HFC Haarlem Globetrotters: Sexy Football – Foundations


It’s here, and it’s beautiful…🤩

That’s right. At midnight on Tuesday 8th November 2022, Football Manager 2023 officially dropped and though there have been the usual gripes and controversy over the features and match engine etc, FM23 is bigger and better than any version that has preceded it and with my FM23 plans firmly in place for weeks there was no time to waste – we have a club to restore from extinction and another adventure of epic proportion to kick-off the new cycle.

The FM Editor. Though we joke about edited databases on the 5 Star Potential podcast, it’s great to have the option to create and spin off multiple universes through our ability to tweak and make changes to leagues and clubs etc. Last year it was about removing the Saudi takeover to facilitate our quest to convert Newcastle to a North-East only club and playing squad – this year it’s about resurrecting HFC Haarlem from extinction since they folded in 2010, bringing in our patriarch Ruud Gullit as our new Owner and Chairman, populating all of the vital club info missing due to their dissolution including finances, reputation, facilities and *spoilers* adding relegation to the Keuken Kampioen Divisie (aka Eerste Divisie) which is Tier 2 of the Dutch football pyramid where we will restart life as a professional football club.

This is arguably the most important part of the save (we haven’t even started yet) and shout-out to @Nerdphonic for giving me an ad-hoc Editor tutorial and helping to keep me honest as we went about restoring HFC Haarlem to the football world. When doing something like this it’s essential to get the finances and reputation right so as not to make it either too easy or too difficult once the save itself is loaded up. Too high a reputation and we will be able to attract players far beyond our means as well as experience unrealistic growth and development etc; too low and we might face a long but short-lived season that would inevitably result in relegation due to lack of ability to bring in the required players and staff to kickstart life in the Eeerste Divisie.

There’s only one way to do this…(if you know you know):

The methodology is simple. First we decided to remove last season’s bottom placed team (Helmond Sport who weren’t relegated due to no relegation in this league unless certain criteria are met); then it was a case of putting together a dataset of all the existing Eerste Divisie teams to get an overview of their budgets, reputation, facilities etc (excluding the Jong teams e.g. Ajax, PSV, AZ and Utrecht whose info represents their senior squad), which in turn enabled to us to get an average of all the core data points across the league and subsequently decide on our own reputation, finances, facilities and morale etc to ensure we were in-line with the other teams in the competition. The outcome of this was as follows:

Data PointValue League Rank
Overall Balance €1,117,174 7
Transfer Budget€111,717 8
Wage Budget p/m€245,470 3
Scouting Budget€58,912 2
Reputation5000 9
Morale12 5
Training FacilitiesBelow Average 16
Youth FacilitiesBelow Average 15
Junior CoachingAverage 16
Youth RecruitmentFairly Basic 16

Given that Ruud Gullit must have a bit of cash to spare we give ourselves a small injection to the Wage and Scouting Budgets especially considering we need to invest in an entirely new squad and backroom staff (goes without saying that an extinct club has neither in-game). With everything else set around mid to bottom half of the table, we certainly will have a lot to do particularly looking at those facilities and coaching levels 🤦‍♂️. Once this was all updated in the Editor, our final action was to amend the Eerste Divisie league rules to add relegation to the league – no point being a bottom half club if you can’t get relegated right?! In real life, relegation was suspended for the 2021/2022 season and after that, a club can only get relegated if there is a team in the Tweede Divisie (3rd Tier) willing to turn professional and present a solid business plan etc – therefore I felt it best that we add it to the league and without going into the details, this can be done in the Advanced Rules section of the Editor however requires some testing to ensure it applies correctly (once again kudos to @Nerdphonic for his expertise here).

Download the Editor file here 👇 if you fancy a look or a crack at it yourself!

Right – let’s play some Football Manager shall we?!


The remainder of this post will cover two main aspects: (1) building an entire backroom staff form scratch (first tteam only for now) and (2) building a full 25-man playing squad to compete in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie this season with less than €120k transfer budget..tremendous.

Backroom Staff 🛠️

If you remember from our introductory post – our objective in terms of playing style and recruitment is of course SEXY FOOTBALL. That means that our primary focus is on building a backroom team that favours more attacking football and leans towards attacking/technical coaching in terms of attributes and philosophy. Easier said than done based on our level, but as we all know – the Netherlands has never been short of a few ex-legends when it comes to Football Manager backroom staff..

131 Caps and 31 goals for Holland – Wesley Sneijder arrives to take the role of Assistant Manager at HFC Haarlem, his first non-playing role and though he has room for improvement in the coaching department he definitely brings an air of attractive football and style to the club. He is joined by Caspar Dekker (Head of Youth Development) and coaches René Eijkelkamp (Attacking), Boudewijn Pahlplatz (Technical), Gert-Jan Westerhout (General) and Remy Tang (Fitness) who you could argue we hired solely because he is Dutch with Irish heritage.

I won’t go into too much detail about our Recruitment and Medical teams (see the aforementioned spreadsheet for more detail) however it’s worth mentioning that our Scouting department led by Chief Scout Henk Grim includes ex-Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal, former Champ Man legend Kim Kallstrom and the brilliantly named Cock Jol (brother of former Spurs and Fulham manager Martin) – can you believe they have another brother (a referee) named Dick?! 😆

Our final piece of the Sexy Football backroom puzzle is of course our Director of Football – Ruud isn’t going to run this show all alone right?

Stupid sexy Van Basten

Building a 25-man squad..from scratch…with €120k

Through a series of scouting, trials, trawling through surrounding leagues and a few tasty loan signings we managed to build ourselves a 25-man squad that I feel is capable of competing at this level – at least to avoid a relegation battle and challenge for a mid-table position. Don’t worry I’m not going to bring you through absolutely every player we scouted and signed during pre-season in Haarlem – that’s what the spreadsheet is for, and as you can tell & from what we have said so far in terms of our recruitment focus, our goal is to sign players that have particular attributes and traits which are well suited to our new style of sexy football – meaning good Passing, Technique, First Touch, Dribbling, Flair, Vision, Pace etc.

Instead we will do a spotlight on what I feel are the Top 5 Players signed during the window whom I think will be our key players as we kick-off this new save adventure and commence our quest for the sexiest football ever seen 🔥.

Che Nunnely (AM R/L) – Free Transfer 🇳🇱

Can’t believe this guy was available on a free transfer after scoring 6 goals for relegated Willem II in the Eredivise last season. The former Ajax graduate is out for 3 months but is well worth the wait – expect him to tear sh*t up in this league (15 Pace and 18 Acceleration 🔥) and he will likely be deployed as an Inside Forward or Inverted Winger on the right-hand side of our asymetric formation (more on this in my next post).

Luca Stellwagen (DL/WBL) – SC Verl (€70k + €70k installments) 🇩🇪

Our most expensive signing this window and what a signing it is. Somehow languishing in the 3rd tier of Germany, Stellwagen should be a big impact player in the Left Wing Back position with good all round attributes both defensively and in attack – his versatility means that he can play in multiple positions and I’ll be amazed if we go a whole season without him scoring a thunderb*stard on his favoured left peg.

Erik Falkenburg (AML/C) – Free Transfer 🇳🇱

At 34 Falkenburg hasn’t much to offer in terms of speed or mobility, but with us looking likely to deploy either a Treqartista or an Enganche in the AMC position, his technical ability and awareness should make him a focal point in attack, linking up play and hopefully fuelling our quick possession and passing game to slice open opposition defences – will likely be our first choice penalty taker also.

András Németh (STC) – Genk (Loan) 🇭🇺

The one position we failed to fill in the Free Transfer market was up front, so we headed over to neighbourly Belgium to bring in the 19-year-old Hungarian on loan from Genk who generally have a pretty good pedigree when it comes to youth development. Most likely he will be deployed as a lone striker but with 14 Finishing, 14 Off the Ball and 14 Technique combined with a nice drop of Flair and Vision, we expect him to be a constant threat up front and cause havoc for opposition defenders.

David Herold (DLC) – FC Bayern (Loan)

I really like this chap – although seemingly a natural Full-Back he will be deployed at Centre Half in our formation bringing much needed pace to the back-line especially considering that his centre-back partner will either be 34-year-old Thomas Heurtaux or 35-year-old Magnus Troest. Tall, strong, fit and decent in the air – with his contract up in the summer he could be one to keep a close eye on should he prove his worth at Haarlem Stadion this season.

View all 25 of our signings here (click below to see individual profiles)

HFC Haarlem Playing Squad 2022/2023

Goalkeepers: Piet Velhuuizen, Indy Groothuizen

Defenders: Cuco Martina, Pele van Anholt, Luca Stellwagen, David Herold, Thomas Heurtaux, Steven Edwards, Magnus Troest

Midfielders: Ilay Elmkies, Mehmet Sahin, Thomas van Bommel, John Goosens, Lee Hyun-Ju, Jacob Bookjans, Paco van Moorsel, Thijme Verheijen, Che Nunnely, Dico Jap Tjong, Rayan El Azrak, Mitchell Schet, Sylvain Marveaux

Forwards: András Németh, Keke Topp, Erik Falkenburg

Overall consensus? Not too bad really all things considered? Those five above in addition to the likes of John Goosens (Free Transfer), Lee Hyun-Ju (also on loan from Bayern), Keke Topp (on loan from Schalke) and of course 36-year-old ex-Newcastle flop Sylvain Marveaux (sure why not) collectively form a squad that is far more technically and attacking minded than any squad I’ve managed previously – not necessarily implying we are actually good at it, just far more offensive than defensive in comparison to my usual approach in FM but hey, isn’t that what Sexy Football is all about? Only time will tell as we gear up for our first game of the season against Da Graafschap (a) but that can wait until my next post where we will delve into building a culture of Sexy Football in Haarlem, in particular our Tactical Style, Training Approach, Player Development and of course our efforts to elevate the club facilities and reputation along the way..much more to come!

Until next time 👌


Thanks for reading, be sure to hit the follow button below to get instant updates when a new post is live, as well as following me on Twitter and Twitch where we will have as many occasional streams as possible! I have also set up a fictional Twitter account for HFC Haarlem so you can stay in touch with the main events of this save – it’s not like they can stop us right? You can also catch me every Monday on 5 Star Potential, the longest running weekly Football Manager podcast.


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