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[FM19] - FC Girnyk-Sport - Every Hamster has its day!


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For what it's worth - this is supposed to be a fairly serious, slow and detailed story of our managerial run. The title of this thread (and manager and backstory) just comes from my being bored and trying to find something interesting to do to basically get a game started. Once we're up and running I'll get into the swing of things nicely, but getting started is the hard part. So despite a fairly decent (I think it's decent) and creative (I think it's creative) premise, this thread will probably be a bit dry and serious and hopefully I can add some humour to that. TL;DR - title may not match the overall experience.

Some (dated?) pop culture savants will probably already know where we're going with this just from the title, but to bring everyone up to speed, let's meet the manager.


Minsc Butlee


Butt-kicking for goodness!!

I typically use an alter ego for my manager names. I've always found it more fun to play a character as a manager - even if the managerial style always ends up the same. I like how the story bends and moves and if it's "me" all the time, it's not as interesting or natural to watch events unfold sometimes. For that case I tend to use "McBride" as my alter-ego-surname... except that it's far too English for what we're doing here. So I've just defaulted to using my own name as the compulsory surname field.


But what's important is that we meet Minsc - some may call him a loveable oaf (he's 205cm tall), some may call him impulsive and rash, some say he's loud and obnoxious, but in his heart he's a good guy who always lets you know what he thinks and wants to do the best he can. This is a time before his widely publicised fame (and face tattoo's). He's not the most intelligent chap, but he's focused on attack and he's determined to succeed - he will not hear 'no' for an answer once he has his mind set on things. He's also good at motivational speeches. You've seen a couple, here's another one:


Where Minsc goes, evil stands aside.

At this juncture I need to apologise in advance for any and all potentially ignorant-of-other-culture remarks I make. I don't mean any harm by it.

That said, Minsc hails from Belarus - a familiar Eastern Slavic region, and in his quest to become the best manager in the world and to prove himself in the eyes of his countrymen, he's taken on the nearest professional club Manager role he could find. His ambition is that of the journeyman - he seeks adventure and justice (sometimes in that order). He also likes swords and taunting his enemy.

If you're reading all this so far and can't for the life of you figure out what's going on, I apologise. As mentioned by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers - "If you have to ask, you'll never know..."

But this might get you started: http://baldursgate.wikia.com/wiki/Minsc


FC Girnyk-Sport Gorišni Plavni

Ukrainian First League (2nd tier, Ukraine)

Now my Russian/Ukraine/Slavic dialect is non-existent, so wikipedia tells me there's a club name translation to "FC Hirnyk-Sport Horishni Plavni" as well. For this thread we'll stick to what my FM says - Girnyk.




We've found ourselves at a club without a top flight history. Indeed the club was only founded in 1989 and entered the professional league structure in 1992. It's a nice little club with not a lot on the table, and yet they've made their way into the 2nd tier of Ukrainian football and with a bit of luck we can challenge for a spot in the top flight (maybe not in our first season).




Jump on my sword while you can, evil. I won't be as gentle!

This first post is kind of image heavy. Going forward I'll try to mix up chit-chat and images a bit - I think the narrative of the story is as important as the visuals.


Picture this: A wealthy Ukrainian or Russian businessman comes into the club's office and says "I will buy this club, but only on 1 condition. You put in chair for me."

And thus Yunist Stadium was built and the chairman's throne was hoisted up on the halfway line.

(I've been looking at this club for a whole day now, and the notion of having 1 seat in the whole stadium is still cracking me up!!)

In terms of more serious matters - we have the bare bones of a Professional club. Yes we play in the U21s and U19s competitions and yes we have Youth Recruiting facilities alongside the basics for our Seniors. But it really is the minimum and any kind of money or investment or winnings we can get our hands on will need to be put back into the club. It won't be all spent on players & wages that's for sure!!



Speaking of resources, we don't have a lot in the bank - just 473 pounds. I'm just going to operate the whole save in 'pounds' so it stays consistent. Personally I don't know how a Ukrainian Hrivna translates to currencies I'm familiar with, so we'll just stick with what I know. What's important is that our bank balance is only worth 1/10th of our weekly wage budget - so regardless of what currency it's in, you can tell we don't have any money on board. 
The club doesn't have any affiliates nor sponsors at this point so I'm not sure how where the cash is going to come from. Best we can do for now is get those wages under budget and maybe make some room to sign 1-2 more players and still stick under the budget. 



Anyhow, that's kind of where the club and manager are at now. I'll want to do another set-up post more focused on the players and the squad... hopefully we can start having an idea of formations and what we need to make it work (either through re-training or new signings), and it will probably be AFTER that where we look at Aims and Objectives - for both Minsc and the club. We're all for moving around to new clubs, but we need to treat every club like it's a long-term appointment. If you arrive with the notion of "Oh we'll just do 2-3 seasons here", you never really properly commit imo.



That's a pretty nice view of our club - especially if we're back in 12 months to compare. We have no real stars or professional history, so maybe we can leave an impression there over time. Squad is fairly ambitious and with any luck we'll grow the reputation here as we grow the club.


Oh and I actually have 2 more things.

First up, the skin here (credit where credit is due):


You can change the backgrounds from the black matte I have, to some more scenic ones or picturesque ones. I just use a plain because it's easier to edit/crop/manipulate sample images with a plain background.


And lastly, someone made a little logo for me, so I want to link his Twitch (he's far more regular than I'll be) - if you want to go check out some FM saves, he's the man. The Keg Man.




Cheers, hope you'll stick around for more updates. All this stuff is kind of boring fluff, but it's important for the long-term as we'll be able to look back and see our humble beginnings :D



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25 June 2018

There's always a lot to cover on Day 1 and I really like to take my time. The question is - how much of the grunt-work is interesting for the narrative!?


Key Players

Priority 1 should probably be meeting the team. And we can't create a formation or strategy without getting to know our key players. 

Volodymyr Korolkov


He's probably on the back end of his career to be brutally honest, but he's been a good servant for the club - this is his 6th year here, and we'll probably appoint him as a our primary captain. He may not start many games, but I think it's important to set the standard for this management career - getting the right mix of players and treating everyone right is the key to success at this level.

Olexandr Aksyonov


We're a little light at the back, and we'll be relying on Olexandr to control things defensively. He's only 24 and has already had a sniff of top tier Ukrainian football - at Tavria & Mariupol - and more recently he's found himself jumping around First Div sides trying to cement his spot. What he brings to us is that potential to play Premier football and if he's using our club to re-invigorate his career and to break back into that top flight, that's fine by us. 

Andriy Skarlosh


Mostly showing him off because he's got a huge star rating by our Assistant, Andriy is a First Division veteran. He's been at a few clubs now, and he has consistently been playing in the starting XI throughout his career. 
What I like about him is that he looks reliable. His technical skills are solid for this level, he's got a good array of mental attributes and he's quick with a good work ethic. Players like Andriy do all the hard work, allowing others a bit more freedom to express themselves.

Igor Sikorskyi & Yaroslav Yampol


Last in our player-spam (don't worry, this won't be a regular thing) are 'the wingers'. Igor really sets the bar here - he's fit, pacey and likes to run and cross. I'd call him the typical winger, which in itself can be fairly rare these days. Our challenge is going to be getting him in behind the defence (making use of his off-ball movement) and letting him decide if he can cut inside to get a shot off, or to peel wide and make the cross. 
Yaroslav might look like a weaker version, but I think he brings some good elements to the table. That kind of flair, mixed with a bit more technique and shades better balance means he might be able to beat players in his own way - not based purely on dribbling and pace. We also get a free kick taking option as well. 

I suspect we'll play both sides the same - I'm a big fan of symetrical strategies - that is playing a symetrical formation, but with vastly different tactics in place on either side.. but I don't think that suits the key men here. These two guys won't specifically site wide - they'll just be 'wide options' and I want to give them the freedom to stay wide or come in and be a goal threat. For now we'll probably use them on their preferred feet and skip the more modern 'inside forward' strategies. Maybe we'll learn we need to swap later.



Strategy & Tactics

To be clear, here's how I define Strategy & Tactics when talking...

Strategy - The overall 'plan' or intention. How you will attack and defend. What features are important to pull them off. It encompasses tactics, formation, the kind of players you want etc...

Tactics - The detailed orders given to the team and individual players - that ideally help pull off the strategy.



As a general idea, here's what I think we'll go with. The plan will be to try and isolate our wingers 1v1 against a fullback and get them in behind, and to pick out the striker, opposite winger or the midfielders steaming in from the centre. The DM is there as security, and will allow our two MC's to push forward as much as they want - they are the playmakers and we'll be looking for both of them to feed the wingers or play the striker through the line. 

It doesn't really describe much about the defensive line, and that's mostly because I think we're short on options there. When I know we have weaker options in the squad, I tend not to ask too much of them. You'll note the same with the striker - so far the only idea is "be in the middle" - it's because I'm not sure there's a standout option up front right now.



As you can see, our 'defensive unit' is fairly small and lacking in experience. More of our senior players are further up the field (Average age in our Senior Squad is 26).


I might actually leave more of the 'tactics' element for a couple of weeks. I need to get an idea of how likely it'll be to transfer players in and out of the squad, or we need to utilise the players we have as best we can. So we've got the bare bones of the strategy mapped out - what tactics can we use on our players to achieve that? Once we know what players we'll be using, we can refine that.



Having said that, I'll leave you with an idea of how much work needs to be done in a short space of time. With the freezing winters here, football is played from July to June with a 3 month break between December and March. It won't give us a lot of time to prepare. Honestly, I don't expect us to be fully settled until September/October time. That may give you an idea of our expectations for the season, haha.


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box2butlee3.png.97f967158b7d0c9f40e7e7201f50bd46.png   25 June 2018

Today we pin down our strategy & tactics. 


Formation & Tactics

I don't typically like to just dump full-screen images and then covering all the stuff on there in 1 big text wall - usually I like cutting the pieces I like and writing a lot little on each. And where I can I make little custom graphics or cut pieces from my spreadsheet to share as well. The reason being that everyone is used to the in-game UI and it's refreshing to see something different.

Having said that, since this is Day 1 and I haven't really given much indication to the strengths and weaknesses of the squad, I thought this would be appropriate.


You can clearly see why we want to run the 2x MC's in attacking roles, and why we want to utilise our key wide players. I want us to play more direct and to get the ball to those attacking 4/5 players. The idea being that if we're stuck the Target Man can come get the ball and we can still play back to the DM who sits entirely behind the play and orchestrates the play.

The formation may well be modelled off a "Vertical Tiki-Taka" style (per the title on the left), but in practise it couldn't be further from it. Instead I set Vertical Tiki-Taka as our 2nd strategy - if we're chasing we'll press harder and have our wide men attack the goal from a more narrow starting position. But for our primary strategy we're going to play more direct, not fuss too much about the possession game - I want our MC's (I might call them "Advanced Playmakers" from now on - APs) to really float around the attacking space and look more to pierce the defence by playing in our front 3.

As you can see, our backline is where we'll struggle, and I don't want to commit too heavily of a plan that is based around the WBL/WBR and DM we have right now. I figure we'll either be signing some new players or maybe even retraining someone to fit those roles. Once we have an idea of what resources we have (be that players, budgets or signing options) we'll start to customise those positions to the players we have. Ideally we have quick fullbacks who can follow-up the direct passing but still retreat to defend. I want to try closing down opposing wingers and stop crosses from being sent in - another thing more pace (even if it's without tackling specifically) may help with.


Weaknesses & Targets

Starting with the obvious weakness, we really need to do some work on our defensive set up. Some of the players we can make do with - in the centre I'd be ok with making the most of Kravchuk, and Kunev (see below) on the right is an entirely reasonable guy to use out there. But we'll be looking for either some kind of backup or new signing there - and if we get the option to pick up a stronger player we'll take it!


Similarly at DM we probably want a new signing, and then we decide if we want that player to be our First XI guy or if we do something else - lets say we re-purpose our veteran midfielder Korolkov (seen in my previous post) as a DM - he can just hold his position behind the hectic attacking spots and be the team leader.

Also similar is up in the #9 role. Shevchuk is strong and he'll do a job for us, no doubt. His backup, Kicha, is fast and gives us another mix, but then we're into the wingers who probably won't add much. So I'm a little worried if we can't get anything out of our two options - they really need to step up beyond their current skill levels to have the impact we need from them - we won't have many options. Once again it's a position we can make do with until we get a better option - but if said option presents itself we should chase it.

That leaves our problem Left Wingback role. We'll simply have to see what we can find.

Basically that wraps up our weaknesses and thus what our signing targets are in the short term. As a summary:


Not the most ambitious approach to revamping the squad, but (at least for now) Minsc is going to take the conservative approach to management.



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  • 3 weeks later...

box2butlee3.png.65ce93d03208c2064f41b3fad24dbf85.png  2 July 2019

Just ran a week through, played a quick friendly and started the intensive task for recruiting & building up the club.


Staff & Scouting

I knew we wouldn't have the money for a full roster of staff. I also knew that even if the Board said we *could* have certain staff, we probably shouldn't take up the full quota, lest we jeopardise the financial position of the club.
But even with that in mind I didn't realise just how tough this would be.



Trying to prioritise, I decided we just needed the scouts first. For now I can bundle the U21's and U19's off to my assistant, and we can share the training. We have 1 physio. If I can just get 1-2 scouts, we can start looking at players and go from there.
Even looking for the cheapest possible options I can't find scouts that'll sign for 200 pounds. The most the board will allow us to offer is 180. To try and get around this we've put out a job advertisement for Chief Scout in the hopes that we'll be allowed to offer someone 220 quid to get in the job. 

Personally I'll find it weird not having a DoF. And I've never 'not' used HoYD.

I'm actually really unsure how we're going to find players at all - with no scouts, no DoF and we can't even afford scouting packages right now!! 

Suffice to say, this section is "TBA" when we figure something out.



Squad Dynamics



Thought I'd just show this off quickly. You can argue the good or bad in dynamics as a feature, but I do like the concept of having team leaders. In fact I almost feel like Team Leaders don't do enough internal work. Like a Team Leader will have the other players agree with him on club issues, but he won't be the main driver to fix player personalities or make sure we keep training at the right levels or step in when he disagree's with a certain player who's arguing to the manager... Team Leaders tend to purely exist to cause Manager troubles when in reality their greatest impact in the real world is within the playing squad.

Anyway I think it's important that we get 1-2 guys pushed up to Team Leader status, so we'll be looking to make sure we stick with the guys who are in that 2nd-from-top bracket there.


Sponsors & Debts

Final comment on money is that we don't have any sponsors nor any debts. I'm hoping the Board can brew up some sponsors to just help us stay afloat for the short term. I think we'll probably lose 10k a month so if we can get a sponsor worth 50k or something it would go a long way to keeping us in balance over 12 months.

And yes I tried to organise a senior affiliate but the Board weren't having any of it.



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  • 2 months later...

box2butlee3.png.fe99b0559b742756d342c14344591f96.png   17 July 2018

When I said we would be going 'slow and detailed' I certainly did not mean 'awol for 3 months before getting started' so I'm really sorry about that.

We left off just short from our first League game - 14th July - and we were a club with no staff, no money and barely even a starting XI. So how could we possibly win matches!?
It's actually kind of fortunate that I made both this thread and a spreadsheet to track the team - I can come back in and start reviewing where we're at without needing to redo the hours of set-up I'd already put in!


Matchday 1 - 14 July 2018

Our first match was against Prykarpattya IF and we went in with an almost fully fit squad. Well I say 'fully fit', but I mean no one is match fit after just 2 friendly warm-up matches... but we only had 1 injury. That just happened to be on winger Yampol, who you may remember is our highest paid player - ouch!

Now I can tell you that Prykarpattya was just promoted, or I could tell you that they're tipped to come 7th (out of 16) in our league this season - we're tipped for 10th for what it's worth. I figure, honestly, that the previous strength and season 1 predictions won't mean a thing to any of us and it'll be far more important to learn the strength of the surrounding teams on the fly. 

So onto the show, right?

I actually have to say I'm quite impressed with the team here. We certainly didn't "dominate" the match, but we held the ball well, we passed it around nicely, and even if we lost a lot of possession through them tackling us and we struggled to hit the target a bit, I feel like we had a satisfactory result.



Korolkov was great at DM - providing a few key passes and just generally marshalling the troops from there. Our backline held up well despite my concerns over their competitiveness too! But the two big efforts were from right at the front and right at the back. I've penned in "Goalkeeper" as a lock this season - we won't be looking for new players because I believe Dankoych can hold his own already, and still has some room to grow as a player. He picked up Man of the Match, which is a great effort for a few reasons. He wasn't entirely peppered with shots, so you know it's all the other stuff he brought to the table that helped him get that award. And yet I gave him absolutely 'no' instructions pre-season or pre-game. I always forget! He's also playing the more difficult Sweeper-Keeper role, as opposed to a typical Goalkeeper role (for some reason I'm obsessed with Sweeper Keepers right now!)... so accounting for the strange role and him having to figure out how to play without advice from his manager... that's pretty impressive!



Our goal was pretty simple, and you might look at the stats, a 1-0 win, see that our only goal was a corner and think we were a bit lucky. But the goal came in the 11th minute and they never really looked like scoring back, and Shevchuk's efforts here were just an example of how well he played all in. I was extremely worried about having a slower Target Man up front, but the experienced striker showed his class - he was coming to receive the ball, helped us keep a lot of possession and he combined on more than a half dozen occassions with crosses from Sikorskyi, who is another key element of our team. 



So our match ended up 1-0, and I hope the 4 supporters who made the 766 kilometre journey (damn, Ukraine is HUGE!) got their money's worth. 

You know what, let's name our travelling supporter base:

Steve (he is an Aus-Ukraine dual citizen)
& Alina (that's Andriy's mum!)



Season Expectations

This is a little out of place now we know how we went in our first match, but I didn't want to take away the sport of how we were expected to go! Here you can see the Board is pretty keen for a top half finish - I guess all the professional teams here are pushing for top flight football asap so this is the first target on that journey. We did come 8th last season so the Board/Owner probably thinks we're a decent shout at it.



On another note, we finalised our season ticket holders:


We probably won't name all of them, haha. 

Season Ticket Holders (and the price of tickets) is one of that seemingly irrelevant metrics in the game that I just love to track every season. Maybe as a football fan I love the notion that the manager cares about the fans just as much as he cares about results, and I feel in 2018/19 part of being a manager IS indeed helping the club grow - including helping them grow their fanbase. 



So you've been sitting around for 2 weeks (even though it feels more like 3 months) doing nothing Minsc, have you even made any inroads on the recruitment drive?!

Well we have signed a U21's Manager - I decided since we were unlikely to get a full quota of coaches, just taking a 2nd Manager would be a decent start - and a Chief Scout. I might cover them more at a later stage - I'm trying to decide if we can secure a HoYD first, because I feel as though that role is of HUGE significance to a poor club who will be relying on sourcing young, local talent to stay competitive.

As for players, no we haven't signed anyone. Without a scout Minsc has had literally no one to give him feedback on players, and we've essentially become and 'open training & trialling' club - offering anyone who even sounds like they might be useful a trail for a couple of weeks!


Now before you go 'oh wow there's some fantastic players you can get there' keep in mind that getting these guys to trial here is one thing, getting them to stay with little to no wages on offer is another. And that's without considering if a 22yr old Argentine player can aclimatise to Ukraine's 2nd tier, or if a 34yr old Brazillian's skills won't just die overnight with us not giving him the kind of training facilities and fitness coaching he's used to.

Having said that, Clementino looked great in a friendly - a really slippery striker. And I'm lining up someone like 28yr old Gryschenko as a DM/DC/FB kind of backup or bench utility. 

So this is all a work in progress, and when I take some players on we'll look at them in more detail. I was looking at sketching up some player profiles, so I might be able to revive those and use them as a kind of cute player card thing. I really like making notes on any signings we make, so we can come back later and see if that player turned out to be what we expected!!

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box2butlee3.png.5690323166a4eed0ecebf797fd6eb0b5.png  4 August 2018

Ultimately a great start for us. Off the field we haven't had a lot of changes, and I'm VERY worried about our financial stability, but for now we're doing all we can - winning games!


Early Season Form

I don't typically take the pessimist route, but with such a financially & resource restricted club I honestly felt we were going to struggle this season. The Board wanted top half and yet the Season Preview had us in the low-to-mid table region. I was worried we didn't have the technical skills to play heavy possession football, and even though we have great wingers, we'd struggle to score without a really dominating striker. 


And yet the side has impressed at every turn. 

I don't want to get into the habit of narrating every match - that would be considerably boring for everyone, but a few key events.

Balkany Zorya scored first (10m) away from home, and we had to chase them. 

Against Ingulets Petrove we were probably a bit lucky in a 50/50 kind of match whether neither side could really create good shooting opportunities. The deadlock eventually broken when we subbed on Clementino (more on him once we finish the transfer window) who slipped in behind the defence chasing a curling cross and the defender had to slide to get the ball first - but he put it past his own keeper!

While there have been games we should have drawn, the one game we probably should have won comfortably was against recently promoted Metalist 1925. Despite the bookmakers' optimism, they were struggling in 15th and we were only their 2nd point of the season. They scored early and then Batyushyn caught one of them with a bad tackle, meaning we went 79 minutes with only 10 players. We managed to take the lead back within the first half but to their credit they rallied with a man advantage and scored later in the 2nd half.

Stats and Analysis - Positioning in Attack

One thing that really stood out to me in the first couple of matches was just how well we adapted to our opponents in the first couple of games. 


I think this expresses my point well - in the latter game we were clearly able to play a lot more direct and work the ball around in the offensive space. Our wingers could sit more in between the thirds and our triangle of central midfielders worked that space - preferring to work short passes between one another, knowing that we were already advanced enough to take shots if the opportunity presented itself.

That was a far cry from the first match (left image) where our opponents put pressure on us slightly further up the park. And you can see we responded by utilising the DM and DC's a lot more, accepting that we'd have to sit deeper, and then we saw more slashes of colour on the flanks where we used that depth to create better angles for passes.


It's not much of a difference and it's only 2 matches, I know. But I find the biggest issue with setting tactics in FM is understanding where on the park you've told your players to stand. My idea of (for example) and advanced playmaker MC might be different to what's programmed into the game - certainly the appeal in tactics in football is the nuance each player & coach brings to each role, even if the names or descriptions often sound the same. Point is I put a lot of time early in my managerial time at a club into making sure that the players move appropriately. These kind of graphs tell me that when we're up the field, the DLP DM actually steps up and helps the MC's sit wider while we probe the area, but also while we're still playing the ball through midfield, we sit fairly narrow and let our great wingers have all the space in the world to operate in, often isolating them 1v1 against a fullback. That is working as intended.


Stats and Analysis - Shooting

I've really been surprised by how well we've passed the scoring around, just how well Shevchuk has continued to play within this strategy and how the 4-man spread-out canopy of creative and attacking players surrounding the striker have been equally a threat. The list doesn't have Yampol purely because he's been injured, but the key playmakers we highlighted are all here otherwise - Batyushyn and Skarlosh give us different types of threat in midfield (one makes more key passes the other is more of a shooting threat), our experienced captain Korolkov steps up and secures penalties, and Sikorskyi on the wing is actually our greatest shooting threat - in our most recent game he had 3 stunning shots parried by the opposition keeper and it's only a matter of time before he starts putting a few more away.




Between 1 Aug and 1 Sept (inclusive), we have 10 fixtures - assuming we don't win our Cup fixture on 15-Aug and have to fit in an 11th game somewhere. With only 21 squad members that's extremely hectic. I know in the (Australian) A-League we only have 20-23 manned squads and a lot of teams struggle to manage 5 matches in a month like that. Added to the trouble is that this is just the 2nd month of the season and match fitness isn't 100% either yet.


Admittedly we've not had any huge injury troubles (*touches wood*) - our preferred keeper Dankovych pulled his hamstring, but Myrnyi stepped up and took man of the match in his first game. Star winger Yampol was out for 2 weeks, but we've actually got some decent options in the mix now with Kicha and now Clementino, and even the experienced Lozovyi has had some decent starts as we've rotated the squad.

But I do have to say that overall fatigue is getting to us. We do get the 2 week international break after September 1, but until then the fight will be tough. I guess when you're performing so well you start to consider what factors will prevent you from sustaining this form and our biggest concern will be keeping fit. 


Transfer Window 

While we'll go over the signings at the end of the transfer window, I wanted to mention that I've made some stronger calls on players - specifically listing some players and looking to move them away. 


The first two are highlighted here. Kicha is a highly paid player and he's simply not that great. You can see, if nothing else, that we've picked up Clementino who can cover all his roles for less in wages, and we get a better player for it. Because of the wage, is it a short term fix? Yes certainly. But we've only signed Diego for 1 year as well, whereas Kicha has a crazy 2 year deal at those wages. He wasn't too happy about the listing, but we really don't have the cash to be charitable about our wages.

2nd "L" there is our 2nd keeper. I would have been happy having 2 keepers - neither are probably going to challenge for GK of the season in this league, but both are entirely fine for what we need this season. Trouble is, *both* are individually fine, but yet again it's a lot of money to have 800 pounds per week invested in just 1 position. 

The 3rd guy I've decided to let go is our left back Vlasyuk. I may have mentioned that I thought we were light on a bit there. Even though the below table paints him in a fairly favourable light, I'm worried about the total mistakes and how long before he makes one that punishes our goalkeeper. 


The eagle eyes among us can probably piece together that we've signed 30yr old Bidovskyi to replace him. 


Should all three of them leave, that would save us roughly 1k in wages. We're already 500 over our wage budget, but this would make room for us to pick up a new centre back OR look to attract a younger player to sign for us so we can hopefully blood him for longer-term success.


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box2butlee3.png.7c1ef9a33ebad1e213e9ee8e439b0864.png  1 September 2018

Our hot streak finally ends while we don't have much luck during the transfer window. 


League Table

On September 1st, the last match before a considerable break, we finally had our undefeated streak broken. The month of August was every bit as rough as we expected, made even worse by a 120 minute Cup fixture that ended 1-1 and took us to 11 penalties to get a result!


That's their keeper stepping up to make the first miss of the match!

3 days later we could only manage a come-from-behind draw. Not to pretend it's a dire situation that we're in, but we do seem to have trouble rising to beat weaker teams. Against the stronger sides we really step up and dominate and find ways to score. Against weaker teams we get a bit lost for ideas as they sit back and defend us, and we get hit on the break a fair bit. 

But it was the 1 September game we lost - we were still probably the better side, but Dnipro-1 scored early and we spent the rest of the game trying to catch up. It was one of those difficult ones where you wonder if we could have done more - you have a rotation strategy in mind and it's great until it's not and you think "oh I probably shouldn't be so quick to rest my players". :( 


I don't believe this form can continue all season. I'm certain that teams can catch us. The good news is that having a 14 point gap to 6th shows that we're probably already sitting nicely for a Top Half finish at the least. After 12 fantastic matches, we should definitely set our sights on the promotion scenario (winners promote, 2nd and 3rd playoff against the Premier Div teams), but it's always nice to have the security blanket that the Board won't be looking to let us go any time soon. 


Transfer Window - Summer 2018

Not that exciting overall. We're restricted heavily by financial concerns and it's difficult to shift players at this level at the best of times - let alone the first season when you haven't had a chance to show them off. 

We have picked up 2 signings though. I've gone over how I was fearful we couldn't score goal - and oh how wrong I was on that front - and we picked up Diego Clementino to help us out there. The other issues were at the back and surprisingly our DC Kravchuk has found a really nice little partnership with our star back Aksyonov, so I was happier to chase a wide backline player instead. Bidlovskyi is a winger with a bit of defensive skill rather than an out-and-out full back, but by August we already had an idea that we were one of the stronger sides this season and I was happy to have proper 'wingback' roles appointed.


I've been playing around with some "Player Card" sketches like above. They're just a bit more interesting than dumping the player profile pages for every single player.
Obviously they'll improve over time (I'll stop designing them between Paint & MS Excel for a start), but I'm actually not that artistic, so don't hold your breath, haha. But the main thing is to highlight what type of player they are, why we signed them/what we're hoping to get from them, and really how we managed to get them to come - be it big wads of money, being a bit opportunistic, or just really thorough scouting and savvy shopping.

Obviously it's early days and these are all going to be fairly plain - but if we progress forward nicely over our career, we'll be masters of the Player Card review by the time we're at clubs with a bit more player rotation.




Minsc will lead with blade and boot! Boo will take care of the details.


He's been here for 5 years and I actually really like that he's Fairly Professional. Maybe it's just a passing FM 'fad' for myself, or maybe there's some (sub?)conscious reaction to the seeming shift in 'professional footballers' culture these days, but lately I've put a lot more stock in player personalities. Here, the assistant manager leads with the right attitude.

The staff I actually hired amounted to basically just a Chief Scout and a U21 Assistant Manager. The Scouting boss is actually the solo scouting department staffer we have, but for now we've just gone with a younger local Ukrainian candidate - at least his knowledge is fair and I've seen Staff grow & improve before so maybe the 35yr old will within the role.

I went the far other end of the spectrum for someone to manage our Under 21's. Nikonov has clearly been involved in football for decades and this will likely be his last gig before he retires. We don't have much of a U21's side, but at least Vadim can look after the U21's, the Youths and I can probably ask him to look after our Youth Intake this season in absense of a full time HoYD. The guy has great talent working with the kids and well-balanced training skills. Until we can really afford to bolster our staffing numbers, we'll just be looking for coaches with a broad array of skills.





We said we'd need some players to put their hand up as Team Leaders if we wanted to really push this club in the right direction. I know Dynamics are probably a bit divisive in the community in the sense of if they're a welcome addition to the game, but it's not really an analysis I want to get into (here at least. I'd love to have that kind of discussion on the merits or not of dynamics in FM, but in another forum somewhere).

But what I like about them in the context of our club is that Dynamics will transcend any given season to a large extent. If we encourage certain players to grow into team leaders - through captaincy or just sheer volume of appearances or how we talk about them in press conferences to name some examples - we need to make sure they are part of the long-term framework we're building. 

Here we have Korolkov stepping up as our first "Highly Influential Player" - a feat obtained by him holding the captains armband and also because he's close to becomming our most capped player at the club. Now he's 32 years old and he's playing out of position at DM this season and his contract runs until 2020. He's not really that great at DM - he just does the basics like moving the ball around well, but he doesn't win many challenges or play any piercing balls through from back there. It's fine while everything else is working so well, but it's not a long-term solution. Plus there's starting to become a very real promotion fight opportunity here and will a 33yr old veteran be able to step up!? 
My point is that we've got to seriously consider extra factors like leadership and determination and even loyalty of our other players lest Korolkov leave or retire over the next 18-20 months and we get stuck back at square one with no real leaders.

And that's what I meant about Dynamics transcending seasons and why that's interesting right now. We're trying to squeeze every little advantage we can out of a club with limited resources, and to grow the club in any way possible. Making sure we have responsible team leaders that continue with us over the seasons is one such little element to the clubs growth.

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box2butlee3.png.08ab6a5ced4763a355dc42b78609a533.png  21 November 2018

We've hit a bit of a wall now this season. Some of our overall energy has been lost, and teams have been punishing our defensive efforts a fair bit as well. The Winter break may be our saving grace!


2nd in the League


For the first time this season we've lost our top spot, squandering what was up to a 6-7 point lead. You can see our form right there.

Where we're struggling is at both ends of the park. The midfield is fighting well, but our wingers are having trouble scoring and we're getting done on the break in defence. I'm torn over pulling the defensive line back a bit and losing general shape that worked so well for us early in the season. 

It hasn't helped that we're lacking options up front after Clem broke his arm.


On of the reason's he was an appealing signing was that he was still fit and fast and athletic for his age. 8 weeks without training at his age may well have that wane - he won't be back until after winter and that might just be his career over. At least his career with us.

The saving grace here is that we get a break for winter - maybe we can use that to re-focus our efforts.


Winter Is Coming

Ok it's a bad GoT reference :(

Ukraine has an interesting Fixtures setup. I mentioned how early we started off for starters. The reason for this is the snowy winter of course, but if you're used to other European nations, it's a bit jarring think you have literally 4 months off football!



Finances / Money / Club Things

A couple of other things that should help us with finances a little bit.


I'm actually really happy with this. Zorya were 3rd in the top flight when we linked with them and even if they drop a bit, they've got a decent squad and that means some potential to loan players in the future. I'll be taking a look this transfer window for sure.

The fee isn't huge, but affiliation fee's are so outdated that you can't expect much these days. 

Similarly we earned some sponsorship - it's a little more significant. I'm not ungrateful - every bit counts!



Contract For Minsc

The main reason for updating now, as opposed to during the long, slow break, is that the club wanted to lock up Minsc with a new contract. The club is still sitting well beyond expectations and it's at least worth another punt next year. For Minsc the biggest challenge is getting 'more' money for the new deal out of his new contract. We'll work on it and let you know!


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box2butlee3.png.8676c37b68e4b7ca313bc92e4f0a2697.png  12 March 2019


It seems like a long time-skip, but this is just the Ukraine winter...


Artists rendition of Butlee, Minsc & Boo seeing out the winter. Clearly Butlee (from Australia) is freezing and Minsc is unfazed. You could tell that was Boo right? Right!?


Contract for Minsc

The contract negotiations were fairly swift. The Board would never be able to agree to any promises nor investments, so it was really just down to philosophies and then flat out money. 

Philosophies are a funny thing. Initially we said we'd play direct football. I figured our 4 defenders and our DM options weren't great, but we had express talent on both wings and 2x MC's who really liked to push on. So the idea was that we focus on playing the ball down their end. Don't play out from the back, don't stress too much about shape when we win the ball, don't work through certain players or channels - just get the ball and look for our front 3 and they'll either take teams on or drop off to our midfielders who would storm forward on the break. 


But we've managed to have a lot of control in our fixtures and our fullbacks have been fairly solid in attack, so we've found ourselves getting forward and actually keeping the ball a lot more; going side to side, probing for goals. So we changed our promises for direct play to possession football. 

The 2nd piece there was what the Board wanted. We don't have the youth facilities to bring through our own players reliably often enough and we don't have the money to invest in big name signings - so Minsc agreed that the best plan right now is to find the best young players we can and sign them - mostly we'll be looking at Free Agents and unsettled players to sign on pre-contracts.


That meant the biggest sticking point would be money, and with team performing far better than expected, we were going to drive a hard bargain to bump up our 500 pounds per week contract. 
Surprisingly, the club suggested this figure - a 50% pay increase - and we took it without argument!

It's a 1-year extension which basically means if any Ukraine (or other) top flight clubs want to chat to Minsc, they can likely afford to pay out his contract here. If no one does, we can only keep trying to perform well here and look for a bigger contract again in 12 months time (with any luck after promotion!!).


Youth Intake

Today's main update (League fixtures don't start for a few more weeks yet) is to discuss Youth Intake, and I'm going to first chat about Youth Intake as a function of Football Manager. Hope you find this interesting as a little sidebar to the story.


Youth Intake - One of the most exciting parts of the season, but one of the weakest features in FM

The sub-title really says it all. I love the Youth Intake time of year. Regardless of if you're a massive club with a lot of prospects or a tiny little amateur club with nothing invested in this area, there's always something you can hope to get from your Youth Intake. And that's really exciting.

Unfortunately the more you enjoy the Youth Intake, the more disappointing it becomes. Whether you're looking to do everything possible to get the best Youth Intake, you're trying to optimise this based on limited resources, or even if you're just trying to understand who, why and how you attracted such players to your club - the lack of information provided really crushes your enthusiasm. 

What we know is that a mix of a whole bunch of things impact your Youth Intake. Some of these are:

  • Youth Recruitment (mostly influencing potential of youth recruits)
  • Junior Coaching (mostly influencing current skills of youth recruits)
  • Head of Youth Development
  • Youth Team success
  • League & Nation you are in
  • Having affiliations with other clubs
  • Region you are in (??)
  • Number of local youth recruits that have made it to your First XI (??)
  • Positions and roles based on your current formation or star players (??)

So all of that is just guesswork based on bits and pieces of information from around these forums, the internet and generally from playing for a decade or so. Some or all of these may influence some or all of the parts of your Intake. 

Being unable to understand which parts of the equation influence which parts of the Intake makes it really difficult to manage this element of your team. And that's the crux of the matter - it's a really cool feature, but only if we can manage it. 
And to do so we need more information on how it works. We're not asking for explicit details, heck we're not even looking for comments like "Your Youth Recruitment is 70% of the impact on potentials of youth intake" - what we're looking for is just enough feedback so that we can make somewhat informed decisions about our club. 

Imagine for example if you're a middle-sized London-based club, making your way up the English League ranks. You're desperately investing in youth because you don't have the reputation to buy in high quality players. But behind the scenes it turns out that your reputation is compared to the other (bigger) London clubs and so your investment is relatively fruitless. If you had some in-game feedback to give you a heads up about this, you would look at other options - saving that money to buy better facilities or changing your transfer/signing strategies, or heck, trying to affiliate with overseas clubs to gain access to gun youths that way for a while! 

This approach is also quite realistic. After all we hire a Head of Youth Development - in 2019 that role isn't just judging your club's youth talent - he'd have networks within the Youth-evaluating/Youth-training scenes and he'd understand how your club and its players stack up to nearby or rival clubs. You would definitely be able to probe him on questions about how we're going and if we're investing enough, and he would give even better detailed feedback on why certain players have joined our club, and what he likes about them.



This is my mock up of what the Youth Intake news article could look like. 
It has a whole bunch of interesting information with a focus on giving a manager feedback that he can make decisions based on. That he can manage

The graphics and layout make it fairly easy to review imo, and if it's too long for a page, you can easily cut it in half and have 2 tabs (like the player awards night news article for example) - 1 tab for the player roster and 1 tab for the comments and HoYD feedback.

I probably don't need to go through everything on that sheet - it's built to be self-explanatory. As you're reading it, I want you to imagine what actions you'd take as a manager based on this information (that you couldn't easily deduce before). Let's say:

  • Knowing the likelihood of having access to certain positions from your youth stocks in the future (ie, if you only get 2 DC's every youth batch you might want to look at other options whereas if you get 6-8 Wing/IF/ST guys who are all fairly interchangeable you might ease off bringing in external youths in those positions a bit)
  • Deciding if the kind of players your HoYD is bringing in based on his preferences (ie, if he's defensive minded and brings in those kind of players, but you want to play fast, attacking football, maybe you need to change your HoYD)
  • Making a bunch of changes based on the "Club Influence" section - more focus on the youth side, the youth manager skill, more investment, changing the tactics of the youth team (to mirror the First XI or not) etc...

And there's probably a whole lot more that different people will take from this. 
And, in a single save, over time you'll learn bits and pieces of what helps. If you change your First XI formation, do you start seeing a shift in the positions you get in your Youth Intake? If you change your HoYD does the personalities of your Youth Intake change, or does he invite a few players in that match him? And so on...

The trick here is that none of this reveals too much from behind the curtain. How Youth Intake works is still largely hidden - you've just more informative, quite realistic feedback from your HoYD that you can use to manage your youth strategy going forward. 


Anyway, that's my take. And this has been a suggestion and has been reviewed by SI. So if you think it's good, maybe a thumbs up or something. Or if it doesn't make it into FM 2020, bring it up again as an area that needs work!



Youth Intake - One of the most exciting parts of the season, but one of the weakest features in FM

Instead of that beautiful piece of information above we get this:



And honestly, I can't imagine anyone as a spectator would actually read that. Heck even myself, as the manager who's it's directly relevant to, barely want's to read this.

Actually before we start reviewing this, I should say that our target here is really just to find at least 1 guy who's got future First XI potential. It'd be nice if there's someone not that far off sitting on the bench for us at Senior level.

YouthIntakeSpread.thumb.png.3605b166555a8fd34610be3ab410883a.png      YouthIntakeGraphic.thumb.png.34c27bc4a81d68d2f9f34946470e49f5.png

This is how I tend to review my youths. This season it's a very barren crop, but I usually go through them 1 by 1 and make comments. One thing I really enjoy is looking up old players I've commented on at this stage and seeing where they've ended up or what their skills look like - even if I or they have moved on from the club by that time. 

I'm really big right now on players with the right personality for the club. It's something I almost entirely ignored for many years, and I feel like the one good thing the change to Dynamics (and everything that comes with) has done for me, is make me consider the mentality of the players playing for me. It's not about just buying the best players, it's about having a squad that's largely on the same page. I don't know if that makes me a better manager long term, but I like the flavour of it. Naturally Minsc wants to be buying Determined and Driven players - that's half the reason we signed Yeremin as a HoYD... though that doesn't appear to have helped.

On the flipside, I just track the location the players came from for fun. I don't have any realistic way to relate this to anything we can influence. I have seen affiliate clubs (especially overseas ones) having an impact on where you get players from, but for us, for now, it's mostly locals and nearby surrounds. 


This whole Youth Recruitment Review will grow over time as our Youth is more significant. For now, you can see there's not much on offer - considering the stars are relative to our current skill levels, this batch won't even get near our First XI (because we're intending to improve and they're already off pace a bit).

#1 - Panchenko

I'd normally like to highlight the best player, or top 3, and make comments on what I like about them - but as you'll see, even Panchenko is really going to struggle to impress us long term.



He's fairly athletic and if his overall physical skills increase that would be nice. But even if he got, say, +2 to all his technical stats to give him a bit of a winger/midfielder balance, he's still a long way off in positioning and OTB and he doesn't have anything else that makes me want to stick with him (ie, sometimes I'll respect a high work rate at the expense of some overall skills). He's also unambitious, and without doing detailed research into what that means, we can infer that he won't be the best trainer - he's not trying to prove anything to anyone.


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box2butlee3.png.9a03933522cf7e8e19e2ad74fdafb3c0.png  27 April 2019

The run home is fast and furious and the title race heats up. We're fighting with a number of things - keeping players fit after a long winter, trying to look after our ageing players and keep their fitness & form up, and trying to stay 1 step ahead of our opponents who tend to 'figure you out' at this time of the season.

Before we start, on a whim I switched skins (I do that), and this episode is brought to you by Rensie FM19 Purple Skin.


I should also mention that I play on 95% 'zoom' so if you like the general look of the skin/skins but think something is a little off, that's probably it. I obviously recommend any of the skins I'm using (else I wouldn't put up with them while I do any update lol).



The story of the season to date has been basically:

  • Come out of the blocks on fire, dominating everyone.
  • Run a precarious balance of juggling players and managing our big guns.
  • In September the juggling began to fail and we struggled to keep players fit and teams attacked us a lot more which we struggled with.
  • Late October and into November we rallied a bit after we lost our 1st place.
  • Big Winter.
  • A *lot* of friendlies to make sure we were ready for the 10-match run home.

When we came back from the break, I think we did so with a complete reset on our momentum. FM (maybe like real life) is huge on said momentum, and once you're on a roll you can seem untouchable (see our efforts in July/August). Without that backing us, it was a real dogfight to just compete with every club. We had to try and lift ourselves for every game individually. And sometimes we managed and sometimes we didn't.


Quick Note: Just see how bad the attendances are at home. Even when we're playing far worse performing teams, they still pull better home crowds than we do. 

Despite playing well in our friendlies, we seemed to come back completely unprepared for Avangard Kramatorsk. They're a reasonable mid-table side, but we were completely hopeless. It's hard to tell if our problem is not scoring enough compared to our possession-styled football or if we're making huge errors that consistently cost us goals. It's probably a mix of both, but here it really shone through.

We did manage huge win at home against our top 2 rivals Volyn. This (albeit briefly) put us back on top of the table. It wasn't just the result, but the way we dominated them over 90 minutes. We pulled 64% possession - which we hadn't done since well back into 2018, and we also didn't give them many good scoring chances. I like this look at the shots from both teams:


Even when they did get shots, they weren't in good areas or they were under pressure to get them on target. Ours weren't incredibly accurate either, but we had a lot more shots from inside the box and we were finding space to shoot in a lot more areas and over a lot more players.

One issue I felt we had, that hadn't been a problem to date, was the Home/Away impact. You can clearly see us wining good games at home and then throwing away matches away - such as the 0-1 loss to Zirka... who are on a complete fall from grace, sitting 15th in our League after demoting from the Top Flight last season.




As I always say, I don't like just dumping big screenshots - but I think it's good to take a look over the entire league table once in a while. It gives you real perspective on things like Zirka being on a 4-matches-without-winning streak before beating us, and how every single match now impacts the race for the trophy. it also explains why Minsc is so angry at the 1-3 loss to Avangard - not an insult to them, but we let in 3 goals... we're averaging less than 1 goal against per match before then - it's probably been the best feature of our season, our defence. So to come back from the break and immediately let in 3 goals - it's incredibly frustrating!!

For the run home we have Dnipro-1 & Mykolaiv (5th & 6th), but also Kobra & Sumy (13th & 14th), so it's not easy, but it's about as nice of an end to the season as we could hope for with the title on the line.


The Squad

We made a few small changes to the squad over the Winter break. With 1 being a goalkeeper and the other a DC, it's really difficult to decide if they were a contributing factor to our continued struggling form. Honestly I don't think they were - our form was fairly poor all the way back in September, and yes these new guys had some teething issues while trying to settle into the squad, but I don't know if they were worse than our other options. 

Having said that, with the structure of the season being majority July-November, and less than 1/3rd of the remaining fixtures being after the Winter holiday, in the future we will not be inclined to wheel and deal over that middle transfer window. The players don't have long enough to settle and come good before EoS. We might sign players with next season in mind, but no more trying to buy in quick fixes for a 6-10 match cameo.


Of course I say that as a lesson-learned with the value of hindsight. I had to teach Minsc what "hindsight" was - he can't comprehend how someone can see behind themselves when their eyes are in the front of their head. Later, he assured me he had hindsight covered - boo would take on the challenge of maintaining it!

I want to spend a little time talking about transfers. Maybe it's disproportionate to the amount of time chatting about the exciting league run home, but that's because transfers and squad building kind of transcends any individual season (imo).


The 3 latter transfers in that list tell (what I think is) an interesting story. They are essentially 3 different circumstances for signings. Let me explain:

  1. Schebetun - Reactionary Signing
  2. Lytvynenko - Opportunistic Signing
  3. Sukhar - Planned Signing

I don't know if that makes a lot of sense. But let's take a minute to look at them.



#1 - Olexiy Schebetun - ST

At the time we were extremely worried about Clem and whether he'd be able to recover. We still had Shvechuk as a Target Man option, but Schebetun brought us a younger, more technically skilled option. 


He's not exactly the pacey, slippery character that Clem is, but he fit our strategy well. Remember that we'd just changed over and promised to play a possession-based brand of football, so our challenge wouldn't be in having a quick striker who could pierce the line, but one who was comfortable with the ball at his feet and could help out our midfield. I also liked him being a bit bigger to win headers - we have 2 really good wingers and there's a chance he could get on the end of crosses and give us that avenue towards goal.

Unfortunately even the best laid plans can go awry, and Schebetun got an 8 month injury - breaking his leg on his first professional outing. He'd spent 4 friendlies getting match fit and settling in, and the first change he got for real, he was out within 15 minutes. 

Maybe Fortunately, Clem was able to return, and return to his fantastic early-season form. He scored both goals past Volyn, and was just generally lively whether he was playing up front or on the wings.


#2 - Olexandr Lytvynenko - GK

I basically stumbled upon this guy through our scouts, and he seemed to go to be true. Being unemployed, he only wanted 80 pounds per week - for that I'd have taken him on even if he wasn't a better keeper.


You can easily see why we were keen to keep him on. Dankovych is totally fine as a First Division keeper here. When he's not under too much pressure he does an entirely reasonable job. But "Lyt" (light) is more like a keeper that I think can manage in the Premier Division here - and while there's still a lot of work to do for the club to get there, I think this season has told us that these are the plans we need to make. 


Otherwise I won't speak too much about Sukhar. I left his signing a bit late because I always knew the loan option from our new affiliate was there. I definitely wanted to use that link to obtain a player and once we hadn't secured a DC I picked him up. In terms of skills on paper he was fine, but by performances he was awful. I ended up dropping him and reverting to other options to see out the season. 

So that's how I came up with the Reactionary, the Opportunistic and the Planned signings. We always planned to get a DC so this one was thoroughly scouted and picked. Our GK was doing fine, but we had this amazing opportunity to sign a better one, cheaper, and we took it. And then as a reaction to our 35yr old ST being injured and maybe never getting back to competitive fitness, we picked up a striker - and heck, one with a chance to take over Clem longer term.



I always make an effort to manage the club finances as best I can. If i know spending the full transfer or wage budgets will hurt the club, I will temper my signings for example. But sometimes the club is in such a hole that the only way to get out of it comes from them, and all you can do is spend whatever allowance they give you and try win enough games that they get some kind of windfall that way. 

From our perspective that means trying desperately to promote, else the club will go bust. In the short term though:

17th March:


So we kind of dipped below 230k of debt during March and the Board threw in 90k to help make sure we weren't compromising our on-field results because of it. I don't know if these injections are based purely on money/debt & the (randomly generated?) strength of the owners wallet.. or if there's an element of how much they trust Minsc that makes them say "Well we're in with a promotion shot, let's make sure we do enough to keep the club afloat."

It's likely entirely the former, but I like to believe the Board puts money in to match Minsc's ambition all the same :)


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box2butlee3.png.5247d13f78180c862a0e487bd237a59a.png  9 June 2019

As season's go, it hasn't been a particularly dramatic one. We got off to a flier and rode our luck as best we could for as long as we could. 2018 went by in a flash and before we knew it, we weren't just some cash-strapped struggling club who would have to fight to stay in this competition, we were battling it out for trophies! It always felt like our destiny was in our own hands and most of the issues were trying to sustain our early-season form. The players were generally pretty happy with our efforts and the Board was ecstatic.

So hopefully the narrative hasn't been too painful - I expect as we grow into the game a bit more and as we rise through the leagues these stories will get better and better - slower time skips, more detailed, and as we create more *history* they'll be more entertaining as well.

But back on task, how did we do? Well I won't keep everyone in suspense...




The Run Home

With a 1 point deficit, 4 matches remaining and our form being inconsistent (putting it nicely), we really could have turned this into something magical or something horrible, depending how we performed. 

FinalRoundM4.png.e89fd5c693be48a3100ec78256751ab2.png  FinalRoundM3.png.1e40d726768019c73fad0e131b42e947.png


Honestly, the first thing we did was slip up. Sumy were fighting to avoid relegation and showed a lot of creativity and spark - but we were by far the dominant side. Unfortunately they rallied and we had all kinds of trouble getting into their penalty area, which ultimately cost us as they waited for mistakes and hit us on the break. 



This kind of tells the tale of us getting 'stuck' in midfield, unable to spend enough time actually probing their penalty area. Whereas when they attacked hard and fast they got really deep and threw the ball from side to side to punish us. Our fullbacks were caught out pushing too far forward here - though it's not entirely their fault.. it's our fault for losing the ball cheaply and being unable to use it to break their defences.

The Dnipro-1 match was surprisingly the complete opposite. We still held the ball, but they got well forward and challenged us often. In fact our new keeper Lytvynenko got man of the match. It took a last half hour cameo from Clem to completely upset the game. He just knows how to roam a lot better as an Advanced Forward or False Nine, and with our pacey wingers charging forward, and our technically gifted midfielders coming through too, the defence doesn't always cover the gaps properly. The goal itself was Clem dragging his man wide, receiving the long pass and feeding back Yefremov in the centre. While our Playmaker charged forward at the other centre back, Clem got the inside track on his marker and received the return pass 18 yards out - striking a pile driver into the back of the net to secure us a point!


Volyn was currently 4 points clear of us and we'd need them to make two mistakes in 2 matches to give us a chance. They started well (for us at least):


You'll see from the stats (below) that we're still playing good football, and yet we're not quite clinical enough to command the games when we're on top. It's a problem that plagued us all through the back end of the season - we're still (mostly) doing the possession thing right, but we were really struggling for answers in front of goal. Don't get me wrong - Clem was still playing fantastically, but getting him the support that lead to more goals was a struggle.


What annoys me a bit (apart from the obvious shooting issues) is that we barely won possession and still managed to complete less passes. That means we're running on the ball or just sitting on it waiting for something to happen (when trying to play it out of defence for example), and that's not good enough. You can't subscribe to a possession-based philosophy and linger on the ball. You need to be creating chances with your passing, and we weren't doing that. In the end we relied upon a goal from our big central defender Aksyonov from a corner kick. 


The Final Round


We'd done enough to keep the pressure on Volyn going into the final fixture of the season. Minsc rallied the troops - they *had* to win this one. Our opponents were Kobra - already relegated at this point and purely playing for pride.

Annnnnddd.... we were terrible!

I don't want to harp on the obviously disappointing game too much, as in the end Volyn won by 2 goals anyway and our league position couldn't have moved no matter the result. But it was a match where you couldn't distinguish between which side was relegating and which was a potential trophy winner. Another inconsistent game by the club here and you couldn't help but say we weren't a deserving 1st place finisher based on our recent efforts.



Which ultimately meant we'd have to do it the hard way..,...


The Hard Way

Next step was having a play-off match against the team we were set to replace. That drew us against Arsenal-Kyiv. Under that banner they've only been around for since 2014, but they have a really interesting history of ownership - it was owned by the Ministry of Defence! - and if you're curious I'd recommend a few minutes on Wikipedia looking it up. Gives an interesting insight to how football clubs function in a part of the world most of us wouldn't be that familiar with (in footballing terms).

They had just 5 wins in their 32 matches in the Ukrainian top flight, but their main problem was picking up 14 draws and only managing to score 22 goals over the entire League season! 


It would come of no surprise that both the playoff fixtures were slower, grittier and more of a dogfight than they were any kind of higher octane, expressive fixtures. Arsenal grinded us almost to a halt and we were having trouble creating chances. The first leg was actually fairly even with neither side looking like scoring, but away from home in the decider we looked the goods. It too us 67 minutes to score, but that just spurred them into attacking for 25 minutes... leading to a 93rd minute penalty!

With both exhausted sides shaping up for Extra time, it was basically penalities before we knew it. Fortunately we sunk all 5 of ours and they missed a couple... which is why..



We had won promotion! :D

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box2butlee3.png.4084f728b9bd08d6cd9837f8d175d812.png  17 June 2019

If you've been reading along (thanks btw), and feel like we've not been living up to the promise of a 'slower and more analytical approach', hopefully our End of Season (EoS) review will whet your appetite a bit more. It's difficult to put too much work into your first season (beyond the effort managing the team of course!) - you're typically making do with what you have, you're learning all your formations from scratch, you don't have the leverage with the Board nor have you had the preparation time to fully realise your plans for the club. Indeed I would say there's almost an entire 3-season cycle for you to be in full swing with a club*. With not a lot of player movements, not that much in player rotation on the park, and a relatively successful season overall there wasn't too much to dive into... just keep doing what you set up at the start and all is good. Next season, as we struggle not to demote instantly, may well be different.

*We'll dive into that statement at a later time.

What I like to do for EoS is essentially start by creating a few review tools/metrics, slowly growing the suite of graphics or tables or things to discuss. And as we grow as a manager and get into bigger jobs at bigger clubs, hopefully our portfolio grows to match the added pressure and expectations of those clubs. Right now we won't review our U21 or U19 squads for example. 


If you were expecting some high quality graphics or visual support aids, you've come to the wrong place I'm afraid. The analysis will be reasonable, but the presentation is sometimes questionable!




With the unexpected promotion, Girnyk was all over the news. It's hard to say what the expectation was for us - the Board said top half, the pundits tagged us as bottom 6, and who knows what the fans wanted. But no-one really expected us to promote, let alone challenge for the title.


End of Season (EoS) Team Report - Targets


It's important to outline your goals when doing any kind of review. You can go off on a tangent and research all kinds of features, but you need to tie them back to your initial targets/objectives at the end. 

-- Notes about Promotion --
We need to mention the obvious stuff. first We're getting promoted, we'll see an increase in funding - which may help the club improve and should give us a great budget for the playing squad. The expectation will be purely to try and survive.

-- Priority #1 --
To assess which players will cut it at the Premier Division level.
-- Priority #2 --
To determine our mid-to-long term strategy to survive in the Top Flight.
-- Priority #3 --
To review which areas of the club we can improve (ie, facilities) in the short term, to accomplish #2.
-- Priority #4 --
To indicate the kind of tactics & formations we may be able to build towards this season.

One thing worth noting is that we're not going to stress *too* hard about how well we pulled off our previous strategy or formation. The team is going to get a massive overhaul and our opponents & aims for this season are so drastically changed from the last, that reviewing how well we did compared to our plans in pre-season doesn't accomplish us much. Now, if we survive this season, we'll definitely have a lot of tactical-based reflection this time next year!


End of Season (EoS) Team Report - Players

"General Appraisal"

Obviously we did well, but I'd also say we did 'just enough' to get this outcome. We didn't dominate sides often enough and we were very inconsistent. I couldn't say, for example, that our defence was reliable or our tactics lead to some really nice plays & goals. So while I'm obviously really happy that the players got the job done - there's something to be said for their mental fortitude there - I'm not going to be gushing too much when looking over individuals.


A few surprises here - I didn't know Skarlosh would be that far ahead in the fans player charts. I also tend to disagree with Bidloksyki and Khoda getting their awards, but we'll take a look at that later. 

What's interesting from a tactical perspective is that our GK Dankovych got a 90% passing success rate, meaning both that utilised him, and we didn't ask him to just pump long balls to clear things. We kept possession and used the 'Sweeper Keeper' well. Which is nice, because I'm becoming a big fan of the SK role back there.

"The Best & The Worst"

There are pretty simple and easy cuts of the squad that tell us a lot. You'll notice this supports my comments above, in saying that we did the job, but we didn't exactly have a dominating season, despite coming 2nd.


I guess that explains why Skarlosh won the fan appreciation award by so much. By the stats he was so far ahead - and I do tend to agree, it was a stellar year for him! I think I just forgot via the passage of time, just how good he and Batyushyn were in the first half of that season when we were winning all our matches. Skarlosh is just about to turn 32, so we've got to hope he's still got a season in him to help us survive.

You might look at his and see that despite my complaining about not having a strong 2nd DC all season, Kravchuk put in a good effort via average rating. The issue is though, when you comapre his tackling to Aksyonov and Sydorenko (who's 8 starts were all at DC), Kravchuk just doesn't get in to make the tackles. Time and time again he was caught out - it's not that he doesn't have the pace.. he just doesn't have the work rate or drive to make sure the job gets done. So he's not really up to par, and even if we were to cut him some slack, it's quite obvious that we're going to need some new DC reinforcements this season, so one way or another he'd be on the chopping block!

Two final notes: Credit to Korolkov who played out of position all season long, played almost every match, and was pretty solid. And he, combined with the top 3 names there played in the vast majority of matches - Aksyonov played in every competitive fixture for us this season. That's a fantastic effort and something we definitely needed! Also a DC that goes all season without a suspension - can't complain about that!



You can see that we tried so hard to get something out of Kicha, and yet he just wasn't interested. 

I may have mentioned that Sukhar wasn't really a good signing for us (if not, I'll surely mention it below). It's a shame really because he might have just helped us get the couple of wins we needed for the trophy, but instead he was a liability. 

You can see why I wasn't too fussed about those bottom two names being on the season awards list. Khoda was fine - you can't blame him for his average rating when he comes off the bench so much (in fact, since you tend to start at 6.7, getting higher than that on average isn't too bad an outcome), but he didn't really make an impact. Sydorenko who we saw in the top ten is just a year older (23) and was pretty solid instead imo. 
That leaves Bidlovskyi and what disappoints me is the lack of chances created and no assists. We signed him specifically to give us an offensive option because we'd already seen that we'd be holding possession and attacking sides a lot - we needed some more players who could create goals. And Bidlovskyi didn't bring us that. 



When we started, every single player was on a 2 year deal, so we're in a bit of a position where we'll be carrying some dead weight into the new season. Our saving grace is that while dead weight was a huge burden on our 5k pw wage budget in 2018/19, hopefully that wage budget will increase with promotion, and that pressure won't be felt so much. 


Two players off contract in the first bars there. Probably the saddest thing about this EoS is that we'll likely let Schebetun go. He's still injured for 4-5 more months and our season starts in just a months time (to compensate for a 3 month Winter break) - so with him getting over his injury and adding on some actual fitness & recovery time, he wouldn't be available until the Feb/Mar fixtures... and by that time whatever we're doing will be fully established without him. So the injury timing sucks, but unfortunately we're a football club and have to make these cut-throat decisions... and then Minsc goes and weaps as he feels bad about it later..

The bottom is our 5 highest paid players. You can see why Kicha was such a thorn in our side - we couldn't get anything out of him, but he's locked into a huge deal.

And while you'll notice our two GK's here and that they were both pretty decent in the top ten chart above - keep in mind our new GK is better, and he's 1/5th of the price! Having 800 pounds pw coming out of your 5k wage budget to sit in the bench was really expensive last season. I don't expect both players to stay.


"Transfers Review"


This isn't that remarkable a review feature, but you can imagine this will grow over time - we might start looking at players we let go and if we would have needed them in hindsight, and start looking at players we bring in for the future as well.

For now though, I'd honestly say we made 2/5 good calls there. Clem was a worthy signing - he gave us something different to what we had and was great up front and from the wings. He scored some goals that no one else in the squad could have. I'm also still confident that we've made the right move for Lytvynenko - if that decision comes back to bite us so be it, but he looks the part and we just need to get him on board with the rest of the team to hit the new season running there.

And while the injury to Schebetun is unfortunate in timing (unfortunate in general) he adds to the 'didnt add anything' column of this equation. I'm really annoyed at Bidlovskyi because we put a lot of time and effort into signing a left back and we made the wrong call there. 

We still, imo, had the right idea for loaning in a player from our affiliate. For one, it helps guarantee that the affiliation stays in place (sometimes the Board will say "you never used this" as an excuse to cancel an affiliation). For two, it cost us nothing financially. And for 3, maybe it helps build the relationship between me and the Zorya manager/team/board, so future dealings go smoother. It's just a shame that Sukhar didn't bring anything to the table.
I think the issue may have been the timing of the loan too. It's just not long enough to join in January and settle. You need a few matches under your belt to get comfortable in the team/strategy, and then you play a couple of good games and then the season is over and/or the manager can't risk you as it's the business end of things.

So if there's  "lessons learned" element to this it's that we probably shouldn't expect to be making ANY kind of transfers in the January window, unless we're doing it to prepare for the season after. The silver lining with Zorya/Loans specifically, is that we'll get a full roster of potential loanee's to look at during pre-season, as opposed to looking in Jan, when all the best loan options already have deals.


End of Season (EoS) Team Report - Clean Out

These are the players transfer listed. 


All of the comments above lead me to this conclusion. Most of these guys I've covered with comments, and some others we just had to take another look over and make a call. Yefremov, for example, is a decent backup midfielder, except he's lacking a bit defensively and isn't as much of a goal scoring threat as Skarlosh and Batyushyn - so as a backup player he's not even just a slightly weaker player to those guys, he's a fundamentally different kind of player. So I'd prefer we let him go and leave the space in the squad open.

If those guys move on, I'd expect we'll be left with the bare bones 11 players at the club. That's kind of scary because of the short turn around between seasons, but it's not the worst position I've ever been in for player stocks (I once joined Macclesfield who had just demoted to Van Nat and once their off-contract players walked and all their relegation release clauses were met we had just 4 players in the Senior squad!). With the increase in wage budget (tbd) it should mean we can bring in a lot of players - hopefully there are plenty of free agents we can entice to come sign with us.


And that kind of wraps up the Players piece of the review! We got to the point of deciding which players won't make the grade or won't suit us as a club going into Ukraine's top Division


End of Season (EoS) Team Report - Staff


Really just floating this graphic out there for now. If we have any kind of positive bank balance, I suspect we will immediately bank on updating our staff. We're already one of the worst teams for coaching and staff in First Division so I guarantee we'll be the worst in our new League.


Our first challenge (probably when the season ticks over - June 20-30-ish) will likely be in securing scouts. No point stacking up on trainers when we barely have any players and of the ones we do, half of them are beyond 27 and won't improve much anyway. 

So it'll be scouts, then some coaches - depending on what we're allowed I'll almost certainly want 1 Fitness and 1 GK coach - I just think this is 2019 and these elements are critical to a team. Then whatever is left will help us build the rest of the coaching specialisation (or not, if we're not allowed too many more coaches and we just go for broad coverage).

That's a reasonable enough roadmap for now anyhow: Scouts ----> Fit/GK Coach ----> Physio ----> Coaching ----> DoF.

Why DoF at the end? Mostly because other roles can cover him. Minsc handles the contracts, the Chief Scout works on the searching and Boo will work on anything match-day related. Having a DoF is nice - I always like (conceptually) having someone focused on the transfer-and-contracts side of scouting as opposed to the out-and-out 'judging player skill' side.



to be continued........



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On 05/05/2019 at 23:38, WillHoward42 said:

Caught up on this, congratulations on Promotion!!

Ah ha! Cheers! Didn't plan it, but turns out a bit of strategy is enough to get the jump on your opponents in the lower, cash-strapped divs!

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box2butlee3.png.f67f1a095b8eefc87b43f9ec5ee289ac.png  17 June 2019

I know I said "to be continued" above, but I realised we can't talk about some of the other EoS priorities (ie, investments) without looking at some of the EoS fallout from our promotion.

So now we're going to take the long way around.




*Make a note about the last sentence there for later.

If you've ever had a team go from essentially amateur / semi-pro to full time professional, you'll probably appreciate just how life-changing this promotion is for the club. 
It changes the very core of your club - all of a sudden you have standards to meet, you have to present your club in a fashion befitting of the much bigger clubs surrounding you. You're now in the public eye, you're picking up interest from players and your current players are picking up interest from other clubs. You find actual significant sponsors coming out of the woodwork. You have to meet the requirements to even stay in the Youth competition (ie a certain number of staff etc...). And the list goes on - every single facet of your club changes, and how well you manage that will define the principles that the club is built up.

"But Minsc, you didn't just become a professional club. You've pro for years."


You're not wrong, but being in 3rd tier is not much of a professional life. Even now, keep in mind that our highest paid player is on 650 pounds per week! Our least paid "full time" contract is 55 pw!!! I don't care what exchange rates, living conditions or quality of life is like for these guys in Ukraine, that is not a full time professional contract at a full time professional club like we know and understand it. 

And even if we don't use professional/non-professional status as our measuring tool, the sheer fact that we've promoted to the top flight after just 6 years in the 2nd tier (with no prior exposure to anything more than 3rd division) tells us that this move up a division is an extremely big step for the club. We were already fairly under-equipped compared to the First Division sides, let alone the Premier teams here!

Anyhow, we're arguing semantics. The point is that big changes will happen. Not all of them will be in our control and some of them will be out of necessity.


Ukraine Premier Division

Damn, where do we even start!?


Here's a handful of the key rules for the top flight. There are some relevant things here:

Match Rules & Squad Registration
There are some tight requirements on locally trained players for both the squad and the Starting XI. They're not that tight (imo), and to be honest we have a grand total of 0 overseas players for the new season. I guess the important thing for Minsc to take on board here is that he shouldn't sign too many overseas Free Agents if there's a Ukraine Free Agent of similar talent.

League Matches
The league splits after 22 rounds. We'll go into this more later (maybe when it happens), but it's a model that I really like. Basically you get the Home/Away fixtures to set the men from the boys and the men go and play in a 6-team round-robin playoff for the title, while the bottom 6 teams go and scrap away to try and avoid relegation. It's nice because it helps to pair up the teams in quality more and it's really good for the fans. No one really wants to watch Dynamo Kyiv turn around and thump Girnyk-Sport 6-0 on the 32 week of the season for example... it certainly doesn't do us any favours either. So the split is nice - it'll mean we don't get our form/momentum crushed by big clubs and their big wallets over and over and over. We get a 10-week chance to fight to avoid relegation.

Stadium Requirements
Once I'd decided to start from nothing, and manage with Minsc, one of my favourite jokes - and indeed why I ultimately decided to take on this club - was that the stadium had just 1 seat, and then just sort of 'room for whatever else, up to 2,500' . 
That makes this seasons' promotion almost a bittersweet kind of deal, as we no longer meet the minimum stadium capacity rules for the Premier League.


We've negotiated a 1.15k pw rental agreement for Politekhnik for next season. Above, when I said to remember that last sentence, it was because they highlighted all the good work we'd done at Yunist. it's something we'll never see nor do again. 
(there is no shedding-tear emoji for this situation)



If you were wondering how I know we'll never touch-up Yunist to be up to par, it's because we have now officially SOLD it.


Oh, and we've announced plans to build a newer, bigger stadium of our own too :)

I'm actually, surprisingly (?), really proud to have the new stadium built while Minsc is at the helm here. It feels like, no matter what happens going forward (even if, say, we relegate again), Minsc has left a lasting legacy on this club. While I'm not into football manager for "fame" so to speak, I do like the idea of a "legacy". 

5,285 seats is nice, it meets the minimum requirements and I think it suits us - keep in mind we were averaging <500 fans to our home games (and only 4 travelling supporters for away fixtures, hah!) so even if we somehow doubled that, we're not even going to get close to filling it. Maybe if we make some Cup rounds and face a local Giant club we could get a few extra people in! I also assume there will be room to grow the stadium -- oh and that there will be more than 1 seat!!

Stadium Finances

Now I hate to turn this great, celebratory announcement into something boring - but I have to re-word the explanation of how we can afford a 1.5M stadium when, remember, we started with just 473 pounds in the bank and have only been going backwards!


The "Other" line is our loan. It's a debt we have to pay back over 10 years, which equates to 11.75k per month.

The "Grants" are self explanatory - that's a grant from council or government to help us build the stadium. That's 100% grant with no strings attached - except that we have to actually build a stadium of course!

Our "725k stadium sponsorship" mentioned above is actually 145k per season, which is shown here (among some other small sponsors we still had from last season).

And "Investments" is essentially "Capital Investment" - ie when the Board puts money into the club to help with running costs. Because we sold our stadium, for 77k there, the Board put all of that capital back into the club's bank account.

That actually all feels quite manageable in my opinion. The 11.75k per month repayment is 141k per annum, which means the stadium sponsorship will cover it for 5 years. In 5 years will we get another stadium sponsor? Who knows? But by then we'll pretty much know if we're ready to sink or swim... and if it's 'sink', we'll have a stadium worth a million bucks to sell to offset our troubles. The Grant is a nice, added touch - it really helps us reduce the loan amount and keep the whole thing manageable. I've still got no idea if we're going to be wealthy or struggling a bit financially this season.

Peripheral Club Things


I honestly have no idea when or how this happened. We certainly never had the money and I never asked to have this boosted. I'm tempted to say the Winter Update kicked in and updated some of this stuff? Either way, it's actually quite nice to have something here to work with.


 Club Finances

One thing I've always done in spreadsheet form (I'm obsessed with spreadsheets) is track finances. 
'Why do that when you can just use the in-game finances?'


Because I don't fuss too much over 1 season of finances, I care a lot more about the trend of our finances over time. And while some folks will be ready to tell us that we can barely change most of our finances, I'd say I think we still can to a degree. If I'm with a club for a while I tend to measure what improvements I ask them for based on how I think our finances are going. I'll sometimes not spend all my transfer budget if I know it puts us in a bad spot. I'll be a lot more diligent about spending less on staff wages for example, if they are blowing out (especially when compared to play wages). I think there is a fair bit to you can learn from your finances - and on top of that it's nice to see if and how your other stuff goes up.. ie Corporate Fee's or Merchandising etc..


We came out slightly ahead - that's because of the investments from the Board (that's 2 payments they put in to keep us afloat, not the stadium-related stuff). But ultimately it's not too bad. 
I'm not specifically worried about anything there - normally I'd scrutinise a bit more, but with the promotion the equation tends to change a bit. 

I'm far from qualified to predict everything, but at the very least I'd expect our expenses to double. Maybe even more. Our wages should go up at least x3 and we'll actually take on a suite of Staff now as well. That'll probably be >1.5M in expenses over the season alone. But to counter that I'd expect Gate Receipts to go up - new stadium, and hopefully twice the number of fans/season tickets. We should get some televised matches which brings in TV revenue. We will hopefully get some more sponsors as well. With any luck, combined with survival and maybe some prizemoney from that, we'll make up the difference.

That tentatively doesn't leave a lot for improving facilities. I'll be watching the cashflow month-by-month to see if we're coming out ahead enough to justify some up-front cash dropping into some club features. I can't see that happening in the next few months though - maybe over the Winter break.


 Commercial Summary

Which kind of brings me to the Commercial Summary. Another of those 'underdone' pages that I'm not really fond of. If you enjoyed my Youth Pull screen review, you'll enjoy this. If not, you're welcome to skip.


First thing to mention about this is that it doesn't link properly to the Finances page. This one is fairly clean because it's not giving any input between the season just gone and the one prior, but it gets all muddled up and seems to roll over at a different time to the rest of the Finances page. I've always had a bit of an issue with when things roll over EoS. It's clear when the clubs/leagues rollover, but each club individually rolls over their finances on different days, independent of the league rollovers - it's annoying!

The merchandise area here is really boring too. Mine didn't even show the shirts like usual - what's with that? Is it bugged or are we too low in rep or having too few fans? The non-domestic sales figure is always locked at 10% until you get into the top 50-or-so clubs in the world too. I mean, who outside of Ukraine is buying our shirts? 1.31k of income... so that's 100's of shirts being bought somewhere.... Are they all Minsc's family back in Belarus!!?


Quick note on the shirts - did you know if you sell a player before the final day of the season (or if he retires after your last league match but before the final day of the season - ie if there were playoff games you weren't a part of), he won't show up in your list. Even if he's a club legend or national hero or your best player. If he's gone at the particular moment in time the commercial summary mail shows up, he won't be on it!!

Ultimately the problem is that the screen is nice, but it doesn't give you anything to 'manage' with. It doesn't teach you anything. It's barely even a review. And, much like the Youth Intake, it could easily be so much better...


*Where it says {image} I just want a little icon that represent what we're talking about. Like the current one above has (with the handshake and the medal etc..)

Clearly I've used mock data, but it's more about the layout, and what information is interesting & useful. The top and bottom sections are fairly similar to what the game has now, but the rest is kind of interesting information that you can't easily get anywhere else. I think adding tables and charts and graphics really make it look like a proper commercial report. It also really suits the notion of reporting on trends not actual position. I see Financial Summaries as more of a review of what you've done and this (even if we change the name from "Commercial Summary" to something else) is more about where you're going

'Which revenue streams are improving?'
'Are we selling more tickets? Season tickets? What's that making us?'
'How are our attendance figures? What's our capacity for growth in bigger crowds?'
'Who are our key names? Which players do the fans want to see!?'

With answers to those questions, you can actually tell what direction your club is going in. You may not be able to make too many decisions to influence this information, but at least you have a better idea of where things are and where they're going. 



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box2butlee3.png.2903c2d7285eddb89f4062f13ded1416.png  27 June 2019

On 06/05/2019 at 20:38, Butlee said:

-- Notes about Promotion --
We need to mention the obvious stuff. first We're getting promoted, we'll see an increase in funding - which may help the club improve and should give us a great budget for the playing squad. The expectation will be purely to try and survive.

-- Priority #1 --
To assess which players will cut it at the Premier Division level.
-- Priority #2 --
To determine our mid-to-long term strategy to survive in the Top Flight.
-- Priority #3 --
To review which areas of the club we can improve (ie, facilities) in the short term, to accomplish #2.
-- Priority #4 --
To indicate the kind of tactics & formations we may be able to build towards this season.

I just wanted to bring this discussion back to this to round off. We aren't going to be able to put action to all our notes just yet - at the very least we'll be wanting to see how much money we have and if the Board throw any more curveballs at us. But we've already accomplished Step #1. And while Steps #1 & #4 may well be linked somewhat (I imagine we'll still be looking at 4-3-3 because our wingers and MC's are still our strongest players and we've bet that they'll compete at the higher level), we'll need to see what sort of players we can attract to guarantee that.

I think the obvious answer to #2 is Youth investment, simply because we're so far away from most clubs financially and youth investment kind of sticks around even if you demote again. Which means we should be looking at boosting our youth facilities and recruitment/coaching if possible. But once again it's tough without knowing if we're going to see any kind of TV Revenue or Sponsorship money etc... if we only have enough for 1 facilities upgrade (likely), we may well decide getting better training grounds for our seniors is a better option because in the short-to-mid term we simply don't have youth stocks.


That's really all I have to cover today. I wanted to roll over to the new season and to start scouting like mad and trying to see what we can put together. It really is an exciting time for a manager :D


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10 February 2028   box2butlee3.png.8f6251f6719fd8c82d02abb2d9d0dfd4.png  

In the example you'll see today, I'm playing as FC Augsburg in Bundesliga. It's my first day on the job after finishing up at FC Koln, but previously Derby County and Billericay. It's actually a multiplayer game, where I am (portraying as) New Zealand female manager "Mane Quinne" and my friend is Australian born "Rele Gated" - he's currently managing (much more successfully than I) at Ajax.
I just wanted to use the Augsburg file as it has a wider Scouting knowledge and will better illustrate my points.


Some Managers are the type to micro-manage every element of the club that they can get their mits on.
Some Managers are happy to let a lot of the peripheral stuff handle itself while they just focus on tactics and matches.
And everyone else finds their own balance in between those two extremes.

We're talking things like optimising your staff, managing your training (mentoring groups, training units etc..), making sure your reserves and youths are set up properly, consciously handling contracts yourself, and many other facets of running a club. The one we're looking at today though is Scouting. Specifically the Scouting Knowledge page, with a little splash over.


I view each of these things as little side projects to work on. While I won't always rush around to do everything at the start of a playthrough (except in a few instances), I will 'get to them' over time - usually as they become more relevant. Like Girnyk Sports - now we're in the higher league and theoretically have some wage budget spare, there will be much more importance on our scouting networks and knowledge.

And whenever I take the time out to do a little side project, I'll sometimes write it up as an independent article. This post will be more akin to reviewing the Youth Pull report or Commercial Summary report. Though Scouting is a much more complex beast.

Scouting Knowledge / Scouting Zones

For at least a few years now, I've felt like understanding the 'zones', especially in Europe, used for Scouting to be some kind of historical knowledge. Something so well known and accepted that people stopped teaching it and thus people stopped learning about it. Seriously, I tried to research such a thing over a couple of years ago, and ended up manually making my own by going through each nation on the 'borders' and marking if it were in or out of said zone!


Because the football/scouting zones aren't specifically the real world historical zones so far as I can tell. 

Why is this relevant?

Before we go off on a rant, I thought I'd cover why I feel it's important to have a functional Scouting Knowledge page and why Scouting zones (and understanding them) are important.
I've mentioned before that my main focus when it comes to features is - "how can I use this to manage better?"
My answer in this case is to take the percentages provided and to set myself targets.


Here my new German club only has a 50% knowledge of Central Europe - where we reside. In my opinion, that's far too low for a Bundesliga side, so it'll be a priority for me to improve. So suddenly, I can actually use this page to help manage my side better.


A simple way to explain it as well - this is a relevant page because it should be fun to pain the map, you know. 


Football Manager Previous

The switch to FM 18 (I believe) changed the Scouting and the Scouting Knowledge template/interface/page drastically - and I was relatively vocal about how negative I thought that change was (I mean, I posted suggests/feature requests - so at least I was doing it the right way).

I want to share a screenshot I put together expressing some of my concerns. I think in the end I might have used a different image, but this is the one I found easily and serves the purpose well enough.


The colour chart in the top right made no sense at all. It was a strange number of 'bars', it was a strange mix of colours and there was really nothing to be learned by having it. 
Sometimes the map defaults to the Regional Colours and sometimes the Nation colours which really put me off. A prime example is Brazil showing as yellow based on the "Nation" (because South America East is red), compared to somewhere like Portugal/Spain that you can clearly see as light green (based on Central Europe) whereas I don't have any knowledge of those countries. So which is it? Regional defaults or National defaults??
Thailand is the other obvious example here - it just fails to exist despite showing clearly that it's moderate (yellow) knowledge. 
The map is curled at the edges which seems like it's meant to be (artistically) like a globe rolled out. Except we have these big empty spaces either side of the map - it would look better if the map was laid out straight. Most of you Europeans probably won't notice, but I've drawn cross-section lines in Australia that connect North/South landmarks. The country is clearly on an angle. It's a little annoying because not everyone knows about Australia/New Zealand that well, and they may actually believe the country is shaped like that. For comparison I've drawn a similar line representing (what I believe is) the American West Coast in a N/S direction - clearly shown on a slant.

Now there were some other issues here - the tooltip information was fairly poor for example. The "World Knowledge" comment is somewhat hidden (in FM17 - below - it was a major presense on the page), and I feel like in general it looked a lot less professional with the stinging colours etc..


For what it's worth I was playing at Waasland-Beveran at this point, and ten points to you if you get the "Butlee Haversham" reference.

Scouting in 2019

I have to really give credit where credit's due now though. Despite (obviously) caring a LOT about this over the past few seasons, I think we're getting back to a nice space for this page and it's general usefulness as a management tool or reference. 


I won't say it's resolved all the issues. The graphic still slants for example! But overall it's a vast improvement. I'm even ok if the top-right colour chart is gone - just take it away to avoid the confusion. As best I can tell, the colours within the bar graphs and the map are more cohesive - it defaults to the Regional colours (see Eastern Europe in the image), but it will override those colours if the Nation is higher - that second step was where it was inconsistent in the past.

But hands down the best feature this year is the magnification sections. For mine, the best features in new Football Manager releases are always the little tweaks that go on behind the scenes, mostly ones that people never mention.

Look what happens now if I click on Central Europe!


The focus moves to the zone and there's even red lines showing which countries are covered in the highlighted zone! Ok it's not comprehensive look of every single nation, but it's a great little improvement!
It even tells me that I've been assigning Austria incorrectly (via my sketch above) wrong for years!


Scouting Targets

The targets that I set for scouting aren't meant to be some strict regime - it's just a mix of what you feel is practical and what you might think is fun. The important thing is not what targets you pick, it's just that you believe in them and can come back later and say "ok yes I achieved something there."


Going back to my FC Augsburg assignment, I've already mentioned I feel like 50% is too low for Central Europe for Bundesliga. We should potentially have access to the vast majority of players from 'local' or 'nearby' nations and if we're looking to grow, we should be looking even at players who may be a slight cut above our reputation, who would make superb signings if we can lure them here. 
As someone living in Oceania - Manne is always pretty keen to keep an eye on potential talents from 'home'. Same applies to me, Butlee, really. I can't help but try to find the 'next Harry Kewell' and bring him over from Australia, haha.

And that doesn't mean I necessarily go and micromanage the assignments (like you used to) either. I certainly don't mind doing so, but these days I like to (1) set myself these percentage targets (2) invest in the appropriate packages to get me there and (3) use those metrics to check if the Chief Scout is helping achieve our targets. And if he's not, maybe we look at setting some general assignment rules, create some short term assignments (though I generally save these for when I'm looking for a specific player/role), and if I'm really worried, I revert to the old school method of setting my own array of assignments... honestly I used to enjoy that a lot and sometimes I miss it!


Just to follow up our Augsburg review, here you can see the packages don't even have Central Europe for Youths (under 21s) so it's no wonder we barely have 50% knowledge in this section. Before doing anything else, I'll want to bump the investment up accordingly.


Anyway, that's my scouting knowledge wrap up. I'm a huge fan of scouting overall and I find it really interesting how all the little bits and pieces of how scouting is achieved changes over time. I know at times I'm overthinking it, but so long as I'm just reviewing it to help fine tune, I find that fun myself, and I'm not getting shirt-y with anyone who doesn't care for all the small detail, I don't think it's hurting anyone.


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