Hello, and welcome back to the blog. If you didn’t read my introductory post about my Football Manager 2021 adventure then that’s here for you, otherwise, please do carry on.
I am trying to produce my own Nolberto Solano, however my first port of call is to sort out contracts for pretty much every player at the club. A number of first team players, as well as my most promising youngsters, have only a year to run on their contracts (31/12/2021, as the save starts on 11/01/2021). One of my main points about trying to replicate a player akin to Solano was my idea to sign a Head of Youth Development (HoYD) that had a Technical coaching style, and a Wing Play tactical style. Alas, my initial searches have only brought up one person who is vaguely qualified for the role, but they’re not interested in taking a job for 20% of their wage demand. As such, we are lumbered with this goon for the foreseeable:
On paper Alberto Giráldez is an excellent HoYD, with his base attributes for the role reading very well, and also having a Resolute personality. The issues are that he is obviously not overly Technical (not sure if this would actually make a difference when youth players come through), and that his preferred tactical style is Route One. Ah. Well at least we could end up with a beast up top that an eventual winger may be able to take advantage of?
Seeing as I’ve turned off the opening transfer window, and that the media/club expectations have been adjusted from the Beta from ‘Challenge for the title’ to ‘Win the title’, I think I should focus on my tactics for the most part this season, as well as bringing through some of the more promising youngsters already at the club. ¡Vamos!
The long-term setup
As the purpose of my save this is year is to develop as many Peruvian superstars as quickly as possible, what matters on the pitch is only important to myself due to board expectations, increasing revenue (through prize money), and ensuring there are enough games at a good level for all of the wee lads. What will be important in the long run is aligning my main tactic to that of my preferred HoyD, however as I haven’t even had the chance/budget to get my own choice in yet, this season, at least, is all about this bad boy:
I’ve played a rough 4-2-3-1 for the most part this season, with some early tinkering resulting in a 5-2-3/3-4-3 system that more or less replicated the above in the Match Engine. Sporting Cristal are expected to dominate domestically, which is not something I’m particularly used to near the start of any Football Manager save, so I’ve had to think about pushing high and fast to make the most of technically inadequate opposition. A lot of joy comes from defensive plays in the middle of the pitch when our opponents are attempting to get out of their own half, although the high line has left us ruthlessly exposed a few times to the long ball (and conceding from the legendary one shot on target per game – for clarity I am NOT claiming to being ‘FM’d‘, as I am fully aware that this is a weakness of my tactic).
Argentinian veteran Emanuel Herrera up top has managed 38 goals in 41 games thus far, although he’s recently had around 6 weeks out with a couple of consecutive injuries, so the 34 year-old’s star could soon fade. Washington Corozo on the left was frozen out initially, but the Ecuadorian is far more direct than any other offensive player, with his physicals proving a menace to any defence (and he’s been decent AF(A) cover, too). The final player that I’ve taken a keen interest to is Nilson Loyola, with our Peruvian WB(A) providing 7 assists and 2 goals in 34 games, and looks very handy in the match engine – I would recommend him for much ‘bigger’ sides as a cheaper option, and one that can certainly do a job at most levels.
Transfers have been horrid, truthfully. We had no budget going into the mid-season window, and had around 30 players with contracts expiring at the end of the season. Most of my time was spent trying to flog these young/useless players for literally any nominal fee, however we also stripped some of our depth away from the first team squad, including two of our better players. Truthfully, the golden boys had Spanish sides sniffing around them, and I couldn’t be bothered to keep them around and to lose them for less than this in future had they not helped us up to the fabled ‘next level’, so I cashed in. Each of them ended up going to Mexico with a 30% of next sale attached, and brought in over €1.6m immediately, not that I think it’ll be particularly useful to me during this save in terms of purchasing players, but at least their legacy will live on within the improving infrastructure. We signed a Brazilian centre back, Zé Ivaldo, as a direct replacement for Chávez, as well as Paraguayan utility forward, Jeremías Bogado. I do want to avoid signing players going forwards, but at this point we had no centre backs anywhere near ready for the first team, and also had an injury crisis at the top end of the pitch. Both will be sacrificed when the time is right.
In terms of training – the games are so condensed together in South America that you don’t get much time for actual training. The best I can do is improve my ‘Great’ Training and Youth Facilities (request granted – excellent transfer business!) and go about employing the best coaches I can over the next year or two once I can afford it. Those that know me know that I don’t do my own General training, as simply it’s never something I have felt inhibits the growth of my players (see FC St. Pauli youth development for evidence), however I’ll be handling the individual training, and ensuring that workloads are adequately managed. It could be tough forcing double intensity on young players when there’s hardly a break in sight in regards to matches, but hopefully I’ll have enough players to rotate heavily and reliably in the long run.
The business end
As I’ll be trying to jump into my work with the current youth and our first intake in this blog, I don’t have as much time to dally as I usually would. Here’s how we’re getting on:
The table looks pretty good at first, but when I tell you that we had 14 wins and 3 draws from our opening 17 games, you realise that we must have had a pretty major blip at some point. I’m delighted that we secured the Opening Stage with three games to spare, but I’m not so delighted that we then had a run of 5 defeats in 7 games. As I’m stopping to write the blog, we’ve gone five unbeaten, winning four of them, which puts us in a decent position in the Overall table, however I’m not excited at the prospect of having to have a playoff against Sport Huancayo to decide who should win the league this year. Hopefully, with 9 games left, we can somehow manage to catch our rivals in the Closing Stage and avoid this drama altogether.
In terms of cups – well, we’re into the final of the Copa Bicentenario, which is a decent achievement considering the competition started after the Opening Stage ended (coinciding with our woeful form). We smashed Sport Huancayo along the way, as well as getting an easy draw against a Second Division side in the Semi-Final (whom we dispatched 8-1 on aggregate). We will be playing Cienciano just before the end of our league campaign, so we could be in for a dramatic month come November 2021.
Our expectations for the Copa Libertadores were to reach the Group Stage, and that we did. We eventually finished third in a group containing a strange Bolivian side I’ve never heard of, as well as Racing Club and Gremio. We finished on 12 points, which is usually enough to get you through any four-team Group Stage, but early hammerings received by the Argentine and Brazilian clubs left us too much to do with a shambolic goal difference. A shame, but great signs for the future. We dropped into the Copa Sudamericana (a la Europa League), where victories against Rosario Central and Bahia have propelled us into a continental Semi-Final, where we face Athletico Paranaense. After our recent victories in this competition against opponents from stronger footballing countries, I’m somewhat confident of at least putting in a performance…cue a 7-2 demolition, probably. It’s a big couple of months on the trophy front, and I intend to end it with at least two of the three on offer.
The Young and the Hopeless
As I alluded to earlier – we had a metric shit-tonne of Ted Deadwood at the club when I arrived, and a lot of that was late teens who would never reach their potential. I’ve grabbed a few guys from the U18s and put them in the first team squad, with mixed results. Hot AM(R) prospect, Joao Grimaldo, has flattered to deceive, as has Jared Ulloa (albeit his, and many other youngsters, Strength attribute is very low – something consistent with at least my youngsters on FM21 thus far). On the other hand, players like Aryan Romaní, César Vásquez and Pablo Hoefken have been nothing short of superb in the Match Engine by belying some of their attributes, and already well-and-truly belong in the first team squad. I don’t know if they’ll ever develop to be Libertadores class, but they’ve performed better than most of their more experienced, and more expensive, teammates.
The main focus however is to produce players through the intake and mould them into my own national hero(es). I’ve had my first batch through, and whilst I won’t offer death by screenshots, I will certainly show off the best three candidates (in my opinion) per intake. I’ll be keeping an eye on all players that come through in the longer term though, and having a game saved on the Youth Intake date is good way of going about this without resorting to spreadsheets and the lark. Without further ado:
Okay, so you’ve got Acceleration 15? That don’t impress me much. Pedro Neyra is easily the most obvious promising youngster from our first intake, but, as is the case with the other youngsters, he’s very raw. I like his Pace, Technique, Work rate, and Determination most of all, however there is a lot more to like besides that. He’s a bit too flashy and not rounded enough to be a left-sided Nobby Solano, however he’s a little more reminiscent of Laurent Robert, especially if we can get some of his Technicals up. He’ll be my main focus in terms of first-team minutes next season.
Jhordan Velarde is one of a few centre backs in the intake, but he’s the best of an average bunch. If his Determination were higher from the off then I’d fancy his chances of getting plenty of minutes next season, but it seems to go hand-in-hand with Personality, and he’s a little hampered on this front. If he can buck his ideas up and train well, then he will be featuring.
Finally, we have Martin Buenaño, who isn’t going to be the most offensive left wingback ever, but he may not need to be if Neyra develops nicely. He sort of reminds me of Tom Blessing from my FC St. Pauli save – he’s quite solid looking in terms of defensive ability, and is moderately well stocked in the Mentals for a defensive duty. I’m confident he’ll play, albeit it’ll probably be a very different role to the one currently occupied by Nilson Loyola.
The Youth Intake on the whole was fine, however it’s plagued with low attributes in the likes Strength and Determination. There are no more than five players who don’t have pathetic Determination, and it’s of no surprise that two of those players feature here. Honestly I’m not extremely confident of being able to turn some of these around into first teamers, but if any are going to make it then it’s the one of the above three. There’s always next year, right?
My process in the first few years will not change, though, in that I’ll be offering out full-time contracts to every player for as long as possible as soon as the Youth Intake happens. This is for a few reasons, the most obvious being that I’ve been surprised by apparently ‘poor’ youth players before, but also to attempt to fill out the U18 and Reserve sides as quickly as possible. It will also stop my youngsters being poached by European clubs before I’m ready for them to go.
Kind of regards
So that’s it for now – the next three months in-game are pretty huge and could have wild ramifications on our ability to improve our coaching team/facilities, as well as the fact that a bad few months could end in me getting the sack. I’m not sure what I’d do if that were to happen – I haven’t considered it. I’m fully confident of perhaps succeeding, maybe.
Next time we catch up it will be an end-of-season review, so you probably won’t see any kind of real movement/development from the new crop of crystal Cristals. I’ll also be working hard behind the scenes to replace staff with expiring contracts, as most of them aren’t up to the task of creating, or searching for, the next Nolberto Solano.
Take care xox
With thanks to:
- Rensie – I have started using a custom skin for the first time since I began playing Football Manager back in 2003 (yeah, I know it wasn’t Football Manager then, calm down). It’s a beautiful little number that I highly recommend as it’s clean AF, and easy to install. If you love it then please consider donating to him via his Paypal link, as the money goes to good causes in Czechia/Czech Republic/
whatever it’s called this week
- Latte Quarterly – I was given the opportunity to contribute to a piece titled ‘Things to do before starting your FM21 save’. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and I’m delighted to be part of the history of this now-famous unaffiliated quarterly Football Manager magazine. If you’ve never read it before, then this a great chance to get it consumed for the first time. Get a latte ready
- From Eleven, One – I’m operating as his Director of Football in his Toulouse save, and I’ve been delayed a few times in picking the save up. The day this blog goes out is the day. Thank you for your patience, friend
- My adoring fans – cheers for reading, as always. Honestly it’s been a horrible second lockdown (and the first one was bloody awful, innit), and I’ve already managed to fall behind on a lot of blogs that have been posted by some excellent writers since the full game came out on November 24th. If you have written a blog, and want some balding, ginger guy to read it, then please DM it to me on Twitter!