Football

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


Intro

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!

www.soundcloud.com/grass-gear

www.twitter.com/GrassNGear

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

Why Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ) in FM16?

The title question is a legitimate one.  Grasshopper Club Zürich, or GCZ as they are known, are a giant of Swiss football...yet face an enormous challenge to bring back the glory days of previous title wins.  27 title wins to be precise, dating as far back as 1898 and as recent as 2003.

Stadium

GCZ used to play at Hardtrum, a 1929 constructed stadium with a 17,666 capacity, but finances and low attendances saw this stadium demolished from the 2007/08 season.  Since then, GCZ have had a bittersweet relationship with FC Zürich and now ground share at the Letzigrund.  For all intents and purposes, this remains FC Zürich's spiritual home and not GCZ's.

A  'Stadion Zürich' is proposed on the old Hardtrum site, which would see GCZ relocate to a new circa 20,000 stadium but faced a 50.8% refusal in a local referendum.  One key personal motivation in taking on the GCZ challenge, and answering the title question, is the sense of achievement at bringing GCZ 'home'.  To do this however, certain amounts of wizardy are needed in the club's finances...

Finances

Since GCZ's  2002/2003 title winning season, FC Basel have become the dominate force in Swiss football (9 times league winners) and to a lesser extent FC Zürich (3 times league winners) and BSC Young Boys (5 times runner up).  The toll is slowly starting to show on the GCZ squad and finances.


As of August 2015, not only are GCZ 70% less of the market value of FC Basel (£52.9m/€73.47), they are also £21.8m/€30.28m behind BSC Young Boys [based on transfermarkt.co.uk].

Squad

This decline has in part led to a reduction in playing staff and the ability to keep hold of established stars. GCZ now have the smallest and youngest squad in the entire Swiss Super League (10 teams).  This will notably heighten the GCZ challenge in FM16.

The standout player is obviously an FM legend: Kim Kallstrom of Sweden (33 years old next week).  Kim has signed a contract until 2018, meaning that he will be the player to build around in this season's FM16.  He has a range of passing and an uncanny knack of finding teammates at set pieces.  If there was ever a deep-lying playmaker to build around, it's Kim.

The other standout established players are Yoric Ravet (25 years, contracted until 2017) and Caio (29 years, contracted until 2018), who will be expected to make significant contributions offensively to the team in the 15/16 year.

Beyond this, the team is largely young.  Upcoming talents to be nurtured are Shani Tarashaj (20 years), Munas Dabbur (23 years) and Levent Gülen (21 years).  All should make the step up this year to replace personnel who were sold last year.

So, why Grasshopper Club Zürich?  Well the answer simply  lies in the challenge.  Knocking FC Basel off their throne will be enjoyable, but there are also long term challenges such as a potential stadium move, improving finances and seeing the young team reach their full potential.  Make no mistake, this will be a hard FM challenge...