Part 1: Build or buy? The great Football Manager youth development against ready-made talent debate

Why home grown can mean a home run

Build or buy? I don’t even have the choice you might say.

If you fancy a challenge in FM13 you might decide to take on a lower league club or maybe a debt-ridden side like Malaga.

One of the many obstacles here is a lack of transfer funds to bring in players who will improve your first team squad.

Some club owners may nonsensically offer you a transfer budget that would put you in to debt or even more debt whatever the case may be but you’d be just as short-sighted to go ahead and use it!

When you can’t buy players and you know your mature pros don’t have the ability to win your club silverware or at least a promotion or two, often the only option is to look to your Under 20s/ Under 19s squad, take loans, or if your scouting is good, buy wonderkids who only have youth contracts at other clubs.

Even then you will likely have to pay compensation to his current club which can be as much as £3m maybe even more.

Little tip: Olympique Lyonnais always seem to have an abundance of top quality youngsters available to sign immediately with compensation around £1m on average.

So let’s imagine you have a transfer budget under £1m and anyone you can afford to buy is not worth the trouble.

In this case investing in your youth recruitment and youth training facilities can reap dividends.

Not only does producing youngsters give you invaluable talent you can use to bolster your first team for years to come but if you’re in a position to you can sell your best youngsters for tens of millions of pounds.

You might even want to base your whole ethos on developing and eventually selling young, talented players for a large windfall, a bit like Ajax are forced to do in Holland.

Ajax have one of the best youth systems in the world but they’re forced to sell their most talented players to richer clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy and England.

You’ll probably never win the Champions League if you keep selling your best players though.

I can’t guarantee it but I’d suggest if you have top youth recruitment and top youth facilities you’ll produce several very good youngsters every other year maybe even each year if you’re lucky.

Luck of course plays a big part in youth development too; Football Manager is all about numbers and attributes, which sometimes seem completely random so you never know what sort of player you’ll welcome through your annual youth intake.

It’s not like you can manipulate things at this level to recruit a target man with a great first touch and high flair although you can send a scout out to look for a player to play in a certain role such as a deep lying playmaker.

For example, I just sent out Luigi Alberto Scaglia (who happens to be three days older than me and plays for Brescia in real life) to search Eastern Europe for a deep lying playmaker, under the age of 21, with a scouted potential ability (SPA) of at least three and a half stars. See below.

Scout search for a DLP

Scaglia is rated 20 for both judging potential and judging ability so he seems the ideal scout to find such a specific type of player.

I’ve tried this scouting method before though and it never seems to work. Sure would be great if it did.

I digress… It’s pretty satisfying when your Director of Football brings ‘the next Lionel Messi’ to the club and he decides it’s where he wants to stay.

However, you don’t need eleven Lionel Messis to build a title-winning team so with a decent youth system despite a small or non-existent transfer budget you should be able to find a good degree of success on Football Manager 2013.

Of course when you only use the players already at the club and young players from youth intakes you will spend plenty of time waiting for youngsters to fully develop and begin to perform to their maximum potential if they ever do. So don’t expect to win anything for 10 seasons.

Immense satisfaction and the real spirit of the game is what some players say they are rewarded with if they accept this long and winding road to potential success though. What could be more joyous than winning a Champions League trophy or first league title with home grown players who’ve spent all of their professional careers at the club and probably love it as much as you do?

Keep an eye on my Twitter, @footymanagermad, for info on the second part of this youth versus ready-made talent debate.

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