Football Manager “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”, is an idiom which describes someone who never quite fulfils their potential, a person who makes it to the finals but never wins the contest.
In Football Manager terms, at least for the purposes of this blog, this means: a team who have reached a domestic cup final, or finished second in their countries top league, but who have never gone all the way and won the title.
There are lots of blogs out there detailing teams that are fallen giants, teams that have a great youth setup behind them or teams that have a bankroll to be jealous of – but nobody ever talks about the ones who don’t quite make it.
I started researching these teams when I was looking for a potential save for Football Manager 2022 and, what started as a single tweet with an idea, soon turned into a spreadsheet with over 400 clubs from 28 countries around Europe.
Ain’t nobody who really wants a list of 400 clubs though so I narrowed it down even further to 10 who have had the most ‘could have beens’ in their histories.
Will you be taking on the challenge of finally bringing success to any of the clubs? Tag me on Twitter (@theffm_) and let me know!
10. K Sint-Truidense V.V.
Country: Belgium League: Pro League A Transfer Budget: £1m Wage Budget: £132k
Belgian First Division:
Runners-up (1): 1965-66
Runners-up (2): 1970–71, 2002–03
9. FC Rotor Volgograd
Country: Russia League: First Division Transfer Budget: £0 Wage Budget: £79k
Runners-up (2): 1993, 1997
Runners-up (1): 1995
8. Sporting de Gijón
Country: Spain League: Second Division Transfer Budget: £1m Wage Budget: £164k
Runners-up (1): 1978-79
Copa del Rey:
Runners-up (2): 1981, 1982
Country: Turkey League: 2. League Transfer Budget: £161k Wage Budget: £4k
Runners-up (3): 1968-69, 1969-70, 1971-72
6. RB Leipzig
Country: Germany League: Bundesliga Transfer Budget: £17m Wage Budget: £1m
Runners-up (2): 2016-17, 2020-21
Runners-up (2): 2018-19, 2020-21
5. FK Senica
Country: Slovakia League: First Division Transfer Budget: £128k Wage Budget: £7k
Runners-up (2): 2010-11, 2012-13
Runners-up (2): 2012, 2015
4. Örebro SK
Country: Sweden League: Premier Division Transfer Budget: £84k Wage Budget: £36k
Runners-up (2): 1991, 1994
Runners-up (2): 1987-88, 2014-15
3. Pogoń Szczecin
Country: Poland League: PKO BP Ekstraklasa Transfer Budget: £37k Wage Budget: £63k
Runners-up (2): 1986-87, 2000-01
Runners-up (3): 1980-81, 1981-82, 2009-10
2. NK Lokomotiva Zagreb
Country: Croatia League: First League Transfer Budget: £214k Wage Budget: £21k
Belgian First Division:
Runners-up (2): 2012-13, 2019-20
Runners-up (2): 2012-13, 2019-20
1. Nîmes Olympique
Country: France League: Ligue 1 Uber Eats Transfer Budget: £2m Wage Budget: £143k
DNAjax is a save about creating a solid and dependable team. It’s not always about signing the best players, it’s about signing the right players.
I won’t go into detail about what DNA means in FM as there are plenty of blogs out there already, Passion4FM giving a great introduction. This is just my own little (and simplified) version.
I’ve never needed much of an excuse to throw together a cheeky little diagram and here we are again!
There are 5 key attributes that I want every player to embody that I feel should make a pretty solid squad member when combined
Bravery – how likely he is to perform what he thinks is the best action for the team
Composure – how unaffected he is by mental pressure, reducing the chances of making poor decisions
Determination – how much he tries to succeed, doing whatever he can to winand develop
Teamwork – how well he follows instructions and forms relationships on and off the pitch
Workrate – the amount of physical effort he put into a matchand the drive to perform well
Player ability will still be at the forefront of the save, but there’ll also be a big focus on mentality, personality and background – it may lead to some big names leaving the club early on.
AJAX is a squad that could fall into the overwhelming category, over their 3 teams they have amassed a total of 92 players.
92 players is a large amount for most clubs: – how do you manage rotation to keep everyone happy while also developing tactical partnerships? – how do you ensure your youth players get the right development? 92 players is definitely a large amount for DNAjax.
With such a vast amount of players, there’s no doubt about what’s needed… at least half will have to leave in 2021/2022.
With already having intensive plans for the save, the last thing I wanted to do was create a new formation so when the amazing RFD Tactics popped up on my Twitter feed with an Ajax inspired tactic, it seemed to be fate!
The tactic is based on the real life Ajax and the football they’re currently playing. In addition to this, when RDF tested the tactic in FM22, Ajax went unbeaten. It’ll be interesting to see whether DNAjax can live up to the previous successes!
Player Analysis is one of the most important areas of FM, it’s also one of the most time-consuming.
People have different ways to analyse their squads, some: – rely on Assistant and Coach reports and go with what they suggest – have an innate ability to just look at attributes and know exactly who will fit where – use a combination of reports and match practice – make a super in-depth spreadsheet that will analyse every player for them
It will come as no surprise that I fall firmly into the latter category.
Having the best players you can at your disposal is the number one priority when it comes to squad management. Depending on the team you’re managing, it can also be one of the hardest things about FM.
With Ajax, I’m lucky to have a large squad at my fingertips. However, when looking at my assistant reports to see what he thinks their best positions are, you can immediately see the unbalance. Whilst some positions have depth going into double figures, a few are left without sufficient cover. If I was to rely solely on my assistant and his ratings, many players would be released without a second glance.
This is where my spreadsheet comes in, it gives every player another chance and reassesses their suitability for my formation. Players that could have been leaving may find their future at the club has suddenly become a lot more secure.
For those who haven’t seen the spreadsheet yet, I have devised a formula that rates each player based on their nationality, personality, age and formation/role suitability.
The first team originally consisted of 26 players, which decreased to 21 after the squad analysis. Not a big difference numbers-wise but 9 of these players were newly promoted from the B-Team.
5 players were demoted due to being too young to cope with the demands of top-flight football or because their current skill level isn’t up to my standards.
9 players were added to the transfer list for a combined market value of £106m. There are some high profile players on the list, but that’s DNAjax for you – if you don’t fit the club culture then Ajax isn’t the club for you.
Following the same process, I can also quickly form my Reserve and Youth squads.
Originally 35 players strong, the B-Team has been cut to 14 players. The squad size isn’t something I’ll be concerned about as the First Team players who aren’t currently getting match time will be made available for the reserves.
13 players were added to the transfer list and a further 2 will be offered out for a loan in order to receive some match experience. 2 more will be given exposure to the first team via substitute appearances and cup games.
Youth Team (u19)
Starting with 31 players, the squad now consists of 12. In the same way that I’ll be using First Team players for the reserves, I’ll be using the younger squad members to plug the gaps in youth games too. The small squad size also lessens the workload on the coaches and gives the chance to offer more one on one coaching for our up and coming stars.
No players were deemed good enough for promotion to a higher level but we have seen 4 demoted into the squad.
A massive 23 have been released from the club, with 3 being offered out on loan.
Out of the initial 92 man squad, 42 players have either been asked to leave or will be leaving as soon as teams come bidding. This is still more than my ideal squad size of around 30, but over the course of the season players may naturally drift away from my plans and I’d be open to selling them.
To gain a place in the First Team and starting XI, a player must fit 3 criteria
60%+ rating in Squad DNA
60%+ rating in their role and squad formation
Rated in the top 5 players for their allocated role
This immediately rules out 5 players, those who don’t fit the role requirements just yet but I feel would after a season of training alongside the First Team. They’ll also be given exposure via substitute appearances and cup appearances in order to speed up their development.
Each player is then put through another assessment based on their formation suitability and potentially given a place in the starting XI:
Perfect Fit → DNA is above 60% → Best role within the formation is above 70% and is also their strongest role overall
Good Fit → DNA is above 60% → Formation suitability is above 65%
Okay Fit → DNA is above 60% → Formation suitability is above 60%
The players whose strongest overall roles don’t quite fit the formation but who still rate high enough to do a good job – you could say these are the most valuable squad members as they can perform in more than one area.
After fully assessing my squad, I can now see for certain where I need to invest in new signings
The priorities will be: → IF, CM,TF: there are no DNAjax players that comfortably fit these roles so they are a must buy → CD: Magallán is out on loan for the season so I’ll need to replace him → DM/CD: in an ideal transfer market, I’ll also be able to bring in a player who is comfortable in both roles and happy to be a backup in case injuries hit the squad
In addition to new signings, I’ll also look at retraining one of the RPM’s in the CM role to balance the centre of midfield.
With this being a beta save for FM22, on this occasion I won’t be looking further into youth side of the club.
Having already decided on the type of player DNAjax wants, along with the positions needed, finding transfer targets is a simple process. All I need to do is head to the player search screen and input the 5 core personalities I’d prefer my players to possess, this is alongside having them be of Dutch nationality or being able to speak basic Dutch.
Defensive Midfielder / Central Defender
For a combined total of £8.7m, I’ve brought in 7 new players who fit the mould and balance the squad of DNAjax.
It may be I’ll need to bring in another IF, but this is something we’ll decide as the season gets underway.
Once I’ve completed the season I’ll come back and update this post on how things went, but in the meantime check out my Twitter thread for regular updates!
I’m a self-confessed spreadsheet geek and Football Manager addict, so when I stumbled on an opportunity to combine them both, I couldn’t resist… welcome to The FFM Football Manager Attribute Spreadsheet!
What started as a simple spreadsheet for my own use in July 2019, became a project I developed even further and turned into this public download.
The results this spreadsheet gives are based on what I have found works during my own saves in Football Manager. I can’t guarantee that they’ll work for every team so please don’t always take what it says as golden.
→ Import the FFMAnalysis view into Football Manager (Custom > Import View > FFMAnalysis 2022.fmf)
→ Press CTRL + P and save as a web page in your preferred location
→ Open the FFMAttributeAnalysis 2022 spreadsheet and webpage in Excel
→ Highlight all the player data (everything except the top row and SIGames link) then press CTRL + C
→ Return to the FFMAttributeAnalysis 2022 spreadsheet and select cell B4 on the ‘Base’ sheet
→ Press CTRL + Alt + P, then select the ‘Values’ option
The setup is now complete and the spreadsheet will populate with data
After setting up the spreadsheet by following the installation guide, you are given several pages of data.
POSITIONS (GK, DEF, DM, MID, AM, ST) Each positional area has its own sheet, which is broken down further into the relevant roles.
→ Every squad player is given a rating based on how suitable they are for that role.
→ If the player is a natural in the position the role matches – e.g. ST as a Target Forward, D (R) as a Wing-Back – they will receive a bonus rating
OVERALL RATING Another way you can view role suitability is on the ‘Overall Rating’ sheet. This shows every player and every role in one place.
→ The yellow cell can be edited to any percentage based on your required levels. Any matching ratings will be highlighted in light purple.
→ The row to the right of the yellow cell shows how many of your squad have above your chosen percentage so you can see where you have the best depth for that role.
→ The column directly below the yellow cell shows how versatile a particular player is and how many roles, based on your percentage, they could comfortably play or even be retrained in if young enough.
Top 5 An ‘at a glance’ view of the top 5 players for each role, separated into sections based on the positional areas.
Player Overview Type the name, or use the drop-down menu, for one of your squad into the top box and it will pull the most important data from the other sheets into one place.
Squad Notes There isn’t anything automated about it but it enables you to have a sort of notepad for when you’re dealing with your squad.The columns have been left blank for full customisation.
The download you receive contains the following in a zip file:
Player Search View
This download is the updated version for FM22, it is still a work in progress and some features of previous versions might be missing
For older versions of FM, please download from the links below
What I didn’t expect, however, was that other people would be interested in having one of their own!
It’s nothing fancy with loads of behind the scenes formulas, it’s a simple sheet that you can update as you progress along the seasons. You’ll have your own way of tracking, but I suggest just changing the cell colour of the achievement as shown in my tweet above.
I’ve left the spreadsheet unlocked so you can change the achievements you’re tracking if you desire, though I do hope I’ve covered most bases and, with the space to track 12 leagues and 12 cups, it should last the length of any long-term save. Be sure to tag me on Twitter in your creations!
Cadbury Athletic are an amateur club based in Birmingham. They currently play in Division 1 of the Midland League. Affiliated with Cadbury’s, they are known as The Chocolate Men.
They are also the team I’ll be playing as during FM21.
Over recent editions of FM, I’ve been guilty of flitting from one save to another. In FM20 I went through several saves and never stuck to one for more than 3 seasons.
I’ve been playing Football Manager since it was Championship Manager and the saves I remember most fondly are those where I spent multiple seasons at one club – my absolute favourite being FM08 where I spent 30 at Brentford!
For FM21 this was something I wanted to recreate but it needed to be the right team – I started off managing Chivas in Mexico but didn’t gel with them. I also wanted something the FM community would engage with which, from experience, is usually British based. That’s when I remembered about the amazing level 10 database from TheFMEditor.
Why Cadbury Athletic?
I wish I could say there was some involved process with choosing Cadbury Athletic, or that I had a local affinity with them, but I don’t. I chose them because I like chocolate and because they play in a purple that matches my FFM logo.
It also gave me the opportunity to use the best manager name there is for a chocolate-loving Female Football Manager. So, put your hands together, and please welcome the new manager of Cadbury Athletic… Veruca Salt.
I won’t be using the blog to document every aspect of the save so head over to my Twitter for regular updates on how things are going!
The most often requested spreadsheet I get is one for player development and tracking it over the course of a few months or seasons. Whilst this is available in-game, this spreadsheet will give a more streamlined and clearer view of the data.
The spreadsheet was made for FM20 but I’ve no reason to believe it wouldn’t work in other versions. Please try it out and let me know!
The first 10 sheets in the spreadsheet are where you’ll input the data exported from the game. Depending on how many months/seasons you’re comparing you can use all 10 or just a couple.
The sheets are currently numbered 1-10 but by right-clicking on the tab, you can rename these to anything you want.
Once all the data you require is imported, head to the Development tab. This sheet is where you can compare the progress one of your players has made.
→ Select cell B2 and type in the name of the player you want to track → In the data column, type in the name of the tabs you’re comparing
The attribute will turn green if there’s been an improvement and red if it’s declined.
At the bottom of the sheet, you’ll find a chart where you can compare the progress of up to 10 attributes.
In the coloured cells, you can type in or select from the drop-down menu the attributes you’re interested in.
The download you receive contains the following in a zip file: