After the blow that led to his sudden dismissal as a Barca coach in the summer of 2018, and after redoing his professional career with some fortune at the controls of Real Sporting during the following year, the 2019-20 season faced manager Enrique Alonso with whom he was perhaps the most important decision of his career: continue betting on the relative freedom of movement that gave him the humility of his love team, or take advantage of this new opportunity of the destination to return to pack up for Can Barça, a place in the that the experiments were not seen with good eyes or finish eighth in the classification. Ungrateful
Leaving aside the dizzying differences in terms of salary, these were radically opposite economic bets, and also two different types of football, two ways of understanding sport and competition; in one hand were the stars, the custard ads and a relative open bar to break into the transfer market as a service sailor, and in the other the hell of the second division, the infamous patatales and also the opportunity to reach the true glory leading the team on volleys towards a future in which those announcements will be carried out by a Langreo boy. And that’s why the decision, deep down, was made from the beginning. There will be someone who assures that the colors weighed the most and who thinks that Alonso is simply going
Or maybe it was simply a matter of philosophy. In tune with the principles of the institution, and a club vision that now occupied one of the most prominent positions in the interface that welcomed the technician on his first day at the office. It was not exactly a novelty, because year after year the boards that hired the services of this football ronin used to receive it with a list of requirements for the current season that included demands such as finishing in the noble zone of the table or not doing the ridiculous in the glass, but this was different. Here there was ambition, scale, and a long-term perspective that marked both the path to be followed for five years and the values that the club was not willing to give up. Wage restrictions, transfer policy, disciplinary matters … That was a real revolution, and not only when it came to day-to-day operations. The club vision was what the game needed to print each of the teams in liza a true personality.
In the case at hand, fortunately, the requests of the board were concentrated around a fairly lax structure of goals that left us a couple of seasons to reach the maximum category, and especially around two foundational principles: keep the budget for salaries within the established limits, and take advantage of the excellent facilities of Mareo youth to recruit young talents that will eventually make their way to the first team. Said and done: Alonso had always understood football as what happens between dynamiting the coffers of the club signing Nigerian teenagers and the day you finally place them for forty kilos, with which the summer market could finally begin. Tremble, Al-Khelaïfi.
In the chapter on departures there was everything from hurried sales that allowed to reduce the total amount of salaries to real balls like the operation that placed Pedro Diaz in the Watford by 4.8 million euros, but at the time of reinvesting the money Alonso he sinned again with enthusiasm: paying fifteen million in installments in exchange for Lincoln, the Brazilian fantasist who had given him so much joy in his previous save, was perhaps a very literal interpretation of the club’s mandates. The Flamengo accepted delighted, but our own directive blocked the transfer in a sharp and unappealable way. It was useless to cry and beg for more budget. In Football Manager 2020, fulfilling what is promised is not optional.
It is a reality that we would learn again through the bad times when a couple of weeks later, with pride hurt but the visa still hot, Alonso set his sights on a handful of more workable operations. This is how Rober, from Betis, Armini, a promising central Lazio, and even Exaucé Mpembele Boula, a 17-year-old goal-scoring machine for which he had to disburse just over two and a half million and get his ass back with the directive. With the transfers in order and the account in red numbers, it was time to negotiate the contracts, a tug of war that was now resolved in real time, without waiting for days or even weeks for the response of the intended one to arrive. It was a more agile process, more in line with the reality of those summits that are held in the posh restaurants,
Now the entire hiring process was more like a courtship, an exchange of promises about minutes of play and additional clauses that comes even before talking about money, which also applies to renewals or signings of new physical trainers, and which unlike previous editions does not include only the current season. The own roles within the team had also undergone a radical renewal, and it was now possible to choose from an incomparably higher range of options: replacement player, occasional headline, young with projection, full-fledged star, revulsive from the bench. You can imagine the panorama.
An ideal breeding ground for Alonso, a master of promises, to fulminate the potential offers of other teams with a powerful cocktail of intensive Spanish courses, insured entitlements to two years seen and also, gross error, the oath to look for all those kids a transfer that will ensure minutes of play during the incoming football course. Everyone signed on a sigh, and then the real problems came: it’s time to talk about the youth development center.
And it is that if we understand the Football Manager saga as an almost perfect machinery in its own and the management of the lower categories as one of the few waterways that could be affected, I think it is reasonable to speak here of the true star novelty. A novelty that goes back to redesign the entire interface that manages the B and U19 templates, that maremagnum of regens and faceless players that previous editions made it so tempting to ignore. Now everything is readability, statistics, graphs, and at a glance it is really easy to get reports on the progress of our future crack and also a lot of suggestions from the technical team: the U19 template is promising, Jose Miguel is really doing it well in training and maybe I should be touching the ball with the first team,
By default all new incorporations with the age of petarlo in the Fortnite are included in these categories, which in the case of Alonso meant the beginning of the end. A couple of weeks of triggered graphics and really enthusiastic reports were enough for the technician to decide to change his jacket, rejecting all the incoming assignment offers and making the decision that would dynamit the costumes. The boys would debut as starters from the damn minute one.
Parapetado in his office, with the mobile vibrating incessantly and the sweat running through his track of tracksuit (of course we are that type of technician), Alonso tried to gather arrests to face reality. The signing period was almost over and a group of very angry teenagers banged incessantly at the door, leading to an exchange of accusations in which diplomacy did not seem to work. For some reason, and although a priori non-negotiable ownership sounded more attractive than an assignment to the Torrelavega Gymnastics, all our attempts to justify the change of course ended with a young promise requesting the transfer and a collapsing moral bar. The situation looked hairy, with which our hero reacted in the only way one would expect from a manager of his size: lowering his head with obedience and cursing Álvaro Vázquez, his star striker, so that that little boy who believed Samuel Eto’o could enjoy an even greater prominence. The door rang again. Now it was all the rest of the staff that claimed our head.
These were difficult times, and things got even worse when Pelayo Morilla, perhaps our strongest promise and a player raised at home since he did not lift two feet from the ground, declared himself in revolt in solidarity with his new friends of the Secondary Social Group. With the morale of the group for the floors and the approval of clothing and directive touching its historical minimum on day number three, Alonso decided to throw slate and face his more than sure dismissal with tactics, tactics and tactics. If the results accompanied everything should return to normal, and fortunately had tools to spare. I had them at the time of preparing the matches, because the Football Manager 2020 strategic suite combines the unfathomable depth that we already knew with a few very useful presets when it comes to raising a tiki taka as God commands,
Something similar occurs with training, although the decision to delegate them is also taken early, and not precisely because of lack of depth. There are novelties, such as a greater emphasis on individual sessions that allow goalkeepers to work the air game without focusing on an alternative role, but in sum the system continues to depend excessively on a type of micro management that can reach stun. I guess it will be a matter of taste because Football Manager has always been like this, a game that has answers for the most thorough strategist and also for those who settle for signing in full in summer and see their dolls run around, but negotiate with a crowded calendar of Slots to place practices with the ball stopped and races between cones is simply not for me.
Be that as it may, sooner or later it was time to jump to the field, and to a three-dimensional visualization of each one of the parties in which there are simply no excuses. And it is something that should work in both directions, because the game continues to be relentless when it comes to playing our master plans in plays, but also an example of a technical conformism book. I don’t want to say with this that it is reasonable to ask Football Manager what we ask FIFA 20, and not even need it; I speak of robotic animations, of 180 degree turns sharp enough to break the dive, and a sound section that doesn’t even bother to synchronize the poor sound effects by hitting the ball with the contacts with the leather itself.
Football Manager 2020 still cares very little to hide that behind all those dolls the only thing that commands is a huge database, that its players are only beautifully dressed statistics, and that its true wealth is in tactical depth. In the instructions shouted from the band, in the hot substitutions, in the advice of the second, and in sum in a football not very graceful in the aesthetic but absurdly real, a game that you do not control directly but that makes you feel the responsibility of each defeat. All good in this section, although getting fussy someone should do something with the excessive fixation of the band players to change the game to the crazy ignoring their instructions.
And as one is already an old dog the results were coming. In spite of the very low performance of a French striker immersed in the deepest of depressions, despite the constant movements of a Morilla that Alonso goes out of his way to praise (as a result of which the boy claims to maintain a very close relationship with a manager who on the other hand swears to continue hating, because sometimes the game falls into these small incongruities), despite everything and with everything against the team the nougat is eaten in a very dignified fifth place, allowing himself to dream of the ascent play off With a season of advantage. Reason for optimism, and for a new decision of unsuspected consequences: bend the knee again, agree on assignments due in a hurry taking advantage of the winter window, and send Perglow,
The result? A plummeting fall to the twelfth position, Morilla letting himself be loved by Juve, and the entire squad knocking on my door again. I guess I have a problem. And no, I am not necessarily talking about what happens inside that office.