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:

  • Johannes has a specific idea about how football should be played, He values possession, but has a conscious focus on quick movement of the ball in order to probe to create spaces. As a result, he favours systems that allow for short passing to create this ball movement. His main influences are Pep Guardiola, Maurizio Sarri and Thomas Tuchel.
  • Defensively, Johannes has a progressive approach to defending, preferring to press the opponent high up the pitch – utilising man and space orientated pressing – to force mistakes that allow his teams to counter press at pace.

As Julien did, Johannes began the game unemployed (here are Johannes’ starting attributes – I’ve put them higher than Julien’s last time to avoid some difficulties) and began to apply for jobs. There were many in the fourth tier of Swiss football and some in the 4th tier of Austrian football, but by the time I’d clicked apply for jobs, many of the available jobs had already progressed to their interview stages. I did apply for the SV Horn job in the Erste Liga – I never really thought Johannes would get it – and was given an interview, but in the end they decided Johannes wasn’t the right option. Idiots. A few others came and went at clubs like United Zürich, where they had already began interviewing people and as a result Johannes wasn’t given the opportunity. Then a job became available at Nuremberg II in the Regionalliga Bayern in Germany, so I applied because it was the only job available, and as a first time manager, Johannes can’t afford to be overly choosy. At the time of the previous manager’s sacking, Nuremberg II were 16th in the Regionalliga Bayern with only 7 points from 9 games. In the interview, Johannes said that he would work within the existing staff structure at the club, and would like to play possession football. Following the interview, Nuremberg II came back with an offer of a two year contract on £3.3k per week, which I had Johannes accept immediately without any negotiation at this point – again, he can’t be fussy.

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As a result, Johannes now has his first job, managing Nuremberg II in the fourth tier of German football. In every season with Julien, I had clearly defined goals for him and with Johannes it will be much the same. This season’s goal is to firstly ensure that Nuremberg II stay in the Regionalliga Bayern, which shouldn’t be too difficult if we can pick up wins early on in Johannes’ reign. Secondly, another goal is to ensure that Johannes’ tactical philosophy is clearly defined throughout the season, and he begins to cement what his way of football will be. This is going to be the system that Johannes will begin with, which you can see is conveniently the 4-3-1-2 system that I wrote about using with Arsenal – this is why I created that system.

I’ve already played Johannes’ first game as a manager, against FV Illertissen, who went into the game 4th in the Regionalliga – again, we went into the game 16th. Johannes lined the team up in the 4-3-1-2 system. As you can see from the game’s stats, we produced the kind of football that Johannes will want to see from his teams, with plenty of shots on goal with 16, and 59% of the ball (that dipped from 60% in the final minutes). However, what will not have pleased Johannes was only getting 6 shots on target from those 16. Analysis of the shots taken suggests that most were from good positions though, and that goals should come if that pattern continues. Unfortunately, because the team failed to convert shots into goals – including a missed penalty – the game ended 0-0. As a result, we stay in 16th with 8 points, but are only 3 points away from safety. Plus, a 0-0 draw for a new manager of the 16th placed team against the 4th placed team – especially when you’ve dominated the game – must still be considered a good result.

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Kraulich misses a penalty to prevent Johannes getting a win in his first game as a manager.

So, that brings us to the end of the first update of Johannes Leitner’s career as a football manager. Until next time, thank you very much for reading, and as always, should you have any questions to ask regarding this save, the ideas behind it, or FM19 in general, please feel free to ask in the comments section of this blog, or contact me via Twitter (@JLAspey). Thank you again, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first season of this save. I’ll be back as soon as I can with a mid-season update to see how Nuremberg II are getting on.

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