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JohanCruyff#14

Building a club from Top to Bottom

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I’ve been playing Football Manager for over 20 years now, but still admit to struggling from time to time, particularly on the tactical side as the game has gotten more in depth. Up until relatively recently, my playing patterns were pretty predictable. I’d fire up a game and start a save as one of my three favorite teams, Aston Villa, D.C. United, or A.C. Milan. Over the last few years that pattern hasn’t been as enjoyable, partly because despite their real-world struggles, these teams were relatively easy to resurrect and make successful. I wanted a different type of challenge. Shortly after the release of FM16, I started a save with Italian Serie C side, A.C. Pavia, and got them promoted to Serie B at the first attempt. It was the most enjoyment I got out of a save in years, then not long into my second season, my laptop died, and that was that.

I finally got around to replacing that laptop and here I am with FM18, suffering from the same predictability pattern. So, I’m going back to Italy. I grew up watching Serie A in the 1990s, and have always been a fan of the league. I have two aims here:

                 I.            Find a team that has never enjoyed success at the highest level

               II.            Make them my team

The first aim easy to achieve, there are an abundance of such teams in any nation. The second aim, well that’s a little more obscure. But here’s what I want to do, build the club along a predetermined set of philosophies that are not necessarily outlined or guided by the board. Essentially, I want to change the DNA of a club, and I see this being defined in 3 ways:

·         Youth Development

·         Tactical Philosophy

·         Recruitment Policy

How do I hope to achieve these defining features of the club’s DNA? I have some basic ideas.

Youth Development

Atlanta provide an excellent blueprint for existing Italian clubs, that is one part, but always creating a strong youth recruitment network and development program that will hopefully include both feeder and parent clubs.

Tactical Philosophy

The part I expect to struggle with most, mostly because I am not as tactically proficient as I should be, but the choice is this, a traditionally Italian defensive approach, or some more attacking and flowing. My natural instinct is for the latter, but we will see.

Recruitment Policy

Someone once said, ‘You can’t win anything with kids’, although he was proved wrong, the youth focus does need to be tempered with experience in order to aid their development. But I want the players at the club to have certain traits in common. With that in mind strong ratings in the following will be a must.

·         Determination

·         Work rate

·         Teamwork

·         Composure

·         Concentration

All essential mental stats, that will become the backbone of the club’s DNA. Regardless of the other talents that a player may have, if they are lacking in these they are not going to fit, as a result my player search will use these as filters.

The rest, well we’ll figure out as we go. But, not in such a haphazard way, I will refer to some of the best the forums have to offer on all subjects as well as some of the best in Football writing, Inverting the Pyramid, Soccernomics, etc., I have a healthy book budget so if there are any other recommendations feel free to share. I don’t have all the answers, but the game would be pretty boring if I did.

Lastly, I don’t know for sure how long this experiment will continue, but my intention is to run it until the release of the next edition, presumably FM 19, but I will see how far I get and commit to that at least. In the next post I will share the club I chose to be the subject of this journey.

As always any feedback is welcome

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Choosing The Club

My first inclination was to return to A.C. Pavia and attempt to recreate past ‘glories’, sadly I couldn’t find them and upon some research it appears they have joined the long list of Italian clubs to go bust and reinvent themselves at a lower level. I scoured the list of Serie C sides and none jumped out to me.

In another part of my life I am a student of history, and the Rennaissance is one of my favorite periods, Italy was at the heart of it. Given the nature of this project there is a certain level romanticism with tying it to the Rennaissance. Next I identified the major crnters of the Renaissance inItaly and came up with the following list:

                     Bologna

                     Florence

                     Genoa

                     Milan

                     Venice

                     Verona

In footballing terms this translated into:

                     Bologna: Bologna FC 1909

                     Florence: ACF Fiorentina

                     Genoa: Genoa CFC, or Sampdoria

                     Milan: Internazionale, or A.C.

                     Venice: Venezia

                     Verona: Chievo, or Hellas

All Serie A sides with the exception of Venezia. The last time they played in Serie was 2002, and since that time have been refounded on several occasions, this season they are back in Serie B after winning promotion. The overview suggests a relegation battle is on the cards.

 Ven001_zpsmffzoa7j.png

Small stadium, poor to average facilities, they will be perfect. So Venezia it is. An unorthodox method of selecting a side, but there it is…..

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Understanding the club

The obligatory meetings out of the way I catch a glimpse of the clubs history. This is the first step in understanding the club, with now madated philosophies to follow, I am free in that regard.

Ven003_zpsx7naelzq.png

Although one of the older clubs in Italy their history is not laden with success and what success they have had has been fleeting. Therefore, shaping the side to my vision should be relatively easy, provided I can back it up with performances on the pitch.

The next steps for me before looking at the playing and backroom staff is to learn as much about the club setup as I can, and reset what I need immediately and shelve anything I feel is counterproductive to my vision. That will mean focusing on these three areas for now

                     Club

                     Board

                     Finances

Understanding these and the potential limitations I have will let me know how quickly I can move.

The Club

Ven002_zpsob8hjqs5.png

The General tab doesn’t tell me a great deal, but tells me the clubs rivalries, which is key to understanding part of what makes a club, and what can be most important to fans.

Ven004_zpsaphpgmac.png

The Facilities screen, in the short term, not a whole lot is likely to change here, as it will require major investment, and are more medium to long term goals that can only be realized with sustained success. But, first on my list will be the Youth and Data analysis facilities, plus the Junior coaching and Youth recruitment, as they play key parts in my grand vision for the Club DNA.

Incidentally, and related to the Youth system, there are no affiliates so I am free in that regard.

The Board

Ven005_zpsm8b22y9x.png

At this point in time I am really only concerned with the Overview tab, as time goes by the other tabs will increase in importance and influence, but for now this screen tells me what if any flexibility I have in my budget, scouting limitations and staffing levels.

I am more than willing to work within the scouting confines set for now, the budgetary limitations were expected, and the follow gaps exist on my backroom staff roster.

                     First Team Coaches – 2

                     Sports Scientist – 1

                     Physio – (1)

                     Under-20s Coach – (1)

                     Under-18s Coach – 1

                     Under-18s Sports Scientist – 1

                     Under-18s Physio – 1

                     Scouts – 2

                     Data Analyst – 1

                     Under-20s Data Analyst – 1

                     Under-18s Data Analyst – 1

Note: () indicates an excess of staff

 

Finances

Ven006_zpscgvneg49.png

For now, this is the only the summary screen is of relevance to me. It displays the overall balance of the club, knowing that can help temper my expectations when it comes to board requests. I also see here that for the moment, I will retain 70% of any transfer income, but depending on the ongoing financial situation that can change at any moment. Lastly of note, the club is not saddled with any debt, that can make or break my plans.

Edited by JohanCruyff#14

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Sounds interesting and I will be following. The thread may be more suited to the Career updates forum though, I think.

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Definitely more suited to the career thread.

I liked the part about picking a club that havent had success at the highest level yet you named both Milan clubs lol. Both have won the CL in the last 15 years.

 

Either way i LOVE the Venezia selection, great choice and lovely kit.

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1 hour ago, craigd84 said:

Definitely more suited to the career thread.

I liked the part about picking a club that havent had success at the highest level yet you named both Milan clubs lol. Both have won the CL in the last 15 years.

 

Either way i LOVE the Venezia selection, great choice and lovely kit.

Thanks man, maybe one of the mods will be kind enough to move it. But to clarify, the listing of the other clubs were from cities that were influential during the Renaissance, all the others just happen to be in Serie A now, while never having enjoyed major success and being recently promoted to Serie B, Venezia was easy in the end. 

Edited by JohanCruyff#14

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Been considering a save with Venezia (I believe the job you've taken is Pippo Inzaghi's), but ended up using Fiorentina (also kinda renaissance theme given I was drawn to them partially due to Florence being the setting for Assassin's Creed II), really interested to see how this gets on!

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5 hours ago, zlatanera said:

Been considering a save with Venezia (I believe the job you've taken is Pippo Inzaghi's), but ended up using Fiorentina (also kinda renaissance theme given I was drawn to them partially due to Florence being the setting for Assassin's Creed II), really interested to see how this gets on!

I was originally going to begin a Fiorentina save for similar reasons until my Renaissance thinking took over.

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Player and Staff Assessment

Players

I’ve started with the First Team Squad, and will look at the U-20s and U-18s later, but I created a custom view in order to quickly identify those who did and didn’t fit into the ‘Cultural Pillars’ I identified earlier.

                     Determination

                     Work rate

                     Teamwork

                     Composure

                     Concentration

Ven008_zpsbiolofkp.png

Using this view as a starting point, it was easy to quickly identify those who would not cut it mentally, I have transfer listed the ones I could and will phase out those who just joined over the course of the season. Then I will examine to key attributes for their position and role as the second way of cutting out the deadwood. Interestingly, but perhaps not totally unsurprisingly, the older members of the squad were the ones who scored highest across the board in these ratings.

Backroom Staff

Similarly, for the staff I identified some key mental attributes that I would use to cut out the chaff.

                     Determination

                     Level of Discipline

                     Motivation

Ven009_zpskmnee7sn.png

And created a custom view for staff also, and again will use these ‘cultural pillars’ in tandem with role specific ratings to judge who stays and who goes. In reality, the majority of the backroom team has been culled, and every position is going to require replacement

U-20s and U-18s

Many of the players in these squads are out on loan, some have been relegated from the first team squad and are transfer listed. It will take time to assess these players and can do so over the coming months, the brightest star Alberto Acquadro is unfortunately out on loan at Triestina for the entire season, but looks like he has the ability to be a major player in the clubs future.

Ven010_zpsz1lncp0d.png

 

Edited by JohanCruyff#14

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Well this just sucks, went to fire this save up, while the Champions League Final was one and the save looks like it's corrupted, tried on three separate systems now,  and for once I didn't have a rolling save setup. So back to the drawing board. Don't want to give up on this experiment so open to suggestions on who I should try it with next, no real preference on team or league outside of them not having any pedigree

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@JohanCruyff#14 that sucks man! Was looking forward to following this thread.

How about one of the Basque clubs who are in the shadow of Athletic Club (and are also in the shadow of Madrid and Barca along with Athletic)? Eibar have a 7,000 seater stadium and are punching above their weight, I'm having fun with Real Sociedad right now but they haven't won anything since the 1980s and don't have much money (and on the update just sold their best player to their rivals Athletic), and Osasuna likewise haven't won anything bar Segunda a few times. 

Real Oviedo, as a team with no historical success who were rescued by their fans and football fans worldwide would be another interesting one. 

Edited by zlatanera

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Just now, zlatanera said:

@JohanCruyff#14 that sucks man! Was looking forward to following this thread.

How about one of the Basque clubs who are in the shadow of Athletic Club (and are also in the shadow of Madrid and Barca along with Athletic)? Eibar have a 7,000 seater stadium and are punching above their weight, I'm having fun with Real Sociedad right now but they haven't won anything since the 1980s and don't have much money (and on the update just sold their best player to their rivals Athletic), and Osasuna likewise haven't won anything bar Segunda a few times. 

 

Interesting, do they have the same self-imposed Basque-only limitations, I kknow Real Sociedad don't anymore but wondering about the others.

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@JohanCruyff#14 No, none of them do. They have very Spanish squads though, I think Sociedad would only have 5 foreign players if you were on the 18.3 database, and one less on the old one (they loaned in the Mexican Hector Moreno to replace Inigo Martinez).

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3 minutes ago, zlatanera said:

@JohanCruyff#14 No, none of them do. They have very Spanish squads though, I think Sociedad would only have 5 foreign players if you were on the 18.3 database, and one less on the old one (they loaned in the Mexican Hector Moreno to replace Inigo Martinez).

Ok, you convinced me, I'll fire up a Sociedad save and see where that takes me

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ok, slight change of plan, Sociedad were a little big for what I hoped to achieve here, looked at Oviedo and almost went with them, but finally decided on Recreativo Huelva, who's only claim to fame is that they are Spain's oldest club. So Recreativo it is. Now do I continue this thread or begin a new one in the Career Updates forum

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I'd say probably put it in the careers section. Recreativo is certainly a suitably left-field choice of club! 

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2 hours ago, zlatanera said:

I'd say probably put it in the careers section. Recreativo is certainly a suitably left-field choice of club! 

Began a new one with Recreativo here if you are interested, the first few post will admittedly be rehashing a lot of what I have here

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Recre is a grand old team, el Decano. I lived in Huelva for a couple of years and went to matches at Nuevo Colombino. The club's basically at death's door with very little investment. I've got a save with them on the backburner, Segunda B is absolutely insane to try to get out of, especially with the quality of players you have at Recre. I'll follow your updates!

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