My next blog post was always going to focus on my attempts at developing a Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ) homegrown XI, especially after achieving domestic dominance with 4 straight league titles and 3 domestic doubles within those 4 years. However it's now more poignant given that the Godfather of modern youth development, Johan Cruyff, sadly passed away last week. I won't make this into a tribute post, other FM/Football bloggers will do a far better job than me at detailing Cruyff's legacy. But I do have to acknowledge that Cruyff has left a lasting impression on me after visiting both Ajax & Barcelona football clubs other the last 5 years. His devotion to youth development has advanced both clubs considerably.
So what makes Ajax and Barcelona stand out as a producer of young players? One reason is that their players are educated to play a certain way & within a system that leads all the way up into the 1st team. Integrating players like Kluivert, Iniesta, Sneijder & Xavi is easier because those young players have been occupying the same positions, making the same passes, scoring the same goals regardless of being in the youth teams or in the 1st team. There are a whole load of other reasons as why they are so more advanced than most, such as the meticulous detail that Ajax go to in having the set amount of a distinct type of player in each youth squad.
Now that I am into my 5th season with GCZ, I need to start thinking about my overall 'end game': develop a successful Homegrown XI competing for Continental honours. I have already spoke about the hunt for professionalism here, which is already producing young professional athletes at GCZ. Now I need to put that professionalism to good use, bringing us today's blog: training PPMs to suit your tactics.
Why train Player Preferred Moves (PPMs)?
Simply put, PPMs influence the frequency at which a player is likely to do something in the FM match engine. They do not increase the current or potential ability but combined with complementary player/team instructions/tactics...they can help players perform better. It is worth noting that professional players in FM will pick up PPM easier as they apply themselves better in training. I'll now show you how I am training some of my U18s/U21s...
My tactics have evolved over the 5 years and I am now in position for my tactics to drive the shape of my playing staff. Whereas when I first joined GCZ, the tactics are driven by the playing staff I inherited. So we've now moved to a fluid, wide & controlling 4-3-2-1. Sometimes I will drop a central midfielder in favour of a more attack minded AMC to effectively make a 4-2-3-1. The main crux of my tactics though is what many of us want: to be entertained (I suppose we have Cruyff to thank for this also).
Wide players bring a lot of happiness to the team. Even when not in possession of the ball, they can stretch teams and create the space for my central midfielders (which include a Box To Box) to run into or my marauding fullbacks.
My team instructions to facilitate effective wide play are: Look for overlap & exploit left/right flank. I use Wingers on Attack duty to get the best out of these. The PPMs I am training are:
- Gets Forward Whenever Possible
- Runs with Ball down Left/Right
This means players will stretch the game, encouraging them to use width as opposed to cutting inside. I'm not against players cutting inside onto a strong foot but I have always preferred my Wingers to go on the outside using a more dominate foot.
In my current system I do not have a designated Playmaker like a Deep Lying Playmaker or Enganche - rather the responsibility is shared amongst the midfield. I want at least 2 of the central 3 to have Passing + Vision ≥ than 15. I am also playing in a low tempo, so I need these midfielders to be able to split open the opposition frequently (taking advantage of their Passing/Vision). A common misconception I see is that low tempo ultimately means short sideways passing - it's actually the contrary for my team: I want my players to conserve the ball (hence the shorter passing instruction) but my good ballplayers to pass decisively. So the PPMs I look to train are:
- Tries Killer Balls Often
- Tries Long Range Passes
General PPMs trained
What I love about FM is that every Regen is different, and so the PPMs they need to be more effective will differ. However there are some general PPMs that I use for players:
- Gets Forward Whenever Possible
Certain players in my current system would make use of this, especially the box to box mid, fullbacks and wingers. I like to give this to players who have good Acceleration and Off The Ball stats. This makes use of the Fluid system I adopt and also the Roam From Positions team instructions.
- Knocks Ball Past Opponents
I like to give this to players who possess Acceleration and Pace ≥ than 15. It means players will get past their man more often and can be the different between getting a cross into the penalty area or simply failing to pass the opponent's fullback.
- Avoid Using Weaker Foot
Previous readers will know my love for Two Footedness in some positions, and a certain distaste for it in other positions (read here). But in some circumstances a Regen will be that good that even one footedness has to be overlooked. To compensate this weakness, Avoids Using Weaker Foot can be trained.
Hopefully in the near future I can bring you an update as to how I am progressing with the Homegrown XI. It's not something that can be achieved overnight, rather more likely to be achieved over a 10 year period, as I generally only receive 1-2 decent Regens each intake.
In the meantime, my save is going really well (currently in Dec 2019). I have won 4 league titles in a row and I am on course for number 5 at the Winter Break. I haven't blogged as much as I would have liked due to personal life being busy...but rest assured I am still playing the game we love (over 550 hours now already on FM16). Keep an eye on my Twitter for mid-season updates.
Thanks for reading,