PICKING A STARTING TEAM? EMBRACE THE RANDOM

I know what you’re thinking. Getting your starting team right is huge.

You want to start as your favourite team, or maybe you have an FM team that you always start as? Well it’s time to forget all that and embrace the delights of the random. Full disclosure, I run a website – the9llamas – that specialises in just that, picking a random starting side. So is this a shameless plug? Maybe. But hear me out!

As I’ve mentioned previously, we all do it. We start as our favourite sides, no shame in that. In most cases familiarity really helps and it also gives us a chance to take our own clubs to unknown heights and show the current incumbent how it’s really done. But what if we embrace the random, the really random and set off for foreign climbs with unusual league formats and players that are so hard to pronounce that you’ll be giving them all nicknames on day one.

It all starts with the aforementioned LLMPicker, and a visit to the Grey Llama who will select me a totally random team.

I’ve been given Santa Cruz in the Brazilian third tier.

For those who haven’t ever managed in Brazil it can be great fun, as there is a national league system and a separate local state league to negotiate. The difficulty of the local state leagues varies wildly, but from my early impressions Santa Cruz seem to be one of the stronger sides in the east coast state of Pernambuco. Based in the state capital of Recife, known as the Venice of Brazil, they share a massive rivalry with Sport and Nautico – all three have won multiple state championships over the years.

It cannot be overstated how important the local state leagues are as rivalries have been embedded for generations and with Brazil being such a vast country local bragging rights can in a lot of cases be a lot higher priority than national league success.

The national third tier itself is a very difficult one to get out of and is structured like this:

  • Top four of each group qualify for second stage (two groups of four)
  • Top two teams from these groups are promoted to Serie B
  • The two group winners play a two legged final to determine overall winner

As you can see there are a lot of games in Brazil – including the cup it can easily go over 60 games depending on how far you progress which provides a challenge all of its own, and you’ll likely need a very deep squad to cope. It’s a pretty exciting set up for any Football Manager player looking to try an LLM save for the first time. Personally I would load up the whole of South America and possibly Spain and Portugal for a bit of realistic transfer activity but the rest is up to you.

So there you go. Entirely at random I now have a brand new save to start in a part of the world I’ve not managed in before with brand new rivalries and league systems to explore. There are so many options too. Do I stay at Santa Cruz and try and build a long term legacy? Or do I look to manage in as many states as I can? I could even turn it into a South American journeyman and take in a few more countries. The possibilities are endless and every journey is unique.

Of course Santa Cruz is just one example. My randomised team could easily have been an Eastern European side for instance, in which case I’d head straight to a map and load up all of the bordering nations, and the same for an Asian side. Of course, there are downloadable add-on leagues to further expand your game world but it’s important to be careful which you trust – having been burned a good few times with expansion leagues not working after a few seasons and various other issues, I tend to stick with the game “out of the box” as there are still dozens of countries I’m yet to experience.

The main takeaway here is that a starting club is just that, a start. If you decide to commit to a long-term career then you are less likely to become bored and to want to start again. Struggling at your current club? Resign! Get down the job centre! Let that bad experience become part of your overall story. Maybe even try for a job at your club’s rival for a bit of vengeance.

For me this works well. I find that starting again multiple times becomes a cycle that is hard to break, and judging by the number of posts I see on Facebook and various forums asking “I’m bored of x club, who should I be?” that it’s clearly a common theme.

So come and join me in the world of random chance and embrace a change of mindset. This is your career, and your starting club should not define it. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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