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  • Writer's pictureFMBhikkhu

"Excel-ling at Everything" - Vaya Con Dios, FM23

February 3rd, 2023




As with all saves, the first task was to assess the current playing squad and try and create a tactic that suits them. A quick glance over the playing squad and I opted for what feels like a Football Manager cliche at this point: the 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress.

On my initial assessment, two few things stuck out to me.

1. We have a solid looking defensive partnership in Alvara Casas and Damian Canedo.

2. We have no natural defensive midfielders.

My own personal tactical preference is that defensive solidity is more important than free-flowing attacking play, and that philosophy aligns well with the principles with the 'Soccernomics' principles I want to use through this save. In that regard, I won't be making wholesale changes for the sake of it and starting with a solid defensive base can only be a good thing.

Having no defensive midfielders is a bit more of an issue. A traditional 4-2-3-1 uses a double-pivot in defensive midfield to provide solidity. Working with what I've got, I came up with this -

The team are capable at passing, and we have a wealth of good runners - hence the 'Run at defence' and 'Shorter passing' team instructions. As we have no defensive midfielders, I opted for a central midfield double-pivot instead, with an inverted wing-back to help provide cover and overload the centre - which in theory should create space for wide players. Nice and simple.

It looks like our key players will be the aforementioned central defensive partnership, as well as attacking midfielder Elliott and Uruguayan veteran Patricio Guillén between the sticks.


Canedo is the younger of the two defenders, and at 6'4" is a dominant aerial presence. He'll be used as a Ball-Playing Defender, where his tendency to bring the ball out from the back should prove helpful. Casas is less capable physically, but his maturity shines through in his mental and technical attributes - none of the key or desirable attributes in these columns for a basic Central Defender fall below 11. He's also the club captain, and he's been with the Compos since 2017 - quite a long time at this level. They should prove to be a good pairing, and I'll be using Casas to finetune the mental side of Canedo's game.

Elliott joined the club in the summer, and is a product of the La Fábrica system of Real Madrid. Quick and technical, his natural position is on the left, as an out-and-out winger. I intend to have him cutting in off the right, and while he isn't the best finisher he does have the 'shoots with power' trait which should offset this. He also has the 'runs with ball often' trait, which should see him taking on some 1v1s and progressing the ball by dribbling.

Lastly, Guillén is a leading player for our level, has played in Spain's lower divisions since 2009 and will be our first-choice goalkeeper for this season. As one of the clubs highest earners and at the ripe old age of 37 I will be looking for a replacement once his contract is up. I'm not very convinced by his backup Borja Rey, and I think we can find better elsewhere.


Balancing the Books

Financial management isn't the most exciting topic, I'll admit. I'll also admit that it's not something I've given much attention to in Football Manager before, where I normally just stick to the wage budget and leave it at that.

I mentioned in the first post that running a steady ship financially is one of the goals of this save, due to SD Compostela's financial struggles in the past. Capital isn't easy to come buy in Spain, particularly at this level, so it's even more important that I manage club finances properly to run a successful enterprise in Galicia.

Buckle yourself in for some riveting 'Accounting Manager 2023 ©'.


To make things more realistic, I switched the budgets to be shown per annum in contrast to my usual per week format, and set the currency to € Euro. Businesses are run in years, not weeks, and this way matches better with the Finances tab to help me work some financial magic.

Unurprisingly, the board have given me no transfer budget to start with. Not a huge deal as I'm used to working with the free-agent market. Also, we haven't started with any debt which is a nice bonus. What is more alarming is that we started €62,788 p/a over our wage budget, and with only €73,000 in the bank we're going to be in the red before too long.

To tackle this, I pulled half our scouting budget (which was a rather high €93,000 p/m) into the wage budget, bumping it up to €610,877 p/a - meaning we now only have to shave €12,908 p/a off the books to get ourselves back on target.

Much healthier, but not quite there yet.

So, that meant somebody had to leave, and without much deliberation I sent Central Midfielder Jordan off to Toledo for an apparently club record fee of €4.5k. He was 27, and wasn't very good even for our level, so I don't feel particularly remorseful. I also moved a couple of players down into the B team, which removes them from the in-game wage budget. A temporary fix, but one that should help keep the board happy.

Adios, Jordan..

... Hola, solvency!


Wage Caps

I knew before starting the save that I wanted to introduce a salary cap. It would help ensure we distribute our wage budget effectively, and work within our means. It's an effective tool to see who may be getting overpaid at the club, and where I should be looking to cut costs. It's also useful for contract renewals - if a player has the same squad status as another player but earns less, they usually demand a similar amount when renewing their own contract.

I'll aim to stick to a squad size of around 23 players, divided into 3 categories : Key Players (4/5), First Team Players (8/9) and Backups (10/11).

Each of these categories is given 30% of the budget, leaving 10% spare for youth players and renewing existing contracts. This leaves me with an average wage I should be offering in each group.

This 30% is then divided by the number of players in each group, and 20% is added to find the max wage for the player's status.

Obviously I can't pay them all 20% over the average, but it allows for some wiggle room when signing players, as long as others in their group are paid a bit less.

I stuck all of this into a spreadsheet, and it looks something like this:

Players under the average are highlighted in green, players who earn over the average but less than the cap in yellow, and players who exceed the cap are highlighted in red.

Reasonably healthy, and only two players over the cap - Casas and Elliott. I'll update this towards the end of the season once I know who will be getting a contract renewal, but if they don't agree to terms that fit the cap - they'll be leaving too.

I'll be looking to go a bit more in depth into managing the books as we approach December 2022, and I have a better idea of what our income/expenditure looks like - most of it is valued at 0 at the start of the save.


Fresh Faces

One of the key tenants of soccernomics is working with what you've got. The squad at Compostela on my arrival is already pretty good for this division - we're tipped to finish 5th by the bookies. I'm pretty confident we can win the league this season if we string a few good results together. It's going to take a while for the squad to trust Ferdinand de Borja, a businessman with no professional footballing experience. If Sarri can do it, so can Ferdinand.

That said, the squad is pretty sparse in a couple of positions. Left-Back is a notable weakness, with only one recently-promoted youth player, Manu Rial, who can play there. The sale of Jordan also leaves our midfield looking a little thin.

I want to keep expenditure to a minimum, so the answer? Free loans.

I brought three players in during the first transfer window, and 2 of them will cost absolutely nothing for a whole season.


Our two new boys loaned to us gratis are left-back Killian Durán and central midfielder Guille Bernabéu, both from fellow Segunda Federación clubs. They'll both fit in as starting players as they're better than any of our other options. Despite having an excellent name, Bernabéu actually looks to be a decent playmaker and should be an excellent fulcrum in our midfield. Durán should be great going forward, with his main strengths being pace and delivery, and his main weakness being his strength... confusing.


The other player I acquired was on a free transfer, with the lowest possible annual salary of €14,750. Moneyball theory probably wouldn't agree with signing a striker who has no senior appearances, never mind goals. But this player was special, and I think a little bit of fun is allowed when you're playing a video game.

The player in question is Etienne Eto'o, the son of none other than former Everton legend Samuel Eto'o.

Admittedly, I don't think he's ever going to be as good as his dad was. He's not a great all rounder, but he does seem to have inherited some useful qualities from his famous father. A natural finisher and imperious in the air - as long as nobody touches him with his measly 5 strength. He's also got great movement off the ball, which is one of the main attributes I look for in a central striker. Overall, he's a bit of a one-trick pony, but at this level you can't expect players to be good at everything - and the thought of Samuel Eto'o coming along to Compostela to watch his son play was too fun to ignore.

The games are coming thick and fast in Galicia, and after 10 games we've got a tentative hold on the top of the league.

Samuel would be proud as well, as his boy leads the goalscoring charts for Compos with 10 goals in 10 games - a goal a game, if you hadn't figured it out already.

The season's progressing nicely and we've built some strong team dynamics. If all goes to plan, we should be on top at the end of the season, and avoid some nerve-wracking playoffs.

Hopefully Eto'o junior can keep up his scintillating form and carry us to the league title in our first season...

🎵 Etienne Eto'o,

Etienne Eto'o,

Hello, Hello... 🎵


Patrick - FM Bhikkhu

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