Let me give you a quick update before I get in to the article. I’m managing Wrexham.
We started off in the Vanarama Conference in the 2014/15 season and took two seasons to get promoted to League 2 which we progressed from at the first time of asking.
We’re now in our second season in League 1 after finishing 12th last season which the board were delighted with. We had flirted with the play-off places though so it was personally disappointing.
As for me as a manager, I’ve been approached by other clubs lots of times but never by anyone with much money, always clubs either struggling in the league or offering next-to-nothing in transfer and wage funds.
My attributes are improving well.
Pretty good for a League 1 manager I reckon:
Though I’m fairly experienced at playing Football Manager now, I still make stupid mistakes. Ninety-nine per cent of those are due to laziness.
This pre-season (2018/19) I made the age-old gaffe of signing way too many players and, I believe, disrupting the squad.
I have a problem – I can’t resist a bargain – so when I find a young player who I think has potential, I find it really hard not to try to sign him.
Okay, I have a big problem…
In my defence, I’ve let even more players leave:
I’m usually good at balancing the books and making as much from sales as I spend on incomings and even though I spent very little (although signing on fees etc mounted up) I’d expect to be generating more through transfers. And we need it now as we have currently manageable – but growing – debts.
As I was saying, I still make idiotic mistakes on FM, and those transfers above are a perfect example.
I have signed too many players and it’s taking me too long to find out who fits in, who’s as good as they look, who’s all show and pink boots, who’s brave, who’s a moaning arse and who can take their chance when it’s screaming at them.
I’ve also made the mistake – you’ve probably done it too – of buying too many flair players, generally attackers.
You think ‘How can we win games? How can we score more goals?’
And you forget to wonder ‘How can we be solid at the back?’
Now I have an abundance off attacking midfielders and too many strikers. I sort of went with the if I sign three strikers, one is bound to be good, approach.
The thing is, I’m not a bad scout. I put in time to minimise the chances of signing a flop but you can look at a player’s attributes and career stats and personality, scout report, etc, all you want but you don’t really know how a player will fit in and perform until he arrives at your club. Big, rich clubs have the luxury of going after players who have proven themselves at the highest level. I can’t even afford players who are proven at my level, League 1, so I to put a lot of work in to scouting, over several months, even waiting a year or more sometimes just to get my hands on a player, and then there’s no guarantee the players I manage to buy cheaply will do well. I have to have almost a sixth sense for players with potential and I think maybe you develop an understanding of the sort of attributes to look out for in players for their position.
Scouting in FM (and real life for that matter) is something that really interests me, I’d love to write an article just about it.
My second major mistake is related to the first. I bought too many players so now I have to try to keep them all happy! It’s hard enough keeping a 15-man squad happy.
As I have so many players for several positions, I can’t play a certain player in each game apart from one or two areas that don’t have good cover, like goalkeeper and right back/ left back (pretty much defensive positions, the ones that don’t excite me).
And as I try to give everyone at least some game time it means I rarely field the same team in consecutive games which disrupts its rhythm.
Moreover, I gave in to temptation and signed lots of young players because they were cheap and I thought they could develop in to some of the best players Wrexham have ever had.
But because I’ve signed so many of these talented players I can’t play them enough and their development is being hindered which is very frustrating. I need to believe in a few players and give them a real chance to feel at home, and to learn.
Thus, my future plan, which I had intended to implement before this season, is to reduce the size of my senior squad to no more than 25 players. It’s currently 39-players large although a few of them are away on loan.
We’ve almost become a poor man’s Chelsea, stockpiling young payers in the hope one will develop in to a star. That will change. As I said any additions I make will get time to show what they can do. Although I won’t be signing anyone until I’ve reduced the size of the squad!
I must also try to stick to the same formation. I tend to always use the same team instructions but regularly changing the shape won’t generally help my team’s performances.
I think if I do these things we will progress well and eventually reach our goal of competing at the highest level.
We will get there…