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Royal Antwerp FC - The Great Old

The tale of my first FM14 game
Started on 21 March 2014 by McMonkey
Latest Reply on 12 April 2014 by McMonkey
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McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited


Having stuck with FM10 for far to many years I decided it was time to leave the comfortable familiarity and well tried players and finally get to grips with FM14. After getting all of the graphics installed and testing with my team Everton I decided to start a career with The Great Old - Royal Antwerp FC. Once a force in Belgian football they have languished in the Second Division for the past nine years and suffer from crippling debts inflicted by shady chairmen.

I was inspired to pick Antwerp for several reasons. Firstly I have never managed in Belgium before and wanted a new challenge. The back story appeals, restoring a once great club to its former status. I have read about Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and John Bostock and was intrigued. The team looks good enough to challenge for the title but the lack of funds won't lead to it being a formality and will test my transfer acumen. Also, if I make it into the Pro League it will be a proper test against the likes of Anderlecht, Genk, Standard and Club Brugge. I also liked the idea of the clubs links with Man Utd and Sao Paulo. I thought it would be a good opportunity to focus on developing young talent rather than spend, spend, spend as I have done in many other games. I like the idea of being a wheeler dealer.
Mother fishcakes!!! Just tried to submit a lengthy post (I'm incapable of posting anything under 1000 words due to my OCD!) and I got logged out of the forum and lost the lot. What a let down :(

Oh well, I will type it up again later. Next up: Team analysis


The Bosuil stadium on match night
McMonkey, there's a 25 minute limit while on a page, so be careful of that. Before submitting, just copy the entire material or maybe simply write on Word, and paste it here?

Good luck! I am really looking forward to it!
Thanks Akash. I remember the last time I lost a lengthy post on another forum I solemnly swore never to be so foolish again and always use a notepad, yet here I am again. ;)

Anyway the replacement text is almost ready to go. There is a fair bit of it so I will release it in bite size chunks to allow people to digest it and respond. So far I have only played one cup and one league match so most of the story is about the squad, finances and philosophies.
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
MANAGER

http://static1.demorgen.be/static/photo/2012/12/6/6/20120728141411/media_xl_5028096.jpg

Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink, having seen the full extent of Antwerp’s debt, decides to terminate his contract by mutual consent. Desperate for a new manager before the start of a new season chairman Gunther Hofmans appoints managerial debutant *Marc Degryse to take charge of The Great Old. Though this is Degryse’s first role in management the former Belgian international has a good pedigree as a player having played in two world cups as well as a successful playing career with Anderlecht, Club Brugge, PSV, Gent, Germinal Beerschot and Sheffield Wednesday!

*Note: It is my custom to assume the identity of a real ex-footballer who is not already on FM as a coach or manager. I from now on I will post in the first person as Mr Degryse (just in English instead of Dutch!)

FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE

On my ambitions for the club:

“The loyal fans of this grand old club have waited patiently for too many years for a return to their natural place in the top flight of Belgian football. I want to tell our fans that Antwerp’s time has come. We have the players to achieve our aims and I firmly believe we will win the championship this season. There has been a huge turnover in the clubs playing staff this year and I intend to strengthen it further over the coming months. This may lead to a transitional period whilst players bed in and get familiar with one another and the way we play. I humbly ask our supporters to continue to give their full backing and encouragement to this new team and they will be repaid with a return to our rightful place in the elite of the Pro League.”

Reactions to Degryse’s bold statements are mixed. Many local papers seize on them gleefully and re-print articles about Antwerp’s glory day’s. More cynical journalists in the national press point out there have been previous managers who have promised a revival only to be scuppered by the dire financial state of the club. Most agree that if Degryse can keep the current team together then Antwerp have a good chance on the pitch!
A good start, keep it up!
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
FINANCES

As has been mentioned above, money’s too tight to mention. There are seven large loans that need to be paid back in monthly instalments. The transfer budget is zero and there is only €200 spare per week for players wages. If I want to strengthen the team I will need to let players go or rely on loans.

http://transilvaniareporter.ro/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/petrucci_davide.jpg

From a first team squad of 21 players only five were at Antwerp last season, the rest being free or undisclosed signings made during Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink’s short reign. Thankfully the majority of these new signings are of a decent quality and he also managed to negotiate the loan of talented Italian youngster Davide Petrucci from Manchester United. However this makes any movement in the transfer market difficult as players need to leave to free up funds for acquisitions. Fortunately Antwerp have two excellent parent clubs to tap for young loan signings: Manchester United and Sao Paulo!
TACTICS

In my last game (FM10) I had massive success at Eintracht Frankfurt with a 4-3-3 system using three strikers (usually Milevskyi / Pato or Felix Kroos / Podolski or Seleznyov). However I doubt the strikers I have at Antwerp would be so effective and my midfield would be left outnumbered. I do have a number of talented attacking midfielders so I have opted for a modified 4-3-2-1 system based on possession and working the ball into the area via short passing. Being new to FM14 I’m sure I have a lot to learn as there has been a lot of changes over the last four editions.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v685/cc_ruirui/18.jpg

SQUAD ANALYSIS

The squad has a good blend of youth and experience with no glaring holes. However I still plan to try and bring in reinforcements to add depth and quality to

the squad. There is also a number of good young prospects to develop. As wages may become an issue as the season progresses I want to ensure that these youngsters are ready to step into the team should any established first teamers depart! In previous games I have often played at developing youth team players, but never really trusted them when things get serious. In this save I may end up with no choice so want to plan ahead. I have suggested this as a voluntary philosophy to be judged on by the chairman as well as having a large proportion of Belgian players.

TRANSFERS OUT

Jordan Faucher (Nancy) 130,000 euros over 24 months

Jordan looks like a decent young striker at this level but as one of the few saleable assets I felt it was in the clubs interest to cash in and free up some wages. Although I only got 10% of his fee it freed up his wage and gave me some flexibility to bring my own players in. I’m also planning to play with one up front and have several other decent strikers to choose from.

Tomislav Gomelt (Tottenham) Loan terminated

Perhaps a bit harsh on Tomislav who looks like one for the future and easily good enough for this league. However he plays exclusively out wide and I don’t employ wingers. Also Spurs had Antwerp paying his 800 euros per week wages, resources that could be better spent in other areas. As there is no penalty for terminating the loan he was sent home.
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
PLAYERS FROM LAST SEASONS SQUAD / YOUTH TEAM

http://www.wijzijnantwerp.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-2014.jpg

Freddy Mombongo – ADV FWD
Quick striker. Probably fighting Calabro for first choice striker. In my own head I have already made up some amusing songs about this Congolese hitman. I just hope he bangs in the goals so I can sing them at my PC!

http://www.rafcmuseum.be/spelersfotos/Mombongo_Dues_Freddy_1356.jpg

Bjorn Sengier – GK
Veteran keeper and safe pair of hands. He will be my number one this year.

Salomon Nirasirike – CB
Promising Ruwandan centre back.

Joren Dom – B2B
Home grown and good stats but a bit lightweight at 5’7”. Put on the list for free but no offers.

Oumar Diouck – ADV FWD
Up and coming Senegalese striker.

Jorn Brondeel – GK
Young keeper with potential but needs a work.

Fabio De Sousa – DLF
Promising youngster. Could find a starting place hard to come by.

Jordan Faucher – S
Decent pacey striker. Stats put him on par with Calabro and Mombongo.

As you can see there are not many players left from last years team. Probably just as well as they failed to get out of the Second Division! Of these remannts I would only consider Sengier, Faucher and Mombongo as automatic first teamers!
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
PLAYERS BROUGHT IN BY HASSLEBAINK

Yves Ma Kalambay (Mechelen) Free – GK
Solid backup keeper.

Roy Bakennes (Volendam) Free – RB
Decent Dutch fullback. Will do a job in League 2.

Kelvin Maynard (FC Emmen) Free – RB
Solid backup for Bakennes.

Jannes Van Steenkiste (Club Brugge) Free – LB
Decent Belgian fullback. Will do a job in League 2.

Just Berends (Vitesse) Undisclosed – CB/LB
Cover for JVS or CB

Jonas De Roeck (Leuven) Free - CB
Experienced centre-back who started off at Antwerp way back in the 94/95 season and now back home again!

Pape Abdoulaye Diakite (Trencin of Slovakia) Free – CB
Another promising young centre-back.

Wim De Decker (Beerschot) Free – Anchorman
Experienced campaigner and leader.

http://pewe.zenfolio.com/img/s9/v96/p1787938330-3.jpg

Funso Ojo (Beerschot) Free – BWM
Talented young midfield workhorse. Antwerp’s most valuable (owned) player.

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/sites/default/files/imagecache/455/bostock_john_royal_antwerp.jpg

John Bostock (Tottenham) Free – B2B
I had John in my Notts County team in FM10. Talented and versatile.

Emrullah Guvenc (Helmond Sport) Free – AM/TREQ
Good attacking midfielder. I’m interested to see how he works out.

Tomislav Gomelt (Tottenham) End of season – 800 euros p/w wages
Talented youngster but heavy on the wages and not versatile enough for my system.

Davide Petrucci (Man Utd) End of season – no fee – AM/TREQ
A real star of the future who can play well in a lot of positions. A pity Antwerp will probably never own him!

http://album.gva.be/imgpath/000/000/595/575/id595575-photos-550x500-n.jpg

Kevin Tano (FC Dordrecht) Undisclosed – AM/TREQ/LW
Intriguing attacker. Ideally suited to the wing. I have been playing him more centrally and he looks like a class act. A shame he’s not Belgian!

David Iboma (Beerschot) Free – LW/S
Highly rated by the scouts but does not fit my tactics. He’s a right winger and that I don’t need. He can play striker but I have better options. I will try and re-train him to AMC.

Sandro Calabro (Sparta Rotterdam) Free – ADV FWD
Decent all round striker who will be fighting for the number 9 jersey.

Bradley Bubb (Woking) Free – ADV FWD
Odd one. Journeyman striker at 26 years old having toured the lower leagues of England. Unless he surprised me I can see him leaving in January.

Some good acquisitions by my predecessor, especially Ojo, Bostock and Tano.
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
TRANSFERS IN

With very limited funds available I had to look for free agents with reasonable wage demands and either no agent or an agent who wasn't trying to bend me over for their clients signature.

Noel Soumah (formerly of RWDM Brussels) Free agent – CB/DM
Youngster with plenty of potential. Brought with the next few years in mind but could so a decent job now if given the chance. Reasonable wages.

Yohan M’Vila (formerly of Ajaccio, Dijon and Charleroi) Free agent – B2B
Looks like a good player for L2 and hopefully a good squad man in the Pro League. Not to be confused with Yann M'Vila!

Angelo Simone (formerly of Fortuna Sittard and FC Oss) Free agent – REG/DM
Solid defensive oriented midfielder and Belgian national. Does not count as HG as trained in Holland. Brought in after M’Vila’s leg break.



LOANS IN

Loans are the best option to strengthen the Antwerp squad. Mahau and Dusenne were brought in early to boost the number of home grown players. Bruno Cunha was the first of the Sau Paulo quartet and has done a pretty good job. As the season grew closer and I suffered some injury setbacks I added Allan and Wanderson from Sao Paulo. Tromet was brought in when Bostock was crocked and I got really greedy and nabbed Victor Hugo form my Brazilian associates. I expect one or two of the loanees may be sent back as it is going to be difficult to keep such a big squad happy. That is unless the injuries stack up. At least it won’t cost me anything to try them out and keep hold of the best ones!

Noe Dusenne (Mons) End of season – no fee – CB
Solid centre-back and probably a first choice starter alongside De Roeck.

Allan (Sao Paulo) End of season – no fee –DM
Intriguing young DM. Part of the Sao Paulo quartet. Also loaned in after the Bostock / M’Vila injury scare.

Bruno Cunha (Sao Paulo) End of season – no fee – TREQ
Promising trequartista. Seems to have some attitude problems but I’m putting that down to the change of cultures for now.

Wanderson (Sao Paulo) End of season – no fee – False 9
Looks like a decent prospect. Have not had the chance to test him yet.

Victor Hugo (Sao Paulo) End of season – no fee – Complete Forward
Wasn’t shown as a loan option initially so I overlooked him. Looks like potentially the best of the Brazilian loanees.

Gregory Mahau (KV Kortrijk) End of season – no fee – RW/M Utility
I loaned Gregory in early on to help with my hoe grown quote. Looks good and got called up to the Belgium U19 squad but there’s something I’m unsure of.

Jore Tromet (Lokeren) End of season – no fee – B2B
Looks like a really good prospect who can slot straight into the first team. I would like to make the deal permanent somehow if he plays well.

http://www.voetbalnieuws.be/uploads/jore-trompet(sporting-lokeren)(3).jpg
McMonkey's avatar Group McMonkey
10 yearsEdited
HOME GROWN RULES

The Belgian league states that the match day squad must contain at least six players trained in Belgium for three years under the age of 21. This is fine by me as it fits in with my strategy of developing home grown players. It has also influenced my scouting and signings to some extent as I need to ensure I can still put out a strong match day team when the injuries start to bite.

SECOND DIVISION FORMAT

Another thing that drew me to the Belgian leagues is their unusual league format with three periods and a playoff between the best teams from the three periods. Should make for an exciting end of season if I fall just short of the title (that’s right, I’m assuming I’m going to win it eek!).

PRE SEASON

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g169/werd1066Monkey/PreSeason_zps7e18b2eb.png

I had a busy pre-season with plenty of games, including an inter squad friendly at start and end. I learned that putting first team players into the U21s for these games puts them in a mood and the U21 manager doesn’t necessarily play the ones you want. I don’t know if I can control both teams head to head by taking control of the U21 team. I’m wondering if the heavy training schedule contributed to the injuries to Bostock and Guvenc. I guess M’Vila’s broken leg was just bad luck though.

I must say that the Training system in FM14 is a vast improvement over FM10’s sliders. I used to just download a reliable schedule and stick with it. With this version I will try and be more involved in fine tuning schedules. Decent coaches seem much harder to acquire now but after a couple of the youth assistants being poached I was able to get two decent Dutch first team coaches to assist my assistant Stricker. I would like more youth team coaches to assist my philosophy, but as my youth facilities are poor and I have no academy I’m probably relying on pot luck for decent regens. Hopefully I can remedy this if I get into the Pro League.

Unfortunately my pre-season preparations were spoilt somewhat by the injury to three of my key midfielders. Bostock and Guvenc are both out for several months and poor Yohan M’Vila broke his leg before making his competitive debut and may be out for up to seven months. This prompted me to bring in several midfielders. The first was tough tackling regista Angelo Simone on a permanent deal, defensive midfielder Allan (Sao Paulo) on loan and Belgian box-to-box midfielder Jore Trompet, also on loan, who I had somehow missed on my previous searches.

The games were a bit of a mix. Some good performances, some best forgotten, but they served their purpose in getting the squad match fit and reasonably familiar with the new system. As I was still learning the ropes with FM14 I made some silly mistakes but that’s part of the fun of learning (NOT! I'm a perfectionist and these small errors bugged the hell out of he!).
CONTRACT RENEWAL ISSUES

Long term I may have problems holding onto players on short term contracts if I don’t find money from somewhere. I would estimate that over half the squad’s contracts expire at the end of the season. This may be good for offloading the dead wood, especially if I make it into the Pro League. On the other hand players like Funso Ojo want increased wages and a wedge for their agents that I just can’t afford. As part of my strategy is to develop players and if necessary sell them on, having €300,000 plus rated players walking on a free or for a knock down price in January is a nightmare. Tying down my brightest stars to longer deals is a priority. Hopefully I can sort things out in January when some of the new arrivals are more amenable to a move away.

CAPTAINS

Wim De Decker has 19 Influence and is a natural born leader and a natural choice for club captain.

http://www.rafcmuseum.be/spelersfotos/De_Decker_Wim_1418.jpg

Jonas De Roeck is selected as vice captain. As a youngster he played for Antwerp back in their Pro League days.

http://images.voetbalkrant.com/300x250/52/52381.jpg
READY FOR KICK OFF

I'm happy with how the squad looks now and how the pre-season went. My first choice team (when fit) will be:

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g169/werd1066Monkey/FM14Antwerpfirsteleven_zps59dcf790.jpg

Although this is not a formation I have used before it plays to the strengths of my team. I plan to evolve it into my favoured 4-3-3 over time as I get in the right personal to play this attacking system. As injuries have taken effect I have used Wim De Decker as an anchorman in place of the CM, but in essence it is still a 4-3-2-1 formation.

First up Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian Cup 4th Round.
1-0 Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (A) - Belgian Cup 4th Round

Nirasirike - Header at far post from Petrucci free kick.

MoM - Nirasirike

Comfortable victory against lower league opposition. Could have expected a few more goals considering the amount of posesion and shots!


3-2 Westerlo (A)

Mombongo leaps to head in Ojo's cross.
Maertens (pen). Conceded by captain Wim De Decker.
Mombongo. Blasted in from the edge of the area. Tano assist
Petrucci (pen). Ojo wins penalty after clumsy challenge in non threatening situation.
! Westerlo striker Sherjill MacDonald's goal disallowed for offside.
Vandenbergh hits us on the break. Great finish!

MoM - Mombongo

The match finishes in nervey fasion with several free kicks and corners to defend. Good start to the new season and my managerial reign at the Great Old.

http://1.nieuwsbladcdn.be/Assets/Images_Upload/2013/10/28/9390f2a2-3fd1-11e3-9308-25377cb19a08_original.jpg.h380.jpg

3-1 Huy (H) - Belgian Cup 5th Round

Calabro (pen). The Dutchman wins and converts the opener.
Bruno Cunha blasts in rebound from Calabro's blocked shot.
Diouck beats offside trap to latch on to Victor Hugo's flick on.
Bonama-Lubelu pounces on loose ball to grab a concellation goal.

MoM - Bruno Cunha


0-1 RWDM Bruxelles (H)

Gounongbe's strike comes against the general run of play.

Antwerp should have won this match. Not good enough!


2-0 AFC Tubize (A)

Diawara (OG) turns the ball into his own net after Mombongo's fierce shot. Good pass from Petrucci to play in Mombongo.
Boneme (Tubize) sent off just before half time
Petrucci's shot cannons in off keeper. Good assist by Simone.

MoM - Petrucci


DEADLINE DAY

Joren Dom moves to Dessel on a free (plus 25% of next sale)


2-0 Roeselare (H)

Petrucci free kick flies into the top corner from 28 yards out. All the set-piece practising paid off!
Petrucci lashes home a close range shot after being picked out by Tano.

MoM - Petrucci

http://www.prideofalleurope.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/b948ccf2-16d4-11e3-af03-d336b9e085e9_original.jpg.h380.jpg


Nirasirike wins first cap for Rwanda


3-2 WS Bruxelles (A)

Vinamont scores an impressive direct free kick.
Tano finishes cooly after being picked out in the area by Mombongo.
De Carvalho beats the offside trap to latch on to a long ball. Sengier no chance.
Tano's second after the Bruxelles defence fails to clear its lines and Mombongo centres it for the busy Tano.
Tano completes a superb hat trick after Mombongo tees him up with a cushioned header.

MoM - Tano

Bruxelles hit the bar in the 91st minute but Antwerp hold on for a hard fought win and go top of the table.

http://1.nieuwsbladcdn.be/Assets/Images_Upload/2013/07/14/e4bcf76e-ec8b-11e2-95d3-1a70c4ae9c50_original.jpg.h380.jpg


Wanderson feels he is not getting enough first team football and requests his loan be terminated. I accept but think the lad has been a bit hasty!


SUMMARY

A good start to the new campaign. Petrucci, Tano and Mombongo in particular have impressed. Lets hope they can keep it up and avoid injury!

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