Football Manager: Stay Young, Stay Old and Mix It All Around

Older people have experience, while youth has the drive and mentality to move forward new ideas. Before I have a bunch of canes and mortgage payments thrown at me, I’m not stating this as a universal truth. I’ve met older people who were very adaptable to change. And I’ve met younger people who get caught in a this is the way it should be bubble. However, in football (soccer) a squad that gives confidence to youth players with the steel and push of experience players is deadly.

 This approach saves a team from paying expensive transfer fees. In fact, a reputation as a talent developer, will have clubs with more money lining up to buy your players. It takes a balancing act to enjoy a couple of seasons of your young players before moving them on. We see too often that a player turns pro at 16 or 17 only for them to be sold before they turn 20. That’s not using your assets properly. You must keep your team competitive, AND MAKE A RUN FOR A TROPHY (looking at you whoever owns teams that just make money), while ensuring the club is financially healthy.

As you know, I’m going to connect this to Football Manager 2017. I deeply believe that a club should have an ethos of giving youth a platform to gain experience. For some of the bigger teams, domestic cup competitions is the way they give youth experience. There’s cases where teams don’t have a choice but to play youth. Regardless, you should set up a functioning youth setup that feeds players into your first team. You can do that by:

1. Scout youth

– Add age to your scouting parameters when giving your scouts assignments. For example, set a 17-20 age range where only players that fall in that age bracket will show up on the screen. I’m pretty sure the game also has a few age ranges you can already pick from. In a past article I’ve mentioned that location, role and money are also variables that should be tweaked when setting parameters. All of this should go together, but cannot be accomplished if the board doesn’t set apart money to run a scouting department. Here’s where you come in! You can always make requests to hire more scouts and to raise the staff wages to pay them. You can also make efficient use of whatever budget you have by going for youth players instead of established ones. This might require you to also comb through the database while waiting to hear back from your scouts. In some cases youth players are more inexpensive than established players, unless they have had a great international tournament or have a lot of promise. This all falls apart if youth are just acquired and not used.

2. Affiliate Yourself With Others

– A crucial thing to establish for the sake of both the youth structure you’re trying to set up and the whole team is becoming affiliated with another team. You have that option in Football Manager 2017. Some teams already have this, but if they don’t, you have to out in a request to the board. In my experience, they hardly ever turn this request down. All these requests make it seem like you’re a child who can’t even get juice without telling mommy because you go apeshit while on sugar or have not reached your growth spurt like the other kids still saying mommy, wait that doesn’t sound right… However, why should one establish links with their fellow peers within their industry? Does this even need to be a question? Networking. Networking. NETWORKING. And when one becomes a parent affiliate club to a feeder team or a team in the lower divisions, you have a set place to send your youth players on loan. They hopefully get experience and playing minutes that aids their development. You’ll still have to pay their wages and a small fee each season to the team you connect with, but in return, you get first dibs any of their player sales. It could be another way to find youth for your youth teams or gems that play in lower divisions. Some lower division teams rely on a youth setup and have the infrastructure in place. If you’re going to do this why not find a partner who shares the same core philosophy as you. It works in relationships and it’s something the corporate world preaches. You also save yourself time by not having to find other teams to send your players on loan. You also don’t have to set aside your preparations for a bit while waiting for your technical director to move these players for you. It helps to already have a team willing to take on your players for a fixed amount of time.

I’m detecting a wonderful smell in the kitchen so I’ll leave this like it is. I’m off to investigate this smell and hopefully eat whatever is causing it.

Stay youthful folks!  

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You Score When You Don’t Defend

I enjoyed the goal fest that was the Arsenal versus Leicester game last friday. From an entertainment point of view the game delivered, but I didn’t think it was a good game. The wingbacks, despite providing offensive cover, left large stretches of territory unguarded behind them that Leicester exploited. That’s not to say Bellerin and Ox didn’t defend, because I vividly remember Kolasanic running up to mark Mahrez on the left to stop him from advancing with the ball. 

It didn’t stop there as I saw Mahrez being pushed back a few feet in what reminded me of a Greek army pushing through another army. This all occurred within the first fifteen minutes. A few minutes later Kolasanic again ran up to Mahrez on the left in an attempt to win back the ball. It was a great display of a player staying with his market and using his strength to win back territory. I believe one of the Arsenal Player commentators called him a “Neanderthal” which gives connotations that’s he’s all brawn. I get the feeling this isn’t the case. It does show that a center back had to constantly cover his wingback who was higher up the pitch. 

Bellerin on the other hand traded in his defensive responsibilities for more offensive ones. He was ever present on the right touchline providing crosses and another lane for his teammates to use. This allows him to stretch the Leicester defense to open up gaps and capture the attention of other markets that can release his teammates move around in the box. We all know Bellerin is important to the Arsenal attack. His lack of defense at times needs to be covered by a center back or has to pull one of either Xhaka or El Neny to cover the spacing he left behind. This doesn’t mean I think Ox had a bad game. I quite enjoy his drives into the final third with and without the ball. It just would be reassuring if it didn’t come at the expense of defensive responsibility. 

To further discuss the Arsenal defense I have to mention the second goal of the match that Okazaki scored. It continues to highlight how vulnerable Arsenal still are at set pieces. The three center backs were caught looking elsewhere and not one covered the right post where Okazaki ended up heading in. It might just be me but a team with a better defensive shape doesn’t partake in matches ending 4-3. It’s just the start of the season you say. I know. I know. Yet, how many seasons has this been an issue that hasn’t been addressed? The two games against Bayern Munich continue to haunt me. 

Here’s to Arsenal having a better season than the last one and winning another FA Cup. Later. 

1/3 Of A Trident

Holy shit! Arsenal have signed Lacazette!! 1/3 of my French Trident piece over a week ago is being validated. Maybe I should post more nonsense like that… 🙈

It can’t be worse than Paul The Octopus (R.I.P.) or that one polar bear who supposedly predicts match winners. All bets on people!… Jk, I’ll be putting my money on more French things. Maybe that’ll get us Mbappe and rescue Martial from his oppression at United.

We can only hope 🙌

Chile (Picante) versus Portugal (Got Nothing) 

My hypocrisy grows as the Confederations Cup enters its second semifinal game. I wrote an earlier piece complaining about how it’s basically a tournament about nothing, right champ? It’s not like the winner gets directly qualifies to the World Cup…

Here are my takeaways from the Chile versus Portugal game today:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair – It was different, it had a lining and I couldn’t help but think it made him look schoolboy-ish. Maybe the hair was a factor in him not turning those headers into goals. Hmm…

2. Why wasn’t Ronaldo within the first three to take a penalty? He didn’t even get a chance to take one today since his teammates missed the first three. In that note, I couldn’t help but think Nani and Quaresma were subbed in to not only provide width for a Ronaldo that went from provider to the spear of the attack, but with penalty kicks in mind. 

3. Vidal complaining about getting elbowed was hilarious as their was barely a touch made in him. Doesn’t he have a rep of playing in the knifes edge? 

4. Was Vidal playing as a false nine? 

5. That one pace Alexis Sanchez played for his teammate was class!

6. Bravo! Bravo! I can’t remember the last time a goalie stopped the first three penalties kicked against him! He showed why he’s a great shot stopper, and I hope he’s back to his best next season. He had a great stop during the game as well which kept the game without goals.

7. The amount of shots over the bar was unreal! I’m looking at you Moutinho and Andre Silva… 

I’ll have something up Friday. Until then keep your haircut fresh and your mouth while you’re at it. 

FA Cup Winners, not losers (Chelsea)

Arsenal denied Chelsea the pleasure of completing the double. Double the pleasure wasn’t to be for Chelsea, but to say us Arsenal fans had half the pleasure is just wrong. It was a performance that pinged out assurances that the Arsenal machine was going to give its update a run for its money. 

The club should get new players and move on those who aren’t needed. The club should also give those youngsters on the cusp of a first team breakthrough a more relaxed opportunity to play. The club should not use the League Cup to give youngsters minutes. Afterall, it’s another cup English teams have to play for. Can we really be picky about silverware at this stage? The club should break its wage structure to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Speaking as a fan of the club, all I want to see is a winning effort being made to keep these two. I will not talk ill of Arsenal’s ability to keep world class players if one or both move on, as long as the effort being made uses all the resources allocated to the cause. It has to be less of an Arsenal effort and one more on par with the other top teams in Europe. 

It pains me to say this, but maybe Arsenal should ease the burden on those essential players who always end up getting hurt. Have them compete with other class players for their spot. On that note, I want all of us to take a moment and daydream about Mertesacker blocking the rain for us and intercepting on our behalf to bring the club another dash of sunshine in the form of an FA Cup. 

His performance was truly inspirational. One would not know that he spent over a year on the sidelines based on the cup final performance alone. I also want to give a shout out to Rob Holding for not falling victim to Diego Costa’s shenannigans. It was hilarious to see him smile over the fuss Costa was putting up. He also put in a mature performance that deserves recognition. Cannavaro who? Ramsey should always play finals. It was interesting to see Mezut drop back a line and play as a central midfielder of sorts. 

P.S. Excuse my shitty attempts at being clever!