Late goals cost us time and time again - Helmond scored in the 87th minute, as did bottom side Dordrecht. NAC Breda were 4th and just were too good for us, we never really got going. Zwolle, like Groningen was a strange one. Both were struggling Eerdivisie sides, but I rotated my side heavily before both matches and in each instance the understudies outdid the seniors. Food for thought.... Finally, De Graafshap were the league leaders and scored early before having a man sent off in the 18th minute. We had a rotated side as fatigue from the cup game, knocks and the like kicked in and played really well, but just couldn't get the second goal once we had the equaliser. We're now six league games without a win, and need to find our scoring boots soon.
Youth intake preview
At least there's no promise of a Golden Generation!
Someone explain to me how this is an "excellent group of players coming through", but the full-backs, centre-backs, central midfielders, wide midfielders and attacking midfielders will not make the grade? Unless they mean it's 80% shit but the other 20% are future national team stars (fingers crossed!).
I plan to write about the tactical tweaks soon, but there have been a lot, so I probably need to do some careful thinking, make some sensible changes, allow a month for them to play out and then write something.
If December was a tough month to take, I will need an articulate member of the forum to provide me with a new word for January...
Cambuur scored in the 45th and 46th minutes and there was no way back. Almere just outdid us, but at least we scored, right? We found our form against Vitesse, but they snuck a (deserved) winner in the 92nd minute. Helmond just took advantage of our poor form and Jong Ajax scored in the 92nd minute too. I can feel the previously strong support in the dressing room eroding quickly.
This is very frustrating, as I'm sure you can imagine. The players aren't that bad. I don't think the tactics are that bad either (though I may be panic-tinkering a little right now!), but for whatever reason things aren't clicking. Every shot, cross or throw-in hits a defender rather than one of my team. I've tried various approaches with the injury-time goals; going defensive, staying positive, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. Any advice would be welcome as this bad run is turning into a bit of a death spiral and I'm at a loss as to how to arrest it.
The only positive to come from this month is in the outgoing transfers.
Smal wanted to leave so to get any money for him is a positive. Lautenschutz is a 17-year-old defensive midfielder and will go on to big things, probably. If/when I get the sack, I may holiday the game forward ten years just to see how he develops.
I may take a break from the save for the time being as it is driving me up the wall with frustration. Having enjoyed many of the processes of building a back-room team etc. I am now remembering why I switched to playing the Touch version of the game, so my next save will probably be back there.
It's only taken us sixteen attempts since we beat Jong PSV back in November and I've still got to take another four points from the next four games to avoid the sack (yes, unsurprisingly I was summoned before the board to explain why I'm shit).
The perverse thing is that if I survive to the end of the season, I may well persist with this save even though that feels like pure masochism.
I've ploughed on with the carefree abandon of one whose sacking is almost inevitable since my last proper update.
February was a little better than January, but not much. We kept our first clean sheet in months, but still couldn't score. Then things reverted to form with a couple of frustrating defeats (the match stats from the Jong PSV tonking were posted above) and then Jong Utrecht had me literally tearing at my hair, wailing (quietly, so as not to wake the little one) and gnashing my teeth like some grief-stricken character from a Shakespearean tragedy. We'd taken the lead twice, only for Jong Utrecht to equalise with fifteen seconds of injury time left. If I had a euro for every goal we've conceded after about 87 minutes, I'd probably be able to buy a copy of FM21.
At this point I was hauled before the board and asked to explain myself. While I'm not into role play at all, I decided to be as sincere/authentic as I could be. I reminded them it was my first job in club management and asked for a little patience. They pointed out that we'd set new records for crapness, both for the club and the division. I couldn't argue and refused to beg for my future but instead asked them for a clear target in order to retain my job. Seven points from the next five matches came the reply. Given that we'd taken seven points from the previous fourteen matches that seemed both impossible and fair. [Author's note: I miscounted in my earlier post and included a cup match which we had actually won in the sixteen matches]
So I threw all caution to the wind, revamped my tactic and clicked 'Continue', fully expecting my results from the next two or three games to be so bad that the board would put me out of my misery. And then this happened:
Seven points from the next five games? I'll do it in three guv. Den Bosch was disappointing as they were 18th, but it was another point and third clean sheet in four matches. N.E.C. was also a bit of a pain as we were 2-0 up and then threw it away between the 43rd and 45+2th (45th+2?) minutes. Madness, utter madness.
I've even started April, away at TOP Oss, who weren't TOP this time, but 7th at kick-off. And this....
led to this....
I didn't believe this was going to happen. I'm both stunned and delighted. I've even managed to convince the board to spunk €2.3m on youth facilities! This save lives on!
I'm still a little giddy about it to be honest. I was already decided on going back to FM Touch, and I'd made a shortlist of the leagues I was interested in managing in, so this has come as a complete surprise. I've still got two matches left of the regular season and there's an outside chance of me winning the final period (if I've understood the rules around the Jong teams correctly) and making the play-offs. I'm torn - that would be a great way to end the season, but would also put me about two seasons ahead on the club vision, so might affect how much patience the board has with me (I could be wrong - this is the first time I've dealt with long-term expectations).
The only thing Robben is lacking is pace really. He's already a better crosser than two of my current left-backs and that position has been an area of concern for me since I sold Gijs Smal in January, so this is a bit like a gift from God. Given what I'd written before about prioritising the mental attributes, he's just about the ideal player to come through for me. I just hope I manage to stay around long enough to enjoy him when he's developed a bit.
What a turnaround! From hanging on to your job by a thread to a new contract, money for your facilities and a 16yr old with a beard to match his impressive mentals. Good luck in hanging onto him.
Thanks! It's probably the biggest U-turn I've experienced in all my time playing FM. It's not the first time I've faced the ultimatum, but it is the first I've turned it around! I suspect the contract is just a consequence of the way the game is written - I've ticked enough boxes for my employment to continue so I get a new deal - and if this were real life the club would have allowed my contract to expire at the end of the season and there would have been a brief statement posted on their website about how they have "decided to go in a different direction".
Robben's signed a youth contract (I foolishly left this to my HOYD) but I'll offer him a full-time deal to try to tie him down for the foreseeable future. On the assumption I don't get myself the sack for a while now, I envisage a year as backup, a year as first choice and then probably sell to a bigger club, hopefully with a hefty sell-on clause.
This summer will be interesting to see how I deal with the transfer market - it's been pretty quiet in my save so far but I can imagine a couple of the better players will attract some interest and there's a part of me that wants to stay true to the ethos of the real club and not stand in their way. I think one of my oversights so far has been with the scouting side of things. I've left it ticking over and now need to make use of whatever information the scouts have provided for me.
April in many ways was typical of the season. After beating TOP Oss, we faced FC Eindhoven who were 19th. After 35 minutes we were 2-0 up only to capitulate in the second half and lose 3-2 with the latter two goals in the 81st and 87th minutes. Then came the last game of the season, at home to MVV. All set to be another 0-0 only for Marco Tol to earn a red card in injury time for a professional foul and MVV to score from the resulting free-kick.
The final league table looks like this:
Twelve defeats isn't too bad (especially when you consider that De Graafschap finished second with ten defeats) but sixteen draws is far too many. If we can just score a few more goals maybe these draws will become wins next season and we can sneak into the top half.
On the subject of next season, I called a team meeting to discuss my plans and suggested we could finish in the top ten. About three quarters of the squad thought I was being too ambitious and the morale took a nose-dive.
The player stats give some idea of the mediocrity. Kevin Visser got the best rating over the season with 6.99 with young Micky van der Ven not far behind on 6.96.
We're well stocked in midfield, but I think I need another centre-back to push Tol for his place, possibly a goalkeeper (I'm not convinced Bakker is the answer and Roggeveen will be given a chance but is equally flawed in different ways), and another striker, better suited to the False Nine role. Some experience will be important. I have something of a surplus of wingers so I may look to make a little money from this.
The tactic that saw me through the mild resurgence was this one:
It has several of the elements from my earlier attempts, but I won't deny that most of the final roles in attack came from this article. I used an AP(a) on the flank in the end as the AP(s) dropped a little too deep for my liking. It seems to be working but I think there are tweaks to be made, possibly to the CM(s) role which seems to wander too far forward sometimes, leaving the defence pretty exposed.
Aside from the players, most of the coaching staff are out of contract at the end of the season so I have the opportunity to revamp the staff and maybe get an Assistant Manager who's a little less negative.
The summer has been a relatively productive one, and better than I had imagined in some ways. The transfer market kicked off early and I was quite worried that it would continue at a rather frenetic pace until the window shut, but it seemed most teams wanted to get their business done early.
As you can see, I splashed the cash a little(!) This was entirely accidental, I promise. Basically, I liked the look of the wonderfully named Jizz Hornkamp and looked at putting in a bid for him. Keen to see how some of the features worked in this version of FM, I asked the board to deal with it as it would be an important transfer. Before I knew it, they had offered €1.4m and confirmed the signing. Considering Volendam's previous transfer record was the €12k my HOYD spent last season, this is a massive surprise. I had also intended to pursue a free-transfer-and-loans-only policy, so this rather ruined that too.
Nelson Bashir - a bit of a punt really - I like his crossing and generally high attributes across the board. I'm retraining him as a wing-back as his tackling is decent for this level.
Jizz Hornkamp - the process of his signing is explained above but he caught my eye as an upgrade on Nick Doodeman for the Raumdeuter and also as another option for the False Nine maybe.
Tommaso Merletti - the centre-back I mentioned in an earlier post. He should push Marco Tol all the way if not replace him. The only downside is his youth and lack of experience, but I'm hoping his quality will make up for that.
Josue Albert - Another centre-back, which was unexpected given that this was something of a position of strength last year. However, I was lucky that the three I had managed to avoid any lengthy injuries last year, so I wanted some more depth and this guy was available for free. He should also become another sign-to-sell player.
Joris Kramer - ANOTHER centre-back, but this one can cover left back and defensive midfield too, which makes him extra valuable in my eyes. This deal was a bit of a scam too - the additional €100k is only payable if we get promoted in the next two seasons and Kramer plays 5 matches. Given that I am favouring an inch-by-inch approach to progress, I think it is unlikely that AZ will see a cent of this.
The rest of the players are youngters my HOYD couldn't resist. I don't really rate any of them, but I'm going to let him do his thing for a little while before I interfere. I also extended Francesco Antonucci's loan for another season, and Monaco were happy for me to not pay anything for the privilege, so long may this continue.
Carlos Garcia - Excelsior came to me with a non-negotiable offer and as it totalled his value and he wanted to speak to them, I let him go. So far, one tick in the sign-to-sell box, though the board still aren't sure of this. We should get 20% of any profit too.
Samir Ben Sallam - Heerenveen wanted him, and he's only made one appearance last season. We're well-stocked in midfield and I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about, so I merrily waved him off. 40% of his next transfer fee will be ours too, so if he comes good we should get paid.
Derry Murkin - this was another surprise deal. I had planned to use Murkin more this season in the AMR Raumdeuter role, but this offer was too good to refuse, particularly after the board spunked a load (of cash) on ol' Jizz. A 25% sell-on clause helped sweeten the deal.
Daryl Baly - I wasn't convinced by him as a left-back and so when De Graafshap offered over €100k, I bit their hand off. Another with a 20% of the profit clause.
Nick Doodeman - despite being last season's top scorer I didn't really rate him and found him irrationally irritating, so when it became clear that it was a case of sell him now or lose him for free next summer I hurried him out the door. €250k up front isn't a lot, but I insterted a 25% of the profit sell-on clause to improve matters.
Leslie Dunkwu - appears on both lists. My HOYD signed him on amateur terms only for Enegu Rangers to offer him actual money 16 days later. I doubt he has a high attribute for loyalty, and I don't consider him much of a loss, just a bit of a quirk.
Jorg Janssen - high potential 16-year-old with an unambitious personality. Meh. Goalkeeper isn't a position where I'm willing to carry a passenger, so I had no problem with this sale.
Most of my coaches' contracts have expired, so one-by-one I am evaluating them and seeing if I can replace them before offering them new deals if I can't find an upgrade. We aren't in a bad position anyway, so I'm pretty relaxed about this.
Pretty much as expected, the only disappointment being the 0-0 draw with RKAV Volendam. Goalscoring is still a little bit of a concern but these matches aren't entirely representative as I rotated the strikers. The team exploded in the last match, after I switched the AP(a) to an AP(s). Even though I know the coloured circles are pretty meaningless, I may switch the Raumdeuter to an IF(a) and see what difference that makes. One concern is that most of my goals seem to be coming from crosses, but then I think the roles and duties I am using don't really lend themselves to attackers running on to through balls very frequently and the creativity is mainly coming from wide areas, so it makes sense for the deliveries to be coming from those areas too. This is something I will be keeping an eye on though.
Keuken Kampioen Divisie
We start the league season exactly as we ended the previous one, at home to MVV Maastrict and are expected to finish in the top ten. I think this should be very achievable and despite their lack of faith at the end of last season, there was universal support for this goal from the squad on their return to pre-season training.
It's amazing what a difference one simple duty change can make. Since switching the AP(a) to an AP(s), the team has really kicked on. After being the draw specialists of last season, this year, two months in, we are yet to draw a match.
One thing that I am especially pleased about is Martijn Kaars' brace against FC Eindhoven. Kaars had a tough year last year as my third choice striker, only making 5 appearances and in that time looking like he couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo. With Tounkara doing OK and El Azzouzi back among the scorers, I decided to give Kaars a chance against 18th place Eindhoven, figuring that if he was having another stinker I could replace him at half-time without too much damage having been done, but he repayed me with a great performance and two goals. Hup Martijn!!
Both of the defeats were a little unwarranted - Den Bosch scored a penalty after 6 minutes and we couldn't find a way through, while Jong AZ scored a minute either side of half-time and we never properly recovered, having been the better side in the first half.
Anyway, this has us sitting top of the table, which is entirely unexpected. We're joint top in the Period table too with Jong Utrecht, RKC and Roda, so all to play for in the next two games.
Ultimately, the joke is on me. I shouldn't have described Joris Kramer's transfer clause as a scam in my last post. It's still very early days, but I'd like to think we'll be challenging for promotion in the next couple of seasons.
In other transfer news, I lost a couple of youngsters on free transfers, but also sold two of my three centre-backs from last season. Mike Erdhuijzen had been a solid back-up to Micky van der Ven last year, but was now about sixth choice behind Josue Albert, van der Ven and Joris Kramer, so I offered him around and was pleased to get €150k for him. His lack of pace and agility had been concerns and I didn't ever see him establishing himself as first choice so I was happy to make some money. Then on transfer deadline day, Feyenoord came a-knocking and Micky van der Ven left too. I'm quite sad about this as he was one of my favourite players from last season and someone I was hoping to build the team around, but €750k rising to €1.4m, for a player who desperately wanted to join Feyenoord was too much to refuse. I tried to persuade him to stay when they made an initial, lower bid, but he didn't want to be loaned back for the rest of the season. Unfortunately for him, Feyenoord have put him straight in the Jong Feyenoord squad and listed him for loan, so I suspect he will end up elsewhere anyway. Groningen and De Graafschap are both interested but he's stuck in the reserves until January now.
Looking good marsh in the second season, you think you're good enough for direct promotion? Roda, NEC, NAC and Fortuna Sittard are all in the Eredivisie in my save, so I suppose the league is quite tough. Good luck.
To be honest, I think we're overperforming, but I'm going to ride this wave as long as possible. I think the defence has improved in terms of personnel and the attack is working much better so it could last a while longer. There isn't a great deal of depth in certain positions so a couple of injuries could derail us for a while.
As expected, the form took a bit of a dive. The beginning of November was tough, but RODA, NEC and NAC Breda form the top three currently and RKC were relegated from the Eredivisie last season, so it was a tough run of games. The goals have dried up a bit and this coincides with Jizz Hornkamp's form falling off a cliff. Tounkara hasn't been the best either, but unfortunately Martijn Kaars' hasn't built on his brace at the end of September and Zakaria El Azzouzi doesn't seem to quite have what it takes to displace Tounkara. I think a forward is going to be my top priority as far as recruitment goes over the next six months.
December sees us back on top form, and perhaps not coincidentally, Jizz Hornkamp playing well again. Hornkamp's improvement has coincided with a switch from Raumdeuter to Inside Forward. I switched back from Joey Roggeveen to Nordin Bakker in goal which also seems to have made a difference.
A heavily rotated team also continued our strong form in the cup (a feature of this save) as we beat Eredivisie strugglers De Graafschap in normal time (for once!). The win against Fortuna Sittard was particularly notable as for once it was us scoring an injury-time winner rather than conceding it.
The seven points this month restores us to 4th position and three points off the top. We've already won more matches this season than we did in the whole of last year, so progress is noticeable. Even if we collapse over the second half of the season, we should finish higher up the table. Oumare Tounkara has already scored one less than last season, so I'm hopeful he will make double figures for this season.
I'm now about to resume the league matches at the end of January and there is only one piece of transfer news of note. I signed this guy from Torino for €105,000. He represents a bad bit of business for them after they paid €1.5m for him but great business for me as his value has more than tripled, so a profit should be expected if he does well. He scored ten goals in 31 appearances in the Eredivisie last year with Fortuna Sittard as they were relegated, so I have high hopes for his ability to score down here in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. His signing will probably spell the end for Zakaria El Azzouzi who has only managed 5 goals in 43 appearances (admittedly a lot of them from the bench) and who is attracting interest from Telstar among others. If I can get €50k for him then I will consider a significant upgrade for a net spend of about €55k to be a very good bit of business.
I have also managed to extend Francesco Antonucci's loan from Monaco until the end of next season, by which point we will have had three years of him without paying a penny. I have also upgraded the scouting package to include the whole of the Netherlands where it previously only covered the top three divisions. I'm not sure if this will be worth it as I doubt I'll uncover too many hidden gems in the fourth tier, but it's a big jump from this package to the next one which covers the whole of central Europe and costs about eight times as much.
Finally, the youth preview came through:
I suspect the top three lines all refer to the same player (is that a reasonable assumption?)
On the subject of youth players, Diego Robben is making some progress. Unfortunately, the mentoring groups have changed his personality from Resolute to Fairly Determined, so in the long term I need to be recruiting some better personalities into the squad.
I'll save the rest of the season for one big update unless I encounter something and need some advice...
Despite my earlier pessimism, the season went pretty well. We sustained our form and only suffered two league defeats in 2021. Frustratingly, we were second after 35 games and then dropped five points in the next two matches, allowing others to leave us behind.
Vitale Damascan had a tough start but then came good towards the end of the season so we end with two strikers in decent form - his six goals proving a decent back-up to Tounkara's 11 this season.
This left us in 3rd place and into the promotion play-offs, a couple of years ahead of schedule. We face Den Bosch and I'm reasonably confident. I can't remember exactly how the Dutch play-off system works, but I'm looking forward to it. It would be nice to get promoted but given the massive overachievement this season I could live with another season in the second tier.
Part of the reason for this progress is Guido's post in the Deportivo thread. Inspired by his tactical tweaks to get more from Ruan, I looked at Damascan, Tounkara and Kaars and decided that they would all be better served by playing in the Advanced Forward role, Damascan particularly. So I basically ripped off Guido's tactic and came up with this:
This was also a key factor in Ibrahim El Kadiri's explosion from February onwards.
Rather than use a Shadow Striker, I opted for a CM(a). I also really like the movement of the Inverted Wing Backs though I am finding that my team is pretty narrow a lot of the time and the centre-backs often resort to long balls because they have limited options around them and often only the wingers are the players in space. I'm considering moving the DLP down to a Half Back to give me a bit more cover and passing options for the defence, and I may experiment with giving the IWBs support duties. Having switched over from FMT17 to this version of the game, I'm sure there are plenty of analysis screens I haven't investigated that could show me areas with potential for improvements.
We also had our youth intake and got another great looking player come through the ranks. Toon Bravenboer went straight into the first team squad and once again I love those mental attributes. Maybe I've been lucky with him and Diego Robben but something is going right!
I'll do another post once my involvement in the play-offs is over.
Well, we've got another season in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie at least. The Den Bosch results were exact replicas of the matches in the league and after taking a strong lead over Fortuna Sittard in the first leg I made a couple of changes and was never really under threat in the home leg. This gave us a two-legged 'final' against Excelsior who had finished 16th in the Eredivisie. While the scores look tight, they don't tell anything like the whole story. In the first leg we were much the dominant side, but Oumare Tounkara had an absolute nightmare, missing two clear cut chances and a penalty before half time. Then, with an hour on the clock, Francesco Antonucci earned himself a straight red card for a terrible tackle and while we battled bravely, there was no way through. For the second leg, the story was the complete opposite. Excelsior were very dominant and it took until I went all out attack with about 20 minutes left for us to register our third shot of the match.
Aside from the first leg against Excelsior, the biggest disappointment came from the form of Vitale Damascan. Just as I thought he was clicking, his form imploded which I wasn't expecting given that his coach report tells me he "relishes big matches".
This gives me plenty to think about before the third season commences. I've managed to extend Tounkara's contract by a year, which looked unlikely back in February when I first tried and he initially asked for €5,750 a week (he was on €2,000 a week at that point and had just turned 30). I tried again in about April and he readily accepted €2,200 a week. However, I'm now less confident that either he or Damascan are really the answer to the striker position. I also want to upgrade my goalkeeper - Nordin Bakker has been solid but there have been a few goals conceded when I expected him to do better and he falls well short of some of the mental attributes I outlined as part of my club DNA in an earlier post - and some more creativity in midfield wouldn't go amiss.
The stats for the season (including the six play-off matches) look like this:
Both Tounkara and Hornkamp made it into double figures for goals, with El Kadiri scoring 9 and Runderkamp quietly knocking in 7 from midfield. Hornkamp also got 11 assists, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that we were joint second best for goals scored from corners in the division. Tommaso Merletti was the star player and I was very pleased to extend his loan from Milan by another 12 months. However, he will be leaving at that point as they extended his contract to 2024. Josue Albert was an interesting case - after about ten games the fans were grumbling about how underwhelmed they were by him and I was obliged to publicly support him in a press conference. He ended the season by breaking the club record for Man of the Match awards and having one of the highest average ratings. The one player I just can't seem to work out is Jari Vlak. When I took charge I immediately marked him out as one of the key players - a good all-round midfielder - but his numbers are very unremarkable. One goal and three assists, along with only 27 intereceptions in 38 appearances don't really scream "high performer!" at me. Only his key pass numbers stand up well against his midfield peers.
On a side note, I don't know which statistics the rest of you pay attention to, but I have always been interested in the points-per-game metric. What this throws up is interesting - Danny Koks, Leon Maloney and Diego Robben, three fringe players, all averaged over 2.2 points per game despite not really setting the world alight with their ratings, goals, assists etc. I find this one way of assessing how the team does when a given player is on the pitch, rather than how the player performs in isolation.
Anyway, that's enough of that. I'll put up another post after pre-season and the transfers have largely been done.
Shame to see you lose in the Final of the Playoffs mate I really thought you could make the jump. Interesting metric that points-per-game one it's similar to what the NBA does with the +-, despite the nature of basketball allows it to be tracked on a playing time basis, maybe if we could log the goal difference meanwhile a player is on the pitch it'd be more similar but one would have to do it ourselves. Best of luck next season!
I'll have to check once the competitive matches start again, but I think the points-per-game metric might be for the time the player is on the pitch rather than the whole match. Maybe I'll make a test copy of my save, try to manipulate the scoreline and see what happens to the metric.
A very busy summer in Volendam! This save was only ever started as a bit of a testing ground and in the immediate aftermath of the play-off defeat, I had started to look around for a new club, and after adding the English leagues my eye was caught by the fact that Forest (the club I actually support) had been relegated to League One, while somehow retaining 90% of the squad that is expected to get them into the Championship play-offs in the first season. Sabri Lamouchi has somehow kept his job, so I reckon it might not be long until he loses it and I will be sorely tempted to apply. That may become a parallel universe save if it does happen. However, once again the club has worked its way under my skin and I'm getting properly hooked. I'm fully committed to Volendam for the foreseeable future and so I spent much more time than I usually would revamping the staff, reveiwing the tactics and reshaping the squad and hopefully it will pay off.
Update to Club Vision
After last season's successes, the board updated the Club Vision. Funnily enough, they didn't set me any loftier ambitions for the league but they added a couple of new tactical requirements - making the most of set pieces and playing a high-tempo pressing game. I'll try to implement both of these but I am slightly regretting not trying to negotiate them out of the vision. We were decent from corners last year, more by accident than design, and the new attacking tactic includes a more aggressive press and higher tempo but I feel a little like I've painted myself into a corner. It will be interesting to see what happens if I get promoted and will be one of the weaker sides in the Eredivisie.
Lots of free transfers coming in, along with one with an associated fee. A number of these have gone into the Jong Volendam squad, but the important signings as far as the first team are:
(links to attributes screenshots if you click on the name)
Charlie Wiggett - a centre-back from Chelsea. This allowed me to cash in on Josue Albert after Excelsior made me a decent offer. (On a side note, Excelsior seem determined to help me achieve my 'Sign players to sell for a profit' objective single-handedly after taking Carlos Garcia last summer.)
Tom van de Looi - probably a mistake to be honest. He was released by Groningen and I recognised the name, so snapped him up ASAP. Act in haste, repent at leisure. He's no better than a backup really and was willing to accept an amateur contract except I was keen to tie him to the club so offered a full-time deal for actual money instead. Facepalm.
Matias Juarez - probably the best player in the squad. As soon as he joined on trial I offered him a contract and to my enormous surprise he was willing to accept a wage I could afford. A huge upgrade in midfield.
Finn Stokkers - possibly another mistake. My scouts love him and so I moved quickly, but checking out his history he has only scored five goals in about 45 appearances for NAC, who were one of the stronger sides. However, €105,000 isn't huge so I should be able to get my money back if need be. He's a striker, representing the happy medium between Tounkara's strength and Damascan's flimsy speed.
Lorenzo Avogadri - I've mentioned a couple of times about my desire for an upgrade in goal. My scouting team brought Lorenzo Avogadri to my attention after his release from Atalanta, and on the first day of his trial I offered him the longest contract I could. As you can see from the comparison below, he's a huge improvement on Nordin Bakker. As a result I wasn't too disappointed when Bristol City came in with an offer of €400,000 a few weeks later.
Denzell Hall - A full-back/centre-back on loan from Feyenoord. His signing allows me to be a bit more flexible with my full-backs and have a bit of a clear-out in the left-back area where I was accumulating a number of mediocre prospects. It's now between Diego Robben and Mo Betti for left-back and Betti, Hall and Alex Plat for right-back.
Lars Dendonker - Leander's younger brother and a very good defensive midfielder. Club Brugge are an affiliate so he won't cost me anything for the whole season.
Daniel Batty - another defensive midfielder, this time costing a fair bit in wages, but I'm hoping he will be the long-term replacement for Kevin Visser. He's refused to sign a new contract with Hull and is into the last 12 months of his current deal so I've taken him on loan in the hope that he'll fit in and then I can either buy him at a low price in January or sign on a free in the summer.
Some big transfers out and one that is going to trigger a bit of a rant (for which I expect little to no sympathy!). Toon Bravenboer was the star of last season's youth intake, and I'd given him a couple of substitute appearances at the end of the season. Obviously, he's destined for big things because both Ajax and Man Utd came in for him. Initially, I rejected both bids, which annoyed him to the point that he was listed in my relationships as an 'adversary'(!). When Ajax came back, I pushed up the fee as high as I dared (though I now thing I could have got more) and he reluctantly went. I hope Man Utd will come back for him in a few years with a huge bid as we're due 40% of the profit. My rant is that the transfer market for these youngsters is so aggressive that I literally had him available for about three months before he was snatched away and there wasn't much I could do to prevent this. The same can be said for Ton Hovenkamp, so both my brightest prospects from the last intake have been poached by the big three.
Josue Albert - He'd turned 30 and Excelsior offered €475,000 rising to €650,000. With the signing of Charlie Wiggett I was happy to take the profit and run.
Joris Kramer - one of the challenges of this save is that with a few exceptions, the board won't allow me to offer more than a 2-year deal to anyone. So after having a good season last year and offering strong options at left-back, centre-back and defensive midfield, Kramer was already into the last 12 months of his contract. FC Emmen expressed an interest initially, but I turned them down only for him to make it clear that he wouldn't extend his contract. So then it was a case of selling him as soon as possible for as much as possible. In came De Graafschap and I made about €100,000 after sell-on fees.
Jizz Hornkamp - Wait, what?! Well, to be honest the high fee we paid for him had made me a little nervous, so when NAC offered me the opportunity to make a moderate profit I jumped at the chance. He was a very good player but I think I can replace him easily enough for less than we got for him and if I had last summer again I wouldn't have paid that much for him in the first place. You could say Jizz didn't stick around...
Job Veldwijk - a youth prospect but not one near the first team so a six-figure fee was acceptable, though this was one handled by my HOYD.
Nordin Bakker - already covered above, but a decent fee (though the board disagree!) for a keeper I was underwhelmed by.
I went through the whole of the first-team backroom staff this summer, with particular focus on the scouting and medical areas. I had the best average scouting team before the revamp, but as you can see from the screenshots below, the difference between the two sets of staff is signficant. What this has shown me is that with a little more financial investment and the use of the Staff Search screen rather than adverts through the Job Centre, the staff can be quickly and easily upgraded. I've gone from scouts with 9s and 10s to 14s and 15s without having to ask the board for higher wages.
Generally very good, especially the big win over a strong Feyenoord team. However, the two 5-2 defeats give me a little pause for thought about developing a new tactic for facing stronger sides.
I felt a little awkward about simply ripping off Guido's roles (despite my lack of faith in my own tactical acumen, I like to develop my own even if it's from someone else's starting point). I also found myself a little concerned about the lack of screen and passing options for my centre-backs using the system I had before. So I made a couple of tweaks to make the IWBs less agressive but the MCs more forward thinking and ended up with this:
The thought process behind this is that the Half Back should drop in between the centre-backs to give more options and hopefully a strong passer in that area of the pitch. The MCs should push forward when we're in possession, and the Inverted Wing Backs should tuck in behind them. This way, the more technically proficient players (the MCs) are closer to the opposition goal, where their superior skills should do more damage, and the IWBs have less distance to travel to get back into position when we lose the ball. I was also concerned about the fact that I had six attack duties out of ten outfielders in the previous version.
Overall, a very positive summer. I'm really looking forward to how this season pans out, and I'm quietly confident that we can do something special.
Just a quick post to share a highights video I (finally!) worked out how to export:
I'm sharing this because I'm delighted with the way my team is attacking and wanted to publicly thank Guido for the inspiration. I love how direct the attack can be and the way the Advanced Forward plays.