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[FM21] Swiss Army Knife


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December 2031

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Just the three games in December before our winter break, but the most important (and financially significant) of our season so far.

We started the month off with a draw against draw specialists Lausanne, with literally no highlights to note from the game. We went into the Benfica game with us bottom of the group but with a chance of redemption against a Benfica side that held us in Portugal. To be honest, it wasn't a classic and the scoreline did flatter us, but we took our chances, won, bagged over €2m and did this:

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We drop into the Europa League and I really think we can have a good shot at this, provided that I can manage fixture congestion and fatigue. We have drawn an underperforming Koln side, who sit 11th in the Bundesliga.

We wrapped up the calendar year with a straightforward win over Thun, despite going one down inside a minute. I was a little short on depth so opted to play Wang Tao, in his final game, as a right winger. His feat of goalscoring, including the stunning volley, below, shows, albeit from a tiny sample size, that the issue is maybe the Mezzala role rather than the player.

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---

As I enter the new year, I'm looking to get myself re-acquainted with some youth development. I say 're-acquainted' because I haven't really had to focus on a lot lately. When I came to Luzern, I harvested the core of the youth team and promoted them to the senior side and have, in the following intakes since, just cherry picked the one or two top players. This has meant that anyone coming into the team has been a lot younger than would normally be expected due to us cutting out two or three generations in one promotion.

I've added two new players to the first team squad: Pece Taseski, a long term rotational prospect which will allow Adebayo and Costa to at least be injured without stopping the team from having a cutting edge and Alban Shpendi, who will fill a space in the interim until I decide what to do with the gap left by Tao. Of all the young players in my squad, the two promoted players have been chosen due to the progress they've made since coming into the club:

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My aim is to take these two, along with the three other players: Mazinot, Kostadinovic and Gonzalez and convert their current ability into something much closer to their potential ability. I've got a few important players who I've noticed are just not reaching their PA (whether this is misguided info from the backroom, a personal issue or the lack of reputation within this league or a combination of the three) so I need to focus on those 'finishing touches' getting the most out of all of them.

It's a laborious process, but one that I feel this club deserves!

 

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Reading this now, once again great stuff ! i'm playing youth only with Aalst (Belgium) and i'm in the 6th season but after reading this i'm getting once again.. new ideas :) 

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January 2032

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Lots of friendlies to test out some new ideas for the second central midfield role as well running some schedules that really put the focus back on team cohesion and tactical familiarity after the mid-season break. We were then faced with just one league game this month,  securing a comfortable 4-0 win over Sion but it was the role that I was most interested in this month. Initially, I went for the CM(s) role with the player instructions to mirror a Mezzala (although, obviously, not with the under-the-hood settings). There were a couple of nice highlights, like this run from Gonzalez that led to a goal but I began to question what I want from the team and then his role.

Team (offensively):

  • Pacey and potent counter attacking.
  • Quick ball movement with verticality.
  • Clinical passing into the final third.
  • Overloads and clever off the ball play.

Inverted Winger (currently ML): Get into the box, allowing an overlap and finish chances

Playmaker (currently MCL): Become the fulcrum between defence and attack and co-ordinate transitions.

Winger (currently MR): Stay high and wide offering a crossing and scoring threat.

Yet - to balance the style of play out, this player is not an 'all out' offensive player - so won't be making breaking runs through the middle of the park. He is also not a playmaker as I don't want to constrict my play to have to go through certain players, and, even so, Dantas is essentially my false-playmaker in that sense. He's also no use crossing as he's too central to have an impact. We already have plenty of cover behind him with a Half Back and an Inverted Wingback - so just what does he need to do?

I looked at the mid-season performances of Chipperfield and Gonzalez, who alternated in that CM(s) role for the three games of the tour:

Chipperfield:

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Gonzalez:

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Inconclusive. No more involved in the build up through passing, no more involved with dribbles and, to be fair, the goals/assists data must be discounted due to the (lack of) quality of the opposition. The more I watch though, in particular that great run from Gonzalez, the closer I get to what I think I want.

A genius. Not in the Xavi or Pirlo sense, but in the slightly-more-like Iniesta sense. Whilst searching around for some stuff, I came across this great article on Statsbomb that really puts into perspective what I want this role to be, with a lovely Guardiola quote:

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne is certainly one of the most gifted passers around, but in a different way to previous Guardiola stars. “He is not a controller”, the Catalan manager claimed, but is instead “more dynamic, coming from behind, finishing, crossing, appearing here, then there, defending, attacking… less control and much more movement”

I'm going to try and spend the next months moving this role to a player who does not command the ball, like Dantas does (again, without the playmaking 'magnet') but instead makes all of the moves off the ball, freeing up space for others and getting himself into the box to become a finisher and assister, too. How I will track this, I do not know - as the game lacks the necessary statistics (at an easily accessible level, anyway) and it may be a case that the Mezzala-copy I created did do that, just not as often nor as visible as I wanted. The other thing to consider with this now-vanilla role is that maybe I'm taking it back too far and a Mezzala would work better in this situation with the correct traits: Gets forward whenever possible is certainly one that springs to mind.

I'll update more on this as I try to integrate it. 

---

In terms of recruitment, I had a couple of ideas for what I wanted to do. Obviously, the hole left by Wang Tao needed some consideration but the player I wanted wasn't really available and, given the fact that I've spent some time analysing the role I wanted, I just decided to stick with the combination of Chipperfield, Gonzalez and Fabiani. I did want to push on with a ball playing defender though, and made a pre contract move for Felipe Cifuentes, who will be joining in the summer from Castilla, the B-team of Real Madrid. I see him as a replacement for the outgoing Fikret Grahovic and a player who will push Yannick Bayiha all the way in terms of quality. I also struck a deal with Enyimba to bring Friday Osemene to the club for just €155k. He is of a similar mould to Cifuentes, as seen by their attribute areas and attribute values, but is a little rawer and younger. I have one eye on the future with this deal but his immediate signing means he'll get some first team football this season.

To compensate the incoming deals as well as the youth promotions, I decided to allow deals for three players who were already at the club when I joined as well as the aforementioned sale of Wang Tao, to Manchester City:

The three had been great servants but, to keep the club moving in the direction I want to take, needed to move on to allow for fresh faces to become part of the squad. Diaz and Kunert have gone to Servette and Grahovic is still in talks with a number of clubs, for a deal worth around €1m.

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Speaking of the youth promotions - I've also spent a bit of time setting up the finer details of my progression plans for them:

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I like the look of Pece and he's remarkably similar to Anderson Costa, albeit lacking vision and aerial ability. The first job will be to ensure he's comfortable playing as a deeper striker, so I'll use the Shadow Striker role for him. I don't usually add additional attribute focuses until a player is natural as it speeds up the process but I'm adding Quickness as I feel speed is the key attribute for this type of player and has certainly helped Costa to progress. I will also use Costa as the leader of a mentoring group for him:

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I do have worries that, with Costa not being a Team Leader, he won't impart exactly what I want but I'd be delighted to see an improvement in Determination, knowing that Light-Hearted (with good Det) can be a precursor for a Model Citizen as well as potentially passing on some traits, given the similarity of playing style. Adebayo makes up the trio, and I'd not be unhappy to see him pick up the traits but he's mainly there to ensure I have enough in the group.

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Firstly, I can't look at a Tunisian called Trabelsi without remembering Hatem Trabelsi, who was, at one point, a top signing on maybe CM03/04...

I decided to recall Lassaad following the bid for Andre Diaz as I intend to use him as, probably, a stop gap in the IWB(s) role. Whilst I'd love to continuously develop absolute star players, I also need to do my bit to get the best out of those players I have at the club, even if I don't necessarily see him to be a long term successor there. I'm going to use the No Nonsense Full Back schedule because it doesn't have too many attributes to focus on and may speed up the process of his retraining. Once he's reached Accomplished there, I will look to move him to the IWB(s) schedule and then look at some specific schedules to compliment him.

He, too, is in a mentoring group - with my best mentor, Tiago Dantas. He, also, isn't a Team Leader but I'd really like that Model Citizen personality to be moved over to him and, to be fair, I have no issue with a right back picking up his Dictates Tempo trait.

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Alban has performed really well for the u21 squad and I hope he can continue as he moves up to the first team, getting a few minutes here and there. It's a bit of a shame that he's left footed as he'll play, predominantly on the right hand side of my midfield duo, next to Tiago Dantas, in the first instance. I'm going for a Roaming Playmaker schedule to work on a nice broad set of attributes as well as his Shooting. I've made a decision to pop him in the Attacking Unit, too, as, given our play style, he should be involved going forward. As you can see from above, he's also being mentored by Dantas and, again, I have no issues with him dictating the tempo, even if it'll be in a very different way to how Dantas does.

All three of the above players are being monitored and will get some minutes as the season progresses and I will continue to look at them to either be good enough here or to move on elsewhere.

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On 15/04/2021 at 20:18, OlivierL said:

Reading this now, once again great stuff ! i'm playing youth only with Aalst (Belgium) and i'm in the 6th season but after reading this i'm getting once again.. new ideas :) 

Thank you! Are you updating that save anywhere? I've always enjoyed reading your escapades and the following of all of the data sets you track.

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48 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

Thank you! Are you updating that save anywhere? I've always enjoyed reading your escapades and the following of all of the data sets you track.

Thanks Ben , i'm updating it in the youth only challenge topic . But didn't play a lot since begin of april.

I'm thinking to start one more last save.. with mix of Youth and transfers but with some data tracking :) still doubting between some obscure countries or teams with a special background / story.

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On 17/03/2021 at 20:56, _Ben_ said:

2028/39 Three Quarter Update

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A little less playing time today but the juggernaut still continues to roll on!

An absolutely scintillating set of results that sees us just four wins from promotion. We started with yet another tough game away at Fribourg. Our away form has been less than exemplary, compared to our home form anyway, but going back to my old stomping ground has been the hardest place to visit this year. They are an organised and well drilled side who defend really well and have pace on the attack - continuing to overachieve in their semi-pro status. We followed that with, what I'd consider, a poor mid-season break as we really didn't get enough match fitness or morale and, as such, were tired and complacent against Chiasso, who scored both their goals through ex-Meyrin striker Hoxha. A lovely run in February followed with just the one goal - again from a corner, conceded and plenty of goals scored. That run has continued into March as we look to sew the league up as soon as we can.

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Performance wise, we are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Whilst I haven't created a monster, we are efficient, and practice set pieces often and Gavioli, as my set piece taken, has reaped the rewards. The most incredible one here though is Stefano Herzog and his amazing clean sheet record. The more I look, the more I realise he isn't just good enough for this league and would easily get in most top flight teams, too.

My youth development is ticking along really well - in particular Anderson Costa. He's a little technically flawed (but not in the Shadow Striker or Winger areas) but is such a hard worker and an absolute pain for defenders. He's developed really well this season and I'm utilising him in a way that gives him the best chances of success - predominantly in home games against smaller sides, so he can use his pace on the break. His eight league goals come from just eight starts as he ties Marcio Veiga on 0.65 goals/90, scoring a league high goal every 102 minutes  and has also chipped in with 0.24 assists/90. I'm also trying to find minutes for Levin Zehnder and Taulant Kabashi in the same kind of ways. I have been able to completely integrate two 18 year olds into the team this season and, I must say, they have been great:

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Gavioli was at the club when I joined, following a €2.4k move from Torres, in Italy but Mojsovski hadn't tasted first team football until this season.

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I also had my youth intake in this time, and it was like I'd never seen before.

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With four poached players, we actually brought 20 new faces into the club in the largest pool I have ever experienced. Sadly, the depth wasn't that great but, in Nixon Mazinet, I do, potentially, have a player worth spending time developing.

As I work out my limits on players and the quality of the leagues, I will decide to sign more and more of these players.

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Also, the board allowed me to extend my deal here:

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Never had anything like that.. 4 extra youth intake players because those were poached? Where did u saw the news or info with the 'original club' ?

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I love those absolute gut-punch Champions League Group Stage draws.

When I haven't got a very strong first team, I'm always in two minds between 'make an effort' and 'send the kids'. 

But when the draw puts me up against Real Madrid, Inter and Liverpool, it's basically an open invitation to get the kids to update their passports and line up some facilities upgrades. 

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9 hours ago, OlivierL said:

Thanks Ben , i'm updating it in the youth only challenge topic . But didn't play a lot since begin of april.

I'm thinking to start one more last save.. with mix of Youth and transfers but with some data tracking :) still doubting between some obscure countries or teams with a special background / story.

I had a quick flick through there and couldn't see any of your posts - why I asked!

8 hours ago, OlivierL said:

Never had anything like that.. 4 extra youth intake players because those were poached? Where did u saw the news or info with the 'original club' ?

I don't recall seeing any news to say that I'd poached them. However, I added the 'Last Club' column to the intake screen, which showed me this as I thought the number was off somewhere.

8 hours ago, turnip said:

I love those absolute gut-punch Champions League Group Stage draws.

When I haven't got a very strong first team, I'm always in two minds between 'make an effort' and 'send the kids'. 

But when the draw puts me up against Real Madrid, Inter and Liverpool, it's basically an open invitation to get the kids to update their passports and line up some facilities upgrades. 

It's certainly reminded me how tough the CL is with a team from outside the bigger nations. Will certainly be an end goal to get some success here.

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Posted (edited)

February 2032

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We keep marching on. Unbeaten in the league but sadly out of Europe.

I think it's telling to see that St. Gallen as so far ahead of the pack yet we are also a ridiculous distance from them, too - 26 points separate first and third, and only 24 points separate third and tenth. We are dominant. We've been utterly dominant against each opponent this month, too only conceding one goal from a silly defensive mix up from a set piece against Basel. However, that goal was overshadowed by a perfect hattrick from Anderson Costa and the eventual return of Joachim Magola, who will only make us stronger.

I am disappointed at Europe though. 2-0 at home to Koln and cruising at the hour mark before a beautiful lob and a late Fierte Arp strike salvaged a draw for them. We were the better team in pretty much every area but, unfortunately, that counts for nothing on the scoreboard. I was then really upset at our profligacy in Germany, against a team that had holes and defended poorly in the first leg as we just couldn't find a way through. An 81st minute gaol from Magola saw ten minutes of kitchen sink throwing but it was to no avail. Koln face Monaco in the next round, which, granted, would probably be a step too far, but it's all about the experience that we've missed out on.

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I've been playing with some more data visualisation lately, trying to make them as clean as I can. So here's a little sneak peak:

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For anyone that thinks we don't deserve to win the title this year, just look at the above! St. Gallen have had a really good season but we've just been amazing when you compare our xG and xGa over a near two year period (except I closed and didn't save the Excel file so this is now finished!)

At the end of last season, we were winning but our form wasn't great and the difference between our xG and xGA was low - indicating that, even though we were winning, it wasn't convincing and we relied on a far chunk of luck. However, this season and, dare I say it, the arrival of Tiago Dantas, has just elevated our rolling xG average to ridiculous new heights. It has coincided, too, maybe, with the arrival of Georges Henry who has brought our xGA right down, with us averaging a difference of nearly 1.75xG a game - a stupendous stat!

With the league win an almost dead cert this year, it'll be interesting to see how the longer term xG trends look as teams change their approach towards facing us.

However, one thing that I have noticed about the approach of other teams is this, below:

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Granted, this is a tiny data sample as collating passes against, tackles won and lost, fouls and interceptions is fairly laborious and not something I could have easily gone back and collected two seasons of, like I did with xG but it does show a very clear trend in our game plan compared with that of our opponents. This data has been collected from the competitive games of 2032.

What is shows is that we press far less than our opponents, which is a purposeful attempt at creating a mid to low block that focuses on defensive compactness rather than strong pressures. It also re-affirms that, in general, we are defending far less than our opponents as, not once in this data collection, has our Tackles/Interceptions/Fouls value been greater than theirs. I think, based on the success of this style, I'd really like to take the Swiss Army Knife to another country and see how it can adapt - but that is for a long time from now!

Lastly, I wanted to just take a small snapshot of an area where I need to work on, either through recruitment, training, interaction or tactical adjustments:

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Costa has, and is always going to be, a key player for us but even he struggles with the game load that we have - a domestic cup, Champions League and a 36 game season and I need a backup who can come in and take over from him. Ike has struggled with that and is rolling xG average is considerably lower than that of Anderson, which is a worry but that is down to a combination of player quality, game time, training happiness, opponent quality and several others. I need to look at how to best utilise these backup players.

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I quite enjoyed creating some charts and digging a little deeper into what stats I can take directly from the match engine that don't always appeared to be well stored elsewhere. It has, however, glossed over the fact I was meant to be analysing the improvement in the MC role, which has, annoyingly, turned back to a Mezzala as I was not seeing the intended difference.

 

Edited by _Ben_
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March 2032

I had completely written an update for this month but then, annoyingly, closed Chrome down and it was not recovered. This is a slightly abridged (but still a lot of tangents) version:

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The league table is magnificent.

A month without a goal conceded and averaging just 0.42xGA/90. Granted, we were poor in the cup and it took some Herzog penalty heroics (1 goal converted and 2 saves) to get us through 8-7 on aggregate but we are still getting results. This month has solely been about managing injuries and fatigue as we are really struggling right now. I need to look at the intensity of it - as, even without any physical training - my players are still picking up knocks and struggling to see out the full game. That, however, may be due to squad depth and my own failings on timings of changes.

 With four league games next month, we can put ourselves within a point of winning our first title under my reign with a 100% record but I am now finally conceding that it's a when, not if!

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Joao RobertoCarlos PerezMiguel PedrosoTommy PortelaAntonio CelientoModou BahLamine Baldeh

(This wasn't on intake day and I think current u18 player Guido Arnold snuck in...)

I'd be lying if I said I was anything other than absolutely delighted with this intake.

With some really high potential players made even better by the fact that the trio of Roberto, Perez and Pedroso are already strong players. The former is a scarily fast winger, the middle is a two-footed centre back and Pedroso looks to have the key attributes for a scoring attacking midfielder, of which I use. Baldeh has the potential to be a solid winger and his half-Gambian counterpart Bah has potential, too. Portela looks a good fit for the awkward-to-fill Inverted Wing Back role and Celiento is potentially going to be a decent keeper.

What I really like is that, despite the strength that we are (domestically) exhibiting right now, this talented group could, potentially, take the club to the next level.

However, I am unsure as to how much impact these lot will have on the first team during my tenure here. As I've experienced progress over a much shorter time than I first imagined, I can't help but feel that it'd be nice to test my ,mettle. and the Swiss Army Knife shape in another country at some point. Whenever that may be, I intend to continue a tradition that I started whereby I take players with me to my new club: Badinca and Galeano came to Fribourg with me from Meyrin and Muzangu (Fribourg -> Luzern) and Ribic (Meyrin -> Luzern) have also been managed by me at more than one club.

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Mentoring is working!

Toni Gonzalez has become my first real success with mentoring whilst at Luzern as he has taken on the personality of his mentor, Tiago Dantas - showing that he is not only becoming irreplaceable on the pitch but also incredibly important off it. Without getting too gamey, the attribute rise in Determination (through warnings or a couple of poor performances) have helped but I know the lowest value for Det for a M.Cit is 14 and he has surpassed that, so this increase is definitely correlated to the time spent as a mentee. 

Whilst I am discussing Gonzalez, I also want to acknowledge the attribute development that I've seen from him:

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Around a year ago, as you can see from my notes, Gonzalez reached natural as an MC. Because of that, I decided to take him off the P/R/D and just focus on his trait, to improve his playmaking skills. I think that move has been justified as, although I've explored him playing alongside Dantas or any other playmaker, I feel he'd be better suited by being said playmaker. His lack of speed, strength and Dribbling means that he is too easily shadowed as he moves off the ball and I found he was unable to get up to exploit those spaces as much as I wanted. 

He has, however, improved three points in each of these playmaking attributes and I've decided to add a trait that I feel will only benefit that positively. Once he has made a little more development, I may look to explore something with his Finishing/Off the Ball/Composure as they are all reasonable (or better) for our level.

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I also put pen to paper on a new two-year deal. The board wanted four, with a wage nearly double what I accepted but I bartered as I don't intend to be tied down forever, even if I do decide to extend my stay at the club for longer.

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On 19/04/2021 at 09:52, abulezz said:

Another great update that really delves the reader into the details of your save. 

Thanks! Hopefully going to able to get some actual playing time in this afternoon after a tumultuous week!

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12 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

Thanks! Hopefully going to able to get some actual playing time in this afternoon after a tumultuous week!

Well then I hope you have a peaceful, drama-free weekend!

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April 2032

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After the European Super League fiasco and a busy week of work, I've finally got back to playing a bit of FM and have been rewarded with my first top level title in FM21. We started the month with two routine wins over Sion and Servette, not allowing the latter to have a single attempt at goal - showing how we've not only gathered/developed the best/most suitable players but also have created tactical battles that we are very much capable of dominating. We did, however, concede our first goal in eight against Young Boys but another hattrick for Costa was enough. That victory coincided with a shock St. Gallen defeat, at the hands of Zurich, which saw us lift the Super League in only our third year back at this level. To add insult to injury, in my 300th game, we knocked St. Gallen, the previous big dogs of this league, out of the cup. The month ended with a draw against a Basel team fighting to actually be in Europe at all next year.

Our rise has been meteoric and one that I am delighted with - showing that my insistence on time spent towards tactical development, training protocols linked to tactical and player development and lots of interactions has been worthwhile. I think that there needs to be a big summer for Swiss clubs in order to stop this league becoming a procession for me and, probably, killing a little bit of interest in the realism side of this. Time will tell.

----

I've been playing around with a few views for my scouted players, ensuring that I am both finding the right player attribute wise but also being able to pick out those who are performing well. Historically, I had to focus on players who looked good or who may become good but now I can really cherry pick the best players from other leagues, especially once my scouting network and ideology has narrowed them down to the pre-requisites:

  • Young
  • Determined (>12)
  • Naturally Fit (>12)
  • Broadly with a positive personality
  • In line with the demands on Anticipation, Decisions, Natural Fitness and Consistency.

One wish I do now have for this save is the amount of players I can load. My current setup (which doesn't contain Spain or England - and now I look, I don't know why...) gives me 95,000 players but I really want to increase the player numbers without the extra strain on adding leagues, especially as I've found a huge benefit in running full detail on as many leagues as I can. This is definitely something that future games will look to explore but has come a long way since I used to run one league with 15,000 players!

However, I do need to make use of this relatively huge pool of players and ensure that I can attract players from, largely, undervalued markets to improve the team. This is something that I can set up now and take with me wherever I go.

Scouted player overview:

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Firstly, I have the overview screen for all of my players who are scouted. It's important to re-iterate that I'm not using the Player Search for anything more than collating statistics from this league or top European leagues due to the fact that a list of 95,000 players (or whatever my scouting knowledge gives me) is not realistic.

This screen gives me an idea of quality, relative asking price, knowledge and how well they match up with my core attribute requirements.

Statistical and attribute analysis for each area of the pitch (WIP):

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These are a work in progress as I develop what I want to see but I am able to highlight important in game statistics, that now are being collated due to Full Detail and also attributes that are uncovered as we scout sensibly. I will be able to amend both sections for what I want of each area on the pitch, for example adding Acceleration to the defending view because of the high(ish) line that I play.

---

It's good to be back!

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May 2032

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We finished off the season with a strong set of May fixtures, which saw us add another Schweizer Cup to the league title that we wrapped up last month. 

We hammered poor Yverdon, although the two late goals added insult to injury as the forlorn team all but confirmed their relegation to the second tier before a slightly poor performance against St. Gallen, who have really fallen away and faded in terms of trying to put up any kind of dignified fight in the title chase. A Costa hattrick netted us the cup against another team who have really struggled this season before two relatively straight forward season-ending games, although the two silly goals we let in meant that I didn't keep the GA column to single figures.

It was also a time to celebrate for my u21 team, who sealed promotion to the third tier.

----

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An amazing team performance. Excelling in literally every area. We have outscored our xG by 26 goals, over double the amount that second-top scores, St. Gallen, have. We are free-scoring yet incredibly tight at the back, conceding eleven times from 19.35 xGA - which, again, is nearly half of the the number that St. Gallen faced. Even our xG of 77.6 was an underperformance to our total point tally of 93, which is both a club record and a competition record.

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As you'd expect from the above statistics, we are head and shoulders above everyone else. That is slightly concerning for the long term challenge of this save but a really fantastic record to have at the moment. Our attacking efficiency is so strong that we have pushed several other teams up into the leaky category given our four games against - with 15 scored against Thun, 13 against Sion and 11 and Lausanne. In comparison, Thun managed a team high three goals against me, level with St Gallen - with three teams actually failing to score against me this season.

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Thun win the most headers but we face the least. I'd suggest that is due to the fact that we often have ten men behind the ball, squeezing spaces out wide and, just in general, don't need to defend that much. We, obviously, are scoring the most goals per game (x axis on assisting) but there are seven teams who have attempted more passes than us this season - a real success story of our counter attacking play. Crossing is an area that could actually be improved - we don't lead the league in either of the values - crosses attempted or completed. However, 42% of my goals come from through balls, which would really match with the counter attacking intent, although we do need a plan B if they can retreat in time.

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Herzog sits in a league of his own, conceding, by far the least, but also facing the least shots per game. He's a top, top keeper but it's certainly clear that he's not keeping us in the games! Again, you can see that there are seven teams who attempt more passes than us, but, surprisingly, we complete the highest number in the league. This could suggest that we can maybe go even more risky with our offensive play, adding in a couple of traits to those players who could be moving the ball into the final third. However, I'd suggest that, probably, it's down to the fact that seven of the top ten pass completers within my team are defensive players - with Lolic and creative outlets Dantas and Kabashi actually being the worst. Finally, Servette hit the target much better than we do, but are rather passive with the number of shots taken, whereas Young Boys are the opposite. We're hitting a great middle ground where we are clinical but we do really still pepper the goal.

---

As well as creating more statistical overviews for recruitment, I've also done the same to analyse the players I have at my club. I usually use just one statistic screen for the whole squad but have moved a more positional based statistic/attribute screen for each area of my team: defenders, defensive midfielders, creative players (including the IWB), wide players (including the marauding full back) and forwards. Below is the analysis of the first team squad, minus Stefano Herzog as he's played 100% of the matches for me in goal this year.

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Henry is the standout here but is sadly not going to be able to stay permanently. Cifuentes will be a decent replacement for him but the sheer number of Key Headers won shows that we really need that physical presence at the back. Osemene has had a really strong start to his career here but has been the most wayward in the tackle, yet is broadly in line with Henry aerially. Mistrafovic leads a tightly packed group on interceptions but I am growing past his negative traits, which see him stay back, and play short passes - not ideal to my style.

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Zehnder is much smaller than the converted Mazinot and that has held him back slightly in the Half Back role, particularly as his headers won and key headers are considerably lower. He is, however, slightly better on the ball considering their very similar passing attributes. These two are solid in their roles and I see no concerns, despite their slightly disappointing Average Rating.

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Dantas has been absolutely outstanding as a creator with 30 total goal involvements across the season. He's created nearly five key passes a game, more than double that of his protégé Gonzalez and has completely blown Kabashi, who he replaced, out of the water. I do, however, love the attributes of the two young academy graduates and will continue to give them minutes next year, maybe at the expense of Liam Chipperfield, who has been decent, but not really any more than that. I am awaiting Trabelsi's conversion to full back before fully committing him to that role, which will take a lot of pressure of Accola's shoulders. He, however, has been pretty good and leads the defensive unit in interceptions.

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Joachim Magola has been absolutely outstanding, despite a really poor Finishing (7) attribute. He and Lolic have epitomised the game of attacking wingers, leading the team in dribbles per game. Despite my intention of Magola would provide the crosses and Lolic the goals (W and IW roles) the newly capped DR Congolese winger is third in total goal contributions in the team with 27.  Mojsovski has massively outperformed Veiga as a left back on average rating, although their statistics are remarkably similar bar the goals scored column. I have been slightly disappointed, though, with Fabiani but, as a backup for Magola, probably hasn't got the minutes needed to perform as well as he could.

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Anderson is, once again, the star of the show as he moves to 102 career goals in just 151 games. 41 goal contributions with more than one goal per 90 across a busy season. He's got some holes in his offensive game but continues to perform incredibly well, hitting nearly 70% of his shots on target. He has massively outperformed his xG, which cannot be said of Adebayo, who has endured quite a tough season for me - although, similarly to Fabiani, has been used very much as a backup and not got the minutes he really needs. Taseski is far too young and poor to be getting football so will be moved back accordingly.

---

An interesting summer really. I'm still looking for some new talent, as always, but, with Cifuentes lined up to replace Henry, I really have nothing that needs changing and, why would you change a side that has performed so well?!

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11 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I really have nothing that needs changing

That’s not how I read your squad analysis, with depth in CB, a potential upgrade in Half Back (only solid), and back-up for Anderson to work on.
I do though agree that changing just to change isn’t wise but that was my interpretation.

CB - loosing your best defender and bring in one similar but not quite the same, talking about tackles and negative traits and needing a strong physical presence.

HB - solid is a good start (kind of like Atalanta) but only take you so far, while not necessarily most urgent to find an upgrade, something I’d look out for. Most other positions have at least one player who you said was outstanding.

ST - it’s the Harry Kane/Vardy dilemma, and trying to find that Son/Iheanacho player that contributes.

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On 25/04/2021 at 21:42, _Ben_ said:

One wish I do now have for this save is the amount of players I can load. My current setup (which doesn't contain Spain or England - and now I look, I don't know why...) gives me 95,000 players but I really want to increase the player numbers without the extra strain on adding leagues, especially as I've found a huge benefit in running full detail on as many leagues as I can. This is definitely something that future games will look to explore but has come a long way since I used to run one league with 15,000 players!

This is what I’ve been looking into recently, to see how to start a save and keep the stats in leagues the team chosen isn’t in. As well as looking at what my computer can handle.

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8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Forgot to say I enjoyed all of your recent breakdowns in the last quite as few posts :cool:

Thank you! Been really fun diving in this deep and playing at this slower pace.

8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

This is what I’ve been looking into recently, to see how to start a save and keep the stats in leagues the team chosen isn’t in. As well as looking at what my computer can handle.

Definitely a move I'll be permanently making, starting from my next save. Run the largest database I can through retaining players and also using league add-ons etc to improve the realism. I've seen one that adds all of the African academies to a non-playable league, just so that they can generate newgens, for example. That, when I'm talking about building a wide scouting network - would be a little gem!

9 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

That’s not how I read your squad analysis, with depth in CB, a potential upgrade in Half Back (only solid), and back-up for Anderson to work on.
I do though agree that changing just to change isn’t wise but that was my interpretation.

CB - loosing your best defender and bring in one similar but not quite the same, talking about tackles and negative traits and needing a strong physical presence.

HB - solid is a good start (kind of like Atalanta) but only take you so far, while not necessarily most urgent to find an upgrade, something I’d look out for. Most other positions have at least one player who you said was outstanding.

ST - it’s the Harry Kane/Vardy dilemma, and trying to find that Son/Iheanacho player that contributes.

Yeah, I know. I was realistic with the squad analysis and then overly in that last sentence. I agree - both Mistrafovic and Bayiha are weak at centre back. However, I do like Half Backs Zehnder and Mazinot as they are both players that I have developed. Likewise, I'm working with Adebayo to develop him and I really think he'd excel with a solid run of games.

I want to spend some money but I want to keep a Swiss core to this team and certainly want to keep an academy focus on it. I think that's going to hold us back in Europe though, so it's a tough call at the moment.

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21 hours ago, brookie1402 said:

Congrats on the Super League title - you've not mentioned it but that one defeat would seriously sting me!

Thanks! It was way back in November and I'd completely forgotten about it, to be fair. There's always next year!

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June 2032

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We started June with the promise of a take over but that quickly fell through when they realised that they didn't have enough cash to complete the deal. The embargo was a minor annoyance in what was a positive month for us in every aspect except for our bank balance.

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The first 'move' is the re-signing of Henry from Bayern. I wasn't expecting them to allow him to move again so to extend for another year, paying just 50% of his wages is a great deal. Attribute wise, he's phenomenal and I hope he continues to perform as he did last year, which has earnt him his first Swiss cap, too. I then smashed my club record to bring in Jonathan Royer from Servette for €3.5m. He's not performed quite as expected, given his attributes, but Servette aren't the strongest team in this league. However, he'll be an excellent foil for Anderson Costa but I do worry if he's going to settle for that, given the quite large wage - in comparison with the rest of my squad, anyway. Lastly, I paid Basel €2.8m for Fidan Castro, who is going to provide some direct competition for Leon Accola at right back. He's quite similar but definitely offers more defensively than the ex-Benfica player, which could be an absolute game breaker in Europe.

I have got my eyes on a couple of marquee style free-transfers as the clock has ticked onto July 1st. If I manage to get one of them, in particular, it may allow a slight change in formation, which could further explore the counter-attacking prowess that we have. The other may mean that I am able to move on both Mistafovic and Bayiha, who are not up to the required standard for the first team.

More on them if I do get them...

---

I have also had a flick through my u21 squad, now playing in the third tier and I must say that I am very impressed at the depth and potential that exists here:

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The likes of Taseski and Shpendi have experienced the first team with me, whilst Arlinghaus and Nicolet have had loan deals and Davidov, Niang, Dautaj and Diop have excelled in academies elsewhere in Europe. There is plenty of potential for game time and progress and I'll be watching closely...

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Whoa, You were already looking at those positions!
Henry back is awesome, he looks so good. Foyer being fast and similar to Anderson but having better finishing? I wonder if they can fit like Rooney and Ronaldo?

Castro has a nice balance to his build, especially to the defensive side of things. Could mean using Leon in midfield.

Defense looks like next level for next season!

Your youngsters against Fribourg? :brock: :lock:

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Another Liechtensteiner youngster.Did they helped  their national team?They are a decent side in my save.

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8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Whoa, You were already looking at those positions!
Henry back is awesome, he looks so good. Foyer being fast and similar to Anderson but having better finishing? I wonder if they can fit like Rooney and Ronaldo?

I've built quite the scouting network and knew about them - it was a case of identifying the best ones!

Royer is a great one - as I think he'll be used, primarily as a foil for Anderson Costa but he'd also make a decent Inverted Winger due to his Pace and the fact he's right footed as well as being great in front of goal. Kind of a left field one is a Mezzala considering those traits!

8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Castro has a nice balance to his build, especially to the defensive side of things. Could mean using Leon in midfield.

Defense looks like next level for next season!

I'm very happy with it. It'll certainly help us out in the Champions League, for example.

8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Your youngsters against Fribourg?

Yeah, good spot! I may try and attend those games for a little bit of nostalgia.

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5 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

Another Liechtensteiner youngster.Did they helped  their national team?They are a decent side in my save.

I only have two at the club:

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Arlinghaus has two caps but Beermann is really poor!

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The national team has some decent players but are still ranked 142nd in the world!

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July 2032

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How wonderful is it to start the season with just a few players unavailable...

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We started the season with B-team keeper Antanasovski among the new faces in the team but his first job was picking the ball out of his net against Sion as I forgot to alter the finer details that would normally see Herzog play out from the back. His pass was misplaced and we were out of shape. It didn't help that he let the shot through his legs, either. However, a 2-1 win, albeit creating 2.61 xG and repeatedly hitting shots straight at the keeper when it was easier to score means that we started with 3 points, again.

We followed that up with a torrid performance against Thun and were lucky that they didn't really come to win anyway. The highlight lowlight was undoubtedly the miss from Liam Chipperfield, below:

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Servette saw another keeper, and another North Macedonian, Aleksander Angelovski, thanks to an injury to my second choice Antansovski. He is clearly not good enough but the easiest way to make amends for that is not keep Servette well away from our goal, and we did that - restricting them to just two shots, neither of which hit the target.

Our Olympians are back for our next league fixture, which is great and, with two wins and a draw with literally a skeleton side, I must be, at least, reasonably happy.

----

I made a couple of planned forays, again, into the transfer market - securing some quality and some experience.

Following the incredible success of Tiago Dantas last year, I did not hesitate when a scout report informed me that Daniel Braganca was available on a free transfer. He's had a similar path to Tiago but has been in the game since the start - spending his whole career in the (inactive) Portuguese division before a €34.5m move to Man City in 2029. Around 80% of his appearances there came off the bench and his progress has massively been hit, stopping him from making a senior international appearance, which would also explain, like Tiago, why he was so interested in the move and accepted such low wages. I now have two top quality Portuguese playmakers who really could complement each other. I foresee a slightly altered shape (maybe now calling it a 4-2-3-1-0) whereby I can fit Dantas and Braganca in, however much their legs 'go' and still be able to play pure counter attacking football:

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I'm not sure if this is something I want to use permanently or not, but in pre-season, against packed defences, it did play out quite nicely.

A few days later, I added my fourth Portuguese player, Ruben Dias. Ruben has followed a slightly different path to Daniel, in that he has played at the highest level for Man City and continues to do so with Portugal. However, he's been pretty much out of club football since a move to PSG happened in 2030, with a really unsuccessful loan spell at Fiorentina in there, too. I think that, at 35, Ruben has agreed to come, for a short time, on the premise that he'll get to continue his Champions League career. I am happy with the current physical attributes (Acc: 12, Pace: 11) but do expect them to drop off, as they would for any 35 year old, but hoping his Natural Fitness (19) does slow the slump slightly. It allowed me to move both Bayiha and Mistrafovic on and give myself five strong centre backs, able to cover both of the types of roles that I want.

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He's quickly moved into a Team Leader role and I think his experience will be invaluable, particularly marshalling a defensive group of players around him with an average age of less than twenty.

However...

It has not all been plain sailing.

With the addition of the Spanish and English leagues, I've been overrun with transfer bids from clubs fleshing out their first team squad, which has led to quite a lot of unsettled players, who, rightfully, would rather play in the riches of the Premier League instead of the Swiss Super League. Bids have come in for players and I've had to reject, based on the fact that I'm completely unprepared for replacements and caught short on scouting for specific talent. I have, in line with my ideology that no realistic bid should be rejected, looked through my own 'scouted database' but I have been unable to really identify suitable replacements and therefore had to make unrealistic decisions such as blocking Fabiani from moving to Real Madrid, of all teams!

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In an ideal world, I'll be able to fend off bids, or at least promise these players of a move in my own time and this will give me a really clear focus of scouting/analysing until the January transfer window:

  • A half back, ideally one with height as this is a known weakness for Zehnder.
  • A winger, ideally one who combines pace and finishing ability as Magola, who scored 20+ goals last year with just 7 for Finishing shows the necessity of it)
  • A forward who is happy to play third fiddle (behind Costa and Royer), meaning he'll probably need to be pretty versatile to get any game time
  • A player who can play/be converted to play as an Inverted Wingback but, probably, be happy to be second choice behind new-signing Castro.

 

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August 2032

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With my playing time very much at a premium of late, I've been playing through but have struggled a little bit to reach the same levels of excitement and depth that I have done before. I wonder whether the ease in which I won the league last year may be a part of this but, never the less, I am moving forward with this save and have some potential ideas up my sleeve.

We've been a little hit and miss this month, to be fair - the sheer number of players returning from the Olympics without a proper pre-season meant that I've not had the luxury of being able to rotate. We kicked off with a decent performance against Lausanne, with Costa showing why he's the most dangerous player I have. Our second string (in this case, more of just anyone who was fit enough after the mixed up pre-season) ran riot against Black Stars but then my normal team looked very shaky against Young Boys. I hate conceding and build my sides around a tight, compact, defensive shape yet we were twice breached by long, hopeful balls that caught Leon Accola out. We can, at least, look back on the fact that we can score four times, with a debut goal from Ulises Beiro, a €350k signing brought in to replace the outgoing Fabiani. We were then held by Basel but played over 70 minutes with ten men following a rash challenge from Toni Gonzalez on his first start of the season.

There is a long way to go and I have to be confident giving our form last season. This hope will more than likely end on the Swiss boarder as our Champions League group is far from kind:

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---

In an attempt to get back into the swing of some more depth, I've decided to take a deeper dive into the player development of my favourite (developing) player at the club, Toni Gonzalez. I say developing because I have to admit that Costa, on the pitch, is the near-perfect example of my tactical plans but I don't feel like I did too much in his development - just let him play. However, that's not the case with Toni but he's been reaping the rewards:

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I then wanted to play around with some data vis stuff so put together a little bit to show exactly how he's done:

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I'm looking at the improvement as a % of his current numerical attribute - If an attribute rises from 10 to 15, then that's a 50% improvement, for example. I really like how I've been getting success in his development in the areas that I've tried to push on and those that form that backbone of our training regimes, week in, week out.

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I really love this so much! It’s convinced me to add to my writing so much. A lot of the stuff you cover and keep interesting I bypass as I worry about being boring. Fantastic read and great success 

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15 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

favourite (developing) player at the club, Toni Gonzalez

And he’s still only considered 2 stars from 4-5 stars. Looks like he’s going to be a monster player for you :cool:

Very interesting break down of his development stats as well. Looks like it gave you good feedback on how your targeted training is working. 

Edited by Sonic Youth
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20 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I really love this so much! It’s convinced me to add to my writing so much. A lot of the stuff you cover and keep interesting I bypass as I worry about being boring. Fantastic read and great success 

Thank you so much! I'm deep dive in to your thread as, even though I've been following, I don't think I've given it the read it truly deserves!

5 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

And he’s still only considered 2 stars from 4-5 stars. Looks like he’s going to be a monster player for you :cool:

Very interesting break down of his development stats as well. Looks like it gave you good feedback on how your targeted training is working. 

I know! He could be a player I take with me should I move on from Luzern with the idea that he can play in the midfield and even as a False Nine - once I get a new trait in and continue working on his shooting.

I am really pleased to see the attribute rise, considering that I do tend to favour three blocks: Attacking Wings, Attacking Direct and Play from the Back:

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The one thread that runs through each of those: Dribbling.

I think it's really helped turn what was a quite one dimension playmaker into a really quite rounded offensive player, who, with game time, could become unreal. Add in the personality change to Model Citizen and that just makes his development even better!

5 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

That Champs League group is tough. Time to surprise and get second or third :eek:

Good start to the league even with the Olympics scuttling preseason plans.

I'm pessimistic. Third would be great but Valencia, as third seeds, are going to be very tough!

Edited by _Ben_
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That Champions League group looks like a "Group of Death"! Two of the true Heavyweights and a team capable of holding its own with them, it will be tough for your Swiss team to get Europa League place.

 

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September 2032

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There is a clear slow down in the progress of my gaming, thanks to real life annoyingly getting in the way, leaving my normal FM-time just destroyed by absolute exhaustion. Never the less, I'm through another largely successful month, although I fear that it has also predicted the outcome of my Champions League adventure this season.

For the second round in a row we put eight past a lower league side and, with a potential four games left, just need five goals to break St. Gallen's record of 20 goals in the tournament. We play Young Boys, at home, in the next round, but, given our latest success, I'd not consider that too much of a task. Next up was Valencia, and, given the draw at home (meaning that, on paper, it's our easiest tie) probably shows that we're not getting anything from this campaign. I think that misery has been compounded with the away loss at Bayern - which, although expected, was way more backs to the wall than I wanted or expected. The league form though has been good, an easy win over St Gallen, a walk in the park in my 200th Luzern game as manager again Lugano and a nice win over Zurich has seen us rise to the top of the table, where I expect that we will stay.

---

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Not a lot else has happened this month, so the appointment of Rene van Eck gets some airtime. He's a club legend and played and managed the club in the past before becoming a decent (for this level) scout. I had originally decided to not sign him, leaving all of the decisions to my backroom staff but since his Grasshoppers contract had expired, felt that, for nostalgia reasons alone, I'd jump in to sign him. He does, however, bring our Dutch knowledge up, complimenting what is already at the club:

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Aside from Eastern Europe, which is looking worryingly weak and a target market for me - I think we've got a good team assembled for a club of our size. As I've mentioned before, database limits (or what I thought was limits) have meant that I don't really have enough players loaded, and leagues I can activate to make use of anything too much larger in scope. This is not something I hope to ever experience again with an FM save as I've really brought into this style of play and immersion at a slower pace.

---

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This is great news and shows that our dominance is more than just skin deep, as the club is building an organic conveyor belt of talent that is reaching a level good enough to impact the national team. Long may it continue!

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October 2032: From Fribourg to Freiburg?

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Has my Swiss Army Knife gone as far as it can in the domestic game?

Julien Nagelsmann has led Freiburg, the German side, to six straight Bundesliga defeats and has moved on.  I love the youth system and the German cultures, with focus on the lower leagues, but I'm less sure about the high-tempo pressing football and the over 30, given my recent success with Tiago Dantas.

I think it'd make a nice move, considering the German language that I've picked up since being at Luzern and the fact that I managed their near-namesake earlier in my career as well as the next, natural, progression in a realistic career but I'm just a little torn given the lack of game time currently means it's much easier for me to just pick up the game and keep winning!

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41 minutes ago, Fudal said:

I would personally love to see you move abroad, but I also want to see Herzog and the like win a couple more trophies before you move anywhere

This, especially as it’s also Germany.

A sliding doors season or two would be good too (though not with your time at the moment).

Another position will you come around again in a few to 5 seasons time I’m sure.

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9 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:

This, especially as it’s also Germany.

A sliding doors season or two would be good too (though not with your time at the moment).

Another position will you come around again in a few to 5 seasons time I’m sure.

yeah i would personally love to see 4-5 more years in Lucerne, then a middling team in Germany or maybe even a second division team, and then go back to Switzerland

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11 hours ago, Fudal said:

I would personally love to see you move abroad, but I also want to see Herzog and the like win a couple more trophies before you move anywhere

 

11 hours ago, Fudal said:

yeah i would personally love to see 4-5 more years in Lucerne, then a middling team in Germany or maybe even a second division team, and then go back to Switzerland

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11 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

This, especially as it’s also Germany.

A sliding doors season or two would be good too (though not with your time at the moment).

Another position will you come around again in a few to 5 seasons time I’m sure.

 

Thanks for the comments, both.

I have to agree. I tend to play two saves over the course of the FM lifespan and, given that it's May now and we don't see a demo until Sept/Oct, I have plenty of time left, even if my playing time is a little reduced right now. Moving to Germany does seem like an appropriate end goal but I also agree that, being as I've only won the league once, I've not really 'proven' that I'm a top manager, yet.

I'm going to maybe drop a little bit of depth from my updates to get myself through another season or two, continuing to develop youth and then re-evaluate where I'm at.

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October 2032

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We're looking incredibly strong again in the league this month, despite not really hitting top gear.

My worst nightmares were confirmed when, against Sion, and following a mistaken space bar enter, meaning I hadn't set the training up for the month, we looked so shaky defensively. Both goals were the results of sloppy positioning and, given the immense amount of time I've put into the training schedules, I genuinely think that they would have been avoided should I have set some Match Prep blocks for Defensive Positioning. Never the less, we had enough about us going forward to make the scoreline look very easy. We have since been poor against Thun and also surprisingly poor against Servette but nine points from nine is what matters as this stage as we will surely regain that offensive prowess at some point. It does, however, strike me that, following our title, teams are even deeper and even more conservative so we have to be on top of our tactical game each week. The Champions League saw what is probably our best result, and my best, I really mean best at stopping Liverpool from scoring performance. We didn't create a lot but were resilient and that point actually takes us above Valencia in the quest for a Europa League slot. Lastly, we took our goals tally to 19 in the Schwiezer Cup with a relatively straightforward win over Young Boys, which again was marked in the media with the confusing 'Young Luzern beat Young Boys' tag...

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The signing of Rene van Eck, last month, has given me fresh impetus to align my scouting and recruitment network with my current game world and to push on in order to snap up the brightest prospects from undervalued nations and regions. Below are my eleven scouts, plus chief, Pasquale de Simone:

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For reference, and top to bottom and left to right, their nationalities are: Swiss, Spanish, Brazilian, Turkish, Argentine, Reunionese, Serbian, Azerbaijani, Moroccan, Australian, Swiss and Dutch.

I have attempted to keep the nationality of the scout broadly in line with the region or area that they are covering - with a slight push for Medvedev, covering the whole of Asia despite being born in what can really be considered the far west of that continent. I also think that I've managed to cobble together a team of decent quality, which is considerably the best in the league.

To ensure that I'm covering the most important areas, I am going to use the 'Show all players in search' feature that comes with the editor and that I have used when collating statistical analysis in player comparisons so far in this save. If I remove all filters (particularly interest), I can get a quick count of how populated each continent is and, as such, decide the number of scouts necessary for there. Obviously, this is hugely gamey but a necessity that isn't considered in real life as everywhere has players!

Player count in the whole game-world is 112,512 (firstly, compare this to the ~15k players I'd load in my games historically!)

  • Africa: 3191 (2.8% of the game world)
  • Asia: 2173 (1.9%)
  • Europe: 103341 (91.8%)
  • North America: 1652 (1.5%)
  • Oceania: 125 (0.1%)
  • South America: 2030 (1.8%)

Wow! I have a scout looking for a diamond in just 125 players...

Let's dig deeper, and look at Europe - considering my hotspots are Switzerland and Eastern Europe:

  • Switzerland: 10892 (10.5% of Europe)
  • Eastern Europe: 8245 (8% of Europe)

So, I'm trying to build a team with the 16 players who come through my academy each year and then, pretty much, on just 18% of Europe. I think that I need a reshuffle!

For reference, here is my game setup (screenshot has cut off lower Swiss leagues which are still running). The addition of the MLS will add some more to North America but that's not an area I have really ever focused on as the talent, particularly in Mexico is very expensive. There is the monopoly on the Amateurs in the USA, which is great, but far from realistic. I have purposely added depth to the top European leagues, loading the top two tiers of all the others nations, but I think that it can be reduced as it's not offering me much extra, just more players from central Europe and I don't feel I'll be running this game world for the 20+ seasons needed to see a 2nd tier club be able to challenge for titles, etc. Therefore, I'll remove the 2nd tiers from France, Austria, Denmark, England, Italy, Serbia and Spain (keeping the three German tiers as that is somewhere I'd like to manage, eventually) and add the following top flight leagues from the following countries (being thankful that I added some of the African structures before starting to ensure I got some newgen generation):

  • Argentina 
  • Australia
  • Brazil (my only annoyance here is forgetting to remove the 3-letter names before starting this save!)
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • DR Congo
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Russia
  • Tunisia
  • South Africa

Now this takes me to a total of 172,000 players - exceeding what the game recommends (although I read that this is a pointless warning) and reduces my game speed to half a star (again, I read that this isn't accurate) and 29 leagues from 23 countries. It certainly means that I'm going to be continuing my slow and methodical gameplay as I don't feel that this will be able to run through the seasons as my game has in the past, particularly those one-nation saves but this is a move I want to make that will, hopefully, ensure the maximum realism for me as a manager. It adds some hot-beds (Colombia, I'm looking at you!) and should increase newgen generation in Africa and Eastern Europe, which are my realistic areas for player purchases as well as boosting Asia's representation with the Chinese league, probably providing an outlet for overpriced sales, too!

I'll check back next summer as the percentages and see if that feels a little more realistic. In the mean time - my two scouts in Africa can share the 3000 or so players and Ethan Docherty can take a year to enjoy the Vanuatan Premier League! In the meantime, I haven't actually addressed anything that my scouts are doing this season, but...never mind, procrastination seems the theme of these massive posts at the moment!

Edited by _Ben_
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November 2032

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Finally, some time to sit and enjoy this!

I thought that the away draw at Liverpool was our best ever game, but we bettered that with a famous win at home to the Mersyside giants, leaving the group wide open following a tough away defeat in Spain. We are at home to Bayern and Valencia travel to England in what will decide all. I would expect Liverpool to win, which would mean that, given our likely defeat to the Bavarian side, we'd finish bottom of the group. However, stranger things have happened and we've already massively outperformed my expectations.

In the league, we played the big three - well, historically anyway. We faced a grand total of nine shots in that time and gifted St. Gallen a goal, ending the month with a mammoth eleven point gap and a game in hand!

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The above image is our training schedule for the last two weeks of November.

This causes a huge problem for us, as a developmental team by only having two training blocks over this whole time. Yes, players are going to develop through match time and yes, we are rotating - using the most players out of all Super League clubs so far this season: 30 (although this was due to the Olympics more than anything else) but looking at the likes of Gonzalez and Lolic - neither have made any progress on their individual foci over the period from the start of the season until now because they simply aren't getting the time to do so. It then does give me more impetus to focus on what the u21 squad is doing and the promising players that we have, at all levels.

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I am truly shocked at how they have adapted to this level, after being promoted last year.

What is more is that we, literally, are fielding a team of 16-18 year olds given how relatively early we still are into this program. With my target recruitment markets being partially outside of the EU (some of Eastern Europe is now) - young recruited players will be, at least, 18 before they join us, as opposed to the 15 year olds that we generate ourselves or sign from within our country or EU region. This means I can split them into two groups and, based on those criteria, I have done so with the players at the club right now:

  • Youngsters from the academy (or signed from local areas) in the youth sides:

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We are lucky to have three potential stars in this side, all of whom are from the academy and very young. In Roberto, Pedroso and Shpendi, I could be able to build a large part of my attacking phase and I am really closely monitoring their development. It was not right of me to promoted Taseski and Shpendi to the first team last year, only making them available to play for the paired u18 squad in the youth league as it massively diminished the training and playing time that they got at such a young age.

  • Youngsters from outside the club or those who are now at least 18 years old:

ea166d4f0f9cbd91a2eeb9d2fb337a72.png

This is the kind of area where I've had less success in the past as I come to terms with the players simply not having the PA that it is believed. In players like Nicolet, for example, I need to make a call on whether I see his future with us, given the relative un-suitability to any roles that he can currently play in, given his tiny stature.

These players can be in the first team and all four of those that are with me, are doing well - with the two at the top being full internationals and Gonzalez and Kostadinovic representing their country at youth level. I need to decide, better than I have at this point, if they are ready for football with me, or not. Granted - we are doing well and it's easier to play well when we play well but I think that I have, historically, played players before they are good enough for my level (Trabelsi played a bit for me last year as did Taseski in the above screenshot) and that puts more pressure on us. We have a good quality squad now that can see the integration become slower but more measured with the backup of a good youth side, playing at a very good (in this pyramid) level.

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As with any new club, my style is to promote as much young, academy grown talent as early as possible. Now I have done that and somewhat diminished the size of these squads - it is really important that I slowly integrate these players to the first team as the next few seasons progress. I can properly devote time to two or three of these players a year, rather than a whole host of 18 year olds within the first team. It is also more imperative than ever that they do spend time in the u21 squad, probably for longer than I'd like, given the first team's reduced training cycle. That's why it is delighting to see that the young squad is performing so well.

 

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