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Taking a Trip To The Basque Country

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Athletic Bilbao are a club with a lot of history being one of the founding members of the Spanish top tier and having the 4th most (8) La Liga titles in its history. It is a very unique club due to its transfer policy of only signing Basque players and it is these facts that have made me want to undertake a save with the side for multiple iterations of football manager.

Ive been recently attempting the Youth Academy challenge over in the challenge section in Holland but feel like i need a bit of a break from that and to try something new. Ive also been reading through quite a few threads here such as a few from @_Ben_, @Makoto Nakamura and @Jimbokav1971 and have learnt quite a lot of new things with regards to developing players. Ben in particular has made me rethink how i want to play the game going forward with regards to creating a sort of club DNA.

I know there have probably been numerous different threads for people managing with this team but hopefully i can put my own type of spin on it and make it enjoyable to those of you who decide to follow it.

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So the first thing i wanted to do with this save was set out a distinct style of play for which i can develop the entire club around. Ive decided to take a leaf out of Klopps book and aim to play a high intensity pressing oriented game. The aim is to win the ball back as quickly as possible and as high up the pitch as possible allowing us to counter the opposition and get some easy goals. 


This is the first draft of the formation and instructions. Now it is obviously very much a work in progress as im yet to even advance a day in game but it seems to look like it should follow the basic concepts i set out above. Now throughout a whole game we obviously cant be just pressing and countering the whole time so here ive taken some inspiration from some things Guardiola has done in his time with City. I want to keep the ball when there isnt a chance to counter and try to work a clear cut opportunity for us to take advantage of. To do this im going to use ball playing defenders to be the start of our attacks helping us play out from the back. When in possession i want my DM to drop between the 2 CBs and am going to use the IWBs to act as extra midfielders hopefully allowing us to dominate other teams in the centre of the park. However i have also set it for us to use over laps on both sides with the aim being that when the ball is on the right the RB will overlap to create an overload whilst the LB will tuck into midfield to help retain possession if needed or to protect against the counter. 

A new role to me is the Mezzala which ive never used before so im going to play around with it and see if i can use it to my advantage, if not then ill probably try employ some type of playmaker in the role instead. Further forwards ill be using IFs to create chances for shots or overlaps hoping it will cause opposition fullbacks to make errors when making the decision with what to do when my FB overlaps and we have 2v1s 

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Good luck @manutdfan1999 you've probably seen the Athletic Club thread in the Good Player and Team Guide forum. You've got a great starting squad, easily good enough for a top six spot. Future improvements are probably needed in CM and CF but hopefully you get some regens come through - unless you're signing other Basque players.

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4 hours ago, Number seven said:

Inverted Wing Backs and Inside forwards, who is going to keep the width and stretch the opposition defense? Seems like this will congest the central areas.

The aim is for the wingbacks to still provide width by using the overlap team instruction. This way when the ball is on the right the right wingback will get wide whilst the left wingback tucks in. Its definitely a concern i share tho so i may have to tweak some things as i get through games and may end up reverting to regular wingbacks if needed. 

46 minutes ago, dothestrand said:

Good luck @manutdfan1999 you've probably seen the Athletic Club thread in the Good Player and Team Guide forum. You've got a great starting squad, easily good enough for a top six spot. Future improvements are probably needed in CM and CF but hopefully you get some regens come through - unless you're signing other Basque players.

 Yh ive had a little look at that thread but need to give it a proper look and read at some point. Plan is to probably stay away from signings but i may get swayed although ill most likely avoid signing the young spaniards that can be converted to Basque nationality as i feel like thats cheating a little.

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After creating my base tactic i set about completely revamping the staff at the club. The aim was to get in not only staff with amazing attribute but also the best personalities where possible to hopefully get good personalities in the intakes.


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Season 1 Mid-Season Update


League Table Fixtures Squad

We started rather poorly in truth dropping points to teams i felt we should be beating rather comfortably. This led me to make some tweaks to the tactics i was running as some things i noticed just weren't working too great.



This has left me with a formation looking like this. Ive ditched the inverted wingbacks in favour of more traditions roles along with shifting my Mezzala up to the CAM position to get an extra body further forward. This has worked wonderfully with us scoring at a much better rate thus far. These changes were made for the Leganes game forward and results have had a definite upturn since.

Hopefully we can maintain the improved form and make a push for the champions league places potentially.

The board also approved an increase to junior coaching which is good as ill be relying largely on good youth intakes

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Youth Intake Day

So in this save this is probably the biggest day of each season as this is where the i'll get the majority of new players brought into the club.


From the off it looks like a pretty decent intake that is somewhat top heavy with regards to talent. The top 3 prospects all come with good personalities which is very pleasing as this will mean they should develop quicker. We can also see that the attributes ive highlighted in the image tend to be relatively decent across the board for players that are mostly 16. These attributes are one i value highly as i think they are important to the way i want the team to play and generally are key to players playing well.

Galdos - The star of the intake. Has very nice physical and mental stats especially in the areas i look for. With world class dribbling already combined with being 6"2 there is a range of positions i could train him in. As for now im going to keep him as a winger and work on making him more well rounded but he could easily end up being a cm for me down the line.

Areso - Top GK prospect which is always nice to have imo. Needs quite a bit of work on his reflexes and decision making but he will be given every chance to develop into a starting keeper in the future.

Martinez - Naturally a striker but to me looks better suited to playing as a CAM with his passing, dribbling and first touch already being so good. Has work to do physically and mentally before he can be viewed on the same level as the 2 players above but hopefully he can really develop those areas.

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Season 1 End-Season Update

League Table Finances Squad

This ended up being a very successful season. I set out aiming to make the European places this year and went slightly better than that by reaching the top 4 and getting entry into the champions league. We were however a long way back from challenging for the title and i expect we will be quite far away for a few more seasons till i can develop a few youth intakes to improve the first 11. We also won the Spanish Cup this year and im very happy to get my hands on some early silverware which hopefully will help buy some time with the board should i need it. 

Im confident next season we can have another good season as we now have a settled tactic that works how i want it tho i may make a couple tweaks to try extract more from a few players but it should do us good early in the season. The big test will be how we fare in Europe as even though i think we have a good squad there are some areas we lack depth in which might get exposed with the increased number of games.


Yuri - My player of the season. Ive never got such good assist numbers from a fullback this iteration of FM and he was key to everything we did. On the other side Capa was almost just as important but i think Yuri narrowly pipped him.

Muniain - Was one of our biggest goal threats. But i still feel like there is more to come from him especially creatively and i think if I can find a way to unlock his playmaikng ability then we can really kick on next year.

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