WELCOME TO ‘THE CLUB’
Welcome to the opening post of this year’s Football Manager adventure, Kerho! If you haven’t read the save reveal which outlines my goals for the save, I’d recommend checking it out HERE. This post is more of an introduction to the club; from facilities, to staffing to the playing squad, it’ll be a nice way to get my bearings before I start playing the save properly. Before we get started, huge credit must go to GIMN on the SI Forums for his incredible Mustermann 23 skin that I’ll be using this year. I’ll be adding to the difficulty of the save this year by using the graphical version of the skin, meaning the attributes will only show as blocks of colour relating to an attribute range, more on this later in the post.
In the grand scheme of things, SJK are still a very new club, which means that the infrastructure is at the more basic end of the scale, despite their on-pitch successes.
As you can see from the image on the left, we play on a synthetic surface at a 5,876 seater stadium which is only 6 years old, so I don’t see any upgrades coming there in the near future. One thing I would like to start working on as soon as the board will allow are our youth facilities. Once we get youngsters into our first team they’ll be able to make use of our good training facilities, but with only adequate youth facilities and average academy coaching we may struggle to help players make the grade, if we can even find any with our fairly basic youth recruitment!
It’s a fairly standard club vision from Raimo Sarajärvi and the rest of the board, as for now we just have to focus on growing the club’s reputation with no demands on style of play or type of signings. We also have to watch the wage budget, but I feel like that’s in everybody’s vision, and if it isn’t, it should be! The contract lengths aren’t too much of an issue, I do like to have some experienced heads around my squad, but by the time they’re reaching 32 I’m looking out for their replacements anyway so shorter contracts will allow me to move players on more easily.
As a new feature this year, I was keen to see what the supporter’s group had in mind for me. We seem to have a fairly chilled out fanbase, with high percentages in the Core, Family and Casual categories. Let’s hope it stays that way as we progress as a club, as the fans currently hold a high influence over the board. I don’t want to get the boot because our family friendly fan base smells blood! I’ll be interested to compare the above screenshot to the same screen 1, 5 and 10 years from now, mainly to see how the percentages adjust and our social media following grows. The fans want to see us developing youth players, something I’m also very keen to do throughout the save, as well as finishing above our rivals VPS in the league. Our media prediction is 4th and theirs is 10th, so in theory that should be a cake walk, but we all know it’s never that simple.
We’re a bit light on the ground, with space for extra bodies in every area, but we have some talented staff in every department. Finances dependant I’ll be looking to add bodies to flesh out the staffing, but the priorities will be a physio and at least a couple of scouts.
I quite like the Experience Matrix, I think it’s a nice screen. It doesn’t show a ton of information that will help me to make informed decisions, it does give me a quick overview of a squad of players that I’m not familiar with, and immediately I know that we have plenty of young players that will continue to grow and a core of our most important players are in their peak years.
In terms of actual squad analysis, with no league comparison (disabled in the skin due to the lack of attributes) to dive into I’ll be looking to pick out a few of our key players that I hope to build around.
For reference for the screen shots, the attributes are split into four ranges, each represented by a different block of colour. Poor attributes (1-7) will be grey, average attributes (8-12) will be the palest blue, good attributes (13-16) will be slightly brighter and excellent attributes (17-20) will be the darkest blue. As we progress into the save and hopefully start to make an impact in Europe, I may edit the ranges to show anything below 10 as a poor attribute and work from there.
It’s fairly cut and dry in goal, Jesse Öst is the clear first choice and a solid keeper at this level. His strengths in communication, composure and determination should hopefully make him a calm influence on what I think could turn out to be a shaky defence, but he’s also a capable ball player who can sweep in behind and clear danger as well as hopefully starting attacks for us.
As I mentioned, I worry the defence may be our achilles heel. We have plenty of capable defenders, but most of them lack any stand out attributes. My favourites are actually a couple of full-backs. Martti Haukioja is a very good defender who in truth is probably too good for this level. I’d be happy to play him at either left-back or centre-back, he has no real weaknesses in his game, he’s good on the ball and great in the air. It’s no wonder RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie want him. I’d love to keep him though. Felipe Aspegren is another player I’ve got high hopes for. He’s versatile, capable of playing all across the defence (I probably won’t use him at CB due to his height) and even stepping into midfield, both footed, technically very capable with good crossing, dribbling and technique, as well as being very quick at this level. His aerial ability and decision making are definite flaws, but I think he offers more than enough pros to outweigh the cons.
We have decent depth in midfield, albeit with several players in the same mould. The word I’d use is industrious, we’ve got a lot of good ball winners but very little creativity within the deeper midfield. Matej Hradecký is probably our best all around midfielder, although his lack of vision hurts his ability to impact play further up the pitch, Mehmet Hetemaj will be a key component, even at the age of 35. He still has a decent amount of pace for his age and his determination and aggression will make him a real warrior for us.
I’m excited by our options in attacking areas, we have a couple of nomadic but talented forwards in Weslen Junior and Josepablo Monreal who compliment each other well, and then behind them our mercurial talent, Diego Rojas. He’ll be key to everything creative that we do, he can pass, dribble, has great vision, he’s brilliantly agile, and has decent pace and finishing ability too. I’m making an early call that he’s the best player at the club. The man most likely to take that title from him in the long term is 18-year-old Aleksi Heino, formerly on the books at Chelsea and Wolfsburg. He’s an interesting mix of being quick, agile and creative like Diego, but he’s also 6’1″, brave, endlessly determined and great in the air. He can play through the middle or out wide and I think he has a very high ceiling, but can definitely make an impact in the first season.
That’s my first look at SJK, next time out we’ll dive a little bit into my tactical blueprint for the club, I have an early idea for an initial shape but as always I’ll be looking to take a pragmatic approach to the game which will mean plenty of tinkering and plans B, C and maybe even D!
Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to the blog to be notified of new posts, following me on Twitter @adam_otbfm and getting involved in the FM Library Discord where I’ll be dropping regular updates and chatting FM with some incredible FM bloggers. I hope to see you there and until next time, pitää huolta!