The Angle

Best XI: A Team of Molinos Versus a Team of Ramirezes, Who Wins?

by on 17 April 2017

If you put a team of eleven Kevin Molinos out on the pitch against a team of eleven Christian Ramirezes, who would win? Yes, it is a meaningless, hypothetical question that no one has ever bothered asking themselves. But now, using Football Manager, it is a meaningless hypothetical with a very meaningless and real answer: Christian Ramirez beats Molino 3-2.

Because computer simulated blow outs are much easier to stomach than real-life results, I created a special Minnesota United FC Premier League with teams that each featured entire teams of just one player. The league features the likes of Sportfreunde Schüller, Kallman’s Old Boys, Hearts of Danladi, plus the Venegas derby between Venegas United and Venegas City (Johan and Kevin, respectively). And then I ran out the season to see how they would do.

A small caveat: I tried to prevent the teams from getting around their namesake players by enforcing transfer embargoes and deleting all other players. However, despite my best efforts, the game continued to populate the youth teams with regens (new players). As a results, teams often played with 16-year-olds in goal or other positions rather than start Abu Danladi in goal.

Sportfreunde Schüller

Using the alter-ego manager nom de guerre of Doug Rugley (a tracksuit-manager, former pro), I took the reigns of the jovial-sounding Sportfreunde Schüller, a team of feisty, possession-based midfielders. My hope was to put them out in a high-pressing 4-4-2. I would hound the opposition and quickly pounce on their mistakes.

Doug Rugley doesn’t go for that suit and tie stuff. No-nonsense.

Sportfreunde passed its first test with flying colors against the team of Christian Ramirezes: Superman FC (though the cheating AI only fielded 6 Christian Ramirezes, sprinkling in 16-year-olds). Within thirty seconds, one of the Rasmus Schüllers forced a turnover against the decidedly not-Ramirez fullback, laid it off to another Schüller, who dutifully put it away. The rout was on. By half, it was 4-0.

But Christian Ramirez and his team of Christian Ramirezes would not be beaten so easily. Superman FC came off the ropes to score four of their own goals, evening up the match. That opening day, Crewe Collen Warner introduced Bohemians McLain to the realities of the Minnesota United FC Premier League with a thorough 8-0 thrashing. It would be a long season for Bohemians.

The Sportfreunde dream was not meant to be, however. By June my scrappy Schüllers had scrounged only 20 points from 28 games. Sitting 21st in the league, I was unceremoniously let go. But I didn’t retire to the couch and feel sorry for myself, no. I interviewed for the open Hearts of Danladi job (Hearts were just above Sportfreunde in the rankings with 25 points from 30 matches). Promising a new era for the Danladis, I was given the job.

Abu Danladi celebrates with his fellow Danladis as they route IFK Alvbåge

This time out, I decided to simply use my team of Danladis’ blistering pace, so we lined up with a 4-2-4 with an emphasis on direct passing. Thankfully our first run-out was against the abysmal IFK Alvbåge, which had only 8 points from its first 29 matches. The Danladis took the Alvbåges to town, winning 6-1. Even though Hearts went on a tear, taking 25 points from the remaining 18 matches, the fighting Danladis finished 19th.


AaB Kadrii took the Supporters Shield with 110 points from 48 matches and capped off the season with an 8-0 drubbing of the Bobby Shuttleworth Revolution. Behind the Kadriis were: Dynamo Demidov, Club Batman, Sporting Club Calvo, and Sam Cronin Lorenzo. In all of the simulations I ran (to test the game, but also because I originally included Red Star Saeid and Crystal Palace Gatt), the game favored attacking wingers with Gatt, Ibarra, and Kadrii always among the best.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Football Manager does not rate the chances of a team of goalkeepers. Bobby Shuttleworth Revolution, Bohemians McLain, and IFK Alvbåge finished 22nd, 24th, and 25th, respectively, with the Alfies only garnering eight points. In fairness to the goalkeepers, the game AI did not trust the goalkeepers very often with outfield positions and so Alvbåge was often playing with mostly 16-year-olds in front of him.

The playoffs offered very few surprises, though Dynamo Demidov beating Superman FC 6-0 in the quarterfinals made the fictitious headlines. In the semis, Ibarra sought revenge for his best friend’s club by beating Dynamo 3-2, with three separate Miguel Ibarras scoring.

This set up a final between Club Batman and the titans, AaB Kadrii. In the end, Miguel Ibarra’s Club Batman (managed by Ricardo La Volpe) surprised AaB Kadrii with two extra-time goals, winning 2-1.

The experiment is flawed, mostly because of Football Manager’s persistent desire to populate teams with youth regens. And so, we never truly saw a team of eleven of just one player against another team of just one player. But if this experiment teaches us anything (it doesn’t), it is that Adrian Heath will have a difficult fight on his hands to lock down the left wing spot. Both Ibarra (winning the Cup) and Kadrii (with the Supporters Shield) have proven themselves the best players on the team.