Welcome back to On The Break! I’m excited to bring you the first post of my main FM21 save, El Violeta, with Defensor Sporting from Uruguay. I am a complete novice when it comes to South American football, but the culture, passion and ability all across the continent is inspiring, so I’m throwing myself into the world of Aperturas and Clausuras to try and bring success to Defensor.
This post will outline the save a bit, introducing the club, the manager, and a few aims I have for the save.
Defensor Sporting are one of many Uruguayan sides based in Montevideo, the capital city, and are the third most successful side in the country behind the big two, Nacional and Peñarol. Defensor have won the Uruguayan Primera División 4 times in their history, equal to Montevideo Wanderers, Danubio and River Plate, but paling in comparison to the 97! won by the big two combined (Penarol 50 – Nacional 47). Since the league format was split into two sections (Torneo Apertura and Torneo Clausura) in 1994, Defensor have won 4 Apertura and 4 Clausura titles, including the inaugural Apertura in 1994 and as recently as the 2017 Apertura.
In recent history Defensor have developed a rivalry with Danubio called the Clásico de los Medianos (Spanish for Classic of the Mediums – a bit harsh!) as they have established themselves as the third and fourth biggest sides in Uruguay.
Despite their success in domestic football, they have struggled to make much impact in continental football, a Semi-Final finish in the 2014 Copa Libertadores their best in 16 attempts. The continent’s secondary competition, the Copa Sudamericana, makes for even worse reading, with no progress past the Quarter-Finals in 7 campaigns.
Since 2010, Defensor have generally been at the top end of the final aggregate table, with a few blips in 13/14, 15/16, and 2019 seasons, where they finished 11th, 8th and 11th respectively. They also reached the final of the Torneo Intermedio in 2017, the year of it’s inception, narrowly losing to Nacional.
It seems that Defensor Sporting are one of many ‘nearly men’ in the Uruguayan Primera Division looking to separate themselves from the rest and overthrow the powerhouses above them.
I don’t usually use a different persona as my manager in Football Manager saves, but on this occasion I think it will add a sense of realism to the save, an unknown Englishman wouldn’t really fit in Uruguay, after all.
The person I’ve chosen to use as my manager is Maximiliano “Maxi” Pereira. He’s a very good fit for the save for a number of reasons.
- He was born in Montevideo where Defensor are based.
- He came through the Defensor youth team and spent 5 years with the before getting his move to Europe with Benfica.
- He’s a former Uruguayan international who amassed an incredible 125 caps.
- He’s recently retired from playing and hasn’t gone into management (as far as I can find online, please let me know if I’m wrong).
With Maxi being the most capped Uruguayan player ever, it seems silly to give him anything other than an International Footballer reputation level. This does give higher management stats though, which can make the game easier in parts, so to compromise I’ll be selecting the coaching badges level the game recommends and then knocking it down by one.
Having a manager who isn’t myself won’t make this a story driven narrative, this has always been more of an informative blog, but it may open some opportunities for a couple of extra pieces outside of what I usually write.
Maxi Pereira – Defensor’s Newest Manager
I’m not usually one to set a load of defined aims and rules for a save. The aims for any save are always pretty similar, win competitions, develop youth, make money etc. All of these things are the bread and butter of the game, but I don’t want to set rules for myself in these areas (except one, which I’ll talk about shortly), I want it to be a natural process.
My aims for this year are based more on myself as the player of the game, and trying to give myself a more realistic experience. I’d say my style of playing FM is very shallow for lack of a better word, when I’m into a save (which is still a big problem for me, admittedly) I get through seasons quickly, but don’t really go into much depth in any area that FM offers. Transfers are all done by me, making the Director of Football redundant, and often using the player search. I like to make my own tactics but they’re usually just a variant on how I usually set a team up to play, rather than setting up to suit the squad I possess. Training has been a big no no for me, and my scouting is very basic.
There’s nothing wrong with this style of play at all, but it isn’t realistic, and doesn’t make the most of what FM offers. I want to try to do more. I won’t be going super in-depth, but I want to try and get involved in the areas I don’t usually touch, and get the staff a bit more involved in areas where a real life manager doesn’t have full control.
What this boils down to is setting up my staff responsibilities properly. Why hire a Director of Football if I won’t let him try to bring players to the club? Why hire a Chief Scout if all my scouting comes from the player search page?
So what I’m looking at is a compromise between a realistic division of labour and still doing the things that I enjoy doing in FM.
Transfers are my favourite area of the game, so I won’t be giving the DOF full control, but he’ll be doing a lot of the work. He’ll be setting the scouts their assignments and making offers for players on behalf of both the first team and youth squads. I’ll still be getting involved, if I get recommended or offered a player and I think they’re for me, I’ll go after them. The same goes for scouting, if I want a scout in Argentina, for example, I’ll go and send one there whether the DOF thinks it’s a good idea or not. I also need to start wrapping my head around training, leaving it all to the assistant manager isn’t realistic, nor do assistants do a good job of training in game.
In terms of actual in save aims, they start with domestic success:
- Win an Apertura, Clausura or Torneo Intermedio title.
- Finish top of the aggregate table.
- Win the Championship Playoff to be crowned Champions of Uruguay.
We also have an opportunity to take the side further than ever before in continental football. I’d like to try to have a few runs at the Copa Sudamericana before we really go for the Copa Libertadores, but continental qualification is a lot more erratic than is usually the case in Europe, so this may be out of our hands.
This is where I have one ‘proper’ rule for the save. My (or should I say Maxi’s) reign as manager of Defensor ends when we reach a Copa Libertadores final, win or lose. The reason for this is that I already have an idea of where I’d like the save to go long-term, and that’s to leave South America on a high to try and crack Europe. The only instance where I won’t leave Defensor straight after a Libertadores final is if the Club World Cup falls in that year, as that’s a competition I’d love to enter from outside of Europe.
I think this gives the save an interesting dynamic, as it puts a stop to the project at Defensor whether I’m ready for it or not. If we manage to fluke a win within say 3 seasons, my reputation won’t be high enough to get a good job in Europe, so I’ll have to start at a worse club than I’d like and make a name for Maxi by succeeding in Europe, rather than succeeding in South America and getting a European job based on that. It also means I could leave behind a player or even a golden generation of talent just as they’re about to turn into a dominant force, or I could already have the best side in South America but bottle the final and leave as a nearly man.
Saves in FM don’t just revolve around cup and league wins of course, youth development is a huge part of any save, whether it is the main focus or not. I won’t be setting rules in this area, very often youth players that are called up as part of a mandatory production line aren’t ready and end up failing, so I’ll be bringing through as many youth players as possible, hoping to supply the Uruguayan national team with some key players. Speaking of the national team, it’s not a huge aim of mine to manage them as part of the save, but I’ve never managed a national team that isn’t England in any edition of CM/FM, so if the job comes up and they look interesting at the time I may take it.
Although I’m set on a move to Europe once the Defensor project finishes, I have no plans for this part of the save, it will all depend on how the footballing landscape has evolved over time in game. It could be a major club in a decent European league (Portugal, Russia, Holland etc.) or it could be in one of the major leagues but with a team that has fallen away, the mystery of what I might be walking into is what makes it interesting for me.
So that wraps up the introduction to the series, I’m excited to get it started and try to throw myself in to a slightly new way of playing the game. Let me know what you think in the comments to this post, or over on Twitter.
Thanks, as always, for reading!