"Straight Outta La Plata" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity

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During my annual FM lull in October, I sat in a 'cultural change' course at my employers.  One quote in this 2 hour lecture caught my attention, so much that I hastily had to write it down: 

“While it is important to have the right structure, without the right culture to support it, it won't deliver what we need it to” 

Obviously, my FM senses were set alight straight away.  I already knew at this point that I wanted the 'One Club' save in FM18 (like I did with Grasshopper Club in FM16), and that club would be Estudiantes de La Plata (a club I managed for 3 years in FM17).  Therefore, thematically building a culture within my 'One Club Save' was always going to be a major focus for me.  But before I discuss this, we need to conclude the happenings in the final 6 months of the 2017/18 season...

Season 2017/18

The first six months of Bastardo in La Plata were eventful: we ousted the Club President and took time to build momentum in the league.  The next six months were always going to be relatively tranquil compared to that!  We played out the 2018 Copa Libertadoes Group Stage fixtures alongside the league campaign, and to a large extent coped well.  An unbeaten run, including two clean sheets Vs Grêmio, sees the continuation of continental football for the later part of 2018.

On the domestic front we were largely consistent in the final 5 months of 2017/18, losing only twice.  However everybody in Argentina unestimated Talleres de Córdoba's late run...pipping me to the last Copa Libertadores spot on the final day of the season.  On goal difference!  We finished 6th.  Not great, but enough to keep Bastardo in the job...who signed a 2 year extension to 2020.

This means Copa Sudamericana for 2019, unless one of two scenarios occur: (1) both the Winners AND Runners up of the yet-to-be played Copa Argentina are two of the teams above me in the final 2017/18 domestic table OR (2) I win the 2018 Copa Libertadores.  Qualification is messy, so for now, let's just say I qualified for the 2nd tier of continental club football for 2019.

Some tight results, but more green than anything else!

2017/18 Superliga table.  La Plata is red!

Straight Outta La Plata

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Ángel Bastardo's aim is to transform Estudiantes de La Plata from an unlikely domestic title challenger to a South American powerhouse.  With a bustling network of youngsters going through the system, mixed in with ex-International pros, the club would have one set of music from which everyone would play.  A concerto of Fibra...'Straight Outta La Plata'.
The Bastardo Hierarchy
To keep my house in order, my structure will be hierarchical which means there are clear ordered levels of management.  To an extent, the new FM18 Dynamics feature conveys this.  It has subtlety been in the background for a number of FMs, but we're now able to see team leaders and thematically order my club on a hierarchical scale.

Team Bastardo in June 2018.

Now that we have removed El Presidente Verón.  Bastardo sits on the throne with three leaders beneath him for 2018/19: Mariano Pavone, Mariano Andújar and Current Club Captain Leandro Desábato.  It's my intention to always make one of these guys the Club Captain each season.  For 2018/19 we won't upset the apple cart at all, even with his powers waning, current Captain Desábato keeps his armband.  The hierarchy I want to instill is based on succession from within the Dynamics screen...so if he is not fit enough to lead, he will lose the armband to a peer. 

Bastardo's strict management is perhaps best highlighted with the treatment of 39 year old Vice Captain Rodrigo Braña.  His influence has declined due to his form at the tail end of 2017/18.  So he is removed from his responsibilities as Desábato's deputy.  His successor will be either Andújar or Pavone.

Leaders, Leaders, Leaders (Player's Playing Style)

Generally the fibra transfer policy I've adopted in this save is attracting the right kind of bastard.  When a player has high levels of Aggression, Bravery, Teamwork & Work Rate he is more often than not going to be a 'Leader'.  Bastardo's recruitment of Abel Aguilar, Leonardo Jara & Diego Polenta in the Summer of 2017 added another three Leaders, bringing a total of nine leaders over the age of 25 years:

Estudiantes 1st Team June 2018 Over 25s.

It’s also worth noting a couple of things that Bastardo did not do to bring about the culture change in the first 12 months:

  1. He did not change the coaching & playing  staff en masse.  The only staff member to depart was Assistant Manger Federico Hernández who was let go in favour of World Cup winner and Estudiantes icon José Luis Brown.  
  2. Bastardo sold no players.  He worked with the players who were already there.  This trend will continue, to those players & staff worth keeping... if we need something (either coaching or playing staff) I will first look to draw on existing club employees from within the organisation.  Moving players who wish to stay in La Plata along the route of youth- player-coach/scout.  (But I am also conscious that players will want to leave for Europe and I must cater for this).

It is hoped all of the above will go some way to addressing the quote I discussed when I opened this blog post: 

“While it is important to have the right structure, without the right culture to support it, it won't deliver what we need it to”

Getting the culture just right will hopefully see my bastards rise to unimaginable heights of fame & fibra.  Stay tuned to my Twitter & Slack channel for further pre-season developments and happenings, as we embark towards kicking off Season 2!

As always, thanks again for reading/sharing and caring,

FM Grasshopper