Stouters’ Moneyball Tips

Managing your finances is always a tricky part of the immersive Football Manager adventure. Many of us are tempted to splash around a lot of cash like an Arab sheikh on a quest to win the Champions League but since most clubs do not have a sugar daddy backing them up, such a strategy will ultimately lead to a rude awakening and inevitable downfall. Being more prudent with the financial resources at your disposal is a far more wise strategy. The following tips will help you in saving some money along the way.

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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? (more…)

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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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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Masters From The Sea – Part I

Player 2 Has entered the Game

Some people were lucky enough to grow up with an elder brother or sister who played games with them. Me I was the older brother, so I was player 1, I was Mario and my younger brother was Luigi. I had the official joy-pad while my brother had the joys of the 3rd party super cheap joy-pad that sometimes stuck but in the main was OK. There really were some great games for SNES that could be played Co-Op gems such as Smash TV, Zombie ate my Neighbor and the amazing NBA Jam.

I am not even including the totally awesome Original Mario Kart. I honestly don’t know how many hours I played that with my brother. Being the older brother I got to set the rules, what game we were going to play. The rules of the games, if you died did you have to go and make the person a cup of tea? If one of the parents called who would have to go?

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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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The Cuckoo Transfer-Market Strategy; Let Others Develop The Talents For You

Not everyone starts his FM career with a top side with the financial means and facilities to crank out homegrown talent on a regular basis. In fact, some clubs are severely strapped for cash and cannot free funds to invest heavily in the development of talent. Just fielding a somewhat-decent first team squad takes up most of the available funds so developing your own talent isn’t really an option. How exactly do you improve a club like that? You let others develop the talents for you as if you were some sort of FM variant of the cuckoo.

You see, cuckoos are notorious tricksters, shortcutting the chores of parenthood by hiding its eggs in the nest of other birds, which wind up hatching and raising them. A similar strategy can be applied to FM if you know where to look, how to scout and what to look out for. You let other clubs develop talents only for you to snap them up and use them; the cuckoo transfer-market strategy.

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Tale Of Two Sons – Decision Time

Both in life and in Football Manager, it is prevalent that even the most carefully thought plans often go out the window when reality and particularly in FM, the simulation shows up on the stage. This was also the case with my AS Roma save that I used to present this article for Guido and Strikerless. As I originally wrote in the first part,  I had very straightforward ideas for both my young players when I was loaning them out to get the much needed first team minutes.  They needed those minutes to get themselves where I wanted them to be or more specifically I thought where they would be in the hierarchy of my AS Roma organisation. This time, however, I got to experience one of those lovely surprises that FM so kindly sometimes gives you to keep you going even further into the cave further away from the light some people call Real Life.

I already went over my initial plans and thoughts about loaning in the first part, so this one is all about the results and conclusions I ended up with loaning these chaps out on different teams over the course of few seasons. Both of them were loaned out as first team regulars or more to get them the most exposure a player can have as a loanee. Without any further ado, let us jump into action, shall we.

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