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[FM21] The Black Pearls – Youth-Only in Brazil


Prime Totti
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Academia de Futebol Pérolas Negras

Academia de Futebol Pérolas Negras, commonly known as Pérolas Negras (Black Pearls in Portuguese), is a club based in Resende, Rio de Janeiro and founded in 2009. The club was formed in Haiti through a non-governmental mission, before expanding to and joining the Brazilian football pyramid in 2014. After featuring in amateur tournaments in their first few years, the club gained promotion to the third tier of the state championship after winning the Campeonato Carioca Série C. Despite earning qualification into the top tier in 2019, restructuring of the state pyramid led to the club now featuring in a new third tier, called the Carioca Série B1.

Interestingly enough, its ties to Haiti go beyond its founders. Signing Haitian players is rooted in the club's vision and transfer strategy, leading to close to half of the real-world's roster hailing from the island; even the assistant manager, who features in the game as 57-year-old Greffin Jean Maxeau, is a Haitian national who featured in the U17 national team's coaching staff a few years ago. Even the kits and club colours share the red & blue of the Haitian flag. The most interesting feature of the team, however, is its ability to generate a youth intake mostly comprised of Haitian prospects, with a bit of Brazilian diversity in the mix!

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Brazilian League System

Brazilian clubs participate in the domestic league system, a domestic (sometimes regional) cup, and a state championship. The domestic ladder consists of 20 teams in each one of Série A, B, and C, the top tier of which is commonly referred to as the Brasileirão. Série D includes 8 groups of 8 teams, where the top half of the table (32 teams) qualifies for a knockout tournament in which only the semifinalists earn a spot in the third tier.

The state championships, despite not actually being below the league system described above, are used as a pipeline of teams to be promoted into Série D, though the format used for promotion and relegation in and out of the fourth tier is highly dependent on the strength of the state championship itself. Typically, the top two teams of the final phase of each state championship that were not already qualified for one of the top three tiers would earn a spot in Série D. Some states (i.e. Pernambuco) have a simple 9-team championship with home and away fixtures. Others, such as the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro) include a preliminary round and a final stage, where the top three teams not already qualified in the top three tiers would qualify for Série D. It is important to note that while some states have only a single in-game tier, busier states like Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo will have multiple tiers to climb in order to get to the main championship. All of this is still a bit fuzzy to me, though the rules of the Campeonato Carioca will be the ones that matter in our case.

Why Pérolas Negras?

This unique feature of the team allows for the save to be a perfect candidate for a club & country experiment, where our goal of developing Haiti as a footballing giant will be largely influenced by the success of a somewhat satellite club featuring in the Brazilian football pyramid, and benefitting from exposure to a superior standard of football. The Brazilian system also lends itself perfectly to youth development, with the possibility of schedules getting extremely busy once continental competitions and domestic cups start kicking in.

Likewise, despite some of the innate inequalities that some of you will notice very soon in the lower divisions, the top tier is extremely homogeneous, with 9 teams sharing the last 20 Brasileirão titles. Even more impressive; as many as 14 different clubs have finished their season on the podium of the top tier since the turn of the century. Whether this is a testament to the competitiveness of the league, or simply an opportunity to gain consistent domestic success unopposed, remains to be seen!

Motivations

I have been looking for a save that could keep me busy until the release of some of the more unique data updates of FM22. Given the long-term nature of the save, using FM21 will not lead to many inconsistencies historically speaking, though I have used a transfer data update. I'm not sure whether or not this save will progress deep and/or fast enough to see the realization of some of the objectives outlined below, but I have high hopes nonetheless. A lot of IR will be used to sim through some of the more menial games in the minor, no-importance tournaments, so the first few seasons will likely be done in a breeze.

Objectives

Beyond the typical objectives of aiming to achieve promotion into the top tier, dominating South American club football, and establishing Haiti as a footballing power both in CONCACAF and on the global scene, the save will rely entirely on youth development from our youth intake. Similar to @Jimbokav1971's Belenenses save, players who have left the club may be able to return, provided that a transfer back home is realistic. A few additional goals include having a player beat Pelé's incredible goalscoring record in Brazilian football, having a player beat Roberto Dinamite's domestic goalscoring records in both the Carioca and the Brasileirão, producing a Golden Boy, and a few others which may come and go as the save progresses.

The next post will include a description of the club's facilities, the staff, a season preview, and an overview of the players currently in the squad for the 2021 season. Updates will be posted every few in-game months & after every youth intake.

Hall of Fame, History, Records, Tracker.

Will be updated as the save progresses.

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Manager

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The manager, Jean Junior, is a dual-citizen of both Haiti and Brazil. Naturally, I'll delegate most press conferences to the assistant, as well as some pre-match team talks. No coaching badges and just a bit of footballing experience as a semi-professional footballer, in-line with what most sides in the 5th tier will have. The coaching attributes all start at rock-bottom, since they can be dynamic (and will definitely improve, given the expected length of the save). I've brought man management and motivating up to a few points, and focused on determination to ensure I don't negatively influence my players' personalities. Don't mind the "Route One" tactical style, we'll go for a traditional 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress that's fool-proof in lower-league management. 

Squad

We start with just three real players and a bunch of grey. None of the players want to renew, and two of them have contracts expiring within the next few months, meaning they will leave us halfway through the season. Badio will likely be sold for peanuts a few months before the end of his contract, but let's make sure he stays fit for now!

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Facilities & Club Info

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It must be said that the facilities could be much, much worse than this. Unfortunately, stadium maintenance might be a bit steep as we share the stadium with two others teams based in Resende, as well as their Reserves and U20 sides. YR and JC are not bad for our level, and may actually end up being too high for our finances in the short-term. We'll still try to get them as high as possible, as fast as possible though. :D

Edited by Prime Totti
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April 2021

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We started off very strongly, before losing Zambi and Agabo halfway through the campaign, shortly before the first of our three confrontations against Campo Grande. This led to Badio being the only non-grey player starting for our side, though we were fortunate enough to clinch a play-off spot before a tough run of games, after securing a top 4 finish before Agabo's departure.

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We unfortunately missed out on the final despite a second-leg comeback against Campo Grande, where we dominated both possession and chance creation. A decent striker in the next youth intake would do us a lot of good, given how high our xG has been so far this season! I've also discovered that the database I've downloaded features a Seletiva Série D, which acts as a 5th tier-equivalent for the purposes of promotion in and out of Série D. In practice, the Rio de Janeiro region features 4 groups of 17 teams, where the top 2 of each group face off against each other in a final tournament to clinch a promotion spot. That's right, one spot for 68 teams! This kicks off in May, and shares the same timeline as the Copa Rio.

Upgrades

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A couple of upgrades for our youth development as well, although our finances are bound to suffer as a result. Thankfully, the gate receipts from the Carioca semi-finals (and a bit of sponsorship money) have helped in alleviating the blow to our balance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

July 2021

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We get off to a decent start to the season, with only 2 losses coming in our first 8 games. I'm also quite impressed by the fact that we managed to get a few wins over the last few months, despite being full of grey players (except for centre-back Badio). These are the toughest seasons to get through, since the board can get impatient extremely fast in the lower leagues. 

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Not a surprise to see us 9 points out of the play-offs.

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Now for the fun stuff! Looks to be a well-rounded youth intake coming in, as well as confirmation that Haitian players do come through the youth system. The "golden generation" tag isn't much to get excited about, knowing that we only have 1 player contracted to the club at the moment. I got this preview in late June, which means that the intake should come in late September, a few weeks after the end of the season (for teams that didn't qualify for play-offs).

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September 2021 – End of Season

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A few decent results, despite an overall subpar second half of the season. Any win was a bonus, our goal was to get through these first 12 months as fast as possible & keep the job by the end of the season.

SELETIVA SÉRIE D

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We got out alive, and actually did decent for a team with no real players! Of course, most other teams in the league were in a similar position, but this speaks to how efficient the high-pressing game is in LLM.

COPA RIO

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Our showing in the Copa Rio wasn't the best, but it must be said that the standard of play is significantly better there. Plenty of Série D sides, where the gap in quality is simply too big.

END OF SEASON REVIEW

Player of the Season – Badio

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Our best (and only) player of the season. We'll be selling him for a % sell-on fee before his contract runs out, as he is not interested in renewing at the moment.

Note that typically, the End of Season Review will feature updates to the Best XI, a squad review, individual awards, and further info on our performance in the leagues and cups we participated in. But since this season was a bit exceptional due to having no players, there isn't much of the above worth analyzing.

Next up – Youth Intake! Full disclaimer, I'm already about halfway into the 2022 season, so the updates will be coming at a much faster rate this time.

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Youth Intake 2021

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What a surprise ! :D

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An interesting & quite promising first intake! First things first, there seems to be a 75-25 mix between Haitian and Brazilian players, which is a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a fully Haitian-Brazilian team of dual citizens, which would allow us to leverage Brazil's high youth rating. Seeing the PPAs of the Haitian players, maybe we still are? That'd be great, since Brazil won't be able to poach our players away by the time they come good. There is also a very mixed bag of personalities, which may be a bit of an issue given that I'll be signing everyone to youth/part-time contracts. As mentioned, since I'll be signing everyone, I'll only be highlighting the most interesting/promising players below.

KEY PLAYERS

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Incredible mentals! Getting a high-potential, high-ability player with a decent personality is always a good sign at the start of a save, but Jacques Pierre (YP01c) looks like he may be the gem of the team next season. I've always enjoyed playing with attacking midfielders, and his versatility is only for show. His lack of mobility makes him a poor winger, as does his lack of physicality and defensive acumen for a central midfielder.

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Top player by PCA & PPA in the intake, he seems to be well-rounded, although I'd consider him second in CA behind Pierre. The presence of an AMC may mean that he gets retrained into a CM-BWM, where he'll be playing alongside a DLP with complementary attributes. Jacques Milscent (YP01a) will also likely be the set-piece taker next season.

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If I expect any of the players in this youth intake to shine from January onwards, it should be Luis Henrique (YP01b). His personality isn't the best, but the combination of his PPMs and technical ability to get past his man will make him an excellent inside forward. It's also nice to get a Brazilian with a bit of flair in the team, we needed at least one!

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He may be described as a centre-back, but Alix Laveaux (YP01e) is exactly what I expect my Deep-Lying Playmaker to look like. Good on the ball, good defensively, knows how to pass.

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Félix Fils-Aime (YP01g) may find it hard to break into the team at first, due to Henrique's presence on the right flank. But I expect him to make full use of his playing time. Pacy wingers can be a huge threat in LLM, especially if they develop their technicals accordingly.

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A tall, tall, tall centre-back! Georges Beaubrun (YP01j) is looking decent defensively, on top of already being ahead of the curve in his physical development. The resolute personality is also a nice bonus.

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Our new goalkeeper Gérard Fombrun (YP01m) needed to be shared, if only because he'll start just about every game for us next year.

NEW CONTRACT

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And some great news to conclude the season, with a new contract tying us to the club for two more seasons!

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January 2022

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Reputation. Unsurprisingly, our reputation stayed intact despite some decent results in the league & some overperforming in the Carioca B2.

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Licenses. I will be updating you on the licenses situation, coach development is another facet that I think is extremely important early on in LLM, and across FM. When the team has only a few coaches, having good technical coaching attributes can be very helpful in youth development.

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Copa Rio. I wouldn't call it a fringe competition, but it will be the least of our priorities this season. We don't have the level to compete with the other sides in here, and only the top two teams of each group reach the knockouts. Knowing how much of a beating Bangu and Americano could give us, we'll rotate very heavily in this competition.

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Finances. We struck a deal for an additional kit sponsor, which now puts us at 65th (of 66) teams in the Seletiva Série D by sponsorship income. Still plenty of work to be done on that front, but we've got time to develop a brand around the team. Season ticket sales also increased on the back of last season's performances. Even if it's a small improvement, it shows that our stature didn't remain that intact, and that our reputation must've gained a few points. 

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March 2022

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Wow! Some incredible performances all around, we were unlucky not to come out top of the league by the end. A few moments of brilliance, sure, but some of the wins on here (7-0 vs. Olaria, 6-0 vs. Rio SP) show just how good of a squad we've managed to assemble. Surely, this is our year? 

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We finish the first stage of the Carioca State Championship in second place, just behind the same Rio SP side that we absolutely dominated on Matchday 2. Most goals scored (32), least goals conceded (9). Paul Alcine (YP01d) also leads the race for Golden Boot, with 13 goals in 11 games, and is the highest-rated player in the first stage (7.83). Now, onto the play-offs!

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Records. A few records here and there, many of them by our new Deep-Lying Playmaker, former center-back Vernard Ardouin (YP01l). Also important to note the stellar performances of Luis Henrique (YP01b) as an inside forward on the right wing. He's been the main man of this team this season, despite Pierre and Milscent having the highest PCA by a noticeable margin.

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What a win! I don't usually share individual results of "unimportant" games, but this may be the most dominant win I have ever seen on FM! We did not allow a single shot, were ruthless in front of goal, and could've even had an 8th goal. Possession stats were pretty even too. We just created so, so many chances - 43 shots, 15 on target, 7 goals. A performance for the ages by the 16 year-olds of Perolas Negras!

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Onto the semi-finals now, where we'll face third-placed Carapebus, a side which we beat 3-1 away in the first stage of the championship. Let's see if we can do better than last year and actually earn promotion onto the second tier of the Carioca!

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April 2022

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First-round. After a nil-nil draw in the first leg, we managed to turn our dominance into a 3-0 victory at home against Caparebus, securing a spot in the final!

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Attendance. We also managed to sell-out our home game against Rio SP, which will give us a healthy bit of income to sustain operations for a few additional months. Now, onto the games!

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Unbelievable! Well, not that unbelievable when we see the gap in quality between our team and the rest of the league. But, our first piece of silverware came at the hands of Rio Sao Paulo, who we dominated both home and away to lift the Campeonato Carioca B2 State Championship...

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And earn promotion in the Carioca A2! Paul Alcine (YP01b) was the best player of the competition, but credit goes out to players like Milscent and Henrique, who made this title-winning campaign possible. Now, onto the Seletiva Série D, where we'll get to face off against opposition of a higher level, with real hopes of promotion this time!

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July 2022

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An amazing start to the season! Beyond the impeccable, entertaining football we've played (averaging a little under 3.5 goals scored per game), I'm especially surprised by our defense, which I thought was the squad's weakest point. With that being said, teams like Sampaio Corrêa and Bangu are just too good for us at the moment. Experience, quality, depth, they have it all.

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Seletiva Série D. We currently sit in 3rd, three points behind Bangu with a game in hand. I honestly don't expect us to challenge for the playoffs this year, unless we have a massive stroke of luck in our encounter against Bangu (or if they slip against someone else). Their only loss was against the leaders, which actually came as a big surprise to us. Here, look at this.

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Bangu are currently spending more than twice as much as the next-highest spender in the league in terms of wages. At our level, I'm not exactly sure how that is financially sustainable, especially since they don't bring in much via gate receipts. But, if they can afford it, why not? This looks like a very tough league to get out of. Here we are in comparison.

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Not sure if the word "overachiever" quite captures the extent to which we are underdogs! We are 60th of 66 in salary per annum, knowing that Bangu is paying some of its players more than our entire wage bill. Managing our expenses will be important if we want to sustain top-level youth development, since youth setup expenses can rack up quickly.

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Record. Yet another record for Vernand Ardouin (YP01l), the youngest of last year's youth intake cohort. He starts most games as well, so fair play to him.

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Licenses. Another one, right after completing the National B Licence. And once again, covered by the club.

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Youth Intake. The preview is quite encouraging, although the lack of full-backs is certain to remain an issue for the foreseeable future, as our current right-back does not even meet the standard for the fifth tier. Good midfielders is great to hear though, as depth in that part of the pitch will prove useful once the fixture congestion of July-August kicks in.

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September 2022 – Season Review

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We were a bit disappointing in the second half of the season, dropping points at home to Barra Mansa and away at Campo Grande. Of course, the loss to Bangu (who won the play-off tournament and were promoted to Série D) was expected, but conceding 5 goals is never a good sign as well. Decent results in the Copa Rio, given how little we cared about that competition.

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Seletiva Série D. Still very far from promotion, but we did much better than last season, with 35 points against 22 last season. Third-highest in goals scored is also a staple of our entertaining, positive football, which will please both the fans and the board I'm sure. Either way, we were expected to finish mid-table, so competing for play-offs was never a possibility in my mind.

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Copa Rio. Not surprised to see us in 4th place. We were basically a no-show for this competition, barely putting in any effort. If I had more depth, I would've rotated more. Next year, maybe!

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Squad Review. Everyone had the opportunity to play a lot of football, and it's a bit surprising to see Ronnie Voltarelli (YP01h) with so much playing time given how poor some of his attributes are. What I typically like to do is highlight the season's key contributors and most improved players, as seen below.

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Luis Henrique (YP01b) was unbelievable this season, as the stats show. Notching 39 goal contributions from 36 appearances is no small feat, and his impeccable disciplinary record ensured that he was available often enough to be the first name on the team sheet. Needs to improve physically, but he's still very young.

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Paul Alcine (YP01d) is one of the players whose development surprised me most. He's turned into an incredible number 9, and the improvements in his workrate and stamina will make him even more useful as a pressing forward next season, if we can keep him. Also, the proof that finishing and composure aren't the only attributes that matter for forwards!

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Georges Beaubrun (YP01j) is turning out like an incredible player, showing no signs of stopping as seen in his PPA. This screenshot may not show it, but no player has improved more this season than Georges. If only every player had his personality, we'd be unstoppable.

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Jacques Milscent (YP01a) led the team in assists, despite having to do a lot of the dirty work as a number 6 in midfield. He's also becoming very well-rounded, and is our team's best player by PCA.

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Job Interviews. We were also offered an interview by Goytacaz, which I forgot to screenshot. River (PI) is one of the best sides in the Pernambucano, and has a realistic shot at promotion this year. Needless to say that getting an interview with them shows how well we've been doing.

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Youth Development. Some great news a few weeks before our youth intake. Let's see if we can sustain that level of development, financially.

 

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Youth Intake 2022

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Another golden generation, though that still doesn't mean much given our lack of depth & quality.

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Exotic second nationalities! A fair bit more Brazilian flavour in this intake than in the last one, though many of the most promising elements (Craan, Mervil, Mathon) still hail from Haiti. Also, the presence of a decent right-back is a strong addition to the team, although he's not much better than our current option and we still don't have a good left back to back up Helton Hickelmy (YP01f). Some decent personalities as well all around, including another Resolute player! Also, note that the faces will be replaced across the save, since I forgot to check off Preserve when updating regen faces using NewGAN.

KEY PLAYERS

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If we look past his poor personality, Jacques Mathon (YP02a) looks like a very interesting prospect. Strong physicals from the off, high workrate (which is so important in our system), and decent finishing-related attributes. He'll be trained as an AML, and may be a sub to Luis Henrique (YP01c), who will move to the left-side of the pitch...

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Due to the arrival of Carlos Vinicius (YP02b) into the first team! Probably the best prospect of this intake, by a distance. Incredible mental attributes for a winger, very technical, pacey. If he can work on his stamina, work rate and finishing, he can be an incredible inside forward. Bit unfortunate that he plays on the right given his preferred foot, but the fact that our forward drops deep means he'll still be very useful in that role. Also, what a personality!

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Solid personality for a goalkeeper! He'll start ahead of Gérard Fombrun (YP01m), given his favourable personality and similar potential. He's already quite well-rounded, but I expect him to exceed Fombrun's level by early next season (attribute-wise), if not earlier. Either way, good to have a second goalkeeper regardless of how he turns out.

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Our new starting right-back, Junior Michel (YP02f) is far from impressive. His lack of physicality is definitely going to negatively impact his performances in the short-term, but he will at least benefit from solid game time in the first six months of the season, as we tackle the now-difficult Campeonato Carioca. Hopefully his hidden attributes are good enough to see him develop quickly, since his position is perhaps the reason why we couldn't compete with the top 2 in the Seletiva.

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His attributes scream NCB to me, but he'll have to keep working on his passing and pace in order to break into the first-team. However, I'm quite hopeful that Paulo Vitor (YP02g) can manage a few appearances next season, especially given the need for rotation between the three competitions.

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Danilo José (YP02m) looks like a cracking prospect. Good PPM given his skillset, great mentals from the off, and his marking ability will be useful if we want him to act as a vice for our current BWM, Jacques Milscent (YP01a). Also, always great to see a second nationality!

NEXT SEASON EXPECTATIONS

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Surely, the second part of this club culture will be easily achieved. They're still looking to see us fall in the top 4 of the Seletiva, but let's see how the board expects us to perform in April, when we edge closer to the start of that competition. For now, a month's break before the start of our third season at the helm of the club!

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On 30/12/2021 at 03:04, erikeagles said:

Nice project, maybe you can lead Haiti to the world cup!!

That's the dream, still very excited to see when we get to see our first U20/U23/senior call-up ! :D

On 30/12/2021 at 09:46, rmcf2017 said:

Great save, have seen a few people talk about it but not many attempt it 

That was me a few months ago, thought why not give it a try as a last-save on FM21! Especially since club-country saves may become a bit easier on FM22 with dynamic youth ratings. Thanks for the support!

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On 30/12/2021 at 09:58, the_hdk said:

awesome idea, will follow

Thanks for the support !

On 30/12/2021 at 11:18, corinthiano said:

Good performance in the Seletiva, you are getting closer to the top! Do you think you can bridge the gap next season?

Yes, solid performance overall this season. I think fatigue & lack of depth played an important role in us dropping points against middling sides in the Seletiva, so we may be able to do a bit better now that we have added depth from this youth intake. With that being said, we still lack the quality to compete with the top teams. We've failed to at least grab a point against a top 2 side since the start of the save, and we still underperform our xG by a fair margin in some of these games. If our strikers and fullbacks develop as expected, we may stand a chance next season - but I'm not getting my hopes up too much. The first months in the Carioca will tell us just how well we can compete low-4th/high-5th tier sides.

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