Well, I’ve finished the 2016/17 season with Sturm so it’s time to update once again. I think it shows how much I’m enjoying writing these updates that I’m playing FM faster than I have in a long time. Usually it takes me forever to actually play a season on FM, and I’m already through 3 of them with Sturm. So, last time I updated we were 4 points clear of RBS, had been beaten to end our undefeated run at 56 games, and had made our way through to the first knockout round of the Europa League, having been knocked out of the CL by Celtic in the final qualifying round. I’d also started to use a 3-5-2, that I felt got the best out of our new striker ‘Super Kev’ Kevin Friesenbichler.
First off, Happy New Year to everyone. Although this blog is only a few months old, it’s received some fantastic support in 2014, and I’d like to thank everyone that has supported this blog in any way, be it commenting, favouriting, retweeting or following. It really does mean a lot to me. I hope to bring you more quality tactics based FM content throughout 2015 and onwards.
Anyway moving on. I’ve reached the Austrian mid-season break in the 16/17 season, so it’s time to update you on where we stand with Sturm. The last update on this save outlined my transfers beginning the season, and I think it came across how excited I was for the next season with the players I’d signed. I was expecting big things after signing Dibon, Wydra, Spendlhofer (now here permanently), Ligeon, Sallahi and Gregoritsch. I also covered a new 3-5-2 formation I was looking at trying alongside the 4-1-4-1, particularly in the games against Salzburg. I ended up betraying my own ideas in the Salzburg game, but I’ll cover that later on.
Before I begin this post, I feel it’s probably best to explain that I’ve always been a Pep/Bielsa disciple. I’ve always particularly believed in Pep’s style of football, and his philosophies. Looking at my Sturm save, you can identify this. I put my best players (Alar, Lovric and now Wydra) in the centre of the park as a midfield 3 in order to achieve numerical superiority there. I’m a firm believer that, like chess, achieving dominance in the centre is a sure-fire way of giving yourself a good chance of victory. It’s now become a football cliché, but this is something I’ve believed since I first started to watch Pep’s legendary Barca side. I’ll always maintain that the Barca/Real 5-0 is the best I’ll ever see a team play, and watching that match in a full pub at University confirmed my allegiance to Pep Guardiola.
Lately however, I’ve started to become influenced by a different style of football, that has moved me away from wanting my teams to play just like Pep. This probably started with the first time I watched Mourinho’s Madrid perfect the counter attack, or the first time I watched Dortmund’s gegenpressing. Now, I always make the point that possession isn’t everything to me, and I always look for that point of perfection between vertical movement and possession play. The epitome of this other style of football is former Red Bull Salzburg boss (I won’t hold that against him) Roger Schmidt, someone who Pep has openly admitted his admiration for.
I’ve finished all of the transfers I plan to make for the Summer at Sturm, and it’s been a very busy Summer, so I felt it was probably best to do a quick update, outlining what’s changing for the next season, and look at how the club as a whole is progressing. As you will have read from the previous post on this save, we won the league last season, going undefeated and still only beating RBS by one point. Worrying in a way, but winning the league is still a huge achievement in the second season of the save, as well as going undefeated on top of that.
When the save began, the club was not in a good position financially, and very quickly reduced my transfer revenue to 30%, which wasn’t ideal considering we weren’t getting very much money in to begin with. Good league performances over the last two seasons and the Europa League run last season helped the financial situation severely, to a point that we now sit with a good amount of money in the bank, and the club gave me £6.06M to invest over the Summer in order to allow us to withstand the demands of Champions League football, and continue to compete for the title with Salzburg. It really is exciting times at Sturm.
Apologies for the lack of mid-season update in my Sturm Graz save. I’m enjoying playing this save a lot (once again thanks to @Shrewnaldo for developing the edit) and ended up playing past the mid-season break pretty quickly, meaning all the screenshots I’d need would be unavailable. So you’re going to get one long season update, and I apologise if it ends up being too long.
So last time I updated, we’d lost star striker Marco Djuricin to Vitesse for £1.5M, and sold Hadzic for making wage demands I simply couldn’t afford. I then brought in Manu Molina to play at striker, and Deni Alar from Rapid to play the Central Winger role I developed on FM14. This would prove to be a fantastic piece of business. I’d intended to use the close season to get the depth I wanted for the team (particularly considering that we qualified for the Europa League, effectively) but these transfers left me with pretty much the same level of depth as I had before once I’d brought up some younger players. Some good bench players, but not a full squad, with particular weaknesses at striker, full back, and on the wings. I said that this next season would be vital, challenging Salzburg again, and fighting with what I was sure would be a rejuvenated Austria and Rapid Wien.
I’ve finished all of the transfers that I want to make for Sturm in the transfer window, so I thought I’d do a quick update to summarise what I’ve been up to. As the transfer window started, I was given a budget of absolutely nothing, so I came to the conclusion that it was best to stick with what I had, and begin to re-sign those that were coming to the end of their contracts. Sound like a good plan? Football Manager had other ideas.
In the last update, I talked about our top striker Marco Djuricin, and how he wanted to leave Sturm, and had clubs (particularly Werder Bremen) sniffing around him. This would have been fine, but he’s got a £1.5M release clause in his contract, that had me worried, particularly considering we already had a lack of depth upfront, with the other options nowhere near the calibre of the Austrian international. Well, in the end, it was Vitesse Arnhem who matched the release clause, and off he went for 1.5M. I couldn’t do anything to stop him.
Well, I’ve reached the end of my first season in charge of Sturm Graz. First off, I’d like to say thank you to @Shrewnaldo for creating this edit. I’ve had a lot of fun this season, and I can tell it’s going to be a challenging save. When I last updated, we were at the end of December, were pushing Red Bull Salzburg as hard as we could in the league, and were 3 points behind, having suffered two horrible losses against them. I was also having issues deciding whether to stick with the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 I’d been using at the start of the season, or switch to the Hidden Diamond I’d started using once Stankovic broke his foot.
At the end of my procrastination, I ended up doing neither, but I’ll cover that later in the update. So, most importantly, how did the league go, and did we manage to achieve the Champions League qualification I was so focused on?
Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season, 19 games into the Bundesliga. How have things been going? Well, pretty well but it’s not been easy and there’s been challenges along the way. Looking at our record, you probably would think it’s been plain sailing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As I said in my first post of this save, I was planning on using a formation and tactic that was a combination of a 4-4-1-1 and a 4-1-4-1. A bit hipster-ish perhaps, but I’ve got a problem when it comes to Football Manager, and I can’t bring myself to use something simple. I’ve always got to try to make it complicated or different.
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.