6.1. Better Call Sol
Contents: Save Review; Signing a Defender in Football Manager; Champions League ambitions; Bargain Basement and a glimmer of hope in achieving a save goal 🙏
🎵 Suggested Tune: Better Call Saul – TV Theme Tune
Five FM years ago we kicked off a new adventure on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Our mission: to restore CD Tenerife back to the top tier of Spanish football, surpass their highest ever league finish (5th) and dethrone Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid as the top clubs in Spain.
Although we haven’t won the league yet, we have finished ahead of all three of the clubs above at different times in the past few seasons (2nd, 2nd & 3rd) however if we look at our original save objectives that were laid out back in February, we still have a bit to go before we can sign off on this save in advance of FM20 being released:
Objectives cHECK iN
- Obtain Promotion to La Liga within first 2 seasons ✅
- Build a concentrated and extensive team of staff with a particular focus on Youth Coaching and Recruitment ✅
- Sign as many Spanish speaking staff members as possible ✅
- Develop a strong affiliate network domestically and internationally, both for inbound loan benefits as well as youth development ❌
- Minimum of 50% of all incoming transfers will be paid up front ✅
- Develop at least one youth prospect or uncapped player to obtain an International Cap for Spain within first 3 seasons ❌
- Find our “Roy de los Rovers” – an absolute shithouse of a centre-forward the like of which Los Chicharreros have never seen before ✅
- Get the Ireland job and manage both club & country, ensuring qualification for all major tournaments ❌
- Sign and develop a young Irish player for the first team and also get him capped by the Republic of Ireland ❌
I think it’s safe to say we have found our Roy De Los Rovers on two occasions now, firstly in Brenner who scored 40 goals for us in one season before having his release clause met by PSG, and subsequently in his replacement Fabio Silva who finished as our top scorer last season despite missing 4-5 months due to injury.
Developing an affiliate network has proven next to impossible, our esteemed Chairman Senior Miguel Concepcion has persistently refused to invest in this for 5 years now, but we will persist and continue asking until either he folds or FM20 comes out. We’ve not even had a player capped for Spain as yet, with development of our Youth Recruitment and Facilities still a slow burner as we continue to have limited finances regardless of the fact that we have had 3 consecutive Champions League qualifications – La Liga prize money is beans compared to Premier League cash moneys!! Our Ireland objectives have also proven difficult, despite our best efforts none of our Irish prospects have developed and while we managed to have a few come through in Youth Intakes (including a false alarm where I thought I finally had a son in Football Manager!), none of them have had any real star quality and we will continue searching until we unearth an Irish gem among the newgen population. Mick McCarthy refuses to budge as Ireland Manager after 6 years at the helm, however the upcoming European Championship qualifiers might rattle a few cages at the FAI HQ in Dublin so it’s eyes emoji in this space 👀.
Signing a Defender in Football Manager
If you’re like me then you will always remember that one player that shares the same birthday as you. For me it was/is the one and only Sol Campbell, who before he was enjoying a disastrous managerial and political career (he once ran to be Mayor of London), was widely regarded as one of the finest Centre Halves in the world so much so that he was selected in the World Cup 2002 All Star Dream Team ahead of the likes of Alessandro Nesta (Italy), Lucio (Brazil) and Thomas Linke (Germany).
Campbell was one of my favourite Defenders, and embodied what I feel are the fundamental attributes and characteristics of a top Central Defender even now in the modern game. Not only was he strong as an ox and powerful in the tackle, he had both pace and aerial ability which made him a formidable rock in defence and one of the key factors in Arsenal‘s unbeaten “Invincibles” season in 2003/2004.
At this point in our save, we have primarily focused on our attacking threat and usually have spent the vast majority of our transfer budget on attacking players such as Jaden Sancho, Mickael Cuisance and Fabio Silva – however we have neglected to spend any real cash on defenders and as such have grown quite thin at the back – our current Centre Back pairing of Yann-Aurel Bisseck and Ruben Semedo cost a combined fee of just €4.7 million which in hindsight has been a bargain considering they have been our first choice Central Defenders for 4 seasons straight helping us to two second place finishes and our recent third place finish last season. Based on this it’s time to bolster the squad and bring in a reinforcement to compete with these two, and to do so we will use a young Sol Campbell from all the way back in Championship Manager 97/98 as our benchmark in signing a Central Defender in Football Manager 2019, taking his strongest attributes as the basis for our player search criteria.
With our transfer budget set quite stringent at just €14 million (largely because we are still paying annual transfer fees for Fabio Silva and Mickael Cuisance), our options are slightly limited however our goal is to scout and identify a young Central Defender with the potential to develop towards First Team football and hopefully progress to similar heights experiences by the big man himself. To do this, our search criteria are as follows:
Maximum Player Value: €15 million
Maximum Player Age: 25 years old
Sol’s Key Attributes: Heading, Marking, Positioning, Strength, Stamina, Tackling, Pace, Determination, Bravery.
As you can imagine this search brought about varied results. Filtering for 9 attributes is always challenging however in setting the minimum at 12 I am hopeful that we can identify an all-round quality Centre Half with bags of potential to grow and develop if given the chance. One click later (god bless you FM search engine combined with MSI processing speed), we are immediately able to single out five potential candidates that meet our criteria and are both affordable and interested in signing for the club:
1. Malang Sarr
Previously linked with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham in real life (LOL), OGC Nice managed to hold on to the young French prodigy in real life however it remains to be seen how long they can continue to do so. Sarr is quality in FM and if we can manage to convince Nice to let him go, he could fit in well alongside Bisseck or Semedo at the heart of the Tenerife Defence.
- Pros: Tackling, Pace, Determination, Work Rate, Stamina, Resolute Personality
- Cons: Asking Price, Positioning, Age (not really a youth prospect)
2. Tahj Cruz
An American Newgen is always welcome – especially one with unbelievable Pace, Strength, Determination, Positioning and Marking not to mention the guy has “Mercenary” as his Personality description – has this guy killed people? I usually try to avoid signing too many Newgens in order to preserve the realism of Football Manager, however it’s quite tempting to consider making a move to this guy if even for his rapper name alone.
- Pros: Pace, Determination, Strength, Positioning, Marking
- Cons: Wage Demands, Bravery, Technical Ability, American (Joke! :P)
3. Perr Schuurs
I’ve heard a lot about this guy both in real life and in FM where I have a spotted a few creators snapping him up as a solid reliable defensive option (@blackcaesar_a5 comes to mind). On paper the guy looks awesome – cracking all-round attributes and at 22 I feel he would be ready to walk straight in to the first team – how is he only worth €3.4 million?! Would I be mad not to?
- Pros: Tackling, Strength, Determination, Agility, Balance, Height, Asking Price
- Cons: Marking, Heading, Personality, One-Footed
4. Kik Pierie
Interestingly Schuurs defensive partner at Ajax also pops up in our search and equally makes his case to be signed by Los Chicharerros! At 22 he is the same age as Schuurs and also offers flexibility in that he can play at both CB and LB – I wonder could I sign the two of them?! 🤔
- Pros: Strength, Stamina, Agility, Tackling, Marking
- Cons: I dunno, there’s just something unremarkable about him..
5. Kevin Danso
Before his recent move to Southampton in August 2019, Danso had popped up in media conversation frequently due to the increased media attention on players that have relocated from English football to the Bundesliga (e.g. Jadon Sancho, Ademola Lookman, Reiss Nelson etc). Despite the fact that he is Austrian, Danso started his career at MK Dons around the same time that Dele Alli was kicking off his career there and for some reason I am often drawn towards these types of players who have Premier League or International connections and he might be worth a shout based on his price and Sol Campbell-esque attributes and physical characteristics.
- Pros: Strength, Bravery, Determination, Heading, Jumping, Balance
- Cons: Positioning, Asking Price, Age (again not a youth prospect)
As was the case when we were trying to decide on which Striker to sign a while back, we are faced with another difficult transfer dilemma – who would you choose?
Schuurely you can’t be serious?!! 😄
I was extremely close to going for Tahj Cruz however when presented with the choice of newgen or real life player, the realist in me pushed me towards Dutch giant Perr Schuurs who signs a 5 year contract after Tenerife and Ajax agree an €11.25 million deal for his signature. Between Schuurs and Bisseck I reckon we will not only build a wall in defence but also offer a significant threat on set pieces as both are 6’3 and 6’4 respectively. They say this guy is also the man to replace Matthijs De Ligt at Ajax and if he even has half the potential then I think we’ve done a very good bit of business here…he might not look like Sol Campbell but here’s hoping he can defend like him 🔥.
“Oi Sol – do you approve?”
If €11.25 million is considered to be a bargain for a Centre Back of Schuurs’ quality – hold on to your hats because here comes arguably the biggest coup of the save so far:
If your name is @FridayNightFM then you might be frothing at the mouth over this one – I know Joe is a huge fan of Dani Olmo as mentioned before on the 5 Star Potential podcast, and I’m sure the prospect of picking him up on a free transfer are both equally surprising and mouth-watering! A former Barcelona academy player, Olmo spent 4 seasons in his native Croatia before signing for Real Madrid in 2019 for €7.25m and following two reasonably successful loan spells at Real Betis, Real Madrid bizarrely decided to release him from his contract much to the benefit of Los Chicharreros aka CD Tenerife – the lad’s value shoots up to €65 million the day after joining!
Champions League – Unfinished Business
I say unfinished business – the reality is we’ve failed to qualify from our Champions League group for the past two consecutive seasons, therefore our primary European goal this season is to get out of our group and try to go on a European run before the FM20 bells start ringing…before we can do that however, we have to find out who will stand between us and European glory this time around:
That’s all for now folks! Season 6 has officially kicked off and my next post will cover our league opener as well as our European progress all the way up to Chrismas, where we will also find out how our new signings fare out. Will we finally be able to kick on and mount a title challenge both domestically and on the European front? Please feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter here or alternatively via the comments below – don’t forget to hit that Follow button if you haven’t already! Cheers and until next time – MaddFM aka Paul.