Imagine the scene. You’ve witnessed a club at the peak of its power, dominating European football and winning the European Cup back-to-back. People would have told you it must’ve been a dream because only five years previous the club in question had been dwindling in the Second Division of its domestic footballing pyramid. This sounds like something that could only happen in Football Manager, right? Well in fact this is the story of one man’s achievements that will forever be the challenge myself and many Football Managers will try to replicate. The amazing triumphs of Mr. Brian Clough and his Nottingham Forest team of the 1970s and 80s.
Us Football Manager fanatics are an easily influenced bunch. Almost anything can inspire us to take over and start a new save with a team. It might be an individual player we like, the history of a team or their lack of success in recent years. Heck, even the colour of their kits or what the club badge looks like might persuade us to go them in the game. The thing that makes me want to start a new save the most is reading, and as I mentioned on episode 109 of the podcast, over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading Dan Fieldsend’s brilliant book, The European Game.
In the book, Dan charts his journey, by train, through Europe and gives us a brilliant in-depth insider account of some of the top clubs in European football. By default, most of the time when I read anything around the non-FM world of football, my FM brain goes into overdrive with ideas. In this piece I’m going to run through a few of the chapters from the book, and how you can relate them to your potential new FM saves in the coming months.
We left you with a tasty start for Diego Maradona in Naples with Serie A openers against Juventus and Roma. With new additions to the squad and a host of exciting attacking talent, could Diego guide his Napoli to the Scudetto for the first time in 29 years?
It’s the morning after the night before. I woke up today with a renewed vigour, like the veil had been lifted on my life and all was now clear before me.
I’d imagine that the majority of you reading this will by now have heard the news of what happened on that fateful night the 29th May 2032 at the San Siro. When two juggernauts collide there can only ever be one winner and lo’, how many times I have fallen at that final hurdle to be pummeled by those I despise and humiliated by condescending bastards. Yet no longer…
We had Fatman Doop from the ever-growing FM streaming community on episode 107 of the podcast. Ed had a right old natter with him on a big variety of topics. Would thoroughly recommend you give it a listen, they’re bromance grew as the episode went on. It was cute.
If you’re here for the community section round-up though, here you go!
Seville. Diego Maradona is not meant to succeed in Seville, it seems. A failure as a player and a failure as a manager.
After 6 months without a job, I was approached by Napoli – the club where Diego Maradona as adored for so long. I may have left under slightly tense relationships but now I’m back and ready to restore the love the people of Naples have for me.
Have a listen for Len’s top tips for players to sign in each position. If you end up signing any of them, let us know how they get on! Here comes your written round-up of the community section. If there’s anything you’ve read that you think deserves a plug on the podcast, just let us know at any time!
For a while now, I’ve been fascinated by Monchi. The Sevilla Director of Football is one of football’s best dealers – buying some of the world’s best talents for low prices and selling them for a high profit. Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Sergio Ramos are just a few of the stars who have passed through Sevilla, earning the club a major profit.
It’s a model that is often used in the stock market – buy low, sell high, but Monchi has applied it to football.
This summer, he is off to Roma, where it will be interesting to see how he will transfer his methods.
How does this transfer to Football Manager? Well, using my created manager Diego Maradona, I aim to transfer Monchi’s intricate methods to my recruitment in the game. Think of it as a form of moneyball, as made popular by Alex Stewart’s Moneyball series on The Set Pieces, but with a specific way of recruiting.
I was particularly taken by this Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/may/17/sevilla-monchi-liverpool-europa-league-final
In it, Monchi describes Sevilla’s methods of recruitment:
“Sixteen people cover a series of leagues. For the first five months we watch a lot of football but with no particular aim: we’re just accumulating data. Every month we produce an ideal XI for each league. Then in December we start watching players who appeared regularly in different contexts – home, away, international – to build the broadest possible profile.”
Monchi pulls out his phone and, carefully reducing the image so the names can’t be seen, says: “That gives us this.” A colour-coded spreadsheet shows players by position. Around 250 potential targets, in all positions. “The manager says: ‘I want a left-back who averages 11km a game, runs 800m at full speed, uses both feet.’ And from these, 10 will fit.”
I will be using this method in my Football Manager save. I’ll monitor the leagues and create ideal XI sides for as many leagues as I can, using these to identify the ideal signing needed. I talked about this during episode 98 of The Deep Lying Podcast.
Diego Maradona. Yes, that Diego Maradona. The Argentine international returns to Sevilla, where he suffered an ill-fated spell before returning to his homeland in 1993.
Whilst there, Maradona became friends with a back-up goalkeeper – Monchi.
The Story To Date
I took over Sevilla on the 1st of January 2017, with the club lying in 11th place and someway off where they should be.
I brought in Rodrigo Bentancur from Boca and Frederico Venacio from Vit. Setubal, whilst the likes of Tremoulinas, Mariano and Sarabia all left the club. We spent £6.5million and brought in £15million, meaning my first window resulted in a profit.
Things would go okay and I managed to guide Sevilla to a 7th place finish and qualification for the Europa League.
The summer was an important one as it was the first real chance for me to implement my recruitment strategy.
I spent £48 million, but brought in £79 million as my recruitment strategy went to work.
Many talented players were bought for low fees – Tisserand (£2.4m), Dembele (£6.25m), Danilo (£4.2m), Ascacibar (£2.5m), who I all thought could be sold on for a big profit in the future.
Big names left the club – Steven N’Zonzi joined Napoli for £23m, Ben Yedder joined Everton for £17.5m and Sergio Escudero joined Schalke for £13m. All represented profit on their incoming fees.
Our pre-season couldn’t have got off to a better start – going unbeaten. In the league, it was a different story. We went five games without recording our first win – a 1-0 home win against Deportivo. This barren spell included a humiliating 7-2 loss against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
After 19 games, we were in the relegation zone and couldn’t buy a win. In fact, I’d only bought 3 wins all season.
It was one of the worst spells I’d ever had on Football Manager. Nothing I did worked. What was even more frustrating was that we were flying in the Europa League, winning 5 of our six games and topping the group.
After a 2-0 loss against Cordoba, our fifth straight loss, I was sacked. Diego Maradona and Sevilla obviously aren’t meant to be together.
Life After Maradona
For Sevilla, their new manager Fermin Galeote managed to steady the ship. He managed to get enough wins to push Sevilla up the table, securing a 13th place finish. He even managed to beat Cordoba 4-0.
What next for Diego?
After going 5 months unemployed, in which he went on a complete bender in true Maradona style, Diego was offered a job in Italy. Where? Naples. That’s where our story continues.
Story by Scott Salter – follow him here @scottsltr
Episode 104 of the Deep Lying Podcast saw one of the community’s biggest YouTubers, Work the Space, join Ed for a chat on all things Football Manager! They discussed their usual save updates, Jack gave his views on media consumption across the community, plus what I hope will be a new recurring feature, Ed’s quickfire questions!
Have a listen to the pod, and while you are, scroll down and check out the community picks from the last week.