In my introductory blog to this save, the Ajax way. I stated that I will be implementing a DNA which has been selected to be closely aligned to the T.I.P.S. model. This DNA will serve as a blueprint for the save and ensure that I don’t deviate away from my original intentions of the save, youth development.
Footballing DNA – The DNA of a club can be looked at as the identity or defining characteristic of the institution. In this sense, it can be linked to the scientific definition of a person’s DNA – that defines what that particular person’s traits and characteristics will be.
The above post from @OptaJohan goes a long way in showing how reliant the Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond (KNVB) has been on De Toekomst to provide a consistent supply chain of talent to the Netherlands national football team.
Including Ajax players, at any given time, it is estimated that up to 35 footballers playing in the Eredivisie have received an education at Ajax’s academy.
The latest piece written by CIES Football Observatory presents the rankings of teams that have trained (training clubs are those where players have spent at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21) the most players active in 48 of the world’s major leagues.
Ajax score the highest with regards to both volumes, and the weighted training index, which takes into account the sporting level of players trained. Again, highlighting the importance of De Toekomst on a global scale.
This blog will guide you through my thoughts and processes on how I will look to use the DNA to develop, provide opportunities, and showcase talent with the view to producing elite level football players, as referenced above.
FOR THE FUTURE
Let’s face it we all love a custom squad view and the below ‘Squad – Main’ from FM Stag’s Custom Views Megapack for FM24 will be one which a vast majority of FM’ers will be familiar with. I have simply added in the ‘Date of Birth’ next to the players age, as I want to group players by year of birth, labelling the prospects as ‘The Class Of’.
The above goes a long way to show that AFC Ajax is stacked with top talent, with 35 players holding a potential ability rating of four starts and above. Taking current ability into the equation, based on historic saves, I look to integrate players into the first-team when they have 2.5 stars. Using this method you will see that only two players (Jorrel Hato and Amourricho van Axel Dongen) meet the criteria, and funny enough both have played for the first-team this season, with Hato being the only player to start and play every minute of Eredivisie football thus far.
Now for some of you this would be as far as you take this information. However, given the fact I will be playing ‘The Ajax way’ with a DNA, I need to find out what individuals score when adding up the selected attributes.
THE CUSTOM VIEW
The beauty of a custom view is that it will enable you to have all the relevant data to hand in one central location, the above view will help me to see how individuals are progressing with regards to the key attributes. More importantly, I have included fields such as ‘Position/Role/Duty’ and ‘Focus’ to see how I have set up individual training, along with the ‘Progress’ field to show me how they are developing.
TIME TO FIRE UP THE SPREADSHEET
Football Manager and Google Sheets go hand in hand, it is here where I have extracted the above custom view and inserted a formula to see which individuals are best aligned to my selected DNA.
Looking at the above, you will note that there are a few individuals, such as Oualid Agougil, Yoram Boerhout, and Charlie Setford that may well have been missed if purely looking at the potential ability stars.
These players sit inside the top 20 under 20 year olds at the club with regards to their alignment to the Ajax way DNA, and therefore are worthwhile focusing efforts on developing as individuals.
THE FIRST TEAM BASELINE
Now we have identified the players that sit outside of the first-team, which are best aligned to the Ajax way, there is a need to understand how the first-team perform against the self-selected DNA.
Those of you who have been following me closely over the years will know that I love a baseline, as they serve a reasonable and defined starting point for comparison purposes. I often use baselines evaluate change, and measure the difference between two periods of time.
After running the data you will see that the team holds an average DNA score of 177, with Branco van den Boomen scoring the highest, and Jay Gorter (GK) scoring the lowest.
This now provides me with an understanding of where a player should be with regards to their DNA score before providing them with exposure to the first team.
Looking at the list of youngsters above, there are a further eight players outside of the first team who have a DNA rating of above 160, the value set by Carlos Borges, the lowest outfield player. Therefore providing me with a further pool of talent which could be trusted on, with regards to securing first-team minutes.
I hope the above has given you a flavour on how I play the game and hopefully inspiration to fire up your favourite spreadsheet software and get stuck into the number crunching.
THE CLASS OF
I will look to provide updates throughout the save on the development of playing staff within the club, I have opted to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United in my style of this approach by placing players into the ‘Class of’ groups, based upon their age of birth.
Shrewnaldo has scraped the data in every playable league in FM24, enabling him to produce the average values for technical, mental, and physical attributes. The Eredivisie has an overall attribute average of 10.87 and below I will detail the top five players aligned to ‘The Ajax Way’ DNA from each ‘Class of’, highlighting the attribute values they have at the start of the game at 13, two points above the league average.
Class of 2004
Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson (Winger, 168 DNA points) – Crossing, First Touch, Free Kick Taking, Technique, Flair, Teamwork, Vision, Agility, and Natural Fitness.
Amourricho van Axel Dongen (Inverted Winger, 162 DNA points) – Dribbling, Passing, Technique, Determination, Flair, Vision, Acceleration, Agility, and Pace.
Olivier Aertssen (Ball Playing Defender, 161 DNA points) – Passing, Work Rate, and Stamina.
Julian Brandes (Deep Lying Playmaker, 157 DNA points) – Passing, Technique, Vision, and Natural Fitness.
Charlie Setford (Sweeper Keeper, 152 DNA points) – Kicking, Passing, Anticipation, and Determination.
Class of 2005
Stanis Idumbo Muzambo (Winger, 166 DNA points) – Dribbling, First Touch, Passing, Technique, Bravery, Determination, Flair, Acceleration, Agility, Natural Fitness and Pace.
Gabriël Misehouy (Advanced Playmaker, 161 DNA points) – First Touch, Passing, Technique, Determination, Vision, Work Rate, and Agility.
Rico Speksnijder (Advanced Playmaker, 160 DNA points) – Passing, Technique, Determination, and Vision.
Silvano Vos (Deep Lying Playmaker, 161 DNA points) – Technique, Aggression, Natural Fitness and Balance.
Yoram Boerhout (Advanced Forward, 157 DNA points) – Determination and Acceleration.
Class of 2006
Skye Vink (Pressing Forward, 164 DNA points) – Dribbling, Heading, Technique, Composure, Decisions, Determination, Flair, Off The Ball, Agility, and Natural Fitness.
Kayden Wolff – (Winger, 158 DNA points) – First Touch, Technique, Agility and Stamina.
Avery Appiah (Central Midfielder, 153 DNA points) – Tackling, Decisions, Determination, Teamwork, Vision, Agility, and Natural Fitness.
Ethan Butera (Wide Centre-Back, 153 DNA points) – First Touch, Passing, Technique, and Anticipation.
Don-Angelo Konadu (Advanced Forward, 149 DNA points) – Finishing, First Touch, Heading, Decisions, Determination, Acceleration, Agility, and Natural Fitness.
VARIATIONS TO PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
We were kindly informed by FM Admin in their post ‘Smarter transfers, squad building and finance’ that for Football Manager 24, tweaks have been made with regards to player development.
Some players will see an accelerated improvement in their teenage years before hitting their potential ceiling earlier on. Meanwhile, a new system has been introduced to recognise ‘Late Developers’, or those players who don’t breakthrough until slightly later than would be considered typical.
Taking this into the equation, there will be a need to continuously monitor individuals’ attribute performance against the selected DNA. The above tweaks should see the above ‘class of’ selections become fluid with players moving in and out of the top five as their development progresses.
For this reason I will be running the data on a bi-seasonal basis, to ensure individuals the most closely aligned to ‘The Ajax Way’ DNA are provided the exposure they deserve.
FOR THE FUTURE
Based on the current players at my disposal and the Ajax way DNA, I have produced a future best XI, this is based upon individuals initial performance against the club philosophy.
I will aim to provide bi-seasonal updates with regards to youth development, with the view to documenting methods and techniques which I feel are having a significant value, and also areas which I feel are detrimental to individual progress.
Thanks for taking the time to read my latest instalment to the Ajax way, I promise you, next week we will have some games and analysis to cover. It’s going to be a BIG read (4k words).