Derrubando Os Três Grandes: Santa Clara, an FM 23 Story, Part 3

Punching Above our Weight Class

This season was all about survival. Which meant trying to be as active as we could in the transfer market and improving the squad on a limited budget. My previous post sort of tells the story of how that went, but at the end of the day (weekend really, I spent a long time on the transfer window) I was pretty sure I had improved the squad. I was reasonably sure I hadn’t made it worse, but the FM Gods are a fickle bunch…

First, the outs:

Costina played in 2 games for us, and was very forgettable in both. At 32 years old, he wasn’t a starter anymore, or even a primary backup, so letting him go on a free was not a hard decision to fight. Anderson Carvalho was in the same boat, and he went to Lugano on a free. Kyosuke Tagawa was actually already on his way out the door when I took over, it just took a year for it to happen. I knew holding onto Kennedy Boateng was going to be an issue. It became a bigger issue when he came to me in the offseason wanting a new contract, that would make him the highest paid player on the squad with a salary match clause. When I looked at his season, 27 games played, 1 goal, 1 POM and a 7.02 rating, I said no, made him what I thought was a reasonable offer, and he liked it so much he went to Bordeaux for 2.1 Million…

Patrick, Italo, and Martin Maia all went out on loan, and Sønderjysk picked up Patrick’s optional fee at the end of the season, and I wasn’t really upset by that, at all.

Released player wise, Marco retired, Andre Mesquita, Rodolfo Cardoso and Messias all left on frees. I didn’t try too hard to stop them…

The In’s was a bit of work. OK, it was a lot of work, especially with the behind the scenes stuff going on with the loan market. But when the summer transfer closed, I was pretty sure we had done some “very good business”.

The Summer Transfers

As an aside, these are player profile screenshots from the middle of the season. I had to delete and reinstall my copy of the game, and when I did that it also reset the hotkey I had set up for screenshots. Which I did not notice until about the January transfer window. There are days when I wonder if this is the 21st Century I was promised…

Lucas Paes was brought in for depth at the Keeper position. At the time I signed him, I think he was the best available keeper on a Free, the ‘Hatyes Big Games’ and a few other thing’s showed me why, but believe me, there were worse options available to me.

Luan was brought in to be a backup, but he did end up starting a respectable amount of games for us. A little bit older, I thought that was offset by his Playing Style abilities, and from an attribute point of view, aside from the low Bravery he’s a solid enough player.

Eray Comert was easily one of the best signings this season. The Swiss International, by way of Valencia and Seattle, made the DM position his own, and had a very good season.

I signed Samuel Telles to be part of the M(C) and DM rotation. Another one of the “Good, but not great players” he also had a solid season for us.

Vítor Gonçalves was supposed to be a depth signing, one of those players who you would be OK starting a handful of games and coming off the bench in most cases. Instead his versatility and solid attributes meant he started 30 games for us. His physicals fell off a little bit at the end of the year though, which is slightly concerning.

Erdal Rakip was out one big money spend, and I actually have some experience with him from my Youtube save last season with Vardar. I kept trying to sign him, he kept saying no. I guess he likes the sun and sand of the beaches as opposed to Skopje, and that’s OK. Rakip is a versatile player, who I wanted to play M(C) more often than not. the 4 star CA, 4 Star PA was probably a steal at 245K, but he wanted out of Malmö because he had been relegated to the bench. I got 30 solid starts out of him, with 1 goal, 4 assists and a player of the match, and that I think is 245K well spent.

Leandro Miguel is a youth keeper with some potential. I brought him on board to see if I can’t help his development along, and maybe make some money on the back end.

Gonçalo Figueiredo I brought in for striker depth. The good news is there’s nothing really bad about him as a striker. The bad news is there’s nothing really good about him as a striker. But then, as a guy who came in on a free, if he ends up with a couple of spot starts and off the bench appearances, I won’t be too upset by that. I hope.

Thomas Antunes is the D(L) version of Figueiredo, but with bigger holes in his skillset. He’s still young enough to try and get some decent training in, and maybe some of those skills can come up, but if the crossing and first touch don’t get into the high single digits, he can forget about trying to be a D(L).

I know I haven’t talked about my formation much, I am working on another post about it, going into the numbers more, but at the end of the day, it’s a modified Swiss Bolt, a 5-2-3 with a DM. Hi Tempo, short passing, with some PI’s that I rarely use, but it’s been an effective formation for us. Except when it hasn’t been of course.

I’ll be doing a post on this later. It’s not my typical style, but I am having fun with it.

The season started off pretty well:

Famalicão beating us at home was annoying, we were doing a really good job of controlling the game until Olmes Garcia scored 2 in 10 minutes. The Moreirense was one of the few games where we didn’t have at least as many shots as our opponent, but we fell apart in the final third. Losing to Porto was sort of expected, but losing by three was not. Our xG this match was 1.25, but again we fell short in the final third. That said, scoring 9 in the next 2 games while only conceding 2 was very nice.

We got lucky against Estoril, I will be the first to admit that, but there are times when you don’t complain too loudly either, and this was one of them. What this run og games showed me is that on the whole, we are a better squad than last season, because I am very sure that if last seasons squad was playing, we would have lost at home against Farense, and drawn with Estoril and Feirense. In fact I was quite proud of the fact the number of draws we had was down. Would I prefer to have some of those losses be draws? Sure, who wouldn’t, but by the time the January transfer window opened, we were fighting for a top 6 spot in the league.

The January and End of Season pickups

Bojan Dmitrović. I don’t know why FK Željezničar let him go on a free. But he has International Caps already, no real weaknesses in his game for the position he plays, he’s 2 1/2 star current, 5 star potential? Even if after 5 years of training he doesn’t get to 5 stars, I am sure I can turn around and sell him for at least the 22M his current minimum value is. He did get some starts over the course of the season, and he didn’t make too many mistakes. He didn’t have a lot of highlights either, but at this point thats about all you can ask for.

The Summer loan market was a mess. The winter market less so, the number of outrageous monthly fees and like was down, and good players were willing to move, and teams were willing to let them go without charging a ransom. Nemanja Ilić from Partizan and Kerem Kalafat from Beşiktaş were both solid contributors. Ilić had 5 goals, 4 assists and 2 POM’s in 18 games for us at AM(L), AM(R) and a couple of appearances at M(C), but Partizan didn’t want to let him come back for the next season. Kalafat was a solid contributor at the WB(R) and I would have picked up his option if I had the 450K to spend, but alas, we’re still digging around the couches for transfer monies.

Sidnei Tavares was the only other player we spent money to get. a M(C)/DM, he has some attributes that I do like, his Passing skills are very nice, as are his Ball Control skills, and for a person who I wanted to be a bench player, he filled that role capably.

Sabino Gamboa, Carlos Dinas, and Nico Seiler are all youngsters I brought in to help fill in some spots on the U19 squad. If they ever see first team playing time its because I struck gold with them (unlikely), or we’ve been relegated and I have no other options.

Where we made our season

I would bet that if we were playing with last seasons squad, the games against Gil Vicente, Braga, Chaves and Vitoria would have been draws or losses. Benfica beat us fair and square, Sporting scored two early, and again our lackluster performance up top did us in. Porto was Porto, I suspect its going to be a minute before we can do anything against them. But with all the wins we had crept up to 5th place, and were fighting for 4th. Our Youth Intake was embarrassing, with one mediocre player worthy of a contract. I shan’t be posting it, lest you recoil in sock and horror at it’s brute ugliness….

A Punchers Chance

We did get lucky in some of these games. the Ilic goal against Maritomo was nice, as was the Marcos brace against Farense. We came back to draw Braga, which on paper looks like an accomplishment, except they were having an offseason and finished mid table. I didn’t realize we were still in the Cup until I saw the Semi Final Second Leg announcement and we thumped Torreense, meaning we were going to face Benfica in the final. Drawing Gil Vicente clinched us European football, we could do no worse than 5th in the League, but the last month of the season was the proverbial ‘Bridge to Far’.

The draw against Vitoria made our job that much harder, and while the win at Sporting was nice, they had a solid lock on 3rd place and played a rotated side against us, so I am not counting it as beating Sporting. Benfica hammered us to clinch 2nd, and then two weeks later hammered us again to win the Cup. But we finished in 5th Place, European Football! And I am quite happy with that.

The Três Grandes are still the Três Grandes though, and while we were competitive, there is still a very wide gap between us and them.

Our finances are improving though, but at this point I still count not losing a lot of money as a victory. The clubs reward for our fine season of play was a new contract, and a tiny transfer budget of 203K and a payroll of 79K, which isn’t that much more than we are paying now.

Squad wise though, we have some issues. Quintilla is leaving on a free. He wanted Star Player Money, and as much as I like him, and his 10 assists, I can’t afford to pay him that, not if I want to improve the club. We need help in our front Three, I think it speaks volumes that Ilic came in the January transfer window and had the best all around performance of the attackers, and while Mohebi had some nice games for us, he wasted too many opportunities in games as well. Sure, on paper 14 goals, 4 assists and 4 POM’s is nice, but when you consider the next highest scorer was Valente playing CM, and our primary attacking mids had 9 between them, it’s a minor miracle we won as many games as we did. If we want to challenge for better European football, we need to get better up top, but given our budget constraints and the wackiness that is the loan market…that’s an iffy proposition.

So we go into the offseason on a high note, and a well deserved one I think because despite the teams shortcomings, we did very well. A nice cup run would go a long way to improving our finances, that or a sugar daddy takeover, but without some improvements to the squad, we may find ourselves fighting it out in midtable, or worse.

That said, the first brick of the foundation has been set. Hopefully we don’t need to build the Great Wall to topple the Três Grandes.

Thanks for Reading!



One of my favorite phrases of all time is “Custer had a plan too….”. Those of you who may need a little historical context, I suggest Wikipedia; but at the end of the day, it’s a very apt quote. I used it at work a couple of weeks ago and the VP of Ops laughed so hard he had to sit down and put his head between his legs, which may or may not reflect positively on my upcoming review.

FM 21 has been very interesting for me. My most successful project thus far is one I didn’t even put together at the end, I simulated 1000 years of Football with the Top Six leagues and Brazil Active. Took two computers and about four and a half months to process, you can watch the results of that video here:

There’s also a thread on Reddit about it.

It was fun to do, and I’ll do it again next years as well.

Personal save wise, I was kind of all over the place. I had a personal save with Palace that was fun, and then did a personal journeyman save that was fun as well, starting in England, and ending up in Brazil via Poland and Germany. My primary Youtube save was with a club I had seen play in person when I lived there in the 80’s, 1FC Kaiserslautern. It was a fun save, we took them from the 3. Liga to the Bundesliga, and while we didn’t win everything, it was still a good time. I play that save offline from time to time, because I had scouted my tail off and had a great squad of potential, and I want to see if I could do better with them than the computer. Long story short, sort off.

My save for the second half of the FM21 year is proving to be pretty fun, it’s a Journeyman save, but I’ve limited it to the 25 countries I would consider to be “Eastern Europe on the other side of the Old Iron Curtain.” It’s been very fun so far, and challenging in a good way. But it also got me thinking about what I want to do in the future, especially with regards to Youtube.

I don’t have the biggest channel. There will always be bigger channels, and I am happy to be a contributor, and am quite happy that I have had positive, if slow, growth since I started creating. My goal with the channel was never to try and turn it into something I could make money off of, and while streaming does have it’s appeal, work and family life make that impracticable. I love my day job, and I make too much money to walk away from it to try and be a full time streamer. But I have been thinking about what I like doing within the FM community, and how to become better at it.

I think the two dedicated saves a year, with a projected schedule of uploads M-T-Th-F is a good fit for me. The Beta/Release save will be a signal club save, almost always a Lower League Club/Fallen Giant save, which will end somewheres around the New Years, and then the second save will be a Journeyman similar to this years in that it will be regional. I also like doing the occasional experiment with a twist.

That said, “Custer had a plan too…” in that I’ve already decided on my FM22 Beta save. It going to be with my favored team, the one I follow more than the others, Crystal Palace. Now, I’ve already done a Crystal Palace save for YouTube, the Palace March, for FM19.

There are a few reasons I am doing another Palace save for FM22.

  1. Roy Hodgson is retiring, and a new manager is taking over. Personally I’d love to see what Wilder could do there. And part of me would like to think I can do better. 🙂
  2. The team is going to look entirely different next season, as they have 17 players whose contracts are expiring on June 30th, and those who are still going to be on the roster are older (Milivojevich) or looking to move (Zaha).
  3. There isn’t much left to build around. Eze and Mitchell are both solid young players with promise, Mateta is on loan until 2022, but I think depending on the summer moves they may exercise their option to sign him from Mainz, and that’s pretty much it. Whomever the coach is next season is going to be hard pressed to keep them up, and that’s a challenge I like.

I’m also planning on going a bit more in depth with scouting and training, the spreadsheet may see new life in FM22. And then comes the Journeyman, South America, Asia, South America, I am not sure, but it will be fun.

So that’s the plan for now…let’s see if it comes to fruition.

8 Players to the Lower Leagues, an Experiment

Experiments are quite popular in FM, but in my opinion, to many of them are the same. What if we gave a Lower League Club a Billions Pounds, what if we put the worlds best youth player in the 8th Division of the English Football League, that sort of thing. I’ve even done a couple of those, but one of the thing’s I am interested in doing are Experiments with a little more behind them.

This experiment was directly influenced by a video Dr.Benjy did, in which he moved Erling Haaland to Bath and locked him into a 15 Year contract there. You can find the first video in that series here:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I wanted to go a step further though, and make this a multiplayer experiment.

I put 8 younger players, who at one point in time were (or in the case of the youngest are) considered wonderkids, and moved them to teams in the Vanarama North and South. The goal was to see if any player could help get their squad to the Premier League before they retired or their contract ran out (more on that here in a few). It took some trial and error to get the experiment up and running, but eventually I had success in running the edited database.

Was the Experiment a success?

Yes. And No.

The Experiment ran a total of four videos, what follows is a breakdown of some of the issues I discussed in the video, and some of the issues I encountered as well. You can find the video series here:

First, the players and Teams I moved them too:

  • Kylian Mbappe, to Blyth Spartans in the Vanarama North
  • Erling Haaland, to Hemel Hempstead Town in the Vanarama South
  • Ansu Fati, to Dulwich Hamlet in the Vanarama South
  • Sebstiano Esposito, to Ebbsfleet United in the Vanarama South
  • João Félix, to Eastbourne Borough in the Vanarama South
  • Yusuf Demir, to Fylde in the Vanarama North
  • Rayan Cherki, to Chorley in the Vanarama North
  • Jadon Sancho, to Curzon Ashton in the Vanarama North

In the editor, I made sure none of the player CA/PA was on the low side, but I also made sure they weren’t maxed out either. I locked them into 18 year contracts, with future transfers to the MLS (where all older European players got to dominate). I loaded just the English Leagues this time around, with about a 28K size player database.

My logic in putting those players on those teams was simple: The better players I put on teams picked by the pundits to finish in the bottom half of their respective table. Both Blyth and Hemel Hempstead were relegation candidates. The younger players I put on teams that had recently been relegated, or had missed out on promotion the previous year. My train of thought was a player like Ansu Fati would not have to share the load right away, while Mbappe could (and would) put the team on his shoulders and carry them as far as he could.

I found the Experiment interesting for a variety of reasons. First, if you did not get promoted quickly, there was a possibility you could get stuck in a League for quite a while. Secondly, if the team did get promoted, would the AI be able to surround the Youngster with players able to help them stay up and get promoted. Thirdly, at some point in time the Youngster would start to decline, was the team he was on set up to avoid relegation?

My goal was to see if one or more players could get their team to the Premier League. I didn’t expect any of them too, honestly I don’t believe the AI is good enough to get as team promoted in 6 divisions in 18 year on a consistent basis, heck even us human players are hard pressed to do that sometimes.

My expectations were met. None of the teams managed to get to the Premier League, but a couple of them came close.

Click to embiggen

As one would expect, Kylian Mbappe had the best progression out of all the plyers, in fact I would consider his and Blyth’s movement up the Pyramid to be be the template going forward: Immediate promotion in the first year, 3 promotions in 9 years, and then when the player is at or just beyond their peak, competing in the Championship for a shot at the Premier League. Blyth’s best finish was 13th, but digging deeper I realized that was almost pure luck.

There were more than a few reason’s player’s like Cherki, Felix and Sancho never got out of non-league, and most of those were my fault. First, I did not check the teams professional status before assigning the players to them, and as a result, Cherki, Felix, Sancho, Mbappe and Haaland ended up on Semi-Professional squads. Compounding this issue were the player salaries, they were all locked into €1000 p/w contracts, with a yearly 5 or 10% raise. If this experiment had consisted of just one player, that would not be as big an issue, but with eight, you ran into a situation where a semi professional teram had to get promoted, and quickly, in order to get Professional status. This would let their payroll expand, and they would have the opportunity to sign better players, but I suspect (because I can’t prove it) that by the time some of the players, Felix Sancho and Cherki, were making more money than anyone else on the squad still, and as a result their teams did not have the wage bill to bring in players to help them. The best example of this is Jadon Sancho, in the last year of the save Curzon Ashton was relegated to the EvoStik, and he was making €4700 p/w…

Mbappe and Haaland are both good enough that they were able to get promoted, and quickly, but then that’s where the other behind the scenes issue arose, and that’s the AI’s inability to work a good transfer market and improve the squad. The best example of this is Mbappe of course. From 2029 to 2035 Blyth were in the Championship. This is their Transfer Spending in that timeframe:

2029/30€1M (and 3 players on loan at €315K)€46K
Blyth Transfer Spending while in the EFL Championship

By Comparison, Reading was also in the Championship at the same time, and both teams finished within shouting distance of each other more often than not, and their Transfer spends were 18.75M/28M, 7.25M/26M, 20.5M/33M, 15M/5.5M, 14.5M/35M in the same time frame.

The clubs that did get promoted did improve their facilities, as an example Blyth ended up with Great Yout and Training facilities, but I also wonder if the quality of coaching, especially for those players who did not get promoted right away, also played a factor in their development.

This is Rayan Cherki’s Progression thru the midpoint of the save:

Rayan Cherki 2020
Rayan Chekri 2023
Rayan Cherki 2029

He did pick up some more traits, and became comfortable at a few more positions, and in fact actually came down a point in a couple of attributes. A lack of full time training perhaps?

That said, even if their attributes didn’t improve, they were more than good enough to be their clubs primary scoring threat for much of the save. What follows are a few tables to illustrate that:

Players Goals by Year and Division
Players Assists by Year and Division
Another View of Player Goals and League

There’s still a lot more to do in terms of player charting and the like, but for the moment, here are my takeaways from this experiment:

It was pretty fun to run. The data from this comes from my third attempt at running it, the first was marred by a series of PBKAC errors on my end, the second by some behind the scenes stuff I didn’t realize could happen, IE Hard Brexit, and as a result Esposito and Cherki didn’t qualify for a work permit due to lack of International Experience, and spent the last twelve years locked into a team they could not play for nor get released from. Mbappe getting a team close I sort of expected, but I was also hoping a younger player like Esposito would do well in that regard. And I learned a lot from it, especially what to do if I want to run this experiment again later, which I might. If I do, I probably won’t have Mbappe or Holland on it, but younger players like Boadu, Zirkzee and others. I would start them at a lower salary, and if I could, ensure they all start on Professional squads.

If you’ve made it this far, Thanks! Any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will answer them as best I can. If you have an idea for an experiment, let me know as well, am always interested in seeing what other creators come up with that’s different than the usual out there.

So, Now I have to Learn WordPress….

Hi, and thanks for stopping by!

My name is FM Jellico, and in addition to being a full time father, husband, and gamer I am also a Football Manager…well, addict is to strong…no, it’s not.  I’m an addict.

I’m relatively new to the Football Manager scene, FM 17 was my first exposure to the game, and I’m also American, so please don’t hold my lack of in depth Football knowledge against me.  🙂

In the course of one of my saves, I posted a screenshot of some work I’ve done in Excel/Calc to help me better visualize the data Football Manager gives a player.  There was a lot of enthusiastic feedback on it, so I’ve created this website to go a little bit further in depth on what I am doing, and how.  There will also be videos up on my YouTube channel covering the pages as I create and manipulate them.  If you want to take a look at them now in all their incomplete glory, check out the Episodes of my SC Bastia save, just forgive the one out of order.

Hopefully going forward the bare bones nature of this site will improve, I just have to find the time to learn WordPress…good thing that block of time between 1 and 2AM is open…

You can reach me at, or at @FM_Jellico on Twitter.


“Life is like a game of football. You need goals. If there are no goals in your life then you can’t win.”
-Unknown Author