Romania? Completed It Mate.

Only one more blog to go after this and I’ll have hit my three blog limit. I said in my last post that we’d see a lot of FM content being released around about now, so I’m riding that wave. It’s all about getting hits, right? I’ve gone through a season with Dinamo now so I’m gonna have a look at how the season turned out and what I’ve enjoyed about the game as I’ve been playing.

Gameplay

Recently when I’ve been playing FM, I’ve not been playing it because I’ve been enjoying it, but playing out of habit. Something to do to fill the time between jobs at work or at home. It meant I was spacebar bashing and just getting through seasons while doing the bits I liked. I think by the time FM21 rolled around, I was just a bit done in with it.

I decided that instead of just firing through seasons for the hell of it, I’d try to find new ways to enjoy the game. In the past I’ve enjoyed Youth Development and developing players for the teams I manage, but last year I just signed fixes for everything. Once you’re in a big league and you’re 20 seasons into a save, money doesn’t really register. €80m for a striker? No problem.

I’d become a ‘Chequebook Charlie’ as it was quicker.
It was boring.

There was no enjoyment in that at all.

That means that I’m now spending a bit more time doing FM Admin and less time just bashing space bar. It’s more engaging being in control of more aspects of the club again. I’m finding that I like the idea of using press conferences and team talks as a way of building up a personality for my manager. I’m focussing on training players in the areas of their game they need to improve for the team. Rather than discarding youngsters, they’re getting more of a chance. If they don’t ever play for me, they’ll hopefully go to other clubs in the league and help them improve.

Financially, Dinamo are quite poor. I’m in the process of getting the club on a better financial footing, but that takes time. All signings I make are being well thought out as I try to keep the club solvent. Free transfers are going to play a big part in my signing policy as it’s my best chance of getting quality in. My starting transfer budget was €28k with €2k p/w available in wages. This means I’m doing a lot more manual scouting instead of just relying on my small scouting setup.

I’m not doing anything clever here, but it’s good to remind myself that these things are actually the parts of the game that I enjoy.

Squad

I’ll be pretty honest, I didn’t really look at the club very much before starting my save. I had a quick scan at the first team on Beta, but only at the Key Player/Captain etc on the Team Profile. I seen a couple of players that I liked and went back to playing with Dortmund.

For the level Dinamo are at, there’s some decent players here. We’re not talking amazing quality, but they’ve got skills in the right areas of their game. They’re not the types of players you get boners over, but it’s definitely comparable to the level they’re at.

To my delight, my defence was actually pretty good. It’s usually the first area of a team that I improve. Abdoulaye Ba was noted as the Key Player at the club and you can see why. He’s an imposing beautiful man who will dominate opposition strikers. Tall, strong, brave.. a proper committed centre back. I also imagine him being in control of the backline by using his leadership to organise the back four.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the balance of the team, but I needed to sign a striker and a creative attacking midfielder. I managed to get both of those positions covered over the two windows during the season.

There’s a couple of nice youngsters that I think will join the first team next season, so I’ll be planning departures around their progression. I’m obviously now at the end of the first season, so I know how they’ve progressed and I really like what I see. No boners, but they are ready to be part of the squad.

Tactics

I was playing with 4231 on Beta so I decided to keep the ball rolling with that setup with Dinamo. I’ve kept the shape over both iterations of the tactic, but the first one was short lived. I thought up an idea of playing in a very rigid style, more workman-like as I thought it suited the team. I wasn’t really enjoying the style though so I adjusted the balance of things.

This second version is actually pretty basic and relies more on the players and what they can do. I went for the double pivot in the DM slot as it would offer me better defensive cover, while still moving up into the CM area when we were in possession of the ball.

The Attacking Midfielder links the midfield and attack by dropping deep when required. We’ve had great success with the Deep Lying Playmaker also having the ability to ping balls in behind. The lack of defend duty midfielder is not very logical, but it was an idea I picked up from Cleon(RIP) when he did a post about 4231. CM’s don’t really play like DM’s but DM’s are more likely to move up into CM. It’s doing exactly that. The defensive cover that the dual DM’s offers is quite nice.

There are still areas I’m working on. The right back moves between being amazing and dog shit. Gonzalez is good, so I need to hone in on the issue. Same with the attacking midfielder who seems to drift in and out of games. It’s working just now, but there will be some more refinement as the save progresses.

We’re efficient and solid in both phases of play, so it’s not an immediate concern. I do like to make changes during a match, but based on what’s happening rather than blindly changing mentality 14 times to make it seem like I know what I’m doing. Quite often teams are packing out the middle, so I’ll try to stretch play a little bit to ease that congestion. I rarely change mentality unless I’m chasing a game at the death.

The changes I make are subtle rather than totally altering the tactic.

Season

Dinamo finished in 15th place out of 16 last season, so anything other than relegation would have been an improvement. No real pressure. It was a mixed bag in pre-season due to mixing up the tactical setup before a tough start vs CS Craiova. A 3-0 demolition would normally send me into a bit of a spin, but considering where we came from and how good they are, I took it on the chin and moved on.

Another defeat followed against Astra Giurgiu before we sorted our shit out and made progress. A few big results and some clean sheets set us on our way. I was flying through the season, not due to playing quickly, but because of how much I was enjoying it. Also.. how quick does it save the game now? Lightning!

We were playing good football, defending well and creating a lot of chances. The goals were flying in and we were climbing the league.

We had the odd blip, losing the first derby 2-1 against FCSB, but it didn’t derail us. I said to the board and players that we’d finish in the top half, that was no longer the aim. I was in with a chance of winning the league. Cluj had a horrible first half of the season, as did FCSB until they replaced their manager. This made things a little bit less complicated for us as CS Craiova were my only real competition. Cluj did have a revival in the second half of the season, but were playing catch up due to their poor early season form.

After 30 games, we’d managed to win 24, draw 2 and lose 2. So the rumours are true. FM21 is easy. Completed it mate.

But there’s more.. a league split. 10 more games to go. At this point, the top 6 teams battle it out for the title and the bottom 10 battle over mid-table obscurity or a place in the division below. What I didn’t realise was that the team that finish top of the relegation group play a Euro Conference play-off match with the team that finishes 3rd in the Champions Group. A bit mad, but as Miles would say “Football is bonkers.”

The “Champions Playoff” was a bit of a balancing act. I had managed to make it through to the semi final of the cup. I wasn’t sure how I was going to fare in the league, so I wanted to keep the level of performance quite high in both competitions. I wanted to make the final of the cup and with games so close together, I decided to sacrifice a league game in order to make the final. It didn’t exactly pay off as expected. We didn’t lose the first leg, a 0-0 stalemate, but we did lose 2-0 in the league when I played a weaker line-up.

It was all in our hands though, as I followed up that defeat with victories over Craiova, FCSB and Cluj. We finished the Champions Playoff with 8 wins and 2 defeats…

The 13 year wait for a league title was over. Number 19 was ours!

There were 30 other games, but it doesn’t give me a combined league

Interestingly, Cluj lost that Euro Playoff to the team that finished 7th in the league!

Signings

I did make a couple of signings for the team. I’ll not go mad and post all of the screenshots. It’s difficult to be excited by average players. I will give a mention to one of them though. It was a bit of a weird way of signing a player, but it worked out well.

While looking at the club profile screen, I had a look at favoured personnel, icons, legends etc and had a look to see if I could get any of them back at the club. What better way to get the fans on board, right? I noticed that Gabriel Torje (now affectionately known as Torjbae) was on the transfer and loan list at Larisa.

Torjbae was out of my price range, but I thought “fuck it” and tried to sign him on loan.

What an inspired decision that proved to be. Not only was it good to have a player at the club who the fans love, but he was also a home grown player…

Did I mention that he was outstanding?

He was outstanding. I was happy with my forward options, but this was the little sprinkle on top that added a touch of class. Every game, he was performing and helping the team. I don’t want to get carried away as I might write a blog post about him.

He finished the season with 10 goals and 21 assists in 36 matches. He also contributed an average of 5 key passes a game. He was just a creative force.

When I approached him, my scouts said he was a winger, but his skillset was much more suited to being an Inverted Winger, so that’s where he played.

I think I might be in love. Torjbae went on to win club and league player of the year.

What’s Next?

We’ve qualified for the.. Champions Path, Qualifying Round for the Champions League. Honestly, I don’t know what that means, but we’re in the Champions League. I’m aiming to get to the playoff for the group, but I don’t know how many games away that is or what level of opposition we’d face if we got there.

I’d like to say I want to retain the title, but I think it’ll be harder to do that this time round. I hope it’s harder to do this time round. We pretty much walked the league. Cluj and FCSB have better squads than us and will likely improve over the summer. We have a very small budget, so trying to improve with zero money will be a challenge. One that I’m looking forward to though. There’s a few players I want to move out, so I might be able to raise a small pot of money that way.

There are a number of very good youngsters in the development teams(as mentioned above) that are stepping up this season, so I want to make sure that they realise their potential. I will be giving game time to a few of them to help their progression. I’m not aiming to have a team of youth, but it’s essential that we have good youngsters coming through.

Q&A

Send me your tactic
Send me nudes of your mother!

Is FM21 easy?
I’d say so. A team shouldn’t finish 15th and then win the league next season. Maybe I’ll be shite next year though.

Can dogs look up?
Big Al says they can’t. That’s good enough for me

Where would you rather build a bridge to? Norn Iron or Norway?
No

Would you rather eat a cow sized chicken or a chicken sized cow?
Good question from Dan, aged 4 from Bristol. I like chicken and cow. Both have flaws, but a cow sized chicken makes more sense. You’re not going to get much of a steak from a chicken sized cow. Can you imagine the size of breasts/thighs on a cow sized chicken? Phwoaaaar!

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