An article from our guest author – SI community member Sean1967, continuing this series on the site. I highly recommend his content as he has a very calculated and strategic management approach as well as a clear writing style, which make for an entertaining yet informative read. Make sure to follow Sean on twitter and check out his work
A factor in how successful this save will be is how other Scottish sides do in Europe. The better they do the easier it is for us to reach the last 16 and avoid a group this this years. There are many factors that will come into this, a good home scouting network to identify the best home grown players and monitor their transfer activity. A good worldwide scouting network means I won’t have to rely on making myself stronger by wakening domestic rivals.
Guidelines for Improving Scottish Football
- Avoid hovering up all of the Scotland’s best youth prospects and have them rotting in the u19 when they played 18 first teams games the previous season. Or just as bad singing 6 players 18-20 and loaning them to English league 2 sides. Instead focus on cherry picking the best and brightest, who can play a part in the first team or be loaned to another Scottish Premiership side with guaranteed first team football.
- Control the number of players in the squad, there is no sense in having an u20 squad of 50 players with only 10 of them having any chance of making it. This has a threefold negative effect; (a) it’s a drain on resources, (b) it limits playing time for more talented youth players and (c) they could be moved on and get game time. For players identified in this category there will be a four-step plan. Try to move on with sell on clause, try to move on for free, try to loan and finally release.
- Domestic teams will now have first option on players for sale/loan. This will be on a case-by-case basis. For example I am not going to loan Aberdeen a striker who is capable of scoring 6/7 goals from January if they are only 6 points behind. However if they need him on a 6 month loan in August and are trying to qualify for the Europa League then definitely. For each of the lower divisions I will also focus on one side per season in terms of loans/frees in order to help them gain promotion.
With relation to point 1 above I started to implement Phase 2 and 3 of my scouting department development plan.
- Erik Larsen was brought in to build up an in depth knowledge of you Scandinavian players and snap them up young and cheap similar to the Ajax model.
- Countries such as Spain/Portugal/etc. Will be scouted by forma Clermont Foot manager Helena Costa. She will be assigned to spend 2/3 months in each building a profile of the players available there.
- Stephane Pauwels came in to assist Sjaak van den Helder in covering the more central countries like Holland and Germany. This is where I expect to have the largest pool to choose from.
- Lech duo Tomasz Wichniarek and Jacek Terilowski have been brought in to find the brightest young players in Eastern Europe. This is market I expect to be littered with gems. Like the Central Europe scouts the will spend around 2/3 months in each nation to build a profile.
- To complete my coverage of Europe Christos Orkas will be scouring Southern Europe in the likes of Greece and Turkey.
A few more members of staff came in to fill out the available positions. Improvements will be made to the coaching set up when I can.
Upon starting the game I didn’t really have a long term plan just a general goal of dominating Scottish football and progressing through Europe. So here is what I have come up with in my 5-year-plan.
- Set the tone for the save with a domestic treble and reach the group stage of European competition.
- Champions League group stage.
- Champions League group followed by a good Europa League run.
- Champions League last 16 or win Europa League.
- Complete 10-in-a-row and a Champions League semi-final.
To reach these goals I will have to be smart in the transfer market and tactically astute. Back to the first point, we can’t constantly be losing money in the transfer market. Making a profit most years is a reasonable target. Should be possible for the coming season considering the amount of deadwood we have out on loan. Each season wills see the arrival of a project player; someone who will be around for a season or two and (hopefully) be sold for profit. You could even say Diego Poyet falls into that category; our affiliation with Kaiserslautern should be a useful tool in developing these players.
In FM16 as a general rule I used the generation of income from season tickets and gate receipts as a guide to my real wage budget. With 40k+ season ticket holders and average attendances of 48k so far this season my estimation is over £20 million. Next year I will have an exact figure to work to.
Here’s how it works out just before the January transfer window opens with my estimates. Luckily I like to work with a small squad.
Now you might be thinking how is it possible to profess limiting myself to such a budget. Well once direct entry to the Europa or the Champions League group stage is guaranteed through coefficient (not after qualification rounds) this will be added to the formula. Allowing a significant boost, from here we are pretty much at a ceiling however. Not to worry, as I won’t be paying players six-figure weekly sums anyway. And the type of player demanding such will probably not be interested in plying their trade in Bonnie Scotland.
I decided to change things up tactically, I wanted to try a flat four in midfield to see how it turned out. I also wanted to play more ‘the Celtic way’; as in quick attacking football, and very attractive to watch. Player instructions very simple at the moment and a work in progress. Only notable changes is GK to distribute short, LW to push further forward and AM to hold the ball up.
Slow Centre Halfs
We lost a few goals with the opposition striker playing off the shoulder of one of our centre backs, I came up with a temporary solution to combat strikers with pace. I played with a deeper defensive line and used Lustig in the middle (acceleration/pace 14) and set his parter to cover. Ideally I want to bring in a quick defender.
This showed particularly in the game against Leverkusen (when it was highlighted). Javier Hernandez had a field day netting a hat trick, the return game in Germany we had him covered. The result 3-1 win to take us through to the Europa League knockout. I forgot to set it up to combat Kris Doolan to Partick Thistle and paid the price, he’s not the quickest but inical. relatively quick and absolutely clinical. Despite dominating we lost to a single goal.
I came up with a shortlist of three players, red flags with Jerry St. Juste and Suently Alberto is low determination. However I do have Kolo Toure (18) to tutor them, so that shouldn’t be an issue long term. The red flag with Rob Holding is obviously the cost, I imagine Arsenal will want a pretty penny for him as well as significantly higher wages.
Results were good in December, Partick Thistle result completely my fault. We came from behind twice to beat Hamilton 3-2 and reached the last 32 of the Europa League; overall a good month.
Looking forward to dipping my tops in the January transfer market.