There’s been a lot of talk doing the rounds this year about how everyone approaches their first day at a new club, so where better to start a new blog than by walking through my first day at new club FC Twente. Recently relegated, Twente are now in the 2nd tier of Dutch football, with a season expectation of finishing 2nd, and bouncing back to the Eredivisie at the first time of asking.
The first place I check out is always the club’s finances: on this occasion, it’s not pretty viewing.
We’re already over our wage budget, before I even look at bringing anyone in to bolster our squad. £400k isn’t a horrific amount of money, and if I can bring that wage budget under control we could probably land a couple of decent players within that budget. As it stands, we’ve got £2.5m in the bank which isn’t horrendous, but Its also not what I would describe as financial security. My biggest concern is the club’s £53m debt, of which we still owe £39.5m. We’re scheduled to keep paying this until 2025 (£400k per month), which will likely affect any plans for facilities or stadium improvements, and puts the pressure on a little bit to ensure we’re bringing in decent money from our on-pitch performances.
This takes me nicely to my second stop on Day 1: Club Friendlies. I started this save a bit later in the summer than usual, so we’re currently on a two-week training camp, and have played our first pre-season match. I usually try to arrange our pre-season in a way which gives us a couple easy matches, a couple of big teams and then a confidence-builder or two before the season starts, however we are tighter for time than usual, so pre-season now looks like this:
(and yes, I do need a logo pack, suggestions on a postcard please)
With our fixtures set up, its time to take a look at our Team Report, where I have a quick once-over of our depth, what kind of shape we could look to play, and where we might need to look at bringing in some additional quality.
Looking through the squad, there’s a couple of formations jumping out at me that are useable – a 442, and a 4141 – however for either of them we would need a few more bodies. The 442 seems like a more stable and simple idea to start us off with, while minimising the amount of additional players that I need to bring in to get us up to scratch.
Looking at our depth chart, I’ve identified an immediate need for a new Right-back to provide some competition and depth, a right midfielder (preferably of first-team quality) and another central midfielder for added depth. I’ve also noticed that we’ve got a fair rack of deadwood that could potentially be sold off to free up some wage budget, so I’ll be working on that over the next week or so, in order to bring the squad up to scratch.
While I’m in the team report screen, I take the time to list any players who I think don’t have a place in the squad for this coming season – younger players get offered for loan, while those with no future at all are offered out for sale to get them off the wage bill.
My next stop is our youth setup, to see whether any of our youngsters are ready to step into a first-team role. At the moment, despite some excellent potential within the ranks, nobody jumps out as being ready for first-team action this season, so its time to trawl through and find the players who I think will fit our system this year.
Of course, before I can find players who fit the system, I’ll actually need a system! I’m far from being a tactical genius, so I’ve gone for a nice, simple 4-4-2, and I’ll add player and team instructions as we go, rather than firing the kitchen sink at the team and wondering why nothing is working. I know that I want the players to be getting the basics right, with reasonable technical ability, strong tackling through the middle of the pitch, and pace on the flanks. Up front, a lot of people like the ‘Owen-Heskey’ little and large idea, but I’ll honestly settle for two guys who can put the ball in the back of the net.
With ‘the system’ (such as it is) set up and down on paper, I send my scouts out to have a look for some reasonable players, and finally, I hit continue.