Does faith in players pay off in Football Manager 2015? Wrexham Project part 3:

I’m really enjoying my Wrexham career so here’s an early update.

The squad is very thin so I’ve been training everyone for alternative positions.

As I write we have just thrashed Grimsby 4-0 with all the goals coming inside 28 minutes (Grimsby were third before the game, one place above us). After the Grimsby game we went on to draw one and lose one in the league while we won in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round (earning us £12,500).

And this thus far pleasing season has come without signing a single player on loan or permanent transfer although we do have two loanees who were brought in by these previous manager.

results

We had a worrying run of four losses in six then we won three and drew two in five games. Considering my main aim at the start of the season was to avoid relegation I’m pleased with how things are going.

squad strengthOut of our first team squad of 24 only seven are 25 or older with 16 aged 22 or under.

We only have two natural centre backs. One, Blaine Hudson, whose new deal was criticized by the fans, has been our joint third best player (7.26), while his centre back partner, Manny Smith is not far behind with 7.21. They have two goals each which highlights how goals have been shared about the pitch.

I promised in part 1 of this Wrexham Project I’d give all my players time and even keep players I know aren’t very good. I’ve stuck by this promise and I’ve been rewarded handsomely.

For example Blaine Hudson looked quite a poor defender to me but he’s performed very well.

hudson

hudson stats

Hudson Stats

Moreover, I promised I wouldn’t transfer list anyone. I’ve kept my word. Nor have I have signed anyone new.

I’ve given some players new contracts while others I’m giving the opportunity to prove they’re good enough.

And though I won’t transfer list anyone I might find it hard to keep hold of Louis Moult who’s regularly showed his class and has scored nine in 14.

I don’t know about you but I think his attributes look excellent for the Vanarama Conference. Every team needs a goalscorer and I think Moult could be the player to help get us promoted if I can keep him motivated.

moult

This is a good example of manager attributes evolving. In just four months my attack, defence and technique coaching have improved. As have my player knowledge and man management. It definitely brings another element to the game.

profile2

After

profile

Before

 

I only used to take notice of how my players were progressing.

My media handling and managing finances have also improved. I’ve not spent any money buying players and I’ve kept wage expenditure below budget.

After criticizing the board’s ambition I managed to persuade them to sanction improvements to our youth facilities.

youth facsThis could be key to the longevity of this Wrexham Project.

Better youth facilities will help our young players develop and push for a place in the first team which might not be too hard considering the lack of options I have to pick from.

I might have to blood our next set of youth signings as soon as they come in with the annual intake.

york ypotmWes York is named Young Player of the Month. For me, this is further vindication of my management and shows it really is possible to do well if you have faith in young players on FM and if you field the same team weak-in weak-out.

Not only that but it shows you can get away with a threadbare squad and you don’t have to ‘improve’ your squad as soon as you start a career. In fact, signing players might be the reason you might struggle at first on FM and be forced to quit early.

It wasn’t just Wes who had a good month, I was second in the October Manager of the Month award which I am pleased with.

Patience

For me, no-one’s a natural football manager. Everyone can be good at Football Manager 2015.

The only ‘secret ingredient’ you need is patience.

If you can stay in your job long enough, I believe you’ll eventually improve in all areas. It’s easy to lose your temper with FM. Many of us get to a mindset where we feel we are entitled to win games just because our opponent has lesser players or because we’ve spent a shed load on new signings or because we did so well the previous season.

FM punished complacency as much as it rewards patience and attention to detail.

In my Wrexham Project I’m taking my time over decisions I’d usually brush over. Press conferences are still frustrating me though. It really annoys me how they aim to trip you up and upset your players, fans, or board – remember to take care when answering questions from the press!

We’ve found ourselves high up the Vanarama Conference table and this has heightened my expectations but I have to remind myself that winning the league isn’t realistic and would represent a minor miracle.

If we go on a bad run now I must remain patient with my players because I really think they’re doing the best they can.

The future

I feel my players are doing as well as they can which leaves me questioning how we’re going to make much progress in terms of moving up the leagues.

Improving our youth facilities will help us produce our own players but we need to generate the funds to continue to invest in producing players.

Our youth recruitment and junior coaching needs to be boosted.

Our junior coaching is only adequate while youth recruitment is average. Saying that, we are the biggest club in our area with only Chester, our main rivals, in touching distance.

wrexham map

So do we have to perform on the pitch to produce funds to make progress sustainable? Maybe, but, we don’t have to get promoted every season. I’m hoping for a good run in the FA Cup in 2014/15. We’ve won our first game in the competition which earned us £12,500, a princely sum for a cash-strapped club like ours and every additional win earns the club more money.

Selling players is another way we could earn revenue and I think plenty of clubs will be sniffing around once we get our own ‘La Masia’ churning out talent (that’s a few years off yet of course).

I hope we can continue to perform well on and off the pitch. We might have been lucky rather than skilled so far. We all know how quickly things can turn sour on FM.

Improving squad depth

With the restrictions I’ve enforced on myself I can’t buy my way to a better squad. I’ve been tempted to alter my project and allow myself to sign someone whenever we lose a player, and I think that would be okay, but it isn’t part of the initial philosophy so that’s a non-starter for now.

If I’m unlucky with injuries or our youth intakes are poor we could fall on hard times. But I’m doing my best to hang on to our established lads, some of who I really like and think will develop quite far.

We have a core of young players who will hopefully become house hold names around the North Wales area.

It would’ve been nice to link up with Swansea and Cardiff for loan players but that’s against the philosophy as loan players might tread on the toes of current Wrexham players.

Squad harmony

One of my main aims was to create a football utopia, a great atmosphere at the club. Well, squad harmony couldn’t be better.

I’ve achieved this by allowing my players room for error and giving them encouraging feedback.

Moreover, I think when players are reassured they will be in the team most weeks, their morale benefits. Complacency is a worry though.

I expect my players will always be happy because I won’t carry any dead wood, everyone who is ready will be involved in the first team.

I can’t foresee anything that would harm our mood too much although the beauty of FM is you never know what’s around the corner!

I’ll be back probably at the end of the season to let you know how we got on. It will also be the point players might leave and I might have had a youth intake.

Until then follow me on Twitter @fmscrapbook!

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