The First Day at Your New Club
Initial MeetingsSo I've just taken charge at West Ham, and been welcomed by my new Chairman.
Other meetings can now follow, which I suggest you don't skip. You start building relationships right from the get go, so buttering up such people as your Managing Director, Assistant Manager, Backroom staff, players and the Press will only help you in the future. Poor relationships can and will be noted by your Board and, in extreme cases, lead to you being sacked. So press the flesh, grit your teeth and suck it up.
At this point, I'll make a note of how I play the game. There are of course "optimal" ways of doing pretty much everything. Micro-managing this, min/maxing that, to squeeze every last drop out to help you "win". Lots of people do that, I used to, and jolly good luck to them.
I've now changed a little. Sure, I still get involved in some "optimal" techniques, but I now play the game with a little "role playing" element. I've found this adds a new dimension and increases the fun. What I've stopped trying to do is "beating the game". There is no "beating the game" in the traditional sense of computer games, which I think many people don't always understand at first.
Now, when I say "role play" I'm not by any means walking around pretending to be Slaven Bilic or anything daft like that, but I will accept a few less than optimal strategies or oddities that the game will inevitably throw my way.
At certain points, the game will tell us something we just don't agree with (the forums are full of people complaining about this), but for me now I just accept what I've been told, think the "person" telling me this is barking and I deal with the situation. If that results in my star player throwing a strop and our relationship breaking down, so be it. I'll sell the little princess and bring someone else in. It happens, so just play it out.
So, I've met Karren Brady, told my Assistant Manager to not bother me again for the next 3 months, ignored my Backroom staffs' recommendations (I'm in charge, they literally have no idea what I want) and agreed to meet the press. What next? Well, plenty...
Getting Things Organised and FamiliarisationI'm newly arrived and know nothing about the club. I don't know the players, the staff, the training facilities, nothing. I need to start work and understand what are good things, what needs changing immediately and what I can leave for a later date. I'm going to start with my Staff.
Back Room StaffMy first port of call is the Board screen, to see how many staff I actually have. And on the face of it it's ok:
Now, I don't know the quality of my staff yet, but at least I have something to work with. I'll assess them soon and determine my needs. From this initial look: I'm glad I don't have a Director of Football (a complete waste of money as far as I am concerned); my U18s coaches look a bit thin on the ground; and my scouting network is practically non-existent. Once I check my Training screens to assess the quality of coaches I'll consider changes, but this gives me a starting point. My U18s and U21s are also missing an Assistant Manager, but that's really just an extra coach over and above my allowance, so it's probably something more for the future.
A quick word on the DoF - I never use them simply because I like to take control of most aspects of the club. So to me they are just an expensive and unnecessary overhead. However, if you like to relinquish some aspects of control, then employ a DoF.
Now that I have checked number, I need to check responsibilities. I like to control pretty much everything, because quite simply I know what I want to do and the AI doesn't. The AI has it's own thoughts about what to do. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with letting the AI control many aspects if that's how you have fun playing. Let the AI take charge of Training (for example) and you will have a team full of fit players, who will develop ok. For me however, "ok" isn't enough and I know I can do better.
So, I head into Staff > Responsibilities and change everything except the following options to be controlled by me:
I'm quite happy for my HOYD to make offers on young players, so long as I have final say over whether to sign them or not. Everything else I will do for now, at least until I have a much healthier scouting network.
I also want my Youth Team Managers making friendlies to make sure my young players have plenty of game time and to save me the bother of arranging them. These Managers are perfectly capable of doing this, but I do want my Youth teams to play with my senior squad tactics. This will help me develop players how I want them to develop and so fit into my chosen tactical system.
DoF Remarks by Ö-zil to the Arsenal!I use a Director of Football and benefit from it.
I see the Director of Football as a link between myself, and the scouting team and responsible for overseeing the off-the-field matters so allowing me to maintain my focus on the field and the results. I maintain control over the key decisions but it's helpful to be able to delegate and have the extra support.
In terms of attributes, almost the same as a Head Scout so we're looking for:
- Scouting Current Ability
- Scouting Potential Ability
- Perhaps more emphasis on a Professional personality
- Good scouting knowledge
My Director of Football is responsible for:
- Hiring and firing Coaching / non-Coaching staff
- Finds and Makes offers for players for First Team / Youth Team (I still do most of the transfer work but it's helpful to have the extra support to avoid missing anyone)
- Offers unwanted players I have transfer listed
- Handles staff contracts
- Possibly sets assignments for Scouting Team
It's important to note, that if at any time I am unhappy with any of this I can override any decision - renegotiating an offer, not confirming a transfer, hiring my own coach, setting my own scout assignment etc. It never takes anything away from the manager, it just helps out.
I think of the Director of Football as a second assistant, for off the field matters.
1) CoachesIf you take a look at the FAQs sticky at the top of SI forum, optimal attributes are described there for each coach and their area of expertise. So I could simply look at each coach to assess their suitability.
However, before I get into that, I'm going to take an initial look at my coach star ratings. Star ratings are a visual representation of those attributes, so it's a quick method of checking things out. These are my senior and U18s coach ratings:
Senior Squad coaches
All in all, not too bad. My Senior Squad has at least 4 star coaches in every area apart from Ball Control and Attacking, and my U18s have a similar issue.
Note that I'm not mentioning my U21s squad. This is because my U21s share training facilities with my senior squad, so whatever I do with my seniors will affect my U21s as well. Some countries and leagues differ and their 2 youth teams share facilities instead, so always take note of who is training with who.
You'll also notice that some of my senior coaches have a "Heavy" workload. This is something I'll need to fix pretty quickly otherwise players will start complaining they aren't getting enough one-on-one training. More on that later.
For a team such as West Ham, I should really be looking for a minimum of 4 star coaches across the board. If I was trying to optimise things, I'd be looking to do this asap. However, I'm actually going to RP this a bit for now. I've started the game with no transfers allowed in the first window, so I'll do the same with my coaches.
Also I don't have much in the way of really decent prospects in my youth teams (I had a quick look, more on that later), so bringing in replacement coaches right at the start is not on my list of priorities. Further, given my lack of scouting knowledge and club reputation, my choice of decent available coaches is somewhat limited. So I decide to leave things as they are for now, and revisit this either around January or at the end of the season.
I may however bring in one or two additions to help with the Heavy workload, but again more on that later.
In terms of a pressing recruitment need, my only real concern is my Head of Youth Development. Not only do I want him to be a decent coach, but his personality can directly influence the personality of newgen players. This is West Ham's HOYD, and his Balanced personality is just not good enough:
I want somebody with high levels of Professionalism, as Professionalism has a direct impact on how well players train and develop. Youth Recruitment day isn't for a few months yet, but I'm afraid Terry's days are numbered. We are supposed to be the "Academy of Football" after all.
I'll also mention here a point where I won't be looking to optimise something and rather rely on an RP element for my own fun, and that's my U21s Manager, Steve Potts. I used to love watching Pottsy play for West Ham, so I'm going to be a bit sentimental here and keep him as my U21s Manager no matter what. He's not the best choice for an U21s Manager I've seen (although by no means the worst either), and I like having him around the place. Go on Pottsy, get stuck in.
2) Medical TeamFrom the staff list pictured above, I have one Head Physio and two senior squad Physios (who will also help out with the youth teams).
The "Physiotherapy" attribute is really the only thing I am interested in here. Other attributes may or may not help a little, but Physiotherapy is the key element and I ignore all others - it just over complicates things.
A quick look at all 3 of my Physios show they all have at least 15 for Physiotherapy (two have 16) which is fine for now. Anything lower than 15 and I'd look to replace them.
Ultimately I want one physio for each of my youth squads as well, and that's something I may sort out sooner rather than later. Having a Youth Physio is also a requirement for your annual Youth facilities review, so something else to bear in mind.
3) Scouting TeamTo use a little cockney, this is absolute pony. Just 2 scouts, and West Ham are rated worst in the division for judging potential and second worst for judging current ability.
My Chief Scout (Tony Henry) is actually quite good, with 16 for judging both potential and current ability. My only other scout (George Cowie) rates at only 10 for judging potential and 9 for current ability. As previously stated, pony.
I have scope for recruiting a further 7 scouts, which I'll need to get working on. When recruiting scouts, I only look at 3 key factors: their ability to judge potential, judge current ability and their nation of origin. Nothing else matters to me, although adaptability can help scouts decide which country to scout and how much time to spend there. I like a variety of nationalities for my scouts as this gives a built in knowledge of countries, so aiding my player searches.
I also intend to use scouts (and other staff) to broaden my knowledge of the world, to help me find more and better staff. Having staff with knowledge of different countries can help lift the fog and show additional staffing options, so sometimes I'm quite happy to employ a lower quality staff member if it means I get even more choice. These types of staff members I tend to keep on short term contracts, as they are pretty useless after all.
Staff Recruitment PlansMy immediate needs are:
- A Senior Squad coach to help with the Heavy Training Workload;
- Some new scouts from a variety of countries.
My medium term needs are:
- A new HOYD (needs to be in place before youth intake day, sometime in March for England);
- An U18s Physio;
- A new U18s Manager (see below).
My long term needs are:
- Gradual replacement of most coaches (4 star coaches are fine for now, but I want better);
- A new Assistant Manager (see below);
- Better Physios;
- Youth Team Assistant Managers.
Breaking things down like this makes things a bit more manageable, plus if I spread things out it'll give me more to do at a later point. I should also have a broader choice of new staff later in the game as I increase my club's standing and improve my world knowledge.
Assistant ManagerMy current Assistant Manager, Nikola Jurcevic:
Pretty terrible in all honesty. Lots of people use their Assistant for many purposes, from organising Training to handling Press Conferences and even taking charge of matches. I keep mine much more simple: he needs to be a good coach in one or more categories; and he needs decent judging of potential and current ability so that he can keep me properly updated with player development.
Jurcevic has neither of these, but what he does have is a big fat £10k a week for the next 3 years, so he'll cost a fortune to get rid of. I'll keep him for the first season, but replace him after that.
U18s ManagerMy current U18s Manager, Mark Phillips:
Again, not up to standard. Not only do I need my Youth Team Managers to be decent coaches, they should also score well for judging potential and current ability; Working with Youngsters; and a good personality.
Mark has none of these and will be replaced, possibly before the end of the season depending on who is available. At just £1k a week for 2 years, he's fairly cheap to get rid of too.
1) Senior Squad CoachFrom the images above, I have choices here:
- I could "game" the system and just bring in any old low quality coach, assigning him to all training categories that have a Heavy workload. This would reduce the workload, is cheap and wouldn't affect player development as the main coach for each category is still assigned.
- I could bring in a better Attacking coach than I already have and then use my existing coach to cover all Heavy workload categories.
- I could bring in a better Ball Control coach than I already have and then use my existing coach to cover all Heavy workload categories.
Decent Ball Control coaches can be hard to find, and with a little RP I decide not to bring in a rubbish coach just to save my workloads (I'm West Ham, I don't want to employ rubbish). So I decide to find a new Attacking coach.
Setting at a level of 15 in Attack coaching, Determination, Discipline and Motivation, my search only brings up one hit, who is the HOYD at RB Leipzig (handy to know when I look for a new HOYD). So I reduce my criteria by one and get a few more hits:
I decide to go after Jimmy Lumsden. He's 67, so it probably won't be long until he retires, but he'll be a decent stop gap until someone better turns up. He wants £3k a week for a two year contract, I beat him down to £2.2k a week (good use of my Manager profile set up):
2) ScoutsAs mentioned above, I want a broad selection of nationalities to start off improving my global knowledge. In particular I want to cover much of South America and Europe, ultimately branching out into Africa and Asia.
I start with South America and get just one hit:
With his reputation he's not going to be cheap and sure enough he wants £3.9k a week for a 3 year deal. He has decent attributes for a scout (13 JCA and 17 JPA), so I'm going to offer him a long term deal. He eventually agrees to sign for £2.9k a week for 4 years.
I continue the search until I have secured the services of 2 Central European scouts; a Southern European scout; a UK & Irish scout; and an African scout. All have decent attributes, all currently unemployed (so no compensation to pay) and all pretty cheap (except Angel Vales who will cost me £3k a week):
That fills up 6 of my available 7 scout positions, which is fine for now.