One of my favourite saves to follow this FM23 cycle has been Ben’s on the SI forum, And to wrap up the FM23 content on this site Ben has kindly given us permission to share it with each of you.
Ben also made the great Statman Skin which you can download here LINK
He has a thread where he discusses the skin and you can feedback here LINK
We are going to be releasing 3 posts a week where we share his save updates but if you’d like to go on and read the whole thread you can here LINK
Sadly, I am not a historian. Nor do I intend on making this save based around historical characters or following any real-life stories – but I have always had a soft spot for a ‘reason’ behind my game choices.
This year I plan on delving deep into three countries who have strong historical ties with empires and power – the Ottomans, Greeks (less of the empire but more of the city states and internal battles) and Romans, visiting two countries that I have never managed in before: Turkey and Greece. I have fond memories of learning about the Romans at school like most seven or eight year old from England probably did – Julius Caesar to Augustus, the story of Romulus and Remus and the wider geographical knowledge of Pompeii. Likewise, I remember learning all about Troy, Marathon and Trojan horses in a Greek topic and then embedded that knowledge later in life with several viewings of 300. I admit to only gaining an interest in the Ottomans later in life, learning about Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire as well as listening to podcasts that have taught me about the Mongol empire to the Persians and Babylonians. Granted – this save could have taken me to Egypt, as – like the Romans – everyone learnt about them at school and maybe into Iran or Iraq, too, but I wanted a save I could get started immediately so plumped for what I could use on the base FM23 game.
I don’t envisage my time in Greece to be built around tactical ideas, setting out my hoplites in certain formations to defeat the Athenians and climb the ladder to city ‘stardom’ but I am always someone who reads around the club I’m at and will try to embed different elements into my save. If I just so happen to have a great leader at an Italian club, he might be known as an Emperor, but that won’t make or break this save for me.
As a FM player who has spent many years previously in the lower levels of Italian football, picking up a raft of teams I like: Messina, Catania, Palermo, Castel di Sangro, Venezia and Pescara as well as the memories of Football Italia, Ronaldo, Zamorano, Recoba and Totti, the lure of returning to the country for the first time in several years was too much to resist. Things looks rather different in Italian football to what I remember – Juventus’ B team, clubs I’ve never heard of and clubs I have heard of now playing at completely different parts of the pyramid – Livorno in Serie D for example, and a change in financial powers, which will probably limit the number of ‘Buffon to Parma’ and ‘Veron to Lazio’ moves. If my game progresses as intended, Italy will be the last stop on the tour as I’m fresh from my first country move, in FM22. Before I get there, though, I intend to earn my stripes in the lowest levels of the vanilla version of the game, working my way up, roughly, in terms of reputation.
Turkish football is pretty alien to me, except for knowing the big three: Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Besiktas and knowing that Gala sits on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus in Istanbul, whereas Fener are on the Asian side. I also know that Istanbul – previously Constantinople – is a hotbed for football, with eight of the nineteen teams in the Super Lig hailing from the largest city, with only one from Ankara, the capital city. As an Aston Villa fan, I do have a special feeling for Trabzonspor, current Super Lig holders and a team that play in the same claret and blue as my own side – simply because we sent them our spare kits after their formation in 1967.
Below that, my knowledge is hazy. I recognise a few names that play in the lower levels, probably through FM knowledge: Genclerbirligi are in the second tier, Samsumspor are 1994 Balkan Cup winners in the second tier, Altinordu are well known in the FM circle due to their rule on only signing Turks and Bursaspor and Kocaelispor are two teams with big stadiums in the third tier. The third tier is split into two groups: Red and White, with either nineteen or twenty teams competing in it this season, with clubs coming from all over Turkey, yet a slight bias towards the western, Mediterranean, side.
Likewise, Greek football is somewhat new to me. They appear to have reshuffled their second tier and have allowed B teams of the biggest clubs into this level. The clubs appear to be spread nicely between islands and the mainland, with an obvious trend to those in Athens, the capital. Crete, the largest island, is well represented at the second-tier level but only have OFI to show in the top level. Olympiacos are, by far and away, the most successful team, with forty-seven league titles to their name.
Italy is more well known to me but I’m always taken aback by the current situation of teams: Parma in Serie B with Genoa and Cagliari, Virtus Verona in Serie C – being the ‘second’ club in the city after Chievo went bust and Cesena in Serie C with Torres of Sardinia. I am more than aware of the financial powers of Juve, Inter, Milan and Roma and envisage a big battle to overcome these powers – but one that I will relish, should I get that far in my career.
Just like my Matryoshka career – the intention will be to dive deeply into these lower levels, immersing myself with the culture and footballing passion of these nations before, hopefully, climbing the ladder to take over an exciting project on Italian soil. Whether or not my journey takes me through Greece, to the top tier of Turkish football or the lower echelons of the Italian game is completely fluid and hopefully completely encapsulating.
I am not posting a huge review of all my saves here, like I have in the past, but I do like to link these, largely for my own reference, so that I can see the development in my playing style.
- [FM19] Not all that glitters is gold
- [FM19] One night in Serravalle…
- [FM20] Tequila and Mariachi?
- [FM20] Voltaço
- [FM21] Hometown Heroes
- [FM21] Swiss Army Knife
- [FM22] Matryoshka
For me, the Matryoshka save was the most complete – the way I combined recruitment, development and tactical identity into my time in Russia and then Holland has really set the tone for how I want to play this going forward. I think that FM22, ahead of any other year, has taught me the most about how I want to play this game, and what I, a football fan, want to get from it.
What I have written in the game foci is largely a replication of what I had intended to do last year, and, largely, what I did do. I just want to do it on a grander, and more in depth than ever way.
The image above is the profile of probably the most-talked-about footballer on the planet, certainly in England, right now – Erling Haaland. If you click on the image, it’ll take you to the full profile for him. A profile that I have spent hours crafting to give me something that fits with my game foci. The skin will likely never see the light of day beyond my own laptop but I’ve worked hard, improving my knowledge tenfold, on creating something that can be used to show the conversations I have with myself and paint the pictures that I want to paint.
The change in how the attributes are set out is because I want to create a fusion between attribute development on the training pitch and performances each weekend. The most efficient – in my eyes – way to do that was to match the attributes up to the Additional Foci that sit within the game. Furthermore, when you combine those attributes with the stats – which include some colour coding to train my eyes – I will, hopefully, be able to see the benefits of my training development, match role or recruitment focus. Every decision that I make will be driven by statistical outputs and, as of the time of writing, I’m trying to take that further to collate team data easier because, as I’ve said, I don’t know the playing style of the top Turkish teams, let alone the bottom level of Greek football! From there, I can develop my tactical approach, digging deeply into the ways and means that I look to use to exploit them and rise up to the top, and, in this case, Serie A.
My aims, still, reflect my own personal desires within football:
“Progressive forward-thinking football driven by stats, involving fluidity of shapes to counter pre and in-game identified opposition threats built around a core ideology of decisive, determined, hardworking and fit individuals.”
Whilst not in any way a tactical recreation, great concepts can be taken from many real-life managers. For example, this quote, taken from a Manchester Evening News article on Pep shows the huge gap between tactics and ideologies.
“Guardiola’s tactics are remarkably complex, with each player given highly detailed positional instructions to ensure the team’s shape is perfect at every moment. The basic idea behind playing possession football rather than counter-attacking at speed is to maintain an evenly-distributed shape, gradually working up into the final third to suffocate and overwhelm the opposition. Guardiola does this by splitting the pitch into 24 zones, and demanding that no two players are ever occupying the same space. If the winger is on the outside, the full-back must dip infield, for example, while every single player needs to be alert to shifts in the overall pattern.”
This is what Pep does. Jurgen Klopp will do something like this. Marcelo Bielsa, too. In fact – every manager has learnt from somewhere or someone. What is more – my style will change. My formations will change. According to the Premier League website, Everton only used their favoured 4-3-3 ten times in the 2020/21 season, utilising ten different shapes. For too long, I’ve relied on one tactic, one style and just tried to be better than the opposition. I want that to develop based on opponent, based on my own squad, based on the time in the season, based on the time in the game.
“Tactical periodisation featuring strong development of key attribute areas that runs throughout the club. A whole-staff philosophy comprising of like-minded individuals will drive the development of players, paying special attention to ‘marginal gain’ areas such as set pieces.”
To quote Spielverlangerung, tactical periodisation can be defined as:
“Tactical Periodization is a football training methodology developed around 35 years ago by Vítor Frade, a sports science professor from Porto University in Portugal.
Since its creation, it has become one of the most widely adopted and implemented training methodologies worldwide. (Bordonau & Villanueva, 2018). Jose Mourinho was an early advocate for this coaching methodology, and one of the first coaches to prove this methodology’s success. From 2002 to 2004, as head coach of FC Porto, he guided the team to two Portuguese league titles, a Europa League title and a Champions League title. He has since moved on and coached at elite clubs in England, Italy and Spain, achieving significant domestic and European success.
While Mourinho is the most well-known proponent of Tactical Periodization, this training methodology has also been adopted successfully, by André Villas-Boas, Brendan Rogers, Nuno Espírito Santo, Marco Silva, Carlos Carvalhal, Vitor Pereira, and Leonardo Jardim, to name a few (Bordonau & Villanueva, 2018)
Tactical Periodization is a training methodology that derives from the study of different sciences and inter-disciplines that apply to football, including neuroscience, theory of complexity, chaos theory, systems theory, physiology, psychology, fractal geometry, and sociology. (Oliveira G. in Farias, 2016). In all these aspects considered, the game of Football is viewed in a holistic perspective, maintaining its complex identity.
As the name Tactical Periodization implies, the tactical dimension is the overarching dimension of the Football game and the physical, technical and psychological dimensions exist within this tactical dimension. This perspective is contrary to popular belief, where the four dimensions are viewed in isolation, and with the same level of priority.
Moreover, the word “periodization” is not used in its traditional sense, in relation to periodizing the physical load of training, it refers to the periodization of the tactical principles trained throughout the week. This weekly periodization of tactical principles is called the “Morphocycle”. The Morphocycle is the weekly learning plan for the way the team wants to play. (Frade in Oliveira R., 2014).”
For me, it is the holistic perspective that interests me the most and has really changed my viewpoint on how I play FM. I used to hate the training module but now I feel it is the single most important one, in the game, and, when ignored, things don’t work as well. For me – it is the centre of it all: five days training for just 90 minutes of match action, working as a group for just a personality change, spending time working on a new skill just one attribute to rise by one point or a new trait to be learnt. It all comes through this module and studies like this are key for me to maximise what I can get out of FM.
I have used the following setup in the past to good effect and will continue to explore what works well at different levels and times:
Match Day + 1: Complete rest or Match Review. Match Review will give gains on the Teamwork attribute but, realistically, I’d like the playing squad away from the training ground here. Although, I am tempted to look into making this a physical day but then remembering to rest all the players involved in the game for it – meaning that the rest of the squad are involved in physical training at this point.
Match Day + 2: As a team, we recover back at the training ground. From there, the week starts in a fairly steady way, getting time on the football and then working the extra session on either attacking or defensive preparation for the next game.
Match Day + 3: The heaviest day and one we do as a team. As it is the furthest away from either match day, this is where physical training takes part but the amount of that mixes up and down depending on the match load.
Next Match Day -2: As we begin the countdown to the next match, the intensity drops and we focus more on the next game. Here, I’ll focus on the other aspect to what was done on Tuesday – either offensive or defensive with an extra session on that area of Match Prep to really drill home the sessions prior to this.
Next Match Day – 1: This is a full preparation day – working on any areas that we haven’t already covered and hitting some specific tactical work, which, as mentioned before, will be much more fluid than it has been to date.
I may look to develop my approach from last year and include various different mesocycles that work on offensive and defensive areas – building approaches with progressive overload; for example – a team cannot defend engaged if they are unable to defend disengaged as, in my opinion, the latter revolves around the base attribute of positioning whereas the former then adds the likes of Marking, Tackling and Bravery to the mix.
Player Development –
“Bespoke schedules and game time plans for promising youngsters, encompassing the core ideology of player attributes and fluidity of positional play, encouraging their introduction into the first team from a young age – with special focus on their performances at a youth level. Prioritising home-grown players over imported talents but not ignoring or writing players off at a young age.”
This is a quote from The Guardian, who have nailed my feelings on a Footballing IQ:
“Asked about football intelligence, most fans would cite Sheringham, along with the likes of Paul Scholes, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi – players who seemed able to pause the game to take in a 360-degree camera angle of the action. But defining the attribute is complicated. Unlike traditional athletic powers, intelligence has no measurable metric. The football brain is frequently referenced by the fans and pundits, but what is it? How does football IQ manifest itself on the pitch? How does the brain coordinate the superhuman actions of a top-level player? And does an elite footballer’s brain have superior powers to that of an amateur turning out on a Sunday morning?
Before poking around a footballer’s brain and 55–70 billion neurons powering 90 minutes of pass and move, we need to know what in-game intelligence looks like through the lens of those at the top level.
An elite footballer performs 150–250 intense actions during a game, according to a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences. For every one of those actions, there’s a mass of information to digest – visual cues, instructions from the coach, calculating force and angles, spatial awareness of a wide area – all of which a player has to process in real time to make a quick, potentially game-changing decision. On top of that, they have to (in normal circumstances) cope with the emotion teeming from the stands.
To further this, this quote from a paper published by Ricardo Duarte and Telmo Frias stood out to me:
This relation between individual and team behaviours revealed that players’ decisions and actions are very dependent of the whole behaviour of the team, as well as team’s behaviour depends also on the individual behaviours of each player. This property of complex systems (as a football team, for instance) is called as interdependency (Bar-Yam, 2004). In this sense, the performance of a football team during the game can be viewed as a collective intelligent behaviour not centralised in any player (or coach) awareness, but distributed among all the players. This kind of intelligence is expressed by the collective behaviours of the teams, which emerge from the coordinated actions of the players.”
Therefore, this one little attribute, just one thirty-sixth of all visible attributes, becomes the single most important thing I look for in my tactical design.
Taken directly from the manual (bar Work Rate), these are the key attributes that will shape my player development and recruitment ideologies of the course of this save:
- First Touch refers to the player’s ability to stop, trap or move on the ball when it is coming at a variety of speeds, heights or angles. A player’s first touch can be the vital cog in whether possession breaks down or the attacking move can continue.
- Decisions refers to a player’s ability to make the correct choice both with and without the ball a majority of times. Similar to anticipation it’s an important attribute for all the players, and reflects how likely a player is to feel under pressure at any given moment, and to make the best choice accordingly. A player will high Decisions will make less mistakes and be more able to do the right thing within each situation. A player’s Decision making is important in all phases of play whether it’s to picking out passing options, play through balls in the right moment, decide to close down or not, run forward or stay put, shoot from outside the penalty area or dribble. Basically, it’s one of the most important attributes linked to tactical instructions, movement and the effect of player traits.
- Determination is one of the most important single attributes for any players. It describes a player’s commitment and hunger to succeed both on and off the pitch. He will give everything in order to win. This ties in with Bravery as it predicts a player’s commitment (e.g., to win the ball, score goals or simply do his best for the team by putting himself into risky situations. A player with high determination is often described as a mentally strong player and is used in conjunction with his Ambition, Pressure, Sportsmanship, Professionalism and Loyalty to impact his personality. Determined players will also have a hunger to improve himself and may be more inclined to develop faster with the right training and personality. Players with low determination will most often react more negative when going one down.
- · Work Rate is, in its simplest form, how hard a player will work. It is used to describe their on the ball and off the ball work and this, combined with determination and teamwork, can assist in a player in putting the team first. Players with high work rate are likely to want to run all game (even if their legs cannot allow that) and goes hand in hand with other attributes, such as decisions and anticipation.
- · Natural Fitness is not a typical attribute in regard to competency on the pitch, but describes more his genes and level of physic. The level of Natural fitness indicates how well the player stays fit when injured or not training – like maintaining his form. A player with higher natural fitness is not only able to recover quicker from injuries, but is also more likely to be able to perform better for a higher number of matches throughout the prolong season AND recover faster between matches meaning their condition will likely increase faster than one with lower Natural Fitness. It’s also an indicator of how well they retain their physical attributes as they go past their peak, meaning a player with poor ratings in Natural Fitness will decline faster once they turn 30 or more and see their attributes in Stamina, Quickness and Strength decrease faster. It’s an important factor in the modern footballing world where the schedule is tough playing over 40 matches per season.
Every view I have within the game, be it my own players, at any level, or recruiting players, will show these attributes. Whilst the initial period of time will see the vast majority hidden behind the attribute masking – everything will come through this and players will be developed, fined, recruited and trained to excel in these areas, firstly.
Team Development –
“The team is greater than the sum of its parts – developing a ‘family atmosphere’ through focused discussion with players. Using mentoring to develop player links and experienced heads within the dressing room to ensure that the team is performing as a cohesive unit.”
To quote Tuckman (1965), there are five stages of team building – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Mourning. Now, I’m dealing with computer generated numbers and not real people here but we can still follow a similar model in the save.
To form the team, I want to build around the key concepts mentioned above – both statistically, with mention to the key attributes, as players. I will look for a common language, nationality (harping back to the aforementioned Russian culture), the personality of a player and the likelihood that they will fit into the social groups and dynamics of the club.
The Storming phase is where we mentor, receive fines and have discussions around poor performances and I ascertain who is really cut out to player under me. It is no coincidence that two attributes in my DNA intertwine with the storming phase – as Work Rate and Determination can increase when a player is warned, or fined, for their last performance. Additionally, players with better personalities are more likely to accept the fine and, in my observations, more likely to see the knock-on attribute impact from it. It really will bring everything together.
The rest of the phases will flow naturally as I get through the seasons. Whilst there will be times when the process restarts – presumably when I move clubs – there will also have to be smaller, more manageable shifts as players move on, either because they have outgrown the club or have failed to develop/fit into the cohesive unit that my management style requires from them.
Recruitment model –
“Utilising a model of ‘buy low, sell high’ to safeguard the financial future of the club. Identification of key areas as well as undervalued and under-utilised players but recruitment will be heavily structured and player performance will be heavily scrutinised before a deal is concluded.”
I don’t want to mention Moneyball but I can’t really not – given my want to utilise statistics and a model whereby every player has a value and I will attempt to utilise a stats-based approach to find out players who are performing better than their Average Rating may suggest. I will attempt to bring in reviews whereby I combine statistical analysis with my own viewing of matches and self-scouting, as well as thoroughly using my own scouting and analysis team.
As time progresses, I will ensure that my recruitment model focuses on players who fill fit into my Team Building model, combining the attribute DNA as well as personality and social group factors. Furthermore, and to quote Timon Pauls, Head of Youth Scouting and none other than FC Bayern:
“You also have to know your club’s philosophy, how they play. We made the mistake a few years back of signing a striker who scored lots of goals for a lower league team, where they played lots of long balls over the top for him to use his speed. At Bayern, there are so few opportunities for that, with the play in the opposition’s final third most of the time, so it did not work out. You have to make sure a player’s attributes are a match for your playing style.”
I need to take into account who I am scouting and where they are from. Russia, seemingly, has an affinity for players of African descent, particularly in the lower leagues but I must consider the strength of the league that they are playing in.
The last area of interest, and a new one of me, is summed by Bruno Costa, SJ Earthquakes and Brazil scout:
“Look to see how a player is composed on and off the field. Coming into pro-team environments you need players who are going to be good inside the dressing room. If a player does not have a good body language, then having a good composure around teammates, the referee, the fans, with the media that is going to be hard for them in their future. That is something we take a lot of consideration of when signing a player. We like to see their character on and off the pitch.”
I have never looked at the Body Language of a player when scouting. Now, I know that personality/media handling and Determination is likely to have an impact but have I ever looked at how they react to their manager demanding more? No. I barely watched games, let alone looked for how another manager uses his touchline shouts and then how the player I am interested in reacts to them. But do I want a player that gets anxious every time the game is tight? No. Absolutely not. Is this likely to happen with a Balanced/Media Friendly player, who I have little idea of their ability to handle pressure. Yes.
The final piece of this jigsaw will be how my own manager fits in:
- Director of Football
The man with the power. He’ll oversee a lot of the things at the club and will allow me to focus on my role of Head Coach/Head of Player Development that I foresee this career moving towards. I will allow him to negotiate contracts, work with my head of recruitment to sign players and hire and fire some of the less key staff.
- Assistant Manager
Even though I will be conducting all the training at a senior level, the knowledge from my main assistant is invaluable as I will look to get feedback from them as the save progresses across all areas of playing. I will also listen to their suggestions in regards to tactical changes and player development changes, although I have the final say. He will also be in charge of putting together the senior coaching team as he’s their manager – in a realistic way. I will have the final say on anyone he does sign though, should this actually be an option.
- Head of Youth Development
This man is not only in charge of the intakes, but will be running the training – both team and individual – for the youth side. He’ll also be in charge (just like the assistant) of hiring his own u18/u21 coaching team, although I may have the final say on committing them to a contract.
- Head(s) of Analysis
With the Data Hub being so key this year – having a say in the Head Performance Analyst is imperative. He’ll sign the rest of the team but work with me and pull whatever reports I can get my hands on. I have included the (s) here because I would also consider the Head of Sports Science and Head Physio key staff members because they cover the recovery part of the game that is so key. Again – hopefully, they can pick their own team (if not – I’ll us the DoF to sort) and work together from there.
- Head of Recruitment
My chief scout is key in unearthing the next talents, setting his team out to scour the globe for players who meet my criteria. I will, however, be using my Director of Football to submit the offer and complete any contractual agreements. Whilst this is an ideal real-life approach, it does have its flaws on FM, and I’ll probably be monitoring this closely to ensure stupid offers aren’t made!
Manager and Game world
In keeping with historical spirit of Dario Samaniego (San Marino), Neyveson (Volta Redonda), Joao Fernando (Luzern) and Nikita Zakharov (Krasondar and Groningen) – my manager is a player who I have managed in another gameworld and offers me a fond memory. Alex was signed from River Plate not long after I took over at Krasnodar and he really embodied the statistical, thoroughly-scouted method that I now live and die by. He moved on to Dortmund for nearly €40m and then on to Tottenham for nearly double that but provided me with three wonderful seasons. I hope his managerial career will do the same!
As far as the game world goes, I’ve loaded a pretty hefty database, for me, and I hope that, by not having to add and remove leagues, it’ll be relatively stable for the long term.
Let’s get this going!
As I’ve mentioned, I wanted to start at the lowest possible position and work my way up. After four months of job searching, I have been rewarded with my first gig..
Menemen is the fifth largest town in the district of Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey. With a population of just over 150,000 – it’s hardly a bustling town with only 42% of it urbanised and an economy that largely depends on agriculture and breeding. The site is largely Bronze Age and offers little in the way of attraction, to me anyway, for gathering knowledge about the Ottoman Empire, although the trusty Wikipedia tells me that it was an important town in the production of textiles for western Anatolia.
Izmir itself sits on the banks of the Aegean sea and is an important town in Turkish history. The town has been invaded by Venetians, Genoese and Ionians in the past and this part of Turkey once belonged to Greece, but, following the Turkish War of Independence in 1922, was retaken by Turkish soldiers.
The club itself have a website, which I was able to find this information from:
Menemen FK started its activities in 1927 under the name “ Menemen Türk Ocağı İdman Yurdu ”. But the official establishment took place in 1942. Founders of the club; Bedri Onat, Nadir Gündüz, Muhattin Hakkı, Nizamettin Bey, Saim Dinçer, Vacip Dolunay and Halil Uyanık. The club’s colors are ” yellow ” and ” dark blue “, and ” Kubilay ” is in the coat of arms of the club .
Menemen Youth, which started its social and cultural activities with the opening of Community Centers, started its football life under this roof. She established the main foundations of sports by staying under the same roof for 10 years where the current Girls’ Vocational High School is located, and then for 7 years in the building of the former State Hospital. In 1942, when the Community Centers were dissolved, it was included in the Body Training Organization and not long after that, the Local League was established. At that time, Altay, Altınordu, İzmirspor, Karşıyaka, Göztepe, Tirespor and Bayındır also took part in the Local League. Menemen Youth played its first match in this league with Altınordu and the match ended 1-1.
In the 1942-43 season, Altınordu finished third in the league, which ended with the Local League championship. After 1950, the Local Leagues were shaped with a new change. The accidents gathered together and Menemen Youth became the team of the new group and won its first championship in 1955. Meanwhile, under the presidency of Mustafa Yontucu, the management including Çetin Ceylan established a club in Taşhan under the name of Menemen Güneşspor Club. The colors of this club were yellow-red.
After the first championship, the love for sports in the district increased even more. And that year, Altay transferred striker Adnan from Menemen Youth, while Çamur Zeki became the first top scorer of the team.
As a result of the initiatives of Çetin Ceylan, one of Güneşspor’s managers in those years, Güneşspor football players were united under the umbrella of Menemen Youth Sports Club. Menemen Youth struggled for 13 years in the Izmir Districts. In 1976, he won his second championship by defeating Narlıdere 1-0 at Alsancak Stadium.
In 1984, with the decision of the Football Federation, he was included in the 3rd League with the name “Menemenspor”, and with the support of Mayor İlhami Gürsoy and Club President Sabri Karakaş, he started attempts to meet 15 million guarantees as required by law. Sabri Karakaş deposited the guarantee he received from a bank to the Football Federation and Menemenspor was also included in the 3rd League. The management, consisting of Sabri Karakaş, Ünal Atalay, Osman Üstündağ, Kemal Ülken, Sedat Eryılmaz, Lütfü Eroğlu, and Hüseyin Ceylan, took the lead of the club. That year (1984-1985 season), Menemenspor started to compete in the 3rd League 4th Group and finished third in the league. Menemenspor, who came second in 1985-1986, became champion the next season and advanced to the 2nd League.
Struggling in the 2nd League for three seasons, Menemenspor first fell into the 3rd League in 1989-90, and fell into the amateur league the next year. In 1992, the name “Menemenspor” disappeared and the name of the club became “Menemen Belediyespor”. Menemen Belediyespor, who won the İzmir Amateur League and played promotion matches in the 3rd League in the 2007-2008 season, managed to get back to the 3rd League after 17 years. In the 2013-2014 season, they finished 5th in the 3rd League 2nd Group and qualified to play in the Play-Offs. After eliminating Tuzlaspor and Yeni Diyarbakırspor in the Play-Offs, they were promoted to the 2nd League after 24 years. Having struggled in the 2nd League for five years, the team made it to the Play-Offs four times, but narrowly missed the 1st League. In the 2018-2019 season, it was promoted to the 1st League as the champion in the Red Group. Before the 2019-2020 season, the name was changed to Menemenspor. Menemenspor, who competed in the 1st League between 2019-2022,
Before the 2022-2023 season, the club, whose shares were taken over by Ekmas Sportive Activities, one of the Ekmas Group companies, started its struggle under the name “Menemen Football Club”. The first president of the club was Bahri Ekmekçioğlu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was Barış Orhunbilge, and the Technical Director was Özden Töraydın.
In game, the club has somewhat of a blank slate (sans some kits that I created on Kitbasher for them) and the supporter profile seems interesting information, even if I have little understanding of what it will mean to my playing!
November 2022 – Squad Review
Contract signed, feet under the table and this:
Yeah. We’re not in a great spot. However, I have every hope that we will be able to push up the table given the data I have collated, below:
Looking at the statistics when taking over from a sacked manager and seeing that, actually, we have a group of players, who, if you counted xPts as true to life, would be sitting third in the table, is something of a shock! We look as if there is a lack of confidence in the squad going forward as we are underperforming our xG and conceding more than our xGa suggests that we should. There are no gaping holes withing the team but this statistic tells me our football is probably dire – we barely complete above the average number of passes but stop our opposition from completing many – signalling a game whereby we are lose in possession (backed up here) but also probably spend most of the time fouling or being fouled.
We’ve used three shapes this season and have had some success with the 4-3-3, creating chances but, clearly, not putting them away. Likewise, we seem pretty solid facing the most common shapes, creating more than the opposition.
I have no game footage to watch in preparation for my first game but it would appear that we are getting carved open and allowing the ball to get to the by-line before being worked (not crossed – we are good at defending those) back into the box, whereby a placed shot from close in is doing the damage. We’ve also conceded two penalties this season and have been lobbed once, but only three headed goals. Certainly a more unified, solid approach at the back will need to be taken to stem this tide of goals. Our last match report – the only one I can access – probably shows our position under the old boss really well. We were away from home but came away with nothing as we lost 2-1.
Again, I am pretty happy with the quality of players that I am inheriting. For reference, I have compared them to the attribute levels of players in this division using the Report -> Comparison feature and have also collated some key statistics from the first fourteen games of the season. Each thumbnail is clickable to show their entire profile.
Two keepers over the age of 30 is never great for the long term squad build but I don’t see a period of time here in Menemen that exceeds two to three years so we should be ok. Ozer is, by contractual terms, the number one and probably has the upper hand. It’ll be interesting to see how this works, tactically, as his kicking is poor so I will have to rely on his Throwing ability to start counter attacks, hoping to increase that pass completion percentage, too. The biggest thing, for me, will be to get some clean sheets on the board and rebuild his confidence.
Probably starting with four at the back means that I’ll be looking at Cansev – another aging player – to sure up the centre of the defence. Attribute wise, he’s good for this level and really brave, too, so I have some questions to ask around his poor number of blocks and relatively low number of interceptions. I imagine that keeping a right-left pairing will be the safest option so he’ll probably be partnered by Paykoc, who, at 19, is a really bright prospect. He’s clearly done a lot of defensive work across the 247 minutes he’s played this season but I’m hoping he can slot into the backline. Altunbas seems like a nice option as a more progressive full back as he’s able to create more key passes and also gets the ball upfield only a little less than Kanci, who’ll probably be the starting left back.
I’ve always liked a man who can sit and Ferhat Culcoglu looks to be that one. Good attribute wise but also a man who can sprint, despite his ever increasing age, press and tackle, too. Whilst my DM, especially at this point, is often quite static, I feel that he’s got the makings of a good player in this role, despite being another man over the age of 30. Ahead of him, I’m likely to opt for two midfielders and two more offensive wingers, with Getbay looking like the only settled choice for that role. I think Tuncer will probably warrant a starting place given his ability to move the ball forward but there is little in the way of realistic long term options here. Likewise, the wingers are limited to Alkurt – a good man but horribly out of form – and Kaylibabal, who I did initially want at full back.
With only two strikers, I’m pretty much settled with one up top and, fortunately, I think both Yilmaz and Ozgun can rotate. The former is performing much better than his partner but, on overall attributes, they are pretty much on a par. I’ll need to look at ways to get them scoring again, though.
Taking it very slowly at the moment, looking at each element in turn before I get to my first match, in four days time. By then I want to have begun some of the following:
- Identified any promising youth players
- Set up training
- Identified a couple of extra coaching staff – ideally Argentinains
- Created a base tactic to work from
November and December 2022
It’s funny that I’ve poured hours into creating a stats based skin yet have barely looked at a player profile in the first four weeks of my management here, instead getting completely stuck into the match engine – which I quite like, and our tactical battles.
I’m through the first four games and, with nine points on the board already, go into Christmas certainly looking upwards.
Menemenspor 2-0 Afjet Afyonspor
I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my time at the club! A win, clean sheet and even a penalty save to boost the match ratings.
The first goal of my tenure came from a nice midfield overload, something I craved last year. However, I’ve set up considerably more disciplined with just supporting players in this area until I can get a fuller understanding of our standing within the game as well as the opposition we face. Omer, an attacking right back, along with a winger directly in front of him was used to hold the same area on the pitch whilst I looked to build a numerical advantage and get the ball switched over to striker-cum-winger Enes. I started the game with the instructions you can see in the screenshot and with relatively vanilla roles but added and tweaked as the game went on, in particular using the overload the right hand side after a succession of fouls were conceded by their left back and I felt I could exploit it.
There obviously needs to be lots more work to be done – the involvement of the PF(a) needs to be remedied, although I have played with an out and out scorer before, to good success, and we really must build on this pretty horrific looking metric for our defensive actions. However, this is the perfect start for me – some tactical wins, three points and some good performances that I can use as a catalyst to boost morale within the team.
In the week long break between fixtures, I took my first and last delve into the Staff Search screen – appointing, for realism purposes, a couple of Argentinian coaches, whilst my newly appointed DoF secured some further staff.
Neither Lamas or Pelaez match my style of play or formation but speak my language and will help me settle in here. I was also told of the appointment of Karakus as the new u19 Manager. As I said in the opening posts, I need to accept that this is not in my remit as Head Coach and, as such, will work with the staffing structure provided for me.
Sanliurfaspor 1-2 Menemenspor
Two from two!
My first taste of facing the newly-remodelled 4-2-3-1 with now two sitting players in a deeper pivot. My intention was to overload one side of that pivot at a time – in this case, the side that they had their Regista on – our left wing. Our first goal was a prime example of that, with the movement of the Mez(a) taking both players in the pivot completely out of play and allowing Enes a relatively simple through ball to Ali, who finished really well. The first goal against under my tenure came from a little bit of poor marking and failing to win the first or second ball – something that has been repeated across the 180 minutes of football to date. I have no idea how to resolve this – whether it’s partly due to the ‘Stay on Feet’ attribute, poor bravery, anticipation or just a sign of relatively low morale, I don’t know but I need to resolve that and win these battles. A direct free kick was the winner for us in an unexpected bonus!
The intake preview (clickable for a full shot) came through and isn’t particularly impressive – however, drawing similarities to my time at Mashuk on FM22 – this is really not the important part of this stage of the save.
Menemenspor 1-2 Akaraspor
My first defeat and, whilst there are lots of things to work around, there must be some positives that can be taken from a game, albeit at home, against a team that end the day in 3rd place. Just a quick look at some stats tells you that we were very much in the game:
- 38 progressive passes to 27
- 58 final third passes to 35
- 1.65 non Pen xG to 1.04
- 2 clear cut chances to 1
The first goal was a sign that our progressive system isn’t quite fully implemented and that the Mez(s) is maybe a little too aggressive in a Positive system as the long ball was cut out by their winger and the countered and scored. I will look at either developing the system so that they aren’t so far ahead of the ball when we are in the build up as, given the quality of players that we have, are prone to turnovers leaving us in difficult situations. With twenty minutes left, I moved to a double pivot – trying to bypass their midfield a little bit and take advantage of tiring defenders, utilising the five substitutes that I am allowed to make. This time, Gencer got his pass right, taking out their three midfielders and allowing us a nice overload on their defenders. Sadly, before I could instruct us to move back, hold our shape and waste a bit of time, they’d gone down the other end and retaken the lead.
Between games I attended my first recruitment meeting (click for further info) and, to be fair, it was quite good. We’re not blessed with any money so it was quite a short one but I do like how I can speak to the agents before setting my DoF out to renew deals, meaning he won’t make stupid decisions on wages. He did, however, make two great calls with the signing, and completion of my backroom team, of HoYD Evrensel Kurucay, who I think is really strong for this level and Chief Scout Murat Kus – who has experience at Bundesliga club Koln.
Nazili Belediyespor 2-3 Menemenspor
I really see value in the 4-2-3-1 shape as I think we have the players made for it and I think this strong result, away at a team chasing promotion, shows that. We got ourselves into a 2-0 and 3-1 lead, playing some really nice football – although a penalty and a goalmouth scramble significantly padded our stats in what was otherwise an even affair. Whilst we did score three times away from home, defensively, I worry that we are an absolute shambles! Every time we lose possession, I feel like we’re vulnerable to conceding and our first goal shows just that. There is no way we should be just dallying on the ball their but, also, if we do make that mistake, our marking should be much stronger in the middle of our defence. It’s a bit of complacency, positioning, decision making all contributing to a recovery and a cross that is easily slotted home by the man in yards of space. Yet this time, from a corner, we have three men marking each other and allowing space for a simple tap in.
This fact from the last four games is of concern to me, too. If you look at this image and notice shots (left) and goals (right), I would say that we have conceded five goals that, a man with the 6’2″ frame and high level reflexes that Zulkuf has, should have been saved. His save differential has dropped (93% Expected – which I assume was bugged as pre-takeover was at 100% to 70% save ratio) so there has been an increase in the saves that he is making but I do feel that he’s still a little lightweight. Maybe, just maybe, we could try and stop the ball getting into that position though…
We’re off for the Christmas break now but, in the first week back, I’m going to be running some defensive drills in training. Now I know that Match Prep blocks are what you see on the field, but I want to also spend time trying to improve the defensive attributes that my players have. This will be what they are faced with:
We sit nicely in the form table and our league position is picking up:
It’s good to be back writing and getting my teeth into Football Manager again!