In my FM15 preview post, I said that I would be starting this year managing Austria Salzburg in @Shrewnaldo’s edit of the Austrian league structure. At the time of writing, Shrewnaldo planned to put Salzburg in the Bundesliga, however, when he holidayed the Austrian leagues, and saw the level of the club in general, he decided that it would be better to put them in the Erste Liga (the second tier).
That left me with a bit of a dilemma. I’m notoriously slow at completing seasons on Football Manager. I spend too much time messing about trying to make the tactics perfect, daydreaming about how to make them better. Plus, with the tactical ideas I had in mind, the level of players at Austria Salzburg wouldn’t have allowed me to have it play quite how I’d like. To me, tactics is everything in Football Manager.
Of course, I was still intent on playing in Austria, particularly using Shrew’s edit. My favourite team in Austria was (you’ll find out why that’s past tense soon) Red Bull Salzburg, but they’re so good compared to the other Austrian sides that it just wouldn’t be a challenge. Last year I holidayed until 2019 to find a challenge that let me play as RB Salzburg, but this year I wanted to start from day one. Rapid Wien are sortof… taken already by Shrew, and I don’t like Austria Wien, for some unexplainable reason. Sturm Graz however, provide an interesting challenge. Generally the 4th team in Austria, they should provide me with a fun challenge as I try to topple the Wien sides, and the ridiculously strong RB Salzburg. Hopefully I can get Sturm back to their old position both domestically and continentally, and impact the Champions’ League as they used to.
I’ve already played the first 6 games of the season, but I’ll leave details on results until the January update, and explain my newfound hate for Red Bull Salzburg (I will say, that we’re the only club to have scored against them so far). For now, I’ll outline the rules and guidelines I’m setting for the save, show you the players I have high hopes for, and preview what I’m doing tactically.
So, rules and guidelines. I say guidelines because I’m going to see how they work to begin with, and see whether keeping the game going in that way is viable moving forward. I want to keep foreign signings down to a minimum, and I think 2 per season is probably acceptable. This season, I’ve got a budget of zero, so there’s no way I could break this rule anyway. My idea of foreign isn’t quite the standard idea, as I’m focusing on signing players from Austria and Germany, ideally to have a team full of German speakers. Right now, I don’t have the cash to make any moves in the transfer market, so I’m mainly building up my shortlist of players. There’s some very talented players who are willing to come to Sturm, but we just cannot afford them. Getting a bit of money into the club, and from the board is a main focus for me right now. If we don’t get money to use, we’ll fall behind, especially with the financial firepower of Red Bull Salzburg. We do have some strong young players (who I’ll show you in a minute), but if we can’t subsidise them with good signings, it’s useless.
The most talented of these young players by far is Sandi Lovric. Only 16 years old and already with technicals good enough to start in the Bundesliga, and he’s been doing just that this season, slotting in at DMCR. Looking at him, I could probably develop him in several roles. He’s currently playing DM-D in our setup, but he’ll likely grow into the important DLP-S role that’s currently taken by Offenbacher, one of our best performers so far this season. He’s performed well in the DM-D role when played there though, making good tackles, being composed on the ball, and creating a triangle with the DLP and the AP when we go forward. If Offenbacher continues to be a key player for us at DLP (he’s only 22 himself), then Lovric may be moulded into a solid DM, something I feel he’d also be fantastic at.
Marco Djuricin is our second most promising young player, and is arguably the most talented player in our squad. He’s a regular starter in our lineup, playing the CF-A role that I developed for Cristiano Ronaldo on the BETA. Whilst he may not be Ronaldo, it’s an unavoidable fact that we are twice as good when he’s on the pitch. If I ever have to sub him off, we lose presence upfront and our attack stagnates somewhat. He leads the line perfectly, bringing other players into the game, scoring goals and making assists. I can’t say enough good things about him. Hopefully I can hold onto him, because he’s going to be a key player for us as this save develops.
Simon Piesinger is probably my favourite player in the entire squad. As you can see from his stats, he’s averaged 7.42 over the first 6 games, in an absolutely fantastic run of performances. FM thinks he should be played at DM, but the game is 100% wrong. I signed Piesinger as a backup centre back last year when I managed Salzburg in 2019, and although he wasn’t a regular starter for the team, he was that dependable backup centre back you always want to have, and he never once made a mistake. The fans hated me for bringing him in from Sturm, but they quickly changed their minds. This year, it’s nice to be able to manage him from the get go. At only 22, I hope to hold onto him for many years to come.
Daniel Offenbacher deserves a mention, as he’s the reason I can’t put Lovric in at DLP-S in the first team. Offenbacher’s got great technicals but is weak in some mental areas, which would usually really put me off a player. However, he’s been absolutely key for us so far in the DLP-S role, averaging 7.20 over the first few games. He gets forward more than I’m used to from the DLP-S role, but that’s no bad thing, as we need forward movement to help Djuricin upfront. Another who I hope I can hold onto and make a key part of our side going forward.
Tactically, this is the shape I’m using on the right (yep, the dots are back). You can see it’s a development of the ‘4-4-2’ I was using with Real Madrid on the BETA. I felt that the strikers were too isolated, so I dropped a man back to AMCR, and it worked wonders. Sometimes it’s 4-4-2, sometimes it’s 4-4-1-1, sometimes it’s 4-3-3 and sometimes it’s 4-1-4-1. It’s such a fluid shape, and is strong defensively as I’ll show when I do the eventual article on the tactic itself (should it continue to work well). Sometimes, we don’t even let teams into our final third. In goal I’ve gone for a standard Sweeper Keeper ‘defend’ as usual. The Back 4 consists of a WB-S at RB, a BPD-C at RCB, a CD-D at LCB, and a FB-A at LB. Ahead of that at DMCR is a DM-D, and the role at LCM is now a DLP-S, which I prefer to the Roaming Playmaker for now. The LM slot is taken up by a DW-S who is asked to stay wide and get further forward. This is intended to be similar to the role played by Angel Di Maria at the end of last season, where he covered wide for Cristiano Ronaldo, letting Ronaldo play upfront as a striker. At right midfield is a WM-A, who is asked to cut inside with the ball and get further forward. This role is basically meant to be Gareth Bale. I don’t have anyone quite as dynamic as Bale for this role at Sturm, but I’m on the lookout for a pacey left footed right winger. at AMCR is a standard AP-S to link the play, creating that triangle with the DM and the DLP. Upfront I’ve kept the CF-A that was designed for Ronaldo, as Djuricin has performed very well so far in this role. The tactic really is performing well (apart from one blip against Salzburg), and I really feel I can build around it. I see some of the fast one touch passing that I like, and we keep the ball well. I’ll still continue to develop it, but as a starting point, I’m very happy with it.
I’ll update this save once I get halfway through the season, hopefully still going strong, desperately trying to keep pace with Salzburg. Hope you’re all enjoying FM15, and as always don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.