Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fantasy All-Time Soccer Draft

Imagine you and nine rival managers/sporting directors are putting together soccer teams from scratch. Every current or former player is available to draft, each in the prime of his career. How would you construct a 16-man squad? Would Pele be the surefire No. 1 player on your draft board? If you had a full list of forwards from which to choose, how would you decide among Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo di Stefano? Where would you slot Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi? Zico and Michel Platini? How would you balance stars and role players, or pioneers versus today's greats? These were just some of the questions facing the 10 writers -- Jen Chang, Steve Davis, Raphael Honigstein, Ben Lyttleton, Iain MacIntosh, Gabriele Marcotti, Rob Smyth, Georgina Turner, Grant Wahl and Jonathan Wilson -- who participated in's Ultimate Soccer Draft. Below you can see the pick-by-pick results of the draft. You can view a complete analysis of each team by clicking on the writers' pictures or on "TEAMS" above. Disagree with the picks? Weigh in with your thoughts on the draft's hottest debates. Who drafted the best team? For one answer to that question, asked Sports Interactive, creators of the best-selling Football Manager simulation, to design a realistic representation of what might occur if these 160 players all played at the same time in this 10-team league. We present the standings, league leaders and player-by-player stats from the balanced, 18-game regular season. (A recap of the season is chronicled here.) Each former player’s best season and overall career performance was used as the foundation for creating his data ratings for the simulation, with current players assigned their default ratings in the latest version of FM2012. A group of writers convened (Wilson, Marcotti, Lyttleton, Chang and Honigstein) to reach a consensus rating for each of the former players and assign the values for their individual attributes. Players are geared toward a starting lineup based on the writers' preferences, but playing time and number of starts are handled by the automated computer coach in the simulation, with each writer assigned a well-known current manager as his assistant. Injuries come into play like in real life, as does the possibility that some players will have off years or exceed their usual productivity. Now, on to the draft ...

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