You know that feeling when an FM save is ebbing away? The urge to play has faded and it is habit that brings you back. Well alas I realised I had reached that point with Alcoyano. Rather than plod on, I decided that with a number of months left before FM18 I could easily get in to a new save, so that is what I’ve done.
All my recent successful saves have involved bringing a club up through the divisions (Amiens, Hansa Rostock, Sudtirol and Alcoyano). This time round I have decided to chance my arm at a youth development save. I think part of the reason I wasn’t enjoying Alcoyano was it was a real struggle to develop the club enough to bring players through. I had pots of money from wheeler dealing but the infrastructure developments were taking too long.
When looking for a new club I decided to try a new league and also one with a smaller number of teams that would allow for quicker game play. I was between Malmo in Sweden and Valerenga in Norway. A failed attempt to influence a twitter poll saw me ignore the result and take the reigns in southern Sweden. Birthplace of Zlatan and home of the Oresund Bridge, both colossal in their own ways, I decided Malmo with its strong pedigree and excellent facilities would be my new home.
As I alluded to on twitter, I decided that I would try my hand at a youth development save for the first time. I am often a bit of a Harry Redknapp on FM and love nothing more than talking to TV cameras out of my car window and signing Benjani on deadline day. There would be none of this in Malmo however. I am adopting a minimalist Scandinavian lifestyle with no car to talk out of and no transfer policy to speak of.
After some discussions on twitter I established that there are no set rules when it comes to a youth development save so I decided to go with a hybrid of what I discussed with the FM twitterati.
- no buying of players
- replace players sold with prospects already at the club
- aim to utilise positional retraining (I have never been great at this)
- use a formation that I haven’t utilised before
Following a discussion with @Jimbokav1971 I decided to allow myself the luxury of being able to resign any player who has come through the Malmo academy, whether it be someone I have developed and sold or someone who had left the club long before my tenure. Are you listening Zlatan??
After setting my desk up and having a wander round the training ground I established that we had a number of good centre halves and two belting wingbacks. Harking back to the self imposed guidelines I decided that it was time to give 5-3-2 a whirl and hope for the best. Luckily at Malmo we have a strong squad and a raft of prospects in the youth teams so I was confident that over time we would be successful. The 5-3-2 I came up with looks like this.
After success with a narrow system at Alcoyano I was looking forward to trying to create something utilising width again. Veteran striker Marcus Rosenberg looked liked he could still do the business at 33 years old and it was nice to be reacquainted with Magnus Wolff Eikrem who was a mainstay of my Hansa Rostock team in FM14.
I brought in Stefan Schwarz as a coach which was win win; an ex-Malmo man with a solid reputation and decent numbers on his board when it comes to working with youngsters. A new Head of Youth Development and some extra coaches for the youth teams and it was time to get going. With no scouting to worry about or transfers to set up I dived straight in. It is safe to say that after fifteen games, the halfway mark, things are going pretty well.
For a while I must confess I was dreaming of an unbeaten season, but alas that hope was quashed in the last game before the mid-season break when we fell to rivals IFK. Nonetheless, the table is looking rather good.
I was sitting content, tweaking the odd training regime here and there and setting up some tutoring when things began to get a bit messy. The main European transfer window opened in July and the might of Europe decided to go shopping for bargains in Sweden.
No less than six of my starting line up are being coveted by clubs and a number of them have had their heads turned. I have tied down Brorsson and Eikrem on new contracts with high release fees but have already lost 20 year old Vindheim to West Ham leaving me with a position to fill at RWB. Back in the day it would be a case of scouting about but now I have to resolve this in house. I must confess I am looking forward to the challenge.
I will be writing less about the game play and more about the development as the save progresses. It may well be three updates a season then nothing for a year or two, who knows? In the next post I will introduce a few of the players, both first teamers and the next generation and explain my hopes for them. The main thing is I am enjoying it again. Cheers for stopping by and reading, your time is appreciated as always.