So let’s try this again…

Football-Manager-2015-logoSo if anyone has read this blog before, or even ‘knows’ me from my time posting on The Dugout, then you’ll probably have seen me attempt the odd club and country save with Rapid Wien and Austria.

Well the good news is that you’re going to see another one!

I had considered a few different games for FM15 but it was perhaps inevitable that I would come back to the club and country format I have enjoyed so much in the past. For those who don’t know, I first became interested in Rapid Wien after a brief stint there during a journeyman game on FM09.

In FM11, I then merged the German and Austrian leagues and had a legendary club and country save that took me to the year 2030. Hopefully this year’s attempt will prove to be as enjoyable.

While I wait for FM15’s release then, I thought I’d write a little about the changes I plan to make to the “gameworld” for this save and a few self-imposed challenges I want to implement to keep it interesting.

If you were reading this blog this time last year, you may remember that I tried to recreate the “great C&C save of FM11” (as it is no-doubt known nationwide) by creating an Anschluß merger of the German and Austrian leagues, placing Rapid in the second tier and cracking on from there.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the rules had changed in 14 and newgens now assumed the youth rating of the league’s host country, regardless of the rating of the country in which the club is based – therefore Rapid received a series of German standard youth players rather than Austrian. This ruined the game for me and I stopped half way through season 2.

Assuming that this rule has not been changed, therefore, I’ll be looking to play this year’s save solely within the Austrian leagues.

Dominik Otto - a hero of times past
Dominik Otto – a hero of times past

Of course, the default Austrian leagues have their own problems – two primarily. First, the Bundesliga has only 10 teams meaning that you play each team four times over the course of a season which is just dull beyond belief. Second, with a club like Rapid it can become very easy to dominate domestic football rather quickly… and we’re back to dull again.

Therefore, two solutions: liberal use of the editor and self-imposed limitations.

I have been making good use of the FM editor for many years now, although I never amend things like a player’s ability or the amount of money that a club has. Instead, I try to make more interesting league structures – in FM11 (with significant help from others) it was a German / Austrian merger, in FM12 I created an Alpine league from Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany and northern Italy. This year, I’ll try to create a more interesting Austrian structure.

The Gerhard-Hanappi Stadion - Rapid's legendary old stadium. Rapid invited fans to take part in a "demolition party", allowing them to take "souvenirs" before the stadium was torn down to make way for a more modern arena.
The Gerhard-Hanappi Stadion – Rapid’s legendary old stadium. Rapid invited fans to take part in a “demolition party”, allowing them to take “souvenirs” before the stadium was torn down to make way for a more modern arena.

To replace the standard 10-team league, I plan to create a 16-team top-tier consisting of the current real-life ÖBL teams plus LASK Linz, Mattersburg, SK St Pölten, Wacker Innsbruck, Austria Salzburg and Wiener SK. Not entirely a random choice as I was assisted by English language Austrian football expert Tim Armitage in my choice.

Teams

For those who are unfamiliar with Austrian football, it’s worth having a quick read about Austria Salzburg – an AFC Wimbledon style club that was set up by fans of traditional football in Salzburg when Red Bull bought the previous clubs in the city.

Back to the league structure, there’ll then be a 2-up, 2-down relegation to a 12-team second tier consisting of the remaining Eerste Liga teams plus First Vienna (the oldest club in Austria), Lafnitz, Amstetten, Pasching, Wattens and FC Dornbirn.

The 3 Regionalliga will then be set-up below that with a play-off system determining promotion to and relegation from the second tier. The Austria FA Cup will remain as is.

I’ll reinstate the existing Austrian league rules on the maximum number of foreigners (7 non-EU) and transfer windows. The prize money and TV money will be set using the latest data I have from the FM14 league.

Hopefully this new system will keep the game interesting with a variety of opponents and tactics to face. That just leaves the second half of the domestic league problem – maintaining a competitive edge.

The model of Rapid's new Allianz Stadium, a 24000 modern replacement for the Hanappi. You can read more about it here http://www.skrapid.at/127758+M578d5481483.html
The model of Rapid’s new Allianz Stadium, a 24000 modern replacement for the Hanappi. You can read more about it here http://www.skrapid.at/127758+M578d5481483.html

Rapid, along with Red Bull Salzburg, Austria Wien and Sturm Graz, are traditionally the bigger modern clubs in Austria, with the Viennese clubs, and Rapid in particular, having dominated domestic football historically.

In FM, this dominance is usually rather easy to revive but I’d not only like to maintain a long-term interest in this save, I’d also like to help develop the Austrian league – and the clubs in it – in an effort to boost the national side.

As such, I’ve been thinking of some self-imposed restrictions that would achieve both these aims. My thoughts so far are:

  • in any given transfer window, the club has to run a transfer profit on foreign transfers, i.e. those that are not with Austrian clubs
  • the club cannot make more than 3 signings per year of players 23 and older
  • the club can sign a maximum of 2 non-Austrians per season and cannot sign non-Austrian players younger than 23
  • any Austrian player over 20 who does not receive 10 starts in a season must be sold to another Austrian club (subject to injury restrictions and excluding goalkeepers)

If you can think of any other interesting rules or restrictions then let me know.

Tactically, I intend to mould the club – and by extension, eventually the national team – to the general ethos I laid out in this article earlier this week. It needs a better and less pompous title than “the tactical vision” and therefore, in reference to the 1930’s Wünderteam (again), we’ll call it the Danubian Whirl… thereby completely failing to find a less pompous name.

The original Wünderteam
The original Wünderteam

I have had further thoughts on two alternative tactics; one for when teams dig in, the other for playing big sides in Europe; but the primary approach is depressingly fashionable high-pressing, high-possession and aimed at producing the 4-1-4-1 defensive shape and the 3-3-1-3-ish when attacking.

I’ll likely cover more about the tactic itself once I actually get a hold of the game but, in the spirit of pre-requisites and looking ahead, it did cross my mind that I’d like to create a “team ethos” when it comes to attributes, as well as tactics. Some of this is simply logical but it occurred to me that, goalkeepers excepted, the team would benefit from two sets of communal attributes:

1st tier communal attributes:

  • Decisions
  • Teamwork
  • Work rate
  • First touch
  • Stamina

I’m a big fan of mental attributes and the first three listed here are vital for high-possession tactics whilst first touch, for in possession, and stamina, for out of it, are simple logic.

2nd tier communal attributes:

  • Anticipation
  • Composure
  • Concentration
  • Passing
  • Technique

Again, key mental attributes but less important, in my opinion, than the 1st tier and two more key technical attributes for maintaining that possession.

I’ve separated these into 1st and 2nd tier as my intention is that each first team player should have a preset attribute value for each of these attributes – necessarily higher for the 1st tier than 2nd.

I haven’t yet decided on the age by which these attribute values should be achieved or what that value would be but, for argument’s sake, let’s go with the following:

  • by age 22, all first team players must have 1st tier attributes of 14 or above; 2nd tier attributes of 12 or above
  • for each year younger, the attribute value drops by 1; i.e. 13/11 for 21 year old; 12/10 for 20 year olds; 11/9 for 19 year olds; etc
  • if players do not achieve this, they are sold

I also want to add position specific attribute requirements. For example, I may wish to add Positioning and Marking for the half back, or Finishing and Off the Ball for the centre forward. This has yet to be finalised.

I hope that makes sense. It may end up being completely unworkable; or I may scrap it entirely in favour of a selection system based on stats rather than attributes… I guess I have a couple of weeks to decide.

That, however, should set the scene for what I hope will be a successful and enjoyable club and country save. If it comes close to rivalling its FM11 predecessor then I’ll be delighted.

Let me know what you think of the attribute system or if you have any alternative suggestions. Until then, thanks for reading.

Forza Rapid!!

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16 thoughts on “So let’s try this again…”

  1. Nice project even if I’m not a big fan of self-imposed “restrictions”, they don’t always contribute to make the game more interesting, meanwhile I consider – always present bugs – as a challenging enough restriction….

  2. Glad to see that you’ve decided on Rapid/Austria again, the FM11 game was epic and caused me to waste many an hour at work reading the updates. I do a lot more work these days so let’s hope you can change that with another epic Austrian adventure.

    In terms of improving the teams around you I go for a different approach from imposing restrictions in order to keep things interesting. My plan has always been to take Panathinaikos and gradually implement the Barcelona model (within the restrictions of the game) to benefit primarily Panathinaikos but also form the spine of National team with academy graduates.

    My focus this version has been for first 5 to 10 seasons is to dominate domestically while establishing yourself as one of the top clubs in Europe. That will naturally drag the rest of the league with it as you open up more European slots. I have still tried to retain a Greek core to my team and primarily focusing on those players that are Panathinaikos academy graduates, Ninis, Mavrias, Kapino etc. The core of my Panathinaikos side is then the core of the Greek national side as well.

    I’ve gone on to make 3 Champions League finals in a row (all hail the power of the underdog on FM14), winning two on penalties and losing the other 4-0 to Barcelona. Although to start with the other Greek clubs didn’t make the most of the opportunities this reputation gain has brought them, they are starting to improve. Their squads now have some of the most exciting youngsters Europe and South America have to offer, with a lot of the managers making shrewd loan signings which is making the league more competitive. Now yes I still dominate the league but below me one of 7 or 8 can now end up in the Champions League and I have to be on my toes every match I play so it keeps it interesting. The variety of formations and tactics seems to be diversifying as well ranging from Brazilian boxes to high pressing possession games.

    I’ve also tried to influence the league’s exposure through establishing merchandising clubs and bringing players of their nationalities into the league and loaning them to the lesser teams in the division. For example I have a Japanese feeder club with 4 Japanese players on my books who are currently on loan at middle to lower league clubs in Greece. They’ve been playing in Greece for about 3 seasons now and have done reasonably well though what I’ve noticed is now Olympiakos, PAOK, Xanthi and Atromotis all have Japanese feeder clubs. I’m currently on a mission promoting Greek football in Malaysia and Singapore (just come back from my honeymoon there (in real life not FM life  ) and football is extremely popular so hopefully some merchandising money to be made). Now it might have been chance that all 4 managed to get Japanese feeder clubs but I’d hope that it was more the game recognising my actions to improve the league’s exposure in general.

    To see the financial implications of this is however a slow process but I’m only in my 8th season but already sponsorship is growing each season alongside merchandising and attendances. Clubs are building new facilities and hiring higher calibre managers which is improving the development of players for the Greek National side. I’m now ranked 3rd in the world after a fluke world cup win in 2018 (another win on penalties  ). Prior to the tournament I’d pretty much thrown the towel in with international management such was the frustration of inconsistent performances. ( I lost 3-0 to Canada and drew 1-1 with Zambia in the warm up matches). It does however seem to have added to the reputation of Greece as a whole and hopefully will only further develop the league.

    Now obviously with FM15 on the horizon the game is probably going to be shelved shortly until I get annoyed with FM15 and go back to FM14 (God help us if it gets to that point) but I think I’ve learnt plenty of things that can benefit the league in general through your own success. I know that the AI managers cannot be relied on to take advantage of the opportunities they are given and although I’ve seen an improvement in terms of transfers from previous version they do still seem to blow it on the big stage.

    Hopefully on FM15 the AI manager can only improve enough and that finally the player can have that satisfaction of seeing an currently unfashionable league become fashionable and competitive with the best out there.

    Anyway that’s just my thoughts and experiences. I look forward to spending my time at work having an old fashioned Rapid/Austria game to follow and inspire me. Bring on release day.

    1. Sounds like an interesting game and good effort on winning the World Cup. Good to see that it only took 8 seasons for the other Greek teams to catch up, I’m worried it may take quite a bit longer in Austria!

      I’m afraid to say that “my Greek team” is Olympiakos. I’ve worked out of Greece a little bit recently and my Greek colleague is a big Olympiakos fan. When he heard about my football shirt collection, he got be a home and an old away shirt so it only seems fair that I should favour his team in return 🙂

      If FM15 is so bad that you have to go to the truly awful FM14 then I think you can imagine what my response will be to the game!!

      1. I did find that the teams caught up far quicker than they have done on previous versions so you might be surprised. Certainly the likes of RB Salzburg and Austria Wien should provide some stiff opposition if they are managed wisely by the AI. Will be interesting to see how Austria Salzburg do as well as definitely will make the league a bit more interesting if you’ve got both a strong Wien and Salzburg derby.

        Ah that’s a shame about your greek team being Olympiakos, I’m a Spurs fan by birth (i blame my dad) so tend to shy away from red teams if possible. The Panathinaikos love affair started way back in CM01/02 and the fact that I’m a big fan of the all forest green kit. Used to always follow them when they were on ITV (on mute obviously) in the champions league when i was younger but it’s only in recent years I’ve taken a bit more time to research them and get to know their history. Really are a fascinating club who have had some great moments over the years (should watch the 1971 european cup final on youtube, Puskas’ Panathinaikos vs Michels’ Ajax) and some cracking players over the years (Warzycha, Saravakos, Antoniadis, Veron Sr, Karagounis etc.). Shame they’ve fallen on hard times recently but certainly makes an FM game with them more interesting and challenging.

        Though should you not be a Panathinaikos man given that the Rapid Ultras and Gate 13 (the Panathinaikos ultras) have a very strong relationship? (Some sort of brotherhood between Rapid, Pana and Ferencvaros) Not sure they’d approve of a Rapid Wien manager having an Olympiakos shirt. 🙂

  3. Sounds good – your posts were what caught my interest in C&C.

    Shame about the Newgen upscaling you found last year with merged leagues. Was this ever proved empirically or just based on that save? I fancy another go at a ex-Soviet structure this year so would be disappointed if true.

    To verify I’m going to run two holiday saves, 1 of a vanilla league vs. 1 of a merged league. I will extract the database of each using FMRTE and assess the pool of youth for the base year. For each year +5 I will extract the pool again and compare the differences. From what you’re suggesting, we should see the newgen intake of adopted nation begin to emulate the host nation as years progress.

    1. Hi Gabbiadini, apologies for the late response.

      It was Cleon who ‘confirmed’ it for me but I don’t have anything more empirical or official than that. The upscaling was immediate though, not over time. The newgens that were coming into the Rapid academy were ridiculously good and raised my suspicions right away.

      Like you say, very annoying for the purposes of super leagues or mergers.

  4. Nice to see you’re back with Rapid for FM15. I’ll admit this blog made me take the plunge and actually OPEN my copy of FM14 (which I’m still getting to grips with) and I’m a bit hesitant with buying FM15 until I’ve heard some decent overall press about it so I’ll be reading these updates with a lot of interest.

    1. Thanks Luke, appreciate that.

      Unfortunately, the early bad news from beta is that the Inverted Wingbacks are a misnomer, or rather just don’t exist at the moment. It’s a misleading role which just acts like a normal wingback making my tactical plan impossible. I’ve raised a bug report so hopefully it will be fixed in time for release.

      1. I’ve heard a lot about inverse wingbacks. I’m still getting to grips with the tactical side of the game but I hear good things about using them. Hopefully that’ll be fixed.

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