Back on Football Manager 2014 I had a very successful, and enjoyable, long term save with Maribor in which I tried to turn the Slovenian club into a European powerhouse while developing talent for the national team. After 10 seasons I even tried to turn it into a story. But unfortunately I had reached my limit for Football Manager that year (I normally don't play past the end of the domestic seasons) and the story came to an end without me reaching my goals.
Bringing the story to an end at that time was a little disappointing. My goal of winning the Champions League had not been reached despite one trip to the finals (thrashed by Manchester United). I was at my tactical best, taking time to prepare for matches, and my youth team was beginning to develop future stars. I was probably only a couple seasons away from reaching my goals with the club and potentially within sight of international success for Slovenia.
After spending hundreds of hours on FM14, I really never go into FM15. I couldn't take a save past 1 season normally because my bad transfer policies after season 1 would basically result in me destroying the team on the pitch and financially.
But I'm back with a new energy for Football Manager 2016 and after reading Alex Stewart's Moneyball Series from FM2015, I am motivated to once again have a go with Maribor.
Maribor: Moneyball Style
What is Moneyball? Here is a run down of the rules:
1. Net wage spend is more important than net transfer spend 2. Don’t needlessly splash out on new players or sell old ones when you take over a club – the New Manager Syndrome
3. Don’t buy players who impressed at international tournaments: they’re likely to be overvalued and past performance is no indication of future performance, especially when they’re playing with a different team – there are different incentives and a different tactical set-up at tournaments, and it’s a super small sample size.
4. Some nationalities are overrated, like Holland, Brazil, and England
5. Sell your players at the right time: when they’re around 30 years old, goalkeepers aside
6. Use the wisdom of crowds: ask all your scouts and a Director of Football if you have one
7. Buy players in their early twenties, which avoids the problems with not developing properly, and means previous statistics have greater value
8. Centre-forwards cost more than they should
9. Sell any player if a club offers more than they are worth and try to replace them before they are sold
10. Don’t buy players if you don’t need to: develop a youth network and try to develop your own players
On top of these Moneyball rules, I will be adopting two other rules that Alex Stewart used in his long term save with Bristol City:
- The best way to improve a team is by identifying and replacing the weakest links, rather than by splashing out on making the best links even better
- A clean sheet is worth just over two goals scored in terms of points across the course of a season. The corollary to this, then, is a focus on defence over pushing too hard for a win.
- Turn Maribor into a European superpower with the aim of winning the Champions League
- Turn Slovenia into an international threat by developing Slovenian talent through the Maribor system
First off, can it really be described as true Moneyball when you are forced to adhere to the values out of necessity? Maribor is a small club from a small country where money is not exactly in abundance. So in order to create future success at the club it will be important to keep the club's financials healthy and use available cash to improve the youth system so that you can develop replacements for when bigger clubs come calling for your star players.
Luckily Maribor starts off with healthy financials and no debt which means all profits can be re-invested into the club, particularly our youth set up. Creating a world class youth set up that will develop world class Slovenian talent is the main goal of this save. This will allow me to maintain tight control on finances by reducing the need to purchase players.
As defending league champions, Maribor also begins the game in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League. Our goal in that competition will be to reach the group stage which will bring an influx of cash which will be used to upgrade facilities.
So I've laid out the rules and goals for this save. In the next post I will evaluate the club in greater depth and look at the squad before diving into tactics.