S01E04 – THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

PROLOGUE…

Last time out I detailed the spreadsheets that I have been using during my time with FC Schalke so far, when it came to the U19s I’d said that sheet in particular would fill out more and properly take shape once after we’d had the intake come through.
Well that intake came through and I think it’s fair to say that it lived up to the lofty expectations my Head of Youth Development had built for it. In this post I will explore that intake and provide some insight into how I plan to develop them and try to nurture the next generation of Schalke talent.

The U19s spreadsheet updated with the new academy graduates.

THE INTAKE…

As Football Manager players we all know that within the game there are certain days in the calender that are more highly anticipated than others; for some it might be the opening of a transfer window, for others it might be the start of the season, for most of us it is most likely youth intake day that really gets the juices flowing and ever since the youth candidates preview was introduced into the FM series it has added an extra dimension to the famed Intake day. You might remember I posted the preview in the previous blog but that was a couple weeks ago now so I’ll forgive you for forgetting that we were infact teased with the possibility of having a golden generation on our hands. Again, as Football Manager players we’re all acutely aware that this preview more often that not is nothing more than just a tease. Not this time though, I actually got what I would consider a potential golden generation and you can see why just below. Even on closer inspection (ignore the star ratings) some of the lower rated guys still look like they could well be viable options before too long. I won’t do a total analysis on every single guy as not all sixteen of them are worth the time but there are some here who deserve their moment to shine.

Described as a terrific group of players that has the potential to be a real golden generation for the club.

You might recall one of the things that I wanted to achieve in this save was to try and replicate and implement the methods that Schalke use through their Knappenschmeide academy and this youth intake is a prime moment to show you how I plan to do those things, specifically the development model which presents me with a couple of restrictions in terms of training methods allowed to be used in developing these players which were as follows:

a) Only train specific attributes at an U19 level.
b) Train players at a B team level in their specified role.

Since initially writing these rules up I have altered that approach to make it more age based rather than which squad the player is in. This change in approach was actually made while I was initially analysing this intake, Luka Peters in particular and I will explain in greater detail in just a little while. So those rules have now been changed to:

a) Train specific attributes of players under the age of eighteen.
b) Over eighteens will begin to train in the desired playing position.

With that out of the way, let me introduce you to the star of the show.

THE TOP FIVE…

LUKA PETERS…

Swipe left for a look at the coach report and training screens.

I’ve been staring at this guys profile for a couple of months in game and I’m still not sure what he is. Both the media and my First Team Assistant Manager are saying that he’s a Striker while the rating of seven that he’s given for finishing tells me otherwise. He has already played eleven games for the U19 team and in those appearances has featured as an Inverted Winger, Complete Forward and Deep Lying Playmaker while scoring seven goals and also providing one assist. Oh and to top it off he has already been capped by the German U19 national team, (he is only fifteen) scoring two goals as an Inverted Winger on his international debut in a performance which saw him win man of the match. When you look at his attributes though, aside from some agility and a bit of pace he isn’t really a winger either.

At first glance I see a deep lying playmaker who needs a little bit of help with his vision and tackling but then realise he has fourteen flair and wonder if he could be the future of my Advanced Playmaker role if I can improve the vision and add a little bit of dribbling to his game. You look again and realise the kid has ten marking and eleven heading and start to think Ball Playing Defender or maybe he could be a Libero. Are you starting to sense my confusion yet?


This is why the rule was changed in regards to training methods, it won’t be long before this kid forces me to promote him into the B Team and likely the 1st Team very soon after but as you know I currently have no clue what to do with him in terms of role yet. My inital hope is that I can mold him into an Advanced Playmaker where he will become the understudy to Amine Harit in the #10 role but by letting him develop naturally I can see what the game has in mind for him.You can already see from the player profile page that his development is underway and I have helped that along my changing his additional focus to Ball Control which targets the weakness I have identified in his Dribbling ability and once it has improved enough I will begin to target Vision. Unless of course, he suddenly becomes the Striker that my coaching staff would have me believe he is. Either way I have high hopes for the lad and hope to keep him in our very own Royal Blue for the entirety of his career.

HÜSEYIN AYDIN…

Swipe left for a look at the coach report and training screens.

Next up is what could be mistaken for a young bear cub, it has to be said that the facepack certainly helps support this theory (Shoutout to @theoldzealand and his team for creating it). This was a much easier analysis than the previously mentioned Luka Peters. Simply put I don’t deploy a Ball Winning Midfielder and Aydin lacks massively in a lot of the other key attributes required of my midfield pairing. Taking into account his physical profile at the tender age of sixteen I immeditaly assumed Central Defender. Yes, he lacks in the Heading department and in the Pace/Acceleration departments also but he already has a very strong mental make up and there is still a chance that he could become a Ball Player too. The choice for individual training wasn’t quite as straight forward here as I am led to believe young players can develop both their physical attributes and their stature as a result of simply aging. As such, I opted against training any Physical attributes and instead opted for the Aerial category which focuses on both Bravery and Heading. Sure his bravery is already massive but heading is one of the biggest areas that Hüseyin is lacking in if he is to actually become the Central Defender that I believe he can be.

CLAUS BRUHN…

Swipe left for a look at the coach report and training screens.

There doesn’t appear to be any official links between Schalke and the USA in real life but in game Bruhn now becomes the sixth American on the books at Schalke. He is one of the wingers who was singled out in the youth candidate preview being described as “a good young American right winger who has caught the eye” and despite lacking a little in the Technical aspects of that role he makes up for it with a good baseline of physical attributes. Claus’ future is very much set as a Winger but I’ll be interested in seeing whether he can develop enough to adequately cover for the Inverted Winger role too. Attacking Movement is his first dose of individual training in hopes of improving some rather weak mental attributes. Claus is one who I think would benefit from moving through the squads quickly so that I can get some mentoring considering that he falls a fair way short of the club DNA. He is infact the weakest of all the graduates in that area.

WANG YANG…

Swipe left for a look at the coach report and training screens.

Chinese born and brilliantly named Wang Yang is where the quality begins to drop away, on paper at least. To me he still looks an excellent prospect, strong in terms of Club DNA and capable of moving into the Deep Lying Playmaker role. At the time of writing he has already played ten games in that role and provided five assists. Let’s be honest, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be a star player but based on his abilities at the age of fifteen I have every belief he could become a very useful option in the squad. Early training focus is on Passing in hopes of bringing both the Passing and Vision attributes up in line with his First Touch and Technique. I am desperately hoping that the Tackling attribute is something that will improve on its own or that Deep Lying Playmaker role might not actually be the best way forward for him.

FABIAN BISCHOFF…

Swipe left for a look at the coach report and training screens.

The future of our goalkeeping position is an area of real concern if I’m being complete honest. Ralf Fährmann is certainly a fantastic servant to the club but as I’ve already made it quite clear that he doesn’t meet the required standard that I’m looking for in my First Choice Goalkeeper. Bischoff is one of two Keepers that came through in this group and supposedly has the brighter future and perhaps if our early focus on his First Touch and Passing can produce results then he might actually have a shot at realising his potential. It’s going to be a long road for Bischoff and despite the confidence of my coaching team I’m not entirely convinced that his long term future lies with our club. Ironically he is already wanted for transfer by a handful of 2.Bundesliga teams.

BEST OF THE REST…

So that rounds out the “Top Five” prospects from the intake and as I mentioned there were sixteen players who graduated from Knappenschmeide. I gave them all contracts this time around despite some of them being really quite weak options. I’m just curious to see how accurate the star ratings really are. To cut down on the length of this post I’m just going to display the next group all in one slideshow and add a few comments where required.

Pirschel: This is a prime example of why I no longer really believe in the stars when it comes to a youth intake, or ever anymore. Yes he is quick but there is not a lot else going on here. Decent Determination and Work Rate would have got my attention if his potential was even close to worthwhile. Like I said though, I gave everybody contracts to see how things develop.

Kröner: Is somebody else who I really feel has been betrayed by the stars. The mental attributes alone for a fifteen year old are absolutely ridiculous and ended up giving him a DNA score that matches most of the senior players. On top of that he already has the majority of the key Technical attributes required to play his desired Central Defender role. He’s just been let down by essentially already being close enough to the best he can be.

Manso: Having already felt let down by the lack of potential in Kröner I genuinely hope that the three stars also given here are in correct. Between the two of them they can’t both be duds, can they? I genuinely hope not.

Pirson: The other keeper mentioned during the segment on Fabian Bischoff a little earlier, once again he just isn’t really the type of Goalkeeper that we are looking for.

WHATS LEFT…

Much like what we saw with the group just above it’s the lack of potential that really ruins it for these last few players. There are a couple more with solid personalities and even some pretty high values for Determination but these pictures are essentially just going to be a reference point should any one of these guys actually manages to become something.

FINAL THOUGHTS…

As always if you have made it this far then I very much appreciate the time you’ve given to my writing. This is the sort of post that will be better in future when we can come back and compare to the more developed versions of these players, or not developed, I guess we will find out in due course. As always I would love to hear your thoughts and you can leave those here or find me on twitter @Chris_ANZFM all feedback and comments are greatly appreciated.

You may have noticed the dates in some of these screenshots and those with knowledge of a European season will realise that the season is infact over at the time of writing this post. That means that the next post will be the end of season wrap up/review that I alluded too at the end of Episode 03 a couple of weeks ago. I also have plans to write about the summers recruitment and detail my results and findings from having use the Monchi Method that was previously discussed.

Until then though, Auf Wiedersehen.

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