Estudiantes de La Plata (EdlP) have a rich history of embracing the collective team qualities of teamwork & work rate. The basis of their domestic & continental successes in the late 1960s was built on the foundation of all eleven players knowing their tactical instructions, their positions and the movements of their teammates. It's widely acknowledged that this successful EdlP team were not the best ball players in Argentina, let alone South America. But they were certainly one of the toughest teams ever assembled, as demonstrated in their unsavory 1969 Intercontinental Cup Final loss against AC Milan. With several Milan players being left unconscious during the match - the worse treatment was left for Nestor Combin (an Argentinean-born striker playing for AC Milan) who was left unconscious along with a broken nose and cheekbone. EdlP and their manager at the time, Osvaldo Zubeldia, had introduced the World to a style that years later would be coined: 'anti-fútbol': the commitment towards collective effort and simplicity (with added bruising).
Fast forward over three Decades to 2006, and EdlP once again found the right mixture of energy and teamwork. Diego Simeone only spent a season with EdlP (2006-07) but his time in La Plata allowed him to refine his tactical style, which is now being seen successfully at Atlético Madrid. Simeone ended EdlP's 23 year wait for Domestic success, building his team around the precise playmaking abilities of 31 year old Juan Sebastián Verón and the energy and commitment of two strikers in a 4-4-2...experienced 35 year old José Luis Calderón and upcoming Rookiee, 24 year old Mariano Pavone. As demonstrated in the famous 7-0 'máxima goleada del clásico platense' against rivals Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.
It seems EdlP has played the best and worst kinds of 'anti-fútbol' throughout its rich history, but nevertheless it's a style that is intrinsic to the Club. It's therefore my aim in FM17 to replicate this style of football, which brings about the 1st part of my 'Fame & Fibra in La Plata' series. Today's blog outlines how the style will drive my player recruitment in FM17.
 Three straight Copa Libertadores (1968-1970) and a Runners Up place (1971). A 1968 Intercontinental Cup win and a 1969 Runners Up place.
 As demonstrated by Atlético's aggregate win against Barcelona in 2016. A game of contrasting styles, where collective team spirit within a high tempo/highly structured tactic took down Barcelona's possession style.
Fiber (or Fibra)
Firstly, I need to define what 'fiber' is and how it translates into the Football Manager games. As Jonathan Wilson documents, in his superb 'Inverting The Pyramid' book, Diego Simeone's footballing upbringing at Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield was the grounding for the tactical instructions we see today at Atlético. Simeone's Youth Team manager at the time, Vélez Legend Victorio Spinetto was obsessed with finding players of a specific kind of 'fibra'. For him, a player's fiber needed to be one of self-sacrifice...where only players who give absolutely everything on the pitch can ever be considered 'Great Players'.
In Football Manager, I consider the below attributes key in finding Spinetto's fibra (all Mental):
- Aggression - a highly aggressive player is more likely to get involved in physical situations
- Determination - a highly determined player is more likely to help the team fight back from losing positions or improve his own poor performance during matches
- 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
So now let's see how this will drive my player recruitment, in what I have deemed the 'Fiber Score'...
Over 25s Fiber Score
We'll start with the Elder-statesmen of the team. Any player joining EdlP over the age of 25, will have to have a combined attribute score equal to or exceeding 55 (out of the 80 possible). This equates to an average attribute score of 13.75 in the 4 Mentals listed above. The likes of Lionel Messi, who often has a combined attribute score of 47 from these Mentals in previous editions, are likely to miss out on my recruitment. Yes, you read that right, do not expect me to sign Lionel Messi in FM17!
Finances are tight in Argentina...so when I bring a player in at EdlP at the age of 25 and above, I'd expect him to be near his peak. This is why the threshold appears high - if I am to really find players of the right fiber, I need to be relentless in my approach.
As a side, I wish to keep my Domestic Player Bias quite high in this save. So I am restricting myself to only one non-Argentine 25 year + signing per season. After this, any other player joining me above the age of 25 must have Argentine Nationality (either 1st or 2nd).
Fiber Score for over 25s:
25 year old (and over) recruits must have a combined 'Fiber score' of at least 55 (average of 13.75 across the 4 Mental attributes).
18-24s Fiber Score
Just like Diego Simeone, I want to work with the best young talents South America can offer. For instance during his time at Club Atlético River Plate, Simone worked with Colombian talent Radamel Falcao and Chillian Alexis Sánchez. So between the age range of 18 and 24 I will relax the nationality quotas slightly. I will therefore allow myself to sign up to two South American players aged 18-24 per season. However, all 18-24 recruits will have to adhere to the strict Fiber Scores:
18-24 year old recruits must have a combined 'Fiber score' of at least 50 (average of 12.5 across the 4 Mental attributes).
This is where I will have to be more careful in my approach. My aim at EdlP is to ultimately produce players who naturally have 'EdlP fiber' in their DNA, but special attention must be taken to ensure that I don't let good players go before giving them the chance to develop. I am therefore proposing to sign the best 5 players in each annual youth intake (based on my assessment of their ability), regardless of their Fiber Score...on the condition that they meet the 50 threshold on their 21st Birthday.
At that point, EdlP Academy graduates who do not make a combined Fiber Score of 50 will either be sold or asked to run down their contracts. It's a brutal but fair approach, something which Simeone, Spinetto & Zubeldia would support.
The five best Academy players are signed each season, each one must have a combined 'Fiber score' of at least 50 (average of 12.5 across the 4 Mental attributes) on the day of their 21st Birthday. Failure to do this will result in an end to their relationship with EdlP.
Next up in Fame & Fibra...
Today's blog has introduced the idea of 'fiber' and where it came from. I've also outlined how it will drive my player recruitment, as I aim to install the right fiber at EdlP for anti-fútbol to flourish. The next post in the 'Fame & Fibra in La Plata' series is to document how I am actually going to bring about the style at EdlP via formations and tactical instructions. This will most likely be released once the FM17 Beta is launched, which will allow me to test a few things first.
Until then, thanks for reading.