Its that time of the year when ‘Daveincid’ has released his megapack for Football Manager 2023. The megapack improves several in-game parameters in over 220 nations to take the realism of Football Manager to the next level, this means that it is time for me to start a long-term save.
Similar to my decision to start my save with Villarreal, I wanted to exorcise my FM22 demons by opting to play in The Netherlands. (Those of you who followed me closely would have noted my brief spell with PSV).
Why sc Heerenveen?
I wanted to select a side that were outside of the main players in the league, this is a long-term save and therefore I would need to choose a team which I could treat as a project, one which were more than a few seasons away from being able to complete with the big boys, providing me with a different save experience.
I also liked the David & Goliath element within my save with Villarreal and wanted to find a club with similarities in the Eredivisie. After carrying out a bit of research I stumbled across sc Heerenveen, a club with a stadium which at full capacity can hold 92% of the town’s population. (nibble)
A few clicks later over on YouTube and I discovered across ‘A Province at War’ by COPA90 Stories. Identity is at the heart of this heated Friesland rivalry between Cambuur and Heerenveen. While both teams are located in the Friesland province, fierce battle lines are drawn over Heerenveen classing themselves as Frisians, and Cambuur as Dutch. (nibble, nibble).
I headed over to the club website and spent a few hours reading over the club and its history, and found the above document, the clubs strategic plan for 2019–2022. This document serves as the framework for my introductory blog to my new long-term save with sc Heerenveen.
The club mission is what the club stand for, it is important for me to understand both the mission and vision (where the club want to go) if I am going to be managing them in FM, I have cherry picked three points from the strategic plan below.
Heerenveen is a professional football organization at the highest level in the Netherlands, the Eredivise . The club has the ambition to participate in the premier league with self-trained and scouted players ( more on this later) to reach the places six to nine and in the national cup tournament to reach at least the quarter finals.
Looking at the clubs historical ranking spanning across three Eredivisie seasons, you will note that sv Heerenveen failed to reach its ambition of securing a six to ninth place finish until 2021/22. Therefore, there is a continuity in the boards vision within the game, the current seasons required goal is to finish in the top-half of the Eredivisie.
From 2023/24 onwards the Board desire to being recognised as ‘the best of the rest’ , which translates to the best team outside of the top six in Holland. The above ‘Media Prediction’ provides an overview of who those ‘Top Six’ clubs are made up from.
With the Frisian identity and attractive football, the club distinguishes and positions itself in the football landscape.
This is accurately represented in game within the supporter culture which states the need to play attacking football, I will look to write up my tactical philosophy at the mid-point of the first season which should help to provide not only an insight into the style of play, but also some key performers from within the system.
In addition to youth players from the region, we also use our scouting to recruit talents from outside who we think can later reach the first team of sc Heerenveen and who see our club as a springboard to the European top.
The final point is self explanatory, I am expecting that it will become apparent that a smart recruitment policy will need to be adopted in order to help balance the books as revenue in the Eredivisie isn’t the greatest with first place being awarded £6.8 million down to £3 million for 18th place.
The club recently assessed its core values, reducing them down from eight to five.
- Frisian Mentality — Being from the province of Fryslân, Heerenveen has a strong connection to the Frisian culture and language. Before every home game, the Frisian Anthem is played. The home shirt and the club logo are adapted from the Frisian flag, including the heart-shaped ‘pompeblêden’.
- Involvement — Whether as a supporter, sponsor, partner, volunteer or employee: stakeholders all have an opinion and want best for the club. Everyone feels that they belong to the club and to each other.
- Showing some guts — sc Heerenveen has always shown guts. The club wants to distinguish itself and be different from others, they club dare to be different and value its importance.
- Develop talent — the club believe they have an eye for ‘talent’. They give talent the chance, the time and the opportunity to develop.
- Ambition — when you belong to sc Heerenveen, you have ‘ambition’. Everyone in the club, regardless of role, must want to learn, develop, grow and improve.
Whilst not all of these core values can be replicated in game, I feel there is scope to integrate the last three into the save, we have already covered developing talent above and it is talked about later in the strategy for the first team.
Determination is an attribute which defines how much a player tries to succeed in his actions during a match, even in mentally exhausting circumstances (team losing or player performing badly), for me this correlates to showing some guts.
Looking at the comparison of mental attributes above, you can see that the side have above average determination in comparison to the other sides in the Eredivisie. This value sky rockets when you take out the goalkeepers from the filter to one on the highest in the division, a solid start.
As for ambition, we know that this is somewhat captured in-game via player personalities.
Ambition is how much a player wants to achieve success, a player with high ambition is likely to:
- have good training progression.
- more likely to want his manager to speak positively about the players on his team’s prospects.
- more likely to join a club with a higher reputation.
- more likely to want a higher value contract.
- more likely to want his club to sign higher reputation players.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
The clubs critical success factors arise from the mission, vision and core values, these are deemed essential for long-term success. These are factors that appeal to people and are why they want to be associated with sv Heerenveen.
- A well-occupied Abe Lenstra stadium
- Successful performance on the football field
- Successful commerce and social involvement
- A realistic and heathy financial situation
In order to achieve its strategic plan sc Heerenveen must adhere to the following blueprint.
The first team must be a fresh and recognizable team that entertains our home crowd and our away supporters. By recognizable we mean a team that has the intention to play beautiful football, works hard and is enthusiastic and dynamic (play attacking football as mentioned earlier).
The first selection consists of 22 contract players, of which eighteen full first selection players and at least four self-trained or scouted talents.
Reading into the above, there is an expectation that the club will lose four players each year through sales. Until we can get the club into the ‘Top Six’ I don’t think there will be time to form close attachments to individuals as the likelihood is that they will be snapped up by the bigger fish in the pond.
The playing style of the first team is the starting point for all sc Heerenveen youth teams. The youth academy and scouting play a leading role in the field of football technology, with which sc Heerenveen can always let good players move on to the first selection.
That flow is part of the DNA of sc Heerenveen: scouting, attracting, training and improving talents.
Looking at the above you can see that the club have one of the youngest average ages in the Eredivisie, at the start of the game 48% of the squad are 21 years of age or under.
Talent development at sc Heerenveen not only applies to (youth) players, but also to trainers and other staff members of the club. In addition to football players, we also want to improve and develop the staff around the football teams. A plan is drawn up for everyone, so that he or she can develop in his or her field.
Looking at the coaching staff comparison there is work to be done in this area, the club are below average in relation to goalkeeping coaching and although above average for other areas, they are some way off the elite.
In addition to training ourselves, with the help of our scouting we get youth players from outside who we think can reach the first team and who see our club as a springboard to the European top.
There are three categories within the scouting department: professional scouting, national youth scouting and international youth scouting. The club currently have nine scouts on their books and I will look to replicate the categories when assigning individuals in game.
The facilities are crucial to the DNA of sc Heerenveen, as you can see from the below the club have excellent facilities and academy coaching, along with good youth recruitment.
Catching up and improving is necessary and desirable for the image of the youth academy and the clubs competitive position. Ajax are the benchmark with state of the art facilities and exceptional academy coaching and youth recruitment.
I hope you have enjoyed the introductory post on my new save, Frisian Football Philosophy. I am keen to hear your thoughts on the choice of save or previous experiences managing in the Eredivisie.
The next blog will cover my choice of tactical ideology which will form the game model for the save in Holland.
Thanks for reading, Magnus.