Pre-Season 2 Ma, he’s makin’ eyes at me

It had a been a long year and he was exhausted. Promotion from Poland’s First Division to the top tier Ekstraklasa was unexpected. The over-achievement came with no little physical and mental exertions and he was feeling it now. Could he face a relegation battle next year? A season with few moments of joy and even less chance of sweet wins. The thought was too much. In his office, Davidson switched the main light off, draped his red, silk handkerchief over the desk lamp and stood in the red ambient light in his full length window. He was ready for his next trick.

When you are ready to leave a job in Football Manager, it is very hard to concentrate on your own team. I found this after my first season with GKS Katowice. It was a highly successful year but I had wanted this to be a journey man save so I was keen to use my new title-encrusted CV to get a bigger job. When you feel like this, it is time to hit the Job Centre!

Found within the Staff menu Job Centre and its sister Job Security pages tell you which jobs are available or about to become available. I personally filter out the vacancies to show only Manager posts in the Job Centre.

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Filter out to only see Manager vacancy. No idea why I’d want to see clubs with need for Data Analysts.

I use the Job Security view to see the reputation of the clubs with vacancies and to spot any potential jobs coming up.

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The Rep Rating is crucial for a journeyman save. At this point I am looking up.

In the summer following our successful promotion, one job in Poland loomed larger than the others. Lech Poznan, seven times champions of Poland, had failed to challenge for the title and the sword had come down on the management team. Its a no-brainer to put my CV in to one of the bigest clubs in the country. It was probably also a no-brainer for Lech to immediately inform me that I had not made their shortlist!

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They gave the role to ex-Barcelona star Guillermo Amor to bring a bit of exoticism to the league.

Although jobs were available in other countries, I felt that I had more chance to earn a better job staying in Poland and cashing in on my success last year. It is also worth looking at the league reputations. Austrian Premier Division is ranked highest out of my loaded as playable leagues. Then it is Czech Republic First Division with Poland’s top tier next. It is respectably placed beside the Championship.

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The Gornik Saga

I will admit I did not cover myself in glory when the Gornik job became available shortly after the Lech role had been filled. A well established top tier team with a 24.5k seater stadium. The job was very attractive.

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The media were first to link me to it. I confirmed I’d love the chance. I was the bookies favourite for the role. To make sure I also applied for the job. We were in the middle of our summer friendlies and time seemed to stand still. Finally I was invited to an interview. I got my sharpest blue suit on, ironed my M&S tailor fit shirt, polished and buffed by tan shoes and gave it my best shot. It went well – but can you really tell?

Time went on, another few friendlies played. I turned down the invite to discuss a new contract to stay at GKS. Then boom! They gave it to Pavel Nowak. Bastard.

Enough was enough – I had wasted too much time and delayed decisions on my squad at GKS. I decided two things:

1. Don’t move jobs mid-season unless job is far too big to turn down. The disruption can then be limited to preseason.

2. Beat Gornik. Beat them down.

Squad ReBuilding

At the same time as all this rainbow chasing, I had a club to rebuild. The squad that go GKS promoted was nowhere near good enough for the step up.

Team report comparison had us bottom for everything even physicals like height and strength.

It is no exaggeration to say I had 3 players that might be good enough for the first team. 2 cms and a right wing back. Recruitment was needed and how I went about it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

A lot of FM players have been striving for authentic experience. I have seen a lot of saves using Director of Football models, elaborate scouting methods, stats orientated saves and I do love following these saves but this realism approach was never going to be used for this save. Primarily because I play so slowly and nothing journeyman about a 1.5season save! That’s not a Journey that’s a Trip to the shop.

So I cut corners and play the game. This means Attribute Masking is off and scouting is manual. Just as well seeing as Gornik took my chief scout Jocelyn Angloma off us AFTER my failed interview. Thanks for the lift anyway, Judas.

One of first port of calls was Slovenia. Its one of my playable leagues so all teams are fully loaded with players real and generated. Ranked below the Polish leagues, the players are criminally undervalued and, crucially, even players in the top league are keen to join GKS.

Manual Scouting

I have a squad view set up that I call Universality. I’ve had it since I got back into the game via FM17. It gets its name from Arigo Sacchi’s desire for players who carried a varied skill set that enabled them to play comfortably in all and any scenarios they found themselves on the pitch. In FM terms I have taken the desirable attributes Sacchi was after like Composure, Passing etc. and created a view – with the key attributes that I deem more important than others separated. The view means I can quickly scan down my teams and identify players strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t played about with custom views on FM you really are missing a trick.

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Great for squad assessment as it is, the view truly comes into its own when scouting other teams. The method I use – and it’s not for everyone – is:

  1. Open up the league table of a country – in this case Slovenia.
  2. Then click on the a team – I prefer to open the first team in the alphabet.
  3. Change the view from First team to All Players to include youngsters or out of favour playersall-players
  4. Make sure view is set to Universality
  5. Scan down using Colour Coding looking for high value attributes especially in my important skills.
  6. Hover over potential candidates for a better view
  7. Click Scout Player on any I fancy
  8. Use the Up/Down arrows beside the team name to move onto the next team and repeat the process until all teams have been scouted.

Why Scout them? Well 2 things really. Firstly this automatically adds them to my shortlist. Secondly, although attributes are visible only the scouts can tell me hidden info such as are they interested, likely price, big game mentality etc. So they do some work for their money.

Here’s my Slovenian Intake – just the 4!

Bargain Hunt

The second form of manual scouting is best performed in the summer break because we’re going fishing for a particular breed that only appear in great numbers this team of year – the released player.

Who doesn’t love a Free Transfer? It’s why Taribo West is such a legend after all.

The key to success here is to consider the plight of a young footballer in real life. There is not a league in the world where the top teams hoover up the best youth products. They have the glamour pull, they have the best facilities, the most youth scouts. And so FM continues to replicate football and the biggest teams also seem to have the larger cache of young players.

The irony being that these are the clubs who are least likely to afford a young player a pathway to the first team. Result? Loads of players released from the top teams – players good enough for the majority of other teams. And it happens every year.

You could wait for your scouts to discover these newly free transfers but I wouldn’t hold my breath with my lot. With Work Rate 20, I will open up the World Search and manually check released players from the top sides across the game. For example, Austrian teams such as RB Salzburg, the Vienna teams and Sturm Graz are all worth checking.

To find these players go to the team’s transfer history.

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Within Transfer History screen you need to go to the Released Players screen. They don’t appear in the overview of transfers.

released players

If I liked the look of any of them, I offered them a 4 week trial to get the into the squad.

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Ulbing was released by RB Salzburg. Happy to bring him in for the future.

Orginally I thought I wuld use this method to flesh out the GKS Squad and give us a legacy of better standard of young players coming through. Youth Intake was good but all the players are 15-16 so a good 3 years away from troubling the first team. However I was able to recruit first team ready players this way too. Says more about my first team than it does the process mind.

Overhaul

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busy, busy, busy

As you can see from the transfers summary above I had a busy pre-season. All the while I was holding fire on confirming the signings due to the Gornik job.

I got rid of some deadwood and got decent money for them too! The spate of deadline day out goings was down to squad registration rules. No room for these guys so off they went.

Some first teamers and selected youth.

And so the pre-season was eventful to say the least. Let’s see how we get on as I am fully focussed on taking GKS to new heights.

Thanks for reading. Stuart

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