The Importance of Experience - Over 30s Challenge


Nov 11, 2014
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So following on from the infamous "You can't win anything with kids" statement, I've decided to do the inverse of this and try and conquer Europe with a side of veterans all over the age of 30. I usually have a heavy focus on youth development in my FM saves and so this will hopefully prove to be a nice change and a save where I will be utilising real-life players rather than regens.

As for a club I decided to choose Fiorentina, as they are based in the beautiful region of Tuscany and the perfect spot for players to see out their playing days before retiring.

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I have disabled the transfer window to begin with, just so that I can crack on with the save to start with and get some scouting etc underway prior to January.

I currently only have 7 players over the age of 30 and so do have quite a lot of work to do in rebuilding the team. We actually have a lot of young talent including the likes of Federico Chiesa, currently out on loan at Juventus so is going to probably cause a bit of a stir as I gradually start to ship them off in place of veterans but as long as we are getting results I'm sure the board and fans won't mind.

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Frank Ribéry is probably the highest profile star at the club but at the age of 37 may only have 2 seasons left in him. His technical and mental attributes are still insane, but as can be expected is deteriorating in the physical aspects.

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Martin Cáceres is another experienced head in the side, currently sitting on 99 caps for Uruguay. He has been knocking about at the top level for some time now and is a vast wealth of experience in defence.

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Giacomo Bonaventura is best senior Italian and will start his first season with us after a 6 year spell with Milan. Again, has international experience and could be a key player in the save for a few years as we slowly build a side of legends.

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We are predicted to finish 8th this season, but our main aim will be to get back into continental football next season and attract higher profile names, so Top 7 is really going to be the target.

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Settling In

It's been a fairly steady start for us, losing just 1 of our first 9 games in Serie A. Although, despite the minor success, I really don't think I've got us playing very good football. We seem to be grinding out results but not really controlling the games, even when at home to some of the division's weaker sides.

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Despite my minor grumble we are actually 3rd in the League as everyone seems to be struggling a little for consistency. Only 3 points separate the top 9 teams so a lot will change and we will be battling for a top 7 finish come the end of the season.

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However, any realistic shot at silverware has now gone out the window following an upset defeat at home to Serie A strugglers, Spezia.

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The board wanted us to reach the quarter final (minimum) so have really underachieved on this one, which adds a little extra pressure on us to do well in the League.

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One of the big issues I am already experiencing is the contract extensions of our senior players. With players such as Ribéry and Cáceres contracts expiring this summer I was hoping to offer a 1-2 year extension but everyone is holding out for 3-4 years which seems crazy to me.

So am currently playing hardball, but in a months time they will be able to start speaking to other clubs...

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The next couple of months saw us go up against the majority of the top Italian sides, fixtures that we didn't do particularly well in. Having said that we did manage to secure some narrow victories over the slightly weaker sides to keep our tally ticking over.

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Amongst those losses included the rather humiliating 6-1 trashing against Juventus. Our keeper seemed unable to save anything as even Morata managed to bag himself 4 goals. As the stats show we were much better than the scoreline suggests, but is hard to really find positives when you lose so emphatically.

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So as we pass the halfway stage we are still well in contention for European football next season. The biggest shock is Hellas Verona, who are currently 4th despite a preseason prediction of finishing in the bottom half of the table.

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As the transfer window drew to a close, my hand was forced into selling Nikola Milenković. In any normal save I would have refused point blank, but he was adamant that he wanted to leave us and doesn't fit my over 30 profile. He was by far our best CB and is going to be a massive loss for the remainder of the season.

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Our sale of Milenković topped the Italian transfer news, in what proved to be a very quiet January window.

We haven't brought anybody into the club, but I have agreed the signing of 4 new players who will join on free transfers in July (shall be revealed later on).

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So with £31 Million in player sales the bank account looks very healthy and should be set up for some big transfer deals especially if we can get back into continental football next season.

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So I got a little bit carried away and ended up just completing the season. I really wanted to start bringing new faces in and overhauling the squad to fit the save parameters and so just chugging away with the results.

Having said that we ended up on a really good run, picking up numerous 1-0 victories. In all honesty I haven't been overly happy with our performances and despite picking up good points, I really want us to be playing better football. So as I have big changes coming about over the summer I have kind of just been getting through the season and will now be able to mould my new squad for the start of next season.

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We did almost pull off a massive victory over Juventus, but for the fact we conceded 2 goals in the final few minutes. However, a very good response to the 6-1 drumming they gave us earlier in the season.

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So as the season ends, we managed to pull off a 3rd place finish and book our place in the CL next season!

We were well off the pace of AC Milan in the end, but a number of big sides struggled, which incredibly allowed Hellas Verona to grab the final CL spot.

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Milan ended up winning the Coppa Italia as well to complete the domestic double.

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Here is our supposed best XI of the season and features only 3 players over the age of 30.

I desperately need to find a striker as was having to play Kouamé up front for the most part and despite him performing well, is better suited out on the flank.

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Kouamé did actually finish 3rd in the golden boot, but as you can see from his attributes has performed well above what was expected of him and don't think I can trust him to perform to the same standard next season. He is also well under 30 so most likely will be sold once replacements are lined up.

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With just weeks left on his contract Frank Ribéry is still holding out for a 3 year deal with a 4th year extension as an option - He is 38 years old, so could still be playing for us at 42 should that deal go through!

I am very reluctant about committing to his terms, especially as he only managed 5 goals and 5 assists this season. I would like to keep him for another year (2 at most) but not sure we are going to be able to strike a deal at the moment.

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New Faces

So I managed to secure 5 new players on pre-contracts, mostly back in January.

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Sami Khedira returns to Italy after a season at Hertha Berlin. He is a highly experienced midfielder and still has incredible mental and technical attributes and should hopefully play the holding midfielder role for us this season. He signs on a 1 year deal but I do have the option to extend it another year if I desire.

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Federicio Fazio bolsters our defensive options and is a towering figure at the back, standing at 6'5". I'm hoping we can also effectively utilise him on attacking set-pieces.

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Juan Mata joins us from Manchester United and could be a key player for us this season. He has the ability to pick apart a defensive with his passing and am excited to see what he can do for us this season.

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Stefan Radu joins after 14 years with Lazio. His mental attributes are insane and is a real leader at the back. Although he is labelled as an Elite centre-back by the media, I think he will be predominantly used as a LB.

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Franco Vázquez is another highly talented playmaker to join us this season. He is a very similar player to Mata and if we can get them both firing on all cylinders, we should hopefully be playing some exciting football this season.

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I then decided to splash the cash and bring Stevan Jovetić back to the club from Monaco. Having played for Fiorentina between 2008-2013 he is registered as 'trained by club' which is going to be extremely useful in our registration both domestically and continentally. He also still looks a very good player to have up front.

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I couldn't help but sign Mario Balotelli when I saw he was a free agent. A very controversial character but one that can bring a lot of excitement. His wage demands were very low and again helps with some registration requirements.

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Having already added 2 strikers, I still couldn't resist signing Mario Mandžukić after he was released by AC Milan. He has been playing at the highest level for a long time now and am hoping his powerful presence will give us a different kind of route one attacking option.

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I did also cave and sign Ribéry on a rather comical 3 year deal!

His wage demands dropped significantly and I thought it would be quite funny if he was still playing for us in his 40's so put pen to paper and kept him at the club.

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I have also been clearing out a lot of players, as currently 29 players have been either released or sold!

(The signing of Igor was made prior to my arrival)

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So here is a quick overview of the squad for the upcoming season. I am still keeping an eye out for a CB as I think that is a position we could do strengthening if possible.

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So we now have the oldest average age in the League, coming in at 29.32.

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