‘From the moment I got to Manchester United, I thought of only one thing: building a football club. I wanted to build right from the bottom. That was in order to create fluency and a continuity of supply to the first team.’ – Sir Alex Ferguson.
By now you’ll already know about the framework of The Villarreal Project and if you don’t you can find the opening post here.
The 6 P’s have long been a part of my real life and Football Manager decision making and going into the summer break it gives me a chance to break out the notepad and start planning for next season. It’s all about keeping it simple, there’s no need to over complicate things just do the basics brilliantly.
I personally like to run a lean squad with two players per position and three wildcards that will give me the flexibility to change systems mid-season if needed. If you’re playing in a league that restricts foreign players I’d suggest making sure you understand the rules and know the space you have in your squad before you start spending money in the transfer window – you’ll see from the image above that I’ve highlighted those ‘Fgn’ spots so I don’t get caught out.
After evaluating the first team squad, trimming and shaping it to how I would like it I will start to look at the junior squads. At Villarreal we have a B & C side along with an U-19 side and I actively look to get rid of all the deadwood in the B & C squads as soon as possible, we’re never going to use them and it’s a drip on the finances, let alone how much time they take up in your inbox! The U-19 squad gets a lot of my attention, aside from the youth intakes, I like to make sure that I’m getting these players ready for first team football. The U19’s are already set to play in the same system as the first team but the players often need some positional training to help them develop in the correct areas. Another side note is to check if any of the youth players valuations are exceeding their release clause and make contractual changes where required.
Once the foundations of our squads are set I’ll then start looking for loan deals for the foreign ‘up next’ players. In Spain you only need to reside in the country for two years before you are nationalised so the loan deals need to be to Spanish sides and we’ll only accept them if they are going to be First Team or Key Players in an attempt to get them as much first team football as possible.
Squad DepthI’m sure you’ll have seen a squad depth chart before and this is how I like to create mine:
- First Team starter
- Backup First Team player
- U19 player to progress
- First team player replacement if starter or backup is sold
- Hot Prospect signing for the future
I use this basic layout to keep track of not only my squad depth, but also the progression of younger players and in-turn it also helps control the squad numbers which has a positive impact on the bank balance.
You’ll see from the first image that I use this time to make changes to the coaching staff and as contracts are expiring it seems like the perfect time. I write the roles down so I don’t have to keep going back to board room to check which spaces I have, as soon as the role is filled I just tick them off the list. Simple. The backroom staff I have at Villarreal is now one of, if not, the best in the league.
I wrote about the how’s and why’s of my pre-season in an earlier post so I won’t waste time covering old ground but what I haven’t explained is my expected points target. As soon as the fixtures are released I like to put together a spreadsheet where we can plot where we expect to pick up points throughout the season. I review previous seasons results, previous seasons league positions and points and work out what we need to achieve to complete our board expectations.
So, with our preparation complete there’s only two things left to do, manage our transfer activity and get the league campaign started. Next up we’ll be looking at the first half of the 2019/20 season which will include an update on Monaco’s persistence to unsettle 6 of our first team squad.
Thanks for reading, Vamos Villarreal.