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2.1 FC Volendam: 2022/23 – Season Two Review

Welcome back. This will be the second season review post and the sixth post in the series. If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous 5, you can catch them here.

Pre-Season

Pre-season got under way and a mammoth task of staying in the division was at hand. I made some changes to the back room team as we could attract a (slightly) higher calibre of staff. The most notable addition was bringing in fellow countryman and record International goalscorer Robbie Keane.

I decided to experiment a bit in the first few games, particularly in the game against Valencia where a 4-3-3 was deployed. I had said we would train a second backup tactic and divert from the 3-4-3 diamond if we needed a hail Mary to try stay in the division.

Transfer Business

As mentioned in the previous post Derry John Murkin returns on a free. We paid €170k to secure the services of Ivorian Konaté. M’Changama arrives on a free to bolster the midfield. Sava Čestić arrives on loan as we were short on defensive options and experienced Dutch international Bas Dost arrives on a free to give a different option off the bench.

Results

We got off to a flyer in the league winning four of the opening five games, only losing to fellow promoted team NAC. After that we picked up three draws and another victory before the break for the World Cup.

After returning to action, we never hit the heights of the opening ten games. We only managed to pick up 14 points from 18 games up to mid April where we picked up two more wins which was enough to see us mathematically safe with three games to spare.

If you had told me we would finish 11th at the start of the season, I’d have been delighted but ultimately it felt like disappointment. Twigt was top scorer with seven goals despite all his games coming from DM (Half Back) or CM (Carilerro).

Youth Intake

The Youth Intake Preview offered another Golden Generation and didn’t fail to disappoint when the next crop of potential stars arrived in April

This leaves the under 18 squad looking pretty stacked!

Other Notable Events

Oristiano was recalled from his loan spell from us in January because he wasn’t being played in the right role. When recalled, he was then immediately transfer listed with his contract due to expire. What was the point? I offered him a permanent deal but he chose Sampdoria instead.

Our top scorer Twigt is attracting attention and has asked to leave to go to a bigger team. We agreed he can leave should we receive a bid of €11.5M.

After securing our position in the Eredivise, apparently we are now an “established” side in the division and the board are happy.

They also announced plans for a new stadium.

The finances are in a good state. We have a committed weekly wage spend of just €44k. Compare that to Ajax and they have 15 players earning more than this per week.

We also have the fourth highest output in terms of Eredivise players developed. With some of the talemt coming through, I hope to increase that. (Sorry for poor screenshot).

Other good news in that Netherlands has moved up a place in the coefficients and the league now gets two automatic Champions League Group Stage places.

Outlook for Next Season

I took a break for a couple of days after completing the season. I had felt a little disappointed by the season as a whole after the really good start. I had made some tactical tweaks throughout the season and ended up concluding that this was the best setup.

I spent a lot of time analysing matches and looking in the data hub to see was there any marginal gains to be had but ultimately I believe the squad just needs to be improved. I believe we are currently performing greater than the sum of our parts.

I began to look at the squad comparison. If you remember, our Primary DNA attributes are Teamwork, Workrate, Determination, Decisions and Bravery. The Secondary DNA attributes are Aggression, Stamina and Natural Fitness.

Looking at the overall picture, we have the lowest average for Workrate and Teamwork. Decisions is the only one above average.

As we delve a little deeper into the Technical, Mental and Physical attributes, we can see that heading is the only Technical attribute above average.

Looking at Mentals and all but four listed attributes are sadly the lowest average. This means that Bravery and Determination along with the aforementioned Workrate and Teamwork are the lowest. Four out of five Primary DNA attributes with the lowest average in the league. Our Aggression (secondary DNA) is just below average.

We look at the physicals and we have the highest average Natural Fitness (great) but the lowest Stamina (not great) meaning we have the lowest averages for five of the eight DNA attributes.

Going one step further and looking at the breakdown per position.

Defence – Highest Jumping Reach, above average Heading, lowest Tackling

Midfield – Lowest Stamina and Teamwork with only Decisions above average

Attack – Above average Long Shots, lowest Finishing.

It’s clear we definitely need to improve the standard of the squad. Its worrying that our defenders cant mark or tackle and our attackers can’t finish.

What I have noted though is we have good Jumping Reach and Heading and perhaps we should put a bit more focus on set pieces for the upcoming season.

I hope we can build on the season and aiming for a top half finish. If we finish as high as 8th, we can go into the league play-off for European football.

Once again, thanks for reading.

Bradz

1.3 FC Volendam: 2021/22 – Season One Review

Welcome back. This will be the second half season review post and the fifth post in the series. If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous 4, you can catch them here.

Transfers

As mentioned at the end of the last post, Derry John Murkin was brought back to the club initially on loan and a pre-contract agreement in place for the end of the season.The January transfer window also saw us strike a deal with AZ Alkmaar to become our senior affiliate. I instantly made loan moves from Poku and de Jong to bolster the squad for the second half of the season.

Results

The action returned in January after the Winter break and the impressive form continued as we secured 3 back to back league victories.

February saw us take 11 points from 15 in a busy month. Fedde de Jong came back to haunt his parent club with a brace and 4 goals in total for the new loanee this month.

A month of draws and we stretch our unbeaten run to 20 league games.

April started with a victory over TOP Oss with Poku getting his first 2 goals and the run stretch to 21 games unbeaten. Jong PSV ended the run though before we picked up 3 more wins and secured promotion to Eredivise.

We lost the next game to Dordrecht but due to results elsewhere…

The season finale was an impressive 5-2 win over FC Eindhoven. FC Volendam win their 7th Ereste Divise title.

Youth Intake

The initial youth intake suggested we had a Golden Generation on our hands and when the players came through the assessment was still that we had a Golden Generation on our hands. The HoYD feedback that 3 were elite talents. Strangely though, the player who I had thought looked the best, was only a ‘Good’ talent. After a couple of days, the number of elite talents had increased to 7 judging by the HoYD. This was enough of an offense not to have his contract renewed when it expired in the Summer!

None of the players really stand out to me but I’m not entirely used to the quality at this level so I’ll continue to train them and hope 1 or 2 can make the grade.

Tactics and Analysis

Even after winning the league, I’m still unsure what is the best tactic. This is unlike me in FM, I normally quickly find what I believe is best but maybe things have changed in this edition and things need to be constantly freshened up. I’ve made so many changes and tweaks then reverted back. The goalkeeper and back three mostly remained the same. At the base of the diamond I switched between and anchor and a half-back. I always started with two carrileros in the centre but sometime one of these became a mezzala or either support or attack or a box to box midfielder. The two wingers changed the most. Sometimes there were wingers, sometimes advanced playmakers, sometimes inverted wingers. I mostly wanted them to hold width when they didn’t have the ball and just couldn’t decide which role done it better at times. At the tip of the diamond, the shadow striker was exclusively used. Up front, I mostly used a complete forward on support and the odd time changed to a deep-lying forward or false nine.

I kept the team instructions as basic as I could. I wanted to encourage the players natural skill set and let them express themselves as much as possible without being too confined by an ideology. This is why I really want Total Footballers in nearly all positions of the pitch. I want them to be able to be jacks of all trades on the pitch.

As can be seen from the key performance indicators that I want my team to excel in, we are top two in the league in all of them. I also believe we should be first in average possession, passes completed and pass completion ratio but for the fact possession needs to be tweaked a bit in a patch. Dordrecht lead in those three KPI’s but when I played them 210 of there 600 passes came from the two centre halves. Their passes are shown below.

In terms of defensive efficiency, we aren’t facing too many shots on average but there are still 4 teams better at reducing the number of shots and its something we can improve on. Our attacking efficiency is excellent though with the highest conversion rate and most goals scored.

Outlook for Next Season

So we are predicted to finish second from bottom next season and it looks like we will be in a relegation dogfight. I will try to renew loan deals for Oristanio, Stankovic, de Jong and Poku but the main aim will be to keep the squad together and attempt to stay up. I will probably add a second tactic into the mix to have familiarity in a different set-up should the 3-4-3 be too frail in the top flight. This will be a last resort however if we need to mix it up in an attempt to save our place in the division.

Once again thanks for reading,
Bradz

1.2 FC Volendam: 2021/22 – Mid Season One Review

Welcome back. This will be the first half season review post and the fourth post in the series. If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous 3, you can catch them here.

Pre-Season

Pre-season got under way and after an embarrassing open game loss, the performances picked up with decent results against the two Turkish sides, a trashing of lowly Belgians EM United and a defeat against much better opposition in Birmingham.

Transfers

Things looked to be starting off okay but then Fulham began to sniff around at Derry John Murkin and the squad got unhappy that I rejected a bid. I promised I would let him go for £1.4M so when Fulham came back in we were able to negotiate to a potential £1.5M (€1.7M). It was at this point when I realised my currency was in GBP!

I strengthened the squad with the addition of two midfielders, Eddy Silvestre and Pape Diamanka. Both of which had all the necessary attributes for my tactical setup. Both players were probably as good a Total Footballer as I could get for this level on free transfers. They also have desirable traits such as Arrives Late In Opponents Area and Gets Forward Whenever Possible.

Results

August seen us start really well with 8 points from a possible 12 and a lack of tactical familiarity didn’t seen to be hurting us too much. All games were tight affairs.

September started with narrow back to back league defeats. A draw and a win saw us pick up 4 points from 12. Again not much to separate the sides in any of the games.

October saw us lose a league game to title favourites NAC Breda and we also got dumped from the KNVB Cup after fielding a much changed line-up to Eredivisie side RKC. We did manage some nice results and ended the month with 10 points from 15. All 3 wins that we picked up were by more than a single goal, which was nice.

November saw us undefeated with 8 points from a possible 12.

A perfect December, 3 wins from 3 saw us stretch our unbeaten run in the league to 9 games ahead of the Winter break, a break we would have rather not had!

League Table

Just past the midway point of the season and we are going very well. We are ahead of our board expectations and media prediction.

Tactical Review

The team is picking up form and we have full tactical familiarity (does anyone ever get PRD familiarity?) but I’m not 100% happy with the tactic yet. I am still tinkering with instructions and roles regularly and maybe this is what is required in Football Manager 2022 to keep things fresh. The GK and back 3 are most settled. I’ve changed the WCB duty to attack or defend at certain points but they always start on support.

If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend, because there’s only one ball

Johan Cruyff

I’ve found we have had to adopt a more meaningless possession based game then I originally wanted but we needed to do this to keep us from conceding silly goals. As tactical familiarity grew, I was able to be a bit more progressive with passing and take more risks. You can see from some of the metrics below how dominant our possession has been and that’s after I began to be more expressive.

The Murkin Saga

Having sold Murkin for a guaranteed €1.3M, I checked to see how he was getting on at Fulham coming into the January Window. Despite doing well for the reserves, he hadn’t yet featured in the first team squad for Fulham. This meant we weren’t going to see that additional €400k in clauses anytime soon. I asked Fulham could we take him on loan…

Only when he arrived on loan I realised Fulham had (strangely) only offered him a one-year contract meaning he was approachable on a pre-contract agreement. I duly obliged.

We are paying roughly €15k more a month to have him on loan then his original contract but when he re-joins in the Summer, that will drop to about €6k per month extra than original. Over the course of the contract that equates to about €150k extra wagesthan originally but means a tidy profit of over €1M made on the deal.

Once again thanks for reading,

Bradz

1.1 FC Volendam: First Day on the Job

Having agreed to the clubs 5 year plan and a 2 year deal to take over at Het Nieuwe Oranje, I was eager to get stuck in.

Very Modest 5 Year Plan

The coaching staff greeted me and presented what they believed to be the best line-up and formation. I instantly knew we were on different trajectories. They were part of the old, I wasn’t here for that. I was here for Total Football, to make something great and to bring back the 3-4-3 diamond. I had already agreed with the board that I could make wholesale changes to the backroom staff to implement my vision. I knew long term, the staff would probably change a lot over the next few years until we got amongst the top in Eredivisie.

The clubs finances aren’t the greatest and we are projected to lose over €2M a year. With that in mind the transfer budget is tiny and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to bring in perfect players to fit the tactical style. I would have to mould what was available.

The next task was to set up some training schedules. I organized a fairly heavy fitness based schedule and then two Tactical Familiarity schedules. The plan is to work the players hard for the first two weeks before focusing on getting tactical familiarity as soon as possible. This can usually be achieved withing 2-3 months if only 1 tactic is being trained but the players are very unfamiliar with the 3-4-3 shape.

Squad Overview and Club Culture

I assessed the squad to determine how far off we are from being able to implement the style I want. The core club culture or DNA attributes we are looking for are Teamwork, Workrate, Determination, Decisions and Bravery. Ideally for key positions we will also have Aggression, Stamina and Natural Fitness. But, seen as we are trying to implement Total Football, we would love all our players to score high everywhere. To save from having too much information on one screen, I’ve only added Composure, First Touch and Technique.

Mirani and Eerdhuijzen are the only two players who score 10+ in all these attributes. Twigt, Mühren, Stankovic, Kasius, Alex Plat and Murkin have all but one as 10+. Kasius being a natural right back will need to be retrained to fit the system but is only on loan so may not feature too regularly.

There isn’t huge potential in the Jong or U18 squads but Boateng, Zeefuik and Vertrouwd might have enough to make the grade.

Usually on day 1 I’d set up scouting assignments too but the recruitment team is practically non-existent so I’ll have to start placing job adverts!

Thanks for reading,

Bradz

How I Setup My Save Game

With the release of Football Manager 2022 Beta, we are all eager to jump straight in smash past the first 3 league games to see what the data hub has to offer and hope we can see one of our wide centre backs darting into the channel to get on the end of a through ball and clipping a delightful cross to the back post where the other wide centre back towers above the opposing full back to head home.

From past experience my hastiness has resulted in me doing the things I like to do for all saves so this year I decided to slow myself down a little and write briefly about what I do when creating a save.

First Things First

Before Beta is released I always ensure I have my logo and facepacks as up to date as possible. I copy them all into the previous FM and have the graphics folder ready to go.

I then export any Views / Tactics / Training Schedules I have used that I want to keep or build upon for the new game.

When I have those bits done I know I am almost ready for Beta release.

Applying the Real Name Fix

Upon release while the game is downloading, I generally look to see has the name fix files been released yet. There are many good sources for these and a quick Google of “FM22 Name Fix” should bring up the results you need. The download usually comes with instructions on what to do with the files but if you are using Windows you want to navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Football Manager 2022\data\database\db.

During the Beta you will see two folders in here and you will need to delete the inc, edt and dbc folders in both of these folder. In the download file, you should have the same 3 folders (inc, edt and dbc). You move or copy the downloaded folders into the location above. This is enough to sort out the annoying names like Zebre and Real San Sebastian along with making the German national team use real players.

Note: This needs to be done before you start a save and when patches are applied (if you start a new save after patch)

Setting Up A New Save

Everybody is set in their ways about how they like to set up a new game but this is what I do.

One thing I find frustrating about FM is when you create a new save it highlights a team for you to start with. Sometimes when I’m starting a save, I haven’t a clue who I want to and will decide afterwards. It’s not a show stopper to leave a team selected but requires a couple of extra clicks later to change the team.

New Game Setup Menu

I always select the last option of “Pick team later” and head straight down to “Advanced Setup”. I will add all the nations and leagues I want and I always set them all to Playable. Football Manager employs a different match engine when leagues are view-only so team and player stats can be skewed by the different match engine so I like to keep everything as close as possible. Out of habit the only tick-box I generally change down the bottom is “Prevent use of in-game editor”. You never know when you will get accused of something! Occasionally I will tick “Disable First Window Transfer Activity”. This prevents any transfers in the first window and can add a sense of realism to the game.

After that I will go to the drop down at the approximate player count and down to advanced. Below are the settings I generally use. I add each continent and select the bottom 3 options at a minimum. For Europe and South America I will always tick the bottom 4 options. I like to have a large database over 100 thousand players. I don’t know why, I guess in case I hear of a player and can’t find him in my game. I will always sacrifice game speed for immersion.

Anyway, most people will do things there own way but thought I would throw down my way of doing things. At the very least it will remind me what to do next year when FM23 comes out!

Thanks for Reading,

Bradz

Football Manager 2022: Save Reveal and Introduction

For FM22 I have chosen to manage FC Volendam!

FC Volendam are a club based in Volendam, Netherlands. They currently compete in the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch football.

The club have yo-yo’d between the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie throughout their history, winning the Eerste Divisie six times and surviving eleven season on the Eredivisie between 1987 and 1998. The 2008/09 season was their last season on the top flight.

With no major honours to boast, the closest was two KNVB Cup runners-up medals in 1957/58 and 1994/95 where Volendam suffered defeat to the two Rotterdam clubs Sparta and Feyenord respectively.

Why Volendam?

Location

FC Volendam is geographically the closest playable team to 35 times Eredivisie winners Ajax. This gives an interesting narative to the save. While it will be years before we have any chance of competing with them, we will have opportunities to face them should we achieve promotion.

Map showing FC Volendam and local clubs
Club Colours

It may seem like a silly one but the club play in the same orange color kit as the national team. The club nickname is “Het Andere Oranje” which tranlates to “The Other Orange” We want to play with the same total football identity so why not have a similar kit.

Empty Trophy Cabinet

This gives us an opportunity to go into the clubs history books should we land any silverware.

The Tactical Philosophy

Having implemented my interpretation of Cruyffs 3-4-3 diamond in FM20 and FM21, I had relatively decent success. I used it with Ajax in a save towards the end of FM20 but we could not conquer Europe using the formation. I then used it with Le Havre in FM21 and achieved a European place finish in the league in our second season in Ligue 1.

I tried two variations of the backline, one consisting of 3 centre backs, the wide two being ball playing defenders but even on positive mentalities and with the players having PIs such as brings ball out of defense, they never reflected close enough to Cruyffs Barcelona style.

The second variation was to play one central centre back and two full backs. I tried full backs and inverted wing backs on defend duty but we didn’t get the defensive solidarity I was after. I felt the first variation was 2 conservative when on possession but the second variation was Too leaky.

Enter the wide centre back.

Nobody (except SI) knows exactly how this role will play out on the game but I feel it will strike a nice balance between a centre back and a full back and this is exactly what I believe was missing before.

This should allow the centre backs to maintain a level of compactness out of possession but support attacks from wider areas while maintaining numerical.

Thanks for reading.
Bradz

Football Manager 2021: Le Havre 20/21 Season

After assessing the squad we entered pre-season with a couple of tactical ideas but due to the personnel in the squad I quickly settled on a 4-3-3. Most of the season was played with a False 9 up front but towards the last 10 games of so, I experimented with a Trequartista.

Le Havre don’t have the greatest defenders or strikers but do possess some decent technical midfielders. I decided the best form of defence was to not allow the opponent to have the ball. The plan was to keep the ball at all costs and patiently probe to open the locks.

The season started well but after losing to table topping Caen, we wobbled through a few games. After being dumped from the cup, the form started to accelerate and a remarkable unbeaten run ensued

That resulted in us winning the Ligue 2 title.

As for transfers, Touati was brought in from PSG to provide cover and Benzia was brought in on loan in January. Benzia didn’t make the impact that was expected and his loan was terminated by his parent club

Experienced keeper Gorgelin left in January, I decided early on that Fofana, an academy graduate, would be our number one. He didn’t disappoint, collecting 23 clean sheets in the 36 league games he played.

I was happy to remain towards the top of most of the metrics I based our philosophy on, particularly on passing statistics, just 5000 more passes than second placed Guingamp

The highlight for me though was being able to integrate no fewer than 10 academy graduates from the B team and under 19 squads. Not all played huge parts but 9 of the 10 made over 5 appearances and 4 made over 10.

Meddah, Ba and Toure were the most successful of those promoted to the first team

A tough season awaits as we aren’t good enough for the top flight. We will have to strengthen, particularly up front.

Thanks for reading,

Bradz

Football Manager 2021: Introduction

Hi I’m Bradz and welcome to my blog. This is my first ever blog post. I’m a long time CM / FM gamer and read and watch a lot of content so thought I’d give this a bash.

My first save in FM21 will be with Le Havre AC

A brief background

Le Havre AC are a club currently based in Ligue 2, France’s second division. Founded in 1872, they are the oldest football club in France.

Le Havre are also renowned for their youth academy. Notable players who have passed through the ranks are Paul Pogba, Benjamin Mendy, Lasagna Diarra, Steve Mandanda and Dimitri Payer. Riyad Mahrez also made a name for himself at the club before making the moved to England.

Despite this array of talent, the club has languished in Ligue 2 for too long. Their last first into top flight football was in the 08/09 season where the finished bottom of Ligue 1 and were quickly relegated.

With respect to honours, the list is grim. The clubs best league finish was way back in 1951 when they secured a 3rd place finish in Ligue 1. They have won three Ligue 2 titles but the standout moment in the clubs history is the 1959 Coupe de France.

Stade Océane – Le Havre’s 25,000 seat stadium

Plans for FM21

Player development is my favourite aspect to Football Manager and will be my primary focus when managing Le Havre. The plan will be to invest in the youth facilities and youth recruitment as much as the board allows with the hope of having a conveyor belt of talent graduating from the academy into the first team. There will be a large focus on training and employing the right coaches to achieve the goals.

It may not be feasible to solely rely on the academy so we will look to pick up players of French nationality as well as maintaining / increasing a scouting network within Africa. However, the preferred pecking order will be:

Academy Graduate
French national
African
Others

No player will infringe the natural development pathway of an academy player. We may have to sign some stop-gap players or some young prospects from other clubs if the academy is not being fruitful in some areas.

Targets

The short term targets of the save are to grow the academy and win promotion to Ligue 1. If relegation can be avoided upon return then that will be a massive plus.

The medium term targets are to solidify the clubs place in Ligue 1, progress towards having one of the top youth facilities and youth recruitment networks in France and reach the latter stages of the Coupe de France

The long term targets are to win Ligue 1, Coupe de France and maybe even the Champions League while keeping a large number of the first team as home-grown. If all going swimmingly well, who knows, we may even usurp St. Ettiene or PSG and become the greatest even French side

Thanks for reading!

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