The Death of Realism

So, I’ve been a bit busy. Nothing major, just plenty of real-life stuff preventing me from playing and/or writing. I’m not complaining, sometimes a break is good to help you review what you’re doing and perhaps my subconscious mind has helped me figure things out a bit.

Today’s post will likely be a fairly brief one, summing up the game time I have managed to get in, and looking towards what happens next.

To the title, I think since leaving Frankfurt at the end of season six I’ve been choosing new jobs based too much on “realistic” moves, and not looking for a job I can really get stuck into, in a bit more of a long-term fashion. More on that later…

If you need a little catch-up here’s a link to the end of last season.

And here’s the big news for this post:

Barcelona Clean-up:

Last season’s youth intake was not too inspiring, although it did include a very impressive goalkeeper who is labelled the next Dida:

Over the summer, there were three more realistic job openings, with PSG, Juventus and Manchester United all in need of new management. However, I shunned them all as being too similar to my previous roles. I stayed at Barcelona, and working under the assumption that I might be around a while waiting for the right role to come up, I treated my work in Cataluña with my usual level of focus micromanagement.

I made some attempts to increase the Spanish quota in the squad through the transfer market, and to add more of a home grown contingent through promoting players from the successful group in Barcelona B. The B side had a great season last year, finishing in second place in the Segunda Division. If not for a catastrophic loss of form during the election process in February, they would’ve walked the title.

As expected, Alfussene Cassamá forced through the move to Chelsea that he wanted. Enjoy playing in the Europa League, you buffoon. A few more established names were sacrificed in order to make space for the incoming Spaniards and B team players.

I tweaked the tactic again, and although remaining true to our previous formation, went with two Mezzale, after being influenced by Samo’s excellent piece a couple of weeks back. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t got to it yet.

So how did that work out for us?

Hey, I actually hung around long enough to get the European Super Cup added to my trophy cabinet. It was a hard game, as we had to rely heavily on youth players due to it coinciding with an international break. But the kids got it done.

If anything, we’ve been even better than those results suggest. One of our best performances was actually in the 0-1 loss to Man Utd. We dominated from start to finish, hitting the woodwork a frustrating five times whilst restricting them to just one shot on target. Unfortunately they scored and we didn’t. These things happen. The only game in which we didn’t look much cop was against Lyon, but a goal from a corner allowed us to salvage a draw.

Just before the Valladolid game I noticed an available job that piqued my interest, but with our Champions League progress looking dicey, I elected to play through to the game at Old Trafford to try and make amends for the defeat on our patch. I’m good like that. We played well and deserved to take the three points. After the game, the role that I had my eye on was still free, and so:

A New Job:

I had to resign as I’m taking a significant (and unrealistic) step down, and there’s no chance my new club could’ve afforded to pay the compensation to get me.

I have finally found the sort of fallen giant/rebuild save I was after. When I first noticed this job, they were 17th in Serie B and in the relegation zone. They have since managed to win a game and move themselves up to 14th, but their situation is looking dire compared to where you might expect to find them.

This is Sampdoria’s second spell in Serie B since the start of the save. With the first they bounced straight back with promotion and a Serie B title in 2020/21. But last season they finished 7th in Serie B and looking at their transfer history, they’ve lost the majority of their decent players and have struggled to recruit adequate replacements.

There’s a heavy reliance on loan deals from Serie A clubs and absolutely no depth in the squad. There’s a lot to be done.

On the positive side, the stripping of so many playing assets means there’s a very good amount of space in both the transfer and wage budgets for me to play with:

I’m not going to write too much about the state of the Sampdoria playing squad, as in truth, I haven’t had the time to do a thorough analysis. But a cursory glance about the place tells me that significant additions are required in almost every position.

One thing I will mention is my desire to focus more heavily on youth development and home grown players. It’s always been a style of play I’ve enjoyed and short of the last six months at Barcelona, it’s not something I’ve done much of in FM for a while.

I think I’ll be restricting myself in terms of transfers (another blow to realism), probably only allowing myself to bring in one or two foreign signings per season. I’ve added “sign young players for the first team” to the board philosophies, and intend on filling the squad with more youngsters.

More on that next time when I’m a little deeper into my analysis and more certain of my aspirations.

Short-term, there’s a lot of work to be done, but the club overall is not badly set-up, with brilliant facilities for a team in the second tier:

I’m excited to start a new type of challenge, and hopefully I can get a bit of time in the next week to play a bit and have a more detailed look at Sampdoria’s squad, analyse some needs and maybe have a look at how we’ll start off playing. Thanks for reading!

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