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[FMT 21] - The second kingdom of the Lombards - Take 2.


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For sure, I am not the most inspired when selecting thread titles and I am not even going to be nominated to the Awards next year in that section. Albeit, I am not that good at football manager also, but I do love the game and between family and work I had to turn to the dark side and play for a couple of years FM Touch (Classic sounded much better). In the past edition I have lost motivation on doing "regular" careers and almost always searched for added challenges in playing.

The latest on the list is the "regional challenge" - which means achieving success with only players produced in a certain region (smaller and bigger). Already tried this before (and failed mostly) but in FM21 I will give it another go, and try to achieve success by only using players from Lombardy (or produced by us at our club). Now, Lombardy is the richest, most populous and productive region of the country - so it should be a bit easier than previous attempts which took us in Calabria or Tuscany.

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Football clubs in Lombardy. Logo size indicates current level of the league they are in.

From a football point of view (or "calcio" for the traditional ones) Lombardy is one of the most successful in Italy, historically fighting with neighboring Piedmont for the most trophies (I think it falls behind to second at national level but might be first in European cups brought to Italy), and hosting a large selection of football clubs (see above map). Given the small database I will be loading in Touch (to make the save smaller and allow me to cross-play between the work and home computers), I will be counting on those clubs to produce enough quality players for my advancement. 

I have yet to pick the club to be, although I am leaning a bit more on starting from the very bottom and building up. I will definitely not going to start in Serie A but to a bit more research to see if I get some interesting connections with any of the clubs. Just to make a quick recap of the available options:
1. Serie A - Here are the giant clubs of Inter and Milan, undeniably the 2nd and 3rd biggest in Italy and with so many trophies in their cabinet. There are going to be one hard nut to crack but in the same time should provide us with enough players in the first seasons, players which are not good enough for them but perfect for us. Atalanta Bergamo can also provide us some option given their present facilities and history of producing players.
2. Serie B - There are three teams here, but none of them sounds really attractive: a recently relegated Brescia but which would be a good shout to climbing back up, a struggling Cremonese which is so far from their glory days and the recently hot and up on the move Monza backed by that ambitious owner who we all know to well.
3. Serie C - No less than 8 clubs are here and from them I will probably select the one I will be playing with. Some historical clubs which been in Serie A before (like Como, Lecco or Pro Patria) and some with a lesser history to their books (Albinoleffe, Giana Erminio, Pergolettese, Pro Sesto, Renate).
Below them, in Serie D and Eccellenza are also some interesting clubs (Mantova, Varese) but which are not available for us in the standard database. Now, any suggestions are welcomed as I start the struggle of constructing my excel file in which I analyze between the available clubs.

Edited by Muttley84
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For those of you familiar at all with FMTouch you know what a drag it is creating custom filters. Having no editors whatsoever means you only can use the in-game filters to select the eligible players. So I had to manually add filters of the type "Place of Birth is..." and then put in each line the name of municipalities in Lombardy. Previous attempts teaches me I had to keep it under 100 so that the game could work smoothly with it, so I settled for the biggest cities + the ones having football teams in the first 5 leagues of Italian football. I admit, it is far from a perfect system and we could lose some of the players born in smaller villages and hamlets, but I reckon they wont be to many of them.

On a dummy save this search returned us with 493 players, which is more than enough for us (per example, in Calabria I had fewer less). 53 of them are valued over 1M and 6 over 10M (Cutrone, Bastoni, Locatelli, Gagliardini, De Sciglio and Tonali), so it is a healthy pool of players. Tried putting the best of them in a formation below, although not a very good one for Italian football and for sure I wont be playing with it either. The strongest players are found in the central midfielders  and in the defense, what is lacking are wide midfielders or attacking options. No need to worry anyways, at it will take good years before we can even begin thinking about players of this caliber, probably we are going to start attracting those at the end or middle of the pack. Of course, most of the players come from the city of Milan itself (110 players) but Brescia (57) or Bergamo (44) are performing pretty good also.

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Potential lineup of the best team of Lombards

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We have finally settled on a club. I don't want to admit that the wife picked the most appealing kit and that is how we selected it, that would be kind of lame. Anyways, introducing Calcio Lecco 1912, a club established more than 100 years ago in the small city of... Lecco (good guess). In all of its history the peak of the club was in the 60' when they reached Serie A for three editions, so not really big achievements there. Media predicts us as 8th (although in the season summary that shows as 7th), so not really the worst beginning we can have there. We are playing in a small stadium (almost 5k) with is soon going to be a century old, and have below average training facilities, basic youth facilities and fairly basic youth recruitment. Guess that means the only way is up then? Andiamo Lombardi!

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The board expectations are nothing to be worried about. We should strive to make progress on and off the pitch while working within the wage budget. Now that Reach playoff target might seem a bit ambitious for those not familiar with the Italian system in the 3rd division, practically that means finishing in the first 10 positions (cause that is how many teams qualify for the playoffs). On the long run they are aiming at gaining promotion to Serie B, which I dont mind, I like a bit of ambition in the boardroom, hoping that would make them also invest in the club.

The squad we found at the club seems suitable for a 4-2-3-1 (at least that is how I received news about it, a detailed analysis to follow), and is fairly ambitious overall. We do seem to have a bit of to much players on loan from other clubs, but that is not at all uncharacteristic to Serie C. 

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The first team squad I found at the club is pretty well balanced on all aspects: we have our own players and those on loans, younger players and more experienced ones, a high proportion of Italians but also some of the strangers. The worrying aspect is that most of the team is on a one-year contract expiring next summer. Silver lining I guess being that this way we can construct de team towards a more Lombardy-based squad in the summer. We should also address some other minor issues at the club: (i) we have no Gk of our own, this season we are going to rely on two young loaned players (although I don't personally rate high neither of them); (ii) our best striker and overall best player at the club is the Argentinian Juan Kaprof (but I wont be in a hurry to ship him off if he does the job); (iii) in defense we have some older players - including the club captain Malgrati who as 37 is way past his prime (will I upset the dressing room if I let him go?); (iv) we could do with another option in the attacking midfielders department, seems the weakest part of the squad so far.

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We have a really large number of players in the reserves. To be honest I wasn't expecting so many of them in small database on FM Touch. Some of them are not that bad either - sure, they won't be Serie A stars but for sure could turn into good options at least in rotation for a Serie C team like us. Those two of them who are loaned to us will be leaving as soon as possible (terminate loan not yet available) - we are not growing other people's players. The pick of the bunch seem to be Andrea Sala who at 16 is rated as the best prospect, with other interesting options being Tommaso Gini and Antonio Ronci. Although they are also rated high Siaka Haidara and Alexandros Safarikas are foreign players not produced by the club and will be sold when possible.

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We have at the beginning of the game around 200 k left for transfers but will probably not going to use it but rather switch them over to the wage budget, who is currently sitting at 2,1 M / year. Not really sure what the standard of budgets is around Serie C but it does look like a healthy budget to me, something I can work with.

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Seems like it is going to be a tight contest at the top of the league. Of course, Juve B is considered to be a big favorite of the league, but that is mainly due to reputation and having some of the first team players in their ranks, previous experiences last year showed me they are constantly underperforming in the league. It's pretty even after that with a bunch of formations on close odds, such as Novara, Alessandria, Livorno or Pro Vercelli. We fancy our chances and seeing the team perform in the friendlies I don't think we will have much trouble in getting a play-off spot in the end of the season. 
Just for the fun of it, I made a spreadsheet with all other Lombardy teams and I will be starting recording our progress in the matches. Would be like an added challenge of being the best team in Lombardy derbies (of course, for now against the other 7 Serie C teams, but it will be crazy fun if we ever get to compete against the likes of Inter, Milan or even Atalanta and Brescia).

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Breaking records for the club - today the biggest sale! Not sure if the research team has not filled in the records for the club or that 9k really is the biggest sale in the history of Lecco. Either way I think it just shows how small the club really is right now.

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End of the transfer period at Lecco. The INS saw the arrival of a new goalkeeper from Sassuolo - Stefano Turati and a new attacking midfielder - Alessandro Cortivonis from Atalanta, as well as a rotation option for the central defender position - Lorenzo Vignati. The OUTS saw eight players being sold for a grand total of 9.5k, not sure what are we going to do with all this money... 

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We were performing so good in the friendlies (admitted it was mainly against lower league opposition) that I believe we are on to something. The reality check come in the first official game of the season, away at Bari in the Italian Cup, where we lost 0-1 in extra time and are already out of the competition before it really started. I have failed to fulfill the board expectations on this one, as they wanted at least 2nd round, but hey it was also a bit of bad luck in the draw, Bari away is not an easy one. After that game I was a bit afraid that we are worse than I expected, but we bounced brilliantly with a 4-2 win a Lombardy derby against AlbinoLeffe. Now we can focus on the league as this autumn really has a tricky and a bit crowded schedule - with 7/8 games per month (which is really a lot for a squad as our own).

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Still need to figure a bit more how mentoring groups really work in Touch. In previous reiteration I used to make groups based mainly on the position of the players on field as they were learning specific game traits from there. Nowadays things to be shifted a lot more to the personality aspects, and I observed that if I let the assistant manager assign players to mentoring groups: (i) only a small proportion of the players are assigned, roughly 1/3 of the team, the rest are left in some kind of no-man land, (ii) some of the pairings seem a bit strange to me (like the central defender with the hot prospect striker). I think I need to revise my approach into this, after reading what the others are observing in the career forums (especially those concentrate on youth development) but taking into consideration that in FM Touch a lot of action is happening under the hood.

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Not only did we had an ubeaten run in October but we managed to get 5 games without receiving a goal in the league. With only 2 draws we are sitting comfortable in the 1st place. Peak of the month was the derby against Como which we won away from home. The only negatives are that we are not attracting more than 2500-3000 players in our home matches, hoping this can increase as we continue our good run of form. 

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The first two players from our club which have been called to the national teams. And both of them are goalkeepers. Turati is not really our player being on loan to us but he's not that good so he can make it at the top, so maybe we can somehow convince him to continue with us. And Safarikas is Greek so not really eligible for a long-term career with us, but this call-ups can only increase his value when we decided to sell.

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Although we lost two matches I still consider November to be a good month for us. We are maybe scoring few goals so that needs working on, as our defense is overall pretty solid. We are still sitting in 1st place, but its not more of a tight race between Lombardy and Piedmont, with Pro Vercelli, Alessandria, Como and Lecco all within the margin of a single win. Should make things interesting the coming months.

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That does not look good at all. I was not expecting wonders from the intake but it really looks likes it is going to be a rather poor one. Oh well, guess we are going to have to rely on the transfer activity for the time being. 

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1 hour ago, rafaelbenitez said:

Good start! Pity about the youth intake but looks like you'll be able to easily achieve the board's expectation for the league.

Yeah, pretty much secure that we will grab a playoff spot, with promotion also on the cards. I dont remember ever having good intakes with small teams in Serie C. The only good ones came with big fallen giants. We will have to wait and see anyways, it will take time to grow.

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Fewer matches in December but we continue our good run of results. Sure, things are still pretty tight at the top of the league, but we are 1st after half of the season is gone and I am pleased on how things went so far.

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Attendances in Serie C are rather reduced, with only the Tuscan teams of Livorno and Lucchese reaching 4800 and 3500 spectators. We have an average of 2250 spectators which is around 50% of the total capacity of the stadium.

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We continue our good run of results in January and February, only losing two times at Pro Vercelli and Piacenza, and hanging on to the first place in the league with 8 games left.

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As expected we had a pretty poor intake this year and neither of them is looking like making it in the footballing worlds. What is interesting is that out of 5 players 2 of them are foreign (one Brazilian and the other Moroccan). I've send them all to the Reserve squad just to make in number there and have a false feeling or producing players (haha), but they probably will never wear the Lecco first team shirt in an official match.

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End of season and somehow through going undefeated in the last two months we have managed to win it, just two points ahead of Pro Vercelli. We are going to Serie B next season, and it will be a real struggle putting up together a squad capable of competing with only Lombard players.

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Not sure 3M in wages and practically no transfer budget is enough for us to be competitive in Serie B. Will probably have to again rely massively on loans, which I dont like at all.

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Two Italian style wins (1-0) were enough for us to win the overall Serie C against the likes of Bari and Perugia. Serie B, here come the champions!

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Just a quick preview of how active we are being on the transfer market in trying to bring players good enough for Serie B. Thing is there were a series of superb players on the loan list of Inter, Milan and Atalanta, and either of them would have been starts in our team, but most of them refused to join us cause we are not big enough. So had to settle then to loaning in players from the second tier of available ones.. Not sure all these youthfulness is going to help on the long run, but I guess beggars cant be choosers. Oh well...

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These are the players which will try to keep us in Serie B this season. Of the total squad of 25 players I have kept in the first team (there are some more youngsters and players we want to get rid of in the reserves) no less than 10 are loaned in from other clubs. Although I don't like the situation and is really not my style, I guess it is not surprising at all for Italian football. We are a pretty young squad, with only two players over 30 and some in their late 20s. I feel like we are lacking some firepower in the attacking department, but really could not recruit better options up there.

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As expected we are not rated to high at the beginning of the season, we are battling against former league colleagues Pro Vercelli for the worst team in Serie B. Hoping to prove them wrong and finish at least in mid-table safety if not more.

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We are not having the best start in our Serie B adventure, losing the first 3 games without scoring, including a Lombardy derby against Monza, We are also already out of the cup after taking Hellas Verona all the way to the penalties.

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As expected the impact of Serie B is quite large as we struggle in most of the matches. Maybe I should park the bus a bit more and that will give us better results. Silver lining is that we actually won a game and we are no longer last in the league. Going to be a very hard season ahead...

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Proof that although its great that we have mentoring in FM Touch it is still a bit tricky to find the right balance between positive and negative traits.

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Honestly, i wouldn't bother with mentoring in Touch, more cons than pros IMO. I'd just try and get more players with decent personality and let themselves sort it out.

Tough start in the league but you got a lot of players in. They do need time to gel. Hopefully it won't take them long.

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We are really starting to set a pattern here, where we perform good at home and are rather poor away. That is exactly how things went in Ocober, where we had 6 games, and we got 7 points from the home games and 0 points from the away games. We are still in the relegation places but at least we are keeping close to the formations above us. It is noteworthy that we got the 7 points against the 3 formations directly above us in the current table. I am also hoping that with time these all new players at the club will gel better together and results will improve.

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We are really not doing all that great, and we finished the year in really poor form, gathering just a miserable four points from the last 6 games of the year. Fortunately for us there are other teams performing as bad as we are, so we still are just 3 points from saving ourselves from direct relegation.

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5 hours ago, Muttley84 said:

We are really not doing all that great, and we finished the year in really poor form, gathering just a miserable four points from the last 6 games of the year. Fortunately for us there are other teams performing as bad as we are, so we still are just 3 points from saving ourselves from direct relegation.

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Seria B is a different beast. Currently in my 4th season trying to get promoted. 3 failed Playoffs 😒

 

I’m managing Palermo 

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Holly sh... we are in deep trouble. We are sinking in the relegation spots with no real perspectives of climbing out of it.

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16 hours ago, Polski97 said:

Seria B is a different beast. Currently in my 4th season trying to get promoted. 3 failed Playoffs 😒

I’m managing Palermo 

Yeah, I can feel how tough Serie B is. Good luck with Palermo, they are a much bigger club than Lecco.

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  • 2 months later...

Il secondo regno dei Longobardi
versione Due

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Decided to give this another try, but raised a level in my starting position. We will be moving from Serie C to Serie B, where out of the three options (Brescia, Cremonese and Monza) I have chosen the first one. Brescia (also known at the little swallows) are one of the perennial participants in Serie B (they actually hold the record for most seasons in Serie B and also for the most consecutive seasons in the second division, winning it 4 times) and only been in Serie A a number of 17 seasons. Their longest stint in Serie A is of 5 seasons (between 2001 and 2005, with a team including Robbie Baggio, Pep Guardiola, Luca Toni or Andreea Pirlo), but in their last 3 seasons in Serie A (2005, 2011 and 2020) they finished in the same position  - 19th.

So at the start of FM21 we will deal with a team recently relegated from Serie A, but after the winter update they have lost some players and form in the league (predicted to finish 7th which is really more consistent with their real life performance). They do pose a nice stadium (close to 20k spectators) and Great training and youth facilities. Hopefully we can make good use of those facilities as the restrictions for this second attempt remain the same: we can only sign players which are born in Lombardy and those who came through the youth intakes at our club. The board requests for this season are pretty strict (finish in the top three places in the league), but also play possession football (noticed it says soccer in the screenshot, guess I will have to shift to UK English). Of course I will be playing this again on FM Touch and hopefully it will last longer than the previous attempt with Lecco. Next to follow - team review and a series of secondary objectives for the career.

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  • Muttley84 changed the title to [FMT 21] - The second kingdom of the Lombards - Take 2.

A short analysis of the team we are getting in the beginning of the game. We are making the squad review with a clear idea in mind - that at least for the season debut we will be employing a 4-3-3 with DM and Wide (W or IF) which will aim to control possession (Possession football is a special request of our board). Could be a bit to ambitious for Italian Serie B where maybe 5 defenders systems would have worked out better but we will see how that goes. In goal we have to very reliable options, with Jesse Joronen the main man and Kotnik not far behind. Given they are both foreigners pushing for their 30s I will be probably looking to offload the Slovene as soon as we find good replacement. In the middle of the defense we have FM favorite Papetti and also Cistana, which are both from Lombardy and I just hope we can keep a hold of them. Chanchellor is going to be probably sold if we manage to extend the contracts of the two (although he is the best right now), having also Mangraviti who can play there. On the sides we have Karacic on the right and Martella on the left starting, and a special mention goes out to Ales Mateju who is a jolly-joker across our defense (actually thinking he can start at LB also).

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For the three man in the middle of the park we only have 5 options, so maybe we can find in the reserves or on the transfer market someone else to add for depth. Of course, we still have Sandro Tonali on our books but to be fair it seems like a small chance Milan won't make the move permanent next summer. Has anyone ever seen Tonali returning to Brescia after the loan? That would really be some good move for us. In the mean time we will have to make due with having two Poles (Jagiello and Labojko) in the midfield running the show, along Bisoli, while de Looi and Ndoj are more than capable of stepping up.

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For the attacking options we have a bit more options than needed. Per example Spalek although a pretty good player wont really fit into our system and will be looking to offload him, while Torregrossa is out on loan with a permanent move already agreed. We are covered on the wings with Bjarnason, Ninkovic or Skrabb good enough, although if we can find some good Lombard option there we will explore it as we are aiming to reduce the number of foreigners. A bit of a dilemma in the attack, as Donnarumma clearly is the best option available, but I really like Florian Aye also, and Fridjonsson just joined us this summer.

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This below is just a small portion of our reserves team. In the good tradition of Italian calcio we have a ton of players lingering in them, with half of them being loaned out already to different teams (mainly across Serie B). I think for the friendlies at leas I will be promoting Andrea Ghezzi (another FM fan favorite), Alessandro Semprini and Lorenzo Andrenacci to the first team and see how they behave there. In the same time will be looking to terminate the in loans and offload all pllayers which are not at least 2.5* potential as soon as possible. 

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I have set some objectives for my career, with the hope it will keep me motivated to endure through the (inevitable) struggles:

Short-term Objectives:
- Develop a team consisting of only Lombardy-born players or those coming through our youth academy
- Promote to Serie A
Mid-term Objectives:
- Establish Brescia as a Serie A club (more than five years consecutive)
- Qualify for an UEFA competition
Long-term Objectives:
- Have a player beat Andrea Caracciolo's record of 166 goals for the club
- Have a player beat Stefano Bonometti's record of 431 appearances for the club
Ultimate Objective:
- Beat Atalanta !!!


For those of you wondering why the ultimate objective with Atalanta, you can find a superb Copa90 documentary here

 

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Looks like the board doesn't require immediate promotion so that's some breathing space for you but with the quality of the squad you should be able to go back up easily.

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25 minutes ago, rafaelbenitez said:

Looks like the board doesn't require immediate promotion so that's some breathing space for you but with the quality of the squad you should be able to go back up easily.

Yeah, if I am at least half a decent manager we should fight for the top of the league this season, playoffs a minimum. 

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I was talking about the good facilities we have at the club. Brescia is know across FM world and in real life for producing good youths, due to their Great training facilities and youth facilities. In-game we also have Good academy coaching but only average youth recruitment - so we should be looking to improve on that. Of course, playing on FMTouch and youth development is an entire different beast, with not some many options such as in full-fat FM, but I am sure we can nurture some talents here at Centro Sportivo Filippo in Brescia. That is, if we manage to be in charge of the team long-enough and not get the usual second season sack which seems like a FM21 pattern for me.

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For those not familiar with FM Touch, we only got one member of the staff in each position, so no multiple coaches, U18 coaches and stuff like that. One ass man, one HoYD, one Physio and one scout is all we got, so we need to be careful in having the right person in each position. I am going to give those already at the club a chance for the first 6 months and I will assess during the winter break if we need / can attract better staff in each position.

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Our pre-season is not very revealing for what we'll do in Serie B. Except for an Inter squad heavily rotated we only came across lower level opponents. One could notice some of the new arrivals at the club already getting on the scoresheet, but more about that in the transfer review to follow.

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For a 19k stadium only selling half of the season passes is really not that great, but when comparing with real life situation or the general reduced attendances Serie B gets the numbers come in a different light. I am curious to see how passionate our supporters are and how we average in attendances in the league. And of course, we are hoping to bring them lots of joy in the form of goals and points. Forza ragazzi!

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End of transfer period in Brescia. We brought in 3 new faces at the club: Turati in goal (loan from Sassuolo), Cotali in defence (bought from Chievo) and Maldini at attacking midfielders (loan from Milan). We sold some of the deadweight from the reserves, and also Chancellor and Kotnic (but somehow their transfers will only be active starting with 1.01.2021, so they are lingering in the reserves in the meantime). We have already played official matches, first results soon to come.

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