When Football Manager 2011 was released in November 2010. Liverpool were under Hick and Gillett control, spiralling out of control in debt and for me and fellow fans things were looking grim and as a result I never really bothered with Liverpool, until now.
What a difference a few months can make. The situation at Anfield is more positive and we at last can look forward to the new season, we have money, we have competent owners and we are beginning to put a team back together instead of selling off our best players. What Liverpool are putting together in the long-term is pretty interesting. Recruiting young players with plenty of potential, with a clear strategy and the use of moneyball principles which has been in vogue as of late. It’s a good time to see what I can do with Liverpool for my latest save as what Liverpool are doing has very close ties to what we have seen at Udinese and although there is clear difference I think that I can use what I have learned during that save and apply it to Liverpool as well as looking for a new challenge.
Installed is the latest patch along with an update to the summer transfers, in comes Adam, Downing and Henderson will all be part of the makeup of my new team and I will look to bring the good times back to Liverpool once again but long-term self sustained success. My big plan in this new game would be to improve my player development skills and take a closer look at coaching, training and youth recruitment.
Plug and play games can be too easy in Football Manager games when playing with big clubs, but that is the nature of playing a game where you have the best resources. You have the money, given enough time in the game and around FM forums you will have a full bank of players that you know you can call upon that will always become stars and that tactic that blew away everyone with Udinese, well just plug it in to your new side get the right players and boom you back on to win the league. But this approach can quickly get boring and repetitive, it’s always good to approach each save with a clear objectives and challenges to help enrich your game.
So my objectives for my current Liverpool save
- To create a clear route of development from Under 19 to First Team for young players
- Under 19′s should win their first youth title by season 2
- By Season 6 I should have at least 60% of the first team made up of players who have come through the ranks
- Using principles formed in my Udinese save to continue to make Liverpool a profitable side
- Translate profitability off the pitch as success upon the pitch
So I am looking to build a conveyor belt of talent into the first team which hopefully in itself will prove profitable when it comes to sell these players, but also able to develop these players to bring back trophies. This will take a lot of hours of time to committ to mirco-management and putting this together, something on the opposite side of plug and play strategies and hopefully will test my management skills as a whole on not just match day ability.
So where is the best place to start putting together a youth side? Well not with the current crop of Liverpool players, many of them aren’t good enough and will more then often be allowed to see out their contracts at the club which is taking up valuable space in which other players could use. First job is to make some room available for the influx of new players anyone who is never going to make it is released and 28 of my players were seen the door.
The Scouting Network
Once that is done it is time to put together the first influx of players and to do that you need to know which players you should buy.
When you first start a game it can be quiet easy to know which young players to buy. Lukaku, check. Eriksen, Check. But when the game start to develop and regens start become available it becomes a little more difficult, this is where you will have to rely on your scouting network and it is good to start your network right from the beginning.
Your scouting network will be your eyes out there, constantly looking through the youth competitions making sure that you don’t miss the latest talent available. Making you aware of the best players so that you don’t need to waste your time scouring through the game for new player and instead can concentrate your time looking at the best.
After releasing any members of staff that I don’t want my first appointment is to look for my Head Scouts. These scouts will be assigned to scout the world to gain scouting knowledge, while they will be a second pair of eyes for any player to that comes to my attention. These scouts will be my most trusted of scouts, they will come out with the best reports and for any players that are picked up elsewhere I will always double check the scouts opinions with these guys. It is vital that these are the best scouts possible, with good mental attributes as well as the usually judging abilities. This will ensure that reports from these guys will be more detailed and accurate.
The rest of the scouting team will then be put together around these two head scouts. The virtual John W Henry is only allowing me to employ a total of 12 scouts, with my two Head Scouts and it would be wrong not to fill all the allocations. With two scouts already recruited for the senior positions this leaves ten others scouts who will be stationed in a particular country and looking at players during the competitions. Looking at both the youth competitions and the top level, each scout will already have a knowledge of that market which should hopefully make the quantity of results and speed much better.
After searching around here is how my 12 man scouting team sets-up. This has been taken from a spreadsheet of my backroom staff. Non-Contractual role’s will become more familiar with later posts or read SFraser’s posts below. But basically these will be the roles that I have set to my staff that might not actually be official roles within the game but ways to use the staff.
The Head Scout vacancies went to Gilmar Franicso’s and Natal because the two scouts ability I took the decision to take them both on but also because of their knowledge Franicso was asked to stay in Brazil and scout the U20′s. Jimmy Hampson with his Tactical Knowledge will take care of taking a nose at the next opposition and help me prepare for each game. Which the other scouts will mainly stay in the countries of their birth, where that wasn’t possible if they had a good knowledge of another area I sent them their, for example Dane Soren Lerby had a decent knowledge of Norway as you would expect, but with more talent available in Holland I sent him to scout Dutch U18′s league.
The scouting network is designed to pick out the best players from the main leagues, Italy, France, Holland, Brazil, England and Germany. They will pick up players that play at the highest level, to keep my knowledge of the top leagues at a good level, while acting as a safety net for any players I miss in the youth competitions. Which studying the youth competitions will allow me to poach the young players as soon as possible, to get them as cheap as possible and to begin developing players as soon as possible.
If able in the future I would like to expand my scouting network and station scouts in other corners of the globe, but given the resources available this will hopefully capture a huge bulk of the best players produced within the game.
Much of this strategy has been influence by my own experience but also some interesting articles from SFraser that you should also check out. ’A Guide to Developing Youngsters‘ and Backroom Staff: What do they do and how to use them.