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With little money to speak of here at Sundsvall, I could be excused for finding the transfer window somewhat of a chore. Instead, I’ve chosen to dig deep into the baseline statistics that I gathered and shared in the previous post and attempt – within my restricted parameters – to recruit players that would give us the best chance of getting that little bit better. There are no marquee signings, or even risky imports to name of here, instead, some homegrown depth and assurances. And I think I like that.

With money comes the ability to expand my scouting horizons and, like many Scandinavian clubs have excelled at, import from wider undervalued markets such as Africa or Eastern Europe. This is absolutely part of my longer term planning, either here or later on in my career but, as of now, I don’t even have a sellable asset that would offset the extra €400k that the world scouting range would give me. Add that the fact that, sans the African Cup of Nations – held in December for an odd reason and won, even more oddly, by DR Congo – there are no international or even continental competitions in full swing throughout January and February that’d be worth a scout so I’m not even getting that much live data and must rely on what I can collect from the 2025 season. Likewise, I can’t rely on anyone outside of my scouting team as, like expected, agents are willing to negotiate deals with me but, as you can see below, the players tend to be hugely unsuitable:

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Four players, of whom all would cost extra to scout. Additionally, costs for these players would far surpass what I could afford in both transfer offers and wage budgets.

Therefore, normal procedure was followed with my own scouting missions. I do have to bend the realms of the game here and tend to find players through scouting and filtering in a save I create at the end of the previous season, given the ‘reset’ of the stats. I then use that save to quality assure these by watching as much footage of players as I can. Yes, I have even watched full matches, trying to get a deeper insight into a player’s strengths, weaknesses and how their attribute balance sets them up to perform. Given this huge bias on domestic players, I also feel that this somewhat sharpens the knife in terms of knowledge I have of the other teams in my league.

After negotiating the exits of a few rotation players, I was able to splash the entirety of the €6k p/w that we had spare to bring in the five players, below:

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My favourite signing of the month must be Jetmir, who joins after the conclusion of his AIK contract to become the new key component of my build up play. Last season, his 6’2” frame allowed him to retain an above Allsvenskan-average tackle and header percentage as well as being one of the most progressive passes in the league. Combine that with the added bonus of a strong dribbles completed metric – remembering that this mini overview chart takes into account all defenders, including full backs – and I think I’ve found myself a real star in the making. Jetmir’s use off the bench last year and move to a more important role was surely part of the reason why I was able to snag him but did make my usual scouting missions quite tough – half an hour here and there were difficult to monitor but I was able to watch enough of him through re-watching footage of him to make up my mind. Both his attributesand the left-sided preference are perfect for what I need: quick, good in the air and versatile. However, I was completely sold by his traits – Runs with ball often andBrings ball out of defence – a surefire sign that he was, once upon a time, a wingback. This has really given me a nice tactical idea that I will look to explore in the early months of next season.

Johan Rapp was the next man through the door and joins on a free transfer from second tier Landskrona. Rapp was originally second on my sign a centre back list (which, the DoF did with Haliti) but I decided to make a move for him anyway as I was particularly interested in his skillset. Attribute wise, Rapp is good in the air and, at 6’4”, he’s the exact build of a player I sorely missed at the heart of my defence last year.  There are, obviously, some concerns that he’s not actually performed that well (again, taken with a pinch of salt because Landskrona were upper-mid table and did little defending) in areas such as clearances and interceptions as well as the fact he’s stepping up a level to join us. Like Haliti before him, the two traits make him an ideal adventurous defender in my build up play and I see a drop down in quality between the two of these less of an issue given the extremely similar skill set of them.

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Continuing the height theme, Joseph Ceesay – a bit-part player at Djurgardens last season, joins on loan. His attributes, work rate aside, are decent for what I am thinking for my right back role. The numbers from last season need to be taken with a huge pinch of salt given the huge lack of minutes but, at 27, Ceesay is in the peak of his career and will be looking to get it back on track a little. With an expiring contract, I may be able to make this deal permanent for nothing, should he impress. For now, he’s definitely a backup but he’s good to have around.

On the left hand side is Yayha Kalley, whose attributes are, again, possibly more suited to an attacking player but, believe it or not, the near-nine nineties that he played for Norrkoping last year were all at left back. Like Ceesay, the other part-Gambian full back has lost his way slightly but brings about a game full of pace and grit, which will hopefully come in useful to stop crosses coming into our box, even though we’ve upgraded the players that are within the box now! Again, maybe not quite the quality I wanted to bring in but, as a player who is happy to be second fiddle to Aberg this season – I don’t feel that I can complain too much.

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The fifth of my defensive signings is – for want of a better phrase – this lump of a man, Jamal Deen Haruna. At 6’5″, he completely fits the bill for a brute of a defender, even if he attributes do leave me thinking that he’s a little one dimension. A regular in the Brommapojkarna side that was relegated last year, he has converted pretty well following a move over from Norway – at Raufoss – which, in itself, came quickly after a move from Ghana. At 26, he’s in the peak of his career and I’ll be looking for him to contribute at both ends, given his excellent work in the air and, to his credit, his ability to retain possession of the ball, even if he’s far safer than that Rapp or Haliti, who he will likely partner. A third loan deal and a fifth new face in the defence is, obviously, not ideal for me but I think that this recruitment drive will be completed safe in the knowledge that I have done the utmost to alleviate our aerial issues from last year!

I’ve become the tactical hipster that I read about online. Every thought now comes about our initial build up play, whether that’s in a 2-3 or a 3-2, how and where we create pockets of space to progress the ball from, the make up of the midfield box and how many half spaces we create. I could go on with all the technical jargon and probably create something that sounds like I really know what I’m doing and have a deep tactical knowledge. However, the truth is that I’m still very much in the learning phase. The learning phase this year brings particular focus on two areas:

  • A different style of transition
  • Movement of my striker in build up play

As soon as Haliti was identified as a potential target, I had a dream. I’ve long lamented the wide defensive structure that I used last season – pulling Aberg into the DM role from the left wing back in a surprisingly aggressive IWB(s) role. That will now change. Enter the time of the Libero. My thoughts are that I can still create a 3-2 build up – my favoured style for a bit more possession retention in the back line and safety from turnovers – but create that differently. I was never too concerned about the aerial prowess of Forsberg – he won headers and defended nicely so I fancied utilising two inverted full backs and a Libero, as seen below:

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I’ve currently gone for a L(s) role but that can always change to a L(d) once I get a deeper understanding of how aggressive he is. Initially, what I’ve seen is really promising, as here, he’s stepped up and created a double pivot with Kusu, the DM(d), creating a lovely overall position. His ability to take the ball out of the defence and dribble with it, whilst incredibly more aggressive than we’ve had previously, should allow a new avenue for a central build up. It also means that, when retreating, both Forsberg and Aberg now need to shuffle wide rather than ‘back and wide’ – a possible area that we were getting caught out in with long balls and quick switches in play. Possibly not the most efficient formation against a forward pairing, giving the higher likelihood of the Libero being caught out of position but, again, something that I want to watch and build upon – maybe utilising a 3-2 from a HB(d) and two IWB(s) as I have done in previous iterations of the game.

Im less convinced on a striker role, yet, but will engage with some analysis as the early cup competitions and league play start.

I’m not loving working on a shoestring and do feel that Sundsvall may not be the final stop here in Sweden as the gulf in quality is quite significant. However, I do feel that I’ve moulded a team, initially, around a style of play that I wanted and now – really importantly for my own managerial development – reinforced it based upon knowledge that I’ve gathered and reacted to. I don’t, realistically, feel that we’re going to be up there, challenging for the title but the board do want a top half finish and I will work hard to deliver that with potentially a deeper analysis of my career path at the end of the season following what will be three full seasons here

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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