Hello and welcome to my first blog of FM17. For a very long time, I knew that Auxerre would be my first real FM17 save. The nine seasons I spent with them on FM16 ended in the worst possible way when the save corrupted. I was really gutted about it, I don’t think I really played FM properly after that. I was doing saves and plodding along with them, but I was never really invested in them like I was with Auxerre.
I’d spent a long time thinking about what I wanted to do in that save. They were one of these teams that had had a little bit of success, dropped down to the second division and then just languished there. Many good players had passed through the doors over the years and my plan was to create my own generation of stars.
I’d gotten through nine full seasons, created countless potential stars for the French national team, won a couple of titles, established the club as PSG’s main title rivals, but when the save disappeared, I still felt as if I hadn’t reached all of my goals. Europe was one of those competitions that we never had any joy in. Never making it past the first knockout round was always a disappointment. The team was great, but I knew the best was still to come as the average ages was only 22. None of them had even got near their peak.
So that brings me to FM17.
The Way Forward
With any club I take charge of, I like there to be plans and objectives that I’ve set myself. The obvious goal is that we want to be the best team in France and potentially Europe. It’s easy to say that, but that doesn’t just mean by lifting silverware. I want to make Auxerre the best at everything that they can be.
So how do we get there?
I’ve broken it down into four sections.
- On The Pitch
- Off The Pitch
- Youth Development
Before anyone heads straight to the comments section and says that some of these fit under one of the other headings, then yes, you’re right, they do. I want to focus on specific parts of these points though, so I feel they deserve their own section. The numbers do not relate to their priority or importance.
On The Pitch
- Regain and Retain Ligue 1 status.
- Challenge towards top end of table and secure European Football.
- Become Ligue 1 champions.
- Embed club as main title contenders and rivals to PSG, Lyon and Monaco.
- Challenge for European honours.
- Play an exciting style of football.
Pretty simple stuff really. We all want to be successful with our teams. Winning makes people happy, it makes me happy, it makes the board happy and it means I’ve got a good chance of achieving my goals.
There’s no timescale on anything other than promotion. I want to be back in Ligue 1 within three years. On FM16, I achieved this first season, but I’m not expecting to do the same this year. There’s a few talented teams in this division and it’ll be a battle to get up at the first time of asking. Auxerre have been in Ligue 2 since 2012 and if they were properly equipped for getting back up, I’m sure they’d already be challenging for that.
The remaining points are progressions that will take place as and when the team are ready. I’m not expecting to be in the Champions League in season three and winning it at the first attempt, but it’s certainly the long term aim to be reaching the later stages of that competition and challenging for it at some point.
Fans want to be entertained when watching football and I want to be excited when I play the game. I don’t think I’ll be able to implement a high pressing, all action attacking style from the off, but I can definitely be working towards that straight away. I’m not 100% sure on what shape or style we’ll play at present, but it’s something I’ll delve into in a separate post in the future.
Off The Pitch
- Improve club facilities.
- Expand commercial income.
- Ensure financial stability of club.
- Expand fanbase.
- Build new stadium.
A couple of these points could have been under other headings. For example, it could be argued that the club can only expand it’s fan base if we do well on the pitch. Then in turn that would mean we’d get a new stadium. I like to focus on this sort of element of the game though so I thought it needed it’s own header.
I’ve always felt that you can expand your income by doing tours of some Asian nations or the USA. It needs to be timed correctly though, there’s no point of me booking a tour to China in the first season as nobody will really care. “Second division French team? Not interested.” Perhaps in 5 or 10 years, Auxerre will be filling some of the bigger venues around the world. It’s not just about visiting other countries, bringing big teams to your own stadium for pre season friendlies will also help expand the fanbase and income to the club. You’ve got to time that right as well, you don’t want to take Real Madrid over for a friendly and get humiliated. Build towards the big guns.
Building a new stadium is going to be a direct consequence of above. The current stadium only has a capacity of 21,379. Perfectly fine for the present, but I’d hope that we’d soon outgrow that. I’m unsure of the ability to expand the stadium in FM17, but on FM16, we only had the option to build a new stadium.
Upgrading facilities will be a progressive development. It takes time to get everything to the level I want, so I’ll have to be patient with this. I’m sure we all know by now that having the best possible facilites will mean that our players have the best opportunity to reach their peak. I’ll be looking to get Youth and Training Facilities to their maximum as soon as possible. I’ll be making sure Junior Coaching and Youth Recruitment are given the same attention.
- Strong focus on youth recruitment/development/tutoring with a clear path towards the first team.
- Spend time developing players, even if they’re not good enough for Auxerre.
On FM16, my first team squad was mainly made up of products from my Auxerre Youth Academy. As the saying goes, ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.’ I’ll be throwing players into the first team squad as soon as I think they’re ready for game time. It’ll be a slow introduction where possible, but sometimes injuries determine how quickly their path to the first team comes about. Hopefully I’ll have some good personalities in the first team to aid the development process.
The second point is one I’ve never really done before. I usually lose interest in players that I won’t use and sell them on at the earliest opportunity. I’m not going to be silly enough to spend time training players with poor personalities for example, but if there’s a professional mentality player with only one or two star potential, I’ll try hard to develop him the best I can. The aim would be to find him a club, not to make money on his sale. There may also be players that are of good quality but don’t fit the style or formation we play, these players can be developed and sold to other French teams, which will in turn make the league a bit stronger.
- Hire/Sign staff or players with positive personalities where possible.
- Be vigilant in all transfer dealings.
- Buy low/Sell high.
- Setup an effective scouting system.
- Setup an affiliate system.
Recruitment is definitely one of the tougher aspects of the plan. For example, I don’t expect to be able to hire/sign all the right personalities from the off. That’s definitely going to be an ongoing thing with staff coming and going regularly for at least the first 3-5 years. It’s more than likely that within the first couple of years I’ll be focusing more on their skills than their personalities. They can be replaced when the right people become available. I’ll always be looking for professional/resolute/determined personalities where possible.
I’m usually pretty switched on in the transfer market. I’ve made the odd gaffe, but on the whole, I make sure I sign the right players for the systems that I use. I’ve got a basic skillset that I like players to have, but it’s not a hard rule. Likewise, I’m pretty open to offers for players leaving. Auxerre aren’t a big club, so I can expect bids from clubs and I’ll have to sell.
The next three will hopefully tie in with each other. I’ve never really focused on a scouting system or the use of affiliates. I’ve got a little plan drawn up and I’ve had a good read of Alex Stewart’s Ten Point Plan for Scouting so now I think I’m ready. The affiliate plan I’ve got really depends on getting the expanded DB’s. Claassen has said that he expects to have most of these done by the end of November, but I’m hoping the few that I want come early. If they don’t, I might have to ditch this idea. I really want to use a few African nations as Youth Affiliates. I’m not expecting to get loads of stars, but a couple here and there would be nice. There’s been plenty of talent that’s come from Africa via France over the years, I want Auxerre to be at the centre of that.
I think that about wraps it up for now. In my next post I’ll have a proper look at the club to see what facilities, staff and players I’ll have to work with. I would imagine I’ll have a look at all aspects that I do when I start any save, decisions will be made on tactics and what areas I need to improve immediately. I’ve not looked at the squad or club in any depth this year, so it’ll all be pretty fresh.
Thanks for reading this little intro. I hope you’ll check back regularly to follow this journey.