Previously in Return to La Plata: Ángel Bastardo woke up.
The love affair with Santiago Ascacíbar is over. Ángel Bastardo's little midfield gem has made the move to Europe for FM18, VfB Stuttgart the team, €7m the fee. But Santi leaving has not stopped me yearning for another crack at managing Estudiantes de La Plata in Football Manager 2018. Today's blog sets out my aims, aspirations and parameters, as we look ahead to kicking off on Friday 10 November 2017. Let's begin...
Why Estudiantes in FM18?
Please become acquainted with my FM18 Return to La Plata checklist. I plan to be crossing items off as I progress through my 10 season save, so I hope readers will see this often. Today though, I'll discuss why they are on there in the first place and ultimately why I am back in La Plata!
Trophies - Aims (1), (2) & (3)
If FM17 is anything to go by, Ángel Bastardo has acquired the lust for the shiny stuff. Bastardo won 13 trophies in all, culminating in that special 2026 Champions League win. But that was just a cocaine dream, and Bastardo will have to do it all again. As the player behind this save I still have ample amounts of hunger for trophies too, especially those in Argentina and South America. After all, I never won a domestic trophy in the three seasons I stayed in FM17 Argentina. 4th, 3rd and 2nd league finishes and a Copa Argentina final loss on penalties to my name, close but certainly no Verón cigar.
Aim (1) - The Copa Libertadores is Estudiantes' obsession...they are four times winners despite not being a 'Big 5' Argentine club. It's a record I want to continue but, more importantly, I also wish to overcome the heartbreak of my consecutive Quarter Final exits to bogey side Grêmio. There's unfinished business here and I want revenge.
Aim (2) - The 2017–18 Argentine Primera División has been re-branded as the 'Superliga Argentina' with changes in the structure of the league and number of teams. I will produce a guide in the near future as to exactly what's happening here but all you need to know is that I am aiming for back-to-back titles. It's the true sign of a champion and in a league where the vultures from Brazil, Europe, Mexico and the Rest of the World swoop for your best players each year...two consecutive titles would be quite the achievement.
Aim (3) - Lastly the pinnacle of club trophies (at least for those outside of Europe) is the Club World Cup. I decided against playing on for another season at Inter Milan and winning this trophy, because at that point in time I knew I wanted to return to South America in FM18. Winning the Club World Cup for a team and continent that wholeheartedly wants it is more enjoyable. It's also a considerably harder task for an Argentine club, due to the gulf in wealth between Europe and South America.
Clean sheets - Aim (4)
Every man goes to sleep at night hoping to find clean sheets in his bed. Ángel Bastardo is no different. He even applies this to his football, build from the back and do not concede! That's why I've targeted 250 clean sheets in 10 seasons. It might seem like I've plucked that figure out of nowhere but it's an ambitious target given my past performance at Estudiantes in last year's save, where I averaged 25 clean sheets per season (76 cleansheets in 137 games, 55%). I'll keep a running total as I go through and update you with my save's progress.
Youth Development, Transfers & Fibra - Aims (5), (6) & (7)
There's always an element of luck with regards to youth development. In FM16 I was blessed with two golden boys in my 1st youth intake at Grasshopper Club Zürich. It was great seeing them grow up and become two of the greatest Swiss players ever to have graced the game.
In FM17 however, youth development never really happened for me. Maybe it's because I only spent 3 seasons at Estudiantes and another 5 at Inter...meaning I never really had long enough to establish youth. Or maybe it's because my youth intakes were crap. The only player of note that I had a big influence on was Estudiantes' Newgen Jorge Rodríguez, who did go on to play for Argentina after being signed by my Inter team in 2023 (whilst previously being in my first intake at La Plata).
Aim (5) - so the plan is to focus hard on nuturing a Newgen to International recognition. Even if that means me selling him on to Europe or elsewhere for the betterment of his career. If he's Homegrown from Estudiantes but is capped elsewhere it still counts for my checklist.
Aim (6) - creating a conveyor belt of talent will also fuel my ambition to have a self-sustaining transfer model...whereby youth sales help me fund some incoming elder statesmen. From season 3 onwards, I would hope to be self sustaining and certainty by seasons 8-10 well into profit. Again, this is all dependant on the intakes and the volatile transfer market, which is another reason I haven't put a precise target of how much $ I wish to make.
Aim (7) - Underpinning everything I do in La Plata is the fibra recruitment policy (more on fibra here), which has some subtle changes this year. Importantly, I am only applying the criteria to players 25 years and over. Mainly, because I want to fuel the sustainable transfer model as best I can. I missed out on a few exciting youngsters last year, all because of a few attributes...so I don't really want to experience this again. Those under 25s will either grow into warriors or make me money once they hit 25. It's a win-win.
The second change is doing away with Determination as a fibra attribute and adding Bravery in it's place. This is not to say Determination is no longer important, if anything it's importance in FM17 was heightened half way through FM17's cycle as SI made it an influencer again in reaching Potential Ability. But after thinking and talking it through with fellow bastard James (@FMPressure), I've decided to add Bravery into the mix. As in reality, I wouldn't really want an aggressive player that stays away from 50/50 tackles. Note - there is also a correlation between higher scores in Aggression/Bravery attributes anyway, so I think it fits nicely into my recruitment policy + Determination can be vastly improved via tutoring in any case.
I could obviously have left Determination in and also added a few other fibra related attributes, such as: Concentration (influencing player focus at critical moments). But I found that recruitment was hard enough with just the 4 criteria within Argentina anyway - after all my fibra policy should help the team, not hinder it by being too constrictive. So the fibra attributes in FM18:
- Aggression - a highly aggressive player is more likely to exert physical force in the tackle
- Bravery - a brave player will more likely go for the ball and put his body on the line
- Teamwork - a player with a high teamwork attribute will follow tactical instructions and complements the attacking/defensive units of the team
- Workrate - a player with a high workrate will exert more of his physical capability during a match
Note - 25 year old (and over) recruits must have a combined fibra score of at least 55 (average of 13.75 across the 4 mental attributes above).
I also have other parameters in place that come with managing in Argentina, such as the amount of non-Argentines in the squad, restrictive transfer windows etc. These will all be addressed in my Argentina players' guide due out soon.
So these are the 7 challenges running alongside my FM18 save - ensuring it holds my interest thoughout the whole of FM18's cycle. I will of course continue to keep you updated via blog posts, Slack and Twitter updates.