One Man’s Journey Across the Alps: I

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Right, after my post outlining what I was doing on the FM19 beta, it’s time to properly get started. As you can probably tell from the title of this article, and possibly from my Twitter if you’ve been following (@JLAspey), I’m bringing back a concept that I first began on FM17, which I called One Man’s Journey. If you’ve been following my writing and this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I rarely like to play Football Manager in obvious leagues, and I always try to play the game in a different way. One Man’s Journey on FM17 was my journey through France managing as Julien Girard, and it was one of the most enjoyable saves I’ve ever had on Football Manager. The concept was simple, it was a journeyman save, but focused on just one country, in that instance, France.

But now I’m taking the concept to another level with this year’s edition of the save. After a year away from it I’ve been able to come up with what I think will be an even more immersive version of the save, both for me and for you as readers. As this article’s title slightly gives away, this year I’m going on One Man’s Journey Across the Alps. That means that the countries we’re going to be in are Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, France and Switzerland. As on FM17, this game will be played realistically, and our manager’s beliefs and attitudes will evolve as he is impacted by the world around him. To add extra lower leagues for the above countries, I’ve again used claasen’s files, available on the SI forums. Here are the leagues I’ve selected as available.

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Here is our manager for this year’s edition of the save, Austrian Johannes Leitner. Johannes was born in Vienna, and had a moderately good professional career, playing as a left back and left wing back, but never making it higher than the Erste Liga and retired at 35 after realising that his playing days were over and his future lay in coaching. Johannes only has one truly favoured club, Austria Salzburg, the club his father supports, and the club that Johannes supports as a result despite growing up in Vienna (Johannes and his father would travel to watch them whenever they could). Because of his support for Austria Salzburg, Johannes also has a deep disdain for Red Bull Salzburg and Red Bull in general, seeing them as taking the identity away from football clubs. Tactically, these are Johannes’ main beliefs:

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My Setup for FM19

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Well, FM19’s beta is here, so I thought I would do a quick article which will outline what I’ve been doing so far tactically. I’ve been playing my beta save with Arsenal – who are always fun on Football Manager – a team who I’ve played with before on previous editions of FM. They’re usually a very good beta team as well if you want to figure out what works on the latest edition of the game, and what you’re going to use tactically because they have a large amount of players in various positions. Before I start as well, I’ll say that so far I really, really like this year’s game, and some of the changes that have been made are very good, and there are some – like training – that I’m still looking forward to diving into. Bravo SI, bravo.

Of course, on this year’s version Arsenal are slightly weaker than in years past. They no longer have Alexis Sanchez, who was a vital plater for me back when I played as Arsenal on FM17, but they do still have Mesut Özil, and also possess relative new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who I’m very much looking forward to using. There’s also Lucas Torreira, a fantastic new midfielder that Arsenal have signed. All in all, once again, Arsenal look really fun to use on FM.

Spoilers: I’m very tempted to just make this my permanent save, because it’s been so enjoyable so far.

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With Club, For Country: III

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 22.42.11Things are moving fast, and it’s time for the third instalment of my ‘With Club, For Country’ save with Viktoria Žižkov in the Czech Republic. For anyone that’s just joining this save, the concept is that I take over a club side, and run it entirely with the national team’s benefit in mind. That means only signing Czech players, producing them from our youth system and selling them on when they’re ready to make the right step up in quality.

In the end, I decided not to update at the end of the transfer window, and instead just decided to play until the end of the first season. As a result, this update is likely to be quite long and include a lot of information. In the previous update, I covered how things were going until the winter break (in November), and covered some of my ideas moving forward regarding the squad and some transfers I’d made. As things stood, we were sitting 9th in the table, one place ahead of our predicted finish of 10th (and two ahead of Žižkov’s actual finish of 11th). However, there was much to do, particularly regarding Bosmans for the second season. We needed quality, and we needed it badly.

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With Club, For Country: II

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 22.42.11Well, welcome back to ‘With Club, For Country’ and the second instalment of this save. I’ve reached the winter break – which is in November – of the first season, so it’s time to update you on how things have been going. Spoilers: It’s been challenging. In the last update, I outlined what a ‘With Club, For Country’ save is, and analysed the club I’d picked, along with the usual description of my tactics etc. Long story short: I was managing a club called Viktoria Žižkov and planning on using a 3-5-2.

Note: Because the winter break in the Czech Republic is so early, I think moving forward the structure of the updates through seasons will be season intro, mid-season break, transfer window (if anything big happens), end of season report.

Of course, ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry’, as has happened with my 3-5-2. To say the first half season with Žižkov has been challenging would be an understatement, but I’m absolutely loving it so far because it’s such a challenge. Firstly, the plan to play with a Back 3 has gone, simply because I needed to find something that worked. I find that on the whole I’m not as good at immediately developing systems that work on FM18, but after I while I eventually find the right(ish) system. One little mini update from the first update was that I did indeed sign Ales Dvorak (who despite being rubbish has actually played pretty well for me). A few loanees (all of whom were rubbish) asked me to cancel their loans as well. However, when I received a couple of injuries in central midfield, I also signed 31 year old Lukas Schut – I said I wouldn’t be afraid of signing veterans. He’s been a fantastic addition to our midfield. Anyway, how are we doing?

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With Club, For Country: I

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 22.42.11Ok, I’m going to apologise, the Dortmund save has died a death. I can tell I’m really getting back into Football Manager – which means content is going to continue  – but the Dortmund save slowly lost my interest, and the save really lost any aspect of challenge for me when the board ended the first season (with me on course to win the title first season) by giving me a £93M transfer budget for the second season. Without sounding arrogant, it just seemed a bit too easy, and I want a challenge when I play Football Manager. I also felt that the save would quickly become boring to read about.

Fortunately, finding another save hasn’t been difficult at all, and it’s a save I’m really excited to write about. It’s a save concept I’ve looked at before, (inspired by Ben from The Dugout) but have never really gotten deep enough into the save to see any real impact. It’s called ‘With Club, For Country’.  The premise is simple, you take over as a club manager within a specific country, and you manage the club with the national team in mind. This means that you have to prioritise the national squad through:

  • Signing a large number of players from that country.
  • Developing the youth system at the club in order to produce quality young players for that country.
  • Sell players of that nationality at the right time, i.e. when they will be moving to a higher level of football.

Basically, it’s like a ‘Club and Country’ save, but you relinquish control of the country. The club should become like a factory system, constantly producing excellent youngsters, allowing the club to do well, before allowing them to go onto bigger and better things. Or so is the theory. The ultimate aim of the save would be your country of choice to win the World Cup with a team full of players developed in some way by your chosen club.

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Getting Going

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 22.42.11Well, I’ve reached the winter break of the first season of the Borussia Dortmund save, so I thought it was an ideal time to update you on how things have been going. This is probably the most ‘classic Football Manager update’ you’ll get throughout this save, so it will be a little bit of a throwback to how I used to write on this blog.

In the last update, I covered the development of the first tactic I intended to use with my Dortmund side. I also outlined how it was designed to get the best out of my new signings – particularly Kasper Dolberg and Matthijs De Ligt. I also analysed the DFL-Supercup against Bayern Munich – as we came away with a 1-0 win against Heynckes’ side following a goal by Andre Schürrle. To say I was pleased would have been an understatement. I was also very optimistic about the 3-4-3, thinking it was a system we could use moving forward.

However, future matches illustrated to me that this wasn’t the case (at least against some opposition – it seems to work wonders against Bayern) and as a result I’ve had to be fairly flexible tactically throughout the first half of the first season of this save.

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How to Develop Your Tactic on Football Manager 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 22.42.11Yay, more content. 20 points if you can figure out who virtual me is this year.

After my article on the Sweeper Keeper, I finished off the second season of my save with Bournemouth, finishing 2nd in the Premier League and winning the Europa League for what I dubbed ‘Little Baby Bournemouth’. However, I never really fell in love with that save, and as a result once I’d finished the second season I decided I wanted something new. I’ve been discussing with several members of the FM Community about how I don’t enjoy Football Manager as much as I used to, especially compared to my save with Bayer Leverkusen on FM15. Thiago, I’ll never forget you. ❤

I decided to look at three teams I’ve never managed properly before on Football Manager, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and AS Monaco. I then took to my Twitter (@JLAspey) with the options, and opened a poll to decide where I was going next. Thankfully, Dortmund won the poll with 39%, so I’m back off to Germany.

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