Nevertheless, I’m back with news of a long-awaited success as we FINALLY secured the Eredivisie title… and I promptly resigned.
So there really shouldn’t be too much to this update. A look back at our title-winning season, a look at the legacy being left at the club then why I left and where I’ve ended up.
Read on for more details…
After a couple of unusual updates, it might be best to give a brief overview of the past couple of seasons. Essentially, we continued to challenge at the top of the Eredivisie and had clearly ensconced ourselves within the ‘elite’ of Dutch football. In fact, until this year it was clear that there were two teams head-and-shoulders above the rest – us and Ajax.
In 2017 we finished 2 points behind the Amsterdam giants and in 2018 we suffered an incredibly frustrating final day debacle.
Having trailed Ajax by 10 points, we had closed the gap to just 1 before the final game. With Ajax travelling to PSV, we only had to better their result in Venlo to win our first title. PSV did their part, winning 3-2 on the night, but we bottled it massively.
Missing 3 sitters and hitting the post twice, we lost 2-1 to VVV – a bang average mid-table side. We finished the season a single point behind Ajax – passing up any number of chances to score our 100th league goal of the season and take the title. Very, very irritating.
This year was not going to be the same.
Have a bit of that.
For long spells, PSV were actually our main challengers. Ajax, who had lost manager Javier Aguirre to Sporting Club de Portugal, struggled early in the campaign, culminating in ADO doing the double over them, and PSV only wilted once Chelsea bought their prolific newgen striker. From then on, it was plain sailing for us.
With the youth side embarrassing us with a defeat to non-league Hollandia in the Beker, it means that we won just 2 trophies during my time in Den Haag – the 2016 Beker and the 2019 Eredivisie. To be fair, though, the club has come a long way and has been involved in post-Christmas European football in the last two seasons – Marseille knocking us out of the Europa League Second Knockouts in 2018 and Barca edging us out of the Champions League First Knockouts this year.
Some key changes highlighted in that screenshot:
- the club is now considered ‘rich’
- I had a £33m transfer budget available (plus £120kpw room in the wage bill)
- 5 players listed as various levels of favoured personnel, plus me
- Top training facilities
- Top youth facilities
- Estimated value of £107m
- £259 for a season ticket is more than reasonable when your team averages 2.82 goals per game
Before I left, the club had a £31m bank balance which was then added to with the £21.5m sale of utter legend Jan van den Berg to Milan.
He is an absolutely phenomenal player and excelled as an advanced playmaker from the AMC position. A product of the now exceptional ADO youth academy, he’s made 83 assists in the last 4 seasons and scored over 50. Easily my favourite player at ADO, he was also the most important – along with the outstanding Marcelo and a rejuventated club captain Frank Bond.
Fluminense must have some scarily good players because I managed to pick up Marcelo for just £1.4m when they transfer listed him 2 seasons ago. In 87 games he’s scored 49 and assisted 40. For £1.4m. An utter bargain and a top class inside forward. One-point-four-million. Pounds!
Frank Bond was even cheaper – my 5th signing at ADO back in 2013 and a steal at £575k. Club captain for the last 6 years, he was phenomenal in a front two with Giovanni Lagendijk but was consigned to the bench when the latter made the lone striker role his own last season.
When Lagendijk showed some horrific form this season, though, (2 goals in 11 starts 14 sub appearances) Bond was ready to step in and showed outstanding goal-scoring ability. 33 league goals in 28 starts, despite not scoring in the last 5 games, is quite ridiculous.
A true team effort, though, this season really was the culmination of the squad building that had taken place for the last 6 years.
Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (that’s a lie) but here’s what I consider to be my best team including some completely unrelated, non-biased, not-showing-off data – their cost, the year they joined and their current age (YP denotes youth product):
If you want a screenshot of a particular player or want to know more about him etc then please feel free to ask.
That’s not to say that I didn’t spend some money. At the start of this season I splashed almost £11m on two newgens – Dutch inside forward Selim Eser and Guyanan central midfielder Collie Baker. Both performed well, though, and were key components in ensuring that we maintained momentum when the preferred starters needed rest periods or were injured / suspended / etc.
The youth team is also well stocked with talents and the academy continues to produce the goods with two exceptional looking attacking midfielders, Albert Nieuwenhuis and Marco Calor, waiting in the wings for when Jan van den Berg would eventually be snapped up by a big gun.
I have, however, called it a day with ADO. Why?
Simply because I fancied a change. I have, as always, kept a save from before my resignation in case I want to go back and continue to develop the club but I was getting itchy feet for a new club and a new tactic. With that in mind, I used what I am coming to realise is a game-changing new feature in FM – the ability to add and remove new leagues.
Out went Curacao etc and in came Brazil, England, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Russia and Spain.
With the Eredivisie title now secured, I was free to seek a challenge elsewhere without the regret of leaving as a loser and, subsequently, with the additional rep boost of a domestic title. Resigning from ADO, then, I took my chance on the job market – going ‘on holiday’ and applying for all top division clubs.
One of the bigger Brazilian clubs, they were languishing in 17th on my arrival having won just twice in the first 11 games, scoring 6 goals.
With a squad still boasting the undeniable talents of Adryan and Rafinha, I decided that it was worth a punt even if I only end up spending 6 months in the job.
To continue the change of direction from ADO, I decided against using the same tactic and have, in fact, taken a completely different approach. In order to raise the morale and give the team a foundation to build on, I’ve implemented a patient, possession-hungry tactic that aims to keep a solid defensive shape and use Adryan as the main ball-player.
It has worked to an extent so far.
With a couple of exceptions, the defence has really solidified and we just need to step it up offensively to push on. Nevertheless, we’ve climbed away from the relegation zone, now sitting mid-table with a confident side looking up rather than down. So the first job is done.
To be completely honest, though, I’m not really ‘feeling it’ in Brazil. Perhaps it’s just the ‘new club’ syndrome and the fact that I don’t really know the players too well – which is such a massive change from the carefully cultivated squad at Den Haag…
… also Brazilian football in FM is incredibly negative. Maybe it’s down to Flamengo’s reputation but, along with the ‘box’, teams team to play a very negative 3-3-2-2 against me with a flat back 3, wingbacks and a DM, 2 central midfielders and 2 strikers. This leads to some pretty dull games which are not what I had become used to in Holland.
Either way, for now the Dutch chapter of this career has been closed and I’ve moved on to a new job… for how long we shall see in the next update. If it really is that boring I might end up going back to ADO and having another shot at the Champions League!!
Until then, thanks again for reading and please let me know if you have any comments or questions.