Gaming

'Dubbed the next..' The Football Manager Crystal Ball

Written by MaddFM

 
 

🎵 Suggested tune: "Que Sera Sera (What will be will be)" - Doris Day 🎵

Football Manager has always been famous for predicting the footballing future, and for recognising a young player's potential long before the real life football community catches on or makes a move - so much so that a number of well-known clubs and managers have taken to actually playing/utilising the game in order to ensure they are up to date with the highest potential and most sought after wonderkids that SI continue to identify through their outstanding scouting network and wide range of researchers and contacts all over the globe.

One of my favourite features of Football Manager is to scout and find wonderkids / hidden gems who are "Dubbed", "Touted" or "Labelled" as the next {Insert Football Legend name here}. While this doesn't always mean that the player is guaranteed to rise to stardom and become an absolute superstar, I've always enjoyed unearthing a top youth prospect that has the potential to reach the ability of an already well known footballing icon - not only does it give an indication of the type of player they may aspire to be, it is also a great way of connecting the FM alternate universe to real life football which for me is the reason I have played the game relentlessly for over 20 years now since that fateful day when I swapped my copy of Sensible World of Soccer 95/96 for a copy of Championship Manager 2 with a mate at aged 10, and to this day have never returned it to him 😆.

The addition of FM19 to my Steam library not only means another 1000+ hours of trawling through random European and South American U-19 squads in the hope of finding a never-seen-before wonderkid - it also completes a 10 year collection of Football Manager games on Steam (the older ones are still piled up in boxes on my desk), and as such I think it is fitting to look at a selection of the best and most interesting Football Manager media comparisons that were made between FM 2009 and FM 2019 and analyse where SI have either hit the nail on the head or had a swing and a miss when it comes to predicting the future and dubbing/touting a youth prospect as the next big thing.

A decade of FM on Steam

The addition of FM19 to my Steam library not only means another 1000+ hours of trawling through random European and South American U-19 squads in the hope of finding a never-seen-before wonderkid - it also completes a 10 year collection of Football Manager games on Steam (the older ones are still piled up in boxes on my desk), and as such I think it is fitting to look at a selection of the best and most interesting Football Manager media comparisons that were made between FM 2009 and FM 2019 and analyse where SI have either hit the nail on the head or had a swing and a miss when it comes to predicting the future and dubbing/touting a youth prospect as the next big thing.

10 years of Media Comparisons

1. Chris Smalling - "Dubbed the new Rio Ferdinand" (FM2009)

Straight Swap?

In January 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson beat Arsenal to the signing of 20 year old highly rated England U21 defender Chris Smalling from Fulham for a fee reported to be in the region of £7 million - roughly 14 months after the release of Football Manager 2009 in which the game had an 18 year old Smalling "Dubbed as the new Rio Ferdinand" while he was still playing in the Fulham Reserve side, an interesting comparison considering the two ended up playing side-by-side IRL during United's title winning campaign the following season. Rio on the other hand, has not once but twice broken the record as the most expensive defender in history after his £18 million and £30 million moves to Leeds and Man Utd respectively; needless to say Smalling would have big shoes to fill (no pun intended 😋).

 

Smalling’s FM09 Profile

 

Future Team Mates

How do they compare?

In order to compare the two we will look at each player in FM terms by comparing both players at their peak. Smalling, currently 29 years old is arguably in his prime now in FM19 and we will therefore measure him against a 29 year old Rio Ferdinand which requires us to go back to FM09 to get a like-for-like comparison:

 

Ferdinand’s FM09 Profile

 
 

Smalling’s FM19 Profile

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Overall, FM didn't do a bad job in predicting Chris Smalling's inevitable rise to the pinnacle of English and International football - it's fair to say he is not at the same level as Ferdinand in terms of football ability and defensive solidarity and overall Ferdinand is certainly the stronger of the two, however as FM predictions go this was definitely one of the more accurate and we will give it 4 stars on the MaddFM Media Comparison scale 😎.

2. Connor Wickham - "Dubbed the New Alan Shearer" (FM2010)

 
 

There are arguably not many boots that would be bigger to fill than those of Alan Shearer, particularly for a young English Striker that spent four seasons on the red side of the Tyne-Wear derby. Before that however, Football Manager 2010 predicted that it would be 16 year old Connor Wickham who would fill those boots and become the new Alan Shearer, and despite playing at Premiership level (on and off) for the past 8 or 9 seasons, it hasn't quite happened for Wickham who currently plies his trade for Crystal Palace in the Premier League. Shearer on the other hand is one of the best Strikers to have graced the Premier league, and was prolific at both domestic and international level for close to 15 years scoring 379 career goals in 734 appearances.

 

Wickham’s FM10 Profile

 

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

It's easy to forget that Wickham is still only 26 years of age, and certainly has a whole lot of football ahead of him. In FM terms he is not a bad target man based on his attributes, however unfortunately he does not come close to Shearer's ability or achievements and this is one of FM's more unsuccessful attempts to predict the footballing future in-game.

 

Wickham FM19 Profile

 

Shearer’s CM9798 Profile

Madd FM - 15. Shearer vs Wickham Attributes.JPG

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐★

Even though he still has plenty of years of football ahead of him, Wickham is still a long way off reaching the ability and goal-scoring heights of Alan Shearer, therefore we are giving a two-star rating to this media prediction.

3. Marco Verratti - "Could be the next Andrea Pirlo" (FM2011)

 

Pirlo isn’t impressed…

 

Football Manager 2011 told us that a 17 year old youth prospect at Pescara had the potential to become one of the greatest Italian midfielders of all time by tipping Marco Verratti to become the next Andrea Pirlo - high praise indeed for a player who was only 2 years old when Pirlo made his Serie A debut for Brescia in 1995. Verratti showed signs of incredible talent from a very young age, and hasn't failed to live up to his potential whereby at the age of 20 he was already playing Champions League and International football for PSG and Italy respectively. While Pirlo has almost enjoyed unparalleled success during his time at Milan and Italy, Verratti has also shone at the top level and as media predictions go this was one of FM's finer attempts at looking in to the crystal ball and picking out a youth prospect destined for success on the big stage.

 

Verratti’s FM11 Profile

 

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

Pretty close! In terms of ability, there is not a lot between the two from an FM perspective, with Pirlo narrowly edging it and rightly so based on his overall contribution year on year for both Milan and Italy over the years. Verratti has a long way to go to replicate Pirlo's achievements and honours gained however this is one prediction that FM can be proud of and hopefully Verratti can push on to emulate some of Pirlo's achievements for both club and country.

 

Verratti’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Pirlo’s FM09 Profile

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Five stars may sound generous, but if you think about it and look back at all of the occasions where we have seen the best FM youth prospects fail to live up to the hype surrounding them - SI were fairly on the ball when their researchers spotted 17 year old Verratti's potential and dubbed him the next big thing in Italian football, therefore we will give them 5/5 for a top effort.

4. Sean McGinty - "Touted as the next Mick McCarthy" (FM2010)

 

Sean McGinty alongside Man Utd youth teammates Pogba and Lingard

 

Who?? My thoughts exactly...but when FM2010 came out, it seems that the SI researchers saw something special in 15 year old Irish teenager Sean McGinty, so much so that they labelled him as the next Mick McCarthy who was one of the best defenders of his generation during the 1980s.

 

McGinty’s FM10 Profile

 

How do they compare?

McGinty was part of United's FA Youth Cup winning side in 2011 alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Michael & Will Keane, Sam Johnstone and Ravel Morrison - however he never managed to make the grade at United and struggled to make the transition to professional football. Following multiple loan spells, he eventually ended up playing lower league football at Aldershot and Torquay before signing for Partick Thistle in 2018. McCarthy on the other hand, played at the highest level for both club and country and sadly McGinty never lived up to his potential as a teenager in FM10.

 

McGinty’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Mick McCarthy - courtesy of @MadScientistFM's 85/86 Custom DB

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐★★★★

Unfortunately for McGinty this was a complete swing and a miss for FM Media Comparisons and he never managed to fulfil his potential as is so common in modern day football.

5. Jonjo Shelvey - "Dubbed the new Glenn Hoddle" (FM2012)

 
 

I had previously seen a 16 year old Jonjo Shelvey compared to Michael Carrick in FM2009, however it was in FM2012 that we began to see Jonjo Shelvey announce himself on both the FM stage and IRL also, so much so that he was touted by FM researchers as the "next Glenn Hoddle" within the game. Bearing in mind that I am a 32 year old Irishman, I never really had the opportunity or cause to see Glenn Hoddle play live during his prime and my main introduction to Hoddle was when he managed England in the 1998 World Cup finals (as well as all that Eileen Drewery nonsense :P). However I have since learned that not only was Hoddle a talented midfielder and fully-fledged England international, but that he was also one of the most technically and tactically astute players of his generation and an absolute powerhouse of a midfielder during the 70's and 80's. Were SI on to something here in comparing a young Shelvey to Hoddle?

 
 

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

Slightly biased being a Newcastle fan, but in terms of midfield style and looking at the attributes where both players are strongest - I reckon that it's a fairly close comparison overall; Shelvey is of course nowhere near Hoddle in his prime however the two are very similar and I think that FM did a decent job in tipping Shelvey to emulate Hoddle's creative and forceful playing style.

 

Shelvey’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Hoddle FM Profile courtesy of @MadScientistFM's 85/86 Custom DB

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ ★★

Perhaps Shelvey should give Eileen Drewery a call? 😋

6. Dani Pacheco - "Touted as the next David Villa" (FM2010)

Around the time that Rafa Benitez was building a Spanish revolution at Liverpool following their earlier Champions League successes, a young Spaniard was just signing professional terms at Anfield following successful youth spells at both Malaga and Barcelona. Such was his goalscoring prowess that Dani Pacheco was nicknamed "El Asesino" (The Assasin) by his team mates at Barcelona, which led to a high profile move to Liverpool and therefore a powerful media comparison by Football Manager comparing him to another Spanish goal machine - David Villa, who not only was prolific in La Liga during spells at Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, but is also Spain's all-time goalscorer with 63 goals in 98 appearances.

 

Pacheco’s FM10 Profile

 

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

Alas for Dani Pacheco, his Liverpool career never really took off and he eventually returned to Spain following numerous loan spells away from Merseyside. Most recently I have crossed paths with him during my #RoyDeLosRovers save with CD Tenerife where he plays his football with Malaga in the second tier of Spanish football; definitely La Liga quality however he is quite far off the ability and goalscoring instinct that David Villa showed year after year in Spanish football.

 

Villa’s FM10 Profile

 
 

Pacheco’s FM19 Profile

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐★★★ 

Safe to say that David Villa in his prime was a far superior striker to Pacheco who is also currently in his prime years in FM19, therefore we will give this comparison a 2 star rating on the MaddFM Media Comparison scale.

7. Raphael Varane - "Labelled the next Philippe Mexes" (FM2012)

 
 

This for me is another great FM Media Comparison in that it was one of the more rare occasions where the youth prospect has actually exceeded their more senior counterpart. In FM2012, Real Madrid had just signed a 17 year old Raphael Varane from Lens and SI wasted no time in comparing him to another well known French Central Defender both in FM and IRL - Phillipe Mexes, who I remember signing all the way back in the CM4 days as a young CB at Auxerre before he went on to complete high profile moves to Roma and AC Milan.

 

Varane’s FM12 Profile

 

HOW DO THEY COMPARE?

Fast forward to 2019 and Raphael Varane is one of the best Centre Halves in the world having just recently won the World Cup with France at just 25 years of age. Few would argue that there are many better defenders better than Varane, and he has not only fulfilled his earlier FM potential but has exceeded all expectations to become one of the best world football.

 

Varane’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Mexes’ FM09 Profile

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One has to go back to FM09 to find a snapshot of Mexes in his prime - I'd forgotten what an absolute beast he was in FM back in the day, so much so that his attributes are actually better than those of Raphael Varane in FM19!! Not sure if SI were a little too generous or not as I feel that present day Varane is far stronger in real life - either way, another successful media comparison for FM and we will give a 5 star rating to this one.

8. Jose Baxter - "Dubbed the next Jermaine Defoe" (FM2011)

I fondly remember taking over Everton in FM2011 and not only having an epic save where Marco Boriello was an absolute beast up front, but also coming across a youth prospect in our reserve squad by the name of Jose Baxter who was "Dubbed the new Jermaine Defoe" by the FM elders. At the time I wouldn't have put as much thought into star potential ratings and attributes etc, and thought I had hit the jackpot with this sure-to-be-a-shithouse 18 year old striker. He showed glimpses of brilliance during the save however I never got the best of him and I believe I ended up selling him to one of the Bundesliga sides. By contrast - Jermaine Defoe needs no introduction, having entered the history books by becoming the 20th player ever to score 100 Premier League goals as well as being in the Top 10 all time highest goalscoring charts in PL history. Definitely not a bad comparison to have for a young 18 year old from Liverpool.

 
 

How do they compare?

I would imagine that the fact Baxter became Everton's youngest ever goalscorer at the age of 16 years and 191 days had something to do with his initial evaluation as becoming the next big thing in terms of young English Strikers, as well as the fact that he became the youngest player ever to start for Everton the same year that FM09 was released. Unfortunately, his career almost peaked too early and he struggled to break in to the Everton first team, staying until 2012 before being released and signing for Oldham where he currently plays his football in League Two.

 

Baxter’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Defoe’s FM10 Profile

 

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐★★★★

If we compare the current 26 year old Baxter to a 26 year old Defoe from Football Manager 2010 - well, there really is no comparison and Baxter was another unfortunate victim of the premature hype and over-zealous media comparison that we have seen quite frequently over the years. FM is a great but cruel game!

9. John Bostock AND Jack Wilshere - "Dubbed the new Paul Gascoigne" (FM2011)

I suppose it wouldn't be Paul Gascoigne without having not one but two youth prospects needed to emulate his success as a footballer and an all round top bloke/lunatic. Football Manager 2011 stared in to the crystal ball for both John Bostock (Tottenham) and Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) and foresaw that they both had the potential to be the next Paul Gascoigne, which in footballing terms is praise indeed when we think of Gazza's all round natural ability and football technique.

Bostock showed incredible talent at a young age, becoming Crystal Palace's youngest ever player in 2007 aged 15 years and 297 days before later moving to Tottenham in 2008. Unfortunately his career never really got going at White Hart Lane and a series of loan moves ultimately ended up with him being released from the club in 2013; still only 27, he now plays his football in Ligue 1 with Toulouse.

 

Bostock’s FM11 Profile

 

By contrast to Bostock, Jack Wilshere's career flourished after he became Arsenal's youngest ever player, and he went on to play close to 200 games for the Gunners while also being a regular in the England squad from 2011 onwards; he finally left Arsenal in 2018 after a loan spell at Bournemouth and signed permanently for West Ham just in time for FM19.

 

Wilshere in FM11

 

How do they compare?

 

Bostock’s FM19 Profile

 
 

Wilshere’s FM19 Profile

 

Gazza’s CM9798 Profile

FM Media Comparison Rating (Wilshere): ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

FM Media Comparison Rating (Bostock): ⭐⭐★★★

Bostock gets a 2 star rating mainly because the lad still plays at a relatively high level with Toulouse in France and also because he absolutely was that talented as a kid attracting interest from Barcelona and Man Utd when he was still in his teens; at 27 he still has plenty of football left in him. Wilshere on the other hand emerged as a far more successful player, and despite a career riddled with injury he has shone at the highest level, therefore is much closer to having become the next Gazza; probably not the only thing they have in common! 😄

 

Gazza (left) on the lash with Sheringham & McManaman; Wilshere (right) following suit

 

10. James-Ward Prowse - "Touted as the new Paul Scholes" (FM2012)

 
 

When asked about Paul Scholes, Pele once remarked "If he was playing with me, I would have scored so many more"; Zinedine Zidane called him his "toughest opponent"; Pep Guardiola was quoted as saying "he is the best midfielder of his generation". It doesn't take a genius to acknowledge that Paul Scholes was one of the greatest midfielders that the Premier League and even the world has ever seen, so much so that even Luis Figo once admitted being star-struck when coming up against Scholes and that's coming from a guy that played alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Raul, Zidane to name a few. Imagine how a 16 year old James Ward-Prowse must have felt when he opened Football Manager 2012 to find that he was touted as the next Paul Scholes?! (assuming he bought and played the game - how could he not have? 😄

 
 

How do they compare?

At just 23 it's hard to believe that Ward-Prowse is already in his 7th season in the Premier League as a first team squad regular at Southampton, and more recently earned his first competitive England cap in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro. His work rate, positioning, passing and creative ability make him one of the Saint's most effective players and it's interesting to compare him to Paul Scholes at that age who similarly had just kicked off his England career at Man Utd.

 

Ward-Prowse’s FM19 Profile

 

Scholes’ CM97/98 Profile

FM Media Comparison Rating: ⭐⭐⭐★★

Ward-Prowse has a long road ahead of him if he is to emulate Paul Scholes however at times he has demonstrated that he is a top class midfielder and if he continues his upward trajectory I would expect that he will not be a Southampton player for much longer (sorry Saints fans ✌️)

Honourable Mentions

Of course there are far more players that have been dubbed or touted as the next big thing within the FM universe, and please feel free to share your own thoughts or memories of great media comparisons over the FM years that have or haven't exactly worked out as planned (check out my own Twitter page or the WeStreamFM page to jump in the conversation). We can also give honourable mentions to Jack Rodwell (dubbed as the new Frank Lampard in FM10), Luke Shaw (dubbed the new Ashley Cole in FM12), Dedryck Boyata (the new Philippe Albert in FM11), Adam Campbell (labelled the new Michael Owen in FM12), Nedum Onuoha (touted as the next Jamie Carragher in FM09), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (the new Chris Waddle in FM12) - the list goes on! Now it's time to stop looking at the past and take one last look in to the FM19 crystal ball to see who FM are now touting to be the next big names in world football in FM19.

Back to the Future 🕰️🏎️💨

1. Mickael Cuisance - "Could be the next Michel Platini”

At the start of FM19 Mickael Cuisance is an 18 year old French midfielder making his way at Borussia Monchengladbach, and usually ends up making a big money move to one of the top European sides after one or two seasons in the game. Preferring to play in an Advanced Playmaker role, the similarities with Michel Platini are evident when we look at his strengths in terms of passing, technique, vision and touch - Platini was widely regarded as one of the best players of all time and was famous for his creative ability and football intelligence which led to him winning three Ballon D'Or awards during his playing career. Praise indeed for Cuisance and it will be an interesting journey to see how he progresses in the game as well as in real life.

 

Will this ☝️ become this 👇 ??

 
 
 

2. Yann-Aurel Bisseck - "Touted as the next Jurgen Kohler"

I came across Bisseck while scavenging among the Bundesliga U-19 leagues during my Tenerife save, and once the scouts did their business and his attributes & potential became evident, it was a done deal he has been immense during our first three seasons at the club. At the start of FM19 Bisseck is touted as the next Jurgen Kohler, whose name will be known by anyone who watched football during the 1990's where he had spells at Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund as well as earning over 100 international caps for Germany. Kohler is a living legend of German football - not only has he played in 3 Fifa World Cups and 3 European Championships (winning one of each in 1990 and 1996 respectively) - he also won two European club titles in very interesting fashion; winning the 1993 UEFA Cup final with Juventus against Borussia Dortmund, and then later winning the 1997 Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund against his old club Juventus in what was a reverse fixture of the 1992 clash. Bisseck certainly has a lot of potential in the game and in real life, and most recently he has become the youngest ever German player to have played in the Bundesliga - second only to another FM legend, Nuri Sahin.

 

10 years later? ⬆️⬇️

 

3. Arne Maier - "Touted as the next Stefan Effenberg"

 
 

Aside from frequently being confused with tennis player Stefan Edberg, Steffan Effenberg was a ferocious powerful midfielder who won 3 Bundesliga titles as well as lifting the 2001 Champions League trophy as Captain of Bayern Munich. Often a controversial character who at the time of retirement had amassed the most yellow cards in Bundesliga history (as well as tarnishing his own international career by giving the finger to Germany fans during the 1994 World Cup), Effenberg is widely regarded as one of the best German midfielders of all time and was voted as one of the greatest Bayern players of all time. Move forward to 2019 and it's 19 year old Hertha BSC midfielder Arne Maier being touted as the next Effenberg and has bags of potential as well as already having really strong passing, technique, composure, first touch , teamwork, stamina and natural fitness. Maier is one of the hottest prospects in FM19 and I previously tipped him as one of the best defensive midfielders in my earlier "DMC or not DMC" article which I wrote for WeStreamFM.com and if you can afford the £40 odd million asking price, he is highly recommended.

 
 

4. Antonio Marin - "Dubbed the new Mario Stanic"

 

Present vs Past?

 

Most of the FM Community will know of Antonio Marin and he is not only one of the best prospects in the game, he is also extremely affordable and attainable even if you are not managing in the top tier of whatever country you are managing in. His speed, dribbling and flair make him an extremely effective Winger or Inside Forward and the kid usually turns out to be a star in the game (as he hopefully will in real life!). Interestingly, Marin has also been touted as the next Mario Stanic by the experts at Sports Interactive - Stanic was part of a golden generation that helped Croatia finish in 3rd place in their first ever World Cup in 1998, narrowly losing out 2-1 to eventual winners France who needed two goals from one Lillian Thuram to advance to the final. He scored one of his 7 international goals at the tournament in a group game against Jamaica, and was capped 49 times for his country during a career in which he played at the highest club level for Benfica, Club Brugge, Parma and Chelsea. Not a bad comparison for a 17 year old!

 

Flair, Flair and more Flair

 

5. Fabio Silva - "Could be the next Eusebio"

 

Pele & Eusebio - legends of their time

 

What better way to start your career than to be compared to one of the best players to have ever played the game? No pressure at all, however at just 16 years old Fabio Silva has already shown glimpses of absolute genius and outstanding ability while playing in the Porto Youth Team, and as a result is tipped for greatness at the start of FM19 where he is tipped to become the next Eusebio who as we all know was one of the greatest ever footballers. Between 1961 and 1975 Eusebio scored 317 goals in 301 games for Benfica picking up 11 league titles as well as scoring 41 goals in 64 appearances for Portugal - only one Portuguese player has ever reached this level since in the form of one Cristiano Ronaldo, however if this crystal ball prediction comes to fruition it will be interesting to see what a player Fabio Silva turns in to - snap him up quick!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YmCRIRmN1c  

 

The kid has potential

 
 
 

6. Jonathan Burkardt - "Touted as the next Jurgen Klinsmann”

 
 

Not much is known about Jonathan Burkardt who is yet to score his first goal for Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga, however looking at his FM19 attributes he has all the potential to become a top Striker and possibly emulate Jurgen Klinsmann's successes as one of Germany's greatest ever forwards playing and scoring in 6 consecutive International tournaments between Euro 88 and World Cup 98, as well as winning the World Cup with West Germany in 1990 and the European Championship in 1996 with unified Germany. Klinsmann's playing career spanned almost 20 years with spells at Inter, Monaco, Tottenham and Bayern and at just 18 years old Burkardt could have a big future ahead of him.

 

Time to find a goal celebration JB

 

7. Emile Smith Rowe - "could be the next John Barnes"

 

"You've got to hold and give but do it at the right time"

 

I have to say I originally didn't know too much about Emile Smith Rowe, which I suppose makes sense considering he has yet to make his full Arsenal debut and is currently loan at 3rd placed Bundesliga side Red Bull Leipzig. However, after scouting and looking at him in more detail his attributes and PPM's are quality and it's not surprising he has been compared to what I suspect is a younger John Barnes when he was a beast on the left side of midfield for Watford and Liverpool alike. Not only is Barnes renowned for his rapping ability, he was also an outstanding footballer and won 79 caps for England as well as two league titles with Liverpool before the old First Division became the Premier League at the turn of the 1990s. Barnes was so good that Peter Beardsley once said of him "The best player I ever played with, bar none. For three or four years at the end of the ’80s, John was possibly the best player in the world." Jamie Carragher, whose career was just kicking off before Barnes left Liverpool also commented that "Technically, he's the best player I've ever trained or played with, he was great with both feet, they were both exactly the same. I'd say he's the best finisher I've ever played with (including Torres, Fowler, Owen)." Emile Smith Rowe if you are reading this - time to shine pal 🔥.

 
 
 

Barnes at 21

 

Barnes 10 years later

9. Felice D'Amico - "Dubbed the new Roberto Baggio

 
 

What to say about Roberto Baggio that already hasn't been said? Aside from winning both the Ballon D'Or and FIFA World Player of the year in 1993, Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail) was also the first Italian for over 50 years to score over 300 career goals and came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century poll in 1999. Felice D'Amico on the other hand starts FM19 as a 17 year old Inside Forward on the books at Inter Milan, and if we are to compare the two then we can see some potential if we look at his Flair, Technique, First Touch and Off the Ball attributes- will he be as good as Baggio though? Only time will tell - Baggio was acclaimed for his creativity, technique and particularly his set piece ability which we don't really see in D'Amico however at 17 he has a lot of time to prove us wrong.

 

Should he grow a ponytail?

 

10. Gavin Bazunu - "Touted as the next Shay Given"

 
 

An both an Irishman and a Newcastle fan, this is probably the youth prospect I am most excited about in FM19. Gavin Bazunu is a 17 year old Irish Goalkeeper in Man City's U19 team at the start of the game, and his potential is immediately evident when looking at his attributes and scouting report. In real life, he is an Irish U17 international whose potential has been described as "scary" when he signed for Man City in 2018; in Football Manager he is touted as the next Shay Given which is certainly praise indeed considering Given spent over 20 years playing at the top level of English football and earned 134 caps for Ireland. What I always liked about Given was that he was as solid and consistent as goalkeepers come, and was a fantastic professional and role model for younger keepers at Newcastle such as Tim Krul and Fraser Forster while also playing over 450 games for the club; not bad for £1.5 million. If Bazunu even comes close to Given's ability and mentality, he is a certainty to hold a Number 1 jersey for both club and country and for Irish fans it is a mouth watering thought to have such a prospect coming through the ranks after what has been a difficult number of years at Irish youth level.

 

Luck of the Irish ☘️☘️

 
 
 

That's our Top 10 Media Comparisons for FM19 done - what do you think? Have you had crossed paths with any of the above already? Had any better ones? Please feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences below or alternatively via either my own Twitter page or on the WeStreamFM account; be sure to mention any other prospects or superstars that we have missed and share your own FM Media Comparison / Crystal Ball insights 🔮. Thanks for reading, feedback and retweets etc are always appreciated, you can also check out my own blog to read more of my FM content and be sure to also check out WeStreamFM.com and TeaandBusquets.com for more great content from other writers! Cheers and enjoy the second half of FM19 🤘, MaddFM (Paul).






Mid 90's Milan - Part Six

Written by @cm9798

Welcome back to Mid 90’s Milan. Last week, we may have crossed over from 96 to 97 but it aged me far more than one month should. Some heavy defeats and some equally industrial tackling left us bruised in every sense. Progression in the Champions League was secured but a future clash with Barcelona has us worried.

We did at least battle back to top the table, but there’s a long way to go. Too long.

We start this episode with a home game with bottom club Cagliari. They class Ramon Vega as a star player, which may go some way to explaining their plight. Another star player is Roberto Muzzi, but he has only managed 3 goals in 21 games. We have Savicevic and Dugarry back from long term injuries on the bench. We actually have a clean bill of health for the first time ever.

This one goes pleasingly to form. The only disappointment is we only score twice from 18 shots – but then again, future Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Marco Pascolo was in nets for them, so what can we really expect?

Juventus draw at home to Udinese so our lead is up to 3 points. A tremendous weekend.

Just three days later and we face Udinese in the cup semi finals. It is two legs but with the first leg at home, a big lead would be preferable. Star striker Marcio Amoroso is injured and they’ve decided to bench Bierhoff, but it doesn’t stop them taking the lead. George Weah though is starting to come into his own. He heads an equaliser before slotting a pen for 2-1. Savicevic gives us breathing space before Udinese turn to kill mode and cost us three players. Our clean bill of health didn’t last very long. Weah completes his hat-trick and we are left to count the cost of success.

Six weeks for Costacurta is the big news. Just a week for Savicevic and two for Boban.

Manager of the month for January! That makes up for that difficult December.

It’s soon apparent why Udinese decided to kick us to death. We’re off to face them in the league right now. As well as the three injuries, Desailly and Panucci are suspended.

Albertini goes off injured (sigh) and on comes young Ambrosini. Weah is running wild giving us the lead with a mazy run and finish but a header from a corner equalises. Weah scores with a header himself to put us back in front but then Ambrosini is sent off for a hack at Thomas Helveg. Francesco Coco then gets injured and I’ve used all my subs so we’re down to 9…

Weah completes his second hat-trick of the week against this opponent and despite a late Bierhoff free kick and a lot of pressure, we hold out.

Well done George lad. Six weeks out for Albertini but an International break gives us a few weeks to get some off the treatment table.

Maldini gets injured for two weeks playing for Italy. For goodness sake.

Can anybody play left back?

Quite the pickle. It’s bottom club Verona today, so we should win. It’s a disjointed performance, with 33 year old Galli at left back but a screamer from Boban and a late header from Weah secures the points.

Juventus can only draw 0-0 with Perugia. Five point gap!

It’s the return leg of the Udinese match and although we are 4-1 up they are comfortably ahead on the kill count. Coco and Desailly are back for us which is a relief. Vierchowod can barely manage one game a week at his age, two would be a serious risk. What’s important is, no more injuries! Davids even seals a late win on the night but it’s a comfortable progression.

We’ll play Serie B side Brescia in the final. More on them in April.

Our last game of February and indeed this update takes us to Perugia. They’re actually up in 7th and have had some success against sides you wouldn’t expect this season, beating Juventus and Inter. I can see why. We can barely get a kick and thoroughly deserve to lose. Food for thought.

The only plus from a miserable Sunday is Juventus losign 1-0 at Vicenza. Lazio won 4-0 and move into second as our nearest rivals.

There’s still 11 games to go and March is shaping up to be a pivotal month. Two matches against Barcelona, the Milan derby and tough games with Roma and Sampdoria. You won’t want to miss that so please join me next week to see how we get on. Tata for now.

The 4-4-2 Diaries - Squad Building

INTRODUCTION

In my last blog for WSFM, I documented my approach to conducting an end of season review where we outlined a strategy regarding the existing squad in terms of who to sell, re-sign or redevelop. The continuation of this is obviously reshaping the squad for next season by bringing in new players. I start by identifying what tactical approach we might use based on the players we are planning to keep and then identify transfer targets for the upcoming window to fill the squad gaps.

 
 

The End of Season Review for Sunderland produced a pretty clear result: rebuild. I had taken over just before the January window and already did the heavy lifting by dumping players with huge contracts that didn’t fit our preferred formation, style, or were simply crap. This left me with a small squad of players to get me through the rest of the year. The review process identified 8-10 players who’ll we planned on keeping so we now need to define an approach to rebuilding the squad for next season.

SQUAD GOALS

Based on the info from the review I defined some objectives in order to focus our efforts in the transfer window:

  • Tactical thoughts: Switch to a counter-attacking system. Solid in the centre of the pitch and more creative from wide positions.

  • No more Jack Rodwell’s. All contracts must be reasonable for a championship level club and within a set framework based on salary limits depending on the players’ squad status.

  • Squad limits: 2 players per position + 2 x Utility slots.

  • Each position either has a Key Player and a Backup or two First Team/Rotation level players.

  • Look for physical and technical type of players.

  • Use a DoF model. Identify transfer targets and then hand things over to the DoF to negotiate transfers in the first instance. DoF to handle transfers for Under 23s.

  • Develop a Younger Core.  First Team signings should be under 27.

THE PROCESS

  • Move all players that are not in our plans for next season to the Under 23’s and transfer list or set to release those players whose contracts won’t be renewed.

  • Review any unsolicited bids for players. We accepted bids for Max Power and Bali Mumba as both were expendable and the latter had his release clause met so the board signed off.

  • Build a preliminary tactic based on our goals defined above. Put existing players into their appropriate positions.

  • Review/Change Development Training for all first-team players to refine their role training and/or acquire new PPMs.

  • Setup my squad spreadsheet with our existing playing squad less any expected to be sold. I put an indicator next to each player to define if a player is a (1) Key Player, (1A or 1B) First Team/Rotation player, or (2) Rotation/Backup. Note:  I can only have a 1+2 or a 1A+1B combo for each position to control our spend.

 
 
  • Review existing watchlist. Remove any players that don’t fit our system or needs. Set wanted players from watchlist as Transfer Targets for the DoF to start negotiations.

  • Attend matches for any Targets still playing. If playing in England our season is usually over before European leagues so potential target may still be playing. Some of you may already be familiar with the @OfficiallyTeach pursuit already which includes announcing your intention to sign the player to the media.

  • Get DoF transfer suggestions for all positions needed and request scouting reports for any of interest.

  • When adding a player as a transfer target I select the desired squad status so the DoF can negotiate within those salary limits.

  • Let the DoF do his job. If he fails to negotiate a transfer, I usually let him take a second crack at agreeing to terms or step in myself.  On failed deals, there may be something funky going on with FM functionality or possibly demands from the player not necessarily in the club’s best interest to accept.

  • Review Transfer/Loan listed players.

  • My first preference is to bring in players on trial wherever possible before signing.  I will book extra friendlies to do so if needed or play them in the Under 23s and watch highlights.

  • When watching matches I select/highlight the player I’m most interested in assessing so I can track their movement both with and without the ball. Here, I’m watching Vlahovic track back:

 
 


IDENTIFYING TARGETS

There are countless ways to identify players to sign in FM. My personal strategy will depend on the funds available and the objectives I have set for myself with the save (e.g. youth dev, pure journeyman).  On my current save, given the financial constraints at Sunderland, we need to be creative rather than just giving the DoF a shopping list that would command massive transfer fees. We’re a sell-to-buy club at this point but I’m still able to use different methods to find players:

The Talisman - find that quality player that takes the squad to a new level.  There are plenty of disgruntled big-name players who you can snag on loan for a portion of their wages even if you can’t afford the transfer fee.

We came close but ultimately failed to land both Martin Odegaard and Mishi Batshuyi. We made some good signings but haven’t yet found that special player who can transform this team. I will save some budget for January and keep my eye out in the interim.

The Prodigal Son - few football narratives are as powerful as the return of a prodigal son.  

In January 2019 Josh Maja was sold to Bordeaux after refusing to sign a new deal with Sunderland. I’m hoping for a do-over. He’s here on loan for the season but we’ve got an option to buy him outright for £2M if all goes well.


The Prodigy - we all know those young players waiting for that opportunity to get in a load of games and let their talent blossom rather than stagnate on the bench at another club.  

We brought in Xadas from Braga for £875K and young Italian prodigy Luca Vido on a free transfer. The latter has been at Cagliari, Atalanta, Perugia and Milan but hasn’t settled yet despite his obvious talent.

The One You’ve Always Fancied - there’s usually a player or seven out there that you’ve never had the chance to manage and when the opportunity arises, you should...

Josh Vela from Bolton might seem like a bit of a random choice, but I’ve always liked the way he seems to dictate play from midfield. Misic from Sporting Lisbon was our first choice but we passed on him due to wage demands

The Does What It Says On The Tin  - we all have spots to fill on the team sheet and would love to have world beaters in every position but sometimes your wage budget dictates getting someone who is simply good enough to do a job at the level you’re at.

Callum O’Dowda will do a job on the left flank. He has a bit of a trick about him and will be industrious, so he’s a bit of a regular in my Championship saves.

The If In Doubt, Raid Benfica - we all know what a treasure trove Portuguese clubs can be and Benfica is the pick of the bunch. There is so much talent in the ranks of that club it’s not hard to find a stellar talent on the cheap for your squad.

Alex Pinto is our new starting right back and based on his first performances for us, I think I’m in love.

The DoF Suggestion - don’t sleep on suggestions from your DoF. I’ve found plenty of gems this way.

Claudio Reyna put me on to Yanna Regasel (backup right back) from Dusseldorf, Sabiri from Huddersfield (left inverted winger) and Gian Felicoli (starting left back) from Milan. All were signed on free transfers.

The One For the Future - Our Academy of Light kids are our first priority but we augment our Under 23’s by adding young players released from clubs with excellent acadamies.

We picked up Clarke-Salter from Chelsea and Reyna has been raiding Southampton for our Under 23’s.

The Phil Neville - players with good all-around technical and mental attributes that can pinch hit in multiple positions can prove invaluable. I don’t need them to be outstanding. I just want someone to do a job at full-back or in midfield from time to time.

We picked up Marcus McGuane who was sitting in Barca’s reserves for the past couple of years. He’s able to put in a shift in eight different positions in either midfield or defensive. He may never play more than a game to two for us, but he looked decent in friendlies and gives us a lot of value for money in terms of cover.

So at the close of the window, I think we’ve done some decent business with £12.5M in sales and only spending just under £4M. I am still pursuing a couple of free agents as I think we can get them on cheaper wages than their initial demands during the window, but overall I’m happy with the business we’ve done.  We’re nearly £100k under the wage budget and still have £2.4M in transfer budget remaining.

 
 

Here’s the completed spreadsheet:

 
 

Compared to the rest of the division we are way under our biggest rivals but I’m aiming for playoffs and/or promotion this season:

So between the End of Season Review and the above squad building approach that about does it for my approach to getting things ready for the new season. The situation with Sunderland is way more chaotic than my usual approach but it’s a rebuilding situation.  I’m keen to crack on with some games and stop blogging so I’ll leave it there.

Sparky, Out!











Mid 90's Milan - Part Five

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Welcome back! This is all going rather well isn’t it? I took over Milan in 1996 with low expectations after their disastrous real life season. Turns out it is a lot easier on Championship Manager. We sit 4 points clear at the top of the table at the start of December. Sure, there’s been a lot of injuries, but we get patched up and we go again. Repeatedly.

We’re also through in the Champions League with a game to spare. This is a magnificent link to where we pick up today’s update, in the wonderful surrounds of Sofia as we look to seek a table topping finish.

For once, we are efficient. 87 minutes of efficiency in fact. And yes, we make it hard for ourselves but only for three minutes.

There are no easy draws in the quarter finals but Barcelona seems like a total stinker. Why couldn’t we get Steaua?

Back to domestic fun and a home game with Reggiana. They’re bottom of the table and really this should be our bread and butter. They have Franz Carr, who moved to Italy after leaving Aston Villa in 1996. He didn’t do particularly well.

We’re a bit laboured and when it’s 0-0 at half time, I’m concerned. We have a lack of options on the bench thanks to the injury situation and I can only throw on Blomqvist. That doesn’t help and their keeper gets man of the match. ‘sakes.

That is a bad result. It’s also an ill timed International break which not only sees Italy lose to Iceland but Costacurta and Panucci go off injured. Both will be out for a couple of weeks.

Fiorentina away is the last match before Christmas and we’re without Desailly, who is banned for three games following a misdemeanour a few weeks ago. That means the veteran duo of Baresi and Vierchowod have to deal with Batistuta. That will not end well. La Viola have a wonderful team. Alongside Batistuta is Oliveira (good dog – tweet me if you get this reference), Rui Costa and of course future Derby forward Francesco Baiano. Francesco Toldo is in goal so no matter how you look at it, this is a tough fixture.

The good news is, Batistuta doesn’t score. The bad news is that everybody else does. This was a battering. Rui Costa pulls the strings and the old lads are busy trying to stop Batistuta to notice. Happy bloody Christmas.

Amazingly, Lazio and Juventus both lose and we retain top spot. The turkey tastes a little sweeter – metaphorically.

Parma visit the San Siro and it’s another tough fixture. Parma have always had an exciting CM team – Crespo, Stanic, Chiesa, Dino Baggio, Sensini, Thuram, Cannavaro, Buffon…I could go on. Cannavaro was never really rated on the early CMs, I guess he was a late bloomer. For us, Maldini moves to centre back with Coco at left back. Davids is finally back from injury to line up in central midfield.

It’s a wild game and I’m starting to worry about Rossi in goal. He concedes two shots out of four and we’re indebted to Albertini for his late solo run and finish to snatch a draw.

That puts us third as our luck runs out. Into 1997 we go.

They celebrate new year’s a little differently in Italy. It’s apparently the perfect day to play the 2nd leg of Coppa Italia Quarter Finals. We are already 3-0 up against Serie C Ancona but it’s a little bit embarrassing to draw 2-2. Coco gets injured because he likes to follow a trend.

That’s no win in four and it’s time for Juventus away next. First though, the draw for the semi finals sees us tangle with Udinese. Serie B side Foggia hilariously knocked out Juventus, it’s a bit of a lopsided draw.

It’s time to focus on Juventus now though. Costacurta and Desailly are reunited at centre half and that will hopefully be enough to make us competitive again.

You know when I said I was worried about Rossi? Those chickens have come home to roost. This was HALF TIME.

Wow. That’s how it finished, mercifully. A goalkeeper scoring a two rating is frankly ridiculous.

Five games without a win and down to fourth. This has been a very poor winter indeed.

Midtable Piacenza should not be a concern to us but we are more vulnerable that ever at the moment. They have Taibi in goal though who is possibly an inspiration to Rossi at the moment. Eranio and an Albertini free kick build the platform before the lead is halved. A double from George Weah settles things and gets us back to winning ways.

Juventus and Lazio went head to head and drew 0-0. That is a good result for us.

We finish this update with Lazio away – a monumental game in the title race. We’re level on points with them and have scored the same number of goals, so it should be a tight affair. We are out of sorts defensively though and that makes any away trip like this a recipe for disaster.

Savicevic returns! He’s only 70% though so will have to be a sub. It’s quite the game, too. We’re 2-0 up inside 10 minutes as attack proves to be the best form of defence. Typically though Lazio come storming back, despite persisting with Jody Morris in central midfield. Naturally, it’s soon 2-2. Panucci is sent off for a terrible lunge and as we’re hanging on for a point, Desailly makes a lung busting run from central midfield to get on the end of a cross and win the day for us. Phew!

Juventus manage to draw 0-0 at bottom side Cagliari to cap off a great day for us. Let’s drink the table in.

Top and loving life. Somehow. Our goals against has taken a battering but we are nothing if not resilient.

Join me next week to see if Rossi has learned to catch. I feel it is imperative he does that before Barcelona turn up. Arrivederci!


















4-4-2 Diaries - End Of Year Assessment

INTRODUCTION

Like all FM’ers I go through an evaluation process for my entire squad at the end of the year.  While I am constantly evaluating my squad throughout the season, that work is largely informal with a few just a few notes jotted down here or there in a spreadsheet or notebook and it might be about form, injuries, tactical compatibility, or just how annoyed I am at their stupid haircut. At the end of the season when the ref has blown full time and the lads are pissing in the communal bath, I start my formal review.

Many folks just glance over their squad and chuck a few on the transfer list and have a fairly fluid approach to squad management but I’m a nerd so I’m looking for any excuse to crank out a spreadsheet! The end product will be a final decision on whether a play stays, gets a new contract, is transitioned to a new position, dropped up or down the pecking order, or ultimately sold to whoever will take on our rejects.  

Like the tactical development process in my last blog for WSFM, this is a top-down process that is ultimately driven by the ambitions and status of the club and its finances.  Budgets, performances, age, positional depth/redundancy, and overall squad numbers will be the core determining factors. Team Reports, Coaching Staff Opinions and Analysis will also be factored into the equation for every player.  This forms our strategy for the post-season for that player. Whether we are successful or not is obviously not guaranteed as situations like selling a player or trying to get them to agree to a new contract with the club aren’t a given, but we at least have a plan.

THE PROCESS

I go to my general custom Squad View (see below) that I use for a lot of decision making during the year, and use the Print Screen to Web Page function to create a HTML file that I import into a Google sheet.

 
 

I then make some formatting changes to the spreadsheet and add several columns to record various notes such as:

  • Tactical Role - noting what role in our tactics the player was used for.

  • KPIs - any additional Key Performance Indicators I want to include such as pass completion ratio.  Our KPIs may change from team to team or season to season.

  • Future Squad Status - whether I wish to upgrade/downgrade the player in the pecking order compared to his current squad status

  • Managers Notes - my general notes on the player. I may have some notes that I have taken throughout the season and consolidate them here. I will usually note this on my own opinion before I consider the Coaches Reports.

  • Coaches Notes - anything I consider worth noting from their Coach Report or Team Report specific to the player

  • Decision - the desired outcome from the above (e.g. sell the player, re-sign at all costs, reduce squad status, etc)

  • Next Season Depth Chart - this is a very basic squad depth chart similar to the one on the Team Report page noting the number of players I will have next season for each position. Utility players will be counted in each spot they can play but I’ll include a note as a reminder.

  • Budget - I include the available transfer budget for next season along with our committed wages and wage budget for next year.

  • Transfer Priorities - arguably the key output of this activity - how many players do we need to buy for each position? This keeps me focused on the actual need rather than merely chasing the best players available


I then go ahead and assess every player in the first team squad and then repeat the process for both the Under 23’s and Under 18’s, but usually in less detail.  It’s a process that usually takes me 1-2 hours.

I go through each players Profile screen and check the attributes including whether they’ve improved or decline, match ratings and comparisons. I will also check how they performed against any KPIs that I have established.  For Sunderland, it was Pass Completion %. I make my Managers Notes and flag (highlight) certain data points such as contract end dates to act as prompts to consider when I’m doing the final assessment on the player.

For those players retiring, already sold, on loan and returning to their parent club, or already decided to be released, I skip the remaining steps for those players and simply strike-through the data and highlight the row in grey.

Here’s a working example of this seasons assessment for Sunderland:

 
 

As you can see it’s a bit of a shit show at Sunderland! My recent blogs cover this but we took over and immediately oversaw a massive clearout in the January window to sort out the finances. We then had a threadbare squad just to get us through the rest of the season where we ended up in in the Championship and knocked out on pens in the playoffs. We’re essentially hitting the reset button, keeping a few solid squad players and starting again. At least we now have some budget room, an excellent crew of coaches and scouts on board so let’s get to work!

Sparky, Out!




Terry's Journey

Written by TerryWorldOrder

The year is 1984. The home computer boom is in full swing and at Christmas I was gifted my first computer; a ZX Spectrum 48k. I was 12 years old and I had no idea what to do with it, but I was just told this machine would be the future. 

Going back to school after that Christmas was different. We were not trading cards to fill some sticker album, or swapping an unwanted gift an Aunt had bought us for a stick of chewing gum; we were exchanging computer games. Within a week we had a found a way to copy the games via everyone’s new best friend – the kid in school whose father had the Hi-Fi with dual tape decks.  

To many of you, this concept will sound mind boggling, but back then computers didn’t have hard drives. Games came in cassette form and we loaded them into the computer via a tape deck. This was a primitive system where piracy was rife and even more popular than the phone number of the girl at school who everyone KNEW would snog on the first date. 

It was during one of these schoolyard exchanges where I was handed a cassette with a game on it that started a 35-year love affair - Football Manager. 

 
 

The game back then was a very simple concept. Put the players in a pre-set formation and buy the best players from a very small database. There were terrible graphics of a football pitch with basic one-colour sprites moving back and forth to try and represent how the game was being played out. The game flashed ‘GOAL’ when you scored and omitted a dull beep when a chance was missed. This may sound boring, but back then it was all we had and let me tell you, it was addictive as hell. 

Fast-forward to 1987 and I’m now the proud owner of the massively improved Spectrum 128k personal home computer, along with the new football management game Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes. I can’t remember too much about the game itself, as it was certainly one to forget. It unfortunately failed to re-create the magic of Kevin Tom’s Football Manager. Your team was given a total score for both defence and attack, which then went straight to a vidi-printer for the match results. This element of the game created the suspense and was extremely underwhelming in single player mode, but in dual player mode and whilst playing against friends, the surprise of the results made the game come to life. Another thing to mention about this particular game was that what you played on the screen via the software could be replicated with an accompanying board and playing cards. 

 
 

Moving on to 1992 and I had upgraded to the fantastic Amiga 500. Whilst searching for a football management game to play, I read a game review in one of the Amiga magazines from one of their game specialists. He was comparing Premier Manager with Championship Manager. He claimed Premier Manager was the better and more enjoyable game, simply because Championship Manager was an out-of-date concept based on numbers alone. Being a trusted reader of this publication and on the strength of this review, I rushed to the local computer store and bought a copy of Premier Manager. The game forced you to start in the conference, build the team up and progress through the leagues. The in-game part was excellent and it even showed little animations running to a goal and shooting. Once your player had taken the shot, either a keeper seemingly coming out of nowhere would save the attempt, or if you were lucky, a GOAL animation would flash on the screen. The game was a multiplayer and matches ran at the same time on the same screen. However, the navigation around the UI manager desk was frustrating and really killed what little love I had for the game overall. 

 
 

During this period I was at college and as luck would have it, one of my classmates had an Amiga too. He would frequently come to college with a selection of games for me to borrow. One day he brought in the original Championship Manager. I remember having reservations, remembering the review I had read, but I gave it a chance and I’m glad I did. The UI was easy to use and you could pick your own system, including tactics and formation. It’s safe to say I was in football manager heaven! This was the game I had been searching for and Premier Manager was binned quickly and without regret. I also cancelled my subscription to that Amiga magazine! That life lesson has stuck with me to this day. Since then I have never trusted any one single review and I’ll search for a consensus of a product if I’m not able to test it myself.  

 
 

It’s fair to say that after this my college friend struggled to get his Championship Manager disks back. For weeks I delayed handing it back. I kept giving lame excuses like “nah, I’ve forgotten it” or “I had no space in my bag” or the classic “my friend wants to play it”. Eventually I had to cave in and reluctantly gave him the box, conveniently forgetting to put the disks back in. It bought me another week of precious game time to play my new favourite game. I was hooked, addicted - more so than the original version of Kevin Tom’s Football Manager. It meant I had to go out and buy it for myself, although when I told my mate he informed me that the new version of the game would be out in about a month. 

 I decided to wait and although it felt like an eternity, I eventually owned the new and improved Championship Manager 93. Normally I do not read game manuals unless it’s for control systems, but I read this manual from cover to cover, even before I put the disk in. To this day I still remember some of the strategy tips from that manual, how they described the styles of football and how best to use the players attributes to fit them in those styles. Because of that manual I still believe a player with high flair is a luxury player that often cannot be afforded in the English game and how there are hidden values for each player that you the manager must discover. Just because you have bought somebody with a high finishing attribute, he might not be a consistent goal scorer. Maybe he has a history of injuries? Maybe he hasn’t been played in the correct system that complements his strengths? 

 
 

Moving forward to the present day, it’s fair to say I have played enough versions of Championship Manager/Football Manager games to qualify for a FA coaching badge, a UEFA Licence and a brown envelope from FIFA. Whoever writes my obituary needs to simply state ‘Terry played Football Manager’. I rarely play the game now just to win trophies. I have served my time, doing the 30 years saves in previous versions where my club have honoured me with a bronze statue and a stadium named after me. Did I get knighted in one version? Or did I make that up? At this point I really can’t remember, but I’m sure I was gifted a donkey in a Spanish save once. 

There is so much to do in Football Manager now, it really is a far cry from the simplistic versions that first enthralled me. It’s moved on and evolved. It’s grown up. You can create a tactic and win things whilst delegating tasks to your backroom staff in the background. Alternatively, you can micro-manage everything with incredible attention to detail, from tailoring training to fit your tactic, to mentoring your youth players. However you play the game and to whatever level of expertise you have, it still is a rewarding experience. 

Personally, the reason I still play Football Manager 35 years on is the drama this game can create. Nothing will twist your emotions like FM. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, all in the same session. It will make you throw your arms in the air. All logic will be abandoned and you will be so disgusted with your players that will shout expletives at a screen to dots that can’t hear you. You share your club’s highs but despair at the lows, vowing to turn it around and transform their fortunes. That is the magic of Football Manager - everything from scoring that crucial last minute winner, to changing your tactics and putting 10 men behind the ball with 5 minutes to play. It’s what I love about the series and I know its what you do too. After all, that is why we play it. Just one more game. 

My 35 years of playing football manager have been a journey. The evolution from the feel-good early versions to the complete in-depth game that SI has passionately created, always be thankful that they have, because there truly is nothing like it. 

Terry.

 

 

Football DNA

Written by MaddFM

🎵 Suggested listening 🎵  

  

  

There is a child in the world who's father is Sergio Aguero; his Grandfather is Diego Maradona; and his Godfather is none other than Lionel Messi. No pressure there son. When Brooklyn Beckham was born, bookies were giving 1000-1 odds that he would play for England before he could even walk (down to 66-1 by the time he was 3). In 1992, crane driver Eddie Kirkland bet £100 that his then 11 year old son Chris would play for England one day, and that bet netted him £10,000 in 2006 when Chris came on as a sub in a friendly against Greece. The same happened for Harry Wilson's grandfather (an electrical contractor) after a 16 year old Harry made his debut for Wales in 2013, earning his grandfather a cool £125,000 from a £50 bet (2,500-1) that he made when Harry was a toddler back in 2000. 

This poses the question - are footballers born or made? Can football and DNA be linked in this way? Is the child of a successful footballer destined to follow in his father's footsteps? Do we give a sh*t? In this article, we will explore the possibility of whether we can realistically connect football ability to DNA and genealogy. We will look at players whose immediate ancestry have also succeeded in the football world, and compare some current players to their respective heritage and origins by looking at each in the context of the CM/FM World, in the hope that we will produce some interesting results and potentially a brand new save idea now that we are halfway through FM19. 

Born and not made? 🔥 

"It's in his blood" ... "Runs in the family" ... "Takes after his old man" ... "Gets it from his mother" - phrases all of us have probably heard at some point in our lives. Without getting overly scientific and into the biology of it all, we know that people naturally inherit certain traits, characteristics, habits and tendencies from their parents...and history would suggest that this also applies to talent and skill, particularly in football where we have seen many successful fathers, sons, siblings, relations etc all play and succeed at the highest levels within the game. This does not necessarily mean that the child of a successful player is guaranteed to be as talented or successful as their mother or father etc - but it would certainly seem that a combination of their genes and their early exposure & natural ability to take to the talent/sport of their parent at an early age does lead to a somewhat pre-destined path to success in that field, and later we will explore some examples of where this has clearly been evident/not so evident within the football/FM universe. 

 
 

Before we proceed to test out our theories, I will first use two non-football examples of where I feel we see a clear contrast between the concepts of "Born" and "Made" talent - not that these will be specifically exclusive to each example, but research and general opinion seems to suggest that one of these is considered to be a natural "born" talent, while the other has reached the pinnacle of their sport by working towards it through endless hours of practice and lessons from the moment they were old enough to play, and therefore a more "made" talent based on that context. 

Ronnie O'Sullivan 

Ronnie O'Sullivan is considered to be the most naturally gifted snooker player of all time, so much so that snooker legend Steve Davis once said that he has "never seen anybody who looks as at one with the table as Ronnie. It’s the epitome of someone born to play the game." This is not to say that O'Sullivan hasn't worked as hard as anyone else and doesn't put in 6-8 hours of practice a day - but rather that his approach and natural talent and technique are clearly illustrated every time he comes to the table, and it is this natural talent that puts him at the top of his field ahead of the chasing pack. Years spent in snooker clubs with his dad (he had his first century aged 10) led him to becoming the youngest player to win the Masters (aged 19 and 69 days) and he has since broken records for the most maximum breaks in a competition (13) as well as holding the record for the fastest 147 ever. 

But what is it that makes O'Sullivan so good and more so what distinguishes him as a natural born snooker player? O'Sullivan himself is quoted as saying “I think most people think I was born with a cue in my hand and that when I get on the table it’s all a piece of cake...but that’s not the reality. I have to work hard." This is very true - any sportsman or athlete at the top of their game does have to work hard in order to reach the peak of their own discipline - however it is O'Sullivan's natural ability and talent that have made him the best; in a sport where every player trains and practices for hours and players are starting younger and younger every year, O'Sullivan's inherent instinctual ability is what differentiates him from the rest and the main reason why snooker commentators and enthusiasts alike constantly refer to him as a "born snooker player" and the most naturally talented to ever hold a queue. Even when not 100% on top of his form, O'Sullivan has shown the ability to literally switch it back on and play shots that few players have and will ever be able to pull off. So powerful is his natural talent and ability that, as his former manager Jason Francis acknowledges regarding O'Sullivan's one year career break back in 2012 - "I can’t think of any other sport where a world champion can literally put his feet up for a year and come back and still win it” This is an absolute testament to the fact that O'Sullivan is the closest thing you can find to a naturally born talent. 

Rory McIlroy 

Let's not for a minute dispute that Rory McIlroy is not one of the greatest talents to ever embrace the game, nor that he hasn't potentially inherited his undeniable skill and natural ability from his father who himself was a scratch golfer at one point. However, for the purposes of this comparison, I look at McIlroy as someone whose skill and ability developed at an incredibly young age through hours upon hours of practice, lessons, dedication and work rate (starting to sound more like FM now 😌). At the age of just 2 or 3 McIlroy was rarely seen without a miniature golf club in his hand, so much so that he was known to bring it to bed with him at night such was his love for the game at that age. For most kids this would usualy have been a phase or hobby however it ws clear that McIlroy clearly had an unmistakable aptitude and potential for the game - to the point where both his father and mother worked a number of extra jobs in order to fund Rory's golf lessons, education and development. Rory started and continued golf lessons from a very young age and eventually left school at age 16 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer.  

 
 

A 3 year old Rory McIlroy courtesy of his own YT channel  

McIlroy turned Pro at age 17 and the rest as we know is history - for the past 10 years McIlroy has won tournaments and trophies across the globe however it is clear that he continues to have to work extremely hard not just technically but also physically and mentally in order to maintain and improve his form. When Rory first embarked on the tour he was a short, skinny guy from the North of Ireland whose hair was the only thing bulky about him - however a rigorous and publicly shared training routine has seen a huge change in his physique and strength, thus enabling him to hit the ball further and compete with the biggest hitting players on the tour. Mentally, we have seen Rory go through a number of transitions in terms of his professional and personal life, whereby we have seen changes to his caddy and coaches at different times and this also has impacted his game. Technically, Rory was always considered to have one of the best swings on the tour however he has continually worked on changing and adapting his swing which again has seen divergences in his form and consistency. 

 
 

 A 9 year old Rory McIlroy courtesy of 4molesgolf 

All of the above in no way takes away from the fact that Rory is a rare and unique talent, however what we can see is that in order to get where he is today and to continue to meet his own goals and exceed expectations, he has had to put in a huge amount of work, practice and training and for that reason I see him as a slightly more "made" talent due to the hugely impressive amount of time and effort he has put in to become one of the world's best golfers. 

ENOUGH NON-FOOTBALL TALK! 

Apologies for going on a bit of a tangent there however I feel that the above examples give us a good base with which to think about how some individuals are born with certain talents and how others can become equally talented through dedication, perseverance and hard-work. This sets us up nicely to start thinking about Football DNA and consider how football ability and skill often appear to be passed from generation to generation; in order for us to analyse this and put it to the test, we will look at examples of where we have seen successful footballers whose fathers/sons also succeeded at the highest level, as well as look at cases where we can clearly see that football seems to "run in the family". 

Like Father, Like Son 

We have seen a number of players emerge over the years whose fathers were also extremely successful within the game, and in this section we will analyse players who not only have footballing parentage but also have developed and succeeded in the exact same position. 

Peter and Kasper Schmeichel 

Arguably one of the more iconic father & son duos of the modern era, Peter and Kasper Schmeichel are the perfect example of what we are calling Football DNA and how the son of a successful footballer has not only followed exactly in his father's footsteps by playing in the same position and league as his old man, but also a successful illustration of how to step out of your famous father's shadow and completely earn your own right as one of the top keepers in the Premier League as well as your own country. While a common stereotype is that it can be very challenging to carry that name on the back of your shirt particularly when you play in the same position as your more successful father, Kasper rose above the early hype and pressure to become the #1 keeper for Denmark as well as being a key figure in Leicester's remarkable Premier League winning side in 2016.  

 
 

Interestingly, while Peter enjoyed most of his success at Manchester United, it was at Manchester City that Kasper kicked off his career, where he stayed for 5 years before successful stints at Notts County and Leeds led to his move to Leicester City in 2011 where he was signed for a third time by former England Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, and from then on has held the #1 jersey for both club and country. 

How do they compare? 

Peter Schmeichel CM9798

 

Kasper Schmeichel FM19

 
 
 

Obviously Peter was the more successful of the pair, however Kasper has more than held his own in proving himself to be a world class goalkeeper and is a prime example of how to deal with the hype and pressure that so many young players have to deal with in football, particularly those who have big shoes to fill and have had to develop in the shadow of such a successful parent. 

Mazinho, Thiago and Rafinha 

If any of you are asking "Who the f*ck is Mazinho?!" - you will most likely recognize him as the guy who along with Romario and Bebeto performed the now famous "Three Men and a Baby" goal celebration at USA 1994. 

Not only did Mazinho win both a World Cup and a Copa America with Brazil during his 35 caps for his country, he is also the father of not one but two extremely talented players who currently ply their trade at Bayern Munich and Barcelona respectively. Thiago Alcantara, who moved from Barcelona to Bayern in 2015 for a fee of €25 million, and his brother Rafinha who is currently contracted to Barcelona and on loan at Inter Milan at present. Both brothers have had mixed fortunes on the field in the past few years; Thiago has undoubtedly been the more successful, his move to Bayern arising after new manager Pep Guardiola told the Bayern board "He is the only player that I want. It will be him or no one.". Rafinha on the other hand has shown glimpses of brilliance however his career has been hampered by injury over the past few seasons. 

Thiago, Mazinho, Rafinha

What is interesting about this father and son(s) combination is that all three players are classified as Central Midfielders - Mazinho traditionally holding a more defensive role, Thiago a slightly more technical and creative playmaker and Rafinha operating in a more advanced attacking midfield role. Also interesting is that fact that all three are fully capped internationals however not for the same country!! While Mazinho (35 caps) and Rafinha (2 caps) have played for the Brazilian National Team, Thiago chose a different path and to date has 31 caps for Spain's International side. 

How do they compare?  

Mazinho CM2 Profile courtesy of @cm9798

 

Thiago FM19

 
 

Rafinha FM19

 
 
 

On paper Thiago looks to be the stronger of the three, both in terms of attributes and honours won - I hadn't realised what a good player Rafinha is however, and hopefully he can get past his injury woes and prove his quality. Being completely honest I didn't even realise that both were (a) brothers and (b) sons of a Brazilian World Cup winner, so the initial evidence does suggest that Football DNA is a real concept. 

Cesare and Paolo Maldini 

In addition to being a highly successful manager at domestic and international level, Cesare Maldini also played at the highest level for both club and country. He spent 12 seasons at Milan from 1954 to 1966, winning 4 league titles, one European Cup and becoming club captain in 1961. The following year he became Italy national captain and earned 14 caps for his country, as well as being named in the 1962 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament. Maldini later managed both Milan and Italy at U-21 and Senior level, and is largely credited for developing players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Totti with whom he won three consecutive European U-21 Championships - the same core players that eventually brought home the World Cup in 2006. Maldini retired from playing football in 1967, and a year later he and his wife celebrated the birth of their son Paolo.

A young Paolo Maldini alongside father Cesare

Paolo Maldini needs no introduction. Arguably one of the best defenders of all time, his career spanned 25 seasons at AC Milan where he won 26 trophies and captained the side for over 10 years, as well as earning 126 international caps for Italy for whom he also became Captain following Franco Baresi's retirement after World Cup 1994. He is one of the most decorated footballers of all time, winning 5 Champions League Trophies and 7 Serie A titles as well as being recognized as one of the most successful "One Club Man" players of all time along with the likes of Carles Puyol, Francesco Totti, Ryan Giggs, Tony Adams and Matt Le Tissier. He also captained Italy for more than 10 years, and despite never winning a trophy (finalists at World Cup 1994 and Euro 2000), he has repeatedly been named in various Teams of the Year and World Cup Dream teams etc. 

 

Cesare Maldini (custom DB for comparison)

 
 

Paolo Maldini (courtesy of @MadScientistFM's 0304 DB)

 
 
 

Interestingly - the Maldini football lineage doesn't end there. Paolo Maldini's eldest son Christian was initially on the books at Milan, however never quite made it with the Serie A giants and now plays in the lower league of Italian football. However his younger son Daniel looks to be the real deal, and at the age of just 17 has already been grabbing the headlines after shining for both Milan's U-17 and Primavera sides. Despite his father and grandfather becoming Italian football legends as defenders, Daniel Maldini largely plays as an Attacking Midfielder or Forward and most recently scored his first goal for the Milan Primavera side in February 2019. 

Football in his blood? Video: PoisonOak07 on YT 

 
 

The Apple doesnt fall far from the tree 

While the above section looks at players who followed their father's footsteps and also played and succeeded in the same position - there are many cases where we have seen the offspring of football legends also emulate their parent's success with a completely different footballing style and playing position - again another interesting factor as we delve into the concept of Football DNA and whether football is passed over through blood and genetics, or through nurturing and exposure to the game at an early age. 

  

Enrico and Federico Chiesa 

Anyone who played Championship Manager during the 1990's and/or followed Italian football during this period will know the name Enrico Chiesa. During a career which spanned over 20 years in Italian football, Chiesa was a prolific goalscorer which usually led him to a big move within the likes of CM2 and CM97/98 although for some reason this never materialised in real life. In reality, Chiesa scored over 200 goals in 500+ appearances, regularly averaging 15-20 goals a season where he starred for clubs such as Sampdoria, Parma, Fiorentina and Lazio. 

 

Enrico and Federico Chiesa

 

During a season in which Enrico scored 21 goals in 48 appearances for Parma, his son Federico was born (1997), and it is clear that Federico has certainly inherited some of his father's footballing talent and attacking instinct on the football pitch. Having joined Fiorentina's underage side at the age of 10 years old, he signed his first professional contract at the age of 18 and has been a regular in the side since - also earning him his first call-up to the Italian national team in 2018 and gaining 11 caps for his country. 

How do they compare? 

Enrico Chiesa CM9798

 

Federico Chiesa FM19

 
 
 

In FM terms, Enrico trumps in terms of attributes as well as his real life stats - however at just 21 years old at the time of writing, Federico has a huge future ahead of him and if FM is anything to go by (he just signed for Real Madrid in my save! ), I have no doubt that he will have something to say about it in the coming years. 

Patrick and Justin Kluivert 

What can we say about Patrick Kluivert? Aside from the fact that he somehow once played for my beloved Newcastle United, Kluivert was one of the most prolific high profile Strikers of the 1990's - from his time as part of the Golden Generation at Ajax where he became the youngest player ever to score in the Champions League final (coming on as an 18 year old substitute to score an 85th minute winner against his future club Milan), to the 6 seasons spent at Barcelona where he averaged 20 goals per season in a lightning partnership with Rivaldo. 

Like father like son

Justin Kluivert looks to be on a similar path to greatness, and FM enthusiasts will be well aware of his existence since FM17 where he has always been a high potential youth prospect. Like his father, he started his career with Ajax (scoring his first league goal exactly 10 years after his father's last one), and also moved to Serie A via an €18.75 million transfer to A.S. Roma in the summer of 2018 where he has shone since and picked up 2 caps for Holland along the way. Rather than playing in a direct Striker role like his father, Justin is usually utilised as a Left Winger or Inside Forward and has already nailed down a first team spot in the Roma squad despite still only being 19 years old. 

How do they compare? 

Patrick Kluivert CM9798

 

Justin Kluivert FM19 #seriousface

 
 
 

Safe to say that even at 19, Justin has a huge future ahead of him and has all the potential to surpass his father's achievements. The crazy thing is that it doesn't stop there - Patrick Kluivert, having since remarried after his first marriage, has another son Shane Kluivert who at eleven years old currently plays for Barcelona's underage team, having previously been on the books at PSG. Eleven!! @FM players - remember the name... 

 

Courtesy of Cabazaya YT Channel  


Patrick, Justin and Shane with another FM prospect, Mathias De Ligt

Ian Wright. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bradley Wright-Phillips 

This is a really interesting comparison - not only due to the fact that we have 3 players to analyse, but also the fact that Ian Wright is not Shaun Wright-Phillips' biological father having officially adopted him when he was just 3 years old. This means that we can look at Ian Wright's football career and compare it to both his adopted and biological sons' football ability in an attempt to understand how football ability is passed from generation to generation. 

 

Ian with sons Bradley and Shaun (1990)

 

Ian Edward Wright didn't really come from a footballing background; the son of Jamaican immigrants, he was brought up by his mother and a bullying stepfather and despite playing from a young age and having trials as a teen, it wasn't until he was signed by Crystal Palace in 1985 (just three month's short of his 22nd birthday) that his undoubted talent and goal-scoring ability became evident. He averaged 20 goals a season during his 7 years at the club, scoring 33 in their promotion winning season of 1989 and later earning his first England cap under Graham Taylor in 1991 - the same year he was signed by Arsenal for a then club-record fee of £2.5 million. He not only scored on his Arsenal debut in a cup tie against Leicester, he then scored a hat-trick on his league debut against Southampton and finished the season with another hat-trick in the return fixture to finish on 31 goals for the season, as well as being the league's top scorer on 29 goals. He was Arsenal's top scorer for six years in a row, and the all time top scorer for 14 years until his record was broken by one Thierry Henry. 

Shaun Wright-Phillips started his career at Nottingham Forest however was released aged 17 and thankfully Manchester City saw sense and signed him right away. He made a handful of appearances before becoming a first team regular under Kevin Keegan, winning City's Young Player of the Year award 4 years in a row before gaining his first England cap in 2004. It was this fine form that then led to a £21 million move to Chelsea as part of the Roman Abramovic revolution where he was part of the title winning team in 2006, however he was an on-and-off fixture during his time at Chelsea, often struggling to maintain his place and eventually he returned to Manchester City where he displayed some of his best form before the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure arrived to kick off the Manchester City revolution. 

Shaun & Bradley in their Man City days

Bradley Wright Phillips also started his career at Manchester City, however never managed to emulate his father or brother's success in the Premier League despite scoring on his league debut against Middlesbrough. He was later sold to Championship Southampton where he scored 11 goals in his first season, and then had spells at Plymouth and Charlton before he moved on to what probably became the best move of his career when he joined New York Red Bulls in 2013. Since then, Bradley has been prolific in MLS, averaging 20-25 goals a season and finishing as league top scorer on 2 occasions. 

How do they compare? 

Ian Wright CM2 courtesy of @cm9798

 

Shaun Wright-Phillips FM2009

 
 

Bradley Wright-Phillips FM19

 
 
 

So what have we learned? Clearly there is some truth in the concept of Football DNA, and that the offspring of successful footballers do tend to inherit their parent's talent and ability, however in the case of Shaun Wright-Phillips we see that DNA isn't everything, and perhaps education, training, nurturing and exposure at a young age are equally important variables. Interestingly and to cap off this section (and to make all of us feel a little older) - Shaun Wright-Phillips' son D'Margio also looks to have a bright future in football, and is currently on the books at Manchester City following in the steps of his father and uncle. Too soon to start comparing with his famous family members, however this could be another indication that footballing talent and ability is an intangible asset that is in fact passed from generation to generation. 

 
 

Big Shoes to Fill 

A lot of the cases we have looked at so far have been players who have successfully emulated their father's achievements, or have the potential to reach and even surpass these either in FM or IRL. But how difficult is it to follow in the footsteps of a true footballing legend? In this section, we will look at some examples of where young players have had to deal with even more hype than those above because of the name on the back of their jersey. 

Johan and Jordi Cruyff 

As household names go, they don't get bigger than Johan Cruff. Arguably one of the best players to ever grace a football pitch, Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or 3 times as a player and is widely regarded for his football ability and Total Football philosophy which inspired a generation of future football teams and managers. He was one of the key drivers behind Ajax's spell of dominance in European football during the late 1960's and early 1970's, driving them to 8 league titles and 3 European Cups which subsequently led to a then World Record transfer to Barcelona (estimated to be approx. $2 million). Cruyff also led Holland to the World Cup final in 1974 where they narrowly lost out to West Germany by a score of 2-1; despite the defeat, he won the Golden Ball in that tournament however it was his turn in their group game against Sweden that was to be one of his main footballing legacies that he would impart on the game, so much so that it was named "The Cruyff Feint" after him. 

The Cruyff Feint

Cruyff was quite simply a genius of the game, and he delighted Barcelona fans by choosing a Catalan name, "Jordi" for his son. Despite starting a promising start to his career at Barcelona where he scored 11 goals in 41 appearances for the club, Jordi Cruyff struggled to live up to the hype that had always surrounded him. A move to Manchester United in 1996 allowed him to display glimpses of his skill and goal-scoring ability, however he was hampered by injuries and only managed to play 57 games in 4 years, scoring 8 goals for the club. He did however manage to play 3 games during United's famous Champions League winning campaign in 1999, and picked up 3 Premier League medals during his time at Old Trafford. 

 
 

How do they compare?  

Johan Cruyff's shoes were always going to be difficult to fill, and overall Jordi did a decent job and succeeded in playing and winning at the highest levels of world football - however in comparing him to his father's achievements, there can only be one winner. 

 

Johan Cruyff FM Profile courtesy of Top Notch FM‘s WC Legends DB

 

Jordi Cruyff CM9798

 
 

I honestly can't write enough about Johan Cruyff's football achievements both as a player and as a manager - I absolutely recommend even reading his Wikipedia page which is an unbelievable account of his life and success in the game. 

  

Zinedine and Enzo, Luca and Theo Zidane 

If writing (and reading) about Johan Cruyff wasn't inspiring enough, now we get to talk about perhaps the best player of the late 90's/early 00's generation - the man they call Zizou, or Zinedine Yazid Zidane if he was booking a flight. The son of a nightwatchman and a housewife that emigrated to France before the start of the Algerian War, Zidane grew up idolising Diego Maradona and was signed by AS Cannes as a 14 year old in 1986 (incidentally, the year I myself was born). He made his professional debut for the club in 1989 in a season which saw them finish in their highest ever top flight finish (4th) as well as qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. He then transferred to Bordeaux in 1992 and it was here he began to grab the limelight on the European Stage - he was linked with moves to Blackburn and Newcastle in 1995 however embarrassingly (especially for me as a Newcastle fan), they both turned him down with Blackburn chairman Jack Walker reportedly stating "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?" (facepalm). Thankfully for Zizou, common sense prevailed and Juventus signed him in 1996 thus preparing the stage for what would soon be the "Zidane" era - he won back to back Serie A titles, helped Juventus reach 3 consecutive European Finals and guided France to victory at both World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000. This prompted a World Record €77.5 million move to the "Galacticos" of Real Madrid, and the rest as we know is history (with the odd headbutt thrown in for good measure). 

Zidane Profile CM9798

Without stating the obvious - Zidane's are certainly big shoes to fill, however the difference from a number of our examples above is that there are now 4 candidates that have a shot at filling them. Zizou's eldest son Enzo is a midfielder currently on loan at Rayo Majadhonda from parent club Lausanne-Sport, having started his career at Real Madrid and scoring on his debut for the club. Luca Zidane, interestingly a goalkeeper, is currently the third choice keeper at Real Madrid and still only 20 years old. His younger brother Theo is also on the books at Real Madrid, playing for the U19 team and still only 16 years of age, while the youngest of the Zidane clan Elyaz (13 years old) is in the Real Madrid Youth Academy. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Without stating the obvious - Zidane's are certainly big shoes to fill, however the difference from a number of our examples above is that there are now 4 candidates that have a shot at filling them. Zizou's eldest son Enzo is a midfielder currently on loan at Rayo Majadhonda from parent club Lausanne-Sport, having started his career at Real Madrid and scoring on his debut for the club. Luca Zidane, interestingly a goalkeeper, is currently the third choice keeper at Real Madrid and still only 20 years old. His younger brother Theo is also on the books at Real Madrid, playing for the U19 team and still only 16 years of age, while the youngest of the Zidane clan Elyaz (13 years old) is in the Real Madrid Youth Academy. 

 

King George

 

Timothy Weah was born in New York on February 22nd 2000, and joined the PSG academy at age 14 after trials at both New York Red Bulls and Chelsea. Usually deployed on the left wing or as an inside forward, he made his first team debut aged 18 and soon after earned his first international cap for the USA, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to do so. He first goal for PSG came in August 2018 in a 4-0 cup victory against Monaco, and he followed this up with his first league goal in their next game, a 3-0 win over Caen. Soon after he was loaned out to Celtic for the remainder of the season, scoring on his debut again in a Cup game and again following up with his first league goal in the game after. It is clear that the lad knows where the goal is just like his father, and at the age of 19 has a huge future ahead of him in which he may reach and surpass his father's incredible achievements in the game. 

How do they compare? 

George Weah CM9798

 

Timothy Weah FM19

 
 
 
 
 

Sibling Rivalry or brotherly love? 

Up to now we have mainly focused on Father and Son combinations in order to delve in to the concept of football being passed over from generation to generation, and to get an illustrated understanding of Football DNA in action. While nothing is and will ever be conclusive, it is remarkably evident that there is a definite connection between football and genetics and we have seen this consistently increase in recent years. Is this all based on Football DNA or is it because footballers are so much wealthier these days that they can afford to give their kids the best football training and education available? Is it that young footballers want to emulate their parents more based on the fact that they now have more access to their father's achievements with things like Youtube, Sky Sports and the Internet? It is difficult to pinpoint the driving factor, and perhaps it's fair to say that it is a combination of all of the above. 

But what of cases where we have seen no immediate footballing connection from parents, however we see more than one child succeeding at the highest levels of professional football? Rather than comparing siblings against each other as we did above (not enough hours in the day :D), it is interesting to take a broad look at how many sets of brothers we have seen perform and succeed across the globe, especially taking in to account that they have come in all shapes, sizes, positions and ages and yet still we see something which suggests that football clearly is in their blood and runs in the family. Feel free to click the names below to view their FM profiles and make your own comparisons 👌: 

Name  - Brother 

Giuseppe Baresi - Franco Baresi

Jack Charlton - Bobby Charlton  

Michael Laudrup - Brian Laudrup  

Frank De Boer - Ronald De Boer  

Niko Kovac - Robert Kovac  

Gary Neville - Phil Neville 

Filippo Inzaghi - Simone Inzaghi  

Fabio Cannavaro - Paolo Cannavaro  

Rio Ferdinand - Anton Ferdinand  

Kolo Toure - Yaya Toure  

Rafael - Fabio  

Eden Hazard - Thorgan Hazard - Kylian Hazard  

Sven Bender - Lars Bender  

Paul Pogba - Florentin Pogba - Mathias Pogba  

Granit Xhaka - Taulant Xhaka  

Jerome Boateng - Kevin Prince-Boateng  

Michael Keane - Will Keane 

Toni Kroos - Felix Kroos  

Gianluigi Donnarumma - Antonio Donnarumma 

Ryan Sessegnon - Steven Sessegnon  

It doesn't even stop there - as most of us know, Rio and Anton Ferdinand's uncle is none other than Les Ferdinand who was one of the most prolific Premier League strikers of the 1990's; Phil Neville's son Harvey is currently on the books at Man Utd; somehow Luka Modric and Mark Viduka are cousins! Football and DNA are surely connected, and it will be interesting to look back in 10 or 20 years time to see what else the wonderful game produces. 

Ones for the Future 

Nearly there I promise! We have already mentioned some exciting prospects above such as Federico Chiesa, Justin Kluivert, Timothy Weah etc and these are definitely some of the hottest prospects both in Football Manager and in real life. Thankfully for us FM fans, although it means we are getting older, Football DNA continues to produce a lot of raw talent and this year is no different with FM19; there are a number of prospects in the game that come from highly successful footballing families, and I think it is safe to say that you might recognise the surnames on some of these kids below who are my tips to develop both in this year's game as well as in real life also: 

Ianis Hagi (son of Gheorghe) 

I came across Ianis Hagi in FM18 and instantly recognised the name. 1990's football fans will easily recall the exploits of his father Gheorge Hagi, who played and shone in 3 World Cups and 3 European Championships for Romania during which he also had successful spells at both Real Madrid and Barcelona. An exceptionally powerful attacking midfielder, Hagi was renowned for his creativity and technique which led to him being appropriately nicknamed "The Maradona of Carpathia" by his Romanian worshippers - at his peak he was one of the most feared Number 10's in the game and his son Ianis also looks to be on a similar trajectory with his ability to play anywhere across the Attacking Midfield line.  

 
 

Ianis started his career in his home country for Vitorul Constanta, and after a brief stint at Fiorentina where he was nominated for the European Golden Boy award, he returned to his home club due to lack of playing time and has since earned 2 caps for the Romania national side. If Football Manager is anything to go by (of course it is!), this kid has a very bright future ahead of him and has the potential to be every bit as good as his father. 

Jordan Larsson (son of Henrik) 

Jordan Larsson is the son of Swedish goalscoring machine Henrik Larsson. Having graduated from Barcelona's Youth Academy, Jordan Larsson returned to Sweden where he signed his first professional contract and since has emerged as one of the hottest prospects in Swedish and European football. Like his father, he knows where the goal is and is rated as having 4 star potential at the start of FM19.  

 
 

His father obviously needs no introduction - Henrik Larsson's goal scoring record is almost unrivaled. He scored 242 goals in 313 appearances for Celtic, including 4 seasons scoring over 30 goals and one season with a tally of 53 goals in 50 appearances. Larsson was nothing short of a goal machine in Scotland, and while it is arguable that he was too good to play in the Scottish league, his record has still never been broken and it was this form that led to relative successful spells at Barcelona and Manchester United in later years. If Jordan Larsson inherits even a percentage of his father's finishing ability, there is no doubt we will see him featuring in one of the top European leagues before long - decent value at €625k in the game too!

 
 

Marcus and Khephren Thuram (sons of Lilian) 

I could write a book on how good Lilian Thuram was. Not only did he play in the top flight of French, Italian and Spanish football, he was also a rock at the centre of the famous World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000 winning France national team. His strentgh and aggressive tackling style compared with his intelligent tactical and technical attributes made him arguably one of the best and most understated defenders in world football, and it is interesting to observe that neither of his two sons play in the same position with Marcus preferring to play on the left side of midfield, and Khephren more suited to a defensive or holding midfield role. Both look to have excellent potential in both FM and in real life, and definitely are ones to watch in future editions of the game. The name Thuram on the back of a shirt would strike fear in to any opposition, and looking at those stars below I have no doubts in tipping them as ones to watch for FM19. 

 
 
 
 

BEAST

Andri Gudjohnsen (son of Eidur) 

At just 16 years old, Andri Gudjohnsen already has the world at his feet. Despite being the son of an ex-Barcelona player (as well as Chelsea, Monaco and Spurs), he signed for Real Madrid in August 2018 after climbing the ranks at Espanyol's youth academy. A Striker just like his father, he scored 5 times in 13 games for Iceland U-17's and looks to have a similar goal scoring instinct that Eidur Gudjohnsen displayed, most prominently during his six years at Chelsea where he scored 78 goals in 186 appearances. 

 

Can Andri emulate his father's success?

 
 
 

Summary 

So what does all this mean?! Are we any wiser about the concept of Football DNA? Have we answered the question - are footballers born and not made? I think we can all agree that there is clearly a connection to be made here, that footballing talent, skill and ability is certainly an intangible asset that can and has been passed from generation to generation repeatedly down through the years. As mentioned above, perhaps the more recent offspring of successful footballers have had more opportunity, exposure and access to the highest levels of football education and training, and by default are more likely to be monitored and watched by scouts than unknown players that develop elsewhere around the world. However it is clear that there seems to be a natural phenomenon occurring in the way football appears to "run in the family" and is transferred from father to son; so much so that there were even too many to cover in this blog, considering we never even mentioned the likes of Harry & Jamie Redknapp, Frank Lampard Sr. & Frank Jr., Paul & Tom Ince, Danny & Daley Blind, Jurgen & Jonathan Klinsmann - the list is almost endless, so I think we can conclude that Football DNA most certainly exists and for those of us that spend hours and hours scouting and staring at numbers & dots on a screen, long may it continue 🔥 🔥 🔥 . 

FM Save Idea - "Family Guy" 

What if you could only sign players and staff on the condition that you also have to sign a blood relative of theirs? 

Now that we are halfway through FM19 I regularly see a number of community members undertaking various challenges in order to create new and intriguing save ideas. I think this would certainly make for an interesting challenge, whereby you can only sign a player if you are able to bring in their father / son / uncle / nephew / cousin etc either as a player or staff member. Reckon you could get the job done?? 

 

Family Guy FC ??

 

That's it!! I hope you enjoyed this article and that you learned as much as I did while writing it - please feel free to post any thoughts, questions or feedback in the comments section below or on my Twitter page - comments and retweets etc are always appreciated! If you would like to check out any of my other FM articles or follow my current FM19 save with CD Tenerife, feel free to check out and follow my blog here. As always, a big shout out to Joe and the lads at WeStreamFM.com for their support and promotion of more written content and blogs etc - legends as always! I will leave you with an article that popped up in my feed while I was writing this blog - more food for thought with regard to genealogy and Football DNA 😄. Thanks for reading - MaddFM (http://maddfm.home.blog). 

  

"Genetics expert reckons he can create a clone of Lionel Messi" - https://www.joe.co.uk/sport/clone-lionel-messi-barcelona-224378 

Football Manager 2019: My Training Philosophy

Written by Troy @FMLife2016

Football Manager over the years has developed in to one of the most realistic video simulation games of all time. From tactics to scouting and everything in between and the team at SI have always strived to make every new edition more realistic than the last. In FM19 we finally received what I believe to be the greatest step towards realism in the world of Football Manager and that of course is the new training module. So why don’t we all use it?

In previous versions of the game training was a set and forget task most handled at the start of their first season in charge. On one side of the fence some players didn’t understand the benefits of training and the key components to set it up convincingly. The most common mistakes I would see is players would alter their training too much, not giving enough time on a certain training schedule to have any effect. The second mistake I would see is that players didn’t quite understand that at the core of training it develops attributes and not much else. Sure you could get a 1-2% boost going into the next match using match preparation but the main purpose of training is developing attributes. On the flip side there were players that knew the ins and outs of training, mastering the act and developing elite talent without a thought. For me it all became uninspiring and a simple set and forget task I would visit once and while.

In FM19 this has all changed. Sure the core idea of training is still to develop attributes, however with the multitude of training schedules and sessions available to us it's anyone's guess as to the best way to master training in FM19. SI have put theirs players on a need to know basis when it comes to training. They are staying tight lipped on how one would “master” training however they’ve given us the tools and the information to develop our own training philosophies. This year there's no right or wrong way to approach training and it's up to you as a Football Manager to decide what your team needs to become champions and reach their potential.

My Training Philosophies

  • Club DNA or Fibra Training

  • Tactic Training

  • Improvement training

Club DNA or Fibra Training:

Let me start off by describing what “Club DNA” or “Fibra” is. The phrase club DNA was coined by community legends Bustthenet and Foxinthebox and its a list of core attributes you look for in a player across every playing position from your Centre half to your forward. Fibra is pretty much the same thing however it sounds foreign and exotic.

In my current Sporting CP save I’ve developed this training method with my core attributes being:

First Touch - Composure - Decisions - Work Rate - Stamina

I’ve narrowed down the training schedules that work on these attributes while trying to hit as many of my Fibra attributes as possible.

Below is each training schedule separated and I’ve listed everytime one of my “Fibra” attributes are trained in each category. When setting up my weekly training schedule I’ll be giving preference to those categories that hit the most attributes eg. Outfield, Possession, attacking patient, transition press etc. I’ve made 2 different weekly schedule one for General training and I’ve grouped the other categories together to not complicate things.

I’ve tracked any improvements via the “team report - squad comparison” screen all be it hard to tell as new players arrive and players exit we are showing improvements in 3 of the designated “Fibra” attributes.  

 
 

I still need to adjust from week to week as we have mid week games and I’ll issue different match prep training depending of the calibre of opponent we face that week.

 
 

Tactic Training

Training attributes to suit your tactic may be the best way forward for some but first you must understand exactly what your tactic is. How does it play? Why does it work? and what is needed to make it better. Are you playing Gegenpressing or Tiki Taka? What are the attributes that are needed to be successful at implementing your tactical approach.

Taking the Gegenpress as the example what are the key Team instructions in this tactic:

  • High Tempo

  • Counter

  • Closing down

Playing with a high tempo your player will need Good mobility, control, and movement on and off the ball. So key attributes to look for and train in your player would be. Anticipation, decisions, team work, vision, acceleration, agility, pace and off the ball.

Playing on the counter your players will need good mobility, endeavour and movement. So the key attributes you’ll need to look for and train in your player would be. Anticipation, team work, acceleration, agility, pace, off the ball, work rate and stamina.

Playing a pressing game while closing down your player will need good Endeavour, mobility and good defensively. So the key attributes you’ll need to look for and train in your player would be. Anticipation, bravery, work rate, acceleration, tackling and positioning.

So overall anticipation - off the ball - acceleration - work rate - agility - pace

Are your core trainable attributes that make the tactic work and by using my first example on narrowing down which training schedules cover these attributes you’ll be able to focus your training on improving your players to suit your tactical philosophy.      

Improvement Training

Improvement training is improving your team's weakest attributes through training. First you’ll need to identify the weakest attributes compared to the league your playing in. To do this you’ll need to have a look at your team report - comparison. Filter down to Technical, Mental and Physical to determine what attributes are low compared to the league.

Technical attributes below my standard: Heading and tackling   

 
 

Mental attributes below my standard: aggression and bravery

 
 

Physical attributes below my standard: Jumping reach

 
 

All up we have heading, tackling, aggression, bravery and jumping reach so tailoring your training to increase some of those attributes will help as we can see tackling aggression and bravery are key attributes when it comes to closing down and as a whole my Sporting CP lack in those areas.

Because your team train in Units(GK,DEF,ATTK) you might want to add those filters when on the team report - comparison screen as this might show different weaknesses and the units will differ in terms of the training schedule.

——

Thanks Troy - FM-Life

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Football Manager 2019: 5 teams you might want to manage

Written by @FridayNightFM

You’ve got a day off of work or school, you fire up your computer, load Football Manager and then you ask yourself ‘who do I manage?’.

It can be tough choosing a team with so many challenges out there but for those that are like me and love a back story, this post is for you as I’ll give you a reason to manage the team and hopefully you’ll let us know if we’ve piqued your interest.

Here are 5 football teams with interesting stories that I hope will inspire you to a start a save with:

FC Twente

The story of Twente could be described as riches to rags & back again. Champions in 2010 to nearly bankrupt in 2018 and not for the first time as the club was saved from bankruptcy in 2002 by Chairman Joop Munsterman. From 2002 Twente’s stature in Dutch football grew, 2 fourth place finishes and a 2nd place were eclipsed in the 2009/10 season when they won their first Eredivisie Championship. The seasons that followed that first championship win were filled with turmoil, there were allegations of financial mismanagement which included transfers & expanding the De Grolsch Veste, both of which the club could not actually afford. In 2016 the club were relegated to the Eerste Divisie (the second tier) by the KNVB due to these irregularities but after appeal the club were allowed to remain in the Eredivisie, not that it mattered as the club was relegated naturally two years later.

In Football Manager:

Transfer Budget £500k | Wage Budget £70k p/w

Read more: https://www.asser.nl/SportsLaw/Blog/post/the-rise-and-fall-of-fc-twente

Malaga

Isco, Joaquin, Willy Cabellero, Julio Baptista and Ruud van Nistelrooy are just a handful of ex-Malaga players signed during the Al Thani era but unlike Manchester City, having a sheikh owner doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed success. The 2011-12 season saw Malaga finish 4th in La Liga meaning they qualified for The Champions League. They progressed from the group stages in a group that contained AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg & Anderlect. They beat Porto in the round of sixteen and were eventually knocked out in the Quarter Finals against Borussia Dortmund after Dortmund scored 2 offside goals in injury time to send the Spanish side out of the competition.

The following season Malaga were banned from European competition for four years due to the clubs debts, however after appeal the ban was decreased to one year.

The lack of European football meant their star players wanted to leave and with that downward trajectory of the football team and in the 2017/18 season they were relegated to the Segunda Division.

In Football Manager:

Transfer Budget £3.7m | Wage Budget £388k p/w

Read More: https://www.sportskeeda.com/football/the-fascinating-tale-of-malaga-c-f

AS Saint-Étienne

The best team in France, or they once were. With a record 10 Ligue 1 titles Saint-Étienne have a rich history in French football but the 10 Championships were won between 1957 & 1981, a distant memory for Les Verts fans. Moving to the turn of the millennium and to fresher memories; Saint-Étienne were docked 7 points in the 2000/01 season after Brazilian Alex Dias & Ukranian Maksym Levytsky used fake passports that linked back to involvement from the club’s management. The points penalty was to prove too much of a mountain to climb and the club were relegated to Ligue 2. Upon their return to Ligue 1 after 3 seasons Saint-Étienne’s best league position has been 5th which meant European football for the first time in 23 years, that young squad was influenced by the likes of Blaise Matuidi & Dimitri Payet. This achievement was followed up in 2013 when Saint-Étienne won the Coupe de la Ligue, their first major domestic silverware for 30 years.

In Football Manager:

Transfer Budget £6.2m | Wage Budget £483k p/w

Read More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AS_Saint-%C3%89tienne

Sporting Lisbon

Sporting have a rich, successful history in football but what happened towards the end of last season makes for an interesting story. In a training ground attack where 50 of the clubs supporters forced their way into the club’s training ground and assaulted players and staff, Bas Dost, that seasons top scorer, came away with a nasty head injury and players such as Rui Patricio, Gelson Martins, William Carvalho & Daniel Podence were all involved in the altercation which lead to a number of key players cancelling their contracts with the club. Why did this happen a week before a Cup Final? Well, outspoken club president Bruno De Carvalho took to Facebook to criticise the team’s performance against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League. The players responded by posting a joint statement defending their commitment to the club, but not to De Carvalho. It was believed that De Carvalho organised the attacks, but at the time those rumours were unconfirmed. In June 2018 the club’s members held a vote and 71.36% of them voted against Carvalho continuing as club President and later that year the Portuguese Public Ministry charged Carvalho with terrorism and 98 other crimes including aggravated threat, kidnapping, qualified offence to physical integrity & possession of a prohibited weapon.

In Football Manager:

Transfer Budget £7.1m | Wage Budget £673k p/w

Read More: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2776584-attack-on-sporting-what-drove-lisbon-fans-to-violence-against-their-own-team

Pachuca

I’ve added Pachuca to the list because it’s a club that I’ve wanted to manage in FM for a number of years, but have never taken the plunge. I first watched Pachuca’s youth team play against Manchester United in 2008 & I’ve been keeping an eye on them ever since. When Mexico played at the 2012 Olympics, I watched them beat Senegal and got to see a Pachuca graduate, Hector Herrera, play and score in the game. Their youth academy produces some stunning talent, the likes of Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano, Erick Gutierrez & Rodolfo Pizarro all came through the academy but nowadays it’s not just ‘home grown’ talent they’re producing they now have the ability to attract the top talented youngsters because of the investment of Carlos Slim, the former richest man in the world.

In Football Manager:

Transfer Budget £3.8m | Wage Budget £305k p/w

Read More: http://www.espn.com/soccer/mexican-liga-mx/22/blog/post/2694824/the-secret-of-pachuca-youth-success-in-liga-mx

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Hopefully that gives you some food for thought, please let us know if you start a save with any of the teams or have had experience with them.

@FMDoop decided to start a new save with Malaga after reading this, you can see how he gets on via his Twitch channel twitch.tv/FMDoop