Before we get to the issue of defining and planning for a superclub let’s address something to set the scene first. There are a million different ways to categorise football fans but perhaps one of the most contentious is the distinction between a traditionalist and a modernist. Again, there are so many ways to apply these labels, for example through tactical styles or fan culture, but for the purpose of this series I’ll be looking from an holistic perspective of the club as a unit.
In my eyes, a traditionalist will always regard football as sancrosanct. It is the beautiful game and the increasing commercialisation of the sport and everything that comes with that is simply ruining the simplicity. Seeing myself as a modernist; I love seeing the business and financial side of football. It is at this point that the preamble meets the purpose: Football Manager is a game perfectly suited to developing a lower league club and helping them ascend to the heights of superstardom.
This isn’t anything groundbreaking, it certainly isn’t original. Every man and their dog has attempted to take a Sunday League side to Champions League glory in Football Manager at some point. This is simply charting the decisions I make along the way and the reasons for doing so. At the moment, I’m simply writing this for my own enjoyment and to be able to look back through the seasons and see my progress but if at some point I do release this then please note this is not intended as a ‘How to…’ guide in any way whatsoever.
My focus will be on the finances, facilities and general stature of the club. Results will be noted but they are simply a means to an end. I’ll be using my own tactics (no downloads, thank you!) but there won’t be too much focus on that as, again, this is all about the bigger picture – the greater good.
What is a ‘Superclub’?
If you’ve read Daniel Fieldsend’s ‘The European Game’ then you’ll have seen the reference to a Hierarchy of Wealth Pyramid. It essentially has five classification of clubs: (from bottom to top) Youth Developers, Marginal Achievers, Mid-Tier Achievers, Major Achievers and Superclubs. Now this hierarchy is specifically in relation to transfer activity but it sets an interesting framework for the growth of a club. The Superclubs are those that have positioned themselves at the very summit of the foodchain and can more or less pick off the best talents in football at a whim – this is because of their repuation, ongoing success and financial clout.Conversely, at the other end of the hierarchy are those who know they can’t quite compete with clubs with that financial weight behind them, instead they work to produce their own talent through youth development – this talent then goes on to either achieve direct success at the club or move on with profit to their club.
Setting a framework for success
I’ve previously mentioned that results will be “a means to an end”, so naturally it makes sense to clarify what that end would be and what milestones I expect to pass on the route to achieveing that outcome.
The end is fairly simple in that I want the club to be the most valuable club (£) and have the highest reputation worldwide. Those are lofty ambitions which may never be achieved but without an aim then I’m jsut whittling away time with no purpose.
As my journey I’ll be developing my own hierarchy as such. Having read The European Game, Soccernomics and various blogs, I’ve collated what I see as the path from lower reaches to the higher echelons of football (again from bottom to top):
- The Elephants’ Graveyard: not quite as macabre as it sounds; a club for ageing players to play out their final years.
- He’s All That: taking a player who is underrated and undervalued by their current club and making them a success.
- Cashing In: Developing young players with the aim of selling on to boost club balances.
- Home Improvement: Developing young players to become first team players.
- Superclub: Being at the top of the perch and having your pick of the players available.
The idea is that as I progress through each stage I maintain the action action from the previous stage, by which I mean, when I feel we have achieved Superclub status we’ll still be developing our own players, signing underrated talent and providing a care home for those players who are still good enough but reaching the end of their careers.
This framework for success is my initial thinking but as the save progresses I may have to rethink certain aspects depending on how quickly or slowly our development is going. There may be things I remove or extra additions to our pathway. Being dynamic and responsive to change is a must for the growth of a club.
Choosing a club
The choice of club is important. It has to be a club I feel enough of an affinity with the last this process out. The club should have a good starting base for building an empire but not top flight. The club should be in the right country to allow financial and sporting growth. My club of choice is Real Club Deportivo Mallorca S.A.D.