"La Sucesión" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity



Ángel Bastardo ousted Juan Sebastián Verón in October 2017, during a contentious election campaign that changed the political landscape of Argentine football forever (read about it here).  For the first time, a rumoured drug trafficking Manager became bigger than the club and city he resided in.  After that infamous melee with Estudiantes' greatest ever player, Bastardo installed puppet President Mariano Del Bono to become the political face of leadership.  Del Bono effortlessly served two unchallenged 3-year campaigns (2017-2023), allowing Bastardo complete autonomy in La Plata and free reign in all facets of the club.  When Del Bono spoke, it was Bastardo’s words.  When Del Bono listened, it was with Bastardo’s blessing.  The arrangement signalled Estudiantes return to power: two Copa Libertadores titles, one Superliga and five other domestic and continental titles. 

However October 2023 arrived like an ice cold wind.  Del Bono had to leave under AFA regulations, and with Bastardo announcing his intention to leave the following season in 2025, the Estudiantes shareholders were quick to relinquish some of Bastardo’s power.  A new President came in, Lucas Fischer, whose first act was to grant more power to Director of Football, Daniel Enríquez and his team of Scouts.  Bastardo would leave, and Estudiantes would have to find a way to cope.  This is la sucesión...

Season 2023/24

Before we discuss the Estudiantes backroom politics, we first need to discuss what happened in pre-season and the formative months of season 2023/24.  In short, we broke our transfer sale record twice: Sandro Acuña (who was clearly too good for Argentine football), departed for Manchester United after only one season in La Plata.  €11m the fee.  He also continues the rich success I have with developing tidy young playmakers (after Nico Rosales and Raúl Rolón made previous moves to Europe).  Acuna's sale was also notable in that it finally allowed me to face-off against Manchester United (read my concept of FM Anti-Destiny).  His tribute friendly was played out on 12 August 2023, and for the most part Estudiantes contained the English visitors, who are still managed by José Mourinho.  An evenly contested game was ended in the last ten minutes with European class/José mastery eventually rising to the surface.  Two late goals from Jorginho 83' & Henrikh Mkhitaryan 90+2' made it Estudiantes 0-2 Man Utd.  Despite losing, I am glad I finally found closure with the whole Estudiantes-Man Utd obsession.

Sandro Acuña at Manchester United.

Renzo Taborda at Barcelona.

Our second major sale was one that cut me deep: homegrown La Plata hotshot Renzo Taborda sealed a dream move to Barcelona for €12.5m.  He'd been our top scorer with 31 goals last year (all comps) and for all of his raw ability, he had that devastating concoction of Acceleration/Pace and Finishing.  I was gutted to lose him, but to see a homegrown player in the Barcelona jersey is pretty cool.  We would move into 2023/24 with two strikers: Maxi Romero and Bolivian Newgen José Velasco and hoped it would be enough in the usual 4141 and panic station 442 systems.

It was another prudent period of business for Bastardo.  Four Newgens came in for a combined value of €3.5m, the pick of the bunch was Juan Pablo Mugnaini from San Lorenzo (more on him later).  Undoubtedly, the big news in La Plata was the return of 34 year old Pablo Piatti though.  Home at last to finish his career in the red & white of Estudiantes, a dream Free Transfer...

15 years away from La Plata, the boy wonder returns.

So for 2023/24, we'll go with the 4141.  We can't change who we are at this stage and it will be the preferred formation I finish up with on this save...

Season 7 squad numbers.

Argentine Superliga

I'll be frank, we had an awful start domestically.  Winning just once in the first six games of the season.  It has meant that we have always been chasing the leading pack, but a strong run over November and December has seen us climb the table. 

Annoyingly it took me a whole month to realise the errors of my ways during that period of appalling form.  Placing newboy Mugnaini into midfield and moving the DLP on Support role from DM to MC was a big mistake.  It resulted in him clashing with Reynoso (CM-A) far too often and the whole recycling of the ball from defence to midfield was off.  Both Mugani and Reynoso would frequently run into the same spaces, resulting in them being too close to one another to create anything meaningful.

I kept it going for around a month because (1) I am a stubborn little bitch and (2) Mugnaini had no knowledge of the DM position whatsoever.  But luckily this changed relatively quickly and moving Mugnaini deeper into DM has worked wonders.  Suddenly the whole Estudiantes engine was running smoother, despite the drop in numbers from Mugnaini (assists, key passes etc.)...the balance is better.  He's now doing the needful, being the link between defence and midfield and keeping it simple.

Lesson learned: place a player straight into the position that suits your system, regardless of his supposedly lack of knowledge there.  Sink or swim, it's not worth upsetting your whole tactic.  It only took Mugnaini about 3 months of playing there to become accomplished in the DM position:

Mugnaini July 2023.

Mugnaini December 2023.

Copa Libertadores

For the first time in 5 years we failed to reach a Copa Libertadores Semi Final, which shows how consistent we have been in South America's elite club competition (until now *cries*).  It also shows that we are perhaps not quite the team we were 2-3 years ago (when Estudiantes won back-to-back titles in 2020 & 2021).  In all honesty, neither team deserved to go through and it feels like an opportunity missed for Estudiantes after getting such a positive result away in Brazil.  Grrrr.

Copa Argentina

However a resilient team is one that responds to disappointment, which is exactly what Bastardo's Estudiantes did in the 2023 Copa Argentina.  We had an easy run towards the showpiece final against River Plate who hardly threatened us on the day.  The pivotal moment occurred when Maxi Romero played in Jesús Medina who weaved his way into the penalty area to cross deep, there was only one outcome: a Fernando Zuqui goal on 33 minutes.  Our club captain winning his 9th trophy, who has been with Bastardo through it all.  Final score: Estudiantes 1-0 River Plate.


La sucesión de Bastardo

So now let’s talk about the succession planning for when Bastardo leaves Estudiantes (in 18 month’s time).  Thematically (in my warped mind) I’ve twisted the relinquishment of Bastardo’s power to be a shareholder decision.  In actual fact, I just want to play about with the Director of Football (DoF) functionality in FM18.

Now I must apologise to people like Oliver Jensen, James and even my beloved podcasting co-host, Dan Gear, here.  I laughed off ever using this playstyle, for the apparent absurdity of giving away a vital part of the transfer and contract negotiations process.  But it does add realism, those bastards are probably right...and it’s something I want to use in FM19 more.  So what better way than to try it out for my last season and a half in FM18?

Here are my staffing responsibilities going forward:

Ángel Bastardo - The Boss

  1. All aspects of staff recruitment
  2. Finalising all incoming transfers
  3. All aspects of player sales
  4. All aspects of training
  5. Capable of hiring/firing the DoF

Daniel Enríquez - Director of Football

  1. All aspects of player and non-player staff retention (except for himself)
  2. Bidding for players and their subsequent contract offers

Victor de los Santos - Chief Scout

  1. All aspects of scouting
  2. Handles scouting meetings

Staffing responsibilities from 2024: Board, Transfers, Contracts & Scouting areas.

Anybody using the 'DoF mode' can tailor and shape how the backroom staff support them, which can actually streamline the gameplay quite nicely.  So for the remainder of my save, I still want Bastardo to oversee the sale of players in order to conclude my Dollars Trilogy next season (read Part 1 and Part 2).  I aim to make as much money as I can, whilst doing my best to remain competitive...I simply do not trust the AI to do this.  So these responsibilities remain with me.

It is not my favourite part of the game but it certainly makes sense for me to also oversee the backroom staff recruitment.  I want to leave this club with the best personnel in place to continue to push Boca & River year on year, and our growing reputation in South America may mean that I can pluck a few good coaches in my last year or two.

I've left it up to Uruguayan DoF Daniel Enríquez to go and find players.  He will go and negotiate with clubs and then, if successful, offer contracts.  He has Judging Player Ability of 15 and Potential of 17, so I am confident he will make good decisions.  But on the safe side, I am ensuring Bastardo has the final say on whether or not we sign players.  I will also set up a few lists too via Transfers/Create New Group and add players to these lists based on Position.  Oliver Jensen does something similar, so without repeating this methodology, I'll just point you in his direction here.

Another Uruguayan, Chief Scout Victor de los Santos, heads up all facets of Scouting.  He is strong in Judging Ability & Potential (17 for both) and can just be left to 'get on with it'.  Here are the two amigos:

The succession plan will hopefully be a real insight into the workings of the DoF and ensure that I will use it in a way that's right for me on Day 1 of my FM19 save.  Additionally, if anybody else is using the DoF with added responsibilities, I'd be keen to hear your testimonials.  What you like/dislike about it etc.

The Beginning Of The End

Now that succession is sorted, it really does feel like the beginning of the end now for Bastardo & Estudiantes in FM18.  We've won 9 trophies and the 10th, if I can do it, will feel extra special.  The next opportunity to reach 10 trophies is actually quite soon: the Argentine Supercopa in February 2024.  The opponents?  Boca Juniors of course.

As always stay updated on the progress of Season 7 via the snippets of info I post over on my Twitter feed or here on the blog where I recap whatever goes down in 2024.

Thanks for reading/sharing & caring.

FM Grasshopper

"Zone 13.5" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity

Medina and Reynoso.png


It is impossible to talk about Bastardo's Estudiantes without mentioning Jesús Medina & Emanuel Reynoso.  Two players who have lit up the Estadio Único turf, in what has become a trophy laden period at the club.  We therefore focus on these dreamweavers in today’s post, who hold a special place in my heart.  Think of this as a eulogy/tribute as we enter into the Autumn of this save.

But first I’ll update readers on the business end of Season 2022/23, which has been yet another roller coaster ride...

Season 2022/23

Argentine Superliga

I was desperate to retain a league title, it usually settles debates between what makes a good team and a great team.  But it shows just how great you have to be sometimes, Boca Juniors were consistent all season.  Our 2023 form was solid: 13 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss.  But it was not enough to prevent final day heartbreak, where Estudiantes drew 2-2 against Sarmiento de Junín only to see Boca Juniors win 1-0 away at Vélez Sarsfield.  The title returning to the Capital, after a one year stay in La Plata.  1 point the difference.

Copa Libertadores

For the first time in 6 years we've finished up with a maximum of 18 points (6 wins) in the Copa Libertadores Group Stages.  Bastardo has always been blessed with easy groups (the perks of those underhand payments to CONMEBOL), and as a result we've come close to achieving this feat three times before (16 points, 5W & 1D).  But to finally get that 100% record in the groups is rewarding.

The usual Argentine and Brazilian powerhouses go through into the Knockouts (including last year's winners Corinthians, who knocked Estudiantes out at the Semi Finals), so the real battle awaits.

Copa Argentina

It's lowly rated in Argentina, but we've made it to the 7th Round of the Copa Argentina.  Comfortable wins against Club Sportivo Las Heras de ConcordiaCipolletti de Río Negro mean the dream of retaining this trophy goes on.

Supercopa Argentina

We also won our 8th trophy in the February of 2023: the Argentine Supercopa.  You can re-read the Twitter thread of this glorious hammering of River Plate below.  4-1 the final score, Renzo Taborda scoring his 49th, 50th and 51st goal in a La Plata shirt.  He has come a long way since I introduced him back in Season 4 (read more here).  What a boy!

Zone 13.5


Traditionally, football pitches have been split up into three parts: the Defensive Third, the Middle Third and the Attacking Third.  Over the years in Football Manager simulations, we've had this presented to us in this way too:

Action Zones splitting the pitch into three.

But as football analytics has evolved, there has been a greater demand to split the pitch further.  This trend has filtered into the later Football Manager simulations, where there is now a plethora of statistical information displayed graphically.  Such as this on the Tactics/Analysis page:

Assist Locations splitting the Attacking Third into 4 [Estudiantes' last 50 games in 2022/23, all comps].

But for the purposes of talking about Jesús Medina & Emanuel Reynoso in today's blog post, I will be splitting the pitch up even further...into a six-by-three grid to be precise (18 zones).  A model developed by pioneering Sports Scientist, the late Professor Tom Reilly.  Reilly's model was born from the analysis of France's 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship wins.  Both victories were largely dictated by France's proficiency 'through the hole', in which Zinedine Zidane flourished as the Attacking Midfielder.

Football coaches obviously already knew of 'the hole', which is situated in Zone 14 (as shown below).  But by putting this into a statistical model, players could be analysed and evaluated.  It's perhaps the precursor of the shift into more popular False 9 type roles during the late 2000s and early 2010s, where more trickier players could drop from Zone 17 to 14 and cause problems with close control, short passing and quick movements.

Zones 1-18 (playing from left to right, of course)

Medina & Reynoso

Today is all about Zone 13.5 however: Medina & Reynoso.  I am a big believer in not looking at a role in isolation.  So much attention is placed on Player Roles and discussion about that specific player and how he will suit the role etc.  But his suitability is as much hinged on what is around him.  Think about it, what makes a Target Man function?  It's as much about what he has to work with around him (players running off him, or players supplying him with fodder etc.) than his actual suitability.  Both must be right for him to flourish.

Jesús Medina, a €975k signing from Libertad, Paraguay in December 2018.

Emanuel Reynoso, a €1.3m signing from Talleres de Córdoba, Argentina in January 2019.

It's what has been so beautiful in my Estudiantes 4141, two guys peaking together at the right time: a Central Midfielder and a Winger, both on Attack Duty.  Both complement each other really well which has led me to tailor my tactic to their strengths:

Medina & Reynoso in FM18: Player Roles, Player Instructions, Feet & Stats.

The white text in the above graphic shows their Player Instructions.  For Jesús Medina, he is simply an untouched out-of-the-box Winger on Attack but with Emanuel Reynoso I made use of his relative ambidexterity and strong Technical/Mental attributes to Dribble More and make More Risky Passes.  All perfect attributes for a player in and around Zone 14.

I also pay a lot of attention to where the strongest foot is in a player, especially my primary playmaker.  Reynoso is just magic at driving through Zones 11 to 14.  His body shape and stronger left side is naturally suited to make good use of Medina's left sided wing play.  I have tried to capture their artistry but have limited it to 4 GIFs (as there are sooo many good moments between these two guys):

Reynoso Body Shape 11 to 13.GIF

Body Shape

Zone 11 to 13

Reynoso 13.5 to 16 v2.GIF


Zone 13 to 16

Reynoso to Medina 14 to 16.GIF


Zone 14 to 16

Reynoso to Medina 14 to 17 v2.GIF


Zone 14 to 17

When both Medina & Reynoso are hot, they are often top of the list at Full Time for passing combinations, as shown against Club Deportivo Morón in my final home match of 2022/23:

Zone 13.5 and the passing combinations between CM-A and W-A.

FM really is quite simple sometimes: get an agile and tricky player, one who possess good composure/vision and get him running around, or into, Zone 14.  Then place a runner or two around him, runners who have good movement off the ball and who have an output (crossing, finishing etc.)...then watch the magic happen.

The painful goodbye?

As much as I love these two guys, their relationship with me may be finishing two seasons too soon.  Medina has an expiring contract in one years time (2024), and he refuses to be realistic in his demands during contract renewal.  Similarly Reynoso is attracting strong interest from the riches of China.  If this is truly the end for both in La Plata, I’ve been blessed for 4 and a half years with these guys.  They will always be Estudiantes of La Plata.

Onward to Season 7

So, we sit on an overall balance of €20m and the Board is willing for me to invest all of this sum.  We all know that will not happen under Bastardo's stewardship, but handing over the title to Boca Juniors has left a bitter taste in his mouth.  It's time to invest in a couple of marquee signings and integrate a few more La Plata youngsters into the First Team, all in the attempt to bring more trophies home before the save is out.  Let's do it!

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.

FM Grasshopper

"Total Recall: Surviving A Continental Final Against The Odds" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity



You would think that after managing 5 full seasons in FM18 Argentina nothing would surprise me.  Think again.  Estudiantes de La Plata were defending their Recopa* crown, a first leg 2-0 victory away in the Estadio Libertadores de América Vs Independiente put my team in a really strong position.  Surely all I would need to do now is turn up and keep it simple in front of the La Plata crowd?

FM threw a curve ball: due to International fixtures 6 of the first XI would be unavailable for the second leg in 2 weeks time.  Furthermore, a total of 13 of the 25 registered to play in the Recopa were missing in the various u20, u23 & National Team squads.  I was left with a depleted squad, barely able to field an XI and incapable of calling up youth players in my squad.

*For those unaware, the Recopa is a match between the winners of the Copa Libertadores Vs Copa Sudamericana, played out over two legs: home and away.
Today’s blog post is therefore a story of survival, tenacity and willpower: 5 things I did to fight against the odds.  Did we end up with the Recopa?  If so, how did we do it?  To find out, read on below…

(1) Total Recall

Well apart from being an awesome blog title, the total recall option was used for players out on International Duty.  In all my time with FM, I have never used this en masse.  I recalled EVERYBODY who was away from the club via the Squad Screen/International Friendly Availability.

"Call the Banners. They've all sworn to defend La Plata, have they not?"

So why the need for a blog post?  Well, only 6 players returned to me in time for the 2nd leg...notably those outside of Main National Team squads.  But still, 6 players boosted the eligible pool of players available to me by 50%.  We were now able to field an XI and have a substitutes bench for the Recopa final, but I was still left without a left winger or right back.

(2) The Makeshift XI

On the face of it, it doesn't look too bad...you could argue 4-5 of the first XI above are regular starters at Estudiantes.  However, in order to fill some positions a few tweaks/adjustments were made to the regular 4141:

(1) Diego Polenta (Full Back on Support) - was instructed to Hold Position.  

Diego Polenta is usually my 1st choice left-sided Centre Back.  However, for the Recopa 2nd leg I had to push him to Left Back in order to move reserve Left Back (Mateo Allione) forward.  Polenta is technically raw, and does not have the Physical attributes to venture back-and-forth on a regular basis.  So I wanted him to hold his position, doubly critical as I expected Independiente to play with an AMR.

The Hold Position is defaulted when on a Defensive Mentality, but passing directness is also increased and it absolutely killed Diego’s attacking instincts.  On this mentality he would be very insular and no threat going forward.  So I manually set Hold Position on a Support Duty instead, via Edit/Player Instructions.

(2) Mateo Allione (Wide Midfielder on Support).  

I switched Newgen Left Back Mateo Allione to Left Midfield because I was short of a left sided wide player.  However, the usual Winger-Attack role would have to change...Mateo is no winger. In fact, Mateo’s strengths are fairly strong Mentals in Positioning, Teamwork & Work Rate.  So I set him to be a Wide Midfielder on Support duty, which is a nice role for hard working players of a team ethic.  Due to Polenta's relative uneasiness at Left Back, I also thought it was worthwhile having someone disciplined and focused on keeping the team's shape.

Mateo Allione our makeshift Wide Midfielder.

(3) Fernando Zuqui (Winger on Attack).  

Usually Fernando Zuqui plays as my Wide Midfielder on Attack, but in order to add variety and reduce the risk of being too predictable/symmetrical in attack (as Allione is now plaing as a WM-S on the left) I switched Zuqui to the more advanced Winger role.  Zuqui has good crossing (14) and reasonable Acceleration (14), Pace (13) & Stamina (15) which shows he is suitable for the role.

Below are the Team Instructions, unchanged from the usual 4141 I use.  I figured I would have to go with my eyes and watch it play out in the FM18 match engine and adjust where needed.  In my opinion, there is no point changing something unless you see that it needs to be changed (more on this later).

My 4141 TIs.

(3) The Plan B (if required)

So despite having a makeshift XI and a general tactical plan, it's always best to have a backup plan...just in case things go sour.  In FM18, my panic reaction is to switch to a 442 formation.  I have a backup tactic loaded just for this event, and personnel to make it work (notably the combination of Target Man on Attack and the trusted Advanced Forward role).  Luckily, the players for my 442 remained in La Plata...so this was always an option, should we go behind.

I have managed over 250 games with this Estudiantes team, so I know from experience when it's likely the 442 needs to be called upon.  I know what my team struggles to play against, and it was plainly in sight as I entered the pre-match screens.  Independiente's formation: the 4231 DM Wide - there is something about x2 DMs that troubles my 4141.

Independiente's 4231 Wide formation.

Anyway, we would go with the 4141 on the basis that we were 2-0 up and Independiente needed to come out of their shell.  We'd assess on Comprehensive Highlights and go from there.  But first, there was a couple of extra tasks at hand...

(4) Target 'The Danger Man' + 'The Weakness'

Ezequiel Barco is a Football Manager 2018 wonderkid.  In my save he has remained loyal to his local club and has amassed over 180 league appearances at the age of just 23.  He is Independiente's Advanced Playmaker, as shown in the Player Screen (go to Reports/Form):

Lots of people worry about Strikers/Goalscorers and focus solely on stopping them, but I am more inclined to worry about the guy that's supplying them with chances.  Barco is that guy (aka 'The Danger Man'), and by taking him out there will be a lovely central void in the centre of the park.

So I decided to apply every Opposition Instruction on him: Tight Marking (Always), Closing Down (Always), Tackling (Hard) and Show Onto Foot (Left).  Additionally we played with a Defensive Midfielder at DM, so I expected to have a player close to him at all times, in order to prevent him from dictating Independiente's attacking play.

Opposition Instructions are not all about stopping the opposition from attacking you, moreover...I always like to target a weakness in order to help our own play.  Luckily, for me at least, Independiente's Left Back has a Composure attribute of 4...so I decided to (always) Close Down.  Composure is the ability to make good decisions with the ball and keeping a steady head, so if a player is weak in this area I would want my Winger or Advanced Forward to be near enough to capitalise on 'The Weakness'.

(5) Watch The Match (& The Widgets)

It sounds like I am being condescending to you, the Reader, when I ask you to stay calm and just watch the match.  But it's true.  Sometimes it's best to see how things play out if you are uncertain about an aspect of your game.

But if you're still worried (like I was going into this Recopa Final 2nd leg), Football Managers in FM18 have a wealth of real-time information in front of us when watching the games.  The FM realism cult may look at it unfavorably, but here are the in-game widgets I use (and why):

Widgets everywhere!

  1. The Opponent's Formation - This is probably my most used in-game widget.  I am able to see how the AI is setting up, but can also see their tactical tweaks and adjustments whilst the game plays out.  That's right, if the AI changes the mentality of a player, you will see slight changes to their position highlighting a switch up has occurred.
  2. I am not sure how long Player Watch has been in FM, but it's really useful if you want to target a player.  You can dial right in to their Condition, Sharpness, Statistics & Body Language.  You can use it for one of your own players too, but I much prefer to target 'The Dangerman' and see if I am handling his threat.
  3. Player Ratings (for my team) - I want to see at a first glance the Condition & Match Rating of my squad members.  If I notice a drop in either, I can look into greater detail via the Player Stats screen.
  4. Match Stats - Not all of these are useful for during the match, but I pay particular attention to Clear Cut Chances & Possession.  I find both a good indication of how we are playing, the more CCCs the better...but possession is a mixed bag.  I am better at around 40-50%, anymore and I am likely getting too much of the ball...suggesting that the AI is sitting deep and attempting to anti-fútbol my anti-fútbol.

There are a number of additional widgets you can use.  For example, the Actions Zones and Focus of Attacks widgets are great indicators too - both offer an at-a-glance look at how your team is fairing compared to the AI.

The Result

We won!  2-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate, the Recopa Trophy stays in La Plata.  But did the 5 steps help us on the way?  Let's take a look:

(1) Total Recall - The return of Newgen Renzo Taborda, who ditched Argentina u23s to play this game, was a pivotal factor in our win.  He made a sublime assist to make it 1-0...and then scored the goal to make it 2-0.  I would say that Operation: 'Total Recall' was a total success :-)

1-0 Reynoso on 27 minutes.

2-0 Taborda on 79 minutes.

(2) Plan B - Not needed at all, we played 4141 for the whole 90 minutes.  But as the saying goes "Plan for the worst, and hope for the best"...we were ready to go 442 if need be.

(3) Targeting 'The Danger Man' & 'The Weakness'.  Barco was pretty quiet, it's always questionable as to whether this is my influence OR him simply having a bad day.  But his Heat Map & one solitary Key Pass are enough to make me happy:

Barco Vs Estudiantes.  Average Position, Heat Map & [solitary] Key Pass.

I don't really want to name and shame 'The Weakness', but he put in a 6.4 and was subbed on 79 minutes.  Completing 34 passes, but was all round pretty dull in possession.

(5) The Widgets always help.  I played on Comprehensive highlights, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way for a final.  A trophy was on the line and we prepared well.  As a manager, I was able to see my Newgen Ignacio Fernández's condition deteriorate with 10 minutes to go.  So he was hauled off.  Thank you widgets!

A Return to La Plata

This post has been a venture from outside the usual seasonal updates that I have been running alongside my FM18 save (available to re-read at: fmgrasshopper.com/fm18).  I didn't include any of the other fixtures so far from Season 6 (mainly because we are only a few games in).  But I will be back, when a summary merits a blog post in due course.

Thank you for reading/sharing & caring.

FM Grasshopper


"For a Few Dollars More" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity


The 5th season (2021/22) in FM18 Argentina heralds the dawn of stability: a European-style 38 game season with 20 teams, running from August until May.  As a European myself, it feels familiar.  In real life, I expect the Argentina Football Association (AFA) to have drawn up further changes/tweaks to their league system by 2022.  But in FM18, the year-on-year changes are over.

It's been a season to remember too.  Last time out, we won the ultimate South American club prize...again.  But the league title had eluded me in those previous 4 seasons...until now.  Ángel Bastardo became a Argentine Superliga Winner on the 5th attempt.  Move away Boca & River, Bastardo has finally arrived!

Today's post will recap this domestic success, summarise 5 seasons of drama & review our club finances (which is something I said we'd do again back in Season 3).  This is for a few dollars more...

Season 2021/22

Argentine Superliga

An incredibly strong run towards the end of the season sealed our title, 17 games unbeaten with 14 of these being wins. There can be no complaints from the 'Big 5' of Argentina either, we only lost once all season (to San Lorenzo at home): 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss.  Estudiantes de La Plata certainly supporting calls for a revised 'Big 6' to be adopted in the media.

Estudiantes de La Plata: the most potent attack meets the most water-tight backline (shared with Independiente).

This title win was hugely satisfying, especially in the way we responded to last year's disappointing 2nd place (when a title win was in our grasp on the final day).  5 trophies in 5 years now!

Copa Libertadores 2022

'The trophy' will always be the Copa Libertadores though, and we've had a near perfect start to defending our crown over in Group A.  Due to the teams in the group, I was able to rotate our starting XI.  They haven't disappointed either, with no goals conceded in 6 games.  The only blemish was that home draw Vs Quito in La Plata.  Maxi Pereira receiving a straight red on 51 mins after a horror challenge...he never played for Bastardo again.  Not because of the tackle, but his insistence on claiming his €1k clean sheet bonus.  Traitor.

The reward for progressing as group winners is a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to face Vasco da Gama in the Second Round which kicks off in early 2022/23 pre-season.

Copa Argentina

We're still in the domestic cup too.  Knocking out San Martín de Tucumán & Argentinos Juniors in the 5th/6th Rounds.  Up next is Primera B side Club Almirante Brown, Quarter Finals is to be expected here.

For a Few Dollars More

As previously mentioned, this is a sequel to my Season 3 post (read "A Fistful of Dollars" here).  In that post I summarised the achievements/misdemeanors of 3 years graphically, so in order to remain consistent...here is a recap on 5 years in La Plata:

Seasons 1-5 in summary.

I ended the "Fistful of Dollars" post at the financial crossroads, I had built a team on a relatively tight budget and maintained a socialist wage structure.  A structure that pays sensibly, with wage parity in mind i.e. there are no players earning ridiculous amounts over their peers.  At Season 3 this was set at €50k per month (around €12.5k a week), and I was in two minds if I could (1) attract further players to take me to to the next level (a league title) and (2) retain my current best players.

I decided to keep at it, only increasing my wage cap to €55k per month in Season 4 (2020/21).  I found satisfaction that we were still able to challenge for the title that year, and held the belief that Season 5 would be 'the year'.  The rest is history, we're now a title winning team, and our top 5 earners are:

  1. Emanuel Reynoso - €55k per month.  Our mercurial No.10 talent.  My fav #FM18 player.
  2. Carlos Auzqui - €55k per month.  A La Plata boy returning home (again).
  3. Jesús Medina - €50k per month.  Argentine Superliga Player of the Year 2021/22.
  4. Raúl Rolón - €50k per month.  Our 192cm 20 year old Deep Lying Playmaker.
  5. Diego Polenta - €50k per month.  Bastardo's Uruguayan rock at the back.

Seeing as I have won domestic and continental honours within the first 5 years of this save, I see no reason why I should upset the apple cart and ditch this wage model.  I am aware that painful decisions may have to be made on some of my key performers, but sometimes we have to find new heroes, right?

Financial Highlights 2020-2022

So, our 5 year financial summary is found below.  It is worth noting from the onset that Prize Money is not one of the top 3 earners in the first 3 years of this save (and thus was not detailed in Season 3's financial statement).  But Prize Money from the two Copa Libertadores wins (2021 & 2022) and subsequent FIFA Club World Cup participations in both years has earned Estudiantes some serious income in Seasons 4 & 5.

But it is also worth mentioning that Prize Money is a risky income stream, it can never be guaranteed/taken for granted, which is further justification for continuing with the socialist wage structure that has brought success.  We must keep the ship sailing straight & steady!

Note - Wage costs have risen between 2020-22, but this also takes into account bonuses paid out as part of the trophy laden 2 years in La Plata AND contract renewals to some key 1st team players (Reynoso, Rolón & Werner).

In the next 2 transfer windows a few big sales may have to be made, providing I cannot tie down players like Alexander Barboza, Maxi LoveraFernando Zuqui to long term deals.  They all have 12 months to go now, so it will be interesting to see if they want to stick with Bastardo's Bastards or seek the money elsewhere.  So this is a potential income that could be realised sooner rather than later, and become a top 3 revenue stream...something which is yet to happen in my save.

I have no specific cash reserve target in mind when ending this save, but it would be great to exceed €30m when I finally call it a day.  It's ambitious, as I have found it incredibly hard to sell players in FM18, but there's hope that the Board behind the scenes can help me out too.  After all, they've negotiated much better sponsorship deals since we've been representing Argentina in the FIFA Club World Cup.  Here is €6m of sponsorship that has landed at the start of Season 6 (and therefore not included in the 2020-2022 financial summary previously reported above).

#spon !

I originally planned to do a financial analysis at Season 10, but in truth I am playing slower this year.  So I am now hoping to reach 8 seasons, anything else will be a bonus.  But I will conclude this mini-trilogy of posts, whenever 'the end' approaches.  Of course, do stay up-to-date in the meantime with the various tidbits of content I put out on Slack & Twitter:

GrassNGear is here

One of the reasons why my gametime has slowed a tiny bit is due to the GrassNGear podcast I record with fellow scoundrel Daniel Gear [of Bolivia fame].  I dubbed it "the best FM podcast you've probably never heard".  However, once you have heard it...it probably won't be your best FM podcast.  Nevertheless it's fun all the same!



I rarely talk about my FM18 Estudiantes save on it, but I have covered some approaches in how I am tactically playing FM this year.  I recommend Episode IV: "4141" for instance, where I talk about how Estudiantes play my interpretation of the 4141 formation.

There's no schedule/common release day, the pods simply drop when they are hot.  The latest tracks can be heard below:

As always, thanks for reading/sharing & caring (and maybe even listening).

Until next time.

FM Grasshopper