Post by Eorl @ 03:29pm 10/10/12 | 0 Comments
SIMULATION OF THE A-LEAGUE BY SPORTS INTERACTIVE – FOOTBALL MANAGER 2013™
A frenetic off-season of transfer activity has breathed new life into the A-League.
In Alessandro Del Piero, the league now has the genuine world-class star that it had been lacking and has been heavily featured in the sports media in recent weeks. It’s important not to forget how good a player Del Piero still is; after all he was figuring regularly for Juventus when they went unbeaten to win Serie A last season. Impressively, Sydney fought off interest for Del Piero from major European clubs such as Liverpool, which I think shows his genuine desire to improve the reputation of the A-League.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Jets have snapped up former England international Emile Heskey on a free transfer. Heskey might not have the global appeal of Del Piero but he has is still a significant acquisition for the A-League. After all, he is a member of a select group of players to score more than 100 Premier League goals and has represented his country 62 times. Here at Sports Interactive, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the goings on Down Under and so we decided to run a few simulations of the upcoming A-League season on Football Manager 2013.
When we ran these simulations, we weren’t too sure how Del Piero would adapt to life in Australia but, as it turned out, he settled in rather well. His goal-scoring record was superb – 16 goals in 26 games - but he also contributed in other areas, laying on eight assists to his team-mates. If Del Piero is to be played as a left winger then he will need to be heavily involved in Sydney’s attacks on goal, so the fact that he is making such an impact in this area on the simulation bodes well for the season ahead.
The Italian’s performances did not go unnoticed as he won a highly impressive 11 Player of the Match awards throughout the season. Del Piero is renowned for scoring certain types of goal: brilliantly hit free-kicks as well as being able to cut in from the left and curl a shot into the far corner and these were accurately modelled inside the improved 3D match engine. Del Piero ended the season as the undisputed best footballer in the league after winning the A-League Player of the Year award.
But it’s not just about how Del Piero performs on the pitch; this transfer is being talked about in the same way that David Beckham’s transfer to L.A Galaxy was in 2007, that it will revolutionise the country’s opinion of soccer. In the simulation, attendances across the A-League actually rose compared to last season so it was great to see that the influence of Del Piero having an effect in the virtual world too. The improved financial model in Football Manager 2013 meant that we could see that he brought in increased revenues to Sydney FC through shirt sales and merchandise, which I’m sure will delight the board.
We ran another simulation with Del Piero deployed as a striker - the Italian’s natural habitat. He again enjoyed a successful spell, scoring 13 goals in 21 games and racking up nine Player of the Match awards as well as an incredible average rating of 8.02. He was named as A-League Player of the Year once more as Sydney finished the regular season in first place. His season ended prematurely in early March as a fractured skull ruled him out for the rest of the season and would eventually force Del Piero to bring a close to his illustrious career.
Sydney were still able to reach the Grand Final without their talisman but Perth Glory took advantage of their lack of potency in attack to run out 3-1 winners – all the goals coming between the 3rd and 9th minutes. It will be pleasing for Sydney manager Ian Crook to know that Del Piero can still perform as a striker, as the lack of a prolific striker has hurt their championship challenge in recent seasons. If Del Piero performs as well as he did in the simulations, Sydney FC fans could be celebrating a successful season come late April.
We also decided to look at how Emile Heskey would fare at the Jets. Heskey found himself without a club in June after Aston Villa decided not to renew his contract, despite Heskey making 29 appearances in the Premier League alone last season. The Englishman joined the Jets a few weeks ago and the club sold out of Heskey shirts within a week.
The Jets have had a mixed time since joining the A-League in 2005: consecutive Finals Series appearances preceded A-League championship glory in 2008 and it seemed as though the Jets would be destined to challenge for the titles in years to come. Unfortunately, a number of reasons meant that the Jets could only manage a sixth place finish since then. Could Heskey revitalise his career and turn the Jets back into a force to be reckoned with?
In the simulation, the Jets finished down in eighth place, but Heskey enjoyed a relatively fruitful campaign. Heskey played 24 times for the club, contributing with seven goals and earning an average rating of 7.00. He also matched Del Piero in key statistical areas including the percentage of shots on target. He also earned a place on the shortlist of the A-League Player of the Year which was won by Del Piero… who else?
The Jets endured a horrible start to the season, winning just one of their first 12 games before recovering in the New Year to finish two points above the ninth and tenth placed teams. The figures make for pretty sombre reading for Jets fans: the team drew 12 games out of 27 and only mustered 23 goals in that time and manager Gary Van Egmond was sacked at the end of the season. It would seem as though one man is not enough to change the fortunes of the beleaguered Jets and the 2012/13 season could be a long one for their fans. A positive note is that Heskey’s shirt sales brought a slight increase in income to the club, which will hopefully be spent on strengthening the squad next season.
That’s what Football Manager 2013 thinks might happen during the 2012/13 A-League season. The real league gets underway this weekend and we hope that it lives up to the excitement of the off-season. If this year’s A-League turns out to be like the simulations we ran, then it could propel Australian soccer onto bigger and better things.
Football Manager 2013 is out for PC and Mac on November 2nd