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Why Brentford I hear you ask? A very good question in all honesty. I’ve been thinking recently about playing a save which is out of my comfort zone and this fits very nicely – I can’t remember the last time I played in the English lower leagues. I’ve also been seeing and reading a lot of good things about Brentford and the way they are trying to establish themselves as a force in youth development. I really have no idea what I can hope to achieve here but at least it’ll be fun finding out!

As with so many other new saves I like to go in with a plan – in this case as with so many others that you see reported in the media it’s a 5 year plan. Where this differs though is that it’s not quite as simple as specifying that I want the club to be playing Premier League football within 5 seasons (I do but that’s not the point) Instead I’ve given myself four specific goals that I want to achieve in this time.

1. Promotion to the Premier League.
2. Regular promotion of at least two players from the youth team to the first team
3. Investment in Youth Recruitment and Scouting Network to be maximised.
4. Integration of a fluid possession based 4-3-3 system.

I don’t for a second envision that it will take me 4 years to promote from League One to the Championship and then one season to make the next step. Instead I have broken my expectations down in that I expect it to take a maximum of two seasons to go from League One to the Championship. At this point I think that realistically we have to accept that it will take at least one season to acclimatise and this initial season will be spent trying to maintain a mid table position. The next two seasons we will set out to finish towards the top of the table and eventually to promote to the Premier League, this may be rendered slightly more difficult due to the recruitment strategy that I plan to implement but that just adds to the challenge.

I have very specific ideas regarding squad management that I’m looking to put in place with Brentford. I’ll have a total of 40 players on the books. 20 of those will be in the first team and 20 in the youth team and there will be a degree of flex between the two as youth team players step up to cover injuries and suspensions. I also plan by the start of season three to be controlling the youth team as well as the first team. This will enable me to keep a very close eye on which of my young players are developing properly also make sure that tactically both sides are playing in the same manner. When it comes to the development of players in the youth team I will be taking inspiration from those that write and practice this most extensively, @Cleon81 @Shrewnaldo and @MrEdsFM all three have a much better record than I do over the last few versions of the game and I will be looking to learn from the way that they develop players. I will also look to draw inspiration from a slightly unlikely source in Thomas Tuchel the Coach of German side FSV Mainz. He was interviewed recently in a program on BBC Radio 5 Live that was looking at whether other nations can learn from the lessons of the Germans in terms of creating a new blueprint for youth development (should still be available as a Podcast). Tuchel has a reputation as an excellent developer of talent and was asked whether he developed his players to fit a specific tactical system and his answer was interesting, I’m paraphrasing but Tuchel said that it would be remiss of him to change the intrinsic nature of a player in order to make him fit. Instead Tuchel said that if a hyper talented player came through the youth system and was a natural number 10 then he felt the tactical system should be altered to incorporate that instead of moving the youngster out of position. To enable this I will be drawing inspiration specifically from @Cleon81 and @MrEdsFM and looking to identify early on what I think a young player could become and developing him for that position and role.

The third point is slightly vaguer in that both are largely out of my hand. I really see the value however in successful and structured recruitment. When I first started playing CM/FM as with so many others I was enamoured with signing players and it would not be unusual to see up to 15 come in during a season, now my approach is more nuanced and indeed no players at all will be signed in my first 12 months in charge. I may have been a little bored at work this week and I’ve created an Excel Workbook with three sheets. The first will be used by me to externally rank the top 5 players available in each position. It also holds information such as personality, age, estimated cost, estimated wages, contract expiry, current ability, potential ability, best role and whether the player would be interested in a permanent transfer or a loan. The list will go from 1) the ideal player to play that position for me and will contain more immediately attainable names as we run down to number 5. To give you an example the right back at number one in my sheet is Seamus Coleman whilst the number three right back is Ryan Jack of Aberdeen. The second sheet is in an identical format and will be used to categorise youth players (15-20) and the final sheet again is in the same format except that it runs from 1-10 and will be used to list the best young talent in Europe (and eventually the World) this last sheet will only really be utilised when we reach the Premier League but you never know when a player will become available. I don’t expect the first two sheets to be fully fleshed out until the second season but at that point I will have a more complete idea of potential targets. These lists will also be fluid with players dropping out or moving up the ranking depending on performance and reports. The aim is to have an immediate list of set options when I’m looking to replace a player that has left either the first team or the youth team.

It may seem strange for a blog largely devoted to examining tactics within the game to have left the tactical aspect of the game to last in the 5 year plan but ah well. I’ve stated that I aim to have fully implemented a fluid and possession based 4-3-3 within 5 years, I’ll be honest and say that I considered building a more functional 4-4-2 but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. When I say that I will look to play 4-3-3 I’m also being slightly misleading as those of you that have been paying attention will have noticed. I’ve already said that I will look to develop young players to their strengths as opposed to fit a specific system and as such depending on talent available the formation could well change. The overarching tactical philosophy however will very much stay the same, we are going to look to play possession football in an aggressive attacking manner and we will look to emulate the Swansea model as we move through the leagues.

I think that’s more than enough for now, If you’ve managed to digest all that information then well done.
The next post will be an introduction to the players at the club and the initial tactical system that I’ll be using. Beyond that each update will be structured to show how we are progressing in terms of the plan with points 1-4 discussed in more depth.

I know this is something completely different to the articles I usually post so I’d welcome your feedback either through the comments section or via twitter.