“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1827
“For fuck’s sake you ignorant fucking FM bastard I said overload!”
FMtotality, vs Man City U23s, 2018
Ahhhhh patience is indeed a virtue and, being a complete impatient nutter off the field, my alter ego FMtotality appreciates a slow walk in the FM woods, notepad in hand and taking time to consider tactical options and patiently build a strategy with thought and analysis targeted towards the resources he has to hand, albeit with the occasional aforementioned useless overload.
With this meandering approach in mind, I had planned this Newton Heath save to be a strategical progression up the leagues with a 3 year pattern, namely that every 3 years I would get promoted. There was some logic behind this in that starting in League 2 this would see me sat newly promoted in the prem in year 9 of FMtime, with a potential Champion’s League and the ultimate aim of the conquering of Man City by year 12. It may sound a bit odd and over-calculated but from doing LLM saves for years that’s always been a fair time frame in which I usually achieve just that. It’s also something I wanted to do to savour what I thought had the potential to be a truly memorable save.
That said, as I expressed in my last post Heathens resurrected #7: an (almost) sensible second season review if you had told me at the start of the save that I would have been promoted in season 2 then I wouldn’t have believed it. Not that I was complaining, just that it was unexpected, both in terms of where the team development was at and also in terms of me not being prepared financially to kick on in in the dizzy heights of League One. But needs must, it is a game after all (honest, check the wiki page here) so I took it gladly and went for that walk again to plan my League One survival.
We are now a year further on at the start of season 4 but before I tell you where we are at now here’s a recap of the aims that I ended that post with after season 2:
Season 3 (League One) aims
- Survive the drop (again)
- Beat the predicted 14th position at 75-1 (ouch, could have done with it being lower)
- Don’t get sacked
How I will do it:
- Strengthen weak positions
- Keep the dad and lad policy going, but make sure older players have better personalities
- Keep developing youth – may need to buy in as no money to improve facilities yet
- Keep a consistent squad and formation without over-rotation
In reality, the way that this panned out was as follows:
- Survive the drop (again) ACHIEVED
- Beat the predicted 14th position at 75-1 CAME 16TH but see below
- Don’t get sacked ACHIEVED
I was very happy with this, particularly because I had taken the ‘beat the predicted 14th position’ from the Sky Bet odds and not the actual league preview prediction, which was 20th. That said, it did me nicely and has set me up well for what I consider to be my promotion season this year (I have now realised that there’s no reason why I should take 3 years if the team is good enough).
In terms of how I did it then, here’s how that panned out with marks out of 10:
- Strengthen weak positions 8/10
- Keep the dad and lad policy going, but make sure older players have better personalities 6/10 see below
- Keep developing youth – may need to buy in as no money to improve facilities just yet 3/10
- Keep a consistent squad and formation without over-rotation 6/10
Being an interim year with limited resources and only a completely useless 26k for winning League Two (seriously EFL?) apart from strengthening the weak positions there wasn’t a lot I could do about some of the others. The dad and lad policy for example continued to cause problems early doors, with older players getting .. hmmmm .. old and more rubbish while still demanding games and the younger players floundering in their development with no pitch time and no loan offers as our rep and their stars were pretty low. I had experienced this in January of the previous promotion season and had countered it by simply ignoring players gametime complaints and sticking with 11-15 players that won us the league. However, the new league, coupled with this decline in attribs for both young and old, made it much harder. This is how we started early doors, until once more we rallied in January and got that 16th position.However, there was one particular highlight of the season in that we got drawn against Man City U23s in the Checkatrade and only went and goddamn bloody beat them. I was so chuffed I smiled for two days and bought a new kitchen (I kid you not – I was doing the hubby duty looking at literally a thousand kitchen showrooms with the wife and can honestly say I might not have agreed with her if we hadn’t won that match 🙂 ).
Here’s the tweets I sent out at the time, which says it all really (NOTE: if you follow me on twitter you will notice there is definitely a ramp in the swearing the more excited I get):
So after that sweary interlude where does that leave us heading into season 4? Well, as usual I did a mind map, with a new software called simple mind which is a bit easier to use than the old freemind I was using. This is what I came up with (if anyone is interested it is here – I’m not affiliated, it’s just good software, I’ve got the free version at the moment). For anyone who has never used this method, I highly recommend it for your FM planning:As before, this resulted in the following actions:
- Review every player’s stats and attribs, leading to ..
- Ruthlessly clear out old and young players (old who are past it and young who are lower than 3.5 star potential, though preferably 4)
- Improve defence above all else (92 goals against last season, the lowest in the whole league)
- Start a more focussed youth programme, buying 4* potentials between 18 and 21 to sell on
- Review loans and limit to no more than 7 or 8 (last season I relied too heavily on them and could only play 5 a time)
The biggest change was the reduction in the number of players as in the previous year I had brought in far too many youth with far too little talent, mostly on frees which should give you an idea of the poor quality. With not a pot to piss in budget-wise I had this grand idea that if I managed to increase my youth signings’ value up by 20k each within a year then I would make a profit of around 11k (assuming they were on 170 a week max, which was 8,840 a year). I even got another lower affiliate in the form of FC Halifax to send them to, meaning I had two loaner teams. The problem with this bright idea was that a) nobody wanted to buy them (der .. schoolboy error) and b) those that weren’t sold cost me 10k against the profits of those who were. Also, although I love the trialing method (see below) the admin side of it was a complete pain in the arse at times.
Initially this appeared to be a disastrous policy, until I realised that there was a c) in that list that I hadn’t taken account of. What if I was to find a player that worth more than 20k? A lot more. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Michael Dal Basco.
The wonderful Michael Dal Basco
Firstly may I say that as you can probably see above, I BLOODY LOVE TRIALS! Always have and always will – they cost nothing and can reap great rewards (though don’t ask 14 year old Eric Mble from Bogotá in Colombia as he may not agree – I brought him in on loan and sent him back the same day. He didn’t say much but a week after I got a nice letter from his dad with a bullet wrapped in it – what a nice family).
Eric Mble aside (I don’t know how you pronouce it either), Michael Dal Basco slipped under the radar as just another buy-to-sell signing, with brilliant pace and good double figures elsewhere for a winger. He was most notable because his price was listed at 69k, way above the 10 or 20k of everyone else in my youth dev. stable. Here he is when he came through the door: The first thing that I noticed was that his loan performances were excellent – if you look at his stats there when he was on loan at FC Halifax he had played 9 and scored 1 with 2 assists, with a 7.00 avg rating.
I then brought him back and let him have a crack at the first team until this happened completely out of the blue at the start of this season, Rangers making a 300k bid:With my highest ever transfer budget currently at 50k this was massive. I then turned down their offer, went back in to his ‘offer to clubs’ menu and cranked it up to 1 million, over optimistic but in no rush to sell him given the interest from not only Rangers but also Italian clubs Empoli and Crotone.
Five minutes later, Crotone came in to meet his 500k buyout clause and that was the deal done. In 5 minutes I had gone from a 50 k budget to 374k after the board had their wedge from it. Still though this was a massive gain that made me very happy indeed.
The question was, what to do with the cash? All I can say is that it couldn’t have come at a better time with my new policy to invest in the youth programme with future prospects. With some very careful negotiating involving lots of future may-never-achieve clauses I managed to get all 4* potential signings for the first time and spend the Dal Basco money on two guys, a decent right fullback for 90k called Oludare Olufunwa and Real Madrid’s Martin Calderon, whom I bought almost solely based on his pass rate:Sorry, just in case you missed that, REAL MADRID’S Martin Calderon! Listed at 6.5 million, and knocked down to 475k. I’ve no idea how except to say that I left it a few weeks after my initial offer was turned down then came back and they accepted. What’s more, most of it is in instalments so I’ve still got a few quid left.
All that said and done, this is how it has left the squad looking, with mostly 4* potential that has just seen us hold Everton to a 1 nil defeat in the 2nd round of the Carabao when it could have been much worse:And this is where this leaves us in the league of season 4, with two draws and a loss having played just a handful of games, bearing in mind that 4 have been away and against better teams ....which I’m not worried about at all as I think we have the strength and depth to definitely kick on and get to the playoffs at least, given the stats from the Everton game as follows:As you can see, from their 21 shots only 6 were on target with only 2.5 chances and 9 long shots, meaning my defence has most definitely improved already this season. In addition, our passes are excellent (thank you Ex-Real DLP Martin Calderon 🙂 ) and our tackle won rate of 80% and 33 out of 41 is outstanding compared to theirs considering we are about 55 positions below them in the league. Calderon also managed to complete an incredible 86 out of 91 passes, which was 32 more than anyone else except Morgan Scheiderlin, who was still 14 behind him on 72. Here’s Calderon’s 154 passing combinations for that game, which is the highest I think I’ve ever had for a single player. As you can see he’s been quite rooted to the DLP spot which is what I wanted for the Everton game:Here is an example of that in action, in the middle of this great team passing effort leading sadly to a shocking row Z hoof from my striker Newton:That said, to conclude it is now a case of plodding on and seeing if it carries on with the same success. Barring injuries (fuck, I’ve said it now), I will keep planning, tweaking and hopefully adding more thrillers such as my Real Madrid transfer shenanigans just to keep it interesting. Please make sure you follow me on twitter for more up to date news and I hope to see you soon (hopefully) in the Championship 🙂 .