If you haven't read the introductory post, I recommend starting there so you can better understand what SBN United FC is all about.
With my plan decided it was time to start working on building SBN United, the world'd greatest FM team to ever exist in all of history. I had to figure out my tactics, handle transfers and try to get through the preseason without ending up with too many injures. All three tasks were made difficult (of course!) for different reasons.
Tactics are a struggle whenever the new FM game is released, because inevitably there will be issues with the balance, the match engine, Camp Nou cat randomly running on the pitch and purring your team to sleep, thus allowing a stupid goal. Stuff like that.
The positive is that Sports Interactive are very good about working to fine-tune the game through patches, and usually do a good job of getting things under control. The downside to that is every patch has the chance of nuking your tactics and forcing you to figure out what went wrong.
Transfers are made far more complicated than in the past, thanks to the improved Financial Fair Play rules that are present in the game. Gone are the good 'ol days of being able to buy whatever players you could afford, the balance sheet be damned. Now you have to pay attention to your spending and ensure you're not going to upset your board -- or the bean counters.
Finally, there are injures. Good lord there are injuries, but you'll hear more about that in next week's post.
I spent several hours tinkering with some different formations, starting saves to see how the team reacted. It was not a lot of fun, but it was an important process because good tactics in this game are vital. You have a couple options on how to go about finding the right formation.
First you can start from scratch, try different instructions -- the game allows to set a series of directives for each and every player for follow on the pitch -- and see what works. Or you can download someone else's tactics and work from there. This is often the easier path as you can plug in the formation and instructions, see how your team reacts and make adjustments from there.
It came down to a rather ambitious 2-3-4-1 and more traditional 4-2-3-1, both of which I got off an FM fan site. I settled on the second formation because the testing results were far more positive, and it fit my roster better. The key was having a CAM role, which allows me to feature Christian Eriksen in his natural position.
Here's a look at the formation and positional roles.
There's nothing too fancy going on, I'm just asking the central defenders to defend and the fullbacks to react to the situations created by the game.
Mario Gómez was our first signing from Fiorentina for just under $27 million. It wasn't cheap, but at 29, Gómez provides a proven, experienced international striker. Now i know what you're saying, YOU PAID HOW MUCH FOR GÓMEZ?! DOESN'T HE ALWAYS GET INJURED?!
It's true that the German striker has had a hell of time staying healthy since moving to Fiorentina, but that's in the real world. Here's in our FM fantasy land, Gómez's natural fitness rating is 13, which is pretty decent. Even if he does end up being more injury prone, I felt like it was worth the risk.
Plus, it would allow me to move Roberto Soldado or Emmanuel Adebayor on, giving more time to Harry Kane's development. In the end, I decided to sell Adebayor as I wasn't thrilled with his performance in the preseason, plus he acted like an absolute ass when complaining about lack of playing time. Shocking that Ade would do that...
So with my striker situation ironed out, I decided that my other glaring weakness on the roster was at the left attacking midfield position. Both Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela can play on the left, but neither's rating there was particularly impressive. Plus, I would rather have Lamela on the right -- his natural position -- leaving Chadli to be my utility backup for any of the attacking mid spots.
Let's be honest, $24 million for Memphis Depay, one of the best young attackers in the game is a bargain. I'd fully expected to pay more, but when my Director of Football was able to work out this deal, I was thoroughly pleased. Depay gives me a talented starter on the left wing for years to come, and his development should be helped by my excellent collection of coaches.
In the end I spent $50.99 million, bringing in just $7.5 million. I can feel the FFP inspectors breathing down my neck already.
Other clubs in the Premier League were busy as well, though none more so than Arsenal. The Gunners bought Andriy Yarmolenko, Sami Khedira, Nicolas Nkoulou, Marco Asensio and Álex Serrano ($45.9 million), while selling Joel Campbell to AS Monaco and Natxo Monreal to Sevilla for a combined $24.75 million. Chelsea spent $39 million to bring Juan Cuadrado in from Fiorentina. Manchester United's only business was buying Dedé from Cruzeiro for $14 million.
Results and Stats
I wasn't particularly concerned about the results in our six preseason matches, as it was more important to train the squad and improve their fitness. Overall, though, the results were good, with the exception of the Colchester match where we experienced that classic moment where you've been completed hosed by the match engine. Just a part of life in the FM reality.
Here's the results and individual stats from the preseason.
After the Christmas holiday, we move beyond all this friendly nonsense and begin playing matches that actually count. Will SBN United get off to a good start? Will they stumble out of the blocks? Will I get fired in the first month? Come back in two weeks to find out!