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Interim Report and some lessons learnt

  1. Interim Report and some lessons learnt

    Long post, but I wanted to sum up how things are going and thought someone may be interested...

    I'm managing Liverpool and coming up to the end of my second season. I'm in a good position to win the league and, for about the first time, confident of doing so. I somehow managed to finish the first season as champions and quite convincingly but I'm not sure how - Man City lost 7 times with Arsenal and Man Utd both losing 11 matches. I consider myself lucky in that.

    This year I know what's going right, what few things went wrong and how I influenced things. With four games left to play I'm four points clear of Arsenal (I have to play them in the league and in the FA cup final), five clear of Man City (who have a game in hand). Until recently the top four were pretty much inseparable, with Man Utd alongside. On any given day goal difference could make the difference between top and fourth. They've only lost twice and drawn twice since that time, but it's been fatal to their hopes.

    Each of those top teams strengthened considerably between the first and second seasons with Man Utd buying Neymar (£42m), Andre Ayew and Martin Skrtel (from a relegated Newcastle where I'd sold him). Man City spent £100m including on Thiago Silva and Marek Hamsik. Arsenal have spent £44m including on Ashley Young and Micah Richards. All three have a huge net spend. Mine is -£1.65m (bottom of the league), although I did spend £33m mostly on young players with Koke (at £13m - a bargain due to the release clause) the only one regularly in the first team this season.

    Total salary bill is £69m per year, 6th in the league. Man City, by comparison have £150m, Chelsea £103, Man Utd £89 and Arsenal £84. I'm still paying half of Joe Cole's wage and Carroll is out on loan (this season at Celtic) with a 50% contribution. Despite a good financial management so far I've learnt one important thing about cash flow - I have a negative bank balance which is mostly because my transfers in are paid in full up front, and many of those out (that net spend) are paid monthly. I'll be using more of those clauses in future. The lack of finance stymied my attempts to get the training facilities upgraded previously. I'm also still losing more money than I'd like - I don't think there's a lot I can do about that except win games and not spend much! Even with a negative balance I've still got a lot of leeway in salary (£630k/week) and transfers (£11m) - I think the board are irresponsible setting that!

    On the pitch I've also learnt some lessons about tactics and game control. Following some great advice I've just used the tactics wizard - I play a 4-2-3-1 (or 4-3-3 as it's called in game) balanced, control with a high line and always pressing. Two centre-backs set to defend, full backs set to attack. A DLP/D and BWM/S with an AP/S ahead. Two IFs and a DLF. Mid-season I was in a slump, still winning games, but without ever being confident - three important changes to the tactics changed things. Setting the FBs to attack has given me a better balance, I was being too conservative with them before. Changing my striker to a DLF (instead of the previous CF, AF or poacher) has resulted in Suarez hitting form. I've also tweaked every player to stop the long shots. Results have been good - I'm conceding rather more than I'd like, but scoring and have had some memorable games - beating Man City 4-0 in the cup 6th round and then 6-1 at home two weeks later and a 6-4 win over Man Utd in the cup semi final. The team is keeping possession better and only two outfield players have less than 80% pass completion in the league (Shawcross and Suarez). Suarez and Borini have scored 24 each this season with Gerrard adding 15 and Sterling 9.

    One issue I do have is tiredness - a small squad with only 3 regular CBs (Shawcross, Wilson and Coates) when my style of play leaves them tired is a challenge, but I've got through so far and adjusted the training intensity to get them through. My team is young with Sterling a regular at IF R and once I realised that Suso was better as the AP rather than IF he's playing more as back up to Gerrard (although Shelvey also has 35 total appearances mostly in that position). I've also promoted Jordan Ibe to the senior team (after I sold Assaidi in January). He's done well with 4 goals and 3 assists in 22 senior games this season. I've been lucky with injuries mostly - a recent injury to both Suarez, Destro and Borini meant I had to promote a 4.5 star potential, 17 year old regen striker (bought for £475k from Dundee) earlier than I'd have liked - he's played 4 games and scored once in that time and will likely stay in the 1st team for next season.

    I've already managed to pack my U18s team with potential - another 7 players are currently rated at 4.5 stars with a further 11 at 4 stars. Some are ready to take the step up for next season, others may go out on loan once they're too old. I have a fairly strict policy of not having more than 3 senior players for each position so some will also be sold. I have no players except those on loan in the reserves and two players per position in the U18 so they play a lot of football with reserves, U18 and NextGen. The future looks good and I've been able to get a few more youngsters signed (ranging from 14 to 16) to slot into the U18s for next year although once players are promoted I'll also need some more.

    This off season I'm hoping to finally sell Carroll and I stop paying Cole and a few others, reducing the salary bill further. Carragher is also likely to retire. The only real weak spots in the team are at LB (I'm not convinced by Robinson and Figueroa is getting old) and AM (Gerrard's legs will go at some point) so I'll be looking out for players to bring in (I've still got my eye on Santon in particular). Every other player should be improving or coming into their prime and a couple of outside signings will help without disrupting things too much. If any top players or true bargains are available I'll consider them, but intend not to sign much more than that for the first team - I should have enough transfer budget to have that flexibility. I'm also prepared to listen to offers for just about any player and have made sure I have suitable targets should anyone want to leave.

    Thoughts, comments, suggestions?
    corach1992 likes this.

  2. Kgosi Ntlhe looks promising in my save, i'm in 2015.

    Interim Report and some lessons learnt-kgosi-ntlhe_-overview-profile.png

    Seems your doing well with you're game, kutgw mate.

  3. Mmm looks good. Except that I think you'll regret having those 11 four star youths. As they get older at about 19 and 20 and they want to have first team football you'll start to find it to be very hard to balance them all and give them game time. You honestly don't want to be sending away for loans each year because then you cant really keep a careful eye on them. What you'll end up having is 18 youngsters all looking to play first team football (basically two full teams) and you will have to keep on rotating them so they all develop at an average pace with not much very consistent game time or focusing developing some players at the expense of others.

    Also concerning is that youre a bit top and bottom heavy in terms of ages, and youve got a bit of a gap in the middle. So youll end up in a season or two with your verterans starting to retire but no middle aged players to take up that mantle and a lot of youth who aint even close to their potential to be challenging or the PL or european honours.

    Personally my policy is that i dont sign youth (read: poach) unless theyre 5 stars or i deem them to be so. I have currently about 8 five stared youth and even with that number im dreading how im going to rotate them well.

    All this stuff im saying is from my own personal experience from my first year playing FM11. I went crazy and went around poaching a lot of 4 star youth. Come a few seasons later and i learnt a major lesson.

    IMO i dont bother with developing youth that isnt at least 4.5 stars. It sounds elitist but honestly, when there are so many 5 star regens around for similar prices, why bother with the four stars?

    Just my two cents.

  4. With regards to youth if they are 4-5 star I start them against against anyone outside the top 4 in the league at home and they get 7 plus ratings. Aged 18+ . Must admit I only have 3-4 players in this category but thats 16 games plus league and F.A cup to play with

  5. Don't forget that the starts are the potential that they have comparing to your own squad. Evans in my save only as 2,5 stars, but in average he is my 2nd best CB (i use 5). Jones is 3rd and Ferdinand with 35 is my best (average rating and goals).

    Even if you have FMRTE or Genie you can see that 180 PA players may only have 3 stars rating.

    So i have the following approach:

    I use Genie to check foreigns 180+ PA players under 20 years old
    Then i check for 170 + UK and Irish players under the same age
    After that i scout them and check the scout report to see the major flaws, personality, and stars
    From the 10 to 20 kids each season i choose those who will fit my squad. Could be 3 to 7.
    Now ages. Kids below 18, go directly to under 18s
    from 19 to 20, loaned or 1st team backup

    I know that with time i will have more players than squad places, so i will sell the foreigns and keep the UK/Irish ones. This could take 5 seasons and by this time, Rooney as 31/32 and needs a replacement, Carrick will be long gone, and Fletcher, Young, etc. Bale and Walker will have 27/28, oldest regens will have 23 and so the team keep getting younger kids to replace old guys, selling what i don't need/have too much.

    My goal is to have a 100 % formed at club squad, only with British/Irish players.

  6. Hey just finished reading it all. Imo your management in general has been positive,though I think you could use your top u-18 players in your reserve squad,so they could get even more games. Also,beware of excessive financial precaution, so you won't be compromising titles just because some player costed too much. About the LB, maybe looking into Alaba could be nice,sometimes he won't come for too much.

    Also would like to know how are the fullbacks set on attack working for you: if you keep conceding them because of the wings or it isn't that important.
    Last edited by mekitozito; 10/01/2013 at 09:08 PM.

  7. Thanks for the comments guys.

    So, the good news is that I won the double! The league was a close run thing - I beat Arsenal by a point despite having suffered defeat to them 1-0 at the Emirates and then needing to win my two remaining games. The week before the final game of the season I managed to beat them in the FA cup, a 1-0 extra time victory. Final game of the season was Stoke at home with Shawcross scoring the third in the 3-0 win (he ended up fans player of the season and was the top rated player in the league).

    I've let things run a couple of weeks, the transfer window is now open and the money is flowing in - after paying for stadium expansion (another 9250 seats) and improvements to training and youth facilities (all to be completed in October) I have £85m in the bank. This includes a meagre £6.7m from selling Carroll and I've got bids in for Jonjo Shelvey. Only four of my U18 team have been promoted to the reserves so I need to check whether they are good enough for squad places, be loaned out or sold (I don't mind being harsh here and, Carroll aside, my DOF is good at getting rid). My wage bill is due to fall to less than £1.3m a week very soon (budget is £2.4m) so even with new contracts for some of the players I have a LOT of leeway.

    I am a bit concerned about the squad age. There are 5 30+ players (although Carragher still says considering retirement and 2 others are goalkeepers) then only Johnson, Shawcross, Lucas and Suarez in their late 20s. I have a lot of first teamers aged 22-24 and (although this will change) 3 teenagers. Robinson may be looking the part after all, but he needs competition (had Newcastle not been promoted then I'd bid for Santon so I'm going through scout reports) and I'm tempted to bring in a world class AM and blow that transfer budget Isco is looking tempting but the rumours are about me signing Wilshere.

    I'm aware of the comparative nature of the star ratings - as a "big" club with good scouts and back room staff it should be accurate, although after I won the league something odd happened and most players jumped up a notch (I'd expect it to drop as reputation goes up). My Assistant Manager has just retired (Rosario di Vincenzo - he's been brilliant for me) so I'm recruiting a new one and it will be interesting to see what he thinks of the players...

    To clarify on my youth recruitment policy - I only bring in payers that are 4 star or better potential and usually check for high determination (my standard search is 15+, but I'm flexible on this - in FM13 determination is easier to increase than in previous versions). I have an U18 team containing a maximum of 24 players (2 per position with an extra GK and striker) and I keep no active players in the reserves (only those out on loan) - this means that those 23 players will also play reserve matches (and in fact last year won the reserves league). I prefer not to use any external tools for checking out players, I like the fact that scouts and coaches can be wrong so just try to employ the best!

    I generally got much better results after moving the FBs to attack instruction - being positioned higher up the pitch they are able to join the passing as extra midfielders and also provide width and crossing in the attacks for the 4 real attackers (S, IFs, AM). Last season I conceded 30 league goals so it's not massive leakage (2nd best defence in the league). 4 of those were in 2 matches against Man Utd (who also put 4 past me in the Cup semi). The only games with more than 2 scored against me were Man City (a 4-4 draw) and Wolves (a 3-3 draw) along with Juventus in the European Cup. I get very few goals scored against me from the wings - Shawcross and Coates or Wilson are amazing at clearing up anything coming over so I can afford to take risks. My bigger issue is the way that anyone with decent dribbling waltzes through the midfield, but then Sterling does the same so I can't complain Most other teams get very few chances as I control play in their half. The chances they get are long shots and, for me at least, Reina is a top 'keeper who doesn't get beaten often by those, or on the break, which I live with.

    One other thing is that I'm ensuring that expectations are set in line with something realistic - I'd like to win the league again, of course, but competing with the big spenders right now is almost impossible - I need to build over a few years. I've told the board to look for European qualification; any more than that would be a bonus (I think I may be channelling Arsene Wenger!).

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