Welcome to what will be my first post on Passion4FM. I was considering what would be the best way to introduce myself, whether it be a tactics review, a guide, or perhaps even a scouting review of a player. Today, instead I welcome you to the Class of 2015 – a Football Manager Youth Development series. Be sure to read along to understand the plot of this new Football Manager story a little more.
The most enjoyable aspect of Football Manager in my opinion is player development, taking on a player with untold amounts of potential, and through the right methods and practices you develop an outstanding player. You will notice from the title of the post, it will emulate the idea of the famous “Class Of ’92”, where we saw the introduction of five young players at Manchester United, with each going on and having illustrious careers in football. If you’re unsure on who were these players, perhaps David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phill Neville and Nicky Butt ring a bell; not the worst crop of players to come through at a football club.
So we are going to throw ourselves into the Football Manager world, and takeover as manager of Millwall Football Club. Why Millwall I’m sure you’re going to ask? Well from a personal point of view, it’s my local and the team I support, but for the basis of youth development the club have four players that have the potential to develop into Premiership footballers. Currently in the third tier of English football, it’s a great benchmark to throw these types of players into the deep end, playing the four as much as we can, and bring in the right characters that could aid with their development. I also enjoy the idea of going to a club with not so good facilities, it will allow us to cover every aspect of youth development, such as tutoring, training, facilities and perhaps the use of loaning players out.
The current facilities are far from ideal to develop youngsters to their full potential, but for our level it is still a great starting point for us. Playing in League One allows us to play the youngsters in the first XI, and while it is important to have good facilities, an equally important factor is exposure to first team football. We have ‘Good’ facilities when it comes to both training and youth, priority will be to improve the training facilities, as this will allow increased growth while working on the training pitch.
Debt of £20 Million can be worked on, we have a chairman intent on sticking around and with not too many high earners, we are in a position to grow without worrying about improving all our facilities. Having a 20,000 capacity stadium also helps, as it allows for improvement and is a capacity which is sustainable even in the Premier League.
So lets meet the four players:
From a personal point of view, Sid Nelson is amongst my favourite players at the club, a Millwall fan himself, he is a whole hearted central defender. As you can see from the stats above, he is a hot head with high aggression, but with other fantastic mental attributes, I view him as my captain a few years down the line. He is a very raw player, and will need to develop to fit into my philosophy going forward, but with the great mental and physical attributes, he will be able to adapt to the higher levels in English football, often in Football Manager if a player has high mental attributes they don’t necessarily need to be the most gifted technically. Only 19, given the right level of exposure I believe he can go onto be a fantastic player. Current club captain Tony Craig is a very similar type of player, and due to this will be a great role model and tutor for Nelson.
With high attributes in Leadership, Determination, Work Rate and Teamwork, I view Craig as the perfect tutor for Nelson. Tutoring is very important, you can work on technical attributes on the training field, however mental attributes are difficult to develop into a player. We all dream of a young squad with an average age of 22, however it is important to have a balance and leaders in the squad. Currently I feel the squad has the right balance, but I will attempt to bring another player or two in to the club for their mental attributes to develop the youngsters.
Our coach report on arrival states that Nelson has the potential to be a decent Premier Division player, however with the extra black star on the potential, I see no reason why we cannot improve this while he is with us! Throughout the coming season, with Nelson I will be looking to improve on his technical ability, changing specific training every three months between heading, marking, tackling and also passing. Why passing I’m sure you may think? Well in the long term I intend to bring a possession game to the side, and this is very important for my central defenders. I’ve already mentioned the mental and physical attributes, and with Tony Criag tutoring and Nelson’s exposure to first team football, all these attributes will take care of themselves over time.
The oldest of the crop, O’Brien is a forward who has only recently broke into the first team fold. Having come through as a hot prospect in 2009, the young forward has had to wait for the opportunity to hold down a first team place, and under current manager Neil Harris he has had the opportunity to show his value to the club. Known for his pace and ability to cary the ball, I see O’Brien as the link between defence and attack with his great technique and ability on the ball. In Football Manager he is probably underrated technically and will receive a boost in January, however he still has the potential to develop with solid ratings in determination, teamwork and work rate. For the first season or two I’m keen to play a 4-4-2 formation, and see O’Brien as the perfect false nine due to his ability to get on the ball and run at pace. Again, another player with good physical attributes already, so all training will be focused to improving O’Brien’s technical attributes. My main priority is to ensure he scores goals, so we will primarily be looking to improve his finishing and also composure.
O’Brien’s coach report indicates we have a player potentially suitable for the Sky Bet Championship – The division above us – however, again like with Nelson we have an additional star, so we will be looking for more from this player. We unfortunately don’t have an older player in the squad at the moment who will play the same role as O’Brien, so tutoring may have to wait until we secure a new signing who can be the mentor.
Fresh from a loan spell last season, Onydinma is probably a player who requires the most work to improve on his current ability. Only 18 years old, he has endless potential and if mentored correctly, could be another fantastic player. Our coach report indicates that Onyedinma has the highest potential of the group, however due to his lack of mental ability, he will be the most difficult to improve, but a good challenge and sure to be an interest. We don’t have many senior players similar to Onyedinma, so tutoring may have to come from an incoming transfer, or perhaps a different type of midfielder in the current squad.
As for how Onyedinma will fit in, I worry that due to playing 4-4-2 he will struggle on the wing, and perhaps could go out on loan and play in his more favourable position of AMC. The long term ambition is to have Onydinma playing in the side in his favourite position, however it is also equally important to make sure we bring the club up through the divisions at the same time. Success for the club will coincide with the success of the players developing, as I’ve already mentioned above I see League One as a great division to play the youngsters, as the standard is far away from The Championship.
And finally, the last of the group is midfielder Jack Powell, having originally been on fierce rivals West Ham United’s books, Powell is the only player of the four who hasn’t been with the club since a young age. His release from West Ham aged 18 presented Millwall with the chance to pursue his signature, and he has since been a regular in the U21’s team. A playmaker in the centre of the park, Powell is another well rounded player, perhaps having no standout attributes might be seen as a negative, but playing 4-4-2 his versatility due to having all round stats will be useful in a four man midfield.
At 21 years old, he doesn’t have as much potential as the likes of Nelson and Onyedinma, but with the additional star on top of his potential, we will be hoping to utilise his full potential and take him beyond The Championship. We have one or two senior players such as Shaun Williams and Nadjim Abdou, both different styles but could act as great tutors for Powell. However, due to being slightly older, I believe the best way to improve Powell would be to just play him in games, and allow him to naturally improve.
So that is the preview of the Class Of ’15, as for the club ambitions we are expected to be in and around the top 6 this season. Having looked through the clubs and their players in this division, even if we played the youngsters I believe we will have enough to compete at the top, the crucial decision’s for me is what tactic and playing style we decide to choose.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview, and would love your feedback on the introduction and your predictions on how far each player will develop, I’m new to blogging Football Manager, but do have a past and could always use your feedback.