But why does his position matter that much you may say? Well, it’s extremely important. Rodrygo as a Forward is worth a hell of a lot more than as a Midfielder. The reason being his potential PB scores become more possible to win Dividends and his “PB base” doesn’t need to be as high.

Rodrygo has a decent enough PB base (for what I have noticed) for a Forward and with a GWG can stick in a 220+ quite comfortably. On a truly great performance day this can go to the 250 mark or above and be competitive to win Forward Divs on any given Sunday.
I make it he got somewhere around the 150 PB mark for his UCL performance when you take away his goals and assists which includes taking off the multiplier. That ain’t bad for an 18-year old finding his feet at Real Madrid.
As a midfielder, that category is a lot more competitive and would require consistent scores of 250 to be even remotely in with a squeak, making GWG’s with two or three G&A’s pretty much must haves.
Which is too much to rely on week in, week out and even then it still may not be enough if some Midfielder PB merchant grabs a GWG himself and stonks a 300+. Never mind being in direct competition with the PB Master Jedi himself Toni-Wan Kroosobi in every game. No thanks.
So with this being said, you may be able to see why I was disappointed in seeing him seemingly move over to the dark side of the ultra-crowded and competitive Midfielder category and sold up. A player like Rodrygo needs to avoid this place like the plague.
Thankfully, it was just a glitch and he may now go on to fulfil his destiny as the next Neymar and King of the Index…if you’re an ambitious type. This little moment in time has also highlighted just how important it is which positional category players find themselves in.
Let’s hope FI realise its importance and make them as stable and remain as open with their information as possible.
Come find me on Twitter @GingerPirlo_FI and if you missed it, Episode 3 of my blog series ‘Can I make a living from Football Index’ is out now.

Research, Resources, Tools & Tips:


Audio Content:
  • FigCast Ep 107: This was absolutely sensational. I was joined by Sigmund Freund for a psychology special. It was so, so good. 
  • FigCast Ep 108: I was joined by Football Index Paul Anthony for another great show
  • State of Play Ep 23: On my other podcast, we discuss Emery, Racism in football, and profile Hamed Junior-Traore
  • State of Play Ep 24: Liverpool - Man City, Bayern - Dortmund, Napoli and Myron Boadu - featuring the great Zach Lowy!

Written Content


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