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[FM 21] Aussie Football!


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Ah yeah, I forgot about the EPL piece. It really did divide the football-viewing landscape. Another reason why I like this cashed-up Paramount+ (backed by Viacom) idea - they'll have real money to compete in the market.

It's hard with Fox, cause like you say - in the early days they helped revive the entire concept of a national professional league. So you can't say they're completely criminal and didn't care. It was in their best interests to make it work. But somewhere along the way they sort of stopped caring about the Union, basketball, football etc... and started going after Rugby League and Cricket etc... I bet they lost so much in paying so much for those. 
No wonder they couldn't afford the world game anymore.

You're right about Free to Air. The more it's on, the more visible the whole thing is. I kind of hope we can climb up to 16-18 clubs in the A-League and look at getting 2-3 matches per week on FTA.

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4 minutes ago, Butlee said:

Not sure if this helps, but I took notes on every club when trying to decide which to do for this save - here are Macarthur's:


Main reason I didn't go with them is because I think a lot of their players will leave, or want to leave, or will start to drop off in FM after the first season.

Seeing how positive I am about that, and then seeing how Victory are going - I think it helps show that any  club in a salary-capped league is just a few clever signings in any season away from being a top competitor. 

IRL you're not wrong on the why you wouldn't want to manage them. Derbyshire has gone back to Cyprus, Milligan, Benat, and Susaeta have retired, Ivan Franjic has been released, Genreau got sold to Toulouse. Though you missed the superstar between the sticks Adam Federici. 


I'm currently playing a save in Iceland but I always have the A-league running when I play a save. Wanderers are dominating the A-League winning 5 of 7 Finals and 3 minor premierships. The toilet seat hasn't left the Greater Sydney area since the Victory last won it.

Macarthur won the final in their first year, the minor premiership in the second\runner's up in seasons 1&3 and have since fallen off the perch after Milicic left. After he left No manager has stayed longer than a year, Kevin Muscat was also there for 55 days lol. Interestingly at some point they hired Frank Farina and he's been caretaker 5 times. doesn't want that poisoned chalice. lol


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36 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:

Are you going to go into youth participation?

How do you mean?

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12 minutes ago, Butlee said:

How do you mean?

It’s always talked about being the highest youth participation of any sport in the country for boys and can’t remember if it beats netball for girls. That groundswell of interest is still relatively untapped and has no outlet. Though with that last bit think you might have said something about it already. Usually though, you also see it mentioned when talking about proposed rights deals too.

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Ah yeah of course, I getcha!

It's definitely true. I'll see if I can find some stats on it somewhere.

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4 May 2021

Melbourne Victory - 1st in the A-League [15W / 4D / 3L]

26 round seasons, we're nearly there!


The Run Home

A picture's worth a thousand words. Or, with how much I ramble, maybe five thousand!


As new graphics over the past 3-4 years in FM goes, this one is right up there as one of the best. It perfectly highlights the major contenders and outlines how challenging their run home.

This season the challenge is all theirs. We have a 9 point lead with 15 points left on the table, and a good goal difference. We would need to lose 3 matches convincingly and maybe then draw one or two of the others, while Roar & Phoenix storm home winning everything. Could Wanderers make it or is their GD too much of a challenge?

To be fair, I'd wager our run home is the toughest. Everyone else plays a couple in the bottom 4 - WSW plays all lower-half teams, and even though Sydney & Melbourne City aren't fighting for the title right now, they are last season's Grand Finalists (Sydney won) so they're no slouches. It's probably enough of a challenge for us to give everyone hope!
Though if you're playing along well, you'll know we already beat Sydney 2-1 at home!


With at least a 13 point lead and even more GD in front, that's probably too much for Wellington and WSW now. It's my hometown of Brisbane chasing my current club in Melbourne! 


4 Rounds left - Melbourne City

City provided us very little in the way of roadblocks. It's easier if you see it:


Who would have thought McManaman would suddenly spring up for a hattrick!? Not that we're complaining here!

It's tough to pick on one man when the stats show us as having high possession, but surprisingly few shots. It tells the tale of us probing around the box, patiently waiting for chances - and probably throwing in a bunch of wasted crosses!!
But for whatever reason their experience left back & club captain, Scott Jamieson, could not handle the pace, movement and physicality of McManaman. Every goal came from a through ball or high cross - basically slightly different angled variations of the same ball - that McManaman just wanted more than Jamieson, and our winger slammed them all home.

Mitch Nichols hit a beautiful longshot goal to keep them in the hunt, but was later sent off - I wouldn't say it's a personal criticism, because it's clear their tactics involved trying to out-muscle us. But Mitch is an interesting player. Here's his Professional Playing Career:


Gold Coast Knights are an NPL club, and obviously Sakai FC is in Japan - so that means he's played for 6 different A-League clubs! If you want a prime example of what I mean by recycling this is it. He won the A-League with Brisbane Roar when he was younger and tried his hand in Japan before coming straight home. Then he really never found his groove again - he cobbled together 53 matches back at WSW I guess, but they have not been a strong side for a while. The guy has 4 caps with the Socceroo's, so there's clearly some kind of potential there. But he never went on to be the dominant force he should be at this level, and this season he's rating 6.63 for City in the League.


3 Rounds left - Wellington Phoenix

After the Sydney win and the City win, we needed just 1 point in 3 matches to get home - or for Roar to drop any points and we would secure the premier's plate. And you know how you always say you're a professional squad, and it doesn't change anything, and we're focused on the task at hand, blah blah blah.... well we were none of those things here and Wellington gave us a right touch up!


We actually scored first - it was a simple and classic goal, and one we should have put together far more often this season than we actually have. Our star Kruse gets a step ahead of his man and that's all he needs to hit the right cross, where our veteran striker is well positioned in front of his marker to meet the ball head-on and give the keeper no chance!

Wellington have this cool 34yr old striker named Tomer Hemed, and he caused us some trouble. Tomer spent the last 5-7 years in England, banging in goals in the Championship for Brighton, but never quite transitioning that form to the EPL level. He had a terrible season at Charlton and took the opportunity to come to Australia - he's been great to watch in real life, and he's still really strong here, scoring twice in this match!

Wellington 2 - 1 Melbourne

It's really tough to blame Crocombe when the game was fairly even and they edged us by way of a handy striker, but what can you do when the game gives you this kind of feedback?


Our backline, for all intents and purposes, performed fairly well. Not stellar, but solid enough. The passing rates are immense too. Crocombe though - what a nightmare for a guy who's basically had a bunch of key members of the team demanding he get some Starting XI matches.


Without Further Ado

Brisbane were thwarted at home by CCM and that handed us the league title!! Yes! :thup:


It would have been nice to have secured the trophy with a win, but hey, we worked our backsides off earlier in the season to put ourselves in this position - so we've earned it!!

If I had to describe the season's form in a word, I'd say it was solid.
We mostly controlled games, but we weren't exactly steamrolling through the weaker sides and creating countless chances. We had 3 matches that we won by 3 goals, and the rest were all closer affairs.

We took the lead of the A-League in round #12 and never looked back though - remember our season start? We went 1-2, 2-2, 3-6 before we even got a win on the board, but then we won 6 straight and it wasn't until the 10th match of that streak that we lost again! 

You've seen the ups and downs as we have rotated the squad in and out as needed - but also how we've prioritised keeping the side as steady as possible, and we've been through how we slowly phase out the names that don't appear to keep pace with the rest of us (Roux, Kamsoba, Cromcombe). And it's been a big battle trying to make sure our good players actually perform well and do the job for us.



I wouldn't say it's the hardest FM season I've ever worked on - probably not even the toughest A-league save - but it has been an interesting little experiment with the squad that ended up taking the wooden spoon in real life! It goes to show that no matter which club you take in the A-League, if you can get it together you can instantly start fighting for Finals, for titles and for trophies.


Hall of Fame

I thought this is fairly interesting. Not posting to gloat, but because you'll recognise some of the names here:


If I mention that one of Ange's domestic wins was with Melbourne Victory, you might get a feel for just how big this club is - and how entrenched in it's (admittedly not long) history/culture that winning is. For fans to watch them struggle of late - it's got to be tough to stomach. But here we are bringing them back to where they belong - we don't pretend that winning the A-League is our right, but we do know that Victory must be one of the competitive clubs in the fight!



Remaining Matches

Our 2nd largest crowd showed up at home to watch us lift the trophy, as we faced Sydney in a 1-1 draw. 39,115 fans saw us completely dominate possession (66%) and saw Kruse head home off a Brimmer cross in the first half. We held the ball, but lacked penetration and Sydney kept threatening us on the break. We'd been bringing on subs a lot earlier in the past few matches to give us some cover for injuries and suspensions and unfortunately Anderson just wasn't keeping pace with Baumjohann who scored the equaliser for Sydney in the 82nd minute. Overall an unremarkable match with just 6 shots on target and all everyone will remember is the return to form that is Vic's victory lap!


Which just left the City game. To be fair to our cross-town rivals, they were fighting for a finals spot (top 6), and after they scored early from a corner, they were content to camp out the game (see below) for a 1-0 win.
We found ourselves out wide a lot with very little depth and just throwing in a lot of fairly aimless crosses - which is a real bugbear of mine and something we'll need to work around if we face the Melbournians again.



A-League Ladder (final)

Which brings the regular season to a close, and locks in our win for the Plate. The true prize in Aussie football is the 'toilet seat' which is given as the Grand Final trophy, so the work is not yet done! 


Considering how dominant we were (locking in the league win 3 rounds early for example), our record leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. Our defensive work was poor, and while we did score >2 goals per game, I'm not sure averaging a 2-1 result is that great for league-leaders. I think I also feel a bit disappointed in just how much we dominated a lot of these matches, and barely scrapped home with a win. It's great that we had the fight in us to win those close ones, but at some point you'd want to feel like you're breezing past some teams and slapping home a few goals. We just never quite had our groove on like that, and had to do it the hard way.

Everyone from Central Coast down can go on holidays now, as the top 6 shape up for a 3-week playoff (to wrap the season before the end of June). 

A League Trophy Toilet Seat - alessiasemenzin

I don't know who thought this was a good idea, but we've embraced the toilet seat as our national prize. Depending where the finals are, local hardware stores sell out of plastic toilet seats in the leadup to Grand Final day, I kid you not!


This also wraps up this piece. The Crocombe experiment hasn't been that great so we might end that up. Lauton has unfortunately put himself out of the finals with a 6 week injury, but Rojas just took a knock - I rested him to ensure he's fit for our first KO match. Overall we should be nearly full strength - though we've been struggling a bit during May and while now is not the time, it's hard not to second-guess yourself on things like; Does Gestede still have it? Broxham hasn't been giving us the impact Traore has, do we change something? Do we leave Kruse on the left and Rojas in the centre, or try move Kruse to get us more penetration and scoring pressure within the box?



The turnaround seems fairly quick, but looks like our next match is on the 7th of June. Here we go!!

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30 May 2021

Melbourne Victory - 1st in the A-League [16W / 5D / 5L]

Let's talk about the Finals Series.



In concept, the Finals Series is pretty simple. Other other major sporting codes all have a full league season, and a few weeks of KO matches that cumulate in the biggest club event of their season - the Grand Final. 
The A-League is no different. It takes the top 6 sides and tries to reward the sides that finished higher - with a rest or home finals. In fact, the Grand Final is played in the city that finished highest (of the two GF clubs) in the league - so that'll be our home ground if we make it!


That's loosely what we're looking at. All the matches are KO rounds, and the top 2 sides in the league walk straight into the SF.

That leaves us with this:


The first match has two sides desperate to sustain some form. Both Wellington & Sydney had solid starts to the season, but both went on these massive runs where they only won 2 matches from March through until mid-May. Sydney are actually on a 4-match drawing streak, whereas Wellington managed to cobble together a few wins right at the end of the season.

Remember when Western Sydney belted us twice in the opening 3 rounds? That was probably the highlight of their season, as they instantly fell off a cliff and struggled to get any form going until February. But by that point they were playing catching and it wasn't until another solid run in April that they clawed their way into the top 6. They came 4th in the league, but they have the 2nd worst defensive record!
City on the other hand were the 2nd best defensive record! Their problem was scoring - I think a large part of that was signing a highly reputable Obafemi Martins as their solo striker - but at 36 years old he really struggled to compete.



Bernie Ibini ran away with the golden boot in the end. There's a real moneyball element to the A-League, where most of the time you don't just play good, fluid footy and everyone contributes - you tend to invest in a striker and back him to get 15-20 goals per season to elevate you to the top spots. WSW didn't quite accomplish that (they couldn't defend for peanuts), but they'll take this for sure:


By comparison, our top scorers were McManaman & Kruse with 7 apiece. 

Heading over to most-assists we represent a little better. When I'm busy lamenting Roux or complaining about the right back role, it's largely because of how impact full Adama Traore is:


If we could just find a way to replicate that on the other side of the park we'd be loving life!

And if you're looking at this kind of thing and you can't see just how we managed to make it to top, this should shed some light:


We really do play-by-numbers a bit. Fewest Shots against, highest possession, and fortunately most goals as well. We suffocate teams - but it's with a higher-up passing game that's patient (as opposed to a deep defensive line) almost to a fault. 

Wellington were 2nd best in possession and they play an extremely active, yet more deeper & defensive than us, passing game. It makes sense that WSW have so many shots and dribbles - they were really end-to-end and lacked the polish a bit - and City had a good defensive record. 

And then there's Brisbane Roar - who just casually slid into 2nd at the end of the season, with solid-yet-unremarkable form. Golgol Mebrahtu lead their scoring, and Jamie Young in goal lead the clean sheets. They put in a solid job!


The Biggest Club in Australia


We started this season by talking about reputations and expectations and Victory being the biggest club in Australia. This is the kind of thing that leads to those comments. We mostly hit the 20-25k attendance flag, but in some of our bigger matches we were clocking >30k, and that brings our average up. No one else is even close!


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Posted (edited)

7 June 2021

Melbourne Victory - 1st in the A-League [16W / 5D / 5L]

Heat is on!


The Major Contrast Final - QF1 - Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City

With Wanderers struggling and City on a tear, it'll be interesting to see if the threat of being Knocked Out can act as a leveller for these two sides.

The form guide says it all:

  • WSW - 1 win in their last 7 matches.
  • MCF - 1 loss in their last 8 matches.



It's not a play-by-play at all, but my key notes as the game played out:


  • City playing Maclaren up front, which I think is better for them. He's quick and will cover more ground.
  • Early doors saw Aiden O'Neill and Ziggy Gordon clash. Both had to go off.
  • WSW started controlling the game early, but 20 mins in it was City who had the 2 best chances.
  • Teams were opposites, where WSW want to go wide to their wingers Troisi & Ibini and City want to go centrally through 2x AMC's in Nicholls and Nabbout.
  • No scoring in the first half, but City had to weather a bit more pressure from WSW. The possession and passing is fairly equal - just City hold the ball deeper, whereas WSW like to play higher and probe the attacking 3rd.


  • Just after half time, league-leading goal scorer Ibini goes down with an injury and attacking prospect Thoma..... Nicolai Muller goes off as well. (2x WSW players down, plus Gordon from the first half).
  • 70 minutes and still scoreless. It's crazy the difference - Wanderers are end-to-end, shoot-on-sight kind of style, and City are structured, combative, and really patient. 



  • It might turn into a statement of depth. City bringing in midfield reinforcements and WSW making another change - this time pacey striker Duke comes off for seasoned English striker Simon Cox.
  • 84th minute GOAL CITY!
    Substitute midfielder Garuccio attacks the errant goal kick and plays Maclaren right up the centre. The Socceroo striker is just too fast for the tired backline and buries a shot, low and into the near corner.


As you can see, Garrucio is the only guy who attacks the header (from a goal kick) late in the game, and all the defenders are out of position making heaps of space for Maclaren to run through the centre!

Hah, I just realised (re-reading these now) that I called the Jamie Maclaren impact. That was honestly written before I saw him score that goal.

And that was it! WSW were extremely tired and while City were too - it was far easier for them to move the ball around without the pressure of needing to rush forward, and the Sydneysiders couldn't muster enough late chances. Melbourne are through 1-0!


Uphill Battle in NZ - QF2 - Wellington Phoenix vs Sydney FC

It's important to note that in a 26 round season, these two sides finished 12 whole points apart. Sydney have been struggling like mad and while Wellington at one point looked like challenging us for the title before falling away, they've turned their recent form around and should pose a threat here.

The form guide says it all:

  • NIX - 3 wins in a row, coming off 5 games without a win.
  • SYD - 4 draws in a row, but only 1 win since March!


Call it a bit of vanity if you want, but I actually really like how Sydney have incorporated the Opera House into their official badge. 


4-4-2 vs 4-4-2. We know Nix play a deep, short passing, patience game, where Sydney like to try and get the ball forward.

Was about to say "first ten minutes have been all Wellington, with Sydney GK Redmayne making a couple of handy saves to keep them in it."  ... but then...

10th minute GOAL WELLINGTON!
This is just classic, structured player movement and sharp passing. Striker Hemed comes to receive the ball, bringing the defender out with him. He drops the ball into midfield and a couple of quick passes later the ball goes into that space where Hemed is on a foot race 1v1 with his marker. Hemed wins and scores!



Sydney immediately engage in a much higher press and stealing the ball in midfield has almost created a couple of chances in the 10 minutes since the goal.

30 minutes and normality seems to be restored - Nix passing the ball around, controlling the game. Here's an idea of how well they utilise all their players in this structure:

Even the strikers and wingers (bottom 4 on the list) get in on the action - and look at Laws! He's not orchestrating the game like a playmaker, but he's doing all the busy work, linking all the other players together.

31st minute GOAL SYDNEY
From nowhere, a nightmare aerial mistake from Luke DeVere helps Samuels burst in on goal uncontested. Maybe we do have a fight on our hands!

Half time has a draw, with Wellington sitting on 68% possession and 91% passing accuracy. They looked like they could walk this in, but the mistake has given Sydney a sniff.


51st minute GOAL SYDNEY
Wow, no subs at half time, but definitely an attitude change! Sydney come out of the blocks red hot this half and are rewarded by a well-worked goal to Bobo.

Ok this game is getting exciting! 'Wall pass' is the name of the game, as the 3/4 goals so far come from these pacey manoeuvres. This time David Ball slinks through to equalise.

The last match was a war of attrition, but we're just seeing our first substitution, not even 70 minutes in.

It was always going to be who wanted it more, and David Ball shrugs off a challenge and launches a fierce long shot into the back of the net!



And that goal really took the sting out of Sydney. They just couldn't muster a late game press and Wellington's endless passing game just had them chasing the ball around for the remainder. 

Nix definitely look like one of the best teams in the League on their day - but it requires an incredible amount of work-rate from all their players.


Total Sydney passes = 216
Total passes made by Laws & Devlin in the Nix midfield = 270


Edited by Butlee
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14 June 2021

Melbourne Victory - Semi-Finals!

Our true test is approaching and it's not without it's drama!


Melbourne Derby; Semi Final

The A-League could not dream of a better semi final than a derby match. 




56 thousand tickets! Despite saying we earned home advantage, the opportunity to move away from AAMI park (which only seasons 30,500) to cram an extra 20 thousand fans in is too good to pass up. Besides, what is 'home' when both sides are from Melbourne right?


Squad Woes

I'll come right out and say it, but we're in a right jam for this one.

I got a concerning message to my inbox:


We have players playing WC Qualifiers for their country right now.


This is another reason why that information about the Broadcast deal with Fox is so important. We have to finish the A-League by the end of June, but there are 2 weeks of WC Quali's in the middle of June. Without the pressure's of that, we could have moved the Finals around a bit and got the key players back to play the KO League rounds. And if we were clever we could have done that, and still had time for any Olympians to sneak off without missing big games as well!

Alas, we can't do that.


Combined with an inopportune injury and suspension, that leaves us well short on players. Even though we've not been playing Kamsoba, when you take our Rojas, Lauton and Kirdar (who got picked for Australia B to go and cameo at the Copa America while Australia "A: plays the WC Quali's) we would be reaching out to our 2nd and 3rd string wingers...

The way the registration works (and we were always 1-2 bodies light compared to what we could have had), this leaves us with just 15 names for the teamsheet. I might be able to find a couple of youth players to sit on the bench!



Match Day; Semi Final

Here's what we're going to run with. It's not ideal. I think Folami is probably the best player from the bench, but I don't see him and Gestede as able to fill any of the other roles. Rojas had been playing SS role - it's more of a playmaker role in the way this lineup plays - so that has to fall to Kruse since Rojas and Kirdar are away.

So LLL takes the IF line. I'll be asking him to run at his man a lot to try and create something there - especially with Traore overlapping him.

But it's also the little things that upset this - Shotton usually plays the BPD role, so I swapped Ansell to the right instead of the left to cover that. Should I just move the BPD role to the left or not use it at all? I've opted to leave BPD on the right to keep the sanctity of the tactics... we'll see if that matters or not.


I feel like we'll know if the side is up for it within the first 10 minutes. If City dominate the possession and get shots early on without a retaliation from us, I don't think we will have another level to step up and fight them. We should still be reasonable for the First XI, but what you see if what you'll get.


I should note that City aren't without issues: They're missing GK Thomas Glover (Socceroos), fullback Aitkinson (Socceroos) and DM O'Neill (injury). So both sides are feeling the pain a bit.

City are going with the old 'Christmas Tree' formation, spearheaded by Socceroo Jamie Maclaren. He's the major scoring threat because he's quick and will work hard all game, and the formation is largely built around playing the poacher in - with 2x AM's and Nichols/Martin's in those roles mostly to move forward and play killer passes.

Speaking of Nichols, he's another major threat. Nabbout is handy and Frenchman Berenguer is creative, but I think Nichols will enjoy that role just behind the AM's and can really steer the ship from there.

Tactically McManaman had a hattrick game against this lot where be completely bamboozled Jamieson - so a repeat would be nice. LLL goes into the left spot, with the idea of trying to beat Galloway as well. You'll notice our Wingers are on support duties as well - I want to lure Nicholls and Martins into wider spots to try and stop them - it'll get bodies away from the MC and DM spots, which might help Kruse get on the ball more.

Oh and Lleyton Brooks is the poor kid who got whisked out of the youths to sit on the bench! I gave him #13... because that's the lucky one right??

[Deep Breath] Ok, on with the show!!


[Min 17]
Good news! We're up for the fight! A very even start to the game - both sides with a couple of corners and a few shots have been made, but nothing really threatening. Anderson is struggling a bit with Maclaren (who would have thought I'd be here considering bringing on Ryan to sure up our backline!).
City are trying to press us this half, and their narrow formation is making it difficult for them. It's also tough because essentially their front 3 push into that space to shut down any DM's, and we don't play anyone in that area. So we keep going wide to Broxham & Traore and then throwing it back centrally to Butterfield & Brimmer who are in behind their front 3, negating the press. Despite our possession-based strategy, we've never been a side that uses the central defenders much, so this suits Victory just fine!

[Min 23]
Maclaren gets the ball facing our goal about 25 yards out and hits a driving shot - punched over by Action, but damn what a threat he is!

[Min 28] - GOAL! Melbourne Victory
We go up! It's been a structured game by both sides, so a bit of chaos creates the first goal. 
Troare throws in an excellent cross to the 6 yard box and Gestede just isn't quick enough to get behind the header - glancing it across the face of goal. This upsets the backline layout a bit, and McManaman picks up the scraps on the right and finds Brimmer making a run to the penalty spot. Brimmer's shot is blocked, and it falls to (you guessed it) Robbie 'frikken' Kruse, who buries it and puts us in the lead.


[Min 41]
Victory have had a few corners and most of them go towards the mountain that is Gestede. This is the best one of the half and he heads in low and forces a strong parry out of the (backup) keeper Taleb.




It's a pretty even game, with us slightly edging the stats and the scoresheet, but going off the shots alone you know we're not clear of them yet.

I've noticed what they're struggling with - it's getting out to stop Troare & Broxham. That responsibility falls to Nichols and Martins as we spoke of pre-game and they're simply not going out there. And without a designated DM to drop into the central defence line (which would free up a fullback to go challenge) or to slide over and shut down wide players, they're having trouble when our front 4 all dive into the box and they can't spare wide, defensive players. 
And because we're dominating possession, even if those guys do get wide, we just recycle and go back the other way - forcing these central attacking players to stomp out wide to do the dirty defensive duties.

I'm also seeing really good stuff from McManaman, especially his running at Jamieson. The City defender has had to make a few sliding challenges in the box and that's a 50/50 every time.

Overall, so far so good! Keep at it lads!


[Min 47]
Despite handling him so well for most of the first half, you can see Gestede getting more and more on top of the backline now. The goal was largely on him out-doing his man, and he's had a couple of headers off corners, and here Broxham throws in a high cross and the defender can't even get into a position to challenge. Unfortunately the header goes over the bar.

[Min 51]
Gestede again. This time he is backtracking to make the header and gets it down, but it goes wide of the post. Not a great chance, but we almost pulled it off - and I want to make it known just how much of a nuisance he's becoming in the centre. When you sign players from overseas this kind of 'big game' responsibility is what you hire them for.

[Min 60] - GOAL! Melbourne Victory
Penalty! Jamieson finally gets pinged for an unsafe challenge in the box. Gestede drifts out to help McManaman and the fullback just ends up body checking our man. Only just inside the box!


Brimmer is our penalties guy, and he doesn't disappoint with a safe finish in the bottom corner.

[Min 75]
City haven't been able to up the ante, and we've been keeping the same XI on the park. Obviously the longer the status quo stays, the better for us. But since the goal our opponents have made some player changes - a reshuffle at the back and taking off both Martins & Nichols - it's time we considered things.
Whiiiicccchhh.,.. for now just ends up being swapping LLL out for Kamsoba. It's important to remember what the little winger did well and did poorly. Can he pass? No. But is his slippery and will he run at tired defenders? Yes and yes. The City changes were on their left, so we'll attack the tiring right side. And we'll keep an eye on McManaman to see if he's still giving the same impact with a fresh marker on him. 
I'm 50/50 on whether to bring in a central midfielder swap to keep up with two MC swaps on the City end. We'll give it 5 more minutes.

[Min 82]
Butterfield hasn't actually had the best day, so we swap him out for Barnett.
Gestede off for Folami.
McManaman comes off as well - which gives young Lleyton Brooks his first start of the season (he actually debuted with 2 runs off the bench last season).

These changes are largely just to protect tiring players and the hopefully keep the intensity up enough to hold them off.

1894052308_210607SF1i.png.13bcda2a18b4f038d24c50ae24aba080.png Brooks is 18 and has grey hair. What is going on here?

[Min 88]
Some tired legs and we turn over the ball in midfield. City hit us on the break with a long ball to Maclaren. Anderson does just enough to stay close and make the shot difficult, but Jamie blasts it all the same. It goes over the bar, but it goes to show that this striker is still a threat.

[Min 90]
With 4 minutes of injury time looming, we sub out Traore who's got to be right up there with the most distance covered today! Nishikawa comes in and we tell him to stay back now.

[Min 91]
A foul on Folami gives Brimmer a chance to shoot from 20 yards out. The keeper parries it over, which gives us a corner to burn even more time!



And that's it! We're in the Final!

Jake Brimmer takes Player of the Match, but there were so many good things here. Ansell was rock solid and helped coax Anderson through. McManaman was back to his best, torturing the backline of City. Kruse was wedged between 5 players and was still a nuisance and managed to score - big players coming up in big moments! And I'm sure I've mentioned almost every player in the team at the moment - it's such a good feeling to win!


56 thousand fans!


Brisbane v Wellington; Semi Final

The second semi final was between two fairly evenly-matched teams. Wellington went about their passing-game business as usual, but found Brisbane to be a lot more combative in the middle. This lead to a bit of a stalemate in the first half - if 1 team edged it, it was the Nix while Jamie Young in goals for Brisbane kept them in it.

After half time, Brisbane nicked on in midfield and Joey Champness was able to skip past his man on the break and score the opener. This opened up the game a bit as well, with both sides trading shots. Eventually Brisbane hit on the break again - their top scorer Golgol Mebrahtu getting on the end of a long through ball, and late game attempts to come back through a deflected goal from Davila were quashed in the 84th minute when Brisbane won a penalty and sealed a 3-1 win - a ticket to the final!


I wouldn't say we had a preference here. Wellington probably play a brand of footy that's harder for us to break down, but at the same time I don't see them as big of a goal threat as I did Brisbane bursting forward with their quicker players.


Melbourne v Brisbane; Grand Final

There's a bit of a break between semi's and finals, but that helps us get our New Zealand internationals back. We'll both just be missing 1 Aussie "B" team player - Kirdar for us, and Courtney-Perkins for them.


Another home fixture that we're moving to Docklands Stadium. To be clear, "Docklands" is the stadium known as Marvel Stadium but obviously can't be called that in-game due to naming rights.


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26 June 2021

Melbourne Victory

It's been a fun season; a strong season; a dominant season even. But none of that matters now - it all comes down to this!


Melbourne Victory vs Brisbane Roar


I guess we are out of form if you look at our last few League matches..... But we did the job against City, so I'm not sure I believe these guys at 'GOAL'.

Role Call

We're going into the game without youngsters Barnett & Lauton. But we will have our full quota of internationals back - Rojas being the key name, but the depths of Lauton helps!

Brisbane are missing Jai Ingham (only 3 starts) and Jack Hingert. Hingert's a bit loss, but the club has picked up an established A-League name in Andrew Hoole to start at right back.

Key players to watch out for?

  • Golgol Mebrahtu: He's been their best goal scorer, and he's a physical powerhouse. Strong, tall, fast, and he bursts through the lines onto any through balls. 
  • Jay O'Shea: A bit like their Brimmer, but with more experience. He steers the ship from central midfield and is a constant threat in both passing and shooting.
  • Tom Aldred: Skipper and strong central back. Some sides just don't have a guy who can compete physically with Gestede, but Aldred might be able to.


O'Shea's season to date!


Formation-wise we keep the same strategy that's been working to-date. We welcome Shotton back into the mix. I'm finding we get more out of Kruse on the left - I think he's better terrorising the full backs than trying to tussle in congested areas with CB's and DM's, so he goes out there to run at Hoole


If it comes down to playing Kamsoba, we're really in trouble....


Match Day

This is what it's all about!



Roar are playing 4-2-3-1 like us. The main differences being O'Shea who's more of a playmaker in that space than the Shadow Striker we use. And Mebrahtu is going to chase more through balls than Gestede well!

I want Kruse to be pushing Hoole back to take away that avenue of attack and Rojas is going to be in for a bad day.




56,000 fans go wild!

Min 4 
We see the first instance of Mebrahtu rolling off Shotton and getting on the break. Ansell covers and we clear.
Straight away we're down the other end of the park putting a ball onto Gestede's head. It goes over, but both sides looking dangerous.

Min 5
Shotton plays a hospital pass to Traore and our fullback commits, but only succeeds in clashing with Kudo, earning a yellow card. 
We need to get the jitters out.

Min 19
We're starting to apply our usual possession control, but we're struggling for good opportunities. We're essentially running out of patience and firing long shots - but most just go straight into the defender. We've had a few corners & crosses, but Alred has the measure of our striker so far.
In these scenarios, at least we take solace in the fact that if they don't have the ball, there's less chances of them scoring.

Min 21
A lovely move see's Kruse cut inside and create a good angled pass which puts McManaman on goal. He can't quite shake his defender and the shot is pressured, but at least we forced a save.


It's actually really annoying that I can't draw on any of the analysis tools mid-half now.

Min 28
Brisbane get into our half and try to build an attack, but you can see that they're searching for answers. We eventually steal the ball and break through Kruse, but Hoole brings him down outside the box. The freekick is a good one and plonks on the head of Shotton, but it flies over.

Min 43
Joey Champness is causing us all sorts of grief with his pace. He bursts down the line here and throws in a low cross right in the middle of our keeper and Kudo coming in from their right. Fortunately Traore sticks a boot in and clears.


Game is getting a little choppy!

Min 45
We finally make space for a good Butterfield long drive at goal but he's just wide. It just felt really satisfying to actually get a nice shot off!


It's been a tough half. We are the better team, but we have nothing to show for it. And if you believe in xG, we should be pretty frightened by this so far.


In terms of key players playing well, it's reasonable all round. Gestede isn't winning duels against the backline, so he's coming and looking for the ball more. This has freed up Rojas a lot more than I expected and Marco is enjoying his spot. Kruse hasn't been shy coming inside either and probing the space as well. Then Brimmer & Butterfield have been gluing this whole thing together with a lot of possession and movement.

Then it's all duels:

  • Broxham / Champness. 
  • McManaman / Brown
  • Kruse / Hoole (Hoole has been subbed off for Courtney-Perkins)
  • Gestede / Aldred
  • Shotton / Mebrahtu

We're going to leave it as-is for now and see how the fatigue builds up. If either side is going to crack under tiredness, odds are it'll be the one without the ball as much!


I may have undersold just how threatening some of these Champness runs have been :D

Min 56
This has been a half stuck in midfield, but here we see a long range Butterfield effort. It goes wide and it's more a build up of frustration than anything else.

Min 61
We finally get it together and put Traore away down the left. He throws in a fantastic cross to McManaman bursting in, and it takes a good save from Young to keep the scores level.

Min 68
McManaman steals from Champness and throws in an early cross - which lets Gestede get the jump on the Brisbane backs and his glancing header goes wide. 
We're starting to see some chinks in the armour - can we get one??

Min 69
Kudo sticks in a boot and injures Traore. I don't think it was that malicious, I think Traore just wasn't quite on his game today and sometimes in FM you think players are bringing fatigue or injuries into matches even though it doesn't show it. 
We bring in Nishikawa - hasn't been a great season for the Japanese lad, but he is the left back sub. He won't be pressing on quite as much as Traore, so this may change the shape of our play a bit.
To compensate we ask Broxham to push up a bit more. 


We're not really getting ahead in the fatigue battles. We're working hard to keep our possession and they're working hard to mark tightly and chase us around.

There has to be subs soon, but both sides don't want to upset the balance right now.

Min 74
A lovely cut-back cross to Rojas see's our New Zealander get a shot off. Young keeps Brisbane in it again, though Rojas may feel he could have done better there.

Min 83
Gestede becomes the creator as he drops in to receive the ball and flicks it into the space left by his marker following him. Rojas slinks in and a quick pass to McManaman creates another great chance. Young dives to his left and parries out for a corner!



Min 84
Ok I blinked first.
Lawrie-Lattanzio for McManaman
Folami for Gestede

We don't want to go into extra time and high-pressure situations without both Kruse and McManaman, and I feel like the right winger has had chances - LLL is more naturally a striker, so if he can get into those same scenarios he might bury one of these.
Gestede had a solid game. His ratings won't show it, but he worked in the role he was there for. But my general rule is strikers is that if you've got 'x' minutes without it working, rarely can you just expect it to 'work' by just leaving them out there. Here x = 84 minutes. It's time for something else, ergo: Folami.

FULL TIME (Regular Time)

We go into Extra time now.


Here's what we've been dealing with. It's not a criticism of Brisbane - they've found a big orange bus and parked it across the middle there, and we have had no answers in 90 minutes.

Games like these you're desperate not to go to the lottery that is pens considering how on top we are.

Rojas is out on his feet, so we have to bring in newly capped Socceroo Kirdar in the Shadow Striker role. That could be a make-or-break kind of call.

Brisbane have rung in the changes:

  • Hope for O'Shea
  • McDonald for Kude
  • Wenzel-Halls for Champness
  • Kim for Jarl

This could be their best chance!


Min 95
Nishikawa has actually been playing really well since coming on. Here he is played into space on the left and whips in a good cross - it finds LLL's head and just goes over. But this kind of play is good!

Min 100
Butterfield has been the most troubling of our long range shooters and here he forces Young into another diving save, punching the ball over the bar for a corner.



Min 104
A mid-height cross comes into Folami and he chests down with his back to goal, dropping it to Kruse's feet for a low shot. We're still probing for that goal, and maybe chances are coming by a bit easier now?

Min 110
It's taken a while, but we finally get one of those plays where LLL gets outside his man and blasts a shot. It's definitely more fierce than the McManaman ones, but Jamie Young is on fire today and saves again!


FULL TIME (Extra Time)

Oh boy, we did not want to be here....

This is a rare opportunity to show off how good we look on paper when it comes to pens.



Let's take a breath. 
Everyone has their own opinions when it comes to penalties. Do you lean on experience or youth? Can you have specialist shooters? Which slots do you put your best shooters in?

Here's my personal set of rules:

  1. Best taker goes first every time.
  2. 4th shooter is 2nd most important - that's often where the real 'miss and we lose' pressure comes in.
  3. 5th shooter - I want to lean on experience even if it's a weaker shot.

That means we're going with:

Brimmer >> Kruse >> Lawrie-Lattanzio >> Butterfield >> Shotton

This way we have good shooters in the top 3 and guys with better composure taking the 4th and 5th pens.
At the end of the day, if it doesn't work I won't tear up my notes on how to make a shoot-out sequence. Pens are a lottery and the best you can do is try for some good tickets.


Annnnd last thing before we wrap this! I like the options here. Despite my 'lottery' comments, I think back to our mission statement right at the start of this thread. Playing with Melbourne Victory wasn't as much about winning trophies as it was creating a culture... maybe re-creating it. So I'm going to put my hands on hips and tell them they could be heroes. Go get em boys!!


Round 1

Brimmer: Misses the target completely!
McDonald: Slots how a lot show to the keepers right.

Round 2

Kruse: Classic finish into the inside, side netting.
Mebrahtu: Steady and strong - drives low to the keepers left.

Round 3

Lawrie-Lottanzio: Keeper predicts correctly, but the shot is nicely tucked underneath his dive.
Aldred: Places it into the low corner, out of reach for Acton.

Round 4

Butterfield: Comfortable goal, shooting down the centre while the keeper moves.
Hope: Fires wide! We're back in it!

Round 5

Shotton: Heart in mouth stuff as his shot hits the post. But it's perfectly hit and bounces off the inside of the post and into the back of the net. No saving this!
Courtney-Perkins: Acton picks the right way, but the shot is too powerful into the corner. 4-4.

Round 6

Broxham: Fools the keeper and casually flicks the ball into the opposite side of the goal. Spends just a little too long standing there celebrating and taunting the keeper!
Gillesphey: Big left foot hook into the right side (his right) of the goal, fooling Acton.

Round 7

Folami: Goes to the keepers left and SAVED!! Young too good and the shot not hit with the kind of confident menace required.
Wenzell-Halls: Striker steps up and hits hard and high and there's no saving that, BRISBANE HAVE WON!!!



Post Match

Phew, that's hard to take. I won't break it down too much - you can tell in the play-by-play that we were gunning for them all match long. But Brisbane were a good side, they were defensively strong all season and they have been able to grind out results on the back of this kind of play. No problems with them doing what they needed to win.

Congratulations Brisbane Roar!




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Good Season, but for penalties :(

You’re the best team all season and penalties are the what defines the season :stop:

Looking forward to what happens with your squad for next season.

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Unlucky, but great season for Victory (unlike in real life - at least they were great in the W-League).

Went to watch us lose against City 6-0 in one of the derbies. That was enough for me this season :lol:

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Heh, I remember going to watch Victory play Roar up here in QLD - and we put a few goals away thinking 'wow Brisbane are red hot now'... but alas it was more the other way.

I think a lot of the country probably started enjoying Victory struggle. But I also feel like a lot of the country now seems to have a lot of sympathy and understanding that it's a tough road ahead.

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I do too. He may not be the most liked guy, but he has a record of good results here. Some of the signings are pretty handy. Ikonomidis is going to rock this season, I know it.

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Posted (edited)

30 June 2021

Melbourne Victory - End of Season Wrap

I feel like we'll do this to close out the season, then 1 to set up for pre-season next go around, and 1 post in between those two which will be a little different.


A valiant effort, foiled at the last step. We battled to come first in the League as opposed to truly dominating, and unfortunately that little lack of extra flair cost us in the Final.
Ultimately we'll go home disappointed, but it's always about perspective. I can pinpoint 2 things that let us be proud:

  1. The club came 2nd last the season prior. I know we stepped from Real Life to Football Manager Life (FML?) during that time, but it's still a positive move for the club.
  2. We took what was available and largely made it work. We didn't bring in any of our own transfers or make major signings. We just worked it. And we did pretty well!

If there's something to keep us keen next season, it's the desire to do better. It's the desire to really tighten up at the back and to find a way to dominate teams. Not for every match of course - but often enough that we feel a lot more exciting to watch.


Managerial Awards

I would love to get upset over this, but at the end of the day Warren brought his side home.


And yeah, that Wellington coach is named "oooh-foook talay".


Squad Review

In broad strokes we were definitely a controlling side more than we were a commanding side. Our attack was persistent enough to make it work and we pushed our opponents to stay focused for 90 minutes every game to keep us out. I think there's a lot of pride to be had in just how hard-working we were to keep up that kind of intensity over time. 

On the flipside we just weren't quite there with everything else. For a side running the highest possession in the competition we probably should have bumped in a few extra goals. I think our high possession probably masked some of our defensive weaknesses as well.


Everything we look at tells us we're nearly there, not withstanding the Final result. For example we had the most shots this season, but we were 9th in the %age shots on target metric. We were effective at forcing turnovers overall, but we didn't make too many tackles. We scored the most goals too - but we conceded a dozen more than the best defensive record (which was Brisbane for what it's worth).

That translates to the players as well. Gestede was good in shaping how we played for example - we couldn't pull off the Target Man approach without him doing it - but he wasn't exactly a goal (6) or assist (2) king. Similarly, Kruse took our golden boot (8 goals from 26) but he, McManaman (7 from 28) and Rojas (3 from 24) weren't really the supreme attackers we'd hoped for. We were lucky we got some support from around the team for scoring, and there was some great support from the flanks - especially Traore and his 7 assists. 
Quick mention to Acton who was solid but unremarkable.



Player Review

I won't linger too long on player's as we risk being a broken record. But the top and bottom two:

1. Jake Brimmer
He started outside the squad, with our belief that it was more important to get Broxham in midfield and our 3 AM's all on the park together. In a way, I'm glad that we had to change that mentality (for other reasons) and we let Jake show us what he's capable of. The guy kept getting better and better. Did a lot of his goals come from dead ball situations? Yes they did! But that's only a strength in my opinion - being a set piece guy is another feather in his cap. 

The lad is 23 years old and improving all the way.



2. Nick Ansell
I won't lie; I went into this season with the feeling of "We've got Shotton, and at least we've got a bit of a filler DC back there." I thought I'd seen it all before - a fringe level player who had already peaked at age 27, and through circumstance ended up one of the only two centre backs at the club older than 21. I thought Ryan would out grow him in a hurry. 

And I'm happy I was wrong! He did his job expertly, reliably, and he was every bit as strong as his partner-in-crime back there. It's not just the tackling and heading, it's challenging off set pieces, it's helping with our possession game, it's finding ways to snuff out the pacey strikers that look to hit us on the break - Nick was fantastic!





At the other end of the scale, you know who's coming...


1. Storm Roux
It's hard for me because I went into this save with a bias against Storm, much like my bias against Ansell. I figured they were fringe players - Storm had been particularly recyclable - and were a big part of the problems Victory were facing with identity and with getting back on their feet. Storm came in at age 27, after 5 full seasons at one of the worst clubs in the A-League (CCM) during that time. He wasn't the kind of player who would turn Victory's fortunes around.

But I want to say I gave him a go. He had 10 starts and while the in-game stats say he only made 1 mistake that lead to a goal, I'm sure there were countless others that put us under pressure. 

2. Minimum Crocombe
(oh come on! I waited all season to make that joke!)
Much like Roux, I had bias here. Crocombe was one of those players that came back to Australia after time in England/Europe, and you were never quite sure if he was well-trained and a cut-above down here, or if the reason he came back is because he was terrible. Max's first season was the one prior - playing at Brisbane Roar - and he lasted 6 matches and was benched indefinitely.

Much like my comments with Roux, it's not the kind of player you sign at Victory to revive your club. You either sign big, or reach into the bucket for someone new in the hopes that they'll surprise you and elevate your club. 



Transfers Review

Update on where I think we landed with the transfers. Not a lot of changes since I last shared this - but I feel like Cal McManaman came up enough in my match reviews (I know this because I can never type his name correctly on the first attempt!) to get a slight boost to on-par with what we expect. Maybe that's wishful thinking, because I already promised him a new contract at EoS :D



Club Review

Didn't expect to see anything in this space - but here we are:


There's no pressure anywhere to make a sale I don't think. We've been pretty conservative with our money; we were well under wage budget and salary cap, and we've been doing well, keeping the crowds high and making big money in the Finals Series matches. So there's no financial pressure. Results are solid. Club is reviving. I'm not saying we won't sell - I tend to find rumours like these always lead to actual club sales in the end - but I could see us going on without it.

Edited by Butlee
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An A-League Preview Season - Melbourne Victory

I hope you guys enjoyed that. I didn't quite get into character as much as I wanted, but it was a fun season. I haven't played in Australia for a couple of FM's, so it's nice to come back and play. 

The cool thing about the A-League is that the first season you don't get much room to wiggle the squad, but because of the Salary Cap, any club you pick up can probably win it. Melbourne probably didn't show that off very well, since they had a lot of talented players who were underperforming - but I'll wager you could pick up any club and fight for the top. We saw Brisbane can do it - especially with the way Mebrahtu gets going. We saw plenty for Wellington. A couple of sides are stacked with older players and could get through a season here... maybe the only sides that would be a struggle in the first season are Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners - though CCM's young striker Kuol won the Young Player of the Season Award, so there's hope there.


He scored more than anyone in our team - you could definitely work something around him and the talents of Da Silva!


Over time an A-League save doesn't see your club progress onwards and upwards. The Salary Cap & Registration rules make it a challenge to even stay at the same level, and even moreso to try and fine tune the squad to get (and keep) the right talents in the right places. We haven't encountered that a lot (yet), but we did speak about making changes to Overseas squad slots, Marquee signings and discussed a LOT about how old players were and how sustainable it would be to have a lot of the older guard return.

My point is that I think the A-League is at it's most fun in FM when it's essentially a challenge run - you pick up whatever pieces are there and you just have to make it work!


Dirty Laundry

With the above in mind, I tried really hard to focus on the positives this season. I really wanted to give everyone an unbiased chance to appreciate if the A-League gave them something they could try and enjoy.

But there's a reality that A-League saves can be really disappointing - and it's not based on anything you do.

On top of that, FM isn't a perfect game. It's great - don't get me wrong - but we can't pretend to be happy with all the things that hamper & hinder our experience. Like everyone who plays FM, I have my own laundry list of things that I would like to see improved.

Point being: Season 2 is going to be a different story. We're going to walk the line of A-League cheese (I'll be clear when and how), and we're going to spend more time talking about some of the things that come up that aren't appealing FM features.


Personal Reflection

While we're talking about what the story looks like, I wanted to take a moment to explain how this save in Australia is a little 'lite' compared to what I'd normally want to present. I think knowing that I'm not committing to a long-term save here has meant I've foregone a few things I usually pay attention to, and I've skipped a few of the things I'd sketch up or track that help me supplement the FM-screenshots when writing up these posts.


Random example of something I was putting together for a while - trying to measure where we were effective.

I'm just weary of dropping FM copy-paste screenshot after screenshot. There are other people who are better at keeping those kind of stories funny and interesting in between the info-drops. I want my stories to be interesting to read, as well as view through the graphics. And I hope everyone can learn too - if not learning to be a better manager, just learning about the clubs we're working on, or some finding some interesting, fresh ideas on how to think about certain things (even if they don't help you personally, if you just find them curious that's good enough!).

So the plan is to run Melbourne out as long as I feel it's competitive and has something interesting to offer - but that's unlikely to be 2 more seasons. Then we'll find somewhere to commit long-term (FM22 pending?).



[FM Pains] Club Vision

(this is 'version #2' of this section, because I wrote myself up into a rant, lol)

To generalise, one thing that I'd like to see more work done with in FM is the Manager-to-Board relationship. We spend so much time dealing with the Manager-to-Player relationships which primarily service the players, but we spend scant little time dealing with relationships and conversations that would help us, the Football Manager.


I opened up this random save state I had at Lincoln. We'd just promoted to English Championships and this was in mid-September. How is the Board expecting us to play attacking, possession, high-pressing football with a lot of players from our youth when we're expected to only fight bravely against relegation? 


A prime example is signing a new contract. The Board will basically not budget on price and length of contract, and won't offer you incentives to try and lure you in. If you try to lock in incentives or making your own contract length non-negotiable, the contracts offer start to get wild - like you'll be offered a quarter of the wages (less than you have now) if you want to have 1 season more or 1 season less than they mandate.
Similarly, the introduction of Club Vision took away the ability to bargain during your contract negotiation - after you've signed for the club, your only bargaining point is when you sign a new contract, and you can't even ask for stuff now.

A lot of this comes to a head with Club Vision. There are all kinds of little issues that build into a larger issue for me. The categories of the targets, the flippant nature of the Board on what priorities are, and despite you theoretically being able to negotiate the club vision, the Board never budges. And if you disagree with their vision - they eventually force you onto it anyway, and your only retort is to quit and and suffer a reputation drop.

Anyway, let's stay on target. I didn't get any notes that I'd passed or completed any of these by the way. I just got a new Club Vision mandate:


My list of issues:

1. The '5 year plan' of maintaining ourselves as the most reputable team in Australia just vanished. So it can't have been too much of a core part of our identity or plan then?

2. After being runner up in the GF, there's no higher expectation from the league and no expectation for the Finals Series.

3. Our club culture changed. I just don't like the way it's phrased as "club culture" - that makes it feel like these are the very tenants your club are based upon, and they change every season.

4. The combination of Club Culture items doesn't always fit or seem appropriate either. What if I spent a considerable part of last season developing young players from Melbourne, only to now get an objective to sign players who are U23? How do I do both? What do I do with those younger players I was developing? 

5. We were the best team all season after many terrible seasons, aside from 1 match, and my performance is basically 'barely above passable'.

6. Granted we lost the Grand Final, but it's such a big performance loss (A- to C+)?
This is a huge concern for me - not just for the Melbourne save. This manager performance is linked to how willing the Board is to agree to your requests, give you a new contract, and how other clubs see you going when assessing if they want to offer you a contract. For them to just wipe out your previous accomplishments in a reset, and/or change the goal posts to have more stuff (watering down the good stuff you've already achieved) just artificially lowers the score and has an active impact on you as the manager. 

The main problem is that you have no input when any of this stuff happens. I've had a Board slash my wage budget mid-season, then I've been tagged for my entire 20 year career as 'does not handle wage budgets well'. 

Overall it needs to be more fleshed out and more of a negotiation between manager and Board. The Board can still play the hardline - they're paying for the services - but I'm sure a Board would come to the table and discuss things more often with the manager, rather than just give him a mandate each season!


[FM Solutions] Club Vision

I don't like to complain without at least offering something in return.

My solution would be to re-cut the Club Vision into 4 categories. Take all the things that can possibly be an objective currently, add more into the pile, and then allocate them to one of these 4 sections:

  1. Club Culture (the core of what makes your club tick and what the Board wants to be part of your core)
  2. Performance (targets in competitions, most play styles, whatever else)
  3. Recruitment (outline the flow of transfers out and signings in)
  4. Board Contributions / Promises (a list of things the Board is looking to do to ensure this works)

Playstyle - entertaining, attacking, set pieces, whatever - can go in culture or performance. It's up to the Board/Manager to decide what's just something to try (ie, play attacking football if you're looking for promotion, but it's not neccessarily part of the lifeblood of the club - it's just a performacne target), or what's an aethetic that's stamped on the club's history.


Something like that keeps most of the concepts in tact: it paints a better picture of what you should be aiming it, it's easy to understand, and the timeframe approach makes it less like a 'bottom-up' roadmap and more like a 'top-down' target.

Then you need to make it so that things don't leave this page without a conversation between the Board & the Manager. The Manager has to have input on if/why things should be changed. As mentioned before - if the Board wants to enforce a change that's ok - but you have to at least give the manager a chance to leverage his goodwill against this. The point isn't to largely let the Manager dictate what's going on (unless he's truly earned that right), but to at least encourage the Board to be a little flexible.


"Ok you want to set the performance targets higher, well I need you to promise me more coaching resources, or let me handle recruitment my way a bit more."

The Board Contributions/Promises are really important as well. There simply has to be more of a mechanism in the game where the Board can realise that it's making the targets more difficult. The idea with this section is that if the Board wants to remove an item or fails to make one, it triggers a conversation with the manager - one that lets him quit without a reputation loss.
And this whole Club Vision complaint isn't just to give the Manager a big safety net. It's about being realistic. If a manager really wants a job, he'll not care if the Board breaks a promise. If the manager is high enough reputation, he won't consider working for the Board unless they make (and then meet) their promises. That's just modern football. 

And there's no reason a Board - if they see themselves in the position of strength - can just refuse to make promises. That should be an option too. 


And overall the best part is to think up a bunch of other new things that fit within that model. I think a second pass at adding options could come up with some really creative ideas!

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17 hours ago, ITFC_Blue said:

Great work Butlee. I'm currently in the middle of a long term (and successful) save with Melbourne City. 

Did you sell all your kids to Manchester? :D

Can you get Arzani back on loan!?

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An A-League Preview Season - Melbourne Victory (part 2)

Ok let's get back to the A-League for some specific grievances. The biggest nuisance with an A-League save is where the AI can't quite manage the Salary Cap properly. And because of the rules surrounding the squad registration, it leads to complications on player contracts and teams digging themselves into a financial hole... or as I like to call it an implosion!

Club Implosions - Wha!?

Basically a club will want to make signings, and in trying to do so, it can't understand the impact of signing a new player on the Salary Cap & Registration rules. Whether that's signing too many players to register or blowing all the salary cap on too few players, before realising they hadn't registered all their current players and in doing that it would put them well over the salary cap.

Club Implosions - How!?

Mechanically what happens is that every new signings forces you to lock in your registration. It's not great, and I'm not 100% sure why it's like that - possibly to ensure you can't just sign a whole bunch of players who you've got no chance of getting in under the salary cap (without realising) - but it creates a HUGE problem when trying to manoeuvre players in and out of your club. 

So a club signs a new player and immediately has to decide what to do with all it's existing players. They tend to do a really bad job at assessing what their 23 man squad is going to be like, and they de-register any players they dub to not be in their plans.
Any who get de-registered because of this, are instantly made free agents. I believe any player fired this way will also still contribute to 'wage budget utilised' for the club - so you can't just use this to get free contract-breaks. 


This 1 little free signing can trigger a squad registration submission and start to destroy a club.

Club Implosions - Why?

It's hard to tell exactly what sets things off. I think the underlying issue is a mismatch in reputations between clubs and players. So a club will immediately feel like it's got less-than-appropriate reputable players, and start engaging new signings more aligned with their status. Then, as those new players arrive, they deregister everyone who's not at the right rep or level. But because they can't foresee the pain that puts on their salary cap - it only restricts them from making many further signings. 

Club Implosions - The Aftermath

Before we get too deep into it, let's remember that these squads are the "European Summer Update" squads. They are packed out with the very real squads the A-League sides used. In such a tightly-wrapped league with registration rules and a salary cap, there almost shouldn't be any movement on the transfers side. There definitely shouldn't be mass turnovers.

It's easier to understand if you see it.


Our save starts on 7/12/2020.

If we start by looking on the right, and thinking about the first screenshot I used in this thread - 22yr old GK Max Davidson was signed for Adelaide as a Free Agent. Why? Because their starting options looked like this:


In this scenario it's safe to say the trigger was thinking that Max Davidson was a better keeper than Delianov. And it doesn't matter if that's true or not - just that the AI thought it was true and acted... after all...Max was a Free Agent - how much damage could it possibly do!?

And that forces a super-early lock of registrations, and the AI quickly punts all the not-quite-good-enough players who are sitting around on senior contracts. Since the registration is instant, there's no room to go back and move the players to NPL or secure loans or sell players. They just get kicked from the team. You lose all that money from your salary cap allowance. Then you can't find ample replacements.

As you can see above, it destroyed both clubs' seasons.


Club Implosions - Widespread implications

It's not every club that implodes all the time. It's usually 1-2 per season though, and eventually everyone implodes. Regardless of if you're the side going through the change or not, every club is impacted because it heavily changes the player availability around the place. Even if you're not suddenly able to find easy, decent, free agents all over the place, imagine trying to sell a player around that quality - his value is going down because of the free agents!

Overall that kind of makes it too easy to build a good team. If you just stick around and wait for the implosions, you can build up a great squad over time and just manage it properly.


I don't even know what's happened here to have guys who were recently starters, now being de-registered.



Scholarship Contracts

Ok, last thing and then we'll get back to the save.

There are these things in Aussie footy called Scholarship Contracts. Basically it's another bracket of Youth Contract. Or, it's a Full Time Contract with a maximum wage. 

These arose out of necessity, as young players couldn't sustain themselves on Youth Contract wages, and would leave at the first chance of earning some more money - often at semi-pro NPL clubs for example. But Scholarship contracts allowed A-League clubs to retain these players. And they are even allowed to play in the A-League unregistered like a Youth Contracted player would. It essentially allows the player to earn reasonable money into their adulthood while they fight to try and earn a Full Time Senior contract.


Long story short - Scholarship contracts in FM are broken. They are seen as senior contracts, so they need to be registered, but they can't be registered. So the players can't play. So as a Youth Contract they can freely play for your Seniors, but as soon as they're a Scholarship option you can't register them. You need to ship them into youths, NPL, or away on loan. At least they don't get auto-kicked when you don't register them (because it's the 'deregister' that fires players, but these contracts are never registered to begin with!).


 Here you can see me trying to register players. Youth Contracted guys and Full Time Contracts - no worries. All the scholarship guys? Not Applicable!


See the trick is that you can get beyond the 23-man squad cap if you can find good scholarship players, or you're willing to give a scholarship deal to players who are near and/or growing into top flight players. But unfortunately in FM it's not an option. It's not completely crippling - as you'd see from our Melbourne save - but it's a shame you can't utilise this little something extra in your saves.


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2 hours ago, Butlee said:

Did you sell all your kids to Manchester? :D

Can you get Arzani back on loan!?

 I haven't, no, ha! Managed to sign Cole Palmer on loan for 6 years, but he ended up signing for Celtic when his contract ended, couldn't have been anymore gutted.

Yes, I originally had him on loan, then managed to sign him permanently once his contract ran out as well. Has been so good for me!


I'm 7 seasons in, and still struggling with the rules etc, but getting there slowly! 

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4 hours ago, Butlee said:

The Board Contributions/Promises are really important as well. There simply has to be more of a mechanism in the game where the Board can realise that it's making the targets more difficult. The idea with this section is that if the Board wants to remove an item or fails to make one, it triggers a conversation with the manager - one that lets him quit without a reputation loss.
And this whole Club Vision complaint isn't just to give the Manager a big safety net. It's about being realistic. If a manager really wants a job, he'll not care if the Board breaks a promise. If the manager is high enough reputation, he won't consider working for the Board unless they make (and then meet) their promises. That's just modern football. 

And there's no reason a Board - if they see themselves in the position of strength - can just refuse to make promises. That should be an option too. 


You could include promises to players when selling (like Kane or Suarez), and include a section in players with their contract (board promises, contract clauses) as well. Can you imagine the chaos :D :lock:

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1 July 2021

Melbourne Victory - Pre-Season (The BIG transfers chat)

Ok I've had a few days to recover (mentally). 

Actually it's the big chat about transfers, not the chat about big transfers.... maybe.

Building a 2nd Season Squad - General thoughts

The core of the squad is obviously fairly good for the league here, but we still want to improve. These things are always a bit of give-and-take in the A-League, so it'll be all about what we lose versus what we can pick up. And we then just hope that what we pick up (ie, in transfers) ends up better going forward. The major part of our transfer window (and any transfer window Down Under I guess) is what you do with your big guns - who do you keep, who can you get?

Trouble is, you also don't want to get too focused on assessing every potential signing 1-for-1 with every player you've let go as you'll make changes to the squad balance, and that comparison won't be fair. For example if Marquee-man Kruse leaves, do we bring in a new Marquee winger? Maybe we're happy with overseas slotted Rojas & McManaman and we invest in a striker or a defender instead? It wouldn't be fair to then say the new winger signing (who's only a reserve now since we changed the balance/formation) isn't as good as Kruse was.

Regardless of the skills balance, we should end up with a similar number of players in roles. I've been digging through some of my old spreadsheets* and have found a neat way to represent the squad:

*One of my goals with these threads is to collate 5-8 years of spreadsheet-taking and combine the good stuff into 1 proper toolkit!


If I had to pick 2 broad areas to improve, I'd say they are in depth and in creativity.

We're going to have some added pressure this season - possibly some cup football - and there's an Asian Champions League that I haven't gone into too much, but probably should talk about soon.

And the main tactical challenge we had - highlighted massively by how the Grand Final played out - it's that we were solid, we were athletic, we worked hard and attacked hard... but we weren't that creative. We didn't have the stars that could do something unexpected and break a tough defence. Happened a few times during the season and we sort of just out-muscled everyone to get through it. But we can do better!


Losing the Three Amigos

I've been thinking about the squad, the players, the re-signs and the releases etc... since a few months back and I always got stuck on the same 3 players. Gestede, Shotton and Kruse were all playing really well - large parts of our strategy was build around their specific strengths (Gestede a huge target man who likes to come get the ball, Shotton a ball-playing defender, Kruse a slippery player who doesn't give the ball up easily).

I left the final call right up until the point where we won the League plate in mid-May with just a few league games to go. It was time for all 3 to go. 


You can see the concern (and how I forgot to switch back to Aussie dollarydoo's for this screenshot!) with having 3 players we were relying on, all >32 and declining. Could they get through 1 season as strongly as this one? Maybe? But if so much of our resources is dropped into keeping all 3 players, where are we finding the players to improve the squad and to grow to offset their decline? Without a marquee slot and 2 of our VISA spots, where are we going to attract players from??

Suffice to say, since then they have proven this to be the right call:


Keep in mind that they never stopped playing footy between May & 1 July. We only finished the final 5 days ago. If these latest drops are because they're on holidays now - they aren't going to recover that back..


Exit Interviews

You already know who's on the list here, but let's boo 1 last time at Kamsoba, Crocombe & Roux - 3 of our 4 worst rated players.


And then we say goodbye to Ryan & Folami, the former who was really poor and the latter who had his moments, but secured a transfer to Seongnam in the K-League before we could decide if we wanted to try keep him on.


Freedom For Forming Formations

That's 8 players leaving and suddenly we felt like we had a very skinny 14-man squad. Some of our key roles were no longer filled and the core that we built last season around was not really full anymore.

Silver-lining approach though; we have the chance to re-define how we play first - and then we can build into that with the signings we make.

You might recall that the initial plan was to play more of a 4-3-3. The trouble was that our attacking talent was in 3 AM's - all of which were mostly wingers with limited central capacity. We made it work - and I think having Gestede helped make that 4-2-3-1 formation successful - but I've always had my eye on a 4-3-3 strategy. I just feel like an anchor in midfield allows so much more freedom, especially if you've been a strong possession team and you just need to create more angles with your passing.


Through that lens, the concept doesn't seem too bad. In our case the anchor in midfield doesn't have to be a playmaker - he allows the other MC's a chance to get forward and roam a bit to find themselves good angles to make plays in.

And having the security of deeper central player means you can really commit to fullback/wingback roles - when you have someone like Traore leading your assists, you want to encourage him to burst forward with less worry about not being covered at the back.

That in mind, here's how we visualised what players needed to be signed:


With the formation change we needed to ensure we picked up more midfielders, though knowing how reliable Broxham, Butterfield & Brimmer are we didn't want to overpopulate that area in the squad. Kirdar is fresh off the back of some international footy so he's probably ready for more match time and so we really just need more coverage there. At the back we have Ansell and Traore as locks, so we want to find players for the other roles, not ones to compete with them for a Start.

Up front on the other hand - with youth in this space and Rojas/McManaman getting near 30, we just want to make sure we have options. This is the creative, attacking passion of the side and we need to be able to use subs for fresh legs, subs for new ideas, subs who bring us something different! We need options!


First Signing, Early Signing

Our first new signing for this season was really early on. If you imagine the way the A-League season was bent out of shape with the December start, you could begin approaching players within the first couple of months of the season.
I was not initially enamoured with Broxham and with him hitting 33 in January and not being the fittest or fastest already, I basically expected him to drop off. Which meant we needed cover. Also with Shotton in his 30's and not knowing that Ansell would really make that spot his own, we were looking for any kind of cover out there.

So without further ado, let's welcome Oz Mate's first ever signing - Joshua Laws!


He's a signing that looks better and better with age. With Broxham playing as a fullback a lot Laws can always slot in at DM. He's also not a bad option as a centre back - and if I'm looking for some progressive thinking on how to make us attack better - having another Ballplaying Defender option at DC may be a good tactic.

But most of all you have to consider how Wellington played their 2x DM passing tactics. I was careful not to be too obvious before, but Laws was absolutely pivotal to their passing game. He'll clock up pass after pass after pass if you sit him in that anchor role. And that's what we want - a long term Broxham utility replacement, who's comfortable doing the dirty work and moving the ball around.


A Recycling Initiative

I may have been too harsh on the concept of player recycling in the A-League when I first brought it up. For starters, a signing like Laws - that's more the top team in the league poaching a good player that Wellington probably would have wanted to keep. Also there's a fine line between giving a good player who's out of contract a new home and a wage that's befitting his skills, and giving a poor player another go (often instead of trying someone younger and/or new) when he's clearly not up to standard. Obviously every club wants to think that they're doing the former - one man's trash is another's treasure - so what determines if it's true? Or if it's a bad case of recycling for recycling's sake? 

And honestly, the answer is if it pays off. Where's the fine line between genius and insanity? If you're right! As a football manager, you may make dozens of decisions every day - what determines if you're a master or a madman? Results.


Either way, here's an update on our efforts to sign recycled players, but honestly only the good kind and definitely not the bad kind!

Red defines the ones I don't think we can get and why.

A honestly only the good kind and definitely not the bad kind of Recycling signing

The reason for reviving that chart is that we managed to find our 2nd signing for this season from there - Aleksandar Susnjar!

After seeing how well Ansell did as an Aussie central defender, Susnjar soon stood out on the radar as a possible pairing for him. It was part of the reason we were more comfortable letting Shotton go - we see it as not losing too much, but gaining a VISA signing spot back! And when you put the numbers together between them and take out the attributes that neither of them will use - it's not the worst tradeoff.


I tend to always believe that if you sign a player and get them in the right environment and give them game time - they'll always have room for a tiny little more growth than when they were with another club. If that's the case, Aleksandar will be pretty close to Shotton in no time! 

I don't know that much about Susnjar's history. He played in a LOT of different leagues in Europe, but none of the wealthy ones - Serbia, Lithuania, Romania, Czech Republic & Slovakia. He first really showed up on the radar here when we got a new Socceroo's coach who reached out and gave him his debut in March 2018. I'd say it came from nowhere, but I actually think he was playing in the Aussie U23's and this would have been just as he was becoming too old for that squad - I guess giving him a chance in the Senior Squad was the next logical step at the time.


Sadly we didn't have a good World Cup and we picked up another new coach directly after and Alek kind of fell off the National radar. Come the end of 2019 he signed for Macarthur's first season, but because of Covid and the delayed start he didn't actually play any professional football between November 2019 and December 2020. Macarthur (2nd last) had a terrible season, but at least Susnjar was getting football again. He'll be looking to prove himself in a better team (us!) and to fight for an Aussie berth again.


What is Cheese?


I will bet that of all the things you thought you might see when you opened this thread, faded, vague pictures of cheese was not one of them.

I mentioned that we walk the line of some cheesy work in the transfer market this season. The first season we steered well away from taking an advantage off the imploding sides. We didn't try anything manipulative to sign players to trick the registration or salary cap rules. We really played it straight. For our next new signing, Perth have released an older player - it's hard to say if they'd have released him if they hadn't already capitulated and/or finished 10th in the comp.

But that's the line we walk - are we capitalising off the capitulations, or are we watching perfectly normal releasing of older names after a tough season, to make way for the younglings?


What is a Star?

I'd define A-League 'stars' as the players who will never be without a club while they're here. Every club has had them over the years - usually players who are just at the right place in their career where they're still notably better than most in the competition, but also aren't looking for a run back overseas to 'step up' their career.

The most memorable star from Perth over the past 7 years has now been released; and we've rushed to pick him up - welcome Diego Castro!


I don't usually just drop the player card like this, but you have to see it to believe it. He's 39 tomorrow, and yet he's still fit enough to get through games and he's still an immense talent for this league! 

We really are lucky here, as he wasn't looking for much in wages - he just wanted a place to keep playing. Even if he struggles to stay fit, for that wage whenever we can use him is a nice little bonus. 
And we don't really even have a plan for using him. He could fit into the 4-2-3-1 we played last season at AMC, he could fight with Rojas on the left... imagine him as a cutting-in AML with Traore storming forward to overlap! I could also see him playing more like an MC on attack and pushing on like that! He's just got such good overall skill that wherever he is, we'll make it work!




Confession time.
Last season I applied the full cheese by using scholarship contracts at the club to sign up young talent that was released by their clubs. The logic was pretty simple - I don't want to cheese the first season. Since Scholarship contracts will keep them happily paid without impacting our salary cap, and the nature of scholarship contracts in FM will mean they know they'll be signing up to play Youth/NPL games, I can essentially keep them training for a year and decide later if I upgrade them to a Senior contract.


So we snapped up these 5 guys. You may recognise some of the names - I likely had them on trial when I was showing off those big lists of trials & when I was showing off how scholarship contracts can't be registered - you could see them all there. 3 from Adelaide, 1 from Perth, 1 from Sydney FC.
While we may not have secured all of them had it not been for the implosion(s), I'd wager it's reasonable to suggest that we would have been able to secure/poach 1-2 young players from around the A-League - if for no other reason that we're the biggest club in the country and can throw our reputation around a bit like that. It's much like our signing of Laws - he saw the chance to get to Melbourne and he took it!

To that end I think I'm going to promote 2 of the 5 to Senior contracts this season. It seems a fair compromise rather than promoting all 5 and having some of the best youths going. 

But which 2? Well that is a tough one.


Promotion Ideas



Dukuly is probably the best player right at this moment. He's your typical winger - pacey, moves well, and likes to take on his man and throws in crosses. He doesn't have the polish of a senior player like Rojas, but none of these guys will.
Wood is the other one who, if we're only considering who would give the best immediate impact, should be picked 2nd. I wouldn't ask the kid to lead our line as a striker, but he's a tiny poacher/pressing forward who works hard and likes to dribble past players. Actually really good movement and scored plenty last season.
From there it gets tough. Walsh is off pace, and Popovic is probably the least athletic overall. He's quick enough, but not as strong or agile and I'm worried that defenders will dominate him up top, whereas Wood is much more aggressive and brave and will battle with defenders.

Then there's the youngest of the bunch, Mo Toure. I've spoken about his brother Al Hasan before and they're both the same in that the ceiling for their potential is so much higher. Toure's the quickest and the best mover and probably the best finisher. The challenge is that he's still developing - right now Wood makes up for any shortcomings by being a hard worker, whereas Toure has (imo) more natural talent.


That's the sort of exciting talent we're talking about. If we take that pace, movement and he's improving in anticipation - that's already a dynamic sub to bring on to find space create chances for himself. He's got the finishing in him and he's still improving.

The other challenge to the decision if where do we need players? If Rojas is a left winger, Castro is a left winger and Dukuly is only a left footed winger - do we need all 3? Do we repurpose Castro and let Dukuly be Rojas' deputy? 
Do we back any of the 3 strikers (Popovic, Wood, Toure) to play as attacking wingers instead? Do we trust any of them to start matches? Last season Folami & LLL had 6 starts between them which is 1/4 of the league season... so we may well need impactful players who can handle a Starting berth.

We can wait on the final decision, so no rush at the moment. The players are technically on a full time contract so they won't run off to other clubs. 

One my recycle for the road

Knowing that Roux was going, I found another player who was released at EoS like Castro, and decided to pick him. Please welcome our next signing - Harry Van Der Saag!

He's a right back - remember at the start of the season where I was using my player searches to find right backs to replace Roux? I found Harry then - he was playing for Sydney and then eventually loaned him to Perth. 
I want to just throw up this FM graphic verbatim, because it's a really cool page with all the things I want to talk about.



The main drivers for signing Harry over re-signing Storm, is that he's 7 and a half years young, he only wants about half the pay and he's close enough in overall skill that we probably wouldn't notice. So where Roux felt like an expensive, senior player sitting around not contributing, at least Van Der Saag will feel like a player with some growth in him, who's cheap and *might* even step up in ways Roux did not. And if we find that he's no better than our current option, at least he's cheap! haha.

Balance & Squad Gaps

The Van Der Saag signing is another one of those ones that I put down to changing squad balance. If we said that last season Broxham was our veteran right back and Roux was a senior player as backup - well now we're most likely looking at Broxham or another Senior player coming in as the right back and Van Der Saag as a young supporting player. The dynamics/balance of options in that position have changed, and we can repurpose some of that money to other areas.

It's a similar idea with the central defenders. With Shotton going, it's possible we're a bit weaker with Susnjar coming in, but we're covering that by playing a full time DM and signing Laws to ensure he or Broxham will always be a reliable anchor man there to help support the DC's. In return, we're not as pressured to replace Kruse 1-for-1 (because that role on the field is non-existant in our formation now)... but we have free'd up a marquee, overseas signing spot for...... well the open positions are right back and striker.... pop quiz - which do you think it'll be!? :D


That's where we stand. There's still a bit of work to do - I know we've covered a handful of players out & in and it feels like it's going at a frenetic pace! But a lot of those signings have been brewing over time. Laws was signed a long time ago, the scholarship guys even earlier & Van Der Saag was on the radar from the start. We picked up Susnjar as a target when we did that sweep in of clubs in May and Castro was really the main one we jumped at! So despite the fervent announcement of all these players, the research and signing has been reasonable over a period of time.

It's July now and we probably don't play a League match until October so there's plenty of time to work out what we want to do. The greatest challenge - and maybe so much of our season will depend on this - is finding the best striker we can!

Everywhere else is kind of covered. If we don't find a new right back, we have a couple of options there. If we can sign a keeper better than Action, that's great - but if not Action can do the job. We've got enough depth and options on the flanks now as well! So it's all about the hunt for a striker. We've got VISA spots, we've got Marquee money available - we need to find the right guy!


Edited by Butlee
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4 hours ago, Butlee said:

If we can sign a keeper better than Action, that's great - but if not Action can do the job.


That’s what you need, an all Action Keeper! :D

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3 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

That’s an incredible post! I really like the way you break down your thinking for each upgrade!

Cheers! Sometimes I feel with FM - you kind of play the way you play, and stuff like this - where you actually talk through your decisions - you can go your whole FM-playing career without ever knowing there are different ways to think. Or that the way you're doing it is a common way. So every now and then I like to really over-explain the process. 

And of course we all check out other threads around here too - so hearing the same from other folks helps you fine tune your mentality :)

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9 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:


That’s what you need, an all Action Keeper! :D

Haha that was an honest typo at the end of a long post, that I did not realise until you pointed it out :D

Henceforth he shall be know as "Action Keeper".

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10 July 2021

Melbourne Victory - Pre-Season (The BIG transfers chat)

I'm actually trying to advance the game a long way, but there's a lot going on.


The A-League Summer

After complaining a bit recently, I hate to start this post with an issue, but here we are.
In 2020 the season would typically have started in October and ran through until April - with the 3-week Finals series in May. With the pandemic, the season was delayed until December 2020 and the rush to finish by the end of June was marketting & TV-deal related (as discussed in a prior post). Likely 2021 season start reverts back to October. Except in FM it hasn't!


Our first league match will start in December again, which means another season of totally rushed random match times and dates, and a late Finals run. It's annoying because there is a function in FM that extends the contracts of these players until the end of July (so there's no ambiguity of them finishing on 30 June if the Final ends up 30 June). And if you think of it now - I'm trying to sign players during the July transfer window, but I still have all of our big guns here until the end of the month. I can't really sign anyone for big $$ until they're gone.

It also means we play Cup matches (which was cancelled in 2020) uncomfortably early, and because of the timing of the uncontracted players leaving on 31 July, we'll basically not have a team for this match. 



The Plot Callum's

McManaman had a decent 2020.21 season. He was solid-but-unremarkable and while he contributed 7 goals and 4 assists, he didn't really set the league ablaze with his talents. To be fair, none of our imported players did - we had a good season by getting a lot of contributions from a lot of players, with no super stand-outs.

But having said that, Callum's starting wages at $2.4k [1.3k British pounds], was always pretty low. The way you have to think about it is - you have to make the salary attractive enough for them to want to come over here. You can leverage that by saying they'll be rock stars among the A-Leaguers and that the lifestyle here is amazing, but at the end of the day you'd expect them to be earning more than your regular squad members... after all, if they're just as good as your other players, why would you reach out for an overseas signing if you could just shop local!?


Anyway, we'd promised to offer a contract at EoS, and now was the time. Callum's agent was chasing a 4 year deal and want his lad to be up nearer $5k pw. Sometimes you immediately know when the demands are not aligned with what you can or what you want to offer, and doubling his wage and giving him a 4 year term were not on my agenda. Could you imagine taking a player who was barely in your top for the year, and imagine doubling his pay, and then imagine him still being there as a 34yr old winger?!

And you can scoff at me for saying this and signing Diego Castro at 38/39, but Castro signed for $1.8k pw - that's cheap!

Long story short, we're now going from 3 Englishmen down to 1!


Australia & Asia

A few years back Australia made a huge push to be included as "Asian" in the FIFA zoning. There are a lot of reasons (some commercial for example), but at the end of the day there was an earnest belief that Australia on-field needed to be fighting better teams if they wanted to get better. 

If we take World Cup Qualification routes for example - we used to thrash all the other Oceania teams (give or take a tough New Zealand encounter) and then our final hurdle was the 5th best South American team. So we'd face someone like Uruguay or similar - and the step up in quality would be immense!


As fun as this result is, it does no favours to beat these kind of countries like this and then get a one-off real contender from South America or the Middle East and hope you're ready for it.

So Australia petitioned to get into Asia and even though the Asian group itself did not welcome the extra competition, it was decided that it's better for all to have a more competitive Asia and a more realistic path for Australia to compete within. Since then we have won the international Asian Champions and have qualified for every World Cup - so the general feeling is that playing more competitive fixtures more regularly has helped improve football in our country.

A side effect at club level is that we enter the Asian Champions League.


Asian Champions League

Much like in Europe, there's an Asian Champion League, with the best clubs from around Asian coming together to face off. In Australia, we typically have 3 clubs qualify - the Grand Final Winner and the higher two placed League finishers that aren't the GF Winner. 

It might seem strange that this is the first time I've really brought this up. Surely CL footy is the pinnacle of competition for clubs around here!? Well there are good things and bad things. 


  • Money can be great. The extra matches, gate receipts & merchandising is cool. Most clubs pick up an extra Asian sponsor and there's a huge prizepool for winning (about 40% of our turnover from last season).
  • It helps build the brand and reputation. Obviously being the best is a huge boon.
  • Access to World Club Championship. Which is completely insane for an Aussie club.

Unfortunately there are cons making this difficult. The first being geographical issues. Asia, when combined with Australia is really huge. It's difficult to travel to mid-week games and get back for weekend fixtures. We don't have big squads to it can be tough to properly recuperate & rotate players when you have 10 hour flights 2-3 times a week just to move around.

There's also the issue of the Asian Season being a calendar year. A-League runs on a European schedule roughly. So the tournament runs from February to October, whereas an A-League club is typically on holidays through June and definitely only in unfit off-season territory until October. 

And the financial gains may not be realised if you don't make it out from groups. For every game you bring in a Japanese powerhouse and put 10-15k fans in a stadium on a Wednesday night, there's a team from Thailand or Malaysia who's not on the Aussie radar and you'll be playing in front of 2-3k - the whole thing isn't worthwhile. Then you fly to the Thai or Malay game and spend more on travel and accommodation than you do earning anything from the 2-legged feature. On top of that, you typically need to maximise your squad for 12 months to compensate for the extra matches - so you're automatically paying a bit more than usual to prepare.


It ends up being a real mixed-bag for if desireable to play ACL. On on hand - if you're in it for the glory you've gotta back yourself to go and do well and make it far enough so that the money is worthwhile (if you're not in it for the glory, are you sure you're in the right sport?). On the other hand - if it's actively crippling your club, costing you money and making your A-League performances worse along the way... is that a step you're willing to commit to??

There's also this crazy aspect that the ACL starts about 9 months after the teams have qualified for it. Again it's because of the mis-aligned season schedules. But we've qualified in May by winning the League - we don't start until February 2022. That's the majority of an entire season where we may no longer be the best side!


Anyway, all that long-winded explanation was to explain this little piece. One of the reasons I was willing to let Gestede and Shotton go was because I knew we'd have to align with these ACL rules. Notice how they allow even less overseas signed players and moreso, if you want that elusive 4th overseas option it has to be an Asian player! 

And that's another problem Aussie clubs have while competing in the Asian FIFA group. Locally we see our 5-VISA signings as 5 highlights that bring excitement and talent to the league - but if we honestly want to commit to the ACL, and we see that as the premiere competition we actively need to put together a less marketable squad to comply with the ACL rules.


Change in Ideas

The mix of Callum leaving, us changing our VISA-signing ideas (we'll be down to just Rojas & Butterfield as non-Aussies, so we have 1 more worldly player and 1 more Asian player we can sign) and us already knowing we need a few extra players actually gives us the opportunity to reconsider our play style. Our formation last season was largely built around our VISA players and Kruse - Target Man up front and 3 key creative players around him. Butterfield as b2b midfield, Shotton locking up the back. But now we're really not bound by this. Butterfield is a handy utility MC/DM - so he'll fit whatever we do. That just leaves Rojas...


Of all the key players we've had, I've actually thought about if/how we could move Rojas on. We could risk transfer listing him, but that may upset him and a lot of others. I just never felt like we got as much out of him as we did the other attacking options.

Anyway for now he's here, and without feeling the pressure of having 3 natural wingers, we don't feel as obligated to play with two wide men - we can look at what else Rojas can do. With a skillset like his he may be able to operate as a Shadow Striker or another AMC role. But what about a roaming striker (if paired up with someone else?). And how would he and Castro both fit in a lineup? What do we need to build around them?


We're almost back to the drawing board - but in the good kind of way. We have a feel for what we can get out of players and we know where our collective skill sits compared to the rest of the League. For example, since we know Traore is one of our big threats, and we know we can play a competitive passing game without too many teams keeping pace with us, we know we can make the most of Traore busting down that wing.

If I've ever spoken on flighty kind of words like squad balance, or squad building as a puzzle/jigsaw, or the art of building a squad - this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. We're now juggling Formation options alongside VISA slots, Asian-VISA slots, where to throw Marquee money, where and how to make the most of our existing key players, how and where to introduce young (scholarship) players and how to not spoil all the good stuff we put together last season.

I guess to make a specific example; before, with the general 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 framework, I just assumed we would drop everything we had (marquee money, visa slot etc..) on the best solo striker we could find. And we'd support him with LLL & someone from our scholarship program. Then we'd have another oversea's spot for MC, DM or DR and the Aussie in those spots could drop to a bench spot.
But now I'm thinking - what if we picked 2 VISA strikers and focused on building the squad around that?? 


I've shown off Rukavytsya before. I know he's almost 34, but imagine having a guy like that join us! He may want that marquee money, but he'd be good for goals. And since he's Aussie, we could combine him with an oversea player of our choosing! 

The other restriction here is finding an Asian player. I think our best action is to come up with a shortlist of players who we think would improve the team (regardless of position) and then consider which Aussie and World-VISA players we choose around that! 
And that's probably what I'm going to go try. Click around some of the better national teams, look into some of the bigger leagues & clubs and see if my scouting knowledge searches are any use. 


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Youth Intake

We got back our early insight into Youth Intake, and I wanted to talk a bit about Youth Intake as a mechanic in FM. It's 'one of my things' that I'm always harping on about (just be happy I haven't got started on Scouting Knowledge yet!).


This information is new(ish) to FM. It's kind of interesting, but also kind of info-for-info's sake. There's very little I can do when armed with this knowledge - very little I can manage. There's a very rare kind of scenario where maybe you will/won't sign any young players yourself if you know you've got good/bad players coming, but I'll wager that no one ever acts based on this - it's just 'ah that's a cute bit of info' and moves on until their intake actually arrives.

Because that's the crux of my umbrage towards Youth Intakes - there's nothing you can do to feel like you're managing it. You just blindly invest in the recruitment, coaching and facilities and hope you get some good random in there. 

And to be clear, I'm not asking SI to pull down the curtain and tell us in order of priorities, which categories weight the most in building up a good youth intake. But I am asking them to provide us with better feedback on where it went right/wrong - under the guise of giving more feedback about our current Youth Intake.

So instead of that one page with some paragraphs and then your players listed by star rating below, I propose something like this:


First of all - I had a few passes at this as it came up over a few saves - so the data is mix of my time at Brugge, Accrington and Lincoln. But the page is only supposed to be illustrative, ie. don't get bogged down over the fact that historicallly we've had 60 Belgian players come through and now we've clearly only got Englishmen!

The key here is that this shines a light on all the things that impacted this youth intake without telling you which things have/had the most impact and/or which ones you should look into. I'm actually not even 100% certain the success of your youth team is a factor in your youth intake. On the flipside, there are always rumours that the # of youth intake players that have made it to your Senior Squad can also impact the intake - that's not on this (but if it impacts things, then it should be!). So the point is to give us a little more info on what we should consider, without revealing all the secrets to Youth Intake.

The rest is then all about making the page easier to digest. I like to think of it as a 'report' you're getting from your HoYD. He's saying the players are here (I should have probably included star ratings in the top half), then he's commenting on specific cases - telling us which factors impacted some of the player traits and talents, and then a breakdown on the landscape of Youth Intakes. What makes our club attractive or not, how we can improve things in that area etc... That's what I would expect a modern HoYD to research and specialise in.

Graphics such as the pie charts and line graphs - they're just to break up the page a bit. It's 2021 and data presentation is heavily focused on. I'm often a bit dismayed at how a data-centric game like FM has so many good graphs and charts, but either hides them all on very specific, barely used pages or doesn't have a bunch of obvious ones. 


Final comment is on the "Staff Influence" section. This image I found in my "FM18" files, so was probably put together before than (I tend to only write up my suggestions in the forums shortly after a new release, just in case it's already been developed!), and if anyone is paying as much attention to Youth Intake as I am - SI have actually incorporated some of the comments there now. When your staff member influences a player he actually will now tell you which general areas the influence was in. It usually means you got a couple of players more in-line with your HoYD's personality/preferences - and that's exactly the kind of info I want from all this!

I won't be so arrogant as to claim I gave them the idea - I'm just happy that it's something I wanted and someone out there thought it was a good idea as well - so whatever suggestion or internal idea they got it from, it's a great addition!

Now just need them to pick up the rest of the page and drop it in! :D




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I like that idea a lot. There’s a bunch of things that could add to that, as usually a top talent is know as they are coming through the youth set-up which doesn’t really get said. There are those whose attitudes also are commented on. An example: man utd youth player who was supposed to be better than Scholes who never made it there because of his attitude (played around the world though).

This Guardian article says a bunch of information that was know about TAA coming up through the youth academy (curious about the book as well).

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21 July 2021

Melbourne Victory - Pre-Season

It's a LOT of scouting!


So Many Good Players, So Little Time

One thing that your scouts are really good at when you're playing Down Under, is finding overseas talent and inundating you with options on all these wonderful players. The trouble of course, is that you can't sign them all. Oh and half the recommendations you can't afford either!


We've managed to convince these guys to fly to Australia for a few weeks and feel out the place. Obviously they're all solid-to-great options. Obviously we can't sign them all!

I'm really trying to show off the value in having some of your 5 VISA spots option. You really can get team/league defining players. The challenge is really in picking which ones will be those defining players and turning down the rest.

Case in point, Carranza at the top of the list there:


Pretty handy all-round striker, with scouts & coaches confident he has almost 5 star potential (relative to our squad of course). He may not look that dynamic, but I always imagine any Free Agent will gain +1 to all stats once you're playing them regularly and they're match fit. For a kid like this with more potential, he could easily gain a 2-3 points across the board, and that would make him a pretty commanding striker at this level. 


Let's contemplate a Melbourne squad scenario here. We've considered playing 2 up front now. We have 2 VISA spots open. What if Carranza came on as the secondary striker for 2 years and we signed a big, experienced, marquee striker to pair with him? That takes the pressure of Julian here while he grows a bit as a footballer. In 2 years time, we consider if he's the right kind of guy and if so he can lead the line when the marquee striker leaves. And after that, 4 years will be up and the Argentinian-born striker will have citizenship... so the equation changes on if we should keep him or not!

To be clear, we're not going down that path. But we could have, and there's a good chance we'd reap the rewards. But a similar scenario or argument could be made for all of those guys in the list above. It's just about finding the right mix for your side.

Money for Keepers

A story came out about us signing a keeper from a Sydney rival;


While he's not that appealing a prospect for us, being almost 37 when the season starts, I did realise I haven't shared the fact that we do indeed have money!


I haven't tested enough A-League in FM21, but traditionally some clubs have a positive economy and some have a negative. It's not even linked that much to A-League success. Melbourne Victory is the biggest club in the country, so as long as we're not offending fans and tanking our chances in the League, we should generally make money over a season. In the chart above our sponsors have kicked in but not our season tickets, so we're looking at jumping over 12M - which would put us better off than where we were 8 months ago when the prior season started. 

Generally your 3 Sydney teams and 3 Melbourne teams should thrive because they're highly populated areas with a lot of sporting culture. Everyone else has their struggles. But the FFA does guarantee your ability to pay the Salary Cap. You give them a percentage of your gate receipts every fixture (every club does) and they pool a kitty that becomes the 'salary budget' for all contracted players under the Cap - which they distribute evenly to clubs to pay salaries per annum. So playing in a struggling side it's not a problem with players - it's everything else... facilities, staff, freedom to buy marquee players etc...

Only other thing to say here really is with the aforementioned ACL. If you make that, your travel & expenses tend to not make it that worthwhile.... but if you make the KO rounds it suddenly becomes a huge financial boon. So if you're a struggling club, that's where you need to be!


The Long and Scouty Road

Despite an 18% World Knowledge and a focus on Asian players, we've actually got fairly poor knowledge of the region(s).


Interesting that we know so much of UK & Ireland, but I think it comes down to us having a few Englishmen in the squad and a couple of UK Staff (our assistant manager Steve Keen is Scottish for example). But as you can see, we barely know anything about Asia. Not even Southeast Asia that includes the A-League!!


And so here we are, playing the waiting game, trying (and failing) to not stack the Scouting Priorities list to ridiculous levels. It's a slow game and we have 3 whole months to pass to get us there.....

We can push about 15 players at a time though - that's not bad for 5 scouts. So maybe 100 isn't that bad...

To pass the time, let's explain why we spend precious resources (time/effort/scouts) on these guys?

  • Tsoungui - he's half-English so I was looking at Butterfield replacement options.
  • Mendy - even though it says he's a central defender - he's quick! And if he's got any kind of crossing or dribbling skill, we could repurpose him as a wingback.
  • Ghaedi - Inside Forward by nature, but if we could snag him on loan, he'd easily slip into an attacking role for us (we would adapt to fit him!).
  • Moharrami - Don't think Dinamo will sell him, but he'd be a fantastic wingback for our league.
  • Saito - There has to be a reason Valencia have him, and there's no way they're playing him at that age. Trying to see what they see in him.
  • Ishihara - He was one of the younger players in the U23's setup for Japan and he's on a monthly contract - we could jag him for free if he comes up good.


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Only 5 scouts? Is that all the Board will let you have? :idiot:

Also sounds like you need some staff with experience in Asia, from Asia, or with Asian heritage. If you can or have space for.

Hmm, still can’t see what marquee type your getting yet :lol:

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On 27/08/2021 at 17:25, Butlee said:

The Long and Scouty Road

Despite an 18% World Knowledge and a focus on Asian players, we've actually got fairly poor knowledge of the region(s).


Interesting that we know so much of UK & Ireland, but I think it comes down to us having a few Englishmen in the squad and a couple of UK Staff (our assistant manager Steve Keen is Scottish for example). But as you can see, we barely know anything about Asia. Not even Southeast Asia that includes the A-League!!


Because the game still says we're in Oceania region.

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10 August 2021

Melbourne Victory - FFA Cup

This is gonna be interesting!


Injury Woes

I have this theory that unhappy players in FM get injured more often. That logic in mind, it may come as no surprise that Kruse and Shotton both have 3 month injuries at the moment and 2 weeks before being released Gestede picked up manflu.

You could argue that this justifies getting rid of them (since all 3 are likely to have interrupted preparations for the season).

Anyway the injury that hurts us the most right now is Ansell. If there's 1 Aussie battler that didn't deserve it, it was Nick. 


Puts us in a tough spot as well. We're early August.... September, October, November.... he should be ok for a December kick-off, but long-term injuries are tough.

I just mentioned it because I have a trialist named Timeothou, who's currently away playing for the Aussie U23's. The lad wanted a First XI guarantee which, at the time, I couldn't promise him (with Ansell and Susnjar around). But this could be his chance.


Small change of plans / Player releases

We're going to let Aaron Anderson and Brandon Lauton go at this stage. For Aaron at centre back, I think I can pick from the NPL to find us a younger/teenage back-up central defender. And even if I can't, we're going to have Ansell & Susnjar as starters, with Broxham, Laws and Van Der Saag as utility/support there. 

For Lauton it's actually even more simple. We've been talking about upgrading some scholarship players to starting contracts, and I've been saying I can probably only fit 2/4 of those attackers into the squad on Senior deals. But Lauton's contract is expiring shortly and I weighed up how good he (at age 21) is versus what we might get from the 17-18yr old guns he's keeping out. It was an easy decision to pick the younger lads.


It's a shame for Lauton (shown) because he hasn't done a lot wrong. He was actually pretty handy when called upon. But he's probably about as good as he'll get, and I can just see someone really exciting like Dukuly stepping up and shining.



It's pretty hard to ignore that crossing/dribbling/touch combination. And everywhere that Lauton is currently stronger - I imagine with the 3 years difference, Dukuly will step up and become the better player. 


FFA Cup vs Brisbane City - Preparation

So far all the A-League sides have belted the semi-pro sides, so we're going into the game confident - even if we're all over the place in terms of fitness and recruitment.


With the list of injuries stacking up - Ansell, Broxham, Brimmer, Toure - this is where we're at. Yes, this is the latest formation idea - it just seems really underwhelming when we don't have some of those names and we've yet to sign a natural, leading striker. Though it's a good opportunity for some guys - Kirdar will want to battle for that role, Wood gets a chance to show off (with Popovic on the bench!) and we get to see Laws and Castro for the first time as well.


FFA Cup vs Brisbane City - Results

Fast forward a few days and we're comfortable winners of the FFA Cup tie. A solid 2-0 win.


Rojas gave the first goal to Wood on a platter and it was comforting to see the youngster bury it with no issues. As you can see, Brisbane didn't put up much resistance. 

As for players and us using a lot of interesting names.... starting at the back it was all pretty solid. Susnjar especially! 
With the formation change we probably spent too much time passing it around in our defensive and middle thirds without the urgency to attack - so guys like Butterfield and B2B Barnett did a lot of work on the ball, whereas we struggled to pay forward through Castro & Kirdar.

Rojas was handy, and Wood did what was asked of him. It was actually Popovic coming on from the bench that surprised me - he really lept at the chance for 30 minutes of footy. We even gave Dukuly a run at left back and he enjoyed running at their fullbacks for a bit.


You can see that we didn't get forward enough. I know our strategy isn't as attacking as it could be, but on good days when we dominate this much, we have players hovering around and in the 18 yard box while we probe for the right pass. Here we were too deep with that kind of patience. I'm hoping it's just teething in the new formation.


The next round is on the 25th of August, so we're unlikely to have picked up too many extra players by that point. Hopefully we draw another NPL team and don't have to duke it out with A-League sides just yet.


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9 hours ago, Jolanthustrel said:

Because the game still says we're in Oceania region.

This is actually a really good point, and I hadn't realised yet.

Despite Australia being classed as 'South-East Asian' for FIFA zones (and FM correctly picking that up), Australia is indeed classed as Oceania for scouting zones.


How do we feel about that? 

On one hand it just seems wrong. But on the other, it's a scouting zone that should reflect the most likely area that you would know. I couldn't rightly say that Aussie clubs would know more about China or India than they would New Zealand. 

As it stands, it is indeed another complexity to managing here. If you want to maximise your VISA slots and go after an Asian-qualifying player, you need to work a bit harder to find him.

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14 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Only 5 scouts? Is that all the Board will let you have? :idiot:

Also sounds like you need some staff with experience in Asia, from Asia, or with Asian heritage. If you can or have space for.

Hmm, still can’t see what marquee type your getting yet :lol:



Challenging part will be how much that helps in the next few months.

Let's see if we can measure the impact of an Asian scout somehow.



I have China & South Korea loaded as leagues, so our main target will be gaining knowledge there.


On that, we're getting pretty close to the grey areas of FM in terms of how and where players are generated by the game. I'm no expert, so if anyone knows any good references I could look into that would be appreciated.
We're talking the difference between playable and read-only leagues (does the game simulate them the same with respect to clubs, transfers & player generation). 
What about leagues you don't load?
Then how does the game create players in general? Is it where all the youth intakes happen in playable leagues then a theoretical sample of 'good enough' players are generated and sprinkled through the read-only and non-sim'd leagues? 
And what about quality of players? I know 'regen' is an old concept (where every retiree would mean almost an identically talented player would come in as intake) and it's 'newgen' now - but even if the nationality or position/roles aren't carried over, there must be some in-game assurance that the overall quality of intakes ends up similar to the quality of retiree's. How does it distribute this quality? 
From there, if it's by nation, or nationality, what about clubs that get youth intakes with a lot of different countries? If Japan is assigned a 5-star wonderkid and my German club tends to get 1-2 Japanese players in the intake each season, is there a chance that Japanese wonderkid will be part of the German intake?


Random game status thing here just because I poking about in the settings.

And so on and so forth.

I don't expect to know all the specific answers to give up the game. But I feel like it's some hidden magic that only a few (if any) managers know of. And just knowing some of the basic guidelines will help in so many ways. For example, I'm looking for Chinese & Korean players because I have simulated their leagues as playable - but maybe Japan & Iran has a better chances for good young players because of how the game distributes talent/newgens to non-sim'd leagues. I could be wasting my time looking in China who are so far down the roster.


Anyhow, I'll suffice for saying there's a lot more I'd like to learn in terms of 'how players become players' in FM - not necessarily to remove the veil on the whole thing, but just enough so that you can make proper management decisions on where to apply your efforts, resources and time. 

In the meantime, Let's see what kind of scout we can find.....




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7 hours ago, Butlee said:

On that, we're getting pretty close to the grey areas of FM in terms of how and where players are generated by the game. I'm no expert, so if anyone knows any good references I could look into that would be appreciated.
We're talking the difference between playable and read-only leagues (does the game simulate them the same with respect to clubs, transfers & player generation). 
What about leagues you don't load?
Then how does the game create players in general? Is it where all the youth intakes happen in playable leagues then a theoretical sample of 'good enough' players are generated and sprinkled through the read-only and non-sim'd leagues? 
And what about quality of players? I know 'regen' is an old concept (where every retiree would mean almost an identically talented player would come in as intake) and it's 'newgen' now - but even if the nationality or position/roles aren't carried over, there must be some in-game assurance that the overall quality of intakes ends up similar to the quality of retiree's. How does it distribute this quality? 
From there, if it's by nation, or nationality, what about clubs that get youth intakes with a lot of different countries? If Japan is assigned a 5-star wonderkid and my German club tends to get 1-2 Japanese players in the intake each season, is there a chance that Japanese wonderkid will be part of the German intake?

Read this: 


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On 29/08/2021 at 18:26, Sonic Youth said:

Read this: 


This is pretty interesting, thanks for sharing.

Essentially it boils down to - the game will try to do everything for everything (generating an amount of players, simulating matches, performance, training etc...) but the more you turn down the settings for that area/nation, the less effort it will put in. So less players will be generated, training will happen but it won't fluctuate like in a fully sim'd league, clubs are still technically doing well or doing poorly etc...


Just need to learn more about player generation now... but that leads me too......

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4 October 2021

Melbourne Victory - A Youth Intake Exercise

What have we been doing all September!? Scouting man.... looooooottttsss of scouting!

But today something different. We press pause on the save and do a bit of a test because... well I felt like it.


Thoughts on Youth Intake

I've already done my pitch on how we could get more Youth Intake feedback - maybe I did that out of sequence considering today's post. But just to repeat myself a bit, I think youth intake is fascinating and an exciting part of the season. But I also feel like it's one of the things that clubs put so much time and effort into managing and optimising in the modern world - whereas in FM we have no real idea what gives us good/bad youth intake, and no concept of what we can do to manage or improve our chances.*

*And no, 'improve everything' is not a management strategy.

Overall I think there's a happy medium where we can learn enough about youth intake to make it more interesting, to make it so you can make educated management decisions, but also still keep the algorithms under the hood such that it's not an exact science. 


Remember when youth intake used to look like this? :)
We've come a fair way since then. The candidates are sorted in a nice table with the current and potentials showing. I think the overall comments on what the HoYD has impacted and whom is really good feedback now. I just feel like we need a bit more like this:


Because that's really good. I can manage based on that. I can go look at Danny Watson and Corey Mason and see what traits/attributes are similar between them. I can decide if that's the kind of thing I want. 
And I could completely miss the mark here ie, they appear to be both brave, good at decision-making and have reasonable work rate. But honing in on those features may be selective on my part. But that's completely OK. At least I can try to make managerial decisions based on information given to me. Maybe I can keep trying HoYD's until I find one that gets me the style of player I want - then I keep using him and checking that those types of players are coming. It can feel like I'm managing my youth intake a bit now.

But that's only one step of the journey. I believe the other factors for youth intake strength are (not in order);

  • Rating of your nation
  • Club Reptutation
  • Your Reputation
  • HoYD - His rep, judgement, personality, preferences, knowledge & other attributes
  • Youth Recruitment
  • Junior Coaching
  • Youth Facilities

And the kind of feedback I want is not just 'do better here', it's comments for things like - does my being better at Youth Intake indirectly impact the players around me? Does, say, Australia have a theoretical pool of 'pot-5s' and if I get more, do other teams get less, and vice versa?

Then obviously the comparative kind of feedback I mentioned before as well - get my HoYD to do up a report explaining how my facilities and other features sum up compared to rivals... how 'attractive' is my club compared to them? 

Youth Intake is one of the most exciting things in FM, and I think a bit of effort here to spruce it up could go a long way to making this even more exciting and give you a real sense that you're doing all you can to make your intakes better.


Youth Intake Variance

I was chatting with a friend the other day and he got to the Youth Intake part of his save, asking 'how much would this change if I went back a save state and re-rolled?'
And my answer was that it shouldn't change at all right - surely it's fixed when you first get that 'prospective' look 3 months ahead of time?

But he tested it and sure enough he got a different result. So now that I've got to the youth intake part, I wanted to put it through it's paces. Here's what we knew going in:


And what we want to learn here is really some high level feedback on what can still change at this stage? 
Is it the same batch of players? Do their potentials change? Do their current attributes change? Personalities? Traits? Are they same the 'person' with age and nationality...? 
Let's try and identify some general rules for this.


The Test Setup

You could do a much more comprehensive test than we're going to, but we can do that anytime. For now let's do enough to come up with a basic hypothesis - maybe we'll do this in more detail in 12 months time.


The original 'test' is our save on 3rd October 2021, where the Youth Intake arrives at 00:00 on the 4th. We're going to run 3 tests where we change nothing - we just run 3 blind tests and see what happens.

Because I'm a bit of a purist, it didn't sit right running a bunch of trials and then after rolling the 'live' file. So "Victory 2.6" is the live save that has already rolled his youth intake for the period. That way I don't feel like I'm save-scumming based on knowledge that I didn't technically have or apply until after the youth intake. I'll feel better if we use any knowledge gained to steer us towards next youth intake.


Without Further Ado


Already this is really interesting to me. It's the same pool of player (names) from the same places. But the assessment of them is hugely varied. Beyond that I don't think there's too much we can learn, but even just understanding how big a change it can be is huge!

If we try and apply honest, independent reactions to what we have here:

Test A - Fairly Poor - Only one 5 star pot, most likely only 3-4 guys above 3-pot, and the only guy with more than 1.5 current ability is Adams who may well just be a 3-3.5 pot player. And I'm always extremely weary of goalkeepers and wingers having high youth currents or potentials, because they seem to be the most likely positions to just have 1 huge attribute that earns them the ratings, without the supporting skills to actually make them useful. Ie, a winger with high flair but no ball control or pace, or the GK with great kicking, but lacking the handling & reflexes to be a professional keeper. I'd be ok to give a lot of these a chance, but I wouldn't be excited here, looking at that.

Test B - Reasonable - Immediately you have a 5 star pot striker and get excited. And he's got 2 current stars as well, so you feel like he'll grow nicely into that 4-5 star pot. Same deal with 3 of the top 4 in the list there - higher currents will hopefully mean they'll have a good chance going after the high pots. After those 4 top I wouldn't even look though. The drop-off is crazy and while I can see us taking some of those players on to fill up our Youth squad, I'm only going to remember 4 names from this group.

Test C - Great - 2x 5 star pots, the striker touted by my assistant as the main man, and great current skills on the 4 highest potential guys there. That's all pretty awesome! Even the 4 star potentials here don't seem to bad. 4 stars is probably the level where you'd say it's a salary-capped league and they'd be good locals you could use in the squad once they get to 3-4 stars in current skills. You'd be really happy with a key DM and overall you'd be chuffed with this mix.

Really happy that our 3 test runs gave us a solid mix of good/bad potentials & currents.


Player Variance

I took the top player from each list and tracked them over each Test, to see what trends we could find. Our first example is the goalkeeper from Test 1 - Ivica Tasev.


Already this tells us a LOT. At a general level, we can see why the first one looks like a 5-pot player. He's all-round solid, he's got good handling and command, and he's a good 14-20cm taller than the other variants. 

From a 'person' approach, he's still Ivica Tasev, still Macedonian, still 16 with the same birthdate... but the similarities really stop there. 

I think the thing that stands out most to me is that there is almost no cohesion between the variants. It's not like he's always great at handling, or always good at positioning himself, or is consistently eccentric! At best you could say he's always fairly tall with good reach (though the two are likely connected, and 180-190cm may not be that tall for a GK), and he's generally pretty bad at control and passing with his feet. 
That's a huge variance in his skills, and no wonder he wasn't even on the radar in the 2nd and 3rd iterations!

Second I want to talk about our DM youthie, Danny Watson.


Of all the examples, this is probably the largest variance in the type of player we see over 3 iterations. The first option is a fairly standard DM - his job is to sit behind the play and distribute the ball. He's got a good trait for that and a bit of vision, good decision-making and he's brave enough to compete as a defensive player despite the lower skills. Not the best of the 3, but solid enough. 
Jumping over to Test C, it's a similar player but also not. He's better, but he's also far more geared as a playmaker. That high passing, good teamwork and vision and handy touch - mixing with his Killer Ball trait - is going to make him the guy always looking for a piercing pass. A real threat! Without the determination and bravery, I don't see his aggression helping defensively as much as our first guy.
Then Test B is a completely different player again. He's one of those pushing DM's - he'll want to be pushing forward and to be a goal threat. I really like that version!

And third, let's look at this striker my staff seem so hyped about, Giannis Poylzoz!


Once again, 3 entirely different types of players. He's always kind of short, so there may be some pre-set model of what he's like - but if it exists for the attributes it's so loosely applied that for all intents and purposes it may as well not be there.

We have Test A looking like a rounded kind of striker - with a bit of finishing he'd become a fairly standard (albeit tiny) front man. Test B gives us your typical poacher - maybe a bit of an advanced forward if his teamwork comes into play a bit. Test C without as much off ball movement and finishing/dribbling seems to be more like a False Nine or something.


Discussion Points

Let's summarise what we've seen, and talk about a couple of the more difficult ones.


Talking about Personalities would probably take a while - it might be for another time - but in summary the Personality that your player gets is based on the array of attributes he has. It's not the attributes being determined by the personality. 
So where Danny's Test A is Fairly Professional and his Test B is Fairly Ambitious - well Professionalism and Ambition are two hidden attributes. Clearly they are being rolled along with the rest of his attributes at the time of Youth Intake and in Test A his Professionalism attribute seems to be rolling into the >15 bracket. For Test B, his Ambition is that high instead. Or both may be that high, but it picks the most dominant (/higher) one to help define the main Personality.

I guess my point is that the Personalities will be generated when the player generates at Youth Intake time - but it's actually a label dictated by the attributes.

I watch a bit of Zealand, and a lot of what I know about Personalities comes from him. This is 12 minutes that, comparative to how much time we all spend on FM, is probably worth it - even if it's just a refresher, or understanding the public spreadsheet he's created to help identify what each personality means.


What's new info to me is that Player Traits seem to be chosen to be relevant to the attributes player has as well. Unlike Personalities that don't really impact the player (ie, the attributes impact the player and the personality just helps define what those mix of attributes will be like), Player Traits actually make a player play differently on the park. Two guys can have the same attributes, but if 1 has 'tries killer balls', then he will indeed go for the killer pass more often.

Danny is again a prime example - when he's more defensive (Test A) without being a huge playmaker, he's given the "Dictates Tempo". When he's a more attacking player (Test B) he gains the a trait more relevant to dribbling and making him better going forward. And when he's a high passing, high vision deep lying playmaker, he gets the "Tries Killer Balls Often" trait. 
I wouldn't say it's hand-picking the perfect trait for the player based on skills - at a guess it seems that any set of attributes kind of qualify for certain Player Traits, and if the player-generation algorithm decides a player should have a trait or two, it picks from the ones that fit the attributes.


Potential Confusion

The toughest part here is understanding potentials. In more recent FM versions, the accuracy of potential ratings is becoming less and less reliable - and it's not always something 'just getting better staff' can fix.* The star ratings we get are an assessment from our HoYD^. Notice how the ratings change between when the players arrive and you get that recommendation on which players to sign? That's because your Assistant Manager^ is making the recommendation at that point - it's an independent assessment of the players.

*There's a Zealand video on this also fwiw.
^It'll be these staff by default, but you can change who you get your feedback from in the Staff Responsibilities section.

What we can't tell at Youth Intake is if the potential of our players is varying, or if it's just our staff's assessment of potential that's incorrect at any given time?


Bringing this up again, Watson has (up to) 4 star potential, 4.5 star or 5 star. Is his actual potential changing at that moment or is he always (say) a 4-star potential player, and my staff get their assessment wrong? 

And why do they get it wrong? Does him having greater currents in the 2nd and 3rd tests impact them a bit - making them think he's got a lot of room to grow? It would kind of make sense.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the Youth Intake Preview that you get a good 3 months before the actual Youth Intake must be based on something.


It seems most likely that the potentials of players are defined at this stage. And on Youth Intake day, the current attributes are rolled and the potential is distributed - so there's very little change to the overall potential of the player... but there could be very large change on the kind of players you get for that potential. 

Notice how our keeper Tasev isn't mentioned there. I suspect the 5-star assessment in Test 1 is incorrect and he's actually more like a 3-star player (as defined in the other tests). Whereas Danny also gets between 3-5 star potentials during the youth intake tests, but since he's mentioned here, I'd say it's more likely he's 4-star or greater potential. Should note that we can only make this kind of assessment because we're doing the testing - you wouldn't tell this that well from a normal playthrough. 

You guys can try guess if he's talking about Adams or Steell who's the handy winger prospect lol.



To be honest I've noted conclusions within each area, but it all boils down to this, with a few qualifying statements:


It's been an enlightening experience for me to be honest. And a rather simple one to look into. 

None of this helps us really manage our youth intake, but it helps us interpret what the game is telling us. It also helps us understand our expectations - how players may or may not change between the 3-month-ahead preview and what we end up getting, and how reliable what we end up being shown on Youth Intake day is (arguably 'not very').



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4 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

It’s worth reading this posts from @_Ben_ 


It's good to read. The cool thing is that, even if you know how it works, reading the thoughts of someone like Ben and seeing how he applies this knowledge can give you some great ideas. For example, using mentoring to help drive what attributes you believe certain players can benefit from. 


*spends the next 20 hours reading Ben's 6 months of save*

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7 minutes ago, Butlee said:

It's good to read. The cool thing is that, even if you know how it works, reading the thoughts of someone like Ben and seeing how he applies this knowledge can give you some great ideas. For example, using mentoring to help drive what attributes you believe certain players can benefit from. 


*spends the next 20 hours reading Ben's 6 months of save*

Yes, it’s a bit like that :lol:

And lately a few threads are combining together save ideas :cool:

I’d stick yours into the mix as well.


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Haha cheers. I'm the newbie on the block. Just trying to find my groove.

Also this is a different kinda save anyhow - A-League is fraught with a bunch of peripheral stuff that I think is interesting to share, that's not just the main save. So keep getting distracted!

Next one will be more traditional and longer-term. Thinking that'll be FM22 though.


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5 October 2021

Melbourne Victory - Prospective Transfers

A transfer update, mostly to give everyone a quick break from the Youth Intake ramblings.



A-League Transfer Window Update

October is around about when the A-League typically starts. In fact our save is 2021, and in real life it's 2021 and I can tell you our first fixtures are in October. Unfortunately FM hasn't reset to a 'normal' calendar for the A-League. 

But if we digress from that a little, let's look at the business our rival A-League sides have been doing:


First comment is not to trust the OUT section. It only factors in players sold or transferred on Free. It doesn't count the released players. Sydney FC for example let 2 guys go directly to other clubs, but have also released 6 players on top of that. So their 14 signings is replacing the 8 that left, a bit of coverage, and a couple of 16-17yr olds that they found in the NSW NPL.

We've seen both Adelaide and Perth implode during the season, so their high turnover numbers there represent replenishments in the squad. It's funny because Perth signed a couple of lads Adelaide let go and so naturally Adelaide signed a couple of the former Perth boys! 
To be fair to FM here as well - the rebuilds after implosions aren't particularly bad either. The lasting effects of an implosion aren't necessarily a complete and utter destruction of that club. It's more the flood of talented players on the market in 1, unintended hit and that immediate season of crashing that's the problem.


Useful variety here. Guys like Izzo, Gomulka & Najjarine are Aussie Olympians and it's propped up by a couple of decent loans from the mid-pro levels of England. Might not be a league-winning roster, but it's certainly not that bad for a rebuild.

Adelaide meanwhile have signed guys from: Watford, Istanbulspor, Lokomotiva, and they got Kenny Dougall for 42k from Blackpool (significant because he just helped Blackpool promote, scoring against my beloved Lincoln). And a few of their other signings are from A-League clubs such as Bouman or McGing who were First XI players at Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur last season.


Just picked up all the significant ones I've found so far. 

Brisbane have picked up Baccus and Piscopo - two lads we were looking pretty seriously at. Both U24, both Aussies, and both great signings for the A-League Grand Final Winners!
Macarthur secured Daniel De Silva, which is pretty annoying because he had so many interested clubs - and clubs from overseas - that we stopped going after him. But if he were looking for an Aussie club, we could have obliged.

Speaking of players accepting lesser deals that we expected, the Socceroo-sized elephant in the room is that Robbie Kruse has made the trip across town to our rivals, Melbourne City! Did he go for a 10k pw 3-year contract like he was demanding from us?!?


(now he's gone I can use my suite of unflattering photos of him)

The other really interesting thing that's going on in A-League transfer land is Newcastle Jets. They have an affiliation with Academica/SF in Portugal - that's right, not Academica from the top flight in Portugal, but with an affiliate sibling? There's no official link between the main Academica side and Newcastle Jets, but since Academica shares scouting with with it's affiliates, and the affiliation between Academica/SF & Newcastle also shares scouting, it gives the Jets this unique, robust scouting network access in Portugal. So they've reached out and loaned 4 players - none of them actually from Academica/SF mind you, just from Portugal in general. 3 defenders and an AM. 

That's a really cool way for a poorer club in Australia to draw upon a unique resource and to attempt to use it to get 1-up on the opposition. I like it!

Melbourne Victory Transfer Window Update

It's taken some effort, but I think we're finally making some progress on finding appropriate players who we have a chance at signing. It's been a slog. We started scouring the National Teams throughout Asia and the Middle East, both senior and youth, and then spent some time with short-term scouting missions and handpicking big clubs in the region(s) and looking through their roster for options. The good thing is that there are obviously a LOT of options when you're basically scouting a large percentage of the world to find players. But it's countered by the fact that you're looking for a real sweet spot of player - he can't be 'too good', else he'd rather wait for a big contract in Europe. He also can't be 'too bad' because even if you find a talented younger teen, you can't just magically offer him a big wage (because he's not that good yet), so he'd prefer to stay in his home country unless he's getting a lucrative deal. Refine the search further when you're not looking for GK, DC, MC, or Wingers, and there are still plenty of options - it's just a challenge finding them!



Suphanat Mueanta [Thai / 19 / ST]

This could be the one. He's a mobile striker with good dribbling and finishing. Has great mental stats including anticipation and flair and while he's not a speed demon, he's pacey enough and quite agile - the guy is going to find space. 

We find him at age 19, still at original club, and he just hasn't quite secured that huge deal with a bigger Asian side yet. We're a bigger club than Buriram, we can give him marquee wages (probably still paying him less than Kruse was earning) and bully his club into agreeing to sale. A promise to Suphanat to use us as a stepping stone club may do the trick!


I know that simulated recent form isn't everything to go off, but we've only got 42% scouting knowledge so there's not much to show off with his attributes yet. He hasn't got any Wanted tags yet, so I can spend another couple of weeks scouting before we go all in!


Mohammed Dawood [Iraqi / 20 / ST]

Another options is Dawood from Iraq. He would be another signing we could lure away from his original club. Mohammed is a completely different kind of player (at least when based on only 32% scouting knowledge). He's denoted as a "Forward" not a striker, and he's got at least 13 passing and finishing. So we're likely looking at more of a ballplaying attacker who just happens to prefer striker to AM. Looks to be a whizz on freekicks and we're getting into the 'pacey' territory too with potentially >15 speed and acceleration.


Still plenty to scout on him, but if we imagine that Wood, LLL, Toure, Popovic etc... are more the poacher kind, having someone who gives us some other elements of play could be a huge boon.


Allahyar Sayyadmanesh [Iranian / 20 / ST]

If we tackle strike the problem from another angle, we get Sayyadmanesh. Currently owned by Fenerbahce and having just earnt his first National Team cap (which brings some confidence that he is indeed a great player), he's been on loan for 2 seasons with Turkey and Ukraine. He dunked in 8 goals off the bench for Zorya last season.
I'm not specifically looking for loan deals, but this guy may well be such a good fit:


We need more scouting obviously, because if he hits the lower end of all his brackets (especially for finishing, off ball movement, work rate and pace) we wouldn't be interested. But I think if the guy has 14 or more crossing, it's safe to say his dribbling, first touch, passing and technique won't be that far off. If his acceleration is at least 15, his pace is unlikely to be 12 based on my experience. 

He's listed as a pressing forward, and with that kind of pace and ball skill I would be more than happy to have him as a roaming pressing striker

In Summary

And that's our deeper dive into Asia for now. We've cut our active scouting priorities down from 150 to about 40 and we're punching through at 7-8 at at time. 


We've got some friendlies coming up now, and since we can use all our players - senior, youth, scholarship, trialists etc.. - I'm not too worried about having players out of position or a revolving door of players showing us what they've got. We'll try and get our core of players fit and work on the formation a bit more as our final major signings join us (as we may change to suit them a little bit). At some point we'll have to pull the trigger on upgrading some of those scholarship deals to senior contracts, and there may be a registration window come up at some point too. We'll cross those bridges over the next month!

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6 October 2021

Melbourne Victory - Youth Intake

Our actual Youth Intake now.


Youth Intake, October 2021

Ok no more stalling, no more studies, here's what our actual Youth Intake looks like in the Victory 2.6 save.


Before we dive deeper into this - if our HoYD has indeed attracted Danny Watson and Corey Mason, I think he's worth keeping on as they're two of our brightest prospects!

Youth Intake is yet another thing that's a bit different in the A-League. The timing of October aside, it's a league that tends to cap out in terms of general First XI player quality. The minute you have a player getting too good for that general quality level, they catch the eyes of Europe and are whisked away! That combined with the registration and salary cap rules means the gap between a fresh Youth Intake teenager and a Senior squad level of play is smaller. Combined with the fact that players on youth contracts aren't part of your registration rules, it gives young players fresh out of intake a real chance at coming to be around the Seniors within their first season.


#1 - Danny Watson

No complaints. The lad has a solid framework in his attributes, and can only show us what he can do growth-wise to try and fight for a run in Seniors. 


Sometimes young players get high potential ratings because of a kind of faux-skills mix. It's the AM who has high flair or the striker who's all pace with no technical skills. These are guys that, by nature of the skills that make them potentially valuable, are also unable to utilise those skills without something 'more'. For a DM, I don't find that kind of problem. Does Danny's super-high Tackling (our Senior DC's don't even have that much) inflate his potential score? Sure it would. But it's a real thing and it will be useful with minimal support from his other skills. 

Watson may not be the quickest or most ball-playing kind of DM, but he's brave and the anticipation/work rate combination makes me feel like he'll manage to show up for plenty of challenges throughout a match.
I've been commenting a lot on what will happen with Broxham moves on. Laws is a possible solution - Watson may also slip into that role.


#2 - Giannis Polyzos

It's probably the prime time to be a young striker at the club. We're looking to play 2 up top and we just let go 3 our of front 4. There is a lot of room to fight for spots if you get someone with the right skills.


Not mind-blowingly good, but if he trains well he might be. He has the right mix - skilled on the ball, can shoot and moves well and just enough pace to make it work. I like that this is another case where the Player Trait is chosen to suit his style. He may not be blasting all his shots in on target, but he's got the finesse from his good ball skills to trick the advancing keeper.

There's probably plenty to be said about Aggression on a striker as well. It's a shame the Work Rate or Strength isn't a bit more robust to go with it, but Aggression is a little akin to Determination imo - you might not keep up the battling intensity, but when you do commit, you commit fully.


#3 - Corey Mason

Ask and you shall receive! We were looking at right back options and one is delivered to us. I don't think he's going to walk into the Seniors, but it is nice to know we have a potentially solid option if our new right back signing(s) struggle this season.


Biggest challenge for fullbacks in FM is being useful outside the defending. You can't ignore the defending of course, but you need to have more in your locker than just positioning, tackling, blocking passes/crosses/shots and recycling possession from it. You need to add something more so you can also go up and down the lines and be an extra outlet for the attack.

Corey has the defensive qualities - I'm confident his acceleration will improve and his overall tackling/marking will get there. He's got a good football brain as well. What he doesn't have is vision or flair (I tend to combine these to call it 'creativity') nor the passing, crossing or shooting to be an offensive threat. That'll be his challenge. 


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