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_Ben_

[FM20] Tequila and Mariachi?

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Youth Intake Preview

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No news of another son but I'll keep hoping!

 

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500 games up

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We've been on quite the journey since my first game in charge!

 

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Season Mid point - xG: Has it helped?

I've now calculated 19 games worth of xG data (obviously at a really basic level) so I'm going to dump some information in here and hopefully come back to it over the next few game months when I have looked through it a few times.

Firstly, the overall data:

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xG has up nine points better of than we currently are - which is in eight place (as of mid-Jan now the first full round of fixtures is complete). A look at our goal tally tells a worrying tale, just 0.89 goals scored per game to this point - 42% of all of xG are actually converted. Conversely, we have a good defensive record but 49% of all xG allowed have been scored. 

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I have further broken down the shot types to have a look into our penetration and how good we actually are turning our chances into goals:

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Our goal conversion percentage on the road is a worry, but we are naturally going to score less away from home, given home field advantage and how other teams approach games at their home stadium. We seem to execute our slightly more defensive road game plan well, allowing more shows but they are from further out, so less are on target and considerably more shots are needed before they create a clear cut chance, or even a chance. At home, we are strongest at converting our own shots bu is 17% really a good level for a top flight team? I need to compare this kind of thing will real life data to see what a ball-park figure is.

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Next, I've been able to look at the same comparison, just spread over home games and away games:

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20 points at home, including 3 each against Barca, Sevilla and Atletico but only eight points on the road. Probably expected. But to be scoring 1.9x more goals per game at home is a worry. Our xG is relatively similar for both - allowing more away is probably expected but I'm happy to see that we are creating on the road and now need to find out how to score from them!

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The last bit of data I have extrapolated is, using reputation ratings, a comparison of our performances and xG data against sides of different strengths in this league:

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From this, I know I've got some tough away games against teams of equal stature, which we have really struggled with at home. We have to go away to Barca and Atletico but have beat both of those at home - knowing we'll have to enlist a similar game plan to what shut out Real Madrid in a drab attacking performance from us. We have really struggled against those teams that are now predicted to be around the same level, failing to deliver more than 1.0 xG in away games at Athletic and Granada - the teams we really now should be vying with.

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I'll pick away at bits of these as I look into them more over the next few game months!

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Seems to me like away xG conversion could be skewed by facing tougher teams. You didn't score against the three same reputation teams you faced away (and you did against Villarreal), but perhaps over the remaining games in that pool the goal tally will revert to a more acceptable value.

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xG should be in the game. The dev team should have access to the stats and the circumstances to know exactly how many shots are scored from a certain position, shot type etc

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17 hours ago, wesl said:

Seems to me like away xG conversion could be skewed by facing tougher teams. You didn't score against the three same reputation teams you faced away (and you did against Villarreal), but perhaps over the remaining games in that pool the goal tally will revert to a more acceptable value.

I agree. I'm going to stop tracking it in that depth for a little bit and actually pay a bit more attention to what we are doing during the game rather than analysing it afterwards! I do know that I have a tough run of games away at teams we have struggled with, who usually park the bus so I need to prepare accordingly.

2 hours ago, Fosse said:

xG should be in the game. The dev team should have access to the stats and the circumstances to know exactly how many shots are scored from a certain position, shot type etc

I think so, too. Even in just the analyst reports or something - there is a screen for shot accuracy and goal location so surely there is something that can build on that!? 

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December 2031/January 2032

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Our strange form seems to continue - defeats to Eibar (20th) and Getafe (19th) yet a win over Barcelona and a cup win over Sevilla show that we are more than capable of holding our own. Both defeats, and the one against Sociedad, were subjects of utterly dire offensive play, where we somehow managed to score in two of the three ties. 

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For comparison, at this point last year, we were averaging 1.09 ppg and sat 12th, with 23 points from 21 games. This season sees a 0.27 ppg increase and sees us three places higher. We are well on track to record an improvement in finish and points, up from the 47 that we took last year. Eight victories is just three away from our total last year and we have sixteen games left to play. All in all, despite some struggles, I feel we are much better set this year and have made progress on the pitch.

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Worryingly, my shortlist is still empty, I have very few ideas of where I want to strengthen and some questions over first team players - I definitely need to review the long term future of the club and try and formulate my own season by season plan for first team players.

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February/March 2032

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The two months started with a tough cup tie, at home to Atletico. They took the lead early, exposing my defensive line playing from wing to wing but really did nothing to create much from that point. A small switch to a wider defensive line nullified their wingers and, to be fair, we should have won - missing a penalty and having a goal chalked off for offside in second half stoppage time. Much can be taken from our performances against the top teams as we seem to really pick our game up but also exploit spaces that they leave freely. Our home tie against Real Madrid started perfectly, with Neyveson scoring two wonderful solo goals after exploiting space in Real's 4-2-3-1 shape before beating defenders and the goalkeeper. A soft 72nd minute penalty gave Real a lifeline, followed by a stupid mistake in the 74th as they completed the comeback. Another really well executed game plan sees us unlucky not to take all three points. We then threw everything at Granada, but the inconsistencies continue to haunt us as we couldn't find the back of the net after falling behind to an early goal against the run of play. We were similarly unlucky away at Barcelona but couldn't quite disjoint their 3-5-2 in the same way we got in the spaces of Real's tactic and caused them troubles. If we give teams like Barca two CCC's - they're going to score. This time they scored both. It's nice to watch Barca vs The Barca Model in action and, honestly, we aren't too far away. We ended the month at our best against Levante - with more evidence that our shape works best against teams that don't field anyone in the DM role - this time a 4-4-1-1. Neyveson showed that, on his day, he's unplayable - winning all of his headers, completing seven dribbles, and scoring twice.

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March started with a resounding victory over Elche - where Neyveson bagged another brace and should have had way more. Fresh off the back of Player of the Month, following his four February goals, he's getting into some great positions - strange as I expected the 4-2-3-1 (with two DM and 3 in the midfield strata) position to be restrictive for him - and had four CCC's of his own. Samuel added a tap in, taking him to five for the season, my second top scorer and putting serious pressure of Jose Carlos for the starting berth. We continued our fine form with an oustanding comeback victory over Alaves. 2-0 down very early in the game, we would normally shut up shop and create nothing but fought back, albeit with two goals from free kicks but our general play very much led me to think that the points were deserved. Next, bottom of the league Eibar came to town and they certainly didn't come with any intention to win. 1-0 was a lot closer than the game should have been but there were issues that are repeating again and again - possession in the opposition half and penetration from deep. 3 points is 3 points though. We ended March against Real Sociedad - who moved the ball really quickly from back to front and caused us lots of problems. The lack of anyone in the striker strata gave them 10 yards with the ball in defence and we, even with a higher line of engagement, just couldn't get close enough to them.

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As a long time lover of calcio, I've always been in the mindset that tactics should be pro-active - setting our stall out to stop them playing, and that is something that has always been mirrored in my FM saves. In this save, I've tried a different approach - simply having a base shape and trying to change it on the fly. The two months of moving away from xG but watching the vast majority of the matches (I normally go for extended or key with goal replays only) - I have realised that, despite the main shape, I really need to employ little tweaks for different team shapes and different mentalities. The xG showed me that we performed poorly against teams with the same reputation as us - well, we beat Elche, Alaves and Eibar this month by changing little bits of our play and that needs to be a pre-requisite from now on.

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I have also secured a third African feeder club - the well known and respected ASEC Mimosas. They join clubs in Mali and Ghana as African areas now providing me with some youth players. As my reputation grows, I want to move this into South American but, as mentioned before, these players do not count against Non-EU rules and therefore can be utilised in my B-team if they aren't good enough for my first team.

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Youth Candidates - 2031/32

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After two great intakes, we have been brought down to earth somewhat with this. None of the three academies (plus the Romanian one that I butchered to provide us youth players) have done so and we've not had any Paraguayans for the first time in three years.

Sales and Catalan are the best of the average bunch.

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Spanish international?

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This could potentially be our first. He's been in fantastic form since Christmas, so I don't see why not!

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International Call Ups

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The fuss surrounding Neyveson didn't materialise, but Carlos Alberto, a player with no Spanish lineage, who has qualified on residency terms and turned his back on Brazil, is called up. He's a really classy defender on his day and has thoroughly deserved it on this form. Alex Villasanti, soon to be in the first team, will get his chance at the Copa America.

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April/May 2032

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A really strong end to the season with some fantastic performances, even if we are still a little short on the actual goal conversion front. We faced a different beast at home to Athletic, with them having a man sent off inside 7 minutes but refusing to sit back, playing a lopsided formation with only one winger, playing as a Trequartista, who kept swapping sides. It meant trying to punish the space was hard and I knew we needed more than just one goal. A set piece concession, which has become a pattern of late, was enough to drop two points A fantastic couple of away victories over Atletico and Leganes before a hard fought 0-0 against Celta, in a match that, again, I felt we deserved to win. We were outplayed by Sevilla, with their width causing us problems - which saw me revert to a man marking system on their wingers and their striker (by my half back) but, as always, that opened the door for their midfield, who scored both goals. We once again failed to beat Mallorca, who set up without a single attacking duty in a deep, defensive 4-1-4-1 which we just could not break down. A stunning free kick from Brian Pena earned us a point. The last two games saw two great performances and evened out our quite poor home record.

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I am going to analyse the playing statistics in a separate post but I am delighted with the improvement, of eleven points and two places, and the football that is beginning to be evident more often at this club.

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Youth Monitoring Update

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Another group of players through and this year we have made typical progress with physical attributes growing most at this age. It's nice to see a good technical increased as well as anticipation and decisions.

Here is how this group compares:

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Escobar slots in as the fifth 'best' improvement with Samaniego the eighth and Burgos in 20th, with Dean and Tavares 22nd and 23rd. Interestingly, Diego Samaniego becomes the top rated first year player to leave this monitoring group - according to the mean of their attributes at the end of the year. He is 0.7 average points higher than Samuel and Alex Villasanti and Israel Escobar also make it onto this list.

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There are definitely lots of positives coming from these youth intakes and I hope that we will continue with a strong production line and commitment to youth development.

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Really great season. Did you qualify for the European conference?

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21 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Really great season. Did you qualify for the European conference?

Only the top 7, I'm afraid! Although, we still operate with a paper thin squad so maybe a few years more building before an assault on, what seems to be, a winnable Europa Conference League would be great!

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Stadium Expansion

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The Rayo Vallecano stadium holds 24k so next year will be a good test of just how many fans we have.

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Long Term Plans

I'm trying to move towards being totally reliant on my youth system but I feel that it's still several years away. However, I do need to make sure that I have a long term succession plan for the players in the squad. This is always a little bit of a prediction and somewhat optimistic, presuming that all the 'top' players perform, don't have their heads turned or run out contract and that all of the 'youth' players develop in the ways that are necessary for them to both fit the preferred attribute mould and also to be good enough to become  a 'top' player.

Firstly, here is the first team squad going in to next season:

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I'm confident posting this now - before the pre-season and transfer window has even started. There is only one change that will be happening this summer and that is the promotion and Alex Villasanti to the first team. The young Paraguayan academy product is just as good as Villalba and actually offers a bit more playmaking ability.  The squad is young and, whilst somewhat inexperienced, has quality in areas that I want it to have.

The standout players for replacement due to their age are Alena and Puig and the standout players for replacement due to my own preferences are Sabena: who is not good enough on the ball, Navarro: who is more of a centre back but not as good as my centre backs and wingers Pena, Septien and Jose Carlos: who have been failing to provide the goal threat that I want. Obviously this is a long list and is to be actioned over several years, with players collected and monitored over the long term. However, a good indication of my setup for the future can be seen by looking at my 'development' squad. This is not necessarily the B team but a selection of players who I would like, in an ideal world, to be first team players. I am well aware that some aren't good enough and nor will ever be good enough but I detailed this at the start of the save - I want to mould players in my own way but then allow them to move on to pastures new should they wish (although I now have 2 first teams to fill).

Here is the development squad:

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I've added the signings of Fulvio (€675k) and Celsinho (€12k) to fill in two gaps - as I hope to have a set of four full backs of Bravo and Celsinho (stronger left foot) and Lucas and Samaniego (stronger right foot) and for the sweeper keeper to take over from Puig in a few years. They both have Spanish citizenship so are eligible for my B team in the mean time - although Celsinho's deal doesn't conclude until the summer of 2033, the next one. In the midfield, I have pinned hopes on Israel Escobar, who has been converted to an MC over the last year. His excellent technique and first touch really make me think he could fit the mould of Alena and I hope his potential will allow him to live up to that. On the wing, Lyndson, a first team member for two years with 30+ appearances and a really decent 'DNA match' just needs some more game time so will probably drop down a division this summer.

The remainder of the players are less positive, with Palacios the best of the bunch remaining but needing to develop his concentration, as well as his all round consistency to usurp Benjamin, the weakest of the three centre backs. Oprea, Burgos and Tavares are all youngsters and have more of a chance than Dominguez and Antonio who may well have found their level in the B squad. I will look for the odd player to flesh out these roles but, as you can see, it's a very restricted window to fit these attribute thresholds as well as have the potential to be a first team player, all on a really small budget.

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Things are looking bright for the future. We need to continue pushing on with the squad, allowing youngsters a chance and trying to spot those who fit my strict recruitment policy.

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Testimonials

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Nice to honour my two longest serving players!

 

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Release clause met

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Strange - I don't think he's actually any good!

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The Shortlist

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I want to develop the best players possible for my first team but I feel that, this year definitely, a top rated youngster has far less certainty of being a world class player than ever before - and I've first hand experienced that, although to a lesser extent with the amount of potential I felt they had, with the likes of Francisco, Olawale, Sunny Godwin and Idrissa Mendy. Therefore, I think that I need to invest in talent from other clubs and countries to widen the pool of youngsters available to me - a strategy that will probably run alongside the 'marquee' approach I took last year with San Marino, although I haven't really been able to identify the 25+ star who would strengthen the team within my constraints.

The big thing about these players is that the all are players in positions whereby I lack potential and 60% of them hold a Spanish passport, easing up any non-EU issues that I may normally have when recruiting from South America.

I already have a pre-arranged transfer for Celsinho to join at the end of the season and I screenshotted him over the summer when I announced the deals for himself and Fulvio, the goalkeeper. I won't show you the rest until/if I sign them but I have put them into the DNA tracker, with the exception of Alcolea, who I was still scouting properly when I made it!

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Immediately, I can see the improvement that this will have - these youngsters, based on their attributes that I want for my style of play, are just as good as those in the first team already. Delgado isn't two footed, as I want from my wingers, but offers a great 'second striker' option with his excellent finishing. Galindo is really small, has great vision and passing and is Messi-esque in his game. I foresee the three of those with Samuel (meaning that Pena, Septien and Jose Carlos are moved out) as my four first team wingers for the future. Ronaldo (how could I turn down a player with that name!) is a little raw, as you'd expect for a 17 year old, but his potential seems to be massive. Needs to work on a few things but an upgrade on Antonio, my current B team striker.

The future is, hopefully, bright!

 

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New HOYD

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Probably the most important member of staff in this kind of save, if you believe what has been published by SI in the past. My old member of staff, Cristo Rodriguez, wasn't bad - his WWY was a bit low for my liking and his personality left the 'professionalism' part in doubt so those are two things I've addressed. Carlos Roberto is a complete unknown, with a career in the lower leagues of Brazil and previous in a job as a reserves manager for Linense, a lower division side from Brazil who compete in the Sao Paulo state league. He's one of those magical finds - the personality, great WWY and JPA and JPP. It seems that every member of staff who joins takes my tactical style (it was just tiki-taka) and he has a good preferred formation - hopefully focusing on some wingers (the 4-4-1-1 formation has provided more wide midfielders, if I'm honest). Being Brazilian may lead to some more dual nationalities, too.

I'm excited for this! Next job is to see what I can do about the B team staff, although it's hard because I don't really get much say as they are a separate-ish team.

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Facility upgrades

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Still plenty more left on this part of the infrastructure. 

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July/August/September 2032

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Looking at the goalscoring record in September, one would be right to question what year and what league we are in - a rare feat of Brian Pena scoring, where he has already achieved 30% of his total for the last two seasons, combined. We have had a really strong start and I'm quite happy to have kept the scoreline respectable against the two giants. With 12 games to go until the mid point - having only Atletico to face out of the really big sides is a promising starting point.

The goals have been shared out a little more and there is clearer evidence that it is my depth on the left wing and not the tactic that is stopping that part of the pitch from providing me any goals. Septien is a below average finisher and Lyndson, who was not able to secure a move away, is very young and untested. Between them, they have really struggled for goals (4 combined last season) but with Pena, a more natural goalscorer, playing wide left, we've been a noticeably better goal threat and Neyveson and Pena's link up has been sublime at times.

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Tactical Thoughts

We, still, are not scoring as much as I'd like and I think that is to do with a few factors - a) we still lack penetration, but our style of play is going to see us struggle to create quick opportunities and turnovers in possession b) our playmaking is deep and, with no striker, we have few bodies in the opposition half to control possession and c) all three of our 'forwards' are runners - Inside Forward, Shadow Striker and a Winger. Therefore, I'm toying with this:

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Changes here are that my IF(A) has changed to a RMD(A). I have never used a Raumdeuter before, but he has no specific instructions that encourages him to carry the ball and his job seems to be all about finding space, something that I am encouraging with this style of play. Neyveson remains as a SS and Samuel moves from a winger to an AP(s). His instructions are a little backwards - I wanted a winger to hug the touchline and he'll cut inside with the ball but, whilst starting wider, he does give us an outlet and a ball player who will still get to the byline and put his cross in. After all, he is a winger - just with a added focus on playmaking now. I have also changed Bono from a RPM(S) to a CM(S) as I want him to play his own game, which has been moulded by traits, and to also remove the magnet that is a playmaking role so deep.

On the pitch, we've only played on friendly, against ASEC, my feeder team. Interestingly, and I know we are play much weaker opposition, but Samuel had a great game and was involved a lot more in the build up, but also still did his 'job' as a winger. What is most pleasing though is how we used our more advanced players better in the build up. Below is a goal scored by CM(S) Carles Alena, following some patient build up from HB, Villalba, IWB(S), Navarro, and AP(S), Jose Carlos.

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It'll be interesting to see how this translates against better opposition.

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Academy Development

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Not seen this graphic before - very interesting, and pleasing, to see this. Of that list, all 14 are in my current first team as I'm not really at a stage whereby I am producing players not good enough who are good enough to play elsewhere in this league.

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October/November 2032

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Up and down couple of months for us with the down coming largely in November. We started well with a good win over struggling Levante and continued with a well fought draw away at Sociedad. Once again, our bogey team, Mallorca, packed a midfield and ended up with no attack duties as they ground out a 0-0 against us - as is becoming the norm of late. More dropped points against another team who wanted nothing, but left with nearly 70% of possession, in their own half - Athletic Club. 

Our down turn started against Valencia, where we were in a really strong position after 70 minutes. I made a triple substitute, bringing on some fresh legs and looking to exploit some tired defenders but, three minutes after, left back Bravo got himself injured. I moved to a 3-1-2-3 and they just obliterated me down the flanks and scored two quick goals. It dented our confidence and highlighted an area that I really need to work on going forward. We battled hard against Atletico but they were just too much and we suffered back to back defeats for the second time this season - although we have been dealt a cruel hand whereby we played Barca and Real and Valencia and Atletico in two separate runs.

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Next month we face Zaragoza and Leganes so that is going to be a big test against teams currently in similar positions as us.

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Posted (edited)

B-Team worries

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Not a good sign for my youngsters...

EDIT: After about 29 computer crashes and game reloads, he hasn't got sacked (as of 1.1.2033).

Edited by _Ben_

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Youth Intake Preview

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My new HoYD has managed to pull out a golden generation first time round!

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New Signing

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I'm really pleased to tie up the signing of Oscar Galindo for €200k. He's going to be used as a wide playmaker on the right wing but he also has the attributes to be used as a winger as well. He's two footed, which should help him take on the defender both ways and there is only one real weak point - that is his finishing. His composure needs work but will develop a) over time and b) with a specific focus and his anticipation, decisions, determination and work rate are all good.

I want to watch him on the pitch, in his intended two to three seasons with the B squad as I look to develop some traits that will help his game grow more.

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This leaves my best XI of my youth squad looking like this:

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Of this - I have really high hopes for Fulvio, Samaniego, Palacios (who is on a new contract with breakthrough prospect as part of his playing pathway for next year - I've attempted this as an incentive for him, but no idea how it'll work), Escobar and maybe Oprea as well as Galindo. 

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New affiliate club

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Once again, we strike up a deal with a top African club - this time Nigerian champions Enyimba. This doesn't quite fit my 'academy' policy, which I'd already stretched to include ASEC Mimosas but they are a proven producer of good newgens.

That means my inroads into African youth now looks like this:

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I'm still too small of a club to be able to choose South American clubs so my next focus will be in Cameroon and Congo before maybe then looking at Tunisia and Egypt (but again, I still don't think we're big enough - and, at this time, I'd like to change my attention to S.America instead).

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December 2032/January 2033

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Possibly two of the most fun months I've had as manager of Guadalajara. I have watched us score a lot more freely than ever before, playing wonderful possession football and exploiting spaces between lines and in channels thanks to some fantastic offensive positioning, creativity and execution of passing. 

We remained unbeaten in December, picking up four points against Zaragoza and Leganes, our two nearest rivals at the time. A rotated side put seven past Guixols, of the lower leagues in the cups, before some friendlies over the winter break. Despite going into the Betis game full of confidence, we couldn't find a way through - even though our play was fantastic and we definitely deserved much more. Two strong league wins, a hard fought draw with Celta where we, again, had our chances and a good win against bogey-team but also-getting-better-by-the-season side Mallorca topped out the leaague We fell apart in the cup and fatigue combined with a small playing squad saw us fade with two late concessions against Eibar. With a European campaign looking likely next year and the Copa del Rey a winnable competition - some extra bodies need to be recruited to handle the fixture back log.

Sevilla are a top team and we play them away from home during our last sixteen fixtures but I feel that, given the gap back to eighth, that a top seven finish is attainable this year, giving us European football for the first time in our history. There is very little noise from the recruitment side as we look to utilise our academy and use progression through the B side but I am on the look out now for some depth, in the form of utility players, and a marquee signing who can come in and hopefully assist in Europe next year.

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With two wide slots and the impressive Samuel holding the fort on the right, I've been rotating Pena, Septien, Jose Carlos and Lyndson on the left - and only the former has really impressed. I made the move to allow Lyndson half a season at Zaragoza, where he'll be first choice - in order to see how he performs with regular minutes. In his three seasons for us he has averaged 6.50, 6.57 and 6.69 - hardly the form I want but he's largely been off the bench and hasn't had chance to hold down a role. Hopefully, first team minutes as a regular can change that. Secondly, I let Juan Jose Septien leave - he's been a good servant but I think he's far too one dimensional for our style of play now and we have outgrown him as such. It's a seminal moment, I guess, as he's the first academy graduate that will be moving on to another La Liga side and will be considered a good player there - something that hopefully our academy will continue to do.

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Alex Villasanti - Player Development

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The brightest spark from my youth intake in recent years is Alex who has progressed into the first team a year earlier than planned and has become an important member of the team. Alex is a full international also.

Since coming into the club, I've focused on the Half Back role with the additional focus on Defensive Positioning. Here is his development since he was 16:

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Defensive Positioning focuses on his marking, decisions and positioning - which are clearly benefiting from this work. Obviously, I have chosen to play without attribute numbers and would love to see those as percentage increases, for example - but that is beyond my means (and wants) at this point. Going forward - I think that focusing on his ball playing attributes through the Passing focus (passing, technique and vision) will be a good fit. He is already a great passer but with his trait of 'Tries to play way out of trouble' (which I really like, by the way) - additional work here will only help this side of his game. Once that has improved a bit more, then my focus will shift to working on his anticipation and concentration, hoping to get them to an excellent level, matching his decisions and positioning.

I'm actually a little sad that he was called up by Paraguay so early as, on this track of development and predicting he has enough potential, he could be good enough to play for Spain!

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Samuel - Player Development

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Fast becoming one of my favoured youth graduates, Samuel is bridging the gap between a wide playmaker and a winger, given his game and player traits merging into one. He has, unfortunately, been left a little to his own in terms of his development and hasn't really done what I wanted him to. Therefore, to eek out the last of his potential, I'm moving his schedule to a Raumdeuter - to focus initially on the lack of concentration and work rate. 

Below shows his development over the last five years:

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As noted, the concentration and work rate hasn't developed as I wanted - largely because I haven't focused enough on it. The RMD schedule as well the Passing individual focus (passing, technique and vision) should be able to continue to iron out some of these deficiencies. 

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Dario Samaniego - Player Development

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My in-game son, Dario, has made some pleasing progress in his near two years at the club. He moved straight into the B-team in his first full season at the club and has made 62 appearances in the side, averaging 6.82. He has also become accomplished at left back, something that I have always wanted my full backs to do.

Below is his progress over the short time he's been here:

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He's largely been on a CWB schedule with Defensive Positioning (Marking, Positioning, Decisions) as his focus. He's made good progress in the mental areas but his technical work is lacking somewhat. I am going to amend his schedule to an IWB (takes away crossing and adds marking in) and put him on an individual focus of Ball Control (first touch, dribbling, technique) - which leaves his program looking like this.

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He's chosen to have Spain as his first nationality, over Paraguay and I hope that continued development will see him reach a point whereby he can get some international recognition.

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New Signing

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Everybody in football knows how bad it is signing players off the back of good tournaments but I've spent €120k on Livington Mendoza from his native Ecuador. He's a bit of a gamble and isn't actually registered for the B-team, as a non-EU player but he could have a good sell on value.

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Lorenzo Palacios - Player Development

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Lorenzo came through the same intake as Alex Villasanti, who I profiled earlier, but has, sadly, taken a different career path to his country-mate. Lorenzo has played all of his time in the B team, racking up nearly 100 games but has not developed as well as he probably should have done, as seen below:

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Going forward, I want to ensure that he is working on his basic CD schedule with added work on his physicals, particularly his strength - at this point. From there, I'll re-assess to see what other attributes I can actually see improving. He doesn't have a huge amount of time and his contract includes a promise that he'll be a breakthrough prospect next year - something he's way off right now.

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Israel Escobar - Player Development

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Israel has had a weird ride - I started as a ST, converted him to accomplished, before turning his role into a central midfielder over the past year. He was initially one I considered to progress but he's done really well. Below is his attribute growth:

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Going forward - I want to continue focusing on his technical attributes and I'm going to use the passing focus (passing, technique and vision) until his passing is excellent. From there, I want to look at making him as well rounded as I can - and will be using the Advanced Playmaker schedule to do that.

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February/March 2033

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We are well and truly keeping pace and look like we could be setting ourselves up for a European adventure next season.

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We started off badly - 3-1 up and coasting against Sociedad, only for a fantastic comeback and a last minute winner  to cost us all three points. Normally, coming off the back of a loss, I tend to ensure that it doesn't turn into two by playing slightly more conservatively but I knew Granada were in poor form so I went all in for the victory. We dominated them for 85 minutes but a lapse in concentration by Alberto Ropero, playing out from the back, gave them an easy goal and an important three points. I then knew we had to bounce back against bottom of the table Elche but fortunately we did this time - with Villasanti scoring his first of the season with a rocket from 20 yards. Neyveson continued his scoring form and we got ourselves back to winning ways. We've taken four points from Sevilla this season, which may be vital in our head to head at the end of the season but I can't help but feel like we could have had all three again. At 2-1 down, we earned a penalty and then saw a further two goals chalked off for offside. 

March saw Betis hold out, Zaragoza attempt to do the same and Levante get blown away. I noticed their offensive 4-2-3-1 shape and removed my play out of defence instruction as that, I have found, tends to lead to mistakes in playing out from the back. This more direct, vertical tiki-taki, if you like, made us absolutely unstoppable. We only recorded two clear cut chances from our 12 shots on target but were absolutely lethal and Neyveson took his tally to 50 league goals in 102 games.

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Loanee Lyndson has started his time at Zaragoza reasonably well, scoring more in seven games for them than he did in 50-odd for us. His attribute development is positive as I was expecting when he was afforded a regular starting slot. I'm hoping he finishes the season off well and comes back a far more consistent and complete player.

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2032/33 Youth Intake

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Not quite the golden generation I was really after, and a worrying trend of still not a single player from a youth affiliate club, but we do have a couple of really promising players here. 

Alejandro has some technical work to do but has good dribbling, first touch and passing - ideal for the shadow striker role which I envisage that he'll play in. I don't really like his player trait as, if he wants to compete with Neyveson, has to be a good goalscorer but there is good scope for potential. Juan Francisco Mejia looks similarly promising - good passing, technique and first touch and excellent vision. His high levels of determination, combined with his Perfectionist (Determination 14-20, Professionalism 14-20, Ambition 14-20) personality will lead to hopefully great progress. However, his media handling of Volatile (Temperament 3-6) and Confrontational (Temperament 1-7, Sportsmanship 1-7) suggest a player who won't take kindly to criticism and may not always be the best trainer - but time will tell. Hopefully, the strong figures within the first team can bring that round over time. Lastly, Luis Alberto Rico has the potential to be a decent player, although is coming in behind the very promising Fulvio, so will have to make remarkable development to topple him.

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Whilst I am not yet tracking their 'year' - I have added their attributes into my spreadsheet for player development, as seen below:

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Mejia will come into the tracking as the third 'best' player, based on the average of all his attributes, to be tracked and the best to come through my academy, edging out Diego Samaniego. Alejandro also makes that list, in seventh, which can be adjusted to third in terms of players through my academy making this list on the first year since coming through the academy. Whilst I have only chosen to monitor two of these next year, it is worth noting that these two make up the strongest group I have ever had. It is time to make this strong start pay off in the long run.

 

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Wonderkid

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The first that has been solely developed by my club and my management.

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Europa Conference League

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Europe, here we come!

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Player Sale

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I have managed to turn a good profit on Carlos Sabena, who has enjoyed a good three seasons following his €1.6m move. With the incoming signing of Celsinho and the development of Samaniego - he was falling down the pecking order. He's always been a solid player and will be missed, but I need to move forward with the squad building.

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April/May 2033

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A tough last two months for us, where we forgot how to score in a tough run of fixtures against two teams we should be beating. Neyveson ended his longest barren run against Valencia with a fantastic solo effort but it was almost the Guadalajara of old, with nobody looking like scoring - a clear sign of a lack of confidence. Going into May, I knew I needed to pick up nine points so that we'd have no last day jitters, considering our run in, and still be able to qualify for Europe. Villasanti added his second screamer of the season and Septien showed, twice, why the Treq role in the AML slot is powerful - hopefully a better player will continue to show promise there. 

All that's left now is to round up the season and look ahead of the squad building for our first foray into Europe next year - in a competition that looks very winnable.

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2032/32 Season Review

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A good season for both of our teams as we book ourselves a ticket into a European competition fro the first time in our history and our B team cement themselves as the best of the rest - with hopefully a chance at earning a spot in mix for promotion to the second tier soon.

We have been steady all season and, aside from a brief flirt with second place early in the season, have been in and around the top seven, not falling below eighth all season. Surprise package Sociedad have earned a space in the Champions League next season, displacing Valencia and Sevilla as the best of the chasing pack. Barcelona record their twelfth straight title, with only Atletico winning a game since the save started, way back in 2019/20 and continue to have a world class squad under Carlos Corberan. Newly promoted Betis did well but they should never have been relegated the season before, anyway but Malaga couldn't do the same - falling back immediately. Zaragoza have put together a decent team and kind of did what we did in our first season - enough to stay up but not a lot else!

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In league-wide honours, two players standout here - Neyveson for his goalscoring and Puig for his goalkeeping. Even at 34, the ex-Barca shot stopper is putting in top draw performances and this is giving Fulvio a good chance to acclimatise and get himself ready to take the mantle. As well as his twenty clean sheets, Puig came third with just twenty seven conceded, four behind Pep Nierga of Barca. Neyveson was our only entry into the top Average Rating charts, coming in seventh place but did cover the most distance this season - 329km, a whole 25km further than the next player on the list. Maybe a tactical issue with him having to cover so much ground - not that this has stopped him performing well!

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This is the breakdown when sorted by minutes. Puig has, once again, played every minute and continued to impress despite his low average rating. What strikes me most about this image is the amount of green - signifying a rating over 7. I have compared these numbers to last season's and it's clear that the performances this year have just been better:

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Of the players who have not improved - Jose Carlos and Juan Jose Septien have become less important with Septien leaving and me sourcing Oscar Galindo as a long term replacement for Carlos but there are improvements for everyone except Bono, who is an unusual character of which I'll profile more at a later date.

Going forward has always been an issue for this club, largely due to my tactical approach which sometimes leaves us being too cautious. Below is the assists and goals that have been registered per ninety minutes:

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Neyveson towers above everyone else largely down to his goalscoring abilities but it's good to see that there is creativity from all of my other midfielders and a full back, who either scores or creates a goal once every five games. In future, I'd like to have some competition for Neyveson, either finding a goalscorer elsewhere in the team or finding a dead ball specialist and someone who can get on the end of it regularly.

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Coming Home

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After a year in Madrid, ground sharing with Rayo Vallecano, we are home! About 800 less seats but this is our ground - time to make it a fortress.

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On 15/03/2020 at 22:02, _Ben_ said:

Tactical Thoughts

We, still, are not scoring as much as I'd like and I think that is to do with a few factors - a) we still lack penetration, but our style of play is going to see us struggle to create quick opportunities and turnovers in possession b) our playmaking is deep and, with no striker, we have few bodies in the opposition half to control possession and c) all three of our 'forwards' are runners - Inside Forward, Shadow Striker and a Winger. Therefore, I'm toying with this:

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Changes here are that my IF(A) has changed to a RMD(A). I have never used a Raumdeuter before, but he has no specific instructions that encourages him to carry the ball and his job seems to be all about finding space, something that I am encouraging with this style of play. Neyveson remains as a SS and Samuel moves from a winger to an AP(s). His instructions are a little backwards - I wanted a winger to hug the touchline and he'll cut inside with the ball but, whilst starting wider, he does give us an outlet and a ball player who will still get to the byline and put his cross in. After all, he is a winger - just with a added focus on playmaking now. I have also changed Bono from a RPM(S) to a CM(S) as I want him to play his own game, which has been moulded by traits, and to also remove the magnet that is a playmaking role so deep.

On the pitch, we've only played on friendly, against ASEC, my feeder team. Interestingly, and I know we are play much weaker opposition, but Samuel had a great game and was involved a lot more in the build up, but also still did his 'job' as a winger. What is most pleasing though is how we used our more advanced players better in the build up. Below is a goal scored by CM(S) Carles Alena, following some patient build up from HB, Villalba, IWB(S), Navarro, and AP(S), Jose Carlos.

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It'll be interesting to see how this translates against better opposition.

How's the AP-Mez combo working out for you? I found it to be destructive as they got in eachother's way.

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2033/34 Squad Review

I'm heading into the new season with probably the strongest squad I have ever managed to assemble. That may not be in terms of CA, stars or number of world class players but in terms of building a squad with the identity that I want - this is very strong.

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In goal, Sergi Puig starts his thirteenth season of the club and what may be his last. He's been a rock in the 453 league games he's played for the club and has not only kept us alive in the third tier, he's got us up, kept us alive in the second tier, got us up and now is keeping us alive in the first tier. He's a team leader with a good personality and part of the core social group. Now just three star current ability - his importance to the squad goes above and beyond that.

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My new look full back setup involves two teenagers and two young, but quality talents. Lucas, now converted to a right back and now a converted Spanish youth international, pairs with Francisco Bravo, who's experiment as a Mezzala was short lived. New signing Celsinho is one of those lucky plucks, just €11.25k when he was 16 to pre-arrange his deal but since then has become a wonderkid and played well for Flamingo. 

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Carlos Alberto is the strongest defender here and has, once again made the international squad but is yet to make his debut. He's paired by Ropero normally but the new full back system has allowed Navarro to return to his more favoured role as a centre back. Very strange, and totally brilliant, that I have two centre backs that are also capable of playing as attacking midfielders. This is an area where I'll need reinforcements soon with Benjamin relatively weak. I am hoping that Lorenzo Palacios can step up next season.

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We have some real strength here but we are probably one person down for my liking. With such a complete first team, in terms of realistic progression, I am happy to spend the entire budget (around €30m) on a rotational option here. Villalba isn't rated too highly by my staff but has the perfect attributes for his role and has been happy, even without a formal play-time change, to be second fiddle to the up and coming Villasanti. Ahead of them, poor old Carles Alena has fallen apart physically and is now far too frail to hold up his end of the stick, even in a passing style of play so Israel Escobar, fresh off the back of both the U20 World Cup and Euro 2033 at U21 level, steps up. Bono and Gonia are the two first team players even if Bono has had some questionable performances on the pitch over the last few years.

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I have five and a half players for my front three - largely because Antonio is a player I want to give a chance to but fully expect him to be a stop gap whilst new, €1.5m signing, Ronaldo beds in. Jose Carlos is very much on his last chance saloon whilst Oscar Galindo continues his development and Lyndson has returned from a really successful loan to a new contract and new expectations as my best player wide on the left. Pena is, just about, back up for both the wide left and Neyveson, although I will probably favour Antonio centrally.

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All in all, this squad feels strong and, in terms of DNA, feels good. Below is how each player stacks up in terms of their most necessary attributes for the role I want:

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I recall the circle being a very simple conditional format - an average of 14+ in all those key attributes would be full, 12 to 13.9 would give 3/4 full, 10 to 11.9 would give half and 8 to 9.9 a quarter. Whilst I would love to see full golden bars there to signify that they are excellent in that role - the averages of all but one player are 12 or over. Since moving away from attributes and looking more holistically at players and their development - I really don't think there is a huge amount of difference between 12 and 14 but, to get to this point is a big bonus for the way I'm developing this team. 

Looking forward - I hope that Villasanti, Samaniego and Escobar can build on their 3/4 rating and certainly continue to develop their game. Out of the three of them, my own query is that of Escobar's concentration and whether he'll go missing slightly in the middle of the park. As soon as he gets on the ball though, the quality in his game will hopefully lead to a number of very positive outcomes.

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Given the strength of my first team, I could be forgiven for forgetting my B-squad and their progress, with the end goal of them being the best team in the second tier and giving me a clear route through from youth academy to first team. My best XI is probably as follows:

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I haven't brought in another right back to replace Samaniego yet, but the window hasn't opened and I haven't been scouting for that area. This is mirrored at left back, given Celsinho's quick rise to the first team. Mejia takes his place in the middle of the park and I have really high hopes for him. Palacios and Burgos are probably in their last season before I decide whether to move them on or to the first team, with the latter looking increasingly unlikely to make it. New South Americans Galindo and Ronaldo are hopefully going to spend just a year here and move up to the first team - Galindo for Jose Carlos, Ronaldo for Antonio in a move which will also see Fulvio either make the first team or go out on loan to a top tier club to continue his development.

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The future is incredibly bright here. Things are falling into place and we are only getting better as a club and as two teams.

 

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