After five years of sustained success with Dinamo Bucharest, it’s time to depart for pastures new. A lot has changed, so what better way to sign off than to look over what has been achieved and how I went about it.
Everything done at a football club involves finances at some stage, be that upgrading the club facilities, hiring your backroom team or making that all important signing… lets not forget, sponsorship, tv deals, prize money and players departures. There’s not much you can achieve without capital.
Dinamo had hardly any starting capital. There was money to spend, around €200k, but the club was also in the red. There was no long term debt crippling the club, but I make sure that clubs I manage are run responsibly.
Across my five years, we’ve gone from €1m in the red to €43m in the black. Quite a turnaround. This has probably been my best management of finances at any club I’ve managed on FM. I tend to run a slight loss during the season with shortfalls being clawed back with prize money or player sales. We lively well within our means at all times. In the final year we made an overall profit of €500k. That’s not a lot, but it’s a very sound footing for the club to be on.
I’ll not break down the finances too much as everything else feeds back into finances at the club.
Dinamo share the Arena Nationala with local rivals FCSB. It’s a 55,000 seater venue built in 2011. We never ever sold the stadium out, so there was no need to ever upgrade that. The training and youth facilities were a different matter altogether. The facilities certainly weren’t poor, but over the years I spent a lot of money upgrading these to benefit the players and future players of the club.
I’m sure everyone upgrades the facilities of any club they manage, it’s the done thing. It’s a long term investment that you might never really reap the rewards of if you like to switch club. For me, it’s all about leaving the club on a good footing to continue any success I’ve brought. I never actually managed to get the facilities to reach their absolute best, but the last thing I did before departing, was request a facilities upgrade.
Attendances at the stadium grew year-on-year. Surprisingly, Champions League games didn’t bring in bigger crowds as I would have expected. My final year saw us having the biggest league match attendance as well as the highest average attendance. We never ever saw a stadium sellout, our biggest attendance being 38,000 in my final derby against FCSB.
In five years, I managed to win five Casa Liga 1 titles, two Cupa Romaniei Casa Pariurilor’s and three Supercupa Romaniei Timisoreana’s. Dinamo have flirted with relegation in real life, but find themselves mid-table just now.
The last trophy won by the club was in 2012 when they collected both domestic cups, but you have to go back to 2007 for their last domestic title.
I initially picked Dinamo as my team to manage due to their recent woes, but there’s actually a good squad here and an abundance of good quality youngsters. I tapped into that and managed to get some of those youngsters to perform very well. Ahmed Bani is a fairly average player on the face of it, but had the right attribute spread to be an effective presence in attack. At time of leaving, he’s still only 22 but scored 47 goals across my 5 years.
Dinamo are unlikely to ever be a successful team in the Champions League. Making the group stage twice and the knockout round once was over and above what I was expecting to achieve. Each year I had to go through three qualifying stages and a playoff just to make the group stage. We had some great games in the Champions League. Draws against RB Leipzig and PSG proved that we weren’t whipping boys and victories over AZ Alkmaar (4-2), Rangers (2-1) and Olympiakos (4-1 & 2-1) showed that we could mix it with the big boys too.
After five years at any club, there will be a transformation in backroom staff and playing staff.
Dinamo are probably in the mid-table of European football. You have to focus your eyes on what is important to you rather than looking for well rounded versatile employees. All players and staff have some sort of deficiencies at this level, I’ve found that it’s all about making the right choices of what’s acceptable.
You’re not going to sign a striker like Ronaldo or a coach like Mikel Arteta as your assistant manager, but having the right pieces of the jigsaw in the right place at the right time can spur you onto success.
I never really fiddle too much with staff once I’m happy with them. Perhaps early on, I’ll make a signing knowing that he’s a short term solution until I can get a better coach in, but the important members, Head of Youth, Director of Football and Assistant manager, they all tend to be long term appointments. My assistant manager was with me from season one. He didn’t initially join as an assistant manager as I couldn’t find an adequate defensive coach. He filled that void until one became available and he was then promoted to assistant manager. Not a perfect assistant manager, but his weaknesses were in areas that I could cover elsewhere.
Playing personnel is a bit different to staff. I’m less committed to them usually. I try to make long term signings, but sometimes you have to look a bit more short term. I find that early on in a save, I’ll be thinking about cashflow, so players signed are usually joining with the view to help them improve, then move them on for a profit.
It’s a successful way to run the club until you get to a stage where you can get the right player for the job. I didn’t make huge transfer profits (only €5m) but I didn’t spend big money either. Bringing a player in for free and selling him for €1m a year or so later is big business in Romania.
I mentioned above that I tried to balance the books, it turns out that I do that subconsciously with transfers. I never once spent more than I made from player sales.
I tend not to get involved in contract talks, so my Director of Football dealt with all of that. I’d only step in if he did something silly, like offer way less than what the player was expecting. It was a remedial task to get the deal over the line rather than me moaning about the DoF though.
This is the third time I’ve started a save in Eastern Europe, I’ve enjoyed every single save. If you’re used to doing big leagues with lots of money, initially, it’s a bit of a shock. No more so than managing lower league, but you likely have more money to play with as you go on.
The league structure in Romania is a bit weird and there’s little to no time between seasons, but I highly recommend giving it a go.
An enjoyable phase of FM21 comes to an end, but I’m moving onto a new club hopefully. No jobs lined up, but there’s a couple of teams seeking managers that I’m interested in.
Dinamo did offer me a new contract about four times, but I rejected due to wanting a new challenge. Continuing a save and trying different leagues is one of my favourite things to do on FM. I love a one club save, but I like to think of myself as a real manager in game, so spending a few years at each team is always quite realistic.
I’m not 100% sure that I’ll blog much of my next steps, but I’ve got an idea for a recruitment post that I’ve started. It might take me a while to do that as I’ll likely be looking at my new club for that.
Can’t believe we got so many posts out of you this FM. U ok hun?
Where you hoping to go next?
I’ve got a couple of ideas of where I’d like to go, but it rides on me getting the job. I’m ok with waiting for the right job rather than taking one for the hell of it.
Did you enjoy managing in Romania?
Definitely. I was surprised by the lack of real competition, but there were a few hairy moments that we managed to turnaround. Challenges fell away and we continued onto success. It’s a league that’s worth a look.
Two trains, 300 miles apart are travelling towards each other with one with a constant speed of 70mph and other 50 mph.How long does it take for both to meet/crash?
Will you make an announcement if there’s going to be no more FM21 content?
No, I’m not a total dick