01|02 PRESEASON: MEET THE STAFF

seasonOne.episodeTwo | Preseason

With the players due to return from their holidays in a little over a week, it gave me a good chance to meet with my staff, take a look at our training plans and see where we might need to spend some of that surplus wage budget.

THE COACHING STAFF

We are seriously lacking in the coaching department right now. Despite the board’s very clear lack of concern, we do need to strengthen here. I mean we don’t have a single general coach in our ranks. What do they expect me to do, leave my office and stand out there with a whistle myself?

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Given the circumstances, our general training coverage is not that bad. We’re still too low across a league average, and if we’re to develop our youth and become self-sufficient then we need to increase the quality of our coaches.

A scan through the youth teams reveals an even bleaker picture. The quality is just not there. We need to improve here. I think the plan will have to be upgraded when contracts end to save on termination fees. Fortunately, most of the staff are on one-year contracts.

To add insult to injury, my Head of Youth Development isn’t much use, either. He, however, has a much longer contract.

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This could pose a problem. You will see that Luca only has a balanced personality, and isn’t particularly great at judging the potential of players. He does, however, share the same formation and tactical preferences as me. I will see how the first youth intake goes and assess if we need to replace him. We are looking for players with a good personality, and with Luca having a balanced personality he just won’t bring in enough high-personalty players. Although this can be adjusted with tutoring, so we will assess this in the coming seasons, as long as I’m still here.

THE TRAINING PLANS

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So now that we’ve met the staff, I will quickly cover training as pre-season training is always simple to set up. Since I will be trying to get the team familiar with my footballing philosophy, we put some schedules in place to help this. The team will have high training in match preparation, focussing on match tactics. The rest of the time will be concentrated on improving overall team cohesion and understanding. Minutes on the pitch will increase their fitness levels and match sharpness.

Once fitness levels and match sharpness is up, I will look to implement more custom individual training plans. These will focus on positional and role-based training. I can tell you more about these when they are set up. I will also look at some specific skill-based training to implement particular moves and characteristics into the players natural game through trait learning.

THE SCOUT DEPARTMENT

Setting up a good scouting network is something I seldom see other managers do, yet it is one of the key activities I believe we have as football managers if you are to naturally progress. You should always strive for a better squad and better staff.

We have four Scouts at Parma, a Chief Scout, and two Data Analysts. First things first, I ask my Director of Football to place an advert for a Chief Data Analyst and another Scout. Our entire scouting team are from Italy so I will see if we can get someone from outside of our borders to help with our coverage.

Looking at the players at my disposal, it is clear that I will need to strengthen if we are to challenge for promotion and get back into Serie A. To do that, I was going to need to review our current scouting assignments and refocus our attention.

After speaking with Enrico Dalè, my Chief Scout, we set a series of short-term focusses. Having reviewed the squad available to me, including the youth teams, it is clear we don’t have the depth at the club to survive a full season. The defensive areas are lacking cover. The scouting team were just set up to run general scouting across Italy, that will be put on hold for now.

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We have some good defenders at the club, but we don’t have enough to last a full season. It only takes a couple of knocks and it’ll really affect us. I need some additional cover here so I have asked the team to look for Central Defenders. Moreover, cover on the defensive flanks is poor. We will be out searching for players who can come into the team and rotate in with our current options. I have recalled Garufo to the first team and removed him from the transfer list. He will get a chance to impress over pre-season.

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Due to the precarious financial position at the club, we are restricted in terms of scouting budgets. I have temporarily cancelled the youth scouting packages which were costing us  €2,200 per month. We currently pay £3,300 per month for scouting the leagues around us.

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I may look at increasing the senior package for the duration of pre-season to give us better coverage if the short-term scouting assignments don’t highlight any players. We don’t have great options for scouting at the moment, and the restrictions on being forbidden to sign non-EU players from abroad mean that we cannot yet scout Argentina and Brazil for some hidden talent. I may well take a look over in Eastern Europe to see what we can find.

The end goal is to have a self-sufficient club thriving on our own youth prospects, but unfortunately, I think that is a pipe dream for now. While we do have some good youth prospects, they are too raw to be used right now.

We have €164k in the scouting budget, which allows me a transfer spend of up to €2.5m for new players. We will see what we can do in terms of sales as there are a few players surplus to requirements, given their prefered roles not being suitable for the system I want to use here. Once I’ve assessed the squad when they return from holiday I’ll speak with Daniele and see who we no longer need in other areas.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

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