In FM15, I had one of my most enjoyable saves ever. I started off at Dynamo Kyiv but moved on to Schalke and really grew to love the team. It was an extremely trophy laden spell. I was there for 5 years and won five Bundesliga titles on the bounce. I thought it would take longer to overthrow the mighty Bayern, especially considering Schalke hadn’t finished near the top of the table in a long time, we were very successful though. There was a good core of homegrown talent in the squad which I supplemented by excellent players from the transfer market. You can read about how it went, further down on my blog.
For this year’s game, I’ve taken a while to decide what team to go, but Schalke was always one of my preferred choices. I’ve got to have some sort of connection to the team and I already had that with Schalke due to my previous save. It might seem a bit boring to go back to some, but I’m sure there’s plenty of people that do that. I really like the Bundesliga, there’s some great teams and great players plying their trade there.
The aim this year is quite similar to last year. I want long-term success but I’ll be putting more of an emphasis on the youth development side of things. I might restrict the purchase of foreign players as the game goes on, but I’ll decide as time goes by what my policy will be.
The squad looks pretty decent. Goretzka, Sané, Meyer, Geis and Ayhan are all capable of developing into top players. There’s some decent experience in there too with the likes of Fährmann, Höwedes and di Santo.
Someone will likely ask why Hojbjerg hasn’t been mentioned and that is because I sent him back from his loan. I’d rather have players in my squad that will be here for the long haul, not much point in me spending time developing players for Bayern.
Hiring and Firing
As soon as I start any save, before I look at the team, tactics or transfers, I assess the staff. There’s always going to be a few sackings. Some of the coaching staff were ok, but I decided to ship them all out and bring in my own guys. I could employ 7 coaches, an assistant manager and a Head Of Youth Development. I decided to go with two fitness coaches, four categorised coaches (ball control/defending/attacking/shooting) and one goalkeeping coach. Where possible, I tried signing coaches with similar tactical ideas to me and with good personalities.
Bernhard Peters is the jewel in the crown for me. His personality and attributes make for a perfect Head Of Youth Development. Hopefully he can help find the best youngsters around for me. I read a lot about staff personalities on Cleon’s blog over at SI Sports Centre, definitely check that blog out if you haven’t already.
I brought in a mostly new scouting team, with the focus mainly on Germany. I also brought in three new physios. I’ll not bore you by going through them all, so I’ve just included the staff overview screen so you can see how we compared to everyone else in the league.
Setting Up A Tactic
Fitting the best players into a working tactic can take a bit of time and jiggery-pokery. After assessing the squad and the best players I knew how I wanted to set things up.
I had a tactical idea that I really loved on FM15, but never used in any of my blogged saves. I based the shape and basic idea on Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan side of the late 80’s. It’s basically a 442, but with one of the wingers in the attacking strata, cutting inside. Milan played with their strongest winger on the right, but our best winger, Leroy Sané, is left footed, so it’s flipped to reflect this.
After reading lots about how they setup, I realised it was almost impossible to replicate in Football Manager, but I tried and this is what I’ve come up with. It’s not a perfect replica of Sacchi’s Milan, I just used the idea and worked towards something that worked well and had a good balance. I’ll be tinkering as the season goes. It’s not fluid yet, but we’ve been playing pretty well. This is how it looks. I really wish SI would include a “Flip Tactic” option, that just flips your tactic to the opposite side and carries your roles/instructions instead of having to setup the tactic again. One for the suggestion box I suspect.
I’m not going give out the instructions as I’m not wanting to focus on that too much. I’m looking to win the ball back high up the pitch, keep a tight defence and score plenty of goals using the wings.
After working out the best players I had to work out who wasn’t going to make it or fit in. Chelsea were straight in for Joël Matip at the start of summer. I got a deal worth £22.5m plus 20% of any future fee. I have three very good centre backs and a couple of decent youngsters, so I was ok with this deal. Höger, Santana and Boateng followed shortly after, all out of contract at the end of the season, I got £6m for them and a good chunk off of my wage budget. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a player I suspected wouldn’t work in the system due to his lack of pace. With his wages being £96k p/w, when Tottenham offered £5.5m, I quickly accepted. Sascha Riether was released after having no interest in him. Obviously, Hojbjerg returning to Bayern counts towards an outgoing transfer as well.
I only signed two players in the summer, which is a bit of a rarity for me. I needed a quick intelligent goalscorer. I scouted about and eventually settled on Wissam Ben Yedder from Toulouse. His price was well within range and his attributes were what I was looking for. £9m was a decent price I felt. I also bought Norwegian youngster, Kristoffer Ajer for £1.5m. He’ll get games in my midfield, mainly in the Cup and Europa League.
We have a couple of players out on loan this season, a couple of which I’m looking forward to getting back. Donis Avdijaj was beastly for me on FM15 and I think he’s got the potential to be the same in this game. Christian Clemens could be a decent squad player and Timon Wellenreuther is a long-term replacement for Fährmann in goal.
First Season Goals
The obvious thing for me this season is to get Champions League qualification by finishing in the top three. Not an easy task with Dortmund, Wolfsburg and Leverkusen all vying for two of the spots with one, inevitably being taken by Bayern. Not unachievable though. I’ll be rotating for the Cup and Europa League, so I’m not pushing to hard on those fronts.
Champions League football would increase our reputation to attract players as well as boosting our finances. The bank balance is very solid, but we always want more.