Introduction – Più che calcio

He hung up the phone and sat down on his bed

“What did they said?”, asked his grandmother. She had been listening all the time, hidden behind the door threshold.

“I…I got it”, he replied.

“Bravo, ragazzo mio!”

Gianluigi looked at the wrinkled face of his nonna; the sweet smile, the gentle eyes, the curly white hair. He had managed to make her proud, somehow, by kicking a ball and then teaching others how to do it.

“You’re going to do great”, she said, maybe sensing his nervousness. “Don’t forget you carry it in your blood”.

From the other side of the room, sticked to the wardrobe with some tape, Cristiano Lucarelli celebrated a goal in the biggest poster Gianluigi had been able to find, back when he was 15. They were related, somehow. Not closely by any chance, their grandfathers were cousins. But still…those years, when number 99 played for the colors of his city, it filled him with so much pride.

Now it was up to him. He looked across the window; there it was, the Armando Picchi. He could barely see the top of the Curva Nord, but it was enough. To feel it, to remember everything. He had been there so many times, and now, he would be on a different seat, with other responsabilites. He knew the club meant so much more to the livornesi than football. It was about where you came from, and what you stood for. He wondered whether he could make them proud by teaching others how to kick a ball.


Why a blog?

I’ve been trying to get into FM content creation for a while now, after falling completely in love with the series after last year’s game (yes, no pedigree, no stack of hard copies on my desk, sadly). I had been trying to get into it for a while, with little luck. The complexity, the sheer amount of data…it scared me a bit. After finally learning the basics, getting into content creating was a natural next step; it has always been about narrative for me, it’s what keeps me ticking.

I then decided that the best moment to get into it was right when the new game came out. I was getting things ready when the guys at SI surprised us all with the early release of the Beta. All my plans where cut in half as my attempts to start a Beta save to blog about felt lacking. So, I bid my time, hatching new plans to start a proper save when the game fully releases. And here it is.

Why A.S. Livorno?

I came across Livorno’s history a few days back, while researching some clubs in Italy as part of a series where some mates and I look into the different stories across the world of football. I have always been into those clubs where it is about more than what happens on the pitch; clubs like St. Pauli, Rayo Vallecano, or Union Berlin. Livorno is one of those clubs. I’ll explain…

The Stadio Armando Picchi

The Associazione Sportiva Livorno Calcio was born on February 17, 1915 as Unione Sportiva Livorno from the merger of the two football clubs in the city, Virtus Juventusque and SPES Livorno. Politics marked the club from the beginning of its path, since the union agreement was signed on February 14, but was officially announced only on February 17, as both institutions feared the anger of their supporters, divided by a strong antagonism. This is because the port city of Livorno is characterized by having a population with a strong left-leaning, working-class identity, and is considered the birthplace of communism in Italy.

Perhaps the best era for Livorno is the one that began with the landing of Cristiano Lucarelli on his birth town for the 03/04 season, when Livorno achieved their return to Serie A after 55 years of absence. Son of a port worker, Lucarelli is, in itself, a symbol for the fanbase. He said: “For some, a dream is to be a millionaire. To buy a Ferrari, a yacht. For me, the best thing in my life would be to play for Livorno. ” At the end of the 02/03 season Lucarelli’s career was booming and he was looking for a new team. Offers came from several clubs of Serie A, some offering almost one million euros per year. But he commissioned his agent to get him a place on the team he loved. Livorno could not pay more than a few hundred thousand, but Lucarelli accepted anyways. He has the Livorno shield tattooed on his left arm and carried the number 99 in homage to the year of foundation (1999) of the ultra group Brigate Autonome Livornesi. In 2005, he paid for a bus from his own money to bring back a group of Livorno fans who had spent the night arrested after an altercation with the police.

Cristiano Lucarelli, legend of the “amaranti”.

The following year they managed permanence and a year later, in 05/06 they finished in a half-table position, although with the penalties to Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio they would be able to enter the UEFA Cup. The team went through the first round finishing third in the group. In the round of 16, Livorno was eliminated by Espanyol, having been defeated 1-2 in the first leg at home and 2-0 in the return to Barcelona, ​​after which Lucarelli would leave.

Livorno is one of those clubs that represent more than just football. They are rooted in an ideology that unites it to its people, that identifies and moves them. For those who appreciate that, bringing Livorno to the elite is a special mission. And so I plan to do so.

Project goals and objectives

It does not take a lot of thinking to figure out this is going to be a long term save. How long precisely I cannot say, but the objetives I aim to achieved set it out to at least 5+ seasons.

What are those objetives? Well, I’ll look into it from three different angles.

On the competitive side, I’d like to be a contender for the title by the end of it. Maybe not favourites (it will be hard with Juventus and now possibly Inter getting so far ahead of the pack) but at least to be in the conversation. Livorno’s best ever Serie A finish is a 2nd place back in 42/43, the last season before the WW2 break, some 66 years ago. I aim to break that span and bring some silverware for the tifosi.

On a developmental side, I look to draw from the passion and love the club gets from the city and its fans, and build upon it with an intensely academy focused project. Developing the prospects that come through will be one of our focuses, while also insisting on improving facilites, youth coaching and recruitment. I can’t settle any hard figures from the get go but the goal of one day fielding an 11 home-grown players team its certainly an endpoint. I also aim to take this approach when recruiting staff members; former players and legends of the club will be primed to get a job to build upon this strong identity project.

Finally, on a tactical side, I want to try something different to my usually possesion-based, all or nothing attacking teams. It has often been the case that clubs associated with working-class areas and fans have favoured a feisty, physical, counterattacking style of play (with an odd and spectacular “fantasista” at number 10 from time to time), such as is the case with Boca Juniors and Atlético de Madrid. There’s just something fascinating about the unfancied side stompting their authority over much more favoured teams with a strike of lightning while leaving it all on the field. Therefore, I want to develop a fast counterattacking tactic, centered around a hard as rock back four and a creative player up top (or maybe a regista at the back?) setting up team mates at full speed.

With those three objectives, it becomes clear that the general aim is creating a side with a strong identity around the club and the city’s values.

The manager

A character like Gianluigi Lucarelli seemed like the perfect candiate for this type of save. A young dynamic coach with a connection to the city and the club’s biggest symbol.

His playing career cut short with injury, he turned to coaching, managing some degree of recognition within the italian FA thanks to his work with the youth sides. Now, with his dream job calling the door, he’ll have to grow up and take the reigns of a side filled with professionals.

I wanted to play as someone who would have known the bitterness of defeat as a fan, cheering from the stands, and now does sitting at the manager’s chair. I wanted the story not to be about a foreigner but rather one of the city’s own taking the club to new heights. I plan to reveal more of him as a character as the save progresses.

Conclussions

I wanted my first blogged FM save to be about what interests me more about these kind of games: the stories you can bring to life. I’ve never been a mix/maxer, nor have I ever understood why people play some games like that. I’ve always been more interested in what narratives you can tell or experience putting yourself in the shoes of the decision makers. I once read that FM was not so much a simulator as an RPG, with the most NPCs ever and I think its a great way of defining the game. The challenges we FMers set to ourselves are a way to take the real world narratives of football and fliping them on their head; making Champions League winners out of lower league sides, one manager winning a title in every corner of the world or even taking a lowly national team an make it into a world power… So why can’t a team of born and raised livornesi take on Juve and the big boys? We’ll certainly be going for it!

Thanks for reading, One Man Press.

Published by fromero92

Argentinian writer and journalist

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