Finishing my Dortmund save meant it was time for a new one. I asked on Twitter and in the previous blog post for suggestions on new places to visit across Europe. There were some excellent suggestions, with Denmark and Croatia amongst my favourites. Whilst Denmark seemed an excellent place to manage, none of the clubs particularly took my fancy. And similarly, Croatia had some interesting rules on Home Grown players that I didn’t fancy contending with.
When I can’t decide a club to choose for a new save, I tend to holiday a season with a big database of many leagues. Once the season is up I check for vacancies and particularly insecure jobs. More often than not, there’s something interesting. And this time was no different; Ajax, Werder Bremen, Zenit, Celta Vigo, and a few others were available. But eventually the club selected was Udinese.
Not since my dominant Inter Milan of FM07 have I had a medium- to long-term save in Italy and this seemed to be the ideal time. One series of Football Manager related blog posts I’ve enjoyed recently is Alex Stewart’s foray into the world of ‘Moneyball’ with Bristol City. His save is built around the idea of maximising success whilst minimising financial outlay, and it’s an interesting concept. Having dominated the Bundesliga with Dortmund, with little regard for financial constraints, it’ll be a nice change to have a constant battle with the club’s finances.
So when the choice of clubs presented itself after a holidayed season, Udinese were the ideal candidates.
Owned by the Pozzo family, Udinese are famed for their incredible scouting department and constant money-making attitude. In recent times, Udinese have given the likes of Juan Cuadrado, Mehdi Benatia and Alexis Sanchez a home before selling them on for much more money. They are only able to do this by signing the players before their ability is fully recognised, and allowing them to flourish in Serie A. My play-style will be largely influenced by this philosophy.
Whenever the option presents itself, the scouting team will be expanded. With a focus on leagues outside of England, Spain, Germany & Italy, the idea will be to give previously undervalued players their first big European move and sell them for more once a replacement is sourced. As such, players will only be signed from the ‘big three’ leagues in exceptional circumstances, such as transfer listings or relegations of talented players. The long-term plan will be to source domestic players solely from the club’s academy or from Udinese’s many feeder clubs.
The feeder club situation is another reason that Udinese took my fancy. The Pozzo family also own Watford & Granada, and the link between the three is fully utilised. At the end of the 14/15 season, Udinese currently have three players on loan from Granada; Allan, Molla Wague, and Thomas Herteaux. The club also has some players out on loan at Granada, and many more (I can’t be bothered to count but I’d estimate about 60 players are loaned out) at other clubs.
It means the transfer situation at Udinese is something of a clusterfuck and the first Summer will likely take me a while to complete. Given the focus on maintaining a tight grip on the finances, removing the wages of on-loan players would be a good place to start. Balancing this with improving a seriously underperforming squad should prove a difficult challenge in a hotly competitive league.