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_Ben_

[FM20] Tequila and Mariachi?

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46 minutes ago, sherifdinn_ said:

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

Really well, actually!

When defending goal kicks, I noticed that they got in each others way when 'tracking back' but Samuel's traits of 'Hugs Line' actually keeps the half space free. I've noticed that, when playing Jose Carlos, that this doesn't happen so my intention is to develop more hybrid playmaker-winger types as I think there is massive potential there. We are certainly holding on to the ball better further forward and allowing other players to join in the attack, massively increasing penetration.

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Don’t comment as much now. However, of all the threads on here, this is my favourite currently.

I can’t say I know what you’re doing half the time as it seems tactically and technically more advanced than I’ve ever got involved in.

I caught the back end of your FM19 save and enjoyed that.

I like the idea of no stars and having to use judgement more, although I guess you work how who is actually good. 
 

The fact you’re slowly building a side and not going all out for the instant success is also enjoyable to read.

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46 minutes ago, Nottingham Forest said:

Don’t comment as much now. However, of all the threads on here, this is my favourite currently.

I can’t say I know what you’re doing half the time as it seems tactically and technically more advanced than I’ve ever got involved in.

I caught the back end of your FM19 save and enjoyed that.

I like the idea of no stars and having to use judgement more, although I guess you work how who is actually good. 
 

The fact you’re slowly building a side and not going all out for the instant success is also enjoyable to read.

Thank you very much!

I wouldn't say that tactically I do anything too difficult - it's more my own learning process that I'm writing out. As for the numbers and the tracking - I guess that's just me!

Yep, removing a dependence stars and attributes was the best thing I've done since I started playing FM! I hugely recommend it.

Yeah - it's the long haul. I tend to play one or two saves a year and this one is lasting well. I don't really have the money to splash the cash, I like developing youth products and I'm so engrossed with players that I don't want to start a fresh save - it's kind of the perfect storm right now.

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Trust me, you might not think it’s that much of an increase tactically but it is for me.

I think I’ve successfully created one realistic tactic in 13 years of FM. Although I have a lot of success with 4-4-2! Ha.

The attributes thing is a massive change from the norm and I like it. I’m enjoying the fact you have a keeper who has earned his chance in the top flight with you. That’s how real football is normally.

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Cohort Eight - Youth Development

Now into it's eight iteration, my two prospects were already chosen and I've already displayed the quality that we have on show here.

9b4782afe3b81111428a43746c49e088.png

Very strong mentally but slightly skewed from Determination (a nod to that of the HoYD hopefully). We'll see how they go over the season. Mejia is chalked in as a starter in the B team whilst Alejandro is a year away as he's not quite as good as Ronaldo (who, coincidentally, rates as an average of 10.5 on this scale) so I would expect significantly less gains in the short term.

My main aim is to look at the Perfectionist personality as it's not one I have come across before. Below is the average growth in this year based on personality:

dde1b2f4f939f27f7d8cb3d2164c3503.png

I've taken the end personality here but, given the small size of the data, we're still kind of skewed by the ones and twos of each type. I think, solely on having more than one of that personality, the Resolute (Determination 15-17, Professionalism 15-17, Leader <19) has so far produced the best. I think that, going forward, I want to track more players each year, rather than just the top two or three - to gather a greater picture.

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23 minutes ago, Nottingham Forest said:

Trust me, you might not think it’s that much of an increase tactically but it is for me.

I think I’ve successfully created one realistic tactic in 13 years of FM. Although I have a lot of success with 4-4-2! Ha.

The attributes thing is a massive change from the norm and I like it. I’m enjoying the fact you have a keeper who has earned his chance in the top flight with you. That’s how real football is normally.

For what it's worth, here is the first team ordered by current ability stars:

0a6d6e585d0fd8a68bbadcdf24378f66.png

Puig, Pena, Benjamin and Villalba have all been at the club for absolutely ages, have been moulded into my system and are loyal and want smaller wages than the rest. I could definitely replace them all with youngsters who are better than them in terms of star ability, but that's not how I've set out running this save.

Take Andrei Oprea, a run of the mill B-team player:

0354e6983ec9e781746bb1afb0f596f5.png

1.5* current ability, but, when I look at his key attributes for the midfielder role, they average out at somewhere between 12 and 13.9:

1abbd224dcfda1a6c4a3b9878032ed90.png

Now, he's only 'good enough for Segunda B' in the eyes of my staff, yet, concentration aside, he's good (or better) at everything I want him to do. He is a little rough around the edges, granted, but taking the focus off stars has really rejuvenated my interest for watching the players play the game.

---

Thanks for taking time to post in the thread and thanks for the really kind feedback!

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New Signing

The midfield is complete and I've shipped Antonio out on loan to free up some space on the page. Where else would the player be from? The team that has influenced this save the most, Barca. In comes Riqui Puig for €1.2m from Roma:

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He's 33 but, much like Alena was when he joined, still has the ability to cut it at this level. Fantastic mentally, his work on the ball is just as good and his legs aren't gone, yet. He's agreed an 'Impact Sub' role and he'll get plenty of European football with a little less in the league.

As for how he ranks in terms of the attributes I want?

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Amazingly...

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B-Team DNA

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Some promise here but with the departure of two (Samaniego and Escobar) and with three, potentially five impending (Fulvio: 1-2 years, Galindo: 1-2 years, Ronaldo: 1-2 years and Oprea: 1-2 years, Palacios: this year if ever) - we may well find ourselves very short on talent. Left wing is an area to think about, with only Lyndson and Pena in the first team who can fill that role and Pena being 31 now.

I'm also looking to replace Benjamin in the coming year and, as of right now, Palacios does not look like he's going to make the grade - so a centre back is also on the list.

---

For my left winger, I really want something out of the box - a retraining or a completely unknown player to really work on developing. I have nothing yet but my scouting is going to begin soon.

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As always, really interesting posts.

On the topic of stars and youth development: Do you have a range of ages for when to "give up" on B-team/lower-end prospects? For instance, if Palacios isn't ready for the first team after next season, would you just ship him off? If you don't but he improves enough after another year, would you sell off a first-team player to give him the chance?

I've found a handful of 21-24 year old players who were never highly rated by staff becoming above average performers in my Corinthians run (fringe starters, impact subs, etc.). Obviously it's an embarrasment of riches there but I think I've never truly struck a balance between giving up too early and too late. Also, every time someone rated as having average potential can become a valuable part of the first team, they become one of my favorite FM players.

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11 hours ago, wesl said:

As always, really interesting posts.

On the topic of stars and youth development: Do you have a range of ages for when to "give up" on B-team/lower-end prospects? For instance, if Palacios isn't ready for the first team after next season, would you just ship him off? If you don't but he improves enough after another year, would you sell off a first-team player to give him the chance?

I've found a handful of 21-24 year old players who were never highly rated by staff becoming above average performers in my Corinthians run (fringe starters, impact subs, etc.). Obviously it's an embarrasment of riches there but I think I've never truly struck a balance between giving up too early and too late. Also, every time someone rated as having average potential can become a valuable part of the first team, they become one of my favorite FM players.

Thank you!

I'm not a fan of how the GUI shows B-teams but I am a huge fan of how they work, giving my players first team exposure from whatever age I ask them - even if I don't quite have full control over their development (although that is realistic). I have the luxury that I actually never have to give up on them- they will either progress to the level I want them to or just find their level in the B team, whether that being in the third or second tier.

I think there is much more scope for more randomised development paths nowadays, which is great, and means I shouldn't write anyone off at 18. It also means I should sign all of the youth intake candidates too - but I haven't in the past years as we are still producing some utter rubbish!

I, like you, love the whole underdog of development - Ropero, my centre back, was rated reasonably highly but I never had him down as first choice centre back and I find it really hard to drop him due to the sentiment!

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With such excellent progress in the save - I wanted to spend a few minutes looking back at what I actually set out to achieve at the start of this save:

On 08/11/2019 at 21:33, _Ben_ said:

Save Goals

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Honour the Past

Guadalajara, as a town, has a lot of history. Going back to it's part of Iberian dynasties and conquests, through to providing people who explored the new world. This save will embody that - my player focus will be on both local players, from Guadalajara, Castille-La Mancha and the nearby Madrid as well as Mexico, where Nuño de Guzmán ventured all of those years ago. The Mexicans also place a huge importance on remembering their dead - Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an important tradition to this day. I won't, and can't, quite take it that far, but I do want to honour those who are no longer with the club, tracking their career moves as they develop, but also pay special consideration to giving those who won't ever quite make it here a path to remain in professional football. 

- Spanish or Mexican players, where possible. However, this is not completely exclusive.

- Pick up local players who haven't made the cut at larger clubs to develop them.

- Favour of own academy products and bringing back returning players where possible.

- Develop coaching roles for older players at the club, particularly Spanish or Mexican.

- Track the progress of players who are no longer at the club.

- Provide an opportunity for every single player at the club, particularly those who arrive through the youth academy, to develop.

Create the present

As a club, I want CD Guadalajara to be known, nation-wide, continent-wide and world-wide. I want the football to be played to the beat of the Mariachi music that has influenced the namesake city in Mexico. I want the purple wall of fans to create a fortress - home advantage needs to be home advantage for this club. I want to develop a professional, happy squad who are versatile in their positioning and are willing to put their bodies on the lines for each other - friends and comrades.

- High tempo, short pass/move football.

- Develop a playing staff who excel in technical attributes - first touch, passing, technique and mental attributes - positioning, off the ball, work rate.

- Attempt to win a majority of home matches and remain tight on the road.

- Develop a highly professional squad personality through mentoring

- Focus on training players in a wide range of positions and roles

- Develop strong links between the squad, through consistency across seasons and through the academy from a young age.

Prepare for the future

The club will invest within itself to become profitable and have the ability to grow. Money will be invested in staff and these staff will develop through the club, hopefully moving into management positions of their own. A playing pathway will be developed as well as an in depth training plan for each and every youngster at the club. Scouting and transfers will be methodical and strategically planned, two to three windows in advance in order to minimise misspent money and ensure quality players are purchased. Finances, including wages and transfer fees, will be closely monitored in order to ensure that the club is consistently turning a profit. The club will look to create links with other teams so that the Guadalajara brand, through its playing staff, can be spread continent and world-wide.

- Focus on youth development - either strategically signed or through the academy.

- Scouting and analysis focus.

- Track progress for youth squads and develop own training regimes for both squads.

- Enforce a wage cap and attempt to always spend less than we receive.

 

Honour the past

We've only had one Mexican at the club in this save - Maxi Yamin. I've found that Mexican's tend to be very expensive, are unlikely to hold a Spanish passport (but do qualify within two years) and can't join until they are 18. I have, however, kept the focus on Spanish and Latin American nations with all my squad being able to speak Spanish to some degree. I have definitely focused on academy products - with seven of the current first team squad being academy graduates and I've, in the past, used the 'big club' release list to pick up Pena, Puig and Benjamin - my longest serving players. We have only really sold Septien to another big first team but I am aware that we aren't tracking those that have left and I certainly am not giving all players a chance - as I am currently keeping squads trimmed and picking out only the best from the intakes.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Next Steps: Mexico, despite the historical links with the club, isn't the most effective place to scout. I am happy with the decisions I'm making now regarding the nationalities. I need to ensure that all players I sell make a shortlist so I can track them and I want to sign all players from my youth intake if they look to have a decent attribute set.

Create the present

Pass and move is working well but the tempo is certainly not high! We are playing patient possession football as I think that fits the style I am creating far better. Everything else is being done very well - our DNA tracker is working well and the players are improving over time, in relation to their ability and their suitability. The squad is very professional (1x Balanced, 1x F.Pro, 3x F. Det, 1x Spirited, 3x Resolute, 11x Pro) and very versatile, with everyone accomplished in at least two positions, Sergi Puig aside, of course.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Next Steps: Ensure that as many players as possible have a full circle on my DNA rating chart.

Prepare for the future

I think if I'd have reviewed this three years ago, I'd be worried, but now - we are in a strong place. I've looked at different tactical issues - using xG for a period of time, analysing in lots of detail and honing in on individual player development. I haven't developed training sessions for the B team as I feel that this is a little over the top and not something a first team manager should do but I have appointed a good B team manager to do this for me. We aren't a particularly financially well-off club as we don't make money but I have kept wages until control and my spending certainly is the most prudent in the division.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Next Steps: Making us financially free - so we can keep our best prospects and ensure we have state of the art facilities. 

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6 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

with all my squad being able to speak Spanish to some degree

Combining this with your recent links to West African clubs, I think you might want to look into getting an affiliate in Equatorial Guinea.

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18 hours ago, wesl said:

Combining this with your recent links to West African clubs, I think you might want to look into getting an affiliate in Equatorial Guinea.

I agree - shame there isn't a big (that I can see) club from there with good facilities - not that we've managed a single player from our feeder, yet!

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Europa Conference League Draw

We very easily put Viktoria Plzen aside (1-0 away and 2-0) and are rewarded with this draw:

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Rangers have made the quarter finals of this competition twice, in 2028/29 and 2031/32 but last year only made the Playoff for the Europa League Group stages. We have an inside track on our feeder club Iasi, who made it to the fourth qualifying round in 2027/28 in what seems to be their only previous European season. Crusaders are, strangely, the most experienced team - with the Belfast side making the groups on five previous occasions - coming last in four of them.

The board want me to make the second round and, hopefully, this is a group stage that allows me to enjoy our first experience in Europe! 

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July/August/September 2033

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It's been an exceptionally busy three months, but I guess self-isolation gives me time to do both my planning of the game to the minute detail and get through lots of time. We've started reasonably well, loss against Levante aside, but I feel that we've made a real error - and that is in pre-season. I delegated both friendlies and control of them to my assistant and, come the Villarreal game, we had a lot of players not fully fit and players tired. We've rotated, heavily, and we've had to - given the number of fixtures and the condition of the squad. Below is a breakdown of the % of minutes played by my first team:

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Star players Carlos Alberto, Marlon Lucas, Franco Gonia and Neyveson have played less than 70% of the total minutes available to them - but it's actually my 'cup squad' that are performing better- with in-game son Samaniego leading the average rating charts with Benjamin in second place. I guess that this is to be expected given our 100% record in European competition, to date.

We are still struggling against opposition who sit back - as our style has developed into a more 'vertical' version of tika-taka, we do struggle to penetrate a solid back four or five and probably lack that 'star' player. However, I'm happy with the start we've had even though it's been against teams I'd consider smaller than us - Atletico aside.

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My B-team have also started the season strongly:

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Unfortunately, the don't play strikerless but Ronaldo, as a F9, has netted six times and Fulvio has six clean sheets. However, it is centre back Rene Burgos, who is leading the league average rating with 7.47, possibly keeping him in my long term plans.

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Development Progress

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Up two from last season!

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October/November 2033

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This is a strange update. We're third in the league, our highest ever mid-season position and we've distanced ourselves from the big guns of Atletico and Sevilla, meaning that there is potentially a two place upgrade up for grabs. Yet, we just don't seem to be doing well. Our league form is just winning by one, at best and we've suffered an unexpected loss against Rangers, putting our chances of topping our group at risk. The most interesting comparison I can give you is the difference between league and cup form:

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We've had easier opposition, definitely, but there are some players who are playing significantly better in Europe than in the league. I want to use this as a positive though - they certainly can play that well so they now need to do so in the league.

Our biggest indicator of poor form comes with our inability to score goals despite creating good openings and, on paper at least, looking like we are bossing games. I'll take the next month or so a little slower, rotate a little less and see what is causing our poor performances. On the plus side though, we are winning and not even playing well - so I can't wait for us to click into gear.

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Landmark

Can't say I've ever hit 10 CCC's before...

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We 'only' won 5-0!

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Youth Intake Preview

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I feel like I'm still yet to get a real 'star' through my system but I'm happy with this.

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Posted (edited)

Player Sale

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A strange one, really. My record signing and one of my best players but I'm not quite happy with him. He's been in a social group by himself since he joined and was Balanced up until the other week when he moved to F.Det. He clearly has a lack of professionalism as he has struggled to connect with lots of players in the team, and, to be fair, he's not pulled up trees on the pitch:

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Shanghai SIPG have made a €48m bid (he is valued at €12m) for him, meeting his release clause and, like I have set out to do, there won't be a panic buy and I will be using the money largely to secure the infrastructure of the club, long term. I'll be promoting Andrei Oprea to the first team, who'll move in as backup behind Israel Escobar. He's not as good as Gonia, to be expected, but I'm committed to following the development plan for my youngsters and this converted striker has already made some fantastic progress since coming into the academy aged sixteen, as seen below:

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---

We lose a highly rated player, gain a significant amount of money and promote a youngster from my own academy. I guess that it's important to take the positive from this. Hopefully Oprea has more development room, can work on his concentration and become a little more rounded with at least one standout technical ability (hopefully technique to help his player trait of 'Tries Tricks').

Edited by _Ben_

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December 2033/January 2034

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We just won't go away!

A fantastic December where we've played real free flowing football but also tactically astute. It started against Betis where they fielded vastly experienced Takefusa Kuba as a WP on the right side of midfield. Within eight minutes he'd had over 100 touches and we had ~20% possession but I managed to cut off the supply link to him and he was soon nullified, only touching the ball sixty times in the whole of the second half. We ran out comfortable winners. Next up, as saw in the match report, we battered Crusaders but were let down by our finishing - the second string only recording a 5-0 win to top the group. Against Malpica, I played players who needed both match fitness and match form and was rewarded with a great victory, even against a minnow. We finished off with a dour draw against Granada.

My 'in need of form' squad dispatched Alcorcon and I felt it was an ideal chance to give debutant Oprea a penalty, despite him not being the best taker. He got his first senior start and marked it with a goal, which was great - yet were were shaky elsewhere and if it wasn't for a wondergoal (and I mean wonder goal - think Messi/Maradona esque) from Neyveson, it'd have been much tighter Two solid league wins followed before a shock Copa del Rey exit where Getafe saved their only shot for the 95th minute. Of course, it was a 25 yard screamer which knocked us out. A decent performance against Osasuna came before a defeat against run-away leaders Real, hoping to stop Barca's incredible run.

---

No ins nor outs this transfer window as I look to keep my roots of academy development and strategic purchases. We're looking for talent in Spain and South America still.

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Milestone

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All going well at the moment!

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Israel Escobar - Player Development

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I screenshotted him a year ago now and he's made some fantastic progress since, appearing in a Guadalajara shirt for over 1500 minutes this season, to date. He's now pretty much first choice in the midfield following the sale of Gonia and has, in fits and spurts, shown some absolute quality. Whilst most of his performances have come against weaker opposition - when he's played well, he has literally been unstoppable in either the CM(s) or Mez(A) role. He's got 1 in 16 in the league but 7 in 19(5) across all competitions. He's yet to create an assist but creates roughly one chance every five games, and nearly a key pass a game - yet he's definitely the player who makes the pass before the assist, if that makes sense.

Here is the progress he has made:

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Last year I started working him as an AP(s) to hone some more attacking aspects of his game - namely his passing and technique. I'm now going to move to a BBM(s) role to make him as well rounded as possible - ideally getting his tackling (he's not directly involved and I don't want a light weight midfield but I'm not prepared to sacrifice a creator for a BWM, for example) and finishing to a good level (for all I know, they could both be '5' each and this would be impossible). The BBM role works a lot more physically, of which I'm not too fussed about any further development as he is nearly fully matured into an adult. I've added 'Shooting' as his trait which works on Finishing, again, Long Shots and Technique - all trying to make sure he stays as rounded as possible.

Trait wise, he's picked up the one-two trait that a lot of players have and I'm also getting him to dictate the tempo, given his good decisions, excellent first touch and excellent vision - meaning he can pick a pass when he feels the time is right, and hopefully be good enough to execute it.

 

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Posted (edited)

Development dilemma?

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I've just tied up a deal for Gualberto Esquivel as a) he's incredibly highly rated by my staff and b) he's Paraguayan. However, this goes against my policy somewhat - signing a player on potential, to develop, rather than the core attributes (although, he does have good anticipation, concentration, decisions, determination and work rate anyway).

With such perceived potential - I want to think about how I can develop him to best suit my team. I will have to make assumptions that everyone with potential in my team will reach that, which obviously they wont. I'm going to run through a few options and would be interested to hear people's thoughts.

Left Back

  • Would be behind Bravo and Celsinho, two of my highest rated players.
  • Poor tackling and marking.
  • Dribbling isn't great so this would remove the necessity for that
  • Would really fit the 'highly offensive' winger-cum-fullback that the modern game uses.
  • Anticipation and concentration are good, as is all round speed.

Left Wing

  • Not currently suited to the style we play as isn't a Treq or Inside Forward, but this can be adapted.
  • Dribbling is poor so wouldn't be a conventional winger.
  • Potentially could be a AP(s) with first touch being excellent and good passing and technique. However, this would warrant Mez moving to the left side (as to not have a Mez and a Treq on same side) but would potentially inhibit Neyveson who is left footed and seems to favour left channel.
  • Only Lyndson ahead of him in this role so would have clear pathway to first team.

Centre Mid (Playmaker)

  • Passing, first touch, technique and vision all at least good.
  • Poor finisher so better to be used deeper.
  • Would fit into the left sided MC role, which I use currently as is left footed.
  • Escobar is currently ahead of him so would have potential to get into first team soon.

Centre Mid (Runner)

  • Bono, Oprea and potentially Mejia will be ahead of him - this is a crowded role.
  • Physical and works hard, would be able to get up and down.
  • Lacks off the ball ability when making forward runs.
  • Plays one twos will slow down his directness of play.
  • Poor finisher so not the man I want on the end of through balls.

---

I'm erring on the side of an AP(s) on the left wing, mirroring the role that Samuel plays for us. It'd give us way more tactical flexibility and also would allow me to look at the development of Oscar Galindo (originally brought in to replace Jose Carlos and be backup for Samuel on the right) and see whether a converted striker may be more easily available to play on the right. There would be some more tactical thoughts, such as how I'd play the midfield with no left footed 'runner' or Mezzala types and a forward who is left footed - but I think that can be worked around.

To do this, I'd want to teach him to hug the line (to keep space for a Mezzala), look for the pass instead of the shot (to hide poor finishing) and to run with the ball less (to hide poor dribbling which is a Player Instruction for an Advanced Playmaker).

Then, I'd have to hope he lives up to the hype!

 

Edited by _Ben_

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Dual nationals

I remember playing a very old FIFA with a Celta Vigo striker, Catanha, who was an absolute monster, cut from the same cloth as Adriano, the (in)famous Inter striker. I recall that his nationality said Spanish and, to be fair, I didn't question it at, at that age. Since then, I've found out that he was born in Brazil and he's one a few players I recall who have done that for the Spanish national team - notably Marcos Senna, Diego Costa and Rodrigo (there is also kind of a case for Thiago who was born to a Brazilian father, Mazinho, although in Italy). I think that this has been modelled, or at least happened, quite similarly for me - in game. Below are a list of my Brazilian-turned-Spaniard's from my first team:

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I don't know whether Neyveson and Jose Carlos took Spanish nationality on residency as they already had it when they signed but the other three, Celsinho, Marlon Lucas and Carlos Alberto, all signed with a Brazilian passport and a Spanish passport from heritage, yet have all chosen to represent Spain. I know that Brazilian's are famed for this: Pepe, Thiago Motta, Deco, Mario Fernandes of Russia, Jorginho, Liedson and Eduardo of Arsenal and Croatia fame all come to mind through real life experiences of FM knowledge but they do seem to 'give up their nationality' a little easy, with the Spanish flag just appearing on their profile without a notification. It is also worth noting that Fulvio, my reserve keeper, has done the same, at the age of 18. These players are not declared for Spain, but have just chosen that as their preferred nationality, maybe with on eye on representing the national team? I would understand a lot more if Spain weren't much stronger than Brazil and above them in the rankings!

Obviously, there are many of different nationalities - Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano represented Spain when nationality around football appearances appeared to be much more lax.  My quandary goes above just Brazilians too, and onto South Americans like di Stefano (I have no Hungarians!). My in-game son, Diego Samaniego and his B-team Paraguayan compatriot, Lorenzo Palacios, have also done this. Samaniego has since been capped for the U20 side for his adopted country (he probably has it on residence as my in-game manager doesn't have Spanish nationality but was managing here for everything after the first five years of his life) but I doubt Palacios will be making the national team soon.

I also have Rene Burgos, Ronaldo and Oscar Galindo having dual nationalities (the first one came through my academy and has qualified on residency but the other two have it on heritage). Burgos is Paraguayan, Ronaldo is Brazilian (obviously!) and Galindo is Argentinian. Do I expect these to randomly switch at some point to? Did Paraguay get to Alex Villasanti just a bit quicker than Spain and stop him turning or did he actually want to stay loyal to his nation of birth?

Lots of questions, but, if anything, it tidies up the squad screen with so many same nationalities!

 

 

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Player Sale

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A strange sale but one I have gone through with, at a significantly lower fee than the €40m+ we turned down last summer. Francisco Bravo is very good, one of my better players to be fair, but he's found himself in competition with new signing Celsinho, who has been nothing short of fantastic since signing in the summer. Below is their comparison, with Bravo on the left:

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Not much in it, at all. Bravo is a little bit more naturally fit and has better balance whilst Celsinho is considerably taller and better in the air. Otherwise, they are remarkably similar. That is the problem. They both want to be star players and I can't offer them both that! Below is my thinking:

  • Celsinho is three years younger.
  • Celsinho has just signed a new deal on €16k p/w and Bravo wants upwards of €100k, but he does have three years left on his deal
  • Bravo started as a Model Citizen and his personality has slowed decreased before a mentoring group pushed him back to professional - this indicates that he's quite easily led in terms of his personality.
  • Celsinho fits in the the Brazilian/Spanish quote whereas Bravo is the only Chilean, although language is no issue.
  • West Brom are an average side and it'll be lucky for them to face us again - which means he won't score against us! So the deal works well for us, even without the 50% of next sale option that I wanted.

---

€20m will need to be re-invested in the B-team and facilities but this is all part of the growth strategy that we are employing as a team, rather than a first team squad.

 

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February/March 2034

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A little bit of a stutter but hopefully we have enough to finish no lower than fourth. I am giving this season as hopefully our best finish for a while, knowing that Atletico and Sevilla will be back next year and Real Sociedad will undoubtedly be looking to gain some more consistency. As such, I've made a decision to use next season to promote as many B-team players as possible - but more on that as the season ends...

 ---

We started in the worst possible way, with a home defeat to Sevilla, but they have fallen off the rails since . Two more poor draws in February have cost us, particularly knowing how busy March would be with our European endeavours still. It turns out that March was, Granada aside, great. An easy win over Red Star gives us a tie against academica, fifth in Liga Nos right now and we ended the month with a fantastic victory over Barca, although I'd still rather they won the title than Real!

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Youth Intake 2033/34

Last year saw two top prospects, Mejia and Alejandro, who have both gone on to make appearances for the B-team this and the former is almost certainly going to be a part of the first team the year after, at just 18, given the accelerated progress he has made. The youth intake this year is slightly different:

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Whilst two 4* potential players aren't inherently bad, this is all about the collective. What we have got here is a group of players who are largely from the local area (more on that later) and who embody the whole point of doing these type of development games - they have come to the club with great personalities. Amongst them are two Model Citizens, three professionals, a light hearted player and several other positive personalities. Also, I have a player who comes with the 'holy grail' of best roles - a specialist role. I consider the following roles as specialist, especially in younger players: SK, BPD, LIB, CWB, IWB, RPM, VOL, REG, RMD, T, ENG, CF - because they require so many attributes to be at a decent level for the game to recognise that, essentially demanding the player is well rounded. 

I will be signing all of these players and adding the top 10 (compare to two used this year and a largest cohort size of five) to my tracker for next year.

----

Dani Uriate.   Felix Lopez.   Rafa Molinero

I've picked out these three to keep screenshots of. Uriate because of his personality and how I've only had one other Model Citizen go through my tracker and he wasn't generated by me. Felix Lopez because he has a slightly different build - he's much better at recovering the ball and it'll be an interesting development to see how creative he can get and Molinero because of his best role. He's technically very poor but is clearly well rounded and has a good personality.

None of these players, or in fact any from this intake, could make it - they certainly aren't, at this point, rated the best but, again, this is about the collective of youth development and giving players a chance at professional football at this club or another, as outlined in my initial take over aims.

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Wonderkid

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Fitting that he should turn to a wonderkid so soon after the post about my youth development. He's turning into a fantastic player and, even though he's not as rounded as I want, his 'On the ball' ability is verging on world class, already! Excellent first touch, technique and vision - with good passing and decisions. He just needs that concentration to improve as he gets used to playing at this top level but a future midfield of he and Mejia could be frighteningly good for club, and country.

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Posted (edited)

Spanish identity

A Tifo video on the Basque policy that I was watching late yesterday evening has prompted a change in the direction that I take this save. I have always been interested in Spanish academies and, whilst watching this video, it made me realise that I don't think there are many nations (and, please correct me if I am wrong) that have such strong links between nationalism and football - adding Barcelona and Real Madrid deeply into the mix. Real are a representation of Spanish people, the Real meaning 'Royal' and Barca represent the Catalan community. 

I've also had to deal with the lack of influx of African newgens through my academy links, as expected and, although I get the odd Romanian and have had a few Paraguayans, the bulk of the intakes contain Spaniards from the local area.

Historically, as I alluded to in the first post, Guadalajara (Spain) has been a settlement for since about the 8th century and one that sits above sea level; the capital of the Province of Guadalajara. People from Guadalajara was re-populated in 1085 following a siege from neighbouring Leon-Castile but has worked hard to rebuild itself and it's identity.

However, the main historical tie I can make here is the Mexican link. The tequila and mariachi. Way back in 1542, Guadalajara (Mexico) was founded and in 1572 was under authority from the Royal Audencia of Guadalajara, in the only case of a New Spanish city with autonomy over a (now) Mexican city. Today, Guadalajara embodies the Mexican culture, but that all came from this little Spanish city in the hills. (This information may not be correct - my knowledge of the Spanish language is weak so it's good old Wiki for this - and, to be fair, a good old summary of one wiki article is what I've used. But it adds to the story line!)

Going forward, I want Guadalajara to embody the Spanish spirit and, as such, will only be selecting players who have either come through the youth system (qualified on residency) or hold a Spanish passport.

---

Therefore, my plans are:

  • Cancel all foreign feeder clubs.
  • Focus scouting on Spain, across all age groups and leagues.
  • Add on lower tiers of Brazil to ensure I can focus on the signing of Brazilian/Spanish player fitting in with the current squad.
  • Continue academy focus.

N.B: I will honour any pre-arranged signings and I will make a call to include or exclude any players currently at the club not able to represent Spain. If a player holds a Spanish passport but has chosen to represent another team (e.g. Villasanti has been capped by Paraguay but has a Spanish passport on residence as he came through the youth system), they will still be eligible to play.

Edited by _Ben_

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April 2034

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With so much at stake, it's best to report monthly at the moment!

We have one foot in the Europa Conference final after a relatively easy run - Academica were 5th and Saint-Etienne are 12th and we play either Vitoria de Guimaraes, who are third in Liga Nos or LASK Linz of Austria, although they trail 3-0 from the home leg so the latter is unlikely. Whilst we've been fantastic in Europe, our league form has somewhat dipped. It can be attributed somewhat to the heavy rotation, the fact that we have just 18 fit first team players at the moment with Lyndson and Pena out long term and, to put it bluntly, nerves. To be three down away at Athletic club after just 18 minutes showed me a naivety to my tactics and a capitulation against Atletico Madrid confirms to me that they will be back, with a bang, next year.

For now - my focus lies on European success. The Europa Conference is not a competition I want us to be spending much time in so a victory here, giving me automatic Europa League qualification must come first. In May, I face Alaves (15th), Levante (16th) and Getafe (19th) as well as at least one European tie - so hopefully we can end this with a bang!

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New staff member

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He's not very good but it's all part of the long term plan to keep playing staff here. Hopefully some coaching courses can help him! Most importantly, it's another good personality in the youth setup.

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May 2034 (League roundup)

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We have successfully wrapped up the season with our best finish and the prospect of Champions League football to look forward to. The end of the season has been relatively straightforward, as you'd expect against lesser opposition within this league, although we did our best to mess it up against Getafe in the dead rubber thirty-eighth match week. 

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League statistics wise - we've had a really good season again, with Neyveson showing that he's amongst the best in the league and I am still struggling for a reason to drop Puig, who, at 35 will be entering his fourteenth season with us next year.

---

Excuse the vagueness of this, but we have bigger fish to fry now:

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Europa Conference Final

Some U20 tournament has taken Escobar and Samaniego from me - two of my more regular cup starters. Never the less, these are the line ups and we are off:

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Half Time

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Sergi Puig, in his last game for the club after what can only be described as a pretty torrid season, has given us a lead. Neyveson laid him up just inside the penalty area and his powerful shot snuck in at the near post. Aside from that, it's been a very tense final. We reverted to a more cautious approach following the goal, as to not concede straight away, but, even when moving back to our positive style, haven't really challenged. That being said, Vitoria aren't doing much themselves and I'd be very content with another forty-five minutes of this!

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Full Time

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Certainly not a classic final, by any stretch of the imagination, but 2034 sees CD Guadalajara claim their first piece of major silverware. It may not be the most prestigious competition to win, but we've performed really well across every game - with by far our poorest performance coming in this game. The second half played out much like the first - we allowed their back four and two deep midfielders possession, but managed to cut off most supply lines with some structured pressing. In the 89th minute, Albert Ropero, my academy graduate centre back, mislaid a pass, leaving Vitoria with two attackers against just one defender and goalkeeper Puig, who pulled off a stunning save. We very nearly doubled our lead with makeshift Mezalla, Francisco Bravo, also making his farewell appearance, through on goal. Sadly, his finishing let him down and he probably justified why he's been a left back for the vast majority of his career.

We have recieved €8.5m prize fund plus €20m+ for TV Revenue, a ticket to the Europa League (which we don't need as Champions League qualifiers) and improved reputation - I am delighted at what I hope is our only foray into this competition!

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Season Review

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Our first European season, which has culminated in a total of 56 games - which I feel we have rotated well with, Puig aside. The fact that only Neyveson, my best player and top scorer, is within 1000 minutes of him shows that I've had to take a sensible approach to game management - trying to have a cup squad and a league squad, as well as not being too fussed when our Copa del Rey run ended early.

Dario Samaniego and Israel Escobar have both had breakthrough seasons - featuring in a near combined 5000 minutes and nine player of the matches - even if the latter has seen a dip in form towards the end of the season.

On a goalscoring front, it has been pleasing to finally see two players break double figures - even if seven of Lyndson's strikes came in Europe. Despite a broken foot that saw him miss the last few months of the season, he's been really strong and made the Treq role his own. 

----

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Cohort Eight Mentoring Review

This cohort saw just two players - but two top prospects for the first team, both who were given B-team minutes early on. Here is how they've progressed:

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They have both made fantastic progress in their first season - although, looking at Escobar, sandwiched between the, two amount of B-team minutes does not directly correlate to their future development within the team. Out of the four players ahead of Mejia, it has only been Ropero who has kicked on and made it into the first team, however, Mejia leaves this first year as the player with the 'highest mean of all attributes at the end of his first development year' as seen below:

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My question now is whether he is good enough for first team football.

----

This is the first Perfectionist personality that I have dealt with through my academy, and it'll be interesting to compare this to the 2x Model Citizen that are in next year. Francisco, from the 2026/27 cohort, not from my academy, made great progress with this personality - although came at a time where I wasn't able to afford youth players any real development time and has since found his level in the third tier.

The removal of any massive scouting missions is giving me more time to focus on this part of the save - so expect a deeper look at ways and means of development soon!

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Posted (edited)

Cohort Nine Preview

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Whilst I have the document open, I may as well update it.

This is a very different approach now - instead of cherry picking the best, we are going to monitor them all - with particular emphasis on the impact of personality at this young age. By running these ten players with a variety of starting personalities, some that would not be considered (see Minambres, who has poor ability and has a poor personality), I can really start to gauge where I want to go. I now have a Model Citizen HoYD and I have been rewarded with two of those players - which, all being well, should lead to the 'best' youth development. Best is both in italics and inverted commas because I have no idea what best looks like and I know it'll be different for everyone.

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As expected - this cohort is significantly below from the past few years, anyway, most due to the range of abilities that are in there. It is really pleasing to see that this cohort is better than some of my earlier ones and it'd be even more so if I'd have cherry picked like I did in the past.

---

Whilst I'm saying that there isn't any standouts and that this is above the collective, etc, we do have Dani Urriate, the young Basque midfielder, who actually ranks sixth on my 'top list of starting mean of attributes' scale. It is significant that he also has one of the interesting personalities. He wasn't too highly rated, 2* with a further black star but this has since risen half a star on either. I'm really not paying any attention to that - as, actually, 3.5, with the right attribute spread, would certainly put him within my first team (consider Pena, Puig etc are 2.5* now but still play for us) - it is just a good comparative tool for me to use.

Several of these lads will be getting B-team football next year and I will report back on them in twelve months time.

Edited by _Ben_

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Analysing the squad: Keep or Promote (and then what to do if I don't promote)

With now essentially a conveyor belt of talent from my youth team into the first team (particularly now with nothing new from the updated scouting assignments following my change of direction) - my only decisions this summer are, really, to see whether any of the B team can replace those in the first team. My first check will be to see how they fit in with my style of play and then to directly compare player to player to see who is 'generally' better overall. Below are the comparisons:

Goalkeeper

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A difficult one. Puig is a veteran and the sentimental side of me really wants to keep him going for as long as he can - he hasn't let us down yet and kept us in the Europa Conference Final right at the last. Puig is now only considered to be a leading LaLiga 2 player but is still a team leader for us whereas Fulvio has only experienced two seasons with my B-team in the third tier. Below is their comparison with Puig on the left:

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In any other save, I'd be tempted to go out and buy a ready made replacement and ship them off if/when Fulvio is ready, but that's not how I want to do this save. The young Brazilian edges it physically, as you'd expect comparing a twenty year old with a thirty five year old but I feel that Puig's shot stopping is world class - and that is needed when playing against a high line where balls over the top are always a risk. Puig's distribution, a key factor into our defensive play, is also better.

VERDICT: In this case - I have no reason to drop Puig and his attributes are still holding up, despite what his star rating says. I think that Fulvio needs a spell out on loan - either to a La Liga side or another top tier. I'll re-evaluate this one next summer.

Full Back

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Losing Bravo was, in hindsight, not the best thing to happen to us this summer. However, realistically, I can't keep two left backs who both demand to be star players and then give one of them nearly €150k p/w more than the other. Therefore I'm left with three full backs and really very little depth. Fortunately, all three of these can play on either side and, if necessary, Jorge Navarro can cover this too, even if I am now using his as a central defender.

VERDICT: An area for scouting, definitely, as we have very poor depth. Rafa Molinaro is coming through the youth academy at left back so hopefully his potential will prevail.

Centre Back

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Alberto is a monster and my regular choice here but I've used Navarro more than Ropero this season as the latter has much worse passing, which has cost us a few goals. I'm happy with those three but I do have questions over Benjamin; now 29 and only rated at 2.5 stars. Thinking outside of the box - he came out as gay earlier in the save and is always amongst my top shirt sellers but, now, with the Champions League revenue, I don't know how much difference this will make. Lorenzo Palacios is the top rated B team player and is on a par with him, just lacking the concentration that Ropero has. Here is how they compare:

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This is why the actual player comparison is useful, too. Palacios, at first glance, could be a replacement but it's pretty much suicide putting a man so poor on the ball into a team that prioritises playing out from the back. Sadly, James Dean and Rene Burgos are similar in this area.

VERDICT: I can't replace any one at this time. My focus will be on developing ball playing defenders for when Benjamin starts to decline.

Defensive Midfielders

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We don't have a single defensive midfielder in any of the youth or B squads so Villasanti and Villalba are safe!

Central Midfielders

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I think we are really strong here, even the numbers are a little weak. Originally, I wanted Oprea to go out on loan to experience football at a higher level than the third tier but, with little else available, I am re-thinking that strategy. It does leave me with a hugely inexperienced midfield and I'd like to strengthen with an older head, but not falling into the same trap as I did last year with Riqui Puig.

I may have oversold Mejia somewhat - he's not ready for first team football, yet, despite his massive progress. If he can continue that this year though, he'll surely be a shoe-in for next season. I have made the decision to utilise Galindo in the midfield rather than a winger, too, as, vision aside, he's a decent fit.  I am fortunate that there is a lot of cover from player's secondary roles - Marlon Lucas, Alberto, Villasanti, Pena and even Neyveson but it does beg the question of whether to bring Galindo into the first team whilst Oprea moves on loan:

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Galindo, left, is not far from the player Oprea is and also is two footed, which will skew his attributes somewhat. 

VERDICT: Replacing Oprea with Galindo will leave me in exactly the same position - an inexperienced player as the 'third' midfielder. Therefore, Oprea will stay and I'll look to get Galindo some experience at a better level than he is at currently.

Wide Forwards

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Ruimar Evaristo holds a Spanish passport (not that this was important at the time of completion) and is joining us or €1.5m from Gremio. I was initially quoted his €18.5m release clause when I spotted him at 16, but time on the shortlist followed and I was alerted when other clubs started bidding for him. I got in there first and I'm excited about his potential. Gualberto Esquival will be the last non-Spanish player I sign and, as said before, I think I've ended on a high - he cost just €300k.

They join four players who have been with the team for a while. Of the four, they are all quite similar and I'd say that, on recent form, Jose Carlos is the weakest. My question would be to see if I could bring Evaristo straight into the first team:

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I think we're looking, again, at the Oprea/Galindo debate. Ruimar (left) is marginally worse as a footballer but Jose Carlos does have the either foot attribute skew. What Jose Carlos does have though is bags of experience at the top level. I'd ideally like to see Ruimar being better than Jose before he replaces him.

VERDICT: Allow Ruimar to settle, get used to playing with Esquivel and re-evaluate next year.

Forwards

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Ronaldo is fresh from winning Top Goalscorer Award for the B-team and is probably going to end up in the first team to make up numbers, if nothing else. He's a little raw in some places but also incredibly good in others. There'd be little expectation for him to be more than a substitute/cup games (even though Champions League games are arguably going to be harder than league games now) for the next two years but he has definitely stalled his progress a little playing in the B-team.

VERDICT: Move Ronaldo to the first team.

---

In the short term:

  • Very few squad changes to first team this season.
  • Some weak areas of the first team need addressing in the transfer market.
  • Some experience needed if there is any first team arrivals.
  • Last chance saloon for some older professionals/poorer performers.
  • Loan market needed for better B-team players to get experience at the top level.

In the longer term:

  • Very weak prospects at full back, defensive midfield and ball playing centre backs. Focus scouting on these areas.
  • Lack of depth in CM prospects. Check progress of youth to see if anyone is making promising steps as this position is crowded at youth level.
  • Continue trying to get Guadalajara B to the second tier but also ensure that link with LaLiga 2 club Cordoba is used so isn't revoked.

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2 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

VERDICT: In this case - I have no reason to drop Puig and his attributes are still holding up, despite what his star rating says. I think that Fulvio needs a spell out on loan - either to a La Liga side or another top tier. I'll re-evaluate this one next summer.

It's always been weird to me that you have Puig play every match. Why not split starts between him and Fulvio at a 70:30 rate or something?

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4 hours ago, wesl said:

It's always been weird to me that you have Puig play every match. Why not split starts between him and Fulvio at a 70:30 rate or something?

A number of, silly, reasons, to be fair:

a) I play on a small laptop and I hate it when my squad needs to have a scrollbar to be seen. Therefore I don't waste space with an extra goalkeeper!

b) I had a player, Stefano Stefanelli, on my save last year who was a GK. He made over 1000 appearances in professional football so I didn't bother selecting a sub keeper as it wasted space on the team sheet.

---

I probably should have taken your advice, but I've loaned him to second tier Cordoba, where he'll play first team football. I'm in this for the long run, remember - so one more season shouldn't make too much of a difference!

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Player Development - Ronaldo

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With great name comes great responsibility (for development). I've just promoted him to the first team after a really promising year in the B team where he was named top scorer in Segunda B3. However, he has some gaps in his game and hasn't really developed in any way since joining, as seen below:

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My first job is to look at him as a person. He's as run of the mill as you can get, Balanced and Media Friendly - so I have very little understanding of his hidden stats, aside from that there is really none that stand out. He also has a good level of Determination, somewhere between 10 and 14, which is lower than the majority of the squad and that will hopefully change as his time within the first team increases. To improve his personality, I have created this mentoring group:

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Brian Pena: Professional (Professionalism 18-19, Temperament 10-20, Leader <19), Media Friendly (nothing specific) and Reserved (Controversy 1-5, Professionalism 15-20)

Neyveson: Professional (Professionalism 18-19, Temperament 10-20, Leader <19), Media Friendly (nothing specific) and Reserved (Controversy 1-5, Professionalism 15-20)

They are all in the Core Social Group, share a common language of Spanish (Neyveson and Ronaldo share two - Spanish and Portuguese) and share similar positions. The fact that I have managed to combine two Team Leaders with one young player should maximise the potential for transfer of personality. It may also transfer some Player Traits. Below are the traits that my two team leaders have, with Neyveson on the left:

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I would have no issues with any/all of these traits being passed on as there is nothing that would be a negative, except for maybe 'Likes to Round Keeper' due to his lack of composure. However, I've very rarely seen either Neyveson or Pena do this anyway.

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Next - as a player, I need to address some attributes:

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I'm going for the SS(A) role. It works a lot of areas that he is already good at but the key thing here is that he is only accomplished as an AMC. I know that, over time, he can progress to being natural there and I need to kick start this. It will also improve his composure, which is a really weak area for him right now. His individual focus, for now, will be on Endurance as I want to ensure that his work rate is at least a good level. Noticing the amount of ground that Neyveson covers - he was ranked #1 in the league two years ago, covering nearly 330km - I need his stamina to increase also. Once those have reached a good level, I'll look at making some of him mental attributes excellent - ideally decisions and anticipation as they are ideal for creating and taking advantage of space, something that our game is designed to do. At this point, any traits will come from mentoring as there isn't anything specific that I want to add.

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I will also make sure that, whenever he is on the pitch, he'll be taking penalties as, given his excellent ability at doing so, should give him some extra goals, improving his match ratings and improving his development.

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Quique Fernández - Player Development

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If there is one thing I love doing on FM - then it's converting players to new roles based on their attributes. My scouts have found this lad whilst playing for the Spanish Under 19 side. He's a strange character - a right footed left wing back who is very tall. However - he looks as if he could make a fantastic Ball Playing Defender - given his good tackling, heading, marking and positioning. Throw in his good technique, first touch and passing as well as those core defensive attributes of concentration, anticipation and decisions - and there is the makings of a great player here! I activated his €250k minimum release clause and he's now mine!

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He's going to spend a bit of time in the B-team whilst I focus on turning him to a natural centre back. I'm going to use LIB(s) to develop his attributes, as seen below:

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He hasn't got any real weaknesses so I'm hoping the generic schedule, in addition to the Defensive Positioning (Decisions, Marking and Positioning) can push some of his attributes to the excellent level.

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Squad Numbers

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Escobar takes over the #10 from Gonia and becomes my first choice playmaker. Celsinho takes over #3 from Bravo and becomes my first choice left back. The only other change sees Villalba move to #23 so that I can give Ronaldo the #18.

Normally, I give my strikers the numbers nine and nineteen but I'm making a special consideration considering that Ronaldo (R9) was my favourite player growing up and his time at Inter Milan really inspired my love of Italian football. Whilst Neyveson is rightly the number 9, the same number that Ronaldo wore in his spell at Inter, I want to give Ronaldo another special number:

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I can't add the '+' sign, sadly but it's the little things like this that I like to spend time doing!

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Lost staff member

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He's really not very good but I wish him the best!

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Youth production

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As the metric changes to 'top leagues' rather than La Liga - we now have 20 in total. Hopefully we can continue to rise up this list.

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Loan Development Tracker

I've always been conscious of loaning players out because I am essentially giving up on their structured development for a year in a trade off for first team football. However, I have an affiliate, Cordoba, in the second tier and I need to use them to give my players a better standard of football than they get with my B-team, in the third tier.

To help track them, I've used the same tracker as I use for my youth development:

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As always - this only tracks outfield players (probably why I am so poor at developing my own goalkeepers!) and I'll be looking at trends of development and trying to unpick how the AI develops my players.

Firstly - here is Cordoba's manager, Alvaro Calvillo:

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He's not a great judge of ability and potential, but that's fine - I've delivered him players with potential and he's agreed to make them first team players. However, he's good at working with youngsters and that is really what matters.

Furthermore, he likes to control possession so my players should be getting plenty of the ball and his 4-4-1-1 will fit in Fulvio (GK), Burgos and Palacios but will mean that Galindo will play as an AMC, rather than the MC I will use him as. 

Here are Cordoba's facilities:

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Training facilities are a huge step up on what my B-team have.

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Hopefully Fulvio and Galindo will come back ready for the first team and Palacios and Burgos will be re-assessed to see whether they will make it any further than my B-team.

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Change in 'Perceived' Potential Ability

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Five months later and Uriate's potential ability is rising. I'm not saying that he's going to reach 5* potential, but 3.5* would now put him amongst the best players within my first team. I, as previously mentioned, don't pay a fat lot of notice to these stars but it's interesting to see the development of them over time.

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July/August/September 2034

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The less said about this, the better.

I think we're undervaluing pre-season as we started with some really sloppy performances against teams we should be beating. Barca aside, and maybe allowing for a point against Sociedad, we should be winning all of the the other league matches - but to play so poorly and offer so little, with such a settled team, is inexcusable. There is lots of work to be done.

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Our Champions League group is tough, with Benfica, Lyon and Napoli. 3rd place is my aim - considering our battering and lucky draw at home to Benfica.

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