AZ & Ed – Part 1 – Setting the Scene

I started thinking about my FM20 save far earlier than in previous versions of FM. I loved FM19 and it came to an amicable end back in August where I felt the time was right to move on. Almost like getting divorced knowing that Wife 2.0 was just around the corner. Albeit less of a worldly upheaval.

In FM18 I had a fantastic save with PSV; one of my most enjoyable saves across all editions and I knew I was going to head back to Holland again soon. That just left me with which choice of club. I considered PSV again for da memories but alas, I feared tarnishing history too much and a few months ago decided on a new challenge; it was an AZ choice in the end.

The AFAS Stadion

One thing I wanted to do differently this year was base my club decision on something more than a whim, I’d seen a few AZ games in the 18/19 season and they were fun to watch.

That continued into this season where a few of their young players were making inroads into the British media, most notably through Calvin Stengs & Myron Boadu. I decided to do some research and watched some highlights of their matches and some cracking analyst pieces written by my good friend @FMAnalysis and this brought me a buzz like I hadn’t felt since I slept next to @FM_Grasshopper.

Moving further out of my usual FM comfort zone (finger blasting continue once I had a tactic that worked ok) I’ve decided to try and marry AZ’s real life philosophies into Football Manager through the introduction of Club Philosophies and Football Philosophies that I’ll aim to stay true to throughout my tenure at the club. Mr Grasshopper (as mentioned above) has similar targets he sets himself whilst managing and he’s inspired me to do the same. I’m sincerely hoping this’ll lead to more than one blog this FM cycle (this being blog number 1).

Club Philosophy

Below I’ll list the philosophies I’ll be hoping to follow during this save, they closely mirror how AZ operate today and will provide me with some boundaries I’m not used to when playing FM.

  1. Squad Profile – focus on youth products however the core of the squad will be made up primarily of players under the age of 28 with only 1 or 2 elder statesmen providing further experience
  2. Make full advantage of scouting / analytics
  3. Employ the best staff in key roles (i.e. DoF, HOYD, Chief Scout, Head Analyst)
  4. Maintain a high standard of facilities
  5. When recruiting youth players into the academy they MUST have a good personality to go with their talent

Points 2, 3 & 4 above seem quite obvious and will tie in naturally with how I play the game, I’m always looking to have the best staff (often only keeping staff for one contract as well) and I’ll always be asking the board to improve facilities at every opportunity. As for making the most of scouting/analytics I’ll be ensuring that I have as wide a mixture of knowledge across my scouts, and they will always be on assignment (don’t get lazy!) Considering each scout report and making sure to gather analyst reports to build knowledge on players before purchasing.

Point 1 is interesting and will set some limits to my transfer business, I’ve always been one to just bring in wonderkids and spent the vast amount of any budget I have doing so, however I’ll have to make sure the squad profile is in line with the above and bring in more experience where it’s needed and ensure a core of the squad in made up of players in the mid to late 20s and not just teenagers.

Courtesy of optapro: Here’s AZ’s squad age profile from 18/19 season. I’ll be looking to stay as true to this matrix as I can

And point 5, in the past I’ve always considered a good personality a bonus to a good player but never set much credence by it – if I player had the talent I’d sign them no matter what regardless. All change this time around as I’ll be ensuring that the players I’m bringing in are of the right mind set to go with their talent. I’ll be looking to build a determined side with personalities to match. Roughly speaking these personality traits will be:

  • Leader
  • Determined
  • Professional
  • Model Professional
  • Ambitious
  • Motivated
  • Loyal
  • Resolute

There are few more that come into the ‘positive’ category yet the above will be what I’ll look out for. Negative personalities will not be signed and neutral ones will have to be incredibly talented to warrant purchase. Can’t upset that apple cart. More on personalities can be found here.

Football Philosophies

These will be summarised into how I want the team to perform both in possession and out of possession and how that can be reflected within the game.

More instructions than I’m used to…

In Possession

  • Predominantly play a 4-3-3 (the front 3 can vary)
  • Dominate the ball (aim for 60% possession)
  • Structured attacking
  • Patient
  • High creative freedom
  • Overlapping full backs
  • Compact central 3 midfielders

Out of Possession

  • High press / quick turnovers
  • Restrict space
  • Force long balls
  • Defend narrow

How the above will translate into the game will require some trial and error, however this mentality will be my starting point:

Aims

And finally! We have some targets that we will look to meet. I think the addition of 5 year planning with both short and long term targets and ambitions is a good introduction to FM this year and will give everyone a goal to aim for. Alongside these I’ve set my own personal aims that I hope to achieve that tie in with what AZ also hope to achieve in real life:

  • Compete to the latter stages of the Europa League (Seasons 1 & 2)
  • Have 50% of the AZ squad come through the academy (by Season 5)

I think the first point is very achievable but god knows when it comes to me and FM sometimes. The second one is a fascinating one I read here and one that’ll be difficult to achieve. I’ve given myself till season 5 to achieve this yet I’ll be happy to at least being along that road come that time. I’ll have to focus on my youth squads, loans, youth intakes & purchasing players young to ensure this can be a reality…and then try and hold on to the better ones to fill out that 50% figure. The aim would typically take a squad of 25 and look to have 13 of those from the academy.

I’m really excited to set some parameters to my FM exploits in FM20. They’ll no doubt restrict how I usually play the game but I hope that provides some interesting narrative (and thus, more blogs) whilst also offering me a new way to play the game.

Big hats off to @FMAnalysis for the information and reading content he provided.

This save will fully get underway on official release (not beta) by which point I hope to have a few more written pieces around style of play and the starting squad.

I hope you all join me for the journey.

One thought on “AZ & Ed – Part 1 – Setting the Scene

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