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 win and 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 match and 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:
→ 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.
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!