Eintracht Frankfurt: Season Five, Part One

Welcome back to Frankfurt! Here comes season five, and after our heartbreaking end to season four, how will the squad (and I) react?

To start today’s post I’m going to write a little bit about how I play FM, specifically focusing on how I approach squad building. This will largely feature principles I take into every save, irrespective of club or aims.

After that, we’ll be getting stuck in to the first half of season five, including the 2022 World Cup, which being held in November/December, gives the schedule a very different feel.

First up, I’ll start with some of the things I focus on in FM…


Squad Building:

1. Attributes:

“Technique, Composure, Decisions, Determination, Pace, Acceleration. These are the six attributes I’ll be targeting with new signings to hopefully get us towards that new brand of football.”

These weren’t plucked out of the air for this save. Although acceleration is a new add, the other five are something I always focus on. But why?

I’ll start with the end of the list. Pace and Acceleration. My logic here is that if you can get to the ball first, and/or keep the ball ahead of your opponent, you’ve obviously got a massive advantage. I’ll take a player with slightly less about him technically if he’s got a touch more pace.

Technique I’ve always loved. I look at it as a boost to all the technical attributes, and a good indication in a young player of a potential to improve technically. Is this accurate? Shrug emoji. But it makes sense to me, and I place a high priority on finding players with high technique.

Determination or, “what good is passing 15 if you can’t be arsed to challenge for the ball in the first place?”

Composure or, “what good is passing 15 if you shit yourself under pressure?”

Decisions or, “what good is passing 15 if you choose to pass to a guy surrounded by four defenders instead of the guy that’s open?”

These last three explanations are light-hearted, but I think they explain my thoughts. Of course I value attributes like passing and finishing, but without a solid base in the above, a player to me is less than his numbers.

When I’m building a squad, I’ll attempt to fill it with players who are proficient in these six areas, and when it comes to developing young players, improving these six attributes are often my focus.

2. Rotation:

I’m a big believer in squad rotation. I regularly swap out the entire eleven when there’s two fixtures in a week.

Primarily, my reasoning is that restricting the amount of appearances a player makes significantly reduces injuries. If your best eleven is healthy, you’re far more likely to win. If you’re lucky (like I was last season) then your hardest fixtures will be interspersed with easier ones. If you’re not, this can be trickier to maintain.

This also makes it easier to keep your second string match fit, particularly in a save in which you don’t have a reserve team…

Another reason I like to restrict players to one game a week is so I can put them through more intense training. I’m not totally hands-on with team training, preferring to tweak my assistant’s schedules. However, I do like to add individual player traits wherever possible, with almost everyone on “double intensity” to improve their game.

One downside to rotation can be player happiness, which leads us to…

3. Contracts:

Squad Status:

When I sign a player, I will usually choke down offering a higher wage to get them to accept a lesser squad status. It’s so much easier to keep players happy with reduced appearances if they’re expecting it from the outset.

For those players already in place, after a bit of success, I’m highly likely to attempt to reduce the status of any first team or key players. Doing this, I’ve had very few problems with players unhappy with playing time since the first couple of seasons at Frankfurt.

Renewals:

It sometimes takes less than a year for players to decide they’re worth stacks more in wages. With a decent captain, you can put them off, and I was fortunate to have that in my first couple of seasons at Frankfurt.

After a couple of years of success though, just speaking to a player when prompted that he may have an issue, is usually enough to placate them:

This is harder in the off-season, but at times like that, convincing them to sack their agent can be a winner.

But why am I doing this? I am a tight git, no doubt about it, but the millions I’ve saved from needless wage rises have gone towards signings, staff improvements and facilities upgrades that would’ve taken longer had we folded every time an agent came knocking.

There is a risk attached here. Do it for too long and a player can have his head turned from elsewhere. I wonder if this will come up at any point…

Anyway, back to business.


Summer Transfer Window:

First up, two long-serving full backs have departed at the end of their contracts. Taleb Tawatha had only just turned 30, but I wasn’t willing to give him a bumper pay rise when he was just a back-up player. Over his four years under my management he was solid, with 87(2) appearances, 5 goals, 10 assists and averaging about 7.2. He was quickly snapped up by Feyenoord.

Also leaving is Sebastian Jung. One of my first signings (a snip at £2m), primarily signed as cover and as an additional home grown player, he performed a lot better than I expected, in particular he was a vital part of the team in season three. He’s 32 now however, and with his powers on the wane, it’s time to say goodbye. 74(16) apps, 2 goals, 11 assists, avg rating 7.1-ish. Fortuna Dusseldorf have picked him up. Good luck to both of them.

Outside of my ever increasing number of developmental loans, only one player leaves for a fee, but it’s a big deal, both in cash and to the squad:

Brenner leaves us for the bright lights of London for a whopping £85m, plus 25% of the next sale. This is an example of the downside of my fiscally responsible (tight) policy on contract renewals, or at least what happens when you time it wrong. He was on £30k a week, and for well over a year I had put him off of contract negotiations. When Arsenal came calling he wasn’t willing to talk to me anymore. They are paying him an eye-watering £235k a week, and although I like him, I don’t think he’s that good.

He will be sorely missed however, finishing with 89(33) apps, 64 goals, 13 assists and an avg rating of 7.1-ish for Frankfurt. He’s been the only striker I’ve had to consistently impress in the Advanced Forward role so far, and he leaves a hole in the squad as a result.

There may be more players leaving in January. The squad is getting big, and former prospects are getting to the point where they may not make it. I’ve got my eye on a few, including Barkok, Benedetti, Brobbey, Elizalde and Finger

So to the transfers in:

Another couple of youngsters and three players for the first team squad. Josko Gvardiol comes in after an exhaustive search for a left back to cover Itter. He’s a decent prospect, but not exactly what I was looking for, as he’s a little defensive for my liking.

The other two are the major signings, first Sergio Montoya, who looks like the type of monster I’ve been craving to give us something different in central midfield:

A quality find by the scouting team, and a bargain to boot. Speaking of bargains, meet Carlos Alberto Santos:

It’s not everyday a Portuguese international striker wonderkid is available on a free transfer. We wouldn’t have known a thing about him until my inbox showed that German clubs were offering him trials. Most of Europe was after him, but we swooped in with a permanent offer and he’s ours. Hopefully he’ll be the man to fill the Brenner-shaped hole in the line-up…

Despite being presented with a sizable war chest for signings, I’m largely keeping the faith with the squad I have, and hoping that with another year of development under their belts, this young squad can make the final step to European glory. I’m also continuing with the tactics that have served us so well over the last year or two, although I am working on something else for if we face the big boys later in the season.

July/August/September:

Probably our easiest draw so far:

Not a bad team in the group, but no superpower in there either.

An almost perfect beginning to the season, with our start in the Champions League being particularly pleasing, getting 9 points out of 9 from arguably the toughest three matches we will face in the group.

October/November:

We continue to dominate:

Apparently we’re now 66 games undefeated (clearly ET/Penalty losses count as draws…), which is absolutely ridiculous. Almost everyone is playing well, even the previously underperforming Brian Brobbey is suddenly amongst the goals, after injuries thrust him into first team action. The league as ever, looks good:

But after a dodgy start (again), Bayern are looking strong. Could they be about to offer us a challenge?

World Cup 2022:

I’m not going to go into much detail on the World Cup, but here’s the team of the tournament, featuring our very own Klingy:

He bagged 6 goals at the World Cup, but was miles behind Romelu Lukaku who won the Golden Boot with a staggering 15 goals! Belgium took home the trophy, beating Spain in the final 1-0.

After being knocked out by Spain in the quarter final, Germany boss Christian Titz was sacked and has been replaced by Hamburg’s Markus Anfang. Hopefully this will help our hopes for call-ups for our players…

Behind The Scenes:

We’ve finally maxed out the old facilities, as well as youth recruitment and junior coaching. Can we get a decent intake soon… Please?

Carlos Alberto Santos makes it four successive European Golden Boy awards in a row for Frankfurt players:

He also snagged the World U21 Player award after a great year.


Next week I’ll likely return to my more usual save update style approach, as we continue our quest for European glory. Could this be the year we add the Champions League to our trophy cabinet? Things are looking good so far…

 

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