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The Next Aziz Bouderbala? - Vaya Con Dios, FM23

5th April 2023


 


 

Intro


The youth intake system on Football Manager can seem fickle at times. You can have the best facilities, staff and coaching possible and still struggle to come up with many promising prospects. As Compostela have risen through the leagues, our staffing has improved (although the board still refuse to upgrade our facilities, something which is beginning to grate on me), but the best prospect we have produced so far was in the 2023 intake. In our first La Liga 2 season, Kamel Badaoui has cemented his place as a first-team player, making 29 appearances, 7 starts and scoring 5 goals. The young Moroccan is still just 17, but he's already been dubbed 'The new Aziz Bouderbala'. He's getting picked for the Morocco U20's, and if he keeps progressing as he has he'll be in the senior squad before too long. He's one player in a succession of talents emerging in the heartland of Galicia, as SD Compostela continue their most successful period in 30 years.



 

24/24 Season Review


This has been our third season at Compostela, and one where I previously predicted us to struggle. In short, we did struggle a bit, but then we also seemed pretty secure from the start. Tipped for relegation, we didn't fall into the drop zone once. Looking at our position across the season, we started near the bottom but gradually rose up the ranks to finish in a very respectable 7th place.



I can't help but feel a little disappointed that we didn't manage to make the playoffs, even if such success should never have been on the cards. We were right in the running up until the last three games, where we picked up 2 points out of 6 and failed to score a single goal. In fact, scoring goals has been a bit of an issue for us this season - we're 18th out of 21 teams in terms of goals scored, only managing to net 42 this season.


The standout statistic is our xG underperformance of -10.80. for context, the next most underperforming team was CD Lugo, with an xG of -3.47. That is something which needs rectifying as we head into the next season in La Liga 2.


 

The xG conundrum


My understanding of football statistics is still blossoming. In that respect, I'm not too sure whether such underperformance of our xG should be particularly worrying or particularly promising. Obviously, it would be nice to have scored 10.80 more goals, but surely having players taking shots in good positions is a good thing? If we're making chances, then tactically we must be sound. We just lack a clinical edge. Our players are generally young, and their finishing should improve as they mature. But perhaps we should recruit a proven goalscorer to make the most of these chances? That said, doing that would leave less game-time for our young players like Kamel Badaoui, which they'll need to improve.


I did try to address this problem in the winter window. Rodrigo Amaral joined from Uruguayan team Fénix for €24k as I admired his technical ability. He hasn't adapted very well at all, and I can say with confidence that his signing has been a failure. I think I got him in angry response to missing out on Gerald Távara to Ceuta, a player with similar levels of technicality and one I have admired since my time with him at Venezia in FM22.


My other attempt to fix our goal-scoring woes was the signing of now 35 year old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been released after a disappointing spell at Chelsea. He hasn't been incredible, scoring just 3 goals. He's a bit leggy these days, but he didn't want much money and he's a high profile player to showcase how far Compostela have come. While he wasn't excellent, the team did improve considerably after his signing. Whether there's causation there or not (I'm telling myself there is), Peru Ruiz picked up after he joined and retained his starting spot, and we began our push to the top half.


I think these two signings have shown me that the best answer to the xG problem is probably patience. We have some good young players coming through, our tactic works, we just need time to get the finishing nailed down. That said, I'll be looking at some statistics to see if I can find a budget option with goal-scoring pedigree.


 

Acquisitions & Departures


Those two signings were a departure from what had been a pretty solid transfer strategy so far, in an effort to experiment with other options which ultimately hasn't been successful. Otherwise, the buying young players has continued, with the best being the signing of David De La Vibora from Real Madrid for €155k. That was a bargain price for such a talented player, and one who was already bedded in at the club following his loan spell last year.


Just after the transfer window we picked up Loïc Mbe Soh on a free. The young Cameroonian Centre-Back hadn't managed to make an impact at Nottingham Forest, and spent the majority of the season as a bench player for us. As loanee Andre Coubis returns to AC Milan, I'll be working him into my first-team plans and he should be a starter for us next season.



Usually, squad-building and transfers is one of my strong points of management. However, the loss of Breno Bidon for just €250k is one of my lower points. He joined Mallorca in the winter window, and I think I have the Spanish league rules to blame (and my own lack of foresight). He didn't earn enough to play, and with 18 months left on his contract he refused to sign a new one, so I thought it best to move him on. Despite the low price, I managed to work a 20% sell-on clause into the deal, He's now valued at €8M+, so I'm hoping Madrid or Barcelona will snap him up soon and we'll get a healthy chunk of the profits. It's annoying that we couldn't get more from him, but it's a learning curve nonetheless.


 

Going Forward


This has been a shorter update than usual, mostly because it's been a fairly middling season for us. Overachieving in the league was nice, but there hasn't been many standout performances to speak about. Ander Astrálaga continued to be a great choice between the sticks, keeping 17 clean sheets - the second highest in the league. The top scorer this year was Tòfol Montiel with 8 league goals, closely followed by José Lara with 7 league goals and 1 in the cup. Lara also racked up 7 assists in the season, and if I had to pick a player of the season it would once again be him.


As I've mentioned, the squad is young and brimming with talent. Players like Marc Jurado, David De La Vibora, Carles Llario, Kamel Badaoui and José Lara have all been great and there's plenty more to come from them. My focus now is nurturing the talent we've got to push towards the top of the table and get to La Liga.


My main gripe is that the board are refusing to invest in the club, despite having no debts and €810k in the bank. I'm hoping that as we become more established in La Liga 2 they'll begin to put some more money into facilities and allow us to set up a South-American affiliate. That said, I've begun the La Grabia project early, picking up a couple of great prospects such as Colombian José Medrano for free who we'll be integrating into Galician life and looking to bring into the first team.



 


Not every season can be filled with exciting events, both good or bad. This year has been fairly middling for us, but the emergence of some quality youth prospects and a talent filled squad means we should be pushing towards the top in the near future. I'm hoping to reach La Liga within the next two years, by 2027. Until then, I'll be looking to address our profligacy in front of goal and integrating the next generation of Compostela stars into the squad.


In the real world, I have some big changes coming up. Ive had to focus on graduating, finding a career and moving to London in the summer. As I've mentioned before, the blog is a nice constant in a pretty turbulent time and I intend to keep up with it to chronicle my games. I've also started a journeyman side save, inspired by Rock's End FM's recent piece on side saves. My manager in that universe has taken the first job offered to him, at La Luz in Uruguay. I hadn't intended to write about it, but the fact one of the players is banned from playing for being arrested while carrying a gun gave me the blogging itch. That might be coming sometime in the future too.


Until then, thanks for reading.


 

Patrick - FM Bhikkhu



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