The Dutch Way
Over the past fifty years, three clubs with three different philosophy and styles have dominated Dutch football. Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV have won the league almost every single year since 1961, with only a few exceptions and have been very succesful in international competition as well. Your challenge is to emulate their success.
The Ajax Way:
Ajax have always been famed for their Youth Academy, bringing in young and talented players as early as possible and guiding them to greatness. All of their most succesful teams featured talent that was brought in before age 19 at the club and brought into the first team, including Cruyff, Krol, Suurbier, Hulshoff, Haan, Neeskens and Piet Keizer in the 70's, Kieft, van 't Schip, van Basten, Vanenburg, Jesper Olsen and Rijkaard in the 80's, Bergkamp, Kluivert, Seedorf, Davids, Nwankwo Kanu, the De Boer twins, Overmars and van der Sar in the 90's and van der Vaart, Sneijder, de Jong, Chivu, Ibrahimovic, Stekelenburg, Elia, Heitinga and Vermaelen in the '00s. Of course, they have produced and found many more youth talents and have used players that weren't from their own youth academy with great success, but a focus on youth has always been an important part of their heritage. They also are famed for their use of the 4-3-3 tactic.
If you choose the Ajax Way, you must complete the challenge with the following restrictions:
1.) Your favorite team must be set to Ajax
2.) More than 50% of your first team players must have been with the club since before their 19th birthday due to their focus on young talent.
3.) At least ten of your first team players must be of domestic nationality (The nationality of the club you are managing) due to Ajax's commitment to producing Dutch talent.
4.) You must use a 4-3-3 based system (4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 etc.) with only one central striker and two wingers (3-4-3 is also acceptable).
The Feyenoord Way
Feyenoord have a youth academy of their own, which in it's day has produced a number of talented players, including van Persie, Solomon Kalou and Buffel, but they mainly built their teams by signing talent from other clubs, often in the Dutch League, including Rinus Israels, Ove Kindvall, Ruud Gullit, Ed de Goey, John de Wolf, Julio Ricardo Cruz, John Dahl Tomasson, Paul Bosvelt, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Dirk Kuyt, Gio van Bronckhorst and Roy Makaay, to name a few of the players that have plied their trade at "De Kuip".
If you choose the Feyenoord Way, you must complete the challenge with the following restrictions:
1.) Your favorite team must be set to Feyenoord
2.) At least 70% of your transfers in must be players that have been a starter elsewhere for at least two seasons (have played at in least 50% of their team's games over two seasons), due to Feyenoord's scouting reputation.
3.) At least ten of your first team players must have played at least two seasons with another team in your league, due to Feyenoord's tradition of buying players that have been succesful in the Eredivisie.
4.) You must attempt each year to bring back a former great from your domestic national team (A player capped by the nation of the league you are playing in) from abroad.
The PSV Way
PSV have been labeled as a springboard for professional development for talented footballers from around the world. Their scouts find talent all over the world and that talent gets showcased at Philips Stadium before moving on to the greatest clubs in the world. They are the latecomer to the big three, but they have undoubtedly been the most succesful club in recent times, winning fourteen national titles in twenty-two years (over half!) from 1986 to 2008. In the eighties they had players such as Ronald Koeman, Eric Gerets, Sřren Lerby and van Breukelen, all players that were in the prime of their career, but the real success came after scout Piet de Visser and his co-workers brought in Romario, Gheorge Popescu, Arthur Numan, Waterreus, Ronaldo (the Brazilian one), Luc Nilis, Jaap Stam, Philip Cocu, Zenden and de Bilde in the 90s. The success continued in the new millenium with the likes of van Bommel, Vogel, van Nistelrooy, Bruggink, Kezman, Hofland, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Robben, Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo, Rommedahl, (Heurelho) Gomes, Farfán, DaMarcus Beasley, Bouma, Alex, Timmy Simons, Affelay, Carlos Salcido and Arouna Koné. Many of the players listed before joined before their twenty-third birthday and ended up playing in many of the biggest leagues around the continent.
If you choose the PSV Way, you must complete the challenge with the following restrictions:
1.) Your favorite team must be set to PSV.
2.) At least 50% of your transfers must be players under the age of 23
3.) You must have at least 10 different nationalities in your first team..
4.) If you have the opportunity to sign back a former star, you must attempt to do so.
The Actual Challenge
Stage One - Predictably humble beginnings
Pick your path and then:
You must join a team in a small European League, one with no more than 4 European spots (check the UEFA Coefficients). The team you join must not have qualified for any European competition, but should be in the top tier of it's competition system.
Following the specific rules for the path you've chosen, you must bring consistent success to your club by winning trophies for three years in a row, either the national title or the FA Cup will do. You are allowed to mix and match (so, Cup, Cup, Title or three straight titles etc).
After you've achieved this, it's time to move on to stage 2
Stage 2 - Making your mark in Europe
Having proven your system worked at your first club, you must now find a job with any club in a mid-sized European league, any league that has five or six European spots, but not more (aka. Any league that's not Serie A, La Liga or the Premiership). Also you are not allowed to manage in the Netherlands due to the special stage mentioned later.
There are no restrictions to the team you can join in this mid-level league, if you get an offer to join league champions, that is perfectly allowed. In order to complete this stage, you must once again implement your system at the club and achieve a consistent level of success, which must include back-to-back titles and at least one domestic double (League and Cup as you all should know) and finally consistent European success as well, by reaching past the group stages of either European tournament three times (does not have to be consecutive) as well as reaching the final of either European Cup (bonus points for winning) once.
Stage 3 - Taking it to the bigs
Finally, having already done so much, you get the chance to show the world just what you can do with a superpower. Take over any club in one of the top leagues (EPL, La Liga or Serie A) and once again prove that your system works by doing that which is hardest: Winning the Quintuple. That is to say: Domestic Super Cup, European Super Cup, Domestic Title, Domestic Cup and Champions League, all in a single season. Good luck with that.
Special Stage - Your dream job
If and when the club whose path you've chosen has a job opening, you MUST apply and if the job is offered to you, you MUST accept it. I understand that there is a chance that it will mess up your progress in a stage. Depending on which stage you are on when you get the job offer, you have the following options.
1.) If you had not yet completed stage one, receiving a job offer from the club of your dreams may be considered validation enough and you will have completed stage one by default. You may then use your club (A, F or P) to complete stage 2.
2.) If you have completed stage one, but not stage two, you may simply use your favorite club to complete stage two, instead (while still abiding to your club specific rules, of course.)
3.) If you have completed stage two, but not stage three, you have the choice of repeating stage 2 with your favorite club and then re-starting stage three, or you may attempt to complete stage 3 with your favorite club.
4.) If through some bizarre turn of events you manage to complete all three regularly scheduled stages without ever securing the job at your chosen club, you may then use the "add a manager" feature to create the needed vacancy and apply for the job (there really isn't any real reason why you shouldn't get the job then) and then complete the requirements for stage two or three (your choice).
Bonus stage - International management
This stage is not mandatory due to the tedium associated with international management. You may attempt this stage at any time (though you may not create yourself an international manager right away), if you chose to do it at all. There is no restriction to what nation you can manage, the only goal is to win an international trophy (Euro Cup, African Nations Cup, Copa America, Asian Nations Cup or World Cup) using the philosophy of your favorite club as follows:
Ajax: At least ten of your selected players at any time must be under 24, at least five of those under 21 and at least three under 19
Feyenoord: At least fifteen of your selected players must be over 26, at least seven of those over 30 and at least one must be over 35
PSV: You may not select any players under the age of 20 or over the age of 30. You must use at least five players who play in the domestic leagues, and at least one of those must feature in the starting XI.