Startling numbers, it'll be interesting to see them again in 2-3 seasons.
We are making £2m+ a month profit at this point so within a short amount of time I'll be able to expand the wage bill etc and start feeling like a big club. Maybe then, we can start to grow off it, too.
As I continue to focus on shaping this club from top to bottom, I have just succeeded in getting myself, hopefully, another top feeder club.
I added the obligatory 'youth player' option.
This is great. SMS Lodz are a youth team playing in the depths of Polish football. I know about them from a game with Cracovia from several years back where they produced some great amateur players that other teams stole. Here are their facilities:
My aim here is to create a chain of successful academy sides that feed in to my own youth side. I have, in the past, picked the highest reputation team with decent facilities but I'm really drawn here to finding the obscure academies and using their players in my intakes. The below screen is a good indication of what I want - a team that has no 'first' team but only youth teams.
I've found several so far, with INF Clairefontaine obviously being the highest rated. I don't know if it possible to get them as an affiliate though.
A tough couple of months for us but some vital wins, including an away trouncing of Bologna. The victory over 9-man Chievo was important as it's brought us a little bit of breathing space but I know, with a tough run coming, morale needs to be be maintained for us to stay up.
Playing in Serie A has clearly sped up the development of my players and this has been the major factor in Zavoli turning into a solid striker and now a wonderkid. He's got pace and makes great decisions, anticipates the situation really well whilst having great technique on the ball. He does lack in work rate and team work and this, to be honest, is not a trait that I really want within my team. I initially trained him as a WTM in the AML position to work on those mental attributes but he's now back on a CF schedule.
He's got four goals from 19 starts this season but, if I was to play more to his strengths, I think he's good enough to get more...
A solid set of fixtures, when all things are considered. December didn't look great in the league but the points we've picked up have been invaluable and it has stopped our goal difference taking a beating. Two really big wins over teams that (at one point) were around us has seen us move three points clear of the drop zone. Foggia look a really poor side and I expect them to go down - providing that we have enough to stay above a similarly poor Chievo side and one more (I presumed Udinese but they have pulled away somewhat) should see us keep our Serie A status.
I was planning on going for RGUOR from Minsk but, when scrolling through the bottom of the list of potential feeders, I stumbled across a club with a logo from a megapack - to me, a sign that the club has had enough significance for someone to include it within the pack. NK Zagreb play in the third tier of Croatian football and, whilst they are not a youth side, have a 0.5 star reputation but excellent training facilities and great youth facilities.
This looks a good deal for us, on paper, and buys me a bit more time to find myself more academy styled clubs.
My intake is imminent and, with the direction that I'm taking this save, my plans with the players once they are generated are very important. I want to be able to provide players from my academy to my own team but also make them good enough to be able to play elsewhere - widening the national pool and promoting success for the national team. Below is the squad depth sorted by potential ability. Removing the stars has made this a bit harder to show but I think the 'great,' 'good' and 'average' is a decent show of what my staff think of them:
So - firstly, this includes every player in every position they are at least competent in. We have nowhere near the amount of real depth suggested above and these reports include the potential of a player in his best role transferred to any of the roles he is competent in - for example, a promising left back who is competent as a striker has the same rating for both. As of now - I can't think of a better way to show this, though.
First of all - my problem areas:
As an aim - I train full backs to play on both sides, hence why there are so many repeated names. Sadly, there are very few of them who are any good. I currently play with an IWB at left back, because my best left back happened to be the second best right back who was right footed, Muratori. Only Guidi and Santi are left footed (as is Manca but he's not cut out as a left back) from that list - a real area of weakness. Right back isn't much better- Valentini is the only one of the list in the actual first team and below him - the likes of Pascucci are weak. I have retrained two footed midfielder Gasperoni to right back but he does lack some of the physicality I want from this side as it's slightly more marauding in nature. Right wing also sees a problem with Casadei being the 'best' and most natural option, although he's only really Serie B quality. Molinari has been able to play their but isn't really the winger I want and Zafferani has played there a fair bit as an inside forward but that makes the team lack width, plus, he's needed on the other wing.
There we go - a left back, a right back and a right winger plus a load of depth that can be utilised for the national team or continue professionally in Serie B and below.
I have my youth intake, the game is saved and I'm going to go back and look at some things. I have been trying to create a network of feeder academies that are able to assist with the generation of talented youngsters for my first team or for sale. I played my previous FM19 save, in Beira-Mar, for 22 years and not once did I have a feeder club provide me a player for my intake - so I wanted to see just what would happen if I reloaded this game repeatedly and looked at the nationalities, alone. I have not even as much as clicked on another player, just screenshotted and reloaded, so no idea which world class players I may or may not have missed out on.
Firstly - just to recap, I have three 'youth' feeders - CREPS de Lorraine, from France, SMS Lodz, from Poland and NK Zagreb from Croatia. I also then get pretty much a 50/50 split of Sammarinese eligible players (first or second nationality) and then purely Italians. Here are the results:
What do I take from this very small sample? It looks like I can only get foreign newgens from one of my three clubs. It does seem strange that they are always sending me three but at this point it seems very pointless to have more than just the other foreign feeder.
Therefore, I then moved to removing the French feeder on the premise that maybe SMS Lodz, the second club I chose, would 'take the place' of CREPS. Here is another small sample size of those results:
This is strange. I know that it's only five intakes but, without CREPS de Lorraine as a feeder, neither of the others produce anything. I chose all three feeders in the 'same way' - starting as a scouting range and then upgrading to including youth players so I am unsure as to why I can't seem to get players from either of those clubs. The only thought I have had is that I don't have either the Polish or the Croatian leagues loaded whereas I do have the French Ligue 1 loaded. I may revisit this next year with one or two of those loaded. In the mean time - my actual intake...
As seemingly the norm - three Frenchman and one of them is a particular standout. I am feeling that, sometimes, the squad hierarchy can be a little misleading - take Giovanni Ripa as an example, a highly influential player but very very poor on paper.
Elsewhere - I think that, somehow, I have managed to get two of the three positions I wanted filling in my previous post:
Joffrey is the left back I wanted, and more. He's left footed firstly, which is already enough to get him pretty close to the first team but has no holes within his game and is excellent technically and fast to boot. He's F.Ambitious and Level Headed so plenty of room to develop his personality to be in line with the squad (which sadly seems to be F.Pro and a good level of Determination). Neither Lachaud or Vadivelou have really cemented themselves in the team this season so maybe a triple loan for my best three Frenchman may be a go-er for next season.
Cervellini is not as good as Vigneron but is three years younger. He's another full back with a good base and is big enough to fit in at centre half, too. Light-Hearted and Unflappable/Media Friendly is a good combination and he should hopefully develop well. My coaches seem to think he'll potentially be good enough for Serie A so it's up to me to see if I can develop him to that point.
Another striker who doesn't work hard! Marra is another very Italian/Inzaghi-esque poacher. He can finish, is good off the ball and could potentially be decisive and good at anticipating things in the future. He'll train as a CF in the first instance to begin to work towards any potential that he does have.
Six points above the drop zone with a far superior goal difference to everyone around us means that we are in a very strong position to retain our Serie A status next year. Beating the teams around us has always been a goal and to see that we only dropped points against Cagliari from those teams below us is a great sign. A terrible performance against Sampdoria, who have now fallen apart themselves, was the only negative and we dominated Fiorentina, outshooting them 10-4 and even the news headline made it clear that there was, in no way, three goals between the sides.
We play Chievo and Udinese in the run in but, aside from that, have a quite tough few games. Hopefully we have enough points on the board already...
Also - an insight into just how much Serie A brings in from sponsorships and TV money. We have sold out of 5,500 seater stadium every game, bringing in pennies, but have still managed to make a huge profit:
Our first season as a Serie A side comes to an end, our coffers significantly fuller than a year ago, the majority of our players tied down on long term deals and a youth academy that is continuing to produce solid players. Here is how we fared on the pitch:
I'm obviously delighted with this. My aim for 38 points would have just about kept us up and, to be fair, that is a target once again for next year. It has been almost symbolic of this game that we struggle in front of goal with my sometimes too bigger focus on possession retention as opposed to goal threat and that continued this year - Lorenzo Zavoli reaching ten league goals despite a thirteen hour drought.
Here is the individual statistics:
Every minute for Stefanelli, who, at 26, has made 517 appearances for club and country. He is on-track to hit 1000 career games for me in what would be a remarkable career from Serie C to Serie A and beyond. I have struggled to rotate or give game time to younger players this year, simply due to the worries around quality against this better opposition. Those that have played though have played reasonably well - D.Zafferani showing that he is a class act with 7 goals and 4 assists and Andrea Canti chipping in with 8 and 6 too. My only worry now is that we have stagnated a little player wise - new players haven't had the chance to bed in to the first team and a significant number of this squad are out of their depth in this league.
Off the field, we had these two things, too:
I am very happy with the direction we are going in.
Above is my spreadsheet that documents the progress of the youth over this year on the customised schedule I have prepared in order for them to become the best, and most rounded, footballers i can make them. Firstly, I think that this shows the necessity for a good personality straight off the bat - the Low. Det and Balanced profiles have made significantly less progress than ones with higher professionalism and determination.
I am looking at the numbers for the mean end of season but I think I am looking at these without enough context. Firstly, I pointed out that we are not technical enough but there are four defenders on that list and I'm not comparing them with anything. To help that - here is the data from the last two years of me following this:
Intake 1 (2030/31) and included Ciavatta, L.Zafferani, Valentini, Zavoli, Muccioli
End mean technical - 6.69 (0.68 increase)
End mean mental - 10.74 (1.52 increase)
End mean physical - 11.94 (0.97 increase)
Intake 2 (2031/32) and included Muccioli
End mean technical - 6.03 (0.65 increase)
End mean mental - 9.05 (0.60 increase)
End mean physical - 11.11 (0.81 increase)
The first intake really stands out both in terms of numbers on the board but also the amount of those who are now first team players. Interestingly, from that list for intake 1, only Valentini is a defender so that would, more than likely, skew the bias towards technical proficiency. It worries me that, year on year, we have got weaker mentally following a year of youth training but, again, I must remember that my first intake had players with first team minutes whilst in the U18 team - none of my current crop have done this. However, I am happy that we have made more technical increases than in any other year and, given the types of player we have had, this has not come at the expense of physical development, which is also the highest. Considering I am only running two physical schedules a week - this is magnificent news.
This is clearly not a way of me finding the solution but I feel that it is giving me a much better understanding of what I need to do with youth training.
It has come to my attention that we do actually have some really decent players here and that, if they are firing, we are capable of doing a job against a number of teams in this division. I don't, for any minute, think we can challenge for Europe yet, but I also don't believe that the top half is too far away. I have favoured my 4-1-4-1/4-1-2-3 formation for the majority of the save but I want to become far more fluid in roles and positions. Below, I've started to create a kind of 'cheat sheet' about where I can play my players in different circumstances.
Anyone with a yellow role/position is ineffectual there but this is currently just a thought process. More on this as it progresses on to the pitch...
I have put a lot of work into the U18 training and spend a long time working with the first team on and off the pitch but I am wary that there is a gap, between the ages of about 18 and 20. We haven't really been able to integrate any new faces into the first team in the past two years because of this and those that are on the periphery are not really good enough to actually be there. Essentially, I am missing a big chunk of their development.
I have made the following loan deals this summer:
Of those, I believe that a fair few have the potential to be first team material. To follow their progress a bit more closely, I have created this:
I have excluded goalkeepers from this - even though both Arnould and Benassi are good - this is so that I can track their attribute development and, at present, I only have that set up for outfield players. What am I looking for in a loan? Well, one that allows the player to play at a level beneficial to him. As you can see, all of these players are good enough for Serie B or Serie C but I would, ideally, like them all to be good enough for Serie A by the time they enter my first team. This might take a year, two or even three but that is ok. I don't really want players playing below the level that they are capable of but there are some exceptions for that, as you can see.
- Della Valle, in my coaches opinion (not really mine) is good enough for Serie B but I've sent him to Catania as they have great training facilities (mine are only average) and are predicted to be the strongest team in their division, with a manager who plays in a very similar way to mine. - Cesarani is going to a club who also play in a very similar way, have better youth facilities and are predicted to be around the top of the league. It is also worth noting that Paco Alcacer has a great reputation (somewhat of a great managerial coup for Vicenza) as a full Spanish international and is good at working with youngsters. - Lachaud is moving to Suditrol as Quagliarella is a M.Pro and good working with youngsters. They have good training facilities and their use of a 3-4-2-1 will mean they need more DC's and, as such, Lachaud is likely to get more game time. A three man defence also usually uses at least one ball player and this will help improve the area of the game that I want to. - Vigneron moves to Lupa Roma, who, despite having worse training facilities than us, are predicted around the top of the league, have a manager who is good at working with young players and play a formation similar to our own. Also - Joffrey will more than likely play every minute of the season as he's there as a key player. - Gasperoni moves to a club that are likely to perform well and, even though their manager doesn't share the same style of play as me - he'll get regular football and a similar level of training facilities. - Fabre moves to a club who is managed by someone not great at using youngsters and a club that doesn't have great facilities but they do play a 4-1-4-1 and, with Fabre being a key player, will allow him time in the role/position I want him to use - the DM. - Vadivelou moves to a Serie B club and a great one at that. Foggia went down last year and are a big club, predicted third with great youth facilities. Whilst Duda isn't the best with youngsters, they play a passing style in a shape similar to my own. Vadivelou is going to be a key member of that team and will be getting a good standard of football
Again, like the youth development - I am going to track mean attributes. This won't be, again, finding the formula that is correct, but will be about informing my decisions for future years.
Similarly to the youth development - I would expect Fabre and Gasperoni to develop the best based on their personalities but now I am adding in other factors such as quality of game time and the aforementioned factors will made me chose their loan destinations.
All being well I will have four or five new players for the first team in a few years with Gasperoni being the first player to be part of the 'whole process' from intake day to first team.
Stop the league now?! Not a single lead goal conceded, a win over juggernauts Napoli and a hard earned draw at the San Siro. We have been, as usual, a little lacking in front of goal, and, as I've repeatedly said, this is fine and fits in with my methodology for this save - 'if we have the ball, they can't score and if they can't score, the worse we can do is a 0-0.'
Clearly this run won't last but we do have a tie against Serie B side SPAL in the 4th Qualifying Round of the Coppa Italia. Whilst we are not a settled top flight team, as such, I do want to start identifying areas for a success and a good cup run could give me that.
Lastly - the loanees have made a solid, if unspectacular start to their time away:
It is worth noting though that all of these players have already had more first team minutes that I'd be able to offer them for me - so that can only be beneficial to their development.
See why I wanted the league to end? A tough month in October, although coming back from 2-0 against Juve must surely be seen as a victory. Just the solitary win over struggling parent club Palermo but we deserved more against Fiorentina (another game against them where they have scored their only 2 shots), Cagliari and maybe Chievo. At the top of the table, somehow Atalanta lead by six points but I expect Inter to catch them before the season is out.
Also, a quick national team update, who, remember, aren't being managed by me...
Sadly, San Marino haven't qualified for Euro 2034. It is really strange that I say 'sadly' here because normally that sentence would be complete rubbish - but they have made massive strides over the last fifteen years - as seen by their rankings since December 2023.
Now 81st in the world and with a squad made entirely of my own players or players that came through my academy - I do question how far the team can go but I am pleased to see that Udinese have a 16 year old goalkeeper who is in their youth squad - he was generated at their club through the Folgore academy.
Next up for San Marino is, astonishingly, a Nations League B (the 2nd tier) league group. Below is their winning C (third tier) campaign:
As I wanted, we prioritised the cup, knowing it'd be hard to get anything from Inter and then Lazio in the following league matches. Sadly, our run was ended by Inter in the Quarter Finals - but we have picked up £1m in prize money and pleased the board. In the league - we have struggled - we might have only conceded 15 goals but at the other end, we have only scored 14 and that is partly down to my striker Lorenzo Zavoli and his 25-game barren streak, which he finally broke against Virtus Entella in the last game of the month. We picked up 12 points from the first six games and now have 14 from the following 15 - whilst that points per game record over the season historically would keep us up (and looks sure to this season) - we are not yet at all comfortable in this division and I need to look at ways to manage these slumps much better.
A relatively weak one here. Highly influential player Colombi may have some potential because his ability is certainly not what I would consider good enough when you follow the general protocol of 'higher PA = higher hierarchical standing.'
The one player I do like is Valentini:
My coaches believe he's good enough to play in Serie A one day and he's got a solid base of attributes - if, like always, a little weak technically. I like that he's either footed too and I may attempt to utilise him on both wings as he develops.