Three Carat Diamond; A Lopsided Midfield

The tagline for this site is “dare to think outside the box”, which is both a play-of-words on the idea of not fielding an actual striker as well as a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. For my new tactic, I have decided to create a spin on the traditional diamond tactics. Naturally, the formation has a strikerless twist. Playing in this formation offers you a midfield diamond, which in turn enables you to pass the ball and play between the lines of both back four and midfield, as well as midfield and forward line. If you have followed the site somewhat regularly, you can see that such a concept of play appeals to me and suits the strikerless style.

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La Magica; The Monchi Files — 03. Sign-To-Sell

As modern football is changing and evolving, the influence of the financial moguls cannot be underestimated. Money is becoming more and more important, changing the club landscape throughout the world. The rise of financially powerful corporations backed by big corporations or rich owners has led to a trickle-down of capital and subsequently the rise of shop window clubs or selling clubs.

These clubs have perfected their scouting approaches and deliver a steady stream of talented towards the absolute top clubs, overachieving somewhat along the way in European competitions. Real-life examples such as FC Basel, Benfica, Porto, Sevilla and perhaps to a lesser extent Ajax have mastered the concept of signing players with the objective of selling them on for a profit; sign-to-sell.

These clubs, or actually their boards, understand that, in capitalist football, all staff are up for sale and will only remain at the club until they have reached their peak. The best businessmen know who to sign cheap and even more importantly; when to cash in before hitting a glass ceiling.

In this blog post, I want to focus on the concept of sign-to-sell. Essentially, this is the resale factor; the Monchi factor if you will. When I sign this player, will I be able to sell him on to another club? Which factors determine this resale factor? How can I maximise my chances of finding a player with resale potential? […]

La Magica; The Monchi Files — 02. Value For Money

One of the things Monchi excelled at was buying low and selling high. During his tenure at the club, Sevilla’s scouting network branched far and wide and the club has gained plenty of success by tapping into underappreciated markets in South America and smaller European leagues. His success stories were also numerous.

Monchi ranks Dani Alves as one of his best ever signings, and it is not hard to see why. At the age of 19, Alves was plucked from the obscurity of Brazilian club Bahia, initially on loan and then on a permanent basis for under a million euros. Six years, 246 appearances, two UEFA Cups and a Copa del Rey later, he was transferred to Barcelona for 30 million euros, becoming the most expensive right-back of all time.

Another example of Sevilla recognising the potential of a player in time was Julio Baptista, who arrived at Sevilla as a solid, if unspectacular defensive midfielder from Brazilian football, but left just two years later as a prolific brute of a striker. Nicknamed “The Beast” due to his immense frame, Baptista struck 47 goals in his two seasons at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, earning a big-money move to Real Madrid in 2005.

Yet another starlet signed from a lower league club abroad, Geoffrey Kondogbia moved to Spanish football after just one full season in Ligue 2 with Lens, but quickly made a big impression on La Liga and European football. The Frenchman’s excellent displays in central midfield sparked interest from a host of top European clubs, but it was newly-promoted Monaco who took the plunge on him for 20 million euro’s, which is five times what Sevilla paid for him just one year previously.

A final example of just how far-reaching Sevilla’s scouting network spans is Carlos Bacca, who was signed from Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League for just over £5 million. The Colombian hit the ground running straight away, netting 21 goals in his first season and then 28 the next campaign to secure a dream move to Milan in 2015.

These are all prime examples of getting value for your money. Finding players with obvious talent who are somehow underrated by the market system. Bring these players in on sufficiently low deals, develop them, see them blossom and sell them for a major profit. The concept of value for money underlines all of these transfers and thus should underline this entire series.

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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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