Overmanagement And Why It’s A Thing

A lot of Psychology Corner articles have now been released (check out the recent ones here), which fed into our Unwritten Rules Podcast with Neil Murray, where I voiced the following example to some extent.

To provide a more applied way of thinking about a lot of the topics discussed, here’s a slightly longer article on Overmanagement, which is an example of how you can splice together psychological knowledge and FPL to create new concepts. Hope you like it.

Towards the back-end of last season, it’s fair to say I had a bit of an epiphany in terms of my FPL management style.

It came through chats with better managers than me via social channels like Twitter DM and Slack chats.

What I realised was that my woes last season were perhaps not down to overthinking, but something slightly different: overmanagement.

And, funnily enough, once we podded on the subject towards the back end of last campaign, we were overwhelmed with mentions from people who recognised that they had overmanaged themselves to failure at times, too.

We also spoke with Neil Murray as part of this on the Unwritten Rules pod.

This article seeks to highlight this aspect of FPL manager behaviour in the hope that raising awareness of overmanagement may help you identify the signs and check your behaviour when it comes to making decisions.

What is Overmanagement?

It’s easiest to define overmanagement against its cousin, overthinking.

Overthinking is something that most FPL managers who are engaged in the game do – whether they believe they do it or not.

Because we are enduringly involved in FPL, we are liable to fall prey to all sorts of psychological impacts. 

We all allocate more mental bandwidth than your situationally involved, “casual” manager to our teams. Things like watchlists, which transfer(s) to make, captaincy and general strategising are likely never far from an engaged manager’s mind.

This probably won’t change – it’s very hard to switch off the overthinking side of things.

Plus, for content providers like me, it’s a slightly different challenge as I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how we might analyse events for our podcast with a different spin on top of thinking about my actual side… it’s a wonder I actually get anything done!

Anyway, overmanagement is the cousin of overthinking in that it is the act rather than the thought.

This means overly tinkering with your team when you don’t need to – actions such as pressing confirm on taking a ludicrous punt when the obvious move is staring you in the face. The Obvious Moves Are Obvious For A Reason.

In short, it’s the opportunity cost of taking an FT or taking a hit when Doing Nothing suffices as an option.

In fact, Doing Nothing in many ways is the antidote to Overmanagement: ever originally, we dubbed this “The Importance Of Being Idle”.

The message of this is that we should place more value on the merits of Doing Nothing each week.

A comparative example – what I did

CAVEAT: OBVIOUSLY this is through the benefit of hindsight. This is always a constraint on evaluating past performance. But it shouldn’t mean that we don’t look at these decisions and try to think about why they happened, and how we can do better going forward.

Selling Salah in GW16 pre-Bournemouth hat trick (imagine not owning him for that) was the single moment that defined my season.

I know I’ve used this example a lot, but it’s a cracker and fits my self-deprecating style, so I make no apologies.

In Gameweek 15 last season, I had a poor week – Mo Salah only got off the bench for an assist v Burnley, Andrew Robertson was rested, and one of my key strikers in now Shanghai-based Marko Arnautovic wound up injured during the events of the hectic midweek schedule. Raheem Sterling also missed out.

I had plans to remove Arnie eventually, as well as having my eye on Harry Kane and Leroy Sane to come in to complement Sterling as City were killing it at this point.

As a result of this poor gameweek, I decided to accelerate my plans in terms of transfers and do the following -8:
Salah > Sane ~ Robertson > TAA ~ Arnautovic > Kane

What happened next is, of course, infamous in terms of punishment for sellers:

I scored a gutting 50 points on a gameweek where many managers captained Mo Salah (who I’d sold on a -8), and my rank was absolutely decimated.

Simply put: I’d overmanaged.

The opportunity cost of making my move early – and midweek – was that I deprived myself of accruing 2 free transfers and the ability to reassess from the position of strength.

Wee Rogue has written an excellent quantitative Analysis piece on opportunity cost, which you can find here.

All sorts of factors made this happen, from confirmation bias (finding stories about why others would be better options than Salah), to sunk cost (I’d spent a long time deliberating selling Salah and I didn’t want that time invested to be wasted). In retrospect, the stats remained off the charts, and – though aided by Bournemouth practically giving him at least two of his three strikes – it was perhaps no real surprise that he was to eventually explode.

A comparative example – what a better player did

This sounds a bit theoretical of course – but let’s make it real through looking at the contrast of what another manager did in Mark McGettigan, better known as FPL General.

He had a difficult season last campaign, but is indisputably one of the best managers around.

In GW16, General had a similar set of circumstances to me (albeit with a higher score) in Salah underwhelming, Robertson no-showing and Arnautovic getting injured, scoring a 58 on the midweek:

But instead of going nuclear and taking the -8, Mark took the opposite path to me and simply did nothing.

He benched Arnautovic, relied on his bench by fielding a decidedly meh option in Fabian Balbuena, and kept the captaincy on Mo Salah.

He took no transfers, instead accruing 2 FTs. Here’s the result:

92 points.

In one fell swoop (if we were to make an artificially narrow head to head comparison) my overmanagement cost me the following:

  • 42 points from Salah
  • 11 points from Robertson (TAA didn’t play to compound the misery!)
  • 8 points from the hit
  • So 61 points before mitigation by my signings
  • TAA 0, Sane 1, Kane 1 = 59 points lost after that’s applied [facepalm emoji goes here]
  • 2FT flexibility
  • All subsequent hauls as I deceived myself I didn’t need Mo back = an extra 36 (12×3 – due to his penalties in 2 of those games) at the very least, but probably 72 as most would have stuck with as captain [facepalm emoji + facepalm GIF goes here]

All in all, I lost out big time in a major set back for my season and leagues, purely because I made a bad play through overmanagement of my team rather than being patient.

Painful.

But a good example for our purposes here.

Conclusions

So with that rather humbling example for me, I’ll draw this to an end.

Obviously, there are many examples that may also constitute overmanagement, be they doing unnecessary FTs when rolling FT is better (hello buying Kolasinac), or poor captaincy picks (hiya, Duffman).

It’s always important to distinguish between overthinking and overmanagement.

For me, and probably you reading this, overthinking is pretty unavoidable.

But what’s important is knowing when to not act on the overthinking you’re doing, and stopping yourself from overmanaging.

Push the button Dougal

To this end, we often field questions from managers (that I’m 100% sure you’ll have seen) such as:

“I have 1FT, x.xitb, here are my options, wwyd:

A/ FT X>Y

B/ -4 A,B > C,D”

The point of highlighting overmanagement is that we hope people will begin to include, and properly value, doing Option C/ Do Nothing.

The power of inaction, the Importance of Being Idle, means you access new opportunities through Doing Nothing, be it through having 2FTs or more data to work with.

Neil Murray put this very well on our Unwritten Rules pod – information can be more valuable than a 0.1 rise in team value.

Clearly, this may not always be what you do – that hit may well pay off – but it was important for me to realise this about my recent playing flaws and I’m hoping to improve on this next season.

I’ll incorporate this into my behaviour through introducing a quick “check” to the decision making process by asking myself: “is this overmanagement?” As with the argument made in the adaptive preference article, I’m going to try to ask myself questions like that prior to hitting confirm.

The aim is to get better at making the call to just leave it a week, rely on my squad, and then hopefully make better, data-driven decisions from a position of strength rather than attempting to arrest a decline.

I’m going to try to truly value doing nothing.

For the season to come, I wonder if me highlighting this behaviour has piqued something in you, too, and hope you will also consider overmanagement in your decision making.

In a Nick style just to say again, this links back with a lot of the articles I’ve released as part of the Psychology Corner series. Check it out here.