summer winter break: a time for a nice long holiday, a gentle bit of pre-season and a cup competition that is all but worthless to us. NOT! Only the latter of those are actually true. What is more – this period of time has conflicted with the release of my Statman24 skin as well as then the flurry of bug fixes and changes, of which many can be seen below. The biggest change is the way that player attributes are now displayed as an overall level per training group is now displayed, one which varies with scouting knowledge.
After thirteen games at the helm, I’ve been able to create the beginnings of a plan that I want to implement at the club, built around clever recruitment and tactical nous. With us just about in the black, but expected to end the year (pre competition prize money anyway) to the tune of €1m in debt, financial prudence is also high on my agenda. At the time of writing, SI have just acknowledged an issue with the Director of Football whereby he won’t complete on any deals. Therefore, my plan going forward is to move to still consult him but then create those deals myself: still a bit more control than I’d like at this stage of my career. However, even the ‘suggest target’ feature is somewhat useless as only two players, both highlighted, are playing within Sweden and, and such, can be scouted without incurring a fee of at least €3k per player – eclipsing the €22k budget and putting all of my eggs in a basket which doesn’t even belong to me.
With that in mind, I first wanted to take a picture of our squad depth to see where we were short on players and where we could, maybe, make do. I like to run a pretty small first team squad, but that is often when I’ve reached the highest levels of the game and can rely on quality youth products coming through. Here, I absolutely cannot. The image, somewhat worryingly, also includes the loanees – Salaou and Svanberg as well as Blomqvist and Jonsson, whose deals are close to expiring. The depth behind the first eleven is worryingly thin, but, as you can see from some financial work, below, we’ve got some constraints!
Using the data from last season where I could (n.b. I can’t get a completely accurate figure on the clean sheet bonus for defenders as the game cannot calculate that stat but, to calculate the potential number of Unused Sub fees – I’ve used the percentage of game time missed – from the Medical Centre – to calculate the difference between the games they were available for and the games they appeared in, assuming that, due to my small squad, they were unused on the bench if not on the pitch at any point) I have calculated some costings and compared them to game time. Overall, I’m quite happy but also wary that near half a million euros has been spent on wages before these bonuses, which equates to around €10k per week. When I’m averaging a gate of around 2,300 people a time, we’re not getting close to even covering that. In terms of particular issues – I must say that Pontus Engblom, last year’s top scorer, is somewhat of an issue here. He’s an important player and the club captain but he just doesn’t really fit in with how I play and we’re paying him more than anyone else. Fortunately, he’s got a year left on his deal and is considering his options. Elsewhere, thanks to the little enforced cull, we’re not really paying anyone an unreasonable amount of money based on their game time – but do need to consider some clauses in contracts that, unfortunately, may force my hand somewhat. Whilst I have just spoken about Pontus Engblom’s overall wages and costs – he will actually cost me €200 for every game that I don’t play him in; obviously, less than the €300 for when I do play him but I’m then choosing to field another striker in place of him, who would also have an appearance fee.
Overall, it feels like a pretty straightforward task – keep the weekly wage below €1k and minimise other costs, whilst finding hidden gems in the lower leagues and scouting sensibly around the country! What I could have done is listen to every agent in the world, who wanted to offer me players but, really, I didn’t think that it was realistic. I did, prior to understanding the issue with my director, ask him to make deals for five players who had all left clubs in Sweden at the end of their contracts: Henry Offia, Jake Larsson, Adam Ben Lamin, Charlie Weberg and the statistically-strong Filip Schyberg. However, we were usurped in each one, with more money and bigger and better clubs beating us to our targets. Whether this would’ve been different if I’d have been making the deals or not, I do not know; it feels very much part and parcel of the recruitment process though, so I am not going to complain too much.
However, there was good news to celebrate! I was able to seal new contracts for Jonsson in goal and Blomqvist at centre back as well as the return from loan of Ronaldo Damus – a very one-dimensional forward but a forward with the pace we’ve been craving. Three players who have all represented the club in the top level are going to be staying for, at least, one further year to help us in our attempts to return there. I am also delighted to announce that both Abundance Salaou and Ludvig Svanberg have returned on loan for another season. Below you can see the level of their contributions to our game, with Salaou on the left:
Two brand new players also came through the doors here at Idrottsparken.
Fredrik Martinsson fits the bill for a player who, if I’m being honest, is a bit of a luxury. He’s spent this season at Utsikens, so knows this league well and has come with pretty rave reviews from my coaching team. His performances this season, as a full back, have been strong, with good performances in areas that I like for this role: interceptions and progressive passes (although I’ve realised that this hasn’t worked on my skin).
The luxury element comes when he is compared with Forsberg, my other right back. They are not the same type of player. Forsberg operates as an IFB(d) but I really see Martinsson as more conventional wing back, therefore, would be loathed to have him in the team when we are facing two or more attackers. On the other hand, though, he may be that difference when we’re able to build up in a 2-3-5 rather than a 3-2-5 and I think this different option could be quite powerful when I need to change a game.
My biggest concern comes with the contract that I agreed. When he was originally brought to my attention, I was told that his wage demands would be no more than around €500 a week, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to agree a deal of less than €800 which included a locked-in non-promotion clause: the first time I’ve seen that! This means that, potentially, we’ll be putting circa €50k into a player who can walk away for nothing at the end of the season. I must admit to being somewhat hasty with this deal once I’d found my man and may end up regretting it. What it also does is creates two genuine rotational options at right back, which, given my limited budgets, will stretch them even further. Below, I have recalculated the financial impact of this – reducing Forsberg’s game time to twenty appearances and adding twenty for Martinsson, too. This would save somewhere around €40 a week on Lucas’ deal but add nearly €900 for Fredrik, giving a total change of just over €850. A relatively tiny amount, even at our level, but a change never the less which significantly impacts our ‘spare budget’ of around €3k per week.
A financial risk, certainly, but player who will develop our tactical creativity and game changing situations. I think I’m happy with this one!
Next through the door is a much safer signing – a loan deal for Malmo youngster André Álvarez Pérez.
Looking at his attribute spread, I’d say he’s nicely aligned to become a decent ball playing defender within our team and has shown the aptitude for that whilst out on loan last year, as you can see from his stats above. Brave, quick and surprisingly good on the ball for a youngster of his age at this level, I am keen to see what he can do on loan. We’re paying €325 per week for his loan spell, which, overall, feels like a good move. The only concern is that is now gives me three right footed centre backs and I am more comfortable playing with one righty and one lefty, but, should he, Svanberg and Blomqvist all be in great form, I also have the option of the false centre back at RB, currently occupied by the aforementioned Forsberg and Martinsson.
I’m going to get back into the pre-season, assess where I feel I am and continue the tactical driven posts, particularly as I’m really looking to push on this season!