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'Size Doesn't Matter', Vaya Con Dios - FM23

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

12th March, 2023




Another season comes and goes in FM23, and another promotion for SD Compostela. Last time around, I talked about the complete rebuild I had to undertake. That team was enough to finish second and get through the playoffs, meaning we'll be basking in the glorious riches of La Liga 2. There are, however, a few issues. We're into the third season with Compostela, and in the words of legendary Hungarian coach Bela Guttman, "The third year is fatal."


Issue #1: We can't register half the team

Being in LaLiga 2 brings some stricter rules on finances. We can't register a squad that earns more than €2,375,000 p/a. That's fine, our entire wage budget is only €1,600,000 p/a anyway. Actually, that's exactly the problem. There's also a minimum wage - €77,000 p/a for registered players.

What that means is that the majority of our players can't be registered until we pay them more. That's fine, the board have given us a healthy €2,600,000 wage budget to compensate. Well, it would be, if they wanted to sign new contracts.

Jean Paul N'Djoli is upset that I didn't upgrade our training facilities despite us only just getting the money to do so. Sergio Carrasco is upset that he hasn't played enough. Amadou Diambo has the same problem. Alvaro Casas will, but he wants too much for our wage structure. Jorge Cano probably would, but I don't think he's good enough to earn €77k.

Worst of all though is Breno Bidon. The Brazilian youngster has been exceptional this past season, naturally earning the attention of bigger clubs. Santos put a bid in to take him back to Brazil, but didn't match my valuation. That, and I'd rather sell him in Europe where we can get more money from a sell-on fee. He got a little upset and said he wanted to leave. So I triggered his contract extension clause, meaning he's here until 2026. He still won't sign a new contract, so we can't play him - not good. As I write this, he's got a bid in from Benevento to loan him for just under €200k and 100% of his wages. My plan is that he'll either calm down and sign a new contract, or return at the end of the year with his value boosted from playing in Serie A - meaning more money for us.

N'djoli leaves on loan to Goal FC in france, with an optional fee of €40k which along with his €43k loan fee would represent a net loss for the club when taking his wages into account. Not ideal, but damage limitation is better than him going for free. Amadou Diambo left permanently for €150k to Lugo, and I eventually released Alvaro Casas after a few weeks of negotiating and getting nowhere. Not great to lose our captain before a big relegation battle, but he was upsetting the squad and had to go. He only had 1 determination anyway, so not a great role-model.

That just leaves Cano and Carrasco, who so far haven't attracted any interest. I'll be sticking them in the B team and dealing with them later.

All of this though, coupled with our loan players leaving, means we're once again a few sandwiches short of a picnic.


Issue #2: We barely have a team... again.

As you can see from the picture above, we only have 7 players available to register. That just about meets the minimum requirements for the league. It's pretty clear we're going to need more, and thankfully we've got the budget for it. I've signed 5 permanent players and 4 loan players so far. Well, technically 5 loan players, as Ivan Lima extended his loan deal - but he's out for 3 months with a hip injury and it turns out the minimum wage applies to loans too.

Andreas Jungdal was released from his contract after his loan spell with us, where he made just one appearance. I snapped him up for free as a backup to the indomitable Ander Astralaga, in place of Nathaniel Nwosu who has joined Numancia for a bit of first-team experience.

Madrid want De La Vibora to 'test himself in a new environment', which La Liga 2 is, but they don't want him with us. Annoying, because he was also pretty good last time round. Riki Mangana's contract is up, and Kluiverth Aguilar understandably doesn't want to stop earning €1.2M p/a to doss about in Manchester. I've sent Manu Rial out on loan to our new affiliate Cerdanyola because he just hasn't played enough here to get any better.

That means we have no fullbacks - an issue, I'm sure you'll agree. I had actually conducted some data analysis to prepare for this eventuality, but annoyingly the targets I considered good enough want too much money.

Instead, I've carried on my tactic of signing younger players who haven't quite made it at other clubs. First up was Marc Jurado, freshly dropped by Manchester United. I actually tried to sign him on loan last season but he went to Gimnastic instead. His left-side equivalent will be another Spanish Premier League dropout (anybody spotting a pattern?) former Wolves man Hugo Bueno. Together they've got some decent potential and could turn into longer-term options.

I had hoped to get to La Liga without spending a penny in transfer fees, but with the deadline fast approaching I had to act. Most of the free players I've had on trial just wanted too much money for me to justify, so instead I thought it better to make a small investment on players who don't want as much. The first two of my paid signings in this save are Genaro and Tofol Montiel. Tofol is 24 now, and the former Fiorentina man unfortunately hasn't lived up to his potential so far. He ended up back at Mallorca, and they didn't want him either, so now he's with us. I got him for just €30k up front and €135k over the next 3 years. He'll start as a backup option for now, and hopefully, he'll find his feet here.

Genaro isn't a particularly stand-out player, but I wanted someone more experienced in the squad after the departure of Alvaro Casas. He's made 69 (stop giggling!) La Liga 2 appearances over the last 4 years so he knows this division well. I'm hoping that experience can play a part in keeping us afloat this season. My coaches tell me he's consistent and likes big matches, which is exactly what we need.

Our new contingent of players will be rounded out by a few more loanees, the pick of which is Romanian centre-back Andrei Coubiș, on loan from AC Milan. He looks good attribute-wise, tall and strong. But most importantly he looks hard as nails. Not the most advanced metric for picking a defender, but it gives me some confidence.


Issue #3: We're just not really good enough

While our new players should give us a boost, I'm just not confident that we're good enough for this level. We've made a habit of surpassing expectations, but I think it might just be a bit too much to ask this year. Four teams go down from LaLiga 2, and the magic number of points according to the media is 45. We are far and away the favourites to go down, so we'll have to fight tooth and nail to avoid that. Not having much squad depth doesn't help. Still, it'll be nice to have a challenge!

What gives me a glimmer of hope is our performance last season. We're without a lot of the players who made it happen (Breno Bidon and Luca De Maggio in particular) but we've kept the core of our attack which gives us at least a fighting chance.

And last year, we should've won the league...


2023/24 Recap

I think it's fair to feel disappointed that we couldn't finish in first place last season. After a long time tussling for the top 3 with Coruna and Burgos, we ultimately ended in second place by one point. We topped the league for a lot of metrics, and the expected points table put us on top.

Alas, it wasn't to be, and Ferdinand De Borja's hunt for silverware continues. In the playoffs, we just about beat Real Murcia with an extra-time winner from Peru Ruiz and comfortably beat Burgos 2-0 to seal our place in La Liga 2.

The season was capped by some outstanding individual performances, and I'll start with the namesake of this post - José Lara.

The Best...

Not quite a Rolls-Royce of a player, more like a Lotus Elise - but the little Sevillan certainly didn't come up short in his first season at Compostela (cue eye-roll).

26 goals and 8 assists in all competitions exceeded my expectations and sets a new Compostela goals-scoring record, comfortably taking the torch from Etienne Eto'o (that still wasn't quite enough for top RFEF Grupo 1 goalscorer, which went to Marcelo Dos Santos with 27). He played primarily in the shadow-striker role, and excelled despite his apparently mediocre finishing ability. The best part is all his goals looked spectacular, probably because he has the 'uses outside of foot' trait and high flair. Here was my goal of the season:

That sort of mazy running and smashing goals in off the posts was typical of wee José throughout the campaign. I mentioned in the last post that he's not a player I'd normally sign, but one of the best things about this game is finding a player you've never heard of and falling in love. Te Amo, José. And it looks like the fans agree:

I intend to keep José at the club for a while, as I feel he has the potential to become a real icon of this save. Hopefully he'll stick around long enough until we shuffle into La Liga proper. He's still only 24, so he should get better too, but I don't think he's going to get any bigger. Fortunately, size doesn't matter anyway.


... The Rest.

Our stubby shadow-striker was my personal pick of the season, but there was plenty of other players who performed admirably too.

His strike partner, Peru Ruiz, suffered from a few medium-term injuries and struggled to get going a bit at times. He finished the season with an admirable 17 goals and just one assist. I would like to see more from him creatively, and I've trained him to play with his back to goal to make the most of his strength and size.

Benfica loanee Ivan Lima started similarly, struggling to find his feet. Once he did though, he recorded 5 goals and 8 assists, including 2 crucial goals in the semi-final of the playoffs. It still stings a bit that I can't use him this season.

Our midfield engine room was led by the dynamic duo of Breno Bidon (5 goals, 8 assists) and Luca Di Maggio (1 goal, 6 assists), neither of whom will be joining us in La Liga 2. Bidon in particular was excellent, leading the league for expected assists and open-play key passes.

We recorded the best goal difference in the league, mostly down to the efforts of Damian Canedo and Ander Astralaga. Canedo won fans player of the season for his excellent defending, and Astralaga set a new RFEF record of 21 clean sheets. Canedo is now club captain following the departure of Alvaro Casas and if he keeps up those performances I think he could be for a while. Astralaga also retains his spot as 1st choice, and a quick comparison between his attributes when we got him and now shows how much he's improved in a year.

And finally, here's how we shaped up in the playoff final, and coincidentally my 23/24 Best XI:


The SD Compostela fairytale continues, but I fear we may have a rocky patch ahead of us. If we survive though, the resultant income should allow us to invest heavily in the club's infrastructure and set us up for a La Liga push in the not too distant future. Hopefully, we should be able to get some more affiliates over in South America as well to start our wonderkid factory, which I am pre-emptively naming 'La Grabia'.

Personally, I'm feeling the pressure of the final year of my degree, so naturally FM playtime has shrunk (but not disappeared), and keeping up with the blog has been a nice release after hours of dissertation writing - it feels weird not referencing anything. Anyway, I hope you're enjoying the save as much as I am.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back soon!


Patrick - FM Bhikkhu

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