Club DNA is the building block of success
Before you can turn your team into a billion dollar club, before you can even consider winning titles, if you haven’t thought this through, then you will always wonder why your team is underperforming. Club DNA in my opinion is the single biggest factor in Football Manager that contributes to success.
Club DNA is a topic I’ve covered on Youtube, but it’s not something I’ve dwelt on in the blog. Today I aim to start something about that. Northern Irelands defeat at the hands of Poland in their opening Euro 2016 tie triggered something in my subconscious. The Irish along with Romania had successfully qualified from a group that included the Faroe Islands, Hungary, Greece and Finland. By topping the group they had confounded pundits and surprised many. What the Irish had in buckets was grit, and no-one in my eyes epitomises this more than their Southampton based player – Steven Davies. An ethos built on handwork can only take you so far, as Poland taught them in their Euro group opener. The Poles may be rich in quality, but the Irish leave their hearts out on the pitch. I doubt the Irish will get past the group stages, they will need to find a way for the team to keep better ball possession and try and work themselves more frequently into positions where they can play to their strengths – set pieces. There is something to be learnt from this. The Irish overachieved because of their hard working ethic, and its the same with FM.
In Football Manager, success only begins when you have a clear understanding of the kind of football you want to play. The common issue I keep coming across is a failure to distinguish between attributes and style of play. Many managers seem to think that having a solid working tactic should be enough. They see me using a 532 and then flood my email with requests for my game save or my tactics hoping to use the same system with their team. It won’t work.
Before you consider the style of play you want to use, understand first the kind of team you have. Look at the side with a fine tooth comb and gauge their personality. Do they have the heart of lions, or are they going to fold the first sign of trouble? My sides have been overachieving every edition of Football Manager, and the first thing I do in every edition is look at my squad and nail down work-rate. If you are planning to overachieve with an average squad like the Irish, work-rate is vital. Then I look at attributes like strength, stamina and acceleration. I don’t care if we are technically gifted, I just want to make sure I don’t need to sub my key players at their 50th min mark because they are jaded. These attributes become key for my defenders and for my support players. And then I start taking a look at other stuff that will influence my style of play. Do I want players who can switch and dictate attacks? I look for passing and decisions. Do I want players who can play in an attacking system high up the pitch and be aware of their context all the time – I look at concentration and anticipation. Do I want my players capable of attacking space all the time – off the ball. Ever wondered whats the last thing I look at? Potential ability stars.
Club DNA is the first factor you need to nail, it influences your results on the pitch. This in turn influences player development. If you are winning matches and your youth are playing in them, then assuming you have the right facilities, they will develop well. It also helps you decide who will stay in your club to play a part in your first 11. This in turn along with your results sets you up for a profit making transfer system. Its the first step, get it right.
Top coaches all over the world, don’t simply seek out the best players, they seek out the players who will fit into their system. The system isn’t a tactical configuration, it’s the style of play they need to adopt. So if you ever find yourself in trouble in a game, take a look at your team. If the DNA is right, then it’s your tactic. And that’s a lot more fun to fix.