Den Haag – Title secured, legacy ensured, resignation tendered

den_haag_home 2018Apologies for another long wait between updates but it’s been a mental few weeks in the Naldo household and writing blog updates hasn’t been top of the priority list, unfortunately.

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…

den_haag_away 2019After 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.

Winners

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.

Status

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.

van den Berg

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.

Marcelo

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!

Bond

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.

Key players

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):

Title winners

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.

Flamengo_logo.svgAfter rejecting a few Dutch clubs that approached me, I eventually settled on what looks to be an interesting challenge in Brazil with Clube de Regatas do Flamengo. Or Flamengo, for short.

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.

results

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.

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14 thoughts on “Den Haag – Title secured, legacy ensured, resignation tendered”

  1. Great update again, what a way to go out at ADO. Did Ajax sell any big players or did everything just fall into place for you?

    Also, what skin is it that you’re using? Looks quality with the stadium pic!

    1. Thanks Kane. They didn’t sell any big players. no – they just lost Aguirre and replaced him with Markus Babbel who wasn’t of the same calibre. A few bit part players left but Eriksen et al were still there.

      The skin is called ‘Bergkamp’ skin and is available on the SI forums. I also downloaded the ‘Stadium megapack’ from FM Base (I think) to go with it. Lovely stuff.

  2. Amazing season, completely smashed the league and won it easy. It’ll be great to see you in Brazil, I found it anything but boring very competitive but once you get together a very good side it becomes one of the easiest to win but building that team is great fun.

    You may have already posted it and I missed it but any chance of a screenshot Bonds attributes and history? I love a target man just wondered if he was similar to what I like in my target men.

  3. Brilliant achievements once again.

    I empathise with your appraisal of the Brazilian league. I found it a real challenge to break down all manner of solid, defensive lookibg shapes. Can’t ever remember seeing AM line players used, so at least you know you don’t need a DM.

    I’ll follow your Flamengo save with interest to see how you overcome these challenges, which you inevitably will.

    1. Cheers RTH. Unfortunately, as you probably know from twitter by now, I never really enjoyed Brazil so have now quit and returned to my ADO save.

      The joke that is the state championship was just too much for me. Might do a quick run-down of the season there, though. Just for completeness.

  4. Great read, nice update. BTW, I do have some experience with the “box: tactic in FM. I also created that 3-5-2/5-3-2 tactic you described. That’s basically what Scolari used to win the 02 WC with Brazil.

    1. Cheers Uncle Sam. Spoke to you on twitter re the box but that was more out of curiosity than anything else. Didn’t have the personnel at Flamengo to make it work and never had a problem breaking it down (for the most part – had a couple of horrific games).

      The 3-3-2-2 was bloody annoying though. Not because we struggled to break it down because we usually got there eventually but more because it lead to supremely dull games. So much for Brazilian flair and entertainment!

  5. Great accomplishment’s and a nice way to bow out.

    Welcome to Brazil, I’ll be following you’re journey and be interesting to see what you end up doing here. It’s a great country to manage in, tactically its one of the most challenging on the game.

    Good luck with Flamengo 🙂

    1. Sorry to let you down there, Cleon! Already quit the Flamengo game.

      Had a good year though. Solid Brasilerao in the first few months to climb away from relegation, won the Kia Cup, won the state thing but got beat by Boca in the Libertadores final. Not too bad I guess but back to Holland I go!!

  6. Great to see you managing in Brazil. I am managing Brasiliense, brought them from the third division to Fifa World Champions and it has been a lot of fun. I can relate to the negative tactics, 4-2-2-2 Narrow and the 3-3-2-2 you mentioned are quite annoying. Although, I found the Libertadores to be a lot more varied.

    I have to say though, I’m getting quite bored, the state championship (Candangão) is no challenge at all. All my opponents play on the third division or lower, making it impossible to lose, I even started using a custom skin with the “Instant Match” button from FM Classic so I don’t have to play those games. 😀

    Looking forward for more updates and good luck with Flamengo.

    1. Absolutely agree on the state championships. Just supremely boring. The early stages of the Libertadores too. Sadly, I won’t be having much of a career with Flamengo as it just was far too boring so I’m back in Den Haag… I’ll probably do a brief update on the year in Brazil though.

  7. Congrats on the championship with ADO. In a way I’m a little glad that you took the extra year to secure it, because it gives you the chance to see about developing a few more of your own youngsters. Also glad that you’ll be back in Holland, I’ve had the same experience with Brazilian FM myself. Looking forward to how you’ll be getting on in the CL!

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