Achieving Long Term Success; The FC United Story

In “Goal: The Ball Doesn’t Go in By Chance”, Ferran Soriano, former Vice-President of Barcelona Football Club, shares an insight into how the club was run between 2003 and 2006.  It is more a management book than a football one.

My reading about the game has become increasingly more niche the more Football Manager has developed.  From Jonathan Wilson’s “Inverting the Pyramid” to “Goal” by way of “Moneyball” and books on legendary coaches like JohnWooden and Bill Walsh.

Long term success is underpinned by a long-term vision – Bill Walsh had his “Standards of Performance”;  John Wooden had a “Pyramid of Success” and Barcelona had a “virtuous circle”.

A virtuous circle is a loop of actions or events whereby results allow the loop to be repeated with ever-increasing results. It is associated with self-reinforcing practices and processes that gain strength from their outputs.  A virtuous circle allows for a large number of initiatives to be implemented simultaneously and at different levels of the organization to make a deep and long term effect.

Barcelona’s virtuous circle can be described as:

circulo-virtuoso

As can be seen above, normally to trigger a virtuous circle is necessary great financial resources to sign good football players and exploit commercial capabilities to transform sporting results into profits.  In a nutshell, the priority for Barcelona was find players who would help to recover the faith and hope of the social mass and would allow them to pick up the club economy, which, afterward, should help to keep investing in the team until reaching the first successes of the new cycle.

Within football, several clubs have tried to trigger a virtuous circle between sporting results and economic gain, but it hasn’t worked for all who have tried it making Barcelona’s success even more pertinent.

Obviously, implementing such an improvement process is easier with money  but could it work in the realm of Football Manager in the lower leagues and what would it look like?

The table below outlines some initial thoughts about replicating elements of Barcelona’s within the game.

Area What? How?
Sports Sign the best players

 

Replace no more than one player per line (i.e. defender, midfielder, forward) each season unless unavoidable.
Great sports results Use a strikerless tactic as far as possible.
Economic Sources of Income Sell players for reasonable offers.

 

Play friendlies often, concentrating on foreign tours.

Rationalise Spending Hygienic remuneration.  Always pay less and reward good performances, penalize bad performances.   Bonuses for team success not individual success.
Social International Projection Develop a network of affiliated clubs.

 

I decided to leave the choice of club to happen-stance beginning the game as an unemployed Sunday League player with no qualifications  – this was the nearest I could get to reflecting my actual playing experience of one appearance as a five-minute substitute for my primary school.  It is the middle of November in-game and I’ve been appointed as manager of FC United.   I’ll cover the starting position in my next update.

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