DNAjax is an Ajax Football Manager rebuild where I aim to create a team that is reliable and consistent. It’s not just about getting the top players, but getting the ones who fit the team’s style and philosophy.
In case you’re not familiar, “DNA” is a term in FM that refers to a club’s identity and playing style. You can find more detailed explanations from other blogs like Passion4FM, but here’s my own simplified take on it.
DNAjax was a one season beta save for FM22.
All images in this blog will enlarge when clicked.
What is DNAjax?
I’ve never needed much of an excuse to throw together a cheeky little diagram and here we are again!
In the DNAjax save, building a successful team is not just about acquiring the most talented players, it’s about finding those who possess the right attributes. Five key qualities that I look for in every player are bravery, composure, determination, teamwork, and workrate.
- Bravery – a player’s willingness to do what’s best for the team, even if it means taking risks.
- Composure – important in high-pressure situations, reducing the likelihood of making costly mistakes.
- Determination – the drive to succeed and improve, both individually and as a team.
- Teamwork – essential for following instructions and building relationships on and off the pitch.
- Workrate – a player’s physical effort and motivation to perform at their best.
While player ability is important, DNAjax also places a significant emphasis on a player’s mentality, personality, and background. This may mean that some big names will have to leave the club early on, but ultimately, it’s about creating a solid and dependable team that embodies these five key attributes.
Class of 92?
In the world of Football Manager, managing a squad with 92 players can be daunting, especially when you have a specific vision for your team. This is the situation I found myself in with Ajax.
Managing such a large squad raises several questions:
– how do you balance the need for rotation to keep everyone happy with the desire to develop tactical partnerships?
– how do you ensure that your youth players get the right development opportunities?
For DNAjax, there is no doubt that the size of the squad needs to be reduced significantly. In fact, I have set a target to let go of at least half of the players by the end of the 2021/2022 season. It’s a tough task, but one that will be necessary to create a cohesive and successful team.
I was thrilled when I stumbled upon RDF Tactics‘ Ajax-inspired tactic on my Twitter feed. It’s a perfect fit for DNAjax, as it’s based on the current playing style of the real-life Ajax team.
What’s even more impressive is that RDF tested the tactic in FM22, and Ajax went unbeaten with it.
I can’t wait to see if DNAjax can replicate that success in the game. Plus, using an established tactic saves me the trouble of creating a new formation and allows me to focus on other areas of the squad.
Player Analysis – Part One
Player analysis is a crucial part of Football Manager, but it can be quite time-consuming.
There are different ways to go about it, with some managers relying on their Assistant and Coaches to provide reports, while others prefer to trust their own instincts and attribute assessments. Some use a combination of reports and match practice to make decisions, while others take it to the next level with a detailed spreadsheet analysis.
For me, I fall into the last category and have created an in-depth spreadsheet to analyse every player in my squad.
Managing a squad is all about finding the right balance, and that’s exactly what I aim to achieve with DNAjax. Whilst having the best players available is important, it’s equally important to have players that can cover multiple positions and play in a variety of roles.
My spreadsheet allows me to analyse each player in detail, taking into account their attributes, preferred positions and even their personality and background. This helps me to identify players who may be better suited to different positions than my Assistant suggests, or who may have the potential to develop into versatile players in the future.
By using a combination of Assistant reports and my own player analysis, I’m able to make informed decisions about who to keep, who to sell and who to develop. It may take more time and effort than relying solely on my Assistant, but the end result is a more balanced and competitive squad that is capable of achieving great things.
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.
Player Analysis – Part Two
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:
→ DNA is above 60%
→ Best role within the formation is above 70% and is also their strongest role overall
→ DNA is above 60%
→ Formation suitability is above 65%
→ 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.
If DNAjax was to last more than one season then I’d invest more time into scouting but on this occasion I’ll just be using my Football Manager Attribute Spreadsheet to find players.
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.
We celebrated our first trophy with the Johan Cruijff Schaal. New signing, Hanche-Olsen, made an immediate impact by scoring two goals on his debut. The victory marked the beginning of an exciting journey for us.
Deadline Day came with a flurry of activity. We secured the signings of 7 new players while offloading a staggering 40 players. Although the transfer fees may not have been ideal values, the primary objective was to remove the deadwood from the team.
In a comical turn of events, Onana started complaining about his lack of playing time, oblivious to the fact that he is currently serving a nine-month suspension.
We found ourselves ill-prepared for what can only be described as a “Group of Death” in the Champions League. The draw dealt us a challenging hand, pitting us against formidable opponents.
The mid-season break came around, and we found ourselves dominating the league. However, that one draw played serious games with my mind. The frustration not just from the dropped points but also from who it was against.
The Dutch Cup victory didn’t come in emphatic style, but it was a hard-fought battle that ended in triumph. The team showed resilience and determination as they fought for the victory, a testament to their ability to overcome challenges and come out on top.
As the season ended, we had remarkable campaign that saw us dominate the league with an almost unbeaten record, suffering just a single defeat. We clinched 3 trophies and showcased our dominance on the domestic stage. However, Europe proved a challenge, as we faced tough opposition that proved too strong to overcome. Despite the doubts surrounding his signing from my Scouts and Assistant, Necid defied expectations and emerged as the top scorer in the Eredivisie, proving his worth and value to DNAjax.
In DNAjax, I focused on selecting players with specific personalities and attributes. The almost unbeaten season, with just one league loss, showcased bravery, composure, and determination. The team’s strong teamwork and work rate were evident in three competition wins. Necid, initially doubted by everyone, proved that determination and work rate can outweigh attributes after finishing Eredivisie top scorer.
June 2023 Update
Revisiting DNAjax has made me start contemplating what lies ahead, the success I started to achieve has got me debating whether to take this on again as a new challenge in FM24. If you have any suggestions on teams, or philosophies, fire me a message on Twitter!