Revisiting my save goals in my last post reignited a forgotten passion within me.
Sheffield had 65 players on their books at the end of Season 10, which was a figure I wanted to reduce. At least half of these were effectively stealing money from the club; they weren’t in the First Team and had no development plans in place; they simply showed up for training, put in a 6.3 rated performance, and walked away with £10k+ per week.
As contracts expired, players naturally drifted away from the club, either released on a free or snatched up by lower league teams. The latter bringing back memories of earlier seasons of the save, when signing a Premier League reject felt like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A further 5 were sold, and in true FM manner, the board and fans were not happy with the fees or sales, but I digress.
“Where do spreadsheets come into this?”, I hear you ask.
If you’re new to my blogs, you might not be aware of the Attribute Analysis Spreadsheet that I created. Based on a formula I devised, the spreadsheet rates players for every position and role in the game, and to say I spent years developing and improving it, I’m ashamed to admit I don’t really use it myself. Until now.
With us overachieving last season, the board objectives this season are still fairly modest, with my favourite being the Champions League where we’re expected to reach the League Stage… the stage at which we enter… so consider that one ticked off already.
It makes it the perfect season to forget everything that has come become and reinvent the Steel. Long gone are the players steel-ing a living, if you want to stay with Sheffield, you have to have a purpose.
Because I didn’t plan on writing a blog about the process, I don’t have any screenshots of how it looked as I went along, sorry about that, but the general overview was:
- Import all the squad into my attribute spreadsheet,
- Plan out the formation I’m using in another spreadsheet,
- Decide on the criteria I would use to sort the squad,
- Assign players a place based on their role % from the attribute spreadsheet,
- Transfer List or release anyone who didn’t fit into the plans.
After the first draft, and before any transfers out, the squad was left with 32 players assigned a role and 29 earmarked to leave.
By doing this I could see there where a couple of areas where I needed to add depth or upgrade,
- CD: White and Dorrington both rate highly enough to have a place, but White is 34 so his physical stats are declining and he’ll struggle with a demanding schedule, while Dorrington hates big matches so isn’t a reliable option.
- WBR: Knight is a mixture of White and Dorrington, he’s declining physically (31) and hates big matches – he was only on loan last season, but there was a future fee agreed so he joined permanently, I’m annoyed at past Kat.
- DM: There are 3 solid options already, but with Kingsberry not ready for the step up, a 4th needs bringing in to encourage some friendly competition for the two starting places.
I was also aware of some significant gaps in the u21 squad, so would be looking to bring in some bargains there too.
One of the great things about having a Tycoon Chairperson is the transfer budget you get every season, they also occasionally give you a bit more if you ask nicely, AND let you keep some from sales. By the time I started looking at players, I had a cool £86m to spend – 10 players were brought in and assigned a place in the squad.
Before signing each player, I ran them through my spreadsheet to make sure they were good enough, plus made sure none had the dreaded hates big matches trait that catches me out more often than it should.
As expected, I splurged HARD on central defence.
I definitely overpaid for Koumetio because he came from a rival Premier League team, but his quality and experience was too good to ignore, and he should give me a couple of good seasons.
Bodson has incredible potential; he’s only 19 years old and his percentage is already higher than that of most seniors; he’ll be an excellent cup starter and rotational first teamer. He’ll be played primarily as a central defender, but will double as a wingback in the cup to learn some versatility.
Then there’s Forrester, who wasn’t an planned purchase, but nobody can resist a freebie. He’ll be a starter in the cup and possible replacement for White.
Samuel is the only DM signing; my assistant doesn’t think much of him, but I love proving them wrong. He’s strong and resilient, which is what Steel is all about. A great rotational player with the potential to improve, he has 9 assists in 7 preseason appearances.
I find that my Youth Intake doesn’t produce many quality wingbacks, so I felt the need to add some youth to this area. McKay and Montano both arrived via extremely low release fees. Even if they don’t work out, there’s still money to be made by selling them. McKay is officially a central defender, but my spreadsheet rates him as a wingback, so I’ll try to retrain him.
Rounding off the signings are 3 more younger players.
Pito has come in as a potential replacement for my First Team striker, who I’m expecting to hand in a transfer request before the end of the season. He’ll start in cup games until I can find him a Championship level loan.
Bickerdike wasn’t particularly needed, but with Boyce-Clarke getting older, I’ve got to start looking for replacements. I already have one in the squad, but Bickerdike has the advantage of being a homegrown player.
Marinkovic is the final member of the squad. My current Serbian AML wants to leave, so Marinkovic would be an ideal replacement; his personality could be a concern, but we all have to take risks from time to time.
Once all of the signings were complete, it was time to go over the planning spreadsheet again.
We now have 53 players, which isn’t much less than the number at the end of Season 10, but the difference is that they all have a plan and a place. Those that don’t were added to the transfer list, with some being loaned out until they can be sold.
I don’t usually bother with having separate cup teams, but with neither being deemed very important by the board, I figured it was a good chance to give some playing time to the youth players, I’ve also included some older players (Knight, Cook and Konsa) who aren’t in my first team plans but are too influential to sell.
As the season progresses, I’m likely to make some changes to the squads, some due to poor performance or injury, and others due to bids I can’t refuse. The cup starters will step up, where needed, into the First Team.
The spreadsheet was never intended to be an absolute guide, but doing this little exercise really opened my eyes to how many players I was hoarding for no reason. I recommend trying it with your own save; you might be surprised at who you discover lurking in your reserves.