So we did it fellas. God knows bloody how but my first objective has now been achieved and the mighty Heathens have survived my first season in charge, despite a run-in of 5 defeats, 14 goals against and a mighty, almost certain league record of 107 mistakes in those 5 games alone. I am so happy at survival I’ve give Gavin the brew boy the day off to go and chase girls (not in a weird way, he’s 17 and that’s what they’re supposed to do).
I know, I am deeply ashamed to survive with such a whimper but the fact is I am still goddamn alive as Heathens manager and that’s what counts, given I spent about a month building this universe, club, history and graphics from scratch.
As you can see it was a goddamn struggle at times, with those cruel punctuations of green or orange results giving me hope before I crashed again to a string of defeats. If you’ve read blog #4 Mistakes and a knackered tree you know how difficult it was so I won’t repeat myself, except to say that my final survival was by a digit-aching 4 points. I had aimed for a point per game as I knew that that would keep me safe and I almost got it, with 45 in 46, the saviour being those last two wins and a draw which put me in that position for a very hairy final month.
.. and this was a good thing, because when I got those points I could start planning for the next season, knowing I was (pretty) certain to stay up and that hopefully the board wouldn’t be so tight this time around. So that said, I drew up a new season plan as follows (also featured in the last blog, the completely frivolous #5: end of season press conference).
I plan a lot of my saves (and most of my business + life) like this, though this is the first time I’ve shared it properly for FM. It’s a rough first draft but it always gives me a good idea of where I want to go and my targets moving forward.
If you can’t be bothered clicking it here is a summary, with main priorities in red:
– keep improving weak positions
– more experience and team leaders, for game time and tutoring
– start a proper youth programme (suspended for first year as no youth intake until late and had to concentrate on survival)
– dump underperformers (starting with the ones with high mistakes if it can’t be trained or tactic’d out)
– target FIRST TOUCH / COMPOSURE / CONCENTRATION / DETERMINATION / ANTICIPATION / OFF THE BALL / POSITIONING in scouting to reduce mistakes
- TACTICS and TRAINING:
– 4132 as starter unless I need to change it to match new players
– working towards 532 WB as I LOVE that formation (signings permitting)
– make less full formation changes but adjust by changing roles, e.g. to make 4132 deeper if required
– improve set pieces and sign players with good set piece attribs (cost me loads of goals last season)
– work on FIRST TOUCH / COMPOSURE / CONCENTRATION / DETERMINATION / ANTICIPATION / OFF THE BALL / POSITIONING in ind. training and ball control in team training
- NON-FOOTBALL (FACILITIES / FINANCE / STAFF):
– keep reviewing, adding and improving staff
– prioritise youth facilities upgrades (but stay in budget)
– SPEND LOW again to keep solvent and the board happy
So all that done and with the board giving me a very nice 240k transfer budget (over twice what I had last year, though I don’t intend to spend a penny if I can help it) I signed up for the scouting package up to the prem with the following criteria for my transfer targets:
- CHEAP OR FREE, because I want to stay in the black
- YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE, so both an old and young player for every position (old need to be good tutor material)
- REDUCE MISTAKES, so preferably with good FIRST TOUCH / COMPOSURE / CONCENTRATION / DETERMINATION / ANTICIPATION / OFF THE BALL / POSITIONING
- LESS LOANS, so der .. don’t get many loans
I did this via trials (soooo many trials) and sending out scouts for particular players, exhausting all my scouting budget in a month. I knew this would happen and took it on the chin because I needed players in asap front end to transform the club completely. I also figured I could raid the remaining transfer budget if I needed more later on.
So, focusing on buying one old and one new player for every position for zilch, this is what I ended up with 16 free transfers and 5 loans. They cost me all my wage budget which I wasn’t too happy with but I didn’t spend a penny of my transfer budget so swings and roundabouts.
Admittedly, it is a lot, but it was sorely needed. What is more, it is not a haphazard transfer splurge but a targeted programme of youth development, given that half are under 20 and half are over 29. All the grown ups for example have been chosen for a) tutoring and b) winning games in that order, with all the kids being chosen for having either decent personalities or good starting determination. Here’s an example of what I think is a good tutor pairing, with Craig Mackail-Smith tutoring one of my original youth prospects Steven Sandley:
From my (albeit limited, tell me if i’m wrong) understanding of tutoring, I think this should give Sandley some traits and also increase his determination, which has already happened in just a month of tutoring as you can see by the arrow, rising from 11 to 13 (does it slow down? It must, surely). I’m less sure about personality matches, going for generally an equal or better match in favour of the tutor but if I am wrong about that I am happy to live and learn as always. One thing that I couldn’t change was that about half the older fellas are just the (very meh) ‘balanced’ which is the best I could get, but the youths have all accepted the tutoring so let’s see how that affects things.
Here are some of the other highlights, starting with George Marsh, an absolute steal on a free from Spurs who I have high hopes for. Unfortunately the game won’t let me tutor him as (wtf??) he ‘already has a senior role in the team’ so I’ll have to bring him on via game time and training but still I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll come on.
The big problem is that this gives me far too many players which I don’t normally like. I realise it is through necessity and dumping some of last season’s original newgens and stopping some failing loans so that helped a bit. It has still left me with 30 plus players and many more if you count the original u18s and u23s, but I was careful to sign a lot on backup or rotation so hopefully they will be happy with reserves gametime.
So where does that leave us going into season two? With a pretty good chance of mid table or playoffs I think, and if you look at these comparison charts from a year ago until now I will sack myself with my head hung in shame if I don’t achieve one of those. This is how we fared against the league average attribs one year ago, alongside how it looks now:
As you can see, there has been a massive improvement, with I guess the only downside being there will almost certainly have to be a lot of rotation and therefore less links and cohesion, even with the aforementioned squad status set as backup. On the plus side it should give me a better chance of competition success, though I’m not getting over ambitious and have set these as my season two targets, in priority order:
- Don’t get sacked (the first in the list every year)
- Finish higher than our predicted 18th
- Try to keep in the black (though I doubt it with using all the wage budget)
- Get to second round of FA and Carabao
- Qualify from Checkatrade trophy group
- Get promoted via auto (doubt it) or playoffs (nit impossible)
So there we have it. As this is a little tutoring experiment I have made sure to take lots of screenies of the starting status of the youth so I’ll be back in the next blog to show you the results.
Till then, wish me luck! (I’ll need it).