It has taken me over two months since the Initial Analysis of season 2016-17 to finish this season. I clearly won’t have enough time to play one full season if I take a similar time next season. Furthermore I am slower at playing the game these days, and only going to get slower. So it makes sense to stop now and think.
You will notice that I haven’t written a separate analysis of the 2016-17 season. It doesn’t make sense to do so given this article covers all seasons.
The aim of this analysis is to make me a better player at Football Manager. We will see if the same analysis of my FM 2011 game did during the course of this article.
The criteria under under which I will analyse my performance are;
- Player development
- Scotland manager
- FM 2011 Lessons
- FM Goals
For reference, it may help to look at a similar analysis I completed at the end of FM 2011.
- Is Celticman any good? Part 1 – Results and tactics
- Is Celticman any good? Part 2 – Transfers and finances
|SPL||Scottish Cup||Scottish League Cup||Champions League||Europa League|
|2011-12||1st (88pts)||Final||Winners||N/A||Last 32|
|2012-13||1st (82pts)||Semi-Final||Winners||3rd in Group||Last 32|
|2013-14||1st (87pts)||4th Round||Winners||3rd in Group||Quarter Final|
|2014-15||1st (91pts)||Final||3rd Round||Last 16||N/A|
|Winners||Quarter Final||4th in Group||N/A|
|2016-17||1st (98pts)||Semi-Final||Final||Last 16||N/A|
Won every season, making me the dominant team in Scotland. My average points gained was 89, 0.5 more than Celtic’s real-life all-time SPL average!
Verdict: Mission accomplished.
Other than the 2013-14 performance I think we did OK. I would like to have won it more often, but glad that I did at least once.
Scottish League Cup
Won the first three seasons in a row, often using a young or 2nd string side. Had a couple of bad years before getting back to the final.
Verdict: Success. I did not expect to win this so often given I often played 2nd string or young sides.
There was a process of gradual improvement to my Champions League performance with season 2015-16 excepted. I never won it, nor did I get to the quarter finals which would have made me the best SPL team manager in recent history.
Verdict: Good, but wanted more.
Steady improvement in the first 3 seasons. I think I might have had an outside chance of winning this in either 2013/14 or even in 2015/16 when I had a poor Champions League performance so I wonder what might have been.
Verdict: OK, but wanted more.
While I haven’t played on enough to see where we will finish in Europe, I brought the club from 50+ to 30th in terms of European performance and of that I’m proud.
As far as results go, I am happy to have been the dominant team in Scotland, winning six-in-a-row. In fact, that makes me the most successful manager in the SPL this millennium
On the other domestic trophies, I’d have preferred to have won more Scottish Cups, but I am happy with the League Cup wins. The only disappointment from Scottish competitions is that I did not win a treble.
In Europe, I am happy with twice being in the last 16 of the Champions League and the Quarter Finals of the Euro Cup. I am also happy, that, I delivered year-on-year improvement to Celtics standing in Europe. However I did fail in my bid to win the Champions League.
In the first season, I had started with three simple 442 based formations, leaning on my own knowledge; the simplicity of the formation and the fact many players can fit into it. The 442 shape stayed for the majority of my career, moving to a more complex version early on.
I did flirt with 451 and 4141 in the second season. The 4141 stayed and was a useful formation throughout the 2nd and 3rd season where I also trialled a 541 unsuccessfully.
The 4141 combined with a counter attacking 442 were some of the main reasons for European success in the 4th season. But it wasn’t until the start of the 6th that I completely abandoned the 442 as my main formation going to 4231 and two different 451 setups, which combined with a young and talented side allowed me to qualify for the Champions League last 16 again.
I started off safe with the 442 tactic but it was when I moved to 4141 (for European matches in the 3rd/4th season) that I managed to get some European success. Similarly when I went to 4231 and, finally, found a 451 which worked in the 6th season I had a good run in Europe.
If there were conclusions to be drawn is that in every game, my tactics have to continually evolve, regardless of overall approach. That is even if I choose 451/4231 in FM 2013, I must still continually look for ways to improve the tactic.
In terms of the tactics chosen, I think the 5 man midfield shapes tend to be better as do the Counter attacking strategies. The use of these coincided with runs to the last 16 of the Champions League. I should utilize the new knowledge I have of these formations, plus Counter Attacking strategies to improve come FM 2013.
Transfers were one area I looked at each and every year.
There was one running theme – I buy too many senior players, at too great an expense. It seems that buying players over the age of 24 often back-fires for me. There are exceptions to the rule; Barry Bannan, Lucas Viatri (especially) and Erwin Hoffer (eventually) but on the whole when I buy a player over 24, things don’t go so well.
In terms of buying youth players, well I do much better on this front. Many of the younger players I’ve bought make it into the first team (Toussaint, Kauppinen) or are now on the verge of doing so (Moritz, Martinazzoli).
When I sell players, I seem to get good value for money (except when I bought them and they were poor – e.g. Jordan Rhodes). I sell them at a good time, e.g. when their contracts are running down or they are getting old so as to reduce the risk of losing them for free.
Another interesting theme is that when I did spend a lot of money, it didn’t translate to success! Season 2015-16 where during the summer I massively over-spent compared to my income was the best example of the perils of spending too much. Conversely, season 2016-17 (the last one) I did the opposite – mainly sold players, brought in very little yet did very well in Europe.
So overall, I think I need to continue buying young players with very high potential as these have a greater success rate. When I do buy a senior player, it must be specifically targeted, like Viatri and Bannan were. But there is no doubt youth is the way to go.
If we take a look at the Celtic squad just now.
The red arrows show 11 players whom I bought under the age of 21 and developed into either first or second string players. That’s a whole team. Furthermore the players with blue arrows were under 21 at the start of the game (and at Celtic) and are now senior squad players. That’s another 3 players.
There were of course some who didn’t make it or didn’t do as well as I’d have liked. However I was usually able to sell them off at a profit.
Player development is probably my strongest point. However this is not just a task which adds extra value to the game. In the last season, where there are 14 players developed by me in the senior squad, I reached the last 16 of the Champions League and won the SPL with a cup final and semi-final to boot. Therefore the coming-of-age of the players I developed coincided with my most successful season.
I should focus more on developing my own players and I should aim to do it quicker. It would be good if I could find players aged around 21 at the start of my FM 2013 save and have them grow into European-class players within three years. Better still if I can develop more young players who are at Celtic at the start of the game. That might make me even stronger.
Like transfers, this was an area I checked every season.
|2011-12||- £1.1m (Loss)|
|Total||£12.8m (to mid-May 2017)|
Overall I made quite a good profit of £12.8m but I only did so due to the large profit in the final season. Otherwise I’d have made a loss!
It is interesting to correlate this with my performances in Europe and net transfer spend.
|Season||Profit/Loss||Net Transfer Spend||Europe|
|2011-12||- £1.1m (Loss)||£0.5m||Europa League Last 32|
|2012-13||£7m (Profit)||£3.75m||CL 3rd in Group / EL Last 32|
|2013-14||£1m||£9m||CL 3rd in Group / EL Quarter Final|
|2014-15||£6.1m||£1.25m||CL Last 16|
|2015-16||-£14.6m||£12m||CL 4th in Group|
|2016-17||£14.4m (mid-May)||-£8.2m (Sold more than bought)||CL Last 16|
|Total||£12.8m (to mid-May 2017)||£18.3m|
You can see that the years where I made profit were also the years I did best in Europe. That seems obvious at first because of more prize money, but it is also notable that when my net transfer spend was fairly modest (2013-14 is the exception). Put simply, spending lots of money doesn’t guarantee success.
Overall I had a net transfer spend which was larger than my overall profit. I’m not sure if this is a good thing.
I need to be more conservative in my transfer spending. That allows for profits to be made, regardless of European performance. Profits can then be re-invested in the team.
I was appointed Scotland manager but hadn’t enough time to finish a qualification campaign.
My stats don’t make great reading however with just a 25% win ratio! I’m not happy.
It was great just to be appointed but I didn’t have enough time to do much and I wasn’t performing very well anyway.
FM 2011 Lessons
My lessons from FM 2011 were
- Reconsider my tactics in Europe. Especially think about using the 451 again.
- Play a much longer game – three seasons is far too short
- Do not spend so much money on experienced players. Invest in young players with high potential instead.
- Sell more players – do not get attached to them
- Reconsider how you offer new contracts to players – are 2nd choice players worth over £15k p/w when you have £300k – £400k p/w to spend?
I think I did take action on all points, though not enough on point 3. For example I used 451 and 4231 tactics, played 6 seasons (still too short), sold the likes of Hooper an Izaguirre and reigned in my wage expenditure eventually.
These are worthwhile goals to use again for FM 2013.
From my about page, I have the following goals for every version of Football Manager.
- Ensure Celtic are the dominant force in Scotland.
- Win the Champions League with Celtic.
- Become the Scotland Manger and lead them to the European Championship and World Cup finals.
I certainly completed number 1 and did part of number 3 (became Scotland manager). Winning the Champions League with Celtic continues to elude me though.
I’m very happy to have dominated Scottish football, become Scotland manager and improve Celtic’s European beyond where they were when I took over. I would have liked won a European competition, and performed better as Scotland manager, but it wasn’t to be.
However I think it is clear from the above that my personal route to success is going to come from player development and through utilizing the new tactical approaches I have started to use (e.g. 4231, 451).
So for FM 2013, I’ll
- Develop young players quicker
- Use 5 man midfield tactics earlier
- Stop spending so much on older players
And that’s that. Thanks for reading my FM 2012 adventure. I may pop up between now and FM 2013. If not, see you in FM 2013.