Following my fairly dull update of the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons at Újpest, this one will give you a bit more detail on the squad and what’s actually going on at the club. During the season I’ve also been looking at the stats in slightly more detail in a bid to create a player radar (such as the one here: https://fmcoffeehouse.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/fm14-ujpest-201920-the-year-of-the-agent/) for full-backs. Unfortunately, because my full-backs play as Complete Wing Backs, they produce quite irregular stat-lines and therefore aren’t indicative of all players in their position.
One thing I’d like to address in relation to this is the question I often get where people seem confused as to why I actually collate these stats every year. If you’re not interested in the answer then you’re more than welcome to skip the next few paragraphs.
Whilst I find stats without context to be easily misinterpreted in real-world football, in a man-made match engine such as Football Manager, I’d like to think there’s more use for them. Whilst there’s a vast number of blogs focused around save-games that I enjoy reading, one of the elements of the game I’m most interested in is squad management and development. Unless you’ve got time to write a massive update then it’s very difficult to give an idea of how *everyone* in the squad has played for that time period; stats give a quick snapshot and don’t take nearly as long for me.
As well as this, it allows for inter-generational comparison between different players on top of highlighting outstanding seasons that I may well have missed. An example of such a season will be referred to later on in this update.
Following a number of successful seasons, the club is well and truly into the Continental Consolidation phase of my long-term plan for the club. And as a result, my main aim for the season was to keep up my domestic success as well as once again make it out of my Champions League group.
We were successful both aspects.
One major change that we made this year was to upgrade the size of the squad. As always seems to be the case on Football Manager, though, this resulted in more injuries than we’d ever had before. Early on in the season this meant that the starting lineup was rotating more than I’d have chosen to do and as a result we found it difficult to consistently get results. In previous seasons it’s been the Champions League group games that have led to us losing form, but this year we managed to qualify very easily. So this year we ended up relying on those games to play us back into form, with a 5-0 win against Schalke sending player morale through the roof.
With well over 60 games last year, the squad needed a big influx of new players. With Francois Marquet also leaving, we also needed to cover several positions as Marquet often acted as our prime utility player; able to cover all five of the central midfield roles as well as both full-back positions, he was an important squad player.
But instead of replacing Marquet with a single player, I instead went with a plethora of versatile central midfielders. It’s meant the finances aren’t quite as sound as they once were, but there’s still a large amount of wage budget room and the squad has never been so well-padded.
The only real specialist there is Tomas Musil who can only act in the attacking midfield strata. I’m a sucker for a guy who can dribble and pass as my Advanced Playmaker and so perhaps Musil’s wages are slightly more inflated than they should be. However, he was able to produce some big performances in a season where Souleymane Diop and Nassir el Aissati were hit by long-term injuries.
Lilic and Rose are slightly more versatile. Both prefer to play in the very centre of the midfield five, as the team’s box-to-box midfielder. At times, when we used the 5-4-1 in European matches, the two would be paired together when we were able to operate without a proper defensive midfielder. But Rose spent the majority of the season as the preference in central midfield and Lilic & Filip Jech picked up the spare minutes.
Nahuel Chaves was originally on the shortlist as a potential Complete Wingback option after the club accepted a massive £27m + add-ons offer for star Emmanuel Adebayo. But after Adebayo failed to agree terms with Nice, Chaves was brought in anyway as the team’s new ultimate utility player. He’s a massive upgrade on Marquet in this regard because he’s probably the team’s most technically proficient player. His positional split for the season was; DM – 25 games, M(C) – 23 games, AM(C) – 23 games, D(L) – 2 games. As you’ll see later in the update, his stat-line was fantastic given he had no stability in his position.
We completed our season’s £22m spending with Raul Baena and Regis.
Baena was brought in as a replacement for Alan Radinovic, who had started requesting wages of approximately 10 times his current earnings of £4k p/w. Baena also represents a player of a similar current quality level to Radinovic but with a much higher upside. Alongside Cristophe Catherine and Kenni Brogaard, the centre of defense is sorted for a long time.
Regis was our only January addition, and was completely unplanned. Having previously had a fairly poor recruiting presence in South America, I decided to ask the board to increase the number of scouts the club were allowed. Upon agreeing, two Brazilian scouts were hired and their highest recommendation was young defensive midfielder Regis. At this point, Romauld Lacazette had already accepted a contract offer from St. Gallen and would be leaving at the end of the season. It therefore made sense to bring Regis in early and give him an extra half-season to adapt to a new country, climate and league.
Notable Seasons (top 10 of all-time performances):
Rosier (1st), Halgas (8th) -> Goals
Halgas (1st), Rosier (8th) -> NPG P90
Chaves (10th) -> Assists
Diop (5th), Ndongala (7th), Musil (8th) -> A P90
Halgas (3rd), Diop (10th) -> NPG+A P90
Rosier (4th), Adebayo (10th) -> PoMs
Lacazette (1st), Gronborg (2nd) -> Tackles
Catherine (5th) -> Interceptions
Lacazette (1st), Gronborg (5th), Catherine (10th) -> T+I P90
Catherine (1st) -> Key Headers
Diop (4th) -> Key Passes
Venuti (4th), Diop (5th), Xuxinha (6th), Adebayo (7th) -> Dribbles
el Aissati (2nd), Halgas (5th), Rosier (9th) -> Shots
Rosier (8th), Halgas (10th) -> Chance Conversion
Look to the Future: 2023 Off-season
I mentioned earlier in the update that Romauld Lacazette had agreed a pre-contract deal with St. Gallen to leave Újpest on a free transfer last year; Aristote Ndongala is in the same situation. It’s unfortunate to lose players that have both been at Újpest for at least 9 years, but contractual demands and the strength of the current squad mean we were always in the driving seat in negotiations. When they both demanded massive wage rises and long contracts (both aged 29), it was decided they’d both go.
Both will be incredibly difficult to replace. Ndongala has recorded 1.27 and 1.26 NPG+A P90 seasons over the past couple of years, and Lacazette recorded the club’s first ever >10 T+I P90 season last year. I’m hoping that Souleymane Diop and Regis are able to take over the production of the two Újpest stalwarts.