Sorry about the tabloid-esque title but I think this could be a theme for this save. Despite primarily playing my network save with Petr Uchio, I’ve found time to complete a relatively successful first season with Alavés and have, in fact, reached the winter break of season 2.
In a minor spoiler for the update to come, we are slightly ahead of the 3-year plan which I laid out in the opening post – both in terms of on-the-pitch results and the Basque turnover of playing staff.
There have, however, been some disappointing aspects – particularly on the transfer market and in the facility improvements. Read on for more…
So first things, first. My maiden season at Alavés was something of a success. Finishing 6th, we nicked the last playoff spot and went into a home and away semi-final against Hércules where we were to come unstuck. A 1-0 loss in the second leg wasn’t good enough after a 1-1 home draw where we had dominated until we conceded one of the worst goals I’ve ever seen in any FM:
Remember you can select higher resolution on the video
Nevertheless, a playoff place is a year ahead of the schedule I had originally planned and promotion this year probably would have been too much to ask for our ill-prepared squad.
As you can see, we somehow managed to qualify for the playoffs despite losing 14 games, that’s 1 in 3. We were hugely inconsistent, drawing just 9 whilst winning 19. Scorelines were wildly erratic: from a 5-1 home defeat to Barcelona ‘B’, to a 4-0 win at Numancia with a 6-4 victory over Mirandés thrown in for good measure.
Our success was almost entirely based on our attacking prowess with the defence, conceding 60 league goals, hardly covering themselves in glory. But this was to be expected with such an attacking tactic, having eventually settled on this 3-4-3 hybrid.
It really is quite simplistic, a deliberate ploy with no shouts and very generic roles in most positions.
My idea is that I want to create an attacking, passing side which creates the unexpected so rather than have specific players responsible for specific aspects of our approach – i.e. we only score from through balls by the AMC, or crosses from the wingers – I wanted to let the players do the thinking.
Therefore, a ‘fluid’ approach should grant my players enough creative freedom to produce the unexpected – always a bonus in an attacking tactic which can become stale should opposition changes stifle your ‘usual’ means of breaching defences. This also suits me in what I find to be a restrictive tactical interface. Rather than try to create a more specifically tailored system, I’ll get round the restrictions by not using any shouts.
This is how I start the game, then, with the only ‘instruction’ used in the starting tactic asking my ‘keeper to distribute to the defenders – helping us build from the back and avoiding long punts to our generally short forward players.
Of course, you can’t create such a tactic with any old players, which is why I’ll be keeping a close eye on these attributes for my youth players and potential signings:
Although the system is relatively fluid, there are, of course, certain positions with more responsibility for particular phases of the game. If in doubt, stats don’t lie and a quick check through some of the key statistics will shed some light.
This is an obvious one but the midfield statistics from season 1 reveal that our AMC, utilised as an AP(S), makes more passes than anyone else in my team, around 25% more than any other regular starter and is miles ahead on key passes and assists. So it’s clear that, fluid system or not, he’s going to be a key creative influence and the attributes of potential signings should be scrutinised accordingly.
What may come as a surprise is the fact that he covers more ground, on average, than any other regular starter too. With the ‘support’ instruction, he drops back into midfield and helps defensively as well as having the usual offensive duties. It’s therefore worth bearing in mind a player’s Stamina attribute when considering new signings for this position.
And new signings were considered galore after 35 players left Mendizorroza when their contract’s expired. Joining them through the exit door were Nano (DWL – £155k to Dinamo Bucharest) and Carlos Lázaro (DMC – £750k to Dinamo Bucharest). Not entirely sure why Romanians are so interested in our players but there you go.
Bringing 11 players in, our squad is now lighter than it was last season but undeniably stronger and, in keeping with my approach for this game, with a much greater Basque element than our first season. Along with a bias for signing Basque players, my attribute-spotting approach was in full swing. No more so than in the signing of advanced forward Jorge Galán.
Again, despite the fluidity of the system, our advanced forward is undeniably our main goal-scoring outlet. Pace, Finishing and Composure are a must; whilst First Touch and Technique are personal preferences. As @fm_old_skool mentioned on Twitter, with a better Anticipation attribute then he would be deadly but, at this level, concessions have to be made and I was sure he would be a raving success.
Faith which has been well repaid with 19 goals in 23 games. Not bad for a free transfer which the game rates as being only ‘3 star’. A quick check on the stats bear out my attributes bias:
Again, there’s our AMC at the top of the passing pile with almost 75 a match; with Galán right at the bottom with a measly 20. Surely this means that his creative attributes (Passing, Creativity, Anticipation, etc) are irrelevant? Well, no. I wouldn’t say so.
Take a look at his ‘key passes’ (21) and ‘assists per 90 mins’ (0.41). He may only make 20 passes a game but when almost 5% of them are chance creating, compared to around 3% for the AMC, you really have to consider that he could be an effective creative weapon – as evidenced by his 10 assists so far this season. Of course, when you have a limited budget and small club reputation then you can’t have everything and with nearly 5 shots per match then you’d be wise to prioritise shooting attributes.
Interesting side notes – the number of times he is offside and the very low distance covered by game.
All of which is very exciting but has it done the job on the pitch?
Well yes, yes it has. We’re top and on course to smash our goal-scoring tally from last season and slightly improve on our defensive record.
Unfortunately, not everything is going my way. We’ve been unable to improve the Youth Recruitment or Junior Coaching in the way I had hoped – likely due to the fact our reputation hasn’t improved much. We have, however, convinced the board to improve both the training and youth facilities – to be completed next November.
As Cleon put it so succinctly in his Ajax – When Real Life Meets Football Manager thread:
Recruitment = Regen PA
Junior Coaching = Regen CA
Youth Facilities = Rate of youth player CA improvement
So whilst improving our training facilities will help players move from their low CA (Current Ability) to their modest PA (Potential Ability), we aren’t currently doing anything to increase our newgens’ chances of high PA or starting off as a more developed player.
We did, though, get one very promising player in our first intake – Oier Intxaurraga, or Dave as he shall henceforth be known:
Dave looks like becoming a very handy player for my more offensive defensive midfielder role. With outstanding Stamina and Work Rate, he’s going to run box-to-box all day and he’s already been popping up with important goals:
There were two, very slight problems with Dave. First, he’s been generated lacking in key mental attributes that I want – Anticipation and Decisions mostly. The main problem with this is that these attributes cannot be directly trained – instead they will only be trained through natural progression for the position and by using ‘role’ training régimes. This disperses the effect of training across more attributes than a direct attribute régime.
The second problem was an even slighter one. Dave was spawned with a desirable personality – Resolute indicating a Professionalism attribute of at least 15; whilst his Evasive media handling style indicates a high Pressure attribute. The former is good as it maximises his chances of progressing to meet his PA; however it also minimises my tutoring capabilities. For the role to which he is ear-marked, I would have ideally taught him a couple of PPM’s that cannot be trained – Arrives Late in Opponent’s Area and Gets into Opposition Box. These can only be transferred via tutoring and unless I can find a truly perfect tutor who also has a high Professionalism attribute, I may be stumped.
Nevertheless, Dave has seen his fair share of game time and has already improved handsomely:
Unfortunately, he’s been the only Basque newgen of note so far; and I was forced into signing the rest of the players I hope to develop. One problem position, so far, has been centre half where first-season signing Julen Etxaberugen has been my sole success. My other first-teamers are non-Basque Spaniards, so unless some options become available soon I may need to use my 3-foreigner allowance in this position for a few seasons.
One player I REALLY wanted to sign that would have ticked a whole bunch of boxes was Gimnástic’s Beñat Alemán.
Basque, approaching his prime and with an excellent tutoring personality he would have been an outstanding signing. However, as you can see, the fool decided to sit on Mallorca’s bench instead. He would have been ideal for my central ‘ball-playing defender’ role with his outstanding mental attributes and well-balanced offensive and defensive capabilities. Expect more attempts to sign him…
For now, the squad development has out-stripped our early targets in line with our on-the-field results. From just 8 Basque players in the first team squad, we now have this:
With more Basque investment planned for the summer, not to mention another Basque youth intake to look forward to, hopefully the Cantéra aspect of the save will become a concrete policy in time for promotion. A promotion which is looking closer by the game…
Once again, thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments box below.