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[FM20] Magni - The Icelandic Second Tier, European ambitions.


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Íþróttafélagið Magni Grenivík - Or Magni for short.

Set up way back when in 1915 and a somewhat ambitious capacity of 1200 Magni find themselves in the second tier of Icelandic football. As recently as 2015 they were in the 4th tier, so all in a club that looks to be on the up. However, the media prediction is the club will finish 12th. Based in the village of Grenivik the entire municipality boasts a population of 400 and according to reliable sources at Wikipedia (is it allowed for homework these days?) it has a local convenience store, bank and a couple of schools. 

Iceland is low in the European co-efficient, and so trying to uplift a nation with a small league structure could prove interesting. 

Taking Over:

I've dropped into Magni with the highest tier of badges and experience available, so this is admittedly a little unfair. But, I'm well out of practice with lower leagues on FM20. 

The club has already had a poor campaign in the League Cup in Iceland by the time I've joined in April 2019. During March they finished 4th out of 6 in Group D with 1 win in 5 games. There's not much to do now until the league starts in May, so its a case of bringing in a backroom team and looking to get the squad prepared for short 4 month season.

While I couldn't find much interesting in the way of goalkeeping coaches, I've made offers to Patrice Evra and Arjen Robben who while not exceptional have decent enough stats in their determination, level of discipline and motivating. It's a shame I couldn't get them signed up as players as even at 37 and 35 respectively, you'd imagine they'd do wonders at this level.

Initial Squad Assessment:

It's safe to say that I am absolutely clueless coming into this just what the squads real strengths and weaknesses would be. The early days will see me lean heavily on my staff. Most upsetting first of all was the lack of a director of football. While the club has a slot for one, there wasn't anyone actually interested in the job. I do have an Assistant Manager however. He's a former Magni player, manager and player again in that order - before becoming assistant manager.

Here's the three highest rated from my staff:


Gautason appears like he could be a threat on set pieces at 6'4" and the rest of his stats aren't terrible to be honest. While his report shows some cons there aren't any that would be a huge concern at this level. Hopefully this guy can be the rock at the back upon which a platform for success is built. 


Bjarnason looks quite decent in the mental sphere of attributes. Again, there don't seem to be any terrible factors on his report, just a general highlighting of his poorer attributes. 


Rosbergsson is versatile enough to be at home in any of 3 positions. Quite where he'll find himself in my side I don't yet know, but I'm more inclined to use him as a forward. This is a man with 34 goals in 102 league games in his career, a respectable 1 in 3. 

Ultimately at this level there will be a lot of turnover, short term contracts. It'll be a bit of a scattershot approach offering trials to unattached players to see who does well and might be worth trying to bring in for a season or two.


My formation will be one that I've come to use a lot on FM20, a 4-4-2/4-2-4. Nothing at all fancy going on, and I'd hope its within the abilities of players at this level.


I may look to tone down the tempo a bit if the team struggles, but for now its time to embark upon the journey and see where it goes through pre-season.

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Yeah, it really surprised me as most of the other leagues with around 12 or so teams have tended to play each other 3 or 4 times. still I'm looking forward to it. Should mean the season goes quite quickly.

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With the introduction of many trials, and a fairly large squad needing match fitness I went heavy on games.


Typically targeting weaker sides to keep good results coming and generally just getting the team more settled into the tactic and building fitness rather than anything more challenging. While Patrice Evra did join, Arjen Robben opted to go elsewhere. However, undeterred I went back to the staff list and found Robert Huth. 

Two permanent signings were made from the many trials that came in. Largely dictated by affordability:



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May (S1):

Well, a bit of a harsh introduction to life in Icelandic football. Out of the cup at the first hurdle, and while it appeared like things might be falling into place against Haukar the next three league games quickly shattered any illusions. The 4-1 defeat against Grotta was just down to a mistake, I went for it hard after getting the score back to 1-1 and was quickly 3-1 down. Set pieces as opposed to open play is the big issue defensively.

Not really struggling to create quite good chances at the moment, but the team are failing to take them. Need to start getting some points on the board quickly, had I been able to turn the two 1-0 defeats into 0-0 draws I'd have been much better off already. Still, there is a long way to go. 


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Tactical Musings (S1):

After May I didn't play any games for a while, I spent a fair bit of time looking back off the previous games and analysing where I felt I'd gone wrong tactically. The team were able to create chances, but they weren't scoring and more importantly I had noticed that the fluid style, while producing good numbers didn't actually look all that good in the game. A fluid counter attacking football might work well with better, more technical players and so I realised I needed to revamp the tactic to the players I had. Countering worked well, but the delivery mechanism did not.

So first up I just switched to a direct counter attack style. But I knew this wasn't enough, because I'd seen some of the passing in my team. Ball retention just wasn't the best idea, by trying to impose a playmaker in midfield I noticed that he either passed the ball away, or just dawdled so long he got tackled on too many occasions. So I've simplified the role to a CM-S. 

Out on the right, I again decided to simplify. An inside forward requires a bit more nuance and ability, just get the bloke putting in crosses and play the numbers. My original thoughts were that while the pressing forward would potentially be elsewhere than his position if we didn't have the ball this would create a void for an inside forward to attack. It just wasn't working that way however. 

Right back was another area with the same problem, by having it set as a wing back I was asking the player to do more than he was realistically capable of. A lot of the chances, if not goals, I was giving away were from the wing back pushing forward dribbling and then losing the ball. 

This means now that the right hand side has been made more functional than fancy, onto June we go with this as the approach:



June (S1):

8 games in June, including with a week break between fixtures. This was going to be a tough month and so it proved. There were some good wins, opening the month with a 3-2 victory but some bitter disappointments as I drew 3 consecutive games when I fell I should have won them all.


After the Keflavik game I stopped a little while longer and began looking at the tactics once more. I was concerned, the results weren't coming and I was above the drop zone by a point. Icelandic football was not taking it easy on me, so I didn't play a game and again drilled down into the tactics. However, it looked a lot better. The team was still creating chances but there were less passes going astray, there were less instances of losing the ball close to goal. Keflavik and Prottur both equalised with long range pot shots. It's not a crisis, I felt. I just need to be brave and see it out without giving into panic changes.

The wins came in the last few games, close games yet comfortable at the same time.

This leaves Magni 6 points above the drop zone with a little over half the season gone.


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July (S1):

Crashing back to the reality of a shorter than usual season July would only feature 3 games. I felt somewhat confident that I could get some more good results under my belt and really start to pull away from the drop zone. I mean while the relegation spots are only 6 points away, so too are the promotion spots. But then reality kind of sank in. A mixed bag of a month, a bad beating a fortunate win and a disappointing draw. The worry though was that these fixtures pulled me right back into the relegation mix. Despite sitting 7th I'm only 2 points away from 11th, Vikingur who are on 17 points. 

With 7 games to go the pressure is really on to secure the future of Magni and make sure this doesn't all end in the first season.


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August (S1):

Well a disastrous month. I think I might have lost the impetus to keep the side up after this as morale is dropping, the players aren't reacting well and things are slipping further and further away. We started the month off with a stunning 5-1 win and I was thinking maybe, safety was a foregone conclusion. Then came the defeats. Three consecutive, comfortable defeats has left the team 4 points above the drop zone with 3 games to go.



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September (S1):

Survival! But abhorrently all owed to the incompetence of Vikingur and Haukar who couldn't amount anything to save themselves. More disappointing results, despite good performances we're just soundly finishing second best each time. The season is over and while safety was secured with a game to spare the time has come to look at who needs replacing. While there was a fortunate, end of season win when it meant nothing against Fram that 5 game losing spell really has set off alarm bells.



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Season One Review - A lucky escape:

In the first season at a new club I always like to, where possible, keep the current squad in tact. I will try to make one or two additions to limit the scope of change and see what the squad is about. At Magni one thing that was an immediate concern was the amount of players who were quick but not much else. In defence especially there is an abundance of acceleration and pace, very desirable you may think but it seems to have come at the expense of so many other things.


The full table shows that with 37 goals conceded, only one team has a worse defence. The side lacked the strength really to keep teams off us and lost a lot of physical battles. Set pieces were a nightmare and anything aerially caused so many issues. The aim moving forward has to be to build a strong spine through the team. Looking at the table as well, the teams goalscoring power felt quite lacking but its not far off what was needed to get promoted. This means I'm doubling down on the defensive aspect this winter as I move towards the next season.

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