In my first blog of FM23, I had a very quick look at the challenge ahead of me at Auxerre and what I hope to achieve. This time out, I’m looking at the challenges I often face when starting a save. I’ll look at the progress I’ve made so far and outline where I hope to be by the end of the second season.
No messing, lets get into it.
New Team, Same Problems
Every new manager at a new team wants to leave their own mark on their squad. When I take over at a newly promoted club in a league that isn’t flush with cash, I know I’m going to struggle. We’ve seen teams in the English Premier League spend crazy amounts of money to keep themselves in the top division in recent years, but my €400k transfer budget wasn’t going to stretch very far.
Having little to no cash leads to a number of problems. I can’t improve the squad being the first obvious hurdle. I can bring players in, but one player isn’t going to turn around the fortunes of a pretty average side. I always look to make at least one signing that can add a bit of quality to defence. I don’t know why, but defence is always the area of the team I try to improve first in any save. It’s going to be a short term acquisition though. I don’t have the ability to sign a player that’s going to be here for 5 years.
Even then, how much will it improve my side overall? Not much. Will it be the type of player I’m likely to sign in the future? Maybe they’ll be along the right lines. It really depends on what’s available. I mentioned in my first blog that I signed Molla Wague on a free transfer, but at 31, he’s a 1-2 year transfer. And he was my only transfer in my first season.
It’s not really pushing my team on, it’s an attempt to steady the ship.
Next I have to assess the squad. I quickly realised that it’s pretty poor compared to the rest of the league and I’m are facing an uphill battle. I might want to implement a high pressing, all action style, but I need to be real. This squad isn’t fit for that and my goal is to just stay in the division. So compromise is required… a lot of it.
I’ll tend to have an idea of how I can be solid while still sneaking wins, but that first season took the piss at times.
I fiddled with the tactic a lot which didn’t help. Try this striker role and this striker role and this midfield role and this instruction etc etc. It was ultimately adding to my problems. Once I’d settled down a bit, I picked up wins and managed to understand where it was going wrong… and where it was really going wrong.
The players were shit. A lot of them were really shit. I was trying to get them to do things that they weren’t capable of doing. Fitting players into roles and positions that they needed a lot of time to work at. I needed to be good instantly though, so again.. more compromise.
I then started to question everything I thought I knew about tactics on Football Manager. Maybe it’s me that’s really shit?
Watching games and making a crazy amount of notes, taking screenshots, pausing and analysing. It felt like a chore. I stripped it back to basics and moved on. I don’t think I’m shit anymore, but I know I’m lazy at times with developing my system. I’d win three games in a row, then change something randomly because I thought it would help. I’d give it one game to work and if I saw a decrease in performance, I’d reverse it.
Patience is probably not my strong suit.
When I finally settled down on my system, I became over reliant on certain players. Lack of depth in a squad is a real hindrance. If anyone got injured or had a dip in form, I was in big trouble. It only happened a couple of times, but it really impacted us.
My note to myself in this is that I need to be more patient in future. Stop chopping and changing. Stop thinking three seasons ahead. Stop being a massive bell end.
I’m complaining about myself, but the team did alright in the end. It was up and down, but compared to the rest of the league, we were probably the poorest squad in the division. I should be looking at this positively… in a way, I am. We achieved our objective, we stayed in the league and avoiding getting dragged into a relegation battle.
A pretty respectable finish in the end. We were as high as 7th at one point in the season, but 11th is miles clear of my pre-season, relegation battle prediction. We didn’t have too many big results in our first season, but a 2-1 win at home against Lyon was the pick of the bunch.
A couple of players stood out. I’m not patting myself on the back or anything, but Molla Wague was a pretty good signing. He averaged 6.97 but was in control of our defence. He also managed to play in 36 of my league games, missing one game because of an injury and the other due to a red card.
Up top, M’Baye Niang was the driving force for us staying up. He scored 19 goals in 35 appearances. Without him, we’d have been in big trouble. His contract was up at the end of the season, but I managed to tie him down to a new deal.
As I move forward into my second season, a number of players have been let go or sold on. We were handed a €4m ‘WAR CHEST’ to spend before the transfer window slammed shut. This was not a lot and nowhere near the sort of money we needed to improve the squad.
I don’t know everyone else’s opinion on the new scouting feature, but personally, I think it’s dog shit. I’m trying to find one good thing about it and I can’t. I think it’s clunky and didn’t really improve the previous system. I struggled to find anyone good for the team and I didn’t play for a couple of days until I could focus on what I wanted.
After initially struggling to find anyone, we took in eight new players. My €4m budget was offset with the departure of nine departures that raked in an additional €6.75m. In total, I spent €9.5m.
I know people like seeing what sort of deals managers do, so I’ll just look at the players I think are most important.
Pontus Dahlberg isn’t an outstanding goalkeeper, but he is strong in all of the areas I deem important. He was one of my more expensive signings, but he’s added a lot of quality at the back. I think he’ll be here for a few years before I look to upgrade. It might be longer depending how he does. He’s only 24, so in goalkeeping terms, he’s very young.
Enzo Leopold is a pretty good midfielder. His personality alone is probably worth having in the team. He’s the type of player that puts it all on the line and will run forever. I liked that about him when I saw that he was available. He was my most expensive signing and he’s proving to be a valuable asset for the team.
It’s not all about signings though, the youth intake is also a time that brings new players to the team. Auxerre have produced plenty of talented players in the past, this year was no different. There’s a few good players on the intake, but I’d have to say that William Ferry is star of that new group. He’s only 15, but I’m sure I’ll be writing about him in the future.
The first season is in the bag and next season I’m hoping to kick on. Staying up will be the objective, but I can’t see why we can’t be aiming for a mid-table finish again. The league is a bit smaller next year as there will only be 18 teams in the division, so that will add a little bit more pressure to games.
I’d like to go into the later stages of the cup, but that is going to massively depend on the resources I have available within the squad.
William Ferry will likely get his debut this season, despite only being 15 in the image above, his birthday is in October, which means he’ll be available to play.
I’m also going to try to be more consistent with my tactical approach, cutting down on chopping and changing.
I want it, you want it, Twitter demanded it. It’s back, the Q&A where nobody gets to ask questions but me.
Q: Why are you so good looking?
A: Great question to kick us off. I don’t know.
Q: Rumour has it you’re using 4141? Can you confirm.
Q: Will FMStag be making a guest appearance on your blog to help you identify transfer targets.
A: I don’t like to discuss deals, but I can confirm that there has been contact.
Q: Will you be moving your blog to FM Coffeehouse in the future?
A: I don’t like to discuss deals, but I can confirm that there has been a bidding war and we’re just waiting for the right deal.