3. Stabæk Fotball – Alltid. Uansett

Kappitel Tre – Og så begynner det
Chapter ThreeAnd so it begins

Authors Note

I’ll begin with an apology, there’s been a bit of an extended wait since the last post went live and I am sorry for that. Let me level with you though, this post has undergone a few different versions already. I’ve gone back and forth for weeks trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go with it. I had good intentions in which I wanted to put together an analysis of Stabæk’s playing style during the 2022 season and see how I could translate that information into a tactic within the game.

Despite those intentions, I very quickly came to realise a couple of issues with that approach: Firstly, although I was able to get my hands on a free trial of the Wyscout platform I am by no means a data analyst and didn’t really fancy my chances at accurately reproducing somebody else’s tactics on my first attempt. Secondly, I had some reservations that if I were to go into the season trying to emulate a tactic then I would back myself into a bit of a corner in a tactical sense from that point.

So to combat those reservations and also to not completely waste the countless amount of hours I spent exporting data out of Wyscout I came up with a new idea. One that would allow me the freedom to make my own tactical decisions but still be able to make use of the data and also some pretty snazzy visuals that were created specifically for the blog. So that recreation will now become a separate post that I can take some time with and publish at a later date.

So without further ado lets get this show on the road.

The Game World

First things first, it would be absolutely criminal of me to venture any further without giving a few thanks. This save file wouldn’t be quite the same without some of the fantastic content creators in this community. Starting with @Xaw and the incredible Norwegian database extension which allows access down to the 11th Tier (if you’re that inclined). Next up is the most excellent “Increase Realism” Megapack, this one created by the absolute mastermind @daveincid. His files have become a non-negotiable in my saves; you should check them out for yourself. Once again @FMVeteran_ comes in clutch and allows me a very early look at his NextGen DB for Norway. This early version adds another seven young Norwegians into the save who aren’t included in the original database, the key here being that two of them are from Stabæk.

So a huge thanks to the three of you for your ongoing efforts in and around our community, it wouldn’t be the same without you.

You might have seen it on Twitter already, but we’re finally official.

Club Info

As any Football Manager player knows, day one in a new save can be quite overwhelming. Sure there are lots of options to delegate any number of tasks these days, but there’s still the question of where to begin. In no way is this me providing a guide to the opening stages of a save. Instead, consider it me showing you my train of thought because that’s the beauty of the game, right?

Shout out to @wozziefm for the skin. I’m a new user of the Tato skin this year and I’ve fallen head over heels for it.

Let’s start on the Club Info page, there are some additional images above that you can scroll through to give you a general overview of things at the beginning of the save. On my first visit to this page, I am immediately drawn to the quality of our facilities. It then makes me even more excited to see that there is still so much room to develop them despite being told this is already one of the best academy setups in the nation. Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be much in the way of improvement anytime soon because as you can see the financial situation isn’t quite as positive.

Without being a total pessimist it is nice to see that there is money in the bank. Less appealing though is the current overspending in the wage department. £,1310pw may not look like a lot on the surface, but when you total that up we’re already guaranteed to lose an additional £68,120 per year. It’s good that @fm_throwing wrote this wonderful piece for Football Manager’s “The Byline” about managing debt in the game. See the section about implementing a wage structure because that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing here as this save file moves along.

In the real world there is talk of Stabæk building a new Nadderud but obviously with the difficulties of that virus that shall not be named the construction has, in fact, met some delays. I can’t add this future stadium to my game but I will certainly be looking to build a stadium of my own in the near future. Much like the facilities though we’re going to need to find some more money before we start putting too much thought into future improvements.

The last thing worth looking at in this tab is the affiliate’s screen. You can see that both are just listed as “mutually beneficial” there’s nothing special here at all, not yet at least. In real life, Stabæk has some sort of recruitment agreement with Asker but I’ve still not found any relevant information that will allow me to elaborate on that. Haslum on the other hand looks like some sort of local agreement as their stadium is located less than 1 kilometre from our own.

Expectations

Now is probably a good time to check in on the expectations that both the board and supporters have for the upcoming season and as you can see there are two factors that both parties seem equally focused on, luckily for me neither comes as a great surprise.

I know for a fact I made mention of my desire to develop the young talent already at the club and I endeavour for that to remain one of my highest priorities as this save goes on. The other priority for the season, again completely expected is automatic promotion. The club managed it in real life and I have every intention of repeating that feat here too. If I can manage promotion whilst also giving the fanbase the entertaining football that they are looking for then we should be in a good position.

Work within the wage budget is something that I touched on briefly just before and as I mentioned I’ll be looking to implement the same wage structure approach from the piece I linked. That is most likely to begin from the second season though as my immediate focus will be on reducing some of the current wages to get us back within the allocated budget.

Unfortunately for the supporters they’re going to have to wait for at least this season before I can do anything about their stance on our rival Vålerenga. Let it be known now though that I share their “passion” for our fiercest rival. Seks-two, remember!

The Squad

The twenty-five-man squad registered as per league rules.

Next on the agenda is my first look at the squad and the creation of the initial tactic. As you can see from the above graphic it lends itself to a back three and this, much like the visions I just took you through is not at all a surprise to me. It must be something to do with the fact that this is my third consecutive Stabæk save.

I would wager that Marcus Sandberg is one of the better keepers in our division and this is backed up by my coaching staff who rate him as a good for the division above. He is also equipped with a great personality and is recognised as one of the highly influential players in the squad. All this means that he will make a fantastic mentor for our young goal-keepers and Marius Ulla gives me plenty of reason to be excited as it appears he has had a bit of a boost to his PA compared to earlier versions of the game.

Of the seven recognised centre-backs in the squad, five will see regular playing time while Hornburg and Gabrielsen will spend the bulk of their time in our Stabæk 2 squad. Eighteen-year-old Olav Veum looks to have had a welcome boost to his abilities after returning from a year long injury in the real world. This will be a massive addition to the bench with his ability to cover four different roles on the pitch. He is another one that I have such high hopes for.

The backline will be anchored by club captain Simen Wangberg, but there might be a problem here. Given what the match engine has shown me so far I am particularly worried about his lack of pace. Lining up to his left might be one of the best players at the club. I think it’s fair to say that at least based on the statistics from the 2022 OBOS-ligaen that Næss might well be the most influential player on the pitch for Stabæk and I will absolutely be looking for some more of that in our first season. Saving the best for last (personal bias, sorry). Our right-sided centre-back is none other than a local Bærum lad and my future club captain Nicolas Pignatel Jenssen, who as mentioned in previous posts has been an absolute monster for me in previous Stabæk saves. In FM22 I had him sold out from under me for far less than his value and I’m really hoping that history won’t repeat itself.

Wing-backs will be one of my main focuses when it comes to recruitment this season, specifically, the left-hand side because for as good as Victor Wernersson is we only have him for this season. He’s also being paid more than what our future wage structure would allow. The current backup in that position is Thor Lange who would be a suitable first choice at OBOS-ligaen level but it’s unlikely that he’ll be good enough for the Eliteserien if we do in fact achieve the promotion that’s expected of us. Meanwhile, Sturla Ottesen if developed correctly should be a mainstay on the right-hand side for years to come.

The midfield is where things start to get a little tricky. Krogstad looks to be easily one of the best players at the club and it would be criminal to waste him in any such defensive role that my staff think he is suited to. With an engine like he has and the ability to shoot from distance, he was an easy choice as the attacking option and I would expect to see a lot of goal involvements. Before actually loading up this save file and based on all the time I had spent perusing Wyscout I had expected to be deploying Curtis Edwards as my deep-lying playmaker but after viewing his profile in the game it was obvious that wasn’t going to be the case. I have asked the coaching staff to remove his tendency to move into channels but he feels somewhat wasted as the carrilero. The surprise selection in the midfield is Diabagate Junior, somehow on loan for the season from the Ivory Coast but one of the only options who I trust enough defensively to fill the role. I am also a huge fan of his player traits (which will be detailed below) and think they’ll be massive in forming the identity of our attacking play.

At the top end of the pitch, it was a fairly easy choice as I am gifted (it’ll make sense in a minute) with four decent options that can rotate between the two selected roles. The first name of the team sheet was my main man, the affectionately known Hammy and it’s because of him that I elected to run with a false nine. His strike partner was just awarded the Golden Boot and Young player of the season following the conclusion of the real-life season and I am absolutely expecting him to be up there in contention for winning them here in the game. Gift Orban, (told you it would make sense). Pace, power, control and the ability to finish with either foot. The French would say magnifique but we’re in Norway so storslått it is.

I also have three reserve teams at my disposal in this save, Stabæk 2, Stabæk 3 and Under 19s. All of these will be taking part in proper competitions thanks to both the league extension I am using but also the changes to the game that Sports Interactive has made. There’s a chance that I didn’t load enough players in Norway to populate all of these squads but that might not be such a bad thing at this stage because three squads of players sounds rather expensive. I’ll do a deeper dive on the youth talent available at a later date as right now the 3 squad is empty and the 19s is comprised of mostly newly generated players due to the “add players to playable teams button” found on the game setup screen.

The Tactic

I quite like to use the league attribute comparison when building my tactics, this is something I have also seen other Football Managers turn to when first creating a tactic at a new club. The difference with me is that I transpose it into my own spreadsheet because I find it easier to use. It really winds me up having to click in and out of the different screens, so a separate sheet allows me to spread the game across two monitors instead.

The spreadsheet has made its own comeback.

As you can see in the spreadsheet we’re doing pretty well in most categories, but it concerns me that defensively we are ranked below average in Jumping Reach and Strength while only just managing to be average at Heading. This tells me that I don’t want to be inviting too many crosses into the box and instead I have asked that we try to funnel our opposition through the middle “Trap Inside”. This should also work into our hands as we have more bodies in the middle of the field. It should also help to prevent opponents from trying to exploit the space left behind the advanced wing-backs.

The other area I can anticipate being a problem is again, our lack of Heading and Jumping Reach, but this time at the top end of the pitch. Much like it is in our defence both attributes are ranked as below and average respectively. It’s a much simpler fix here though as I ask for a focus on “Low Crosses”. We only have one striker capable of being a Target Forward anyway.

Tactically the preseason is going to be a bit of a trial-and-error process. The initial thoughts I had about the playing style I was looking to implement weren’t going to quite line up with what I had available to me. Luckily for me, @fm_throwing wrote yet another brilliant piece, this time about how to build a 532 style tactic. While the article was written for the FM22 game cycle it remains useful for the current game.

My initial first choice.

With all that in mind, I have come up with this as the initial approach. The general idea is to control the ball but to do it with purpose rather than just pass for the sake of passing, I have attempted to emphasise this by opting to play at a slightly higher tempo. I think with the technical ability that we possess we will be able to move the ball quickly up the pitch in a bid to unsettle our opposition. Asking to build from the back should hopefully limit the number of times that the goalkeeper or the backline just smash the ball up the pitch too early. It also certainly helps that four of the five main options that will be used in the back three are above the league averages in passing, vision and decisions.

Defensively I have opted for a mid-block and higher defensive line so that we can maintain a compact defensive shape. Once again it’s the ability of our backline in terms of marking and positioning that allows me to have confidence in them playing the higher line. Both outside centre-backs have enough pace to be able to track any ball that comes in over the top and should that become an issue then we can look at utilising a sweeper-keeper role rather than the regular goalkeeper role. I also want to be aggressive in our attempts to win the ball based on our rankings in Natural Fitness, Stamina, Determination, Teamwork and Work Rate. As such I have selected to press much more often, but not until the opposition breaks our lines. This should both conserve energy and allow us some space in behind that we can use to launch our own counter-attacks.

I am currently undecided on the midfield trio but the idea here is to use the deep-lying playmaker as a screen for the centre-backs defensively but also ask him to be more direct in his passing approach. This actually makes it quite a pivotal role in the tactic but currently I feel like we might lack long-term answers and as such this position goes to the top of my priority list in terms of recruitment. The guy I currently have in mind for the role also has a couple of traits which should help form the identity for our attacking play, “likes to switch balls to wide areas” and “tries long range passes”. These traits combined with the direct passing PI should hopefully see him look for either of the wing-backs as his primary outlet when we look to build our attack.

The carrilero is a role that I don’t have a lot of experience with but the idea here is that he will provide cover for the attack-minded left wing-back, but also provide passing options as the link between the deep-lying playmaker and central midfielder. The central midfielder was an obvious choice as it allows me to get an extra body involved in our attacking play.

The strike partnership is all about creating havoc for opposing defences, especially now with the AI’s preference of having multiple players occupying the defensive midfield area of the pitch. The hope is that false nine will draw these players away from that area which should then create extra space for both the advanced forward and central midfielder to operate in.

In Closing

This seems an appropriate place to finish things off for the time being. I will move ahead into the preseason and see whether my tactical thoughts will actually play out on the pitch or whether I will need to tinker further. All will be revealed in the next post but I must admit I do have a good feeling.

To all of you who have been keeping up with this journey so far, I thank you very much for your time and words of support and do again apologise for the delay in getting this next instalment out. I assure you the next one will not be so far away, especially now with the holiday season approaching. I do have a few days off here and there so I will endeavour to make the most of them.

As always you can find me on twitter @horsleyjchris please do let me know what you’re thinking. Maybe you have a much better idea of how this team should or could play. If that’s the case then I’d love to hear it.

For now though, enjoy your holidays. Eat, drink, be merry and enjoy the time with your families.

God Jul.

One thought on “3. Stabæk Fotball – Alltid. Uansett

  1. Pingback: 4. Stabæk Fotball – Alltid. Uansett | On the Break

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