Sporting CP – The save
After my attributeless European Journeyman save on FM23 (link) a save in which I focused on the defensive tactical side and immediate success in order to progress my reputation as quickly as I could, this year I want to focus more on smart recruitment and youth development. Clubs like Brighton are getting a lot of plaudits at the moment for the way they’re finding players for small fees, developing them, and selling on for bigger fees on a constant conveyor belt. On top of that, I want to focus on in-house player development too, integrating youth talent into the first team.
A team of wonderkids is original, but it won’t be that.
On top of the development of youth, I also want to find under-utilised players. Maybe they’ve had a move to a big club in their formative years but it hasn’t worked out, but I could hopefully give them that second chance to rebuild. As part of our development, I will be looking for experienced players to come in and keep the ability of the squad high during our transition periods in each position.
While the club I have chosen has spent money, their most expensive transfer record has just been broken this summer for €20 million. I want to be mindful of this and ensure we try to keep the fees realistic, And all the signings will be paid for with the money we bring in
I want to use money generated through sales to reinvest in the squad through transfer expenditures and wages.
We will be keeping a keen eye on that and tracking it throughout the save.
As always, I will start with the first window closed. We will use the current squad and work with what we have at the club, most likely until the first summer.
Why Sporting CP?
Sporting CP, one of the big three in Portugal, are 19-time league winners but since the 1999/00 season, they’ve only won the title 3 times, with the league mainly dominated by FC Porto (30 titles 12 since 1999/00) and Benfica (38 titles, 8 since 1999/00) So that gives me an immediate challenge: become the dominant force in Portugal. They are also a club that is used as a stepping stone, when you see the history of talent that has gone through the club.
I felt that it fitted in line with what I wanted from a save this year: a good base for a developmental and recruitment save where we will appeal to players, but still be small enough that bigger clubs will want to sign our best players, ensuring a conveyor belt of talent. We should be able to qualify for Europe every season to further give players the chance to showcase their talents.
I also didn’t want to be the top side in the country. Sporting is seen as the weakest of the top 3 in Portugal, both on and off the pitch.
One thing Sporting is known for is developing youth talent. Some iconic names have started at Sporting and gone on to be household names like Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s two most capped players.
Over the years Sporting have invested in talent that they have then sold for a profit. Whether this has come from within Portugal or from abroad. Sporting rely on player sales to ensure the club runs so this is something I’m keen to implement
Above are just some examples, this is the way I wanted to run my club for this save so Sporting CP felt like the perfect fit. We are giving players a platform, to join a title challenger also in European football and use us as a stepping stone to develop and move to a bigger club.
The current manager and playing style
The current manager is Ruben Amorim, I wrote about his tactic earlier this year on FM23 (https://www.viewfromthetouchline.com/2023/04/26/ruben-amorim-343-fm23-tactic/)
It was one of the reasons that led to me choosing them this year.
When I take over I don’t want to totally change the philosophy that may come but to start with the squad is built for Amorim’s 343 and I’ll be starting with that as my base. I might not use the exact tactic above but I will be using a 343.
I will break my squad down into 6 groups
This will be a low resell value player, most likely on a short-term contract in their 30s.
They will help with mentoring but also strengthen the playing squad. In past saves I’ve been too rash to get rid of players over 30 not appreciating their value. Especially at a club like Sporting where there’s a high turnover of players via recruitment or promotion of youth. The experienced players become the anchor for the ever-changing squad. These players will not only be squad players but also starters
These players are our best players, the players we build the tactic around not only for success on the pitch but to increase their potential sale value. These players are most likely the ones that will be making us profit every summer and attract attention from bigger clubs.
These players are potentially Star players but aren’t quite there yet but are first-team starters. They have the potential to be our next big sale in the future transfer windows
These are wonderkids, they haven’t quite fully broken into the first team but are likely to outgrow the club so we could pick up a fee to sell now with a large % sell-on fee when they move on again to one of the much bigger clubs. I see myself as Birmingham here for Bellingham. We sell this player to Dortmund who later sells to Real Madrid and we get a large % of the sell on. But because they’re so highly rated they are unlikely to break into our first team because they’re gone by then.
These players are the future, most of them will be in the youth teams as they look to move through the ranks of the above groups.
Every squad needs squad players, Probably aren’t going to move on or become star players but are the backbone of the squad.
The Academia Sporting
Cleon posted this in his FM14 Ajax work and upon rereading it gave me food for thought, I want to develop my youth players so to ensure they get maximum development and game time I will stick to these guidelines but tweak it as we start with a 343
My B, U23, and U19 teams will all have
4x Centre backs
3 x right footed players for RWB and RDM
3x left footed players for LWB and LDM
4x who can play across the front 3 LW/ST/RW
Our first team will still consist of 22 players, 2 players for each position. Throughout the 4 squads that leaves us with 70 players at the club. Whilst 70 sounds a lot we will have to be ruthless with deciding if players are going to make the grade as every season we have an influx of youth intakes also we will look to recruit young talent as well through transfers.
Following some research into Sporting’s youth set up.
Aurélio Pereira, the club’s long-serving director of youth recruitment made it clear in the youth setup that they don’t create system players. As the players come through the system they focus on their technicals and individuality.
“We find the strong and weak points of each individual and change their training to reflect that.”
I really want to dive into the individual development of each player we have in our setup.
Like Ajax, Sporting scouts the best talent around Europe and prepares them for the best leagues in the world. Sporting depends on youngsters. They are a source of income.
In FM24 I really want to ensure we are self-sufficient, bringing in money to invest in the club on and off the pitch. Using an article from Swiss Ramble about Porto it’s easy to highlight the gap between ourselves and the top 2.
“In contrast to Porto’s reported €47m loss before tax, the other leading Portuguese clubs were all profitable in 2022/23, with Sporting leading the way with €26m, followed by Benfica €21m and Braga €2m. The difference between the clubs was driven by the amounts earned from player sales, as Porto’s €14m profit was much less than their rivals: Sporting €85m, Benfica €64m and Braga €48m. The leading clubs in Portugal depend on player trading to a very large extent, so Benfica and Sporting have earned even more than Porto’s €438m in the last 10 years with €754m and €466m respectively.”
As you can see from about not only Sporting but also Benfica and Porto rely on player sales. Sporting sold €466m worth of talent and €398m of it was profit. Nearly half a Billion brought in and a most expensive transfer of €20m shows Sporting’s strategy. On top of developing youth, they make low-fee low-risk transfers of multiple players sub €20m with the plan to sell on for profit. Rather than one signing of €80m
“Porto’s €166m revenue was still a fair way below Benfica’s €196m, though was in turn a lot more than Sporting’s €125m. Porto’s €105m broadcasting revenue in 2022/23 was the second highest in Portugal, behind Benfica’s €125m, but well ahead of Sporting’s €68m and Braga’s €20m. Porto’s €43m domestic broadcasting revenue was the second highest in Portugal, only below Benfica’s €51m, but a long way above the other clubs, e.g. Sporting €27m and Braga €9m.”
I’m not sure yet if this is reflected in the game but our revenue outside of sales was half of what Porto and Benfica brought in.
“Porto have earned an impressive €273m from European competitions in the last 5 years, rivals just ahead of Benfica’s €256m. Both clubs enjoyed a substantial advantage over all other Portuguese clubs, e.g. Sporting €108m and Braga €48m.”
This shows how important European football is. Porto and Benfica have qualified for the Champions League more often lately hence they’re higher income. With just two CL spots we are going to have to fight hard to get that second spot.
“Porto’s €95m wage bill is still a full €20m less than Benfica’s €115m, though is a similar amount higher than Sporting’s €76m.”
Whilst money doesn’t guarantee success having 20-40m a year lower wage budget explains the gap we need to close. Our recruitment and development will need to go hand in hand and going forward we need to make sure the signings are smart and successful to help us close the gap on the top two on and off the pitch. Success brings in financial rewards and with that, we then can reinvest in the club long term.
(Thanks to @fridaynightfm for the above research)
I’ve loaded lots of nations with just their top-flight division to give us a good variety of potential scouting pools but also to keep European competitions challenging
Overall I’m happy with my choice of Sporting, first off we need to assess the squad. Start our long-term succession plan then on the pitch adapt to the long season battle with Benfica and Porto while improving off the pitch. I hope to first dominate Portugal before becoming a success in Europe. I think the best way to do this is smart recruitment and selling players at the right time.
Using models like Brighton’s I want to really dive into that this year with the Recruitment focus feature which I’m a big fan of.
Tactically using the 343 we need to find a way to dominate vs the potential low blocks from the weaker sides but also be able to go toe to toe with your Porto’s, Benfica’s, and Braga’s.
With the first window closed it gives us at least 6 months if not a full season to fully evaluate the whole club.
Next up I will introduce the squad and then my first few months on the job.