In the last update, I asked you all to vote on whether I should stay with Feralpi Salò or move on to another club and another league. At the time of writing, the votes were too close to call – with 53% (40 votes) in favour of moving on and 47% (35 votes) wanting me to stay.
Perhaps I should have gone with the small majority but the minority who wanted me to stay were also good enough to provide reasons within the comments section and managed to persuade me that my time in Salò is not yet finished. So lesson learned – if you really want me to leave, tell me why next time!
This will be a relatively small update then: detailing why I’ve decided to stay, what I’ll do to try and keep it interesting and the transfers that we’ve completed over the summer.
So first things first. Why stay? Well Cleon and Forza told me to… but apart from that, they (and many others) are right when they say that there’s unfinished business to achieve in Salò. Yes, 9 seasons is a long time to spend at one club in a game where boredom sets in quickly but I think I’d have felt that I hadn’t completed the job if I didn’t at least try and secure a Champions League trophy.
Secondly, what I didn’t include in the assistant reports screenshot in the last update is potential… well, have a wee look at this:
Yes, it’s only the assistant’s opinion and is imperfect but that still represents a fantastic array of potential talent coming through at the club and I’d like to see that develop after going to all the trouble of finding and signing them in the first place!
I’d also like to continue the strikerless experiment, trying out different approaches with the same shape, perhaps looking at fully testing the libero version and implementing a stupendously possession-hugging one just for the fun of it. The Feralpi squad is perfectly tailored to cover these positions at the moment so affords me a prime opportunity to experiment without having to restructure.
And lastly, I couldn’t make up my mind where to go even when I considered moving on. I had a brief look around a few leagues, even holidaying 6 months into “the future” to see if there was anything interesting in the newly activated Brazilian league. There wasn’t. My options were either Toulouse, now in Ligue 2, or ADO Den Haag, just relegated from the Eredivisie.
Both attractive prospects and I was on the verge of taking over Toulouse again but a quick look through their squad had me missing my Feralpi players before I’d even taken over! Back to the Leonarduzzi it was then.
And I was welcomed back by the news that I’d finally made it onto the “legends” list at Feralpi and not before time!
The board clearly trust their legendary manager as they have once again backed me significant sums of money – investing in the training and youth facilities as well as giving me a £65m transfer ‘WAR CHEST’ (© The Sun) to help us make that next step and challenge for European silverware.
To be fair, the money is mostly of my own making with large sums of prize money having been accrued over the last 4 years or so as well as a significant transfer profit – owing much to the near £30m recouped on Prest.
Nevertheless, I’ve also been helped massively by an unexpectedly large TV revenue in Italy, giving me almost £50m this season.
The 3 peaks you see are the end-of-season Champions League pay-outs whilst the red line indicates the current monthly income from TV revenue – £4m a month. A not insignificant sum which adequately covers my monthly out-goings on player and staff wages.
With transfer sales then being the largest single source of income (£110m in the last two seasons) then you can see how we’ve managed to produce such a profit and why the board feel they can give me an enormous transfer budget.
In a break from the norm, though, I decided to use it this summer:
In the end, I only spent £22m more than I recouped but £60m is a massive investment in the playing squad and one which you probably wouldn’t have expected if you read my last update praising the current state of the squad.
But this season I’ll need a squad which can (hopefully) maintain a decent tilt at two serious competitions – Serie A and the Champions League – whilst allowing the fringe players free run at the Coppa. We needed just a bit more class in a bit more depth whilst always having an eye out for players who are simply better than my current options.
The leavers were mostly the result of having identified better / more Italian alternatives. For example, Brasoveanu was a player that I had high hopes for and whose attributes would suggest that he’d be a good player. Indeed, when I put him up for sale there were a number of top clubs after him – Schalke eventually paying £10m for him, more than doubling my investment.
Similarly, Ricardo González moved on for a massive profit – signed for £6.5m and joining Everton when his £24m release clause was matched. I wasn’t keen on letting González go but he wouldn’t sign a new contract for anything which even approached reasonable terms and, with several clubs sniffing around early in the summer, I decided to offer him around for his release clause. I wanted to control when he left rather than being surprised with a last minute transfer deadline bid a la Prest.
Cracking player but I can’t afford to give him the £125k a week that Everton can so off he goes. He has, however, been replaced.
The other leavers were more or less surplus to requirements while I’ve got 7 promising youngsters out on loan getting first team football in a bid to aid their development. I was tempted to keep first team slots open for some of them, particularly Occhiuzzi and Tacchini, academy products, but decided that we enough money to bring in quality whilst allowing the prospects 30+ games at other clubs.
One of the key areas that I felt needed an injection of quality was the deep-lying playmaker position. Brasoveanu was being moved on as I’d run out of patience whilst Dolk, continually outperforming his attributes, is approaching 30 and will start to decline soon. I still plan to use Gallo in there, though, so wanted to find a versatile option. With the rest of my midfield quite offensively biased, I ended up splashing out £17m to get a fine Italian option:
Graziosi has moved to Arsenal from Juve just last year with the Gunners taking a £4m loss and the player taking a paycut to join us. He looks to me like he’ll be a class DLP but can also be used as a physical central midfielder in big games where I feel that a little less adventure in midfield is called for.
I wanted to make sure that we bring in more domestic players and possibly overpaid for Graziosi but his versatility, as well as his pure creative ability, should be invaluable.
Our second big outlay was a £15m move for Turkish right-midfielder Temel Zorlu, a player I have retrained to fulfil our attacking right-back role.
I had a few requirements when I was considering strengthening this role: as I’d noted in the last update, I’d often considered replacing Codreanu at right-back but couldn’t find anyone with the right balance in attacking and defensive attributes and this was key. With some youth options coming through, I could afford to look at an older player but I needed him to gel quickly so wanted to find someone who already spoke Italian and wouldn’t need time to bond with the defence.
Having spend 4 years at Cesena before joining Bolton, Zorlu was the perfect option – defensively strong (positioning, anticipation, decisions, strength, marking, tackling all decent) and capable offensively (high crossing, pace, passing, off the ball and dribbling) whilst he has a few other attributes that I like for wingbacks – stamina, teamwork and work rate primarily. It’s only his technique that I find a little low.
Anticipating González’s move, I also had to look at my options for the inside forward role in front of Zorlu. The other options I had in the squad were Rosetti (who I also moved on), De Angelis (who has flattered to deceive out wide and I now want to use through the middle) and possibly retraining Gramaccia. Rather than do that, I looked for a new option.
I’d experimented with a more creative left-footer last season when I brought in Rosetti and it had worked fairly well but I also liked the second dimension that a right-footer such as González offered with the capability to go outside the fullback or simply protect the ball from a covering centre half whilst shooting on his strongest foot. The answer? I looked for a two-footed option.
At the moment, he’s only comfortable as a striker but Tretyak has pace, finishing ability and decent creativity and should be a decent option for £7m.
That should have been it for my offensive (first team) signings but I was forced into a “now or never” move for a player I had my eye on for a while. With a string of clubs threatening to activate his £6.5m release clause, I decided that I had to act or risk losing him.
Grande’s been a star for the Italian U-21 side for a while and has really caught my eye on more than one occasion. Again, he’s a striker that I’ll be retraining. Had my hand been forced before I signed Tretyak then I think I’d have asked Grande to become an AMR and not bothered with the Ukranian. However, I had a second look at Grande and fancy that he’ll do well from the AMC “false striker” position.
Not only does he have the required striker’s attributes in finishing, etc he’s also strong in the air which is key for our AMC’s who see a lot of crosses from the left winger and right wingback. I see him as a bit of a prospect and hope to develop his creative ability a bit more before I’d consider him a first team regular.
Another one for the future is centre-back Sauro Gori. Another whom I probably paid over the odds for at £10.5m (£2.5m due after 30 games) but another Italian who I’d have my eye on for a while.
Listed as “the next Franco Baresi” and with massive potential, I really don’t mind paying over the odds for Gori as I’m sure it’ll turn out to be a bargain in the long run. His base defensive attributes are already fantastic for an 18 year old – positioning, teamwork, work rate, marking, tackling, anticipation and heading whilst he is already decent physically and only really needs a few finishing touches like improved composure and possibly first touch.
I see him as a long term successor for Okoye in the covering role but he’ll get game time in both CB positions this year.
That was it for the first team purchases although I spent another £4.5m bringing in some youngsters that I hope to develop. I won’t screenshot them all but I think it might be worthwhile using one as a case study to come back to and see if I’ve managed to develop. Simply down his nationality, let’s look at 15 year-old Eric Little:
Little cost me £800k from Hearts which is a frankly ludicrous sum for a 15 year old but such is the nonsensical nature of the FM transfer mechanics that it had to be paid.
He arrived with a fairly ambitious personality and level-headed media style which, as you can see in this excellent post, tells me the following about his attributes:
Fairly Amibitous Amb 15-20, Pro 1-14, Det 1-14
Level-Headed Con 1-14, Tem 7-20, Loy 11-20, (Spo 12-20 or Pro 13-20)
We know that his professionalism, a key attribute for player development, is below 15. However, his ambition is between 15 and 20 and we want to make sure that this doesn’t drop as it’s another attribute key to development.
We also know that he has clear potential, every one of my coaches reckons he’ll be a star. I just need to make sure that he meets that potential so I can mould him into the player I want. As I’ve written here, personality is key to development and tutoring can help mould personality Therefore, I’ve paired him with new signing William Graziosi who has a resolute / level-headed personality.
Resolute indicates Professionalism of 15-20 as well as Determination of 15-20 and Pressure of 1-16.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell what level of Ambition Graziosi has. SI are really at fault here for once again dumbing down the coach reports. My squad personality is listed as “ambitious” and in the old system I would have got a comparison to this which would have given me a hint as to Graziosi’s Ambition attribute. Now, despite promises that we get “more information than ever”, the opposite is true and I have to guess.
Either way, it’s worked as Little’s personality is now “resolute” and there are consistent green arrows next to his attributes, indicating improvement across the board. That’s the first step and I’ll come back to this player in successive updates to track the rest of his development… hopefully he’ll turn out as good as I think he will.
My youth development policy has just started in real earnest fairly recently as the facilities and coaches haven’t previously been up to scratch. When I first joined the club, not only were the facilities very poor but I was only allowed to hire 3 coaches. I couldn’t justify employing specialised youth coaches. That’s no longer the case as my board have just agreed to improve both the training (currently top) and youth (good) coaching facilities.
We also have a little more than 3 coaches now:
I went a little overboard with the hiring policy this summer but I wanted to get a proper backroom staff for the youth side now that I have some prospects worth developing. With a full-compliment of first-team coaches too, it means I can have the best of both worlds.
Incidentally, I do like having a few former players with legends like Chiellini, Puyol, Steffen Hofmann and… erm… David James and Alex Revell forming part of my backroom staff.
And that is more or less that for this update. I have promised someone on Twitter some extra detail on positional retraining as this is something that I do a lot but I feel like I’ve written enough and don’t want to bore you too much. In fact, I might save it for that FM13 project I mentioned in my last article – The 13th Step. We’ll see.
For now, I think I made the right decision to stay at Feralpi. Early signs are that goals may be harder to come by this season but at least there’s still a level of challenge remaining.
As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to any comments or questions you have.