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1.FC Union Berlin: Developing Club Structure & Youth

Matty Aqua

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Welcome to the Dragon Force Academy, A club structure and methodology focused on developing youth from a young age to play FC Porto style. 

FC Porto has Excellent training facilities and Great youth Facilities in Football Manager 2024.

The process is driven by an innovative approach that educates youth as young as 4 years old to play high-level football and is carried out by coaches who share this vision of the game. Successful students will enter the Dragon Force Academy at 16 years old and compete in the Under 19 Portuguese First Division.

Edited by Matty Aqua
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As a kid there wasn’t much football on TV down under and there wasn’t this magical thing called ‘YouTube’ where I could watch clips of certain teams and players and keep in touch with the world of football. I was familiar with the “household” names at the time - Manchester United, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona and I had a fair idea of who they were and their relevance but there was one player who everyone knew. 

I think back now to how very little exposure I had to world game of football when I was a kid, maybe if I was lucky we would get some highlights on the news about Manchester United's dominance or some news about some Australian players abroad Viduka, Cahill, Harry Kewell, but I can tell you that everyone knew the name of Brazil's striker Ronaldo.

At school lunchtimes we’d play soccer and pretend to be like Ronaldo, kids were even cutting their hair like Ronaldol!, but we simply had no way of watching him play regularly and admire the true superstar striker he was as could only watch World Cup games being broadcasted on television. I realize now the influence the phenomenal star Ronaldo had on the world long before modern day technology became a tool to facilitate your marketing and global reach. Now as a fully fledged football fan (sadly no longer sporting a Ronaldo hair style) I have more curiosity as to what made him so great!, so undeniable!, such a phenomenon?... what were the pieces Ronaldo had around him tactically?, what were his player traits?, how did he become this myth-like figure among the football world?, and naturally that led me to this FM save with Real Valladolid with a view to emulate greatness!.


The LaLiga is no easy league to conquer and operating with one of the smallest budgets Real Valladolid have been continually punching above their weight, and in the coming years are planning to make a push for European football, which would be a massive achievement for Valladolid and Ronaldo, considering staying in the league for three consecutive seasons has only happened once for Real Valladolid in the last 20 years.

Real Valladolid is located about 190 kilometers northwest of Madrid with a population of just over 300,000 people. Being in relatively short distance from two giant clubs like Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid the closeness is seen as an opportunity to try and secure some loan deals for emerging young talent.



Derived from the work 'pucelanos' one of the great mysteries of Real Valladolid is why they are called "La Pucela", theories suggest the origin began in the 1940's and gained more popularity in the 1970's. Over the years, some of these assumptions have taken more strength than others here are the most compelling stories surrounding the nickname La Pucela.

  • In the fifteenth century some Knights from Valladolid took the way to France in order to defend the Maid of Orleans at the famous Hundred Years War against Britain (1337-1453). As in the old Castilian language of the time the word "maid" used to be called "pucela" these knights were nicknamed "pucelas" at his return to the city. 
  • Another surmise of the origin of this nickname comes from the very location of Valladolid. Located between the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers and the Canal de Castilla, it was considered by many as a pond in a dry place. Therefore, from the diminutive "Pozuela" (Pond) derive the word "Pucela". 
  • Finally, as one of the most compelling stories, the term "Pucela" is named after the cement trade that the Castilian city developed with the Roman town of Pozzuoli. At the time, Valladolid was the only city distributing materials from Pozzuoli and thanks to that industry promoted by their inhabitants the Castilian town inherits that pseudonym, which still is used to refer to the players R. Valladolid CF.

Whatever the origin of the word Pucela, it is common to find that Valladolid and Pucela are used as synonyms, Valladolid being considered the formal term and Pucela the informal or colloquial one. So, if one day someone from Madrid, for example, asks someone from Valladolid, “hey, where are you from?" It is not unusual for the answer to be: "me? from Pucela”.


The current stadium holds 27,000 and there are definitely ambitions to upgrade the stadium further.

Ronaldo has also invested €2.5 million of his own money to upgrade and modernize Estadio Nuevo José Zorrilla including upgrading the training facilities and corporate facilities.

  1533836382_STadiumConstruction.jpg.c9b15be400ad6cbbaae378725eeb5160.jpg  1399968055_LaPucela.png.cf12efb940b26ce5b48ac0de2c5af9af.png


When Ronaldo arrived he was asked about his involvement in the club, he replied “Do you think I’m going to buy a football club and go on holiday the next day” - Just like his playing career he wants to make the best of it!.

After purchasing 51% of the club in 2018 Ronaldo also purchased a further amount in the club in 2020 meaning he now owns 82% of the club's shares. This only solidified Ronaldo’s ambition to further develop the club and commit to the long haul project of stabilizing Real Valladolid as a regular fixture in La Liga.

Having a high profile owner has its perks, Internationally the club’s brand has grown substantially over the last few years. Organizations such as Sky Sports, the New York Times and L'Équipe have covered the club more often and the presence of the La Liga legend has helped secure players and sponsors.



Luigi Simoni was in charge of an unstable yet very talented Inter Milan in 97/98 season and despite delivering the UEFA Cup, he was sacked after just a few months of the following season, less than a week after a superb 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League, and remarkably on the same day as he won the Golden Bench award for being the best coach in Italy, as voted for by the other managers in Serie A. Inter Milan never won the Scudetto in the 90's regularly finishing behind Juventus and rivals AC Milan.

With Ronaldo in charge upstairs now at Real Valladolid, I figured it would be a nice touch to try and re-create the 4-3-1-2 tactic used by Inter Milan in 97/98, of course we don't have the talent at Real Valladolid to match the Inter Milan side, but the shape can be a structure with a view in mind for future players I'm hoping to recruit.



  1. Qualify Real Valladolid for European football for the first time in their history
  2. Sign 2 Brazilians per season and integrate them into the Under 19's
  3. Implement 4-3-1-2 tactic
  4. Develop the Fenômeno youth academy (Youth facilities)
  5. Upgrade the Estadio Nuevo José Zorrilla
  6. Win the Copa Del Rey
  7. Establish Real Valladolid as a top 4 club in La Liga
  8. Sign and develop a top young striker to score 35 goals in a season
Edited by Matty Aqua
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Baggio's Brescia

Football Manager 24 brings a new challenge!. I decided to head to the land of defensive football where I will take charge of Brescia Calcio and try to establish them as a Serie A club.

Why Brescia Calcio?, The job appeals to me for many reasons as I am someone who needs a few boxes ticked to really get into a save. The basic requirements of badge, colours and kits (which are all things that I like about Brescia), a club with a bit of history and of course a small idea to write about, and so....here we are!.


Founded in 1911, Brescia are considered a ‘provincial’ club in Italy and are not particularly classed as 'Serie A regulars', Brescia has enjoyed 23 seasons in the Serie A and 63 in the Serie B, aside from a handful of Serie B division titles their greatest achievement was an Anglo-Italian Cup in 1993/94. Brescia made footballing headlines in 2000, signing one of the generations most talented players, Roberto Baggio. During Baggio's four-year spell with Brescia, they became widely known as "Baggio's Brescia" and the club recorded its best-ever run of staying in Serie A. In the very next season that followed Baggio's retirement however, Brescia were relegated from Serie A on the last day, finishing a lowly 19th, I'll expand more on that later.

Brescia has links to other names you might have heard of before, One of the most decorated managers of all time, Mircea Lucescu, the Romanian Gheorghe Hagi, striker Luca Toni, Brescian striker Mario Balotelli and playmaker Andrea Pirlo – born in Brescia – have also spent time playing for the club as well as Barcelona's iconic playmaker Pep Guardiola who is now one of the best managers in the world.



Baggio played for the three biggest clubs in Italy - Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, he scored the most league goals for Brescia. At every other club Baggio found opposition, frustration and isolation, but with Brescia he was treated as a divine figure, a guardian angel sent from footballing heaven to bless the team with his presence. And bless them he did!.

In his four years with Brescia, Baggio scored 46 goals in 101 appearances and following his departure Brescia instantly dropped back into Serie B. Roberto Baggio's time at Brescia was so much more than just his goals or the team’s position in the league. It was about a former icon of the game proving himself with a relatively forgettable provincial side and being their guiding light as a talisman as Brescia achieved their greatest successes in over a century.

It was redemption. Redemption for a player who suffered endless difficulties, setbacks and injuries. Redemption for a penalty kick that broke the hearts of all in his nation in 1994.

His last game for Brescia came on 16th May 2004 in one of the most suitable locations for such a moment, in the San Siro against AC Milan. A 37-year-old Baggio provided an assist in the match, before coming off in the 88th minute, prompting the 80,000 fans present to deliver to him a well-deserved standing ovation. Baggio’s final years with Brescia saw him continue his strong performances and he remained the jewel of both the team and the city, scoring 12 goals in the 2003/04 season, again helping the club finish eighth in Serie A.

So it’s not a reach to say that Baggio’s decision to sign for the team as a free agent in September of 2000 was the most important moment in the history of Brescia Calcio. Not only had the club added one of the most important players of his generation, but they also managed to make the city of Brescia, nestled in the North-Eastern region of Lombardy significantly more well-known abroad than it ever had been before



As the game has evolved, though, number 10s are required to do much more. Their responsibilities involve far more than just creating for others with on-the-ball actions. Movements into the penalty area to support the centre forward(s) are important, as well as moving out wide and into the inside channels to support a winger or full-back. They should help create wide overloads, to get teammates into spaces to cross. The modern number 10 might also drop deeper centrally to receive, especially when there is little space between the lines.

Number 10s are also expected to provide a goal threat by running beyond the striker(s), attacking crosses and supporting the second phase of play after a ball into a centre-forward.


What are the out-of-possession responsibilities of a number 10?
The classic number 10 had few defensive responsibilities – often, they had something of a free role. When their team was defending, they would look for space to receive a pass following a turnover and launch a counter-attack. While the rest of the midfield battled for possession and defended central areas, the number 10 was thinking about how to take advantage when possession was regained.

A modern number 10 has far more defensive responsibility, though. They will often push forward to press the opposition centre-backs or move to defend in wide areas. Often, they will directly engage and duel with opposing full-backs high up the pitch. 

A number 10 also plays a key screening role if the coach wants them to block access into the opposition's pivot. From this position, they will screen central passes, block forward runs and make interceptions. This is very useful, whether the manager wants the team to press high up the pitch or drop into a mid or low-block.


Edited by Matty Aqua
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One of my favourite grounds in world football! Visited Berlin in 2018 and watched them against Bochum in the 2 bundesliga and the atmosphere blew me along with the beer getting drunk in the stands and the stadium being in a forest therefore they became my adopted german team! Following and good luck 

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Cool! I have a great great save going with Hertha - i liked the big stadium and a little more money. But have the same thoughts as you about youth and i have produced some gems so far. Im in the 3rd season

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For those who know me will know this is not my first rodeo with Málaga Club de Fútbol, I managed Málaga in FM21 after bouncing around a few different save ideas, it was late in the cycle by the time I started the Málaga save but I enjoyed it and I have unfinished business with the club, as I did get them promoted and competitive in LaLiga but I never was content with where the save finished. 

Unfortunately things have not improved for Malaga in the real world, finishing * * * last season, but things were not always so dire for Málaga.


In 2010 former President Fernando Sanz sold Malaga CF to Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani due to the clubs ongoing financial difficulties, Málaga was brought in an attempt to turn the club into a new Spanish powerhouse and break the Barcelona and Real Madrid domination and become the new “Big club” in Spanish football.

A new board was appointed in place to run the club and manager was appointed in Jesualdo Ferreira but was sacked not to long into his tenure after he wasn’t able to deliver the desired results requested and subsequently manager Manuel Pellegrini was hired and revitalised Málaga finishing 11th in LaLiga in the 2010/11 season.

The 2011/12 season would be Málaga’s most successful season on the pitch finishing 4th in LaLiga, signing a kit deal with Nike and signing a wealth of players such as Martin Demichelis form Bayern. Joris Mathijsen was brought in from Hamburg. Ruud van Nistelrooy was brought in for a season on a free transfer while Jérémy Toulalan was another established midfielder who brought experience. The headline signing was Santi Cazorla from Villarreal for £19M, Also joining was Isco who would go on to become the clubs most expensive player ever sale, with talented players like Isco, Santo Corzola, Julio Baptista with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Salomon Rondon up top things were starting to come together for Málaga.

The 2012/13 season brought a few difficulties as a reformed TV rights deal meant that Barcelona and Real Madrid who got the major chunk of viewing rights and money, had to share it with other teams. They still, however, hold the majority of TV rights in Spain. Unfortunately Málaga didn’t get the viewing rights which did not fair well with the Sheikh. This meant that Spanish authorities paid little attention to the ideas of Sheikh Abdullah had to develop a new stadium, a new training complex, a luxury marina and hotel complex across the region. Sheikh Abdullah decided that he would consider reallocating his funds and funding them if, and only if!, there were reforms in the viewing rights of all clubs of Spain. But nothing changed to this day Barcelona and Real Madrid still hold majority share in the TV viewing rights.

This meant Sheikh Abdullah effectively decided to “turn off the tap” and stopped injecting cash flow into Málaga leaving the staff and players unable to be paid, also using the club to borrow money for personal expenditures. Things were still in a positive state on the pitch at the time with Málaga finishing 1st in the Champions League group that consisted of AC Milan,Saint Petersburg and Anderlecht. By this time, the players had already filed an official complaint to UEFA for non-payments which caused an investigation into the matter as they head into the round of 16 in the Champions League. UEFA decided to punish Málaga in the harshest way possible – Málaga was not to play in any European competition. Despite automatic qualification through league positioning, they could not play in Europe.

The initial statement read that the ban was for a span of 4 years. However, it got reduced to one season when appealed at higher courts. The ban of Málaga in European competitions was enough for players to leave. Young prospects left for bigger clubs, Isco was sold to Real Madrid for a record fee of £29m, Santi Corzola and Nacho Monreal eventually left for Arsenal, Manuel Pellegrini was swooped up by Manchester City. Despite finishing 11th in LaLiga during the 2016/17 campaign, the sales of Camacho, Sandro Ramírez and Fornals for a combined £25m, the majority of which was not reinvested in new talent, the fans eventually witnessed the club descend and by the end of the 2017/18 season Málaga were relegated to the Segunda Division while rivals Sevilla and Real Betis continue to enjoy life in LaLiga.

After making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Last year it was reported that Málaga owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani and his family owe the club €7.3m in loans, official accounts show. A huge income stream was lost with the club’s relegation from La Liga in 2018 with an estimated €43m being lost from television rights alone, but the family are said to have continued to pump money out of the club through loans into their own personal accounts and had been buying out shares from smaller shareholders to increase their control at the club as well as using the club’s money for their personal expenses and business interests, It is said that the club lent the family €5.5m on top of their €1.4m annual fee of being on the club’s board of directors, but the money was never returned and was used to pay for flights, holidays, hotels, chauffeur-driven cars, lawyers, accommodation and other personal expenses.

Last year, Sheikh Abdullah was temporarily removed as Malaga president by a regional court, over a series of charges including alleged illegal appropriation, unfair prejudice and improper management, with judicial administrator Jose Maria Munoz temporarily appointed in his place. On August 24th 2020 the club released a statement that they were releasing the entire first team squad in a last-ditch bid to cut costs and attempt to avoid financial insolvency. That was the last resort in order for the club to retain its status in the Spanish second tier, as administration would force a relegation into the regionalised Segunda B. The current squad is currently made up of some youthful prospects and a lot of players on loan.

If you haven’t read *** blog about the Monchi Masterclass I suggest you give it a read!, it’s an interesting and different approach to scouting. The focus is on one our main rivals Sevilla and the Director of Football – Monchi, Our other rival Real Betis also has a pretty good Director of Football according to Football Manager so setting up a scouting network and defeating our rivals will also be a top priority.

In 2013 Málaga sold Isco to Real Madrid for £29m but I don’t just want to break the transfer sale record….I want to double it!, and I want to do it with a homegrown prospect!, which means I’ll be trying to develop and sell a homegrown prospect for £60m so investments will have to be made into the clubs facilities to achieve this, which is good for the club.

If you’ve managed to read this far (thanks! ) what reads like another Greek tragedy means I have some objectives in front of me for the save to re-build Málaga. The main objective is to get Málaga back into the LaLiga and to eventually break into the title race which I want to beat Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid at least once each in the same season, which won’t be an easy process as there isn’t the same financial bonuses from the TV rights in the LaLiga as there is in the Premier League, so even staying up will be a challenge!. But the goal is to complete “The Spanish Dream” of becoming the best team in Spain, therefore television company’s will certainly be taking note of Málaga.

Much like one of my favorite FM bloggers *** I also have an obsession with trying to produce a Newgen through the Youth Intake of my own Nationality!. So I’ll be trying to focus on bringing through quality youth prospects and creating a pathway for playing opportunities as well as keeping an eye out for that Australian Newgen and hopefully he can develop into the Spanish Tim Cahill!.








Edited by Matty Aqua
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On 14/03/2022 at 12:08, Matty Aqua said:

Then all hell broke loose and the players all kicked off! - leaving the team dynamics in a state, with managerial support dropped to a level I've never seen on Football Manager

Oh no! Hate to see it happen to a fellow manager. Seems like a case for damage limitation until this is all resolved! Could Team Bonding sessions in training help you out somewhat?

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