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The Head Coach Challenge

Documenting my adventures in a new save, where I make my staff earn their money
Started on 5 March 2021 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 10 March 2021 by TheLFCFan
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Hi guys, after an extended absence from putting stories out, I'm back with a save that's not Leeds for a change. I'd like to have put out a story on here earlier, but as sod's law would have it, I fired up a save at the start of December that I didn't plan to make into a story, I just wanted to have fun with it. I started with Forest and ended up playing 11 years, spending five at Forest, two and a half at Leeds and getting near the end of a second season at Aston Villa (with breaks in between).

Earlier today, I saw a story that Sheffield United wanted to change Chris Wilder's role to that of a head coach and it got me thinking, seeing as it seems to be the way modern football is heading, what would it be like to work under similar conditions in Football Manager? And that was the brain child of the Head Coach Challenge.

Unlike other Football Manager challenges, there's no real endgame with this, the aim is just to be as successful as you possibly can, with several restraints. In Football Manager, there are a range of senior members of staff, the ones we'll be focussing on for this save are the Chairman, Director of Football, Technical Director, Head of Youth Development, Loan Manager and Chief Scout. This is where we get into the rules.


Director of Football

My Director of Football, to a considerably greater extent than in a normal save, will be in charge of transfers. The only input I get is who we actively look to sell and who I don't want to sign and even with the latter, there is a veto rule. I can veto two signings per position per window. So for example if my DoF has decided we really need a striker and I've pulled the plug on two signings, I have to take the third if there is one.

As for transfers going out, I have no powers of veto. Any players sold will either be players I've deemed as not needed or players whose offers were too good for the club to refuse. I can try to convince a player to stay, but ultimately the power lies with the player and the DoF (and/or the powers that be). I can adjust an asking price, but only if it's for a player I plan on selling, no setting £100m asking prices to scare off suitors.

I will be able to attend recruitment meetings, as a matter of fact this will be the one instance where I can have my say on where I think we need to strengthen. This will be the only time I can set an assignment (I'll be able to tell my scouts to look for a particular position or have a closer look at a player), outside of this I have no power. This takes me onto my next set of rules.

Chief Scout

My Chief Scout will take charge of all scouting. He/she will set up scouting assignments and can lead scouting meetings, although I can assign this to my DoF, the key rule being that I don't sit in on these. My Chief Scout will feed this back to my DoF and the shared knowledge can be used to better inform the DoF.

Head of Youth Development

My Head of Youth Development will have an interesting role in that he/she is the only other member of staff that will get involved in transfer dealings. My HoYD can submit initial offers for players, however as their forte is mainly finding and developing youngsters, he/she will not be involved in negotiations. This will be left to my DoF. Again, I have the same veto powers as I do for the first team which again, comes with the caveat that using my two vetoes in a position can be a gamble. My HoYD will have the usual powers of handling youth recruitment (i.e. through the academy).

Loan Manager

Will do as it says on the tin. Anyone I want to send out on loan, my LM will take care of the rest.

Technical Director

This employee will be in charge of hiring and firing anyone he can (i.e. anyone that isn't him or my DoF). He will also be in charge of staff contracts and coaching badges, so there'll be no dipping into the market for club legends I can train up as coaches. This is arguably the part of the running of the club where my power is most diminished, as I will have no input whatsoever.


Whoever I report to will be the one to hire and fire my Director of Football and Technical Director, as well as negotiating the renewal of their contracts. The board member responsible for running the club will also step in in the absence of the aforementioned members of staff.

What this all means is that I'm left in charge of tactics, training and man management (as well as press duties, but they're not massively important to this discussion). I'm allowed to leave my assistant manager in charge of various aspects that I do have a say on, as long as he/she is not doing all of my job for me. But for example, I've never been overly comfortable setting opposition instructions, so this is something I'd like to leave in the hands of my number 2.

My responsibility is for the development of the players I'm left in charge of, managing my coaching staff and maintaining a positive dressing room atmosphere. These are important for getting it right on the day, the idea is that this will be enough to get it right on enough occasions to still accomplish things as I would under normal conditions. I will have to keep a closer eye on the development of my own players, I can't just frantically look for better ones in the transfer market or ship in a boat load of regens to fix problems on the pitch.


Ironically, despite the talk of Sheffield United at the start of this post, my journey will begin with their neighbours from the north of the city, at Sheffield Wednesday. I wanted to start at a club big enough to be able to attract good quality playing and coaching staff, but also one that presented enough of a challenge to get the sense of accomplishment if I were to for instance, get the club promoted. Nottingham Forest would have qualified for this also, but having spent five years there on my long term save, I think it's time for a change of scenery!

Wednesday are a club in the mire at the moment. We'll begin the season with a 6-point deduction (it could have been worse and many clubs have had worse). As there is a vacancy at the club at the start of the save, the staffing situation is down to the bare bones, with just a fitness coach and general first team coach (Luke Dopson and Neil Thompson) coaching the first team with me. We do have a HoYD in Steve Haslam and Chief Scout in David Downes and they have decent numbers under them in their roles, but we're missing a Director of Football, a Technical Director and a Loan Manager. As a result, chairman Dejphon Chansiri (God help us all, amirite Owls fans?) will step up in the absence of these for now and will be tasked with finding replacements, as well as finding me an assistant manager.

And that's where I'll leave it for now. I'm sure there are people out there who have done this before and nailed it, but I'm about to lose my Head Coach Challenge v-card. Looking forward to the challenge, I'll shoot you an update at the end of pre-season!
Welcome back. Looking forward to what appears to be a unique challenge and one that, as you say, doesn't involve Leeds. What a refreshing change ;)
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
4 monthsEdited
ScottT: I couldn't keep reviving the same fallen giant forever, especially not one that's back on its feet! ;)


With the club having been put on the naughty step over breaches of FFP rules in recent years, it's been a predictably quiet summer on the recruitment side of things, in terms of both players and backroom staff. Dejphon Chansiri has brought a Director of Football and Assistant Manager to the club, in Graham Carr and Gary Megson respectively.

Graham Carr is a useful addition to the recruitment team, 16 JPA and JPP make him a quality judge of talent, but with 8 negotiating, it does make you wonder if he'll be bringing any real value for money to the club in terms of who he signs. He is someone I trust to bring quality, but what Dejphon Chansiri will make of the deals he makes remains to be seen. He signs for the club from Northampton Town and his CV boasts- alongside a lengthy managerial career in the lower leagues- senior recruitment roles at Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.

Gary Megson strikes me as a fair-to-middling appointment. He has 11 and 12 JPA and JPP respectively, 11 tactical knowledge and 7 man management. He has a high level of discipline and determination though and is a useful defence coach, with a rating of 15 for defence coaching. He is an icon of the club however, with a year in the Hillsborough hot seat himself from 2011 to 2012, as well as seven years across two separate spells as a player here during the 80s.

We still have no Technical Director and my request for a Loan Manager was denied, citing that the club can't afford to pay someone to track two or three outbound loans, which is fair enough. What isn't fair enough is that we are without a Technical Director and that the only member of coaching staff that has been drafted in is my assistant manager. We have no goalkeeping coach, with my limited knowledge of coaching keepers being put to the test on the training ground for now. I wouldn't even mind if a goalkeeping coach was the only other coach we signed, as the rest of us are relatively competent at training outfield players, even if we do have one of the weakest coaching set-ups in the league.

The aim of the pre-season was to establish a first choice XI. I did this by taking a back seat and observing the players for the most part, formulating an XI based on my judgements of how the players performed in the friendly matches. My hands-on side will come out during the season, but I wanted to take the chance to sit back and understand how the players would fit into how I want to play before getting stuck into critiqueing them.

That's not to say the players haven't been put through their paces. We've been through a heavy pre-season schedule, with the aim of getting the players fit enough to play in a system that demands a high press and relentless closing down. They've been getting a crash course in how we'll set up in terms of the tactical details and this will translate into a holistic weekly approach throughout the regular season, with a focus on drilling the physical and technical side into the players with tactical sessions interspersed throughout to assist with understanding.

Anyway, enough training ground waffle, you want to see how pre-season went on the pitch. This is how it unfolded...


It's been a mostly postive pre-season, with the disclaimer that we haven't exactly been tested against the best of the best. The defeat against Middlesbrough was a freak result, in which they scored 3 out of 4 shots, to our 2 out of 24. It's the classic defeat against Neil Warnock, he's been pulling off results like that for years so it's not something I'll lose sleep over. There are enough teams in the Championship that we'll be able to do that to who haven't got a manager savvy enough to set them up to win games like that for us to be fine this year. Screenshots of the match overview can be found in the spoiler below, with the exception of the game against the reserves which was set up purely to take a look at some trialists.


As has been previously mentioned, the club is currently in a period of significantly cutting back its spending so no recruits so far for the first team (with the exceptions of the irl signings but more on them at a later time), although a couple of additions have been made for the youth sides, both as free agents.

The first of these was Manchester CIty graduate Henri Ogunby. Ogunby is a pacy winger, capable of crossing from the right or cutting in from the left. He was released from Man City in 2019 and went to sign for Burnley. He seemingly hasn't made the grade there either, with Sean Dyche keen to let him go. It'll be interesting to see if he can make something of himself here.

The other signing has been French midfielder Younes Foundil, who came through the Ipswich Town youth system. Foundil is more of a box-to-box player, he spent a year on loan at Bury Town last year, making just 8 appearances before being released. No disrespect to him, I'm not sold on if he'll make it here, but that's what this challenge is all about, to push the ceiling of the players given to me. I'll see what I can do with him, but not too sure about this one.

The only senior departure has been Moses Odubajo. Odubajo had been on the transfer list (I didn't put him on, but equally saw little reason to take him off) after making 22 appearances for the club. He went to Birmingham for £64,000. To a team that will probably be jostling with us for league places, I wish we'd got more for him, but it is what it is. I'm not the one tasked with spending that money wisely and I'm generally happy with the other players we have.

That's the pre-season update. I'll try and find some time to get my head down and do a post about the squad at some point later in the weekend. Thanks for following guys!
Great update. Wednesday's financial and FFP issues have been well-documented so it makes sense that there hasn't been much in the way of recruitment. I can imagine the wage budget is extremely stretched at the present moment in time. Looking forward to what the season brings after plenty of action in pre-season to assist with getting a general understanding of personnel and setup.
ScottT: We'll get by with what we have, we'll have a look at that in this update...

2020/21 SQUAD

With the likelihood of any senior additions being slim, it's time to take a look at the Sheffield Wednesday squad that I'll be starting the 2020/21 campaign with...

Wednesday have an abundance of options in goal. Perhaps that's the strongest area of the squad, strangely! There are some good players within this mix and I hope that Windass is able to stake a claim. What a player he was for us at Stanley!
An exciting challenge and one I look forward to following. Best of luck!

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