Welcome to my latest blog post, I thought it was about time that I put in to writing a post about how I develop players and have a look at how some of them are getting on. The title ‘The Young Violets’ is obviously taken from the clubs nickname The Viola (Purple) and also from the club that I have chosen to be our affiliate FK Austria Wien who have a B team in the Austrian 2nd tier called the Young Violets. I was lucky that the board gave me the opportunity to pick an affiliate and I thought FK Austria Wien would be an ideal club that we can send our players too to get game time at a good standard. In Part One I will give you a brief overview before showing you how its panning out after a few years at the club in Part Two.
FK Austria Wien (The Affiliate) have a B side playing in the 2nd tier called the Young Violets and I see them to be an ideal affiliate. I have never managed a club in Austria but always followed Shrewnaldo’s writing on the forums or on his blog following his Rapid Wien and Austria saves.
FK Austria Wien would definitely be a club that I am sure many FM players could manage on a future FM release with the aim of toppling the Red Bull dominance and the added incentive to be Vienna’s number one club with a direct rivalry with Rapid. So after the board allowed me to pick an affiliate I chose FK Austria Wien because I thought that we could send a few of our Under 20 squad over to Austria before they make the step up to the first team.
*Please Note This Is By No Means The Bible Of Player Development It Is How I Like To Do It And Had Success Doing It This Way. Welcome To The Viola Way*
It’s been no secret that on the last few FM releases that I have struggled to stay interested in a save but FM19 really pulled me back in and I really love this Viola save along with setting myself a few goals along the way. One of the goals is centred purely on the Next Generation (Newgens) of players that comes through the youth system. Now I know that many people that play FM like a wonderkid or two and I am no different but I decided that on this save I wanted to be a little bit more realistic in that instead of creating a team or squad full of wonderkids that I would try to attempt to create a generation of players who have a few weaknesses in their make up but who’s strengths could fit in to my favoured 433 Wide system of play to make up a team that could challenge for honours in the future.
I thought that it also makes a nice change posting about it instead of just save game updates so this post will give an overview of what The Viola Way is followed up by more posts on training, staff recruitment and how this current crop of players are getting on and have a look at our Under 18 squad in a future post with this post revolving more around my Under 20 squad which I call my development squad.
ACF Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.0 The Viola Way
Ok so let’s have a look at how I develop players at my current club Fiorentina :
On starting my save with the Viola I decided that I wanted more control over our youth teams and decided on the following :
- Both the Under 18 and Under 20 squads will use the 1st team tactic
- The Under 18 squad would be managed by our Under 18 manager
- The Under 20 squad would be managed by myself
- Training both the U20 team and individual would be set by myself
- Training both for the U18 team and individual would be set by myself
- Upgrade Youth training facilities
- Upgrade 1st team training facilities
- Upgrade Juniot coaching
- Upgrade youth recruitment
- Streamline all our squads 1st team, Under 20’s and Under 18’s
- Recruit staff that share my playing philosophy
- Strive to have the best scouting network
ACF Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.1 Squad Management
The question is what do I want to achieve from my player development programme?
The club needs to develop our own players to secure our future both on the pitch and financially off the pitch and be moulded in to the system that we want to use.
I know we have three squads and I will refer individual to each squad but I look at the whole club as one when it comes to player development.
I have spoke before about how I like to streamline my squads and the reason I do that is to ensure that all the players in the squads are getting game time. I really don’t see the point in keeping players at the club who are not going to make the grade I am ruthless when it comes to this.
Get rid of the dead wood ! When I took over the club we had somewhere in the region of 120 players over 3 squads so I went through each squad player by player and made a decision on who I wanted to keep and who I was going to show the door too. Over the course of the first season I halved the playing staff at the club so I was now working with around 60 players at the club.
- You should know every player at your club inside out
- Every player should be match fit other than the ones who are injured or returning from injury.
If I get to the halfway point in the season and don’t know each player at the club inside out or they are not match fit then one of two things are not right that will hinder my player development :
- I am a shit manager who doesn’t know who his players are.
- I have too many players at the club for the amount of games that we are playing.
If any of the above apply for me personally then I feel I am not going to get the best out of my development plan.
Like a lot of FM player’s I like a good old squad depth sheet and have been known to tinker with it whilst out shopping (very sad I know but if you are reading this you probably understand).
ACF Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.2 Scouting Network
I believe in striving to have the best scouting network in the World and I know that this takes time however I believe that you can improve any scouting network over time.
My goal here is to scout loads of youngsters in the shortest time possible. I have 21 scouts currently and looking to increase that with a knock on the door to the board. My focus here like I said above is to scout for youngsters and this is how I distribute my scouting team to scout for players up to the age of 18.
- Director Of Football – World
- Chief Scout – Assigned to scout players from my shortlists
- Scout 1 – World
- Scout 2 – Italy
- Scout 3 – Italy
- Scout 4 – Argentina
- Scout 5 – Brazil
- Scout 6 – South America
- Scout 7 – Columbia
- Scout 8 – Portugal
- Scout 9 – Holland
- Scout 10 – Serbia
- Scout 11 – England
- Scout 12 – Spain
- Scout 13 – African Regions
- Scout 14 – Eastern Europe
- Scout 15 – Opposition
- Scout 16 – Asia
- Scout 17 – Youth Intake Italy
- Scout 18 – Youth Intake Italy
- Scout 19 – Youth Intake Brazil
- Scout 20 – Youth Intake Argentina
- Scout 21 – Youth Intake Belgium
You will see that five of my scouts are set to scout the youth intake and what this translates to is each youth intake I will assign a scout to scout the players from each top division club for a year and then assign them to the new intake the following year. During the year I will make a shortlist from the players scouted and get my Chief Scout to have a further look at them.
ACF.Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.3 Youth Intake
We all look forward to Youth Intake day with anticipation of that potential 5 star wonderkid only to be disappointed at times when you think you have had a fairly average youth intake but fear not just because the star system doesn’t show full gold stars it does not mean that your intake is not a good one.
At Fiorentina I have developed a liking for analysing the attributes of the intake and retraining player positions for example in my 1st intake I had a two and half star central defender who looked nothing special until I looked at his attributes and decided that he would make a decent wing back in our system so I decided to retrain him to play the wing back role.
Three years later he is out on loan at Chievo and looking every bit like a future Viola wing back.
“I am not looking for a wonderkid in every position, at Fiorentina I am looking for players who’s best attributes fit in to the Viola system”
I also spend time looking at other clubs intake for players who I think could potentially fit in to our model and get the scouting team to have a look at them and follow their development.
“One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”
I do not offer contracts to all the players who the Head Of Youth Development / Assistant Manager recommends. What I do is have a look at the players myself and go with my gut feeling after having a look at the individual player attributes.
ACF.Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.4 Mentoring
This is an area of the game that I like and think that it is more realistic than the old way on previous editions of the game. It’s simple and easy to set up and if you take the time to set it up you will see the results of young players becoming more professional in their individual development.
Developing a young players personality and attitude sets the player on his way to becoming a player who can perform under the pressures of the modern game.
Cleon released a post on mentoring recently and it’s the perfect guide to understanding how Mentoring works :
“Check Out Cleon’s guide to mentoring ” https://teaandbusquets.com/blog/mentoring-on-football-manager-2019
I like to have small mentoring groups and with a streamlined squad system you can achieve this easily getting a good number of players in to mentoring groups.
ACF.Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.5 Team Training
The new training feature on FM19 makes things really easy in the training department. It’s very easy now to set up your weekly schedules for each Squad. I have built my own schedules which I will be writing about in a future player development post. The schedules are based on the system of play that we are using at the club. I don’t really think you can go far wrong with team training and I know a lot of people leave it to their assistant manager but I like to think that by setting up my own schedule I am giving my squad some valuable training time in line with the system of play and you can have some fun experimenting putting schedules together. I will cover team training more in a future post of this player development.
ACF.Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.6 Individual Training
Now what I want to do here is mould each player to play their part in our system.
I focus on the players strengths than worry too much about their weakness. I do a bit of a Brian Clough here and look at the bigger picture with focusing on a players strength and what he can offer to the system rather than focusing on the players weaknesses too much. This is not to say that I won’t look to improve a players weakness but my priority is most definitely to get the very best out of my players strengths and what they can bring to my system.
I don’t take a great deal of notice to the star system in that I do not dismiss someone with a a low star rating before seeing what the player could offer to our system.
Individual training for each player is set to the role I wish them to play in during their time with us so it’s not rocket science and I am not adverse to retraining a player to play a different role with Maximiliano Romero a Centre Forward who I decided to play in the Inside Forward role so young Maxi had his individual role training set to Inside Forward and was given game time in that role.
In our title winning season Romero scored 23 goals playing in his new role topping the Serie A goalscoring charts with 20. A key contribution in us landing the title.
ACF.Fiorentina 🇮🇹 Player Development 1.7 The Journey
So looking at the typical journey of a player through my development system below you can see the pathway a player takes:
So after our youth intake day my head of youth development runs the rule over our trialists during a trial match against our current under 18 squad. The head of youth development then suggests a list of players who he thinks we should give a contract too. At this point I take a look at each of the players and make the final decision on who we give a contract and who we release.
With just a couple of months until the end of the season the new intake of players are integrated in to the Under 18 squad were our Under 18 manager takes control of both team training and individual training.
During the first few months at the club I analyse each player in the Under 18 squad closely to see what development pathway I want them to take. Most players will stay within the Under 18 squad however if I spot a potential talent I will move them in to our development squad which is our Under 20’s depending on his age because I like any player under the age of 17 to stay with my under 18’s manager to develop the basics of the game. Most players will stay with the Under 18 squad until they are 18 however if we have somebody who is looking like a future star I promote them in to the development squad.
The Development squad (Under 20’s) is where I look to mould the individual to the type of player that I wish them to become. I take control of both the team and individual training. This is my chance to develop the player further introducing player traits and tailoring the individuals schedule.
The Development squad plays in the Under 20’s League which I like very much and follow closely.
I will use our affiliate FK Austria Wien when I feel that a player is ready to get some first team game time. I also like to give a player a run out from the bench in a 1st team game just to see how the player reacts with some competitive game time.
The Next Generation
Here below are the current players that are in my development squad with the exception of Fabio Gentile and Prince Bakouboula who have both moved in to the 1st team squad. We have a good mix of attributes and personalities good and bad to work with.
Daniele Di Benedetto
Jan van Wijk
Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog post, feel free to get in touch with me either via the comments section below or on twitter @totalfootball71. I have a few follow up posts in the pipeline along with my usual save game updates so if you like what you see check back in the future so until next time Arriverderci.
The next FM release will see me swop Italy for Argentina to take on the struggling iconic club that is Argentinos Juniors………