Wow. Life, eh? It’s felt like I’ve barely picked up FM for a week or so now but, in realistic terms, I’ve actually just picked it up, half-focused on a game and then had to turn it off again. Fortunately, even at 50% energy, we’re doing pretty well in the league and are well on course to record two league titles in two years.

 

That being said, in between those league games came an – expected – Europa League loss to Chelsea and a pretty shambolic performance, yet again, in the cup final to the hands of Hammarby, who are now back-to-back victors, against us. My policy of small rotations across games is working as we are fresh, not injured and morale is high as we are fighting for places. Seeing players like Okkels, who now has Zsigmond for company on the wings, score a hattrick against Varbergs as well as cameos from RappKallander and, more recently, a hattrick from Boukama-Kaya, is great and vindicates the ‘squad’ theory, where I’m using sixteen to seventeen key players who can cover a variety of positions, with the allowances for youngsters to step up where either needed or just wanted.

We are still unbeaten in the league since my arrival – a truly fantastic feat.

But, given the previous discussion with links to Germany, I do feel that my time here at Elfsborg is coming towards its natural end. I won’t jump unless the appropriate thing comes up and, wisely, will not move on when my time is as limited as it is right now – given the huge undertaking of learning the ropes at a new club!

In transfer business, a Swedish record bid was tabled for Brusberg This, for me, is a fantastic bit of a business. I was getting concerned that, given his great record and international recognition, he’d be getting cold feet – so I used his agent to drum up some interest. Bids, initially, we around €2m – a measly amount for a player of his calibre and a tiny profit on the €1.7m investment on him. Using ultimatums and more and more offering out through negotiating to an acceptable deal then rejecting once a club usurped that meant I was soon looking at a deal of over €10m for a man, who, initially, was concerned at a high asking price at a mere third of that value. I continued, and, eventually, ended with €16m from Werder, where, honestly, I doubt he’ll have a huge contribution. For me,that element is a shame but, at the end of the day, football is a business and a cut throat one at that!

The other sale was much easier! Mulugetadespite being a recent signing, had become an absolute nightmare and I was pleased to see him move to Germany. Upon return from a couple of small injuries, he was a little behind in terms of match fitness and form but, for some reason, completely threw his toys out of the pram. Several of those telling interviews followed and his agent played a blinder in stirring up interest from other clubs. After rejecting one offer, trying to remedy the situation, I gave up and fought fire with fire – banishing him from the first team and securing a €2m move to Darmstadt.

Whilst not direct replacement, I was able to bring in both Sangaré and Ben-Sha’anan – as evidence of huge growth made in my scouting networks. The young Israeli, now eighteen, moves to pretty much like-for-like replace Mulugeta but, actually, is quite the upgrade on his playmaking and physical ability. I’ve toyed with using him as a Trequartista, given his good finishing but just felt he lacked a little in his overall ball carrying ability – yet, at such a young age – has the opportunity to grow. The Ivorian, a real coup for us, is the longer term solution to my Libero position, I believe. Whilst I must admit to an element of caution around a defender who lists Heading as a weakness, I think he’s tall enough, strong enough and can position himself well enough to get by – maybe at the expense of a little attacking threat from corners.

These signings, as I said, mark a nice point in the continued development at looking at undervalued markets. Now I’m not, in any way, about to suggest that the Ivory Coast and, particularly, ASEC Mimosas, are unknown in the FM world, but the value here of the players I’ve brought in – which excludes Noor Ouma and Mbacke works out at around 3.3% of the income gained from the Brusberg sale. Again, I’m not going to say that these are all as good, nor will all be as good as he is, but – at this level – the conveyor belt of talent is a must.

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Then, when that can be corroborated with FFP-free players, such as those from the academy, like JBK – below – the potential for profit margins and (of course), sentimental breakthroughs, are even higher. Junior returns from a second loan spell, this time at Osnabruck in the 2.Liga, where he has scored at nearly one in every three and led the line expertly in a team that, despite just earning promotion to the league, were one playoff game away from consecutive promotions. Again, I’ve toyed with my ideas for the role that he’ll play but, given that there is a huge gap in my striker role, I think that’s the one he’ll fill! A hattrick in his return to the team against GAIS has already pretty much convinced me that this is what he’ll do!

 

With fifteen games until the end of the season, I hope to be able to dig deeper into the tactical elements that are allowing us to continue our domination and, hopefully, sow some seeds for the next chapter of my career!

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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