If you haven’t quite noticed yet, I’m playing a lot of Football Manager. Please understand that I am sacrificing sleep to do so, not sacrificing time with my family (well, not all of it anyway). Addiction is a seductive mistress – it’s nearly 2am.
I wanted to write something a little different than my usual season updates, catch people up on my thought process and what I’ve done ahead of the new season. I alluded to it in my last blog post that I’d be easing the self-imposed transfer restrictions I made. I threw some ideas down with some help from folk in my slack channel (you know who you are) and I’ve decided on the following:
- Scouting is now worldwide
- Priority focus will ALWAYS be Norwegians first and foremost, with those from Northern clubs in the country the first place we look
- One non-Scandinavian signing for the first team per window
- Maximum of 3 non-Scandinavian signings allowed for the youth teams per window
I’ve set a couple of the above as ‘per window’ as opposed to ‘per season’ simply due to the way our season differs from the rest of Europe. If I set it per season then I run too high a risk of losing a key player during the wider European transfer window and leaving myself with a 6 month gap before I can replace them as opposed to a few months. I’ll have to control my outgoings as much as my incomings.
To the end of Season 4 I had only signed one player who wasn’t Norwegian or Danish and that was this fella who I haven’t mentioned before now:
The catch here is that I signed him from a Norwegian club so I felt that it was allowed – how an insanely good Turkish youth is coming through the ranks of a Norwegian academy I do not know but neither do I care. We shelled out £5.5m for him and I’ll probably double my money when he leaves one day, Milan are sniffing around at the moment.
In my First Team squad I have 31 players, 21 are Norwegian, 7 Danish, 1 Icelandic, 1 Slovak & 1 Turk. I’d like two thirds of this squad to remain Norwegian as that’s still very much the focus – but I’ll also be limited in this by the quality of Norwegian newgens coming through. So this is very much a hope rather than a restriction, it’ll be interesting to see how those figures look in 3 or 4 seasons time.
Døwn tø Business
In Norway the main transfer window runs from January – April, with the domestic season beginning in March. I’m writing this blog 3 games into the new season as I wanted to give a little more insight into the player squad, ins and outs and how we’re set up this season as opposed to last.
Inevitably, being successful in a minor league means you’re going to lose your best players, fairly regularly, and I’ve always wanted to keep my transfer dealings relatively close to what I’d expect would play out in real life. I don’t stand in the way of a great young player if I think that the fee is what a club like Bodø would accept. Sometimes it’s tough to take! Case in point…
It’s no surprise MNW was wanted by clubs bigger than us but one thing I have noticed is that a hell of a lot of Chinese teams sniff around our players. It seems a little…off, like it’s pre-programmed. CHINA really haven’t been signing up a lot of Europe’s best young talent in real life, so in that sense it’s a little blemish on the sale but I did have Sp*rs bid £18m (filled with instalments) so it’s not like no one else was interested. £21.5m is a huge fee for Norwegian football and not a bid I would ever have turned down. He wasn’t with us for long and will be missed but we made a £15m profit on him after only 40 games and will pocket 30% of any profit made on a future sale.
A little context on William Bøving, he starts the game at FC København and his contract was running down at the end of our second season. Scouts thought he could be one to watch so I swooped in given he was Danish. A few loans spells followed before he became a squad player he was never going to be good enough for more. I was delighted to sell him for £2.9m.
Back to MNW, he was an important first team player and so needed to be replaced with someone ready to step in to the first team immediately. Internal solutions were not up to the mark so I had to recruit. Arguably, with Brede Moe hitting 32 and declining in ability (not to mention moaning about lack of game time) I was already in the market for a centre back. Bringing in 1 was critical and 2 would be ideal.
So scouting began, I always like to do this myself and if it takes 3 hours at 11pm at night then so be it. Now the shackles are off and I did my usual first look by going through EVERY country around the world, one by one, looking for young (u21s) in the national first teams or high value 16-19 yr olds in any of the squads. It takes ages, but I do enjoy it. As I haven’t done this at all in this save I came across some fantastic players way out of my league of course, but when you find one who may be interested in joining it generates a buzz of excitement.
I get a scout report card on anyone I like the look of, occasionally I’ll see someone and dive right in; making enquiries, seeing when contracts expire, asking their agent if they’d be interested or hoping to find a sweet, sweet low release clause fee. A large number of those I find will demand too high a wage or transfer fee or just won’t be interested in playing in Norway, but there’s always those who will see our progress to date and fancy being managed by Edvard Wilsøn.
Not quite at MNW levels but I was never going to be find someone like him. The fact the chaps’ name is Bodo may have helped…it’s like he was destined to play for us, I even hope he’ll adopt the ‘ø’ into his name. Maybe one day.
At only 18 he has plenty of development ahead of him. His core attributes for a central defender are solid, I particularly like his high values in tackling, bravery & aggression. Concentration & anticipation are solid and he has great physical attributes. At £2m he’s a snip. He marks off my 1 non-Scandinavian for the first team rule for this window.
Continuing the focus on what business we have carried out this window, we brought in a couple of players for the first team. Aron Dønnum joins from Vålerenga for only £450k; his contract was expiring in 6 months and I had agreed a pre-contract with him but utilised the option to sign him now by forking out half a million quid. With Bøving leaving he provides instant competition to my two wide positions that I’ll look at later in this blog.
Geelmuyden re-joins us after a fantastic spell with us last season where he proved to be our most important player. Initially PSV didn’t want to loan him to me when he returned. However, keeping him on my shortlist proved invaluable when later into January I spied another club had made a loan offer for him. Turns out PSV were now happy to loan him out providing I shell out £100k a month. I was more than happy to do so as I’ve no doubt he’ll repay us the fee and then some. He’s too good for this league but I’ll still give ABT the starting berth ahead of him as I’d rather Bodø’s players are prioritised over loan players. I couldn’t ask for a better backup striker or shadow striker.
This leaves two young Romanian’s signed for the youth teams. James (FMPressure) has seen some cracking young players coming out in his save in Romania and it seems there are a few in mine as well.
It’s nice to add a bit of quality to the youth teams. Mihai may well be ready to step up to the first team next season if he has a good season developing – I’m hoping to get his personality bettered that’s for sure. Tempted to train him at centre back as well…
I also wanted to talk a little about wages; alongside realistic transfers fees I’ve also wanted to keep wages under strict control. Up until the season no one in my squad was earning more than £2.8k p/w. My DoF sometimes threatens to smash that figure out of the water on renewals but in the main he does ok. Although a lot of the time I’ll do negotiations myself.
What this does mean is that when I’m scouting I almost immediately disregard any player who demands what I would deem as a high wage compared to my squad. For example, I found a cracking 17yr old Egyptian, on a pre-contract signing he wanted £12k p/w minimum. I couldn’t sanction the deal. I know this way I’ll lose out on a number of targets but it also adds to the challenge and the type of FM save I want to have. I have £70m in the bank now and £500k wage space (far more if I adjust the budget) so it’s not as if I can’t afford to up my wage contributions, but I’d rather do it incrementally as opposed to smashing the ceiling and before I know it every bastard wants a huge pay rise because a 17yr old is on 5x what they earn.
Believe you me I have to disregard a LOT of great players at the moment but it is what it is. Our annual salary spend is £2.99m, 2nd in the league behind Rosenborg who spend a massive £4.11m each year. Lillestrom, Brann, Molde & Vålerenga all spend upwards of £2m a year. So I’m looking to ease ourselves towards Rosenborg’s spending meaning that I’ll now look to offer any wage up to £5k p/w for new signings. Those eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that Peter Bodo joins on £3.8k p/w for an 18yr old, he becomes my 2nd highest but this is the flip-side to expanding my recruitment model; the other leagues have more money and the average wage is far higher than in Norway.
So other than a few outgoing loans that wraps up our recruitment and how we’re now operating under new restrictions moving forwards. It’s already added another element to an already exciting save for me.
I never really know how long these blogs are when I’m writing them so I hope you don’t mind a little look at where I’m at tactically – I’ve barely covered it in my previous blogs but given that I’ve made some tweaks I thought I’d get my thoughts down and some feedback if you feel you wish to do so.
Despite the labels I don’t really have a home and away tactic. I have a tactic I’ll use 90% of the time, as the best Norwegian club (shut it Samo, we are) the ‘home’ system is pretty much what I’ve used these past few seasons. I felt we conceded too many goals last season so some minor changes have been made:
- Patrick Berg changes from DLP-S to DLP-D
- Murat Bostanci changes from FB-S to FB-D
- Bech Sørensen changes from BPD-D to CD-D
- In Possession
- Wide changes from Extremely Wide
In addition to the above, bringing in Dønnum has tempted me to experiment with an IW/IF at AMR this season. I’ve always used Tounekti as a W-S in that role before now and he performed well if a little frustrating at times. The beauty of my squad is that I have Tounekti, Dønnum, Christensen & Solbakken who can all play at AMR or AML so I’ve a large degree of flexibility available to me when managing games. I often find that if I’m getting frustrated sometimes just swapping the roles of the wide players, or changing the role of one of them can be the difference maker – not always but it’s easy to forget that widescale changes are not always your best friend. In my last game Tounekti was subbed on into the AML role for the first time and did this:
The change from DLP-S to DLP-D is how I’ll now start matches. I hope that the role will sit a little closer to my back 4. Berg has bagged so many assists from the DLP-S role I’m loathe to curtail it too much and believe me, against weaker sides he’ll no doubt switch between the two. I don’t know if this will work but it’s logical in my head at least.
My RB I’ve asked to be more defensive as it seems like I’ll persevere with an IW-A or IF-A for the majority as opposed to the previous W-S. I see the shift to a defensive mentality for the role a slight counter to the increased attacking mentality to the role in front of him.
And for the BPD change to CD, my defenders aren’t good enough to be BPDs and this is an oversight I kept forgetting to correct. I’d much rather short balls were played wide or into Berg the playmaker.
Swiping left on the picture comparison above will show you my new system I’ll look to use against stronger opposition, mostly in Europe no doubt, but also for the odd away day domestically. It utilises a number of similar roles to my normal tactic and isn’t too far removed – I’m hopeful it’ll be a little more solid and that I can write a blog in a season’s time telling you all just what a masterstroke it was. We shall see.
Another season awaits us. How will the new signings settle in? Will we lose any other players? Will my tactical tweaks be a stroke of genius or a catastrophe? Can we make any more progress in Europe? We I be able to fill the 50 seat expansion to my stadium? Time will tell. Sorry this wasn’t an actual Q&A. Someone else has the copyright.
Until next time!