La Magica; The Monchi Files — 01. The Intro

When you are looking from a financially powerful club’s perspective, say your Man City’s, Man Utd’s, Chelsea’s, Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s, PSG’s and such, the transfer market is an opportunity to strengthen the squad with star names and exciting youngsters as you see fit. They have competition from each other when looking at certain players but money is generally never an issue.

However, for the majority of the clubs in world football, the transfer market represents an inherent fear of losing the players who brought them joy and success in the season that just went by. Regardless of how you and I may or may not personally feel about the way money dominates the world of football, there are some clubs who have mastered the art of selling star assets yet rebuilding without losing too much of their momentum. Alongside the often praised Portuguese giants Benfica and Porto, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, the Netherlands’ Ajax and Switzerland’s FC Basel, there is another club that is rather renowned for achieving the feat perennially; Sevilla.

Sevilla’s rise to the top was largely facilitated by their excellent exploits in the transfer market, which were largely the work of one man. He is known as Monchi and his method for evaluating talent has Europe’s attention. Before his move to Italian giants AS Roma, he was highly sought after by both Barcelona and Real Madrid and he turned down an offer to join Sevilla manager Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain.

Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, who still goes by the nickname from his goalkeeping days, has become one of the most sought-after football directors in European soccer after revolutionizing Spanish club Sevilla with a scouting system that helped rescue the team from the brink of financial collapse and turned it into a perennial contender in the continent’s second-tiered competitions.

Monchi is football’s version of Billy Beane, the baseball general manager whose innovative methods to evaluate players helped revitalize the Oakland A’s and whose story later became a book and the movie, “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. In what is to become the start of an entire series of articles, I would like to investigate the work being done by Monchi at Sevilla and apply it to Football Manager.

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Breaking Barça; The Intro

Building a club is something I have done numerous times. I have written about it, I have given it a lot of thought on numerous occasions, it is essentially playing the game as the creators intended you to.  That is the point where it becomes somewhat boring and stale to me. I do the same thing, year in, year out. I refine the process, I pick up some new tricks along the way, I make use of the new possibilities the game offers but there are no radical changes in how I play the game.

So I figured I would set myself a new kind of challenge. If I know how to build a side, I surely have to know how to destroy a side as well. If you know the variables that can bring you success, you can apply those same variables and use them to utterly ruin a team. Just to make it interesting somewhat, attempting to wreck a team without getting the sack should add an extra dimension to the challenge. In a way, I will be the devil’s manager, kind of like the Rolling Stones sang.

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name
But what is puzzling you is the nature of my game

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Why I Prefer Strikerless Over More Traditional Formations

Over the past years, people have asked me why I play the way that I play. Besides the obvious answer that it works, there are actually some valid reasons, some actual benefits to losing your forwards and replacing them with attacking midfielders. I never gave this any real thought as it just felt right on an instinctive level. Lately, something Cleon said got me thinking about this very subject, which ultimately led to this article.

Nothing really, I just wondered if you’d ever considered doing a piece on why you prefer strikerless over strikers and what they offer you better in comparison. I guess a bit like I’ll be doing with the DMC vs MC’s in the 4231

I always relish the challenge to delve into my own mind in an effort to try and grasp and phrase concepts that have become somewhat of a second nature to me, almost instinctive in a way. So this is my effort to explore the dark depths of my depraved mind and shed some light on why I do what I do, besides the obvious reason that I am a deranged madman.

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Set Pieces; How They Can Help You Break Open A Game

Managers, coaches, players and pundits alike; none of them are blind to the importance of set plays, which can be a crucial means to force in a goal when things don’t look good during open play. The premeditated nature of set pieces offers managers a level of relative consistency in preparation and planning. You can work out multiple routines and prepare your players for these routines during training sessions. In this blog post, I want to focus on the process of setting up a good corner routine, the variables that determine whether or not a routine is successful and my own routine. […]

Masters From The Sea – Part II

Having visited Croatia before and having visited Split in particular, I jumped on the chance to help out in this multiplayer save. I enjoy scouting and setting things up and it will be interesting for me to see if I can convey my ideas clearly enough to see if anyone else can follow in my footsteps. I hope to create circumstances in which Beppe can flourish and make the entire team shine like the stars they undoubtedly are.

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Cerberus; The Three-Headed Beast

In Greek mythology, Cerberus was often called the “hound of Hades”. Cerberus is the monstrous multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. Cerberus is my first FM18 tactic to be released and like the three-headed beast, it revolves around three deadly forwards carving a path of mayhem and destruction through opposing defences.

As a pragmatic football manager, I found myself struggling during beta, torn between trying to make individual stars shine and maintaining a tight and cohesive system. The fanboy in me wanted to make the stars shine as they do in real life, wanted to emulate the insane records set by the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whereas the dogmatic strikerless zealot in me did not want to compromise the ideas that made strikerless as good as it was in previous iterations of the game.

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An Inspiration; Dazza’s Strikerless

When I started Strikerless.com a number of years ago, it was merely a way for me to unwind, to put my thoughts to paper and to create some order in the perpetual chaos swirling around in my mind (hello ADHD!). Eventually, this blogging got a bit more serious, as apparently, people thought and still think that I have sensible things to say. I try to interact with people as often and as polite as I can and one of those interactions has resulted in this blog post.

One of the biggest compliments you can make me is saying that I have inspired you to do something you enjoyed doing. It’s a quality I strive for in my professional life as a teacher and it’s even more flattering when I hear I have inspired people I have never met to change their views on how to play a football manager simulation game.

Anyway, back to this post. @DazzaFM contacted me and said I had inspired him to create a strikerless tactic. He felt it worked well enough to create a tactical video over, so that brings us to this blog post. I am going to share this video with you and I hope to have many more conversations like this one over Football Manager.

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Acquiring Valuable Assets; The Newgen Hunter

One of the key aspects in Football Manager is ensuring you sign quality players. After a few saves, the diamonds in the original database are well-known, which removes the challenge of scouting for me. The annual intake of newgen players forms a different kind of challenge altogether. Seemingly random players are generated every season and as you progress through the save-game, more and more authentic players retire and are replaced with newgens. For me, that is where the real challenge begins.

Now, I like to think that I am in fact quite good at finding the right newgens for my team. Scouring the ends of the earth for talented newgens is definitely one of the aspects about FM that I enjoy the most and one of the reasons why I generally make a shitload of money with the Juventus Gambit. Finding a young starlet and developing him to his full potential is one of the more fulfilling experiences in the Football Manager universe.

I sometimes jokingly refer to it as newgen hunting. In my head, I imagine myself being a sort of Steve Irwin, creeping up on unsuspecting footballers. “Crikey! That’s a big one! He might play at centre-back!” While I leave you struggling to rid yourself of the mental image of me tiger crawling through the bush, preying on unsuspecting footballers, allow me to explain what this blog post is about. I want to describe, in as much detail as possible, the strategies I use to track down newgens, the attributes that help you distinguish valuable signings from overrated crap and some general tips and tricks.

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Inside My Mind; Hungary vs Austria – The Clash Of The (Former) Dual-Monarchy

This article will be the third installment in what is effectively a case study in reactive tactics. The Hungarian national team is playing the 2052 European Championships with yours truly at the helm. In the first game, we kept the Czech Republic to a draw, whereas the second game saw us effectively nullify the mighty offensive power of the Spanish national side, gaining a second draw. In this final game of the group-stage, the Magyars take on an old adversary; the Austrian national team.

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