Chapter 5 – Some kind of happiness is measured out in wins

After the match the dressing room was quiet as a grave.

“Can’t say I’m not dissapointed”, Gianluigi said, “but that’s not important now”.

He stared at his players.

“All of you know, this was a huge chance. We were there, it was within our reach, ready to be grasped, and we were close…heck, we might have even scratched it with our fingernais”, he continued.

Some players raised their heads.

“Close is not enough. Almost is not enough. Nearly is not enough. I don’t need to tell you that, you all know it. And you don’t need to worry about me. You don’t need to answer to me really. Nor to yourselves, should you choose not to. Nor to the board. But you answer to the twenty thousand people out there. Those who break their back to be here, those who drench themselves in sweat every day to support you, they own you, as long as you wear this shirt. That responsability is yours”.

“Some of you may claim we had bad luck. Make your own luck then, fight for every ball, wrestle for every chance, go to war for every blade of grass. The most important matches of the season are coming. All what’s been, all what’s happened before is irrelevant. I want a reaction from you guys. And I know I will get it”


You want us to win? That’s all you had to say!

I finished last episode after we ended a terrible run of form, explaining that I’d rather make the cut there as it allowed me to wrap up on a cheerful note after some terrible struggles.

Funnily enough, we lost the next two matches in rather weird fashion, before getting absolutely batterd 3-0 by relegation fighters Reggina. However, after that the switch in tactics saw us put a run of 12 matches undefeated which sent us flying to the higher end of the table, taking a comfortable 4th position, within an arms stretch of one of the automatic promotion positions.

Our glorious 12 undefeated streak. As you can see, I’ve changed the name fixing patch I was using, which means now we’ll have to face the mighty Zebre. I’m surprised at how much I just don’t mind. Maybe I’m growing as a person?

Our big chance came in the form of a duel with top place Frosinone, after 2nd placed Hellas Verona had tied with playoffs hopefuls Pordenone. A win would see us climb to 3rd, just 1 point down on them. And to be fair, for 83 minutes we were there! But then a silly penalty was given and looking for that glorious 89th minute winner (cause f*ck drawing key matches) we gifted it to our rivals who proceeded to secure promotion… you’re welcome Nesta.

That kicked of a series of underwhelming results that saw us slip from 4th to 8th, only to salvage a 7th position by the grace of a Pordenone draw in the last match day. We matched up vs. Juve Stabia on the promotion playoffs, a team against which we’ve struggled to show our alleged superiority (favoured 4-5 to win last time we met in the league).

Spezia’s relegation comes a sweet bit of revenge. Eat your heart out, Joel Untersee. Also, kudos to relegation-favoured Pordenone.

As last time, I’ve chosen to make the cut just before the crucial matches. It gives us the chance to once more end the post on a positive note, having improved as a team and on the league table. Long may it last!

Send the check to the owner

The main topic I wanted to discuss this time is the club’s economy. I’ve never hidden the fact the A) I’m a bit of a noob and B) I’ve learned my trade in the lower leagues, with semi-pro teams.

I fully admit that the best of FM is enjoyed in that goldie locks area of teams big enough to be able to compete in the market and develop players and small enough not to basically become an unstoppable monster and kill any challenge; however, when I first started playing I felt like I wanted to earn my wings at the mud, where the competition is cutthroat and success, fleeting. That has a good side — I’m used to limited budget, cr*p players and improvisation — and a bad side — I’m lost when given a proper Coaching Team, a decent budget and have to scout my next signing instead of just asking him to kick a ball around for a week until I decide whether he’s worth €100 per appearence.

Trialing kids by the hundreds, number one scouting strategy of the lower leagues

My approach to managing a club’s economy then has mostly been just keeping under the wage budget and hope for the best, happy in the thought that it wasn’t my fault if the club was leaking money like a startup that got a little too lucky with it’s Kickstarter campaign. Whilst I’ll agree its a shortcoming of my game, I’ll also point out that for what I’ve read, even people with Harvard Economics degrees won’t be able to do much more than keep expenses short, buy at a low, sell at a high and get promoted to a better TV Deal. Until the day comes that SI releases “Football Managing Director” and you can get your hands to negotiating juicy deals to improve Commercial Income, that’s it.

However, it comes a point when even the most laid back manager will get alarmed and mine was when the club passed the 3M debt. In an attitude that would drive Charlie Methven mad, I was always expecting the owner to just inject some money to keep us afloat until better days would come, but with the debt ever increasing I decided to take a look at it.

Livorno’s monthly balance reads like a shakespearian tragedy dotted by brief if ever charming moments of solvency and wellbeing.

Back when I started playing I set up my wages as a weekly figure. I felt that doing it that way made it easier for me to understand how much I was paying my players, as I was used to hearing about the salaries of Premier League players and such. Problem is I probably wasn’t taking into consideration that the context I should be considering was not how much Arsenal pays Özil but rather how much was I paying each one of my players in contrast with the others.

After switching to annual wages I had a better view of where my main expenses were and how to reduce them. To my surprise, there weren’t any outstanding culprits within the players, but with the coaches. My u20s assistant was making almost what I was paid. The u18 was not one, not two, not three (you get the gist), but SEVEN coaches over the limit. Deeper inspection into the youth sides showed that there were at least a dozen of absolutely terrible players with 2 to 3 years contract, courtesy of my HoYD really liking them. When the u18 side is a bunch of greyed-out filler that you slowly build up you stop taking them into consideration at the start of a save, but I’ll make no excuses. Livorno is my first “big” team save an it has showed me that I have a lot to learn.

In the end, we were bailed out by the board just like I was hoping. The takeover board injected 4.4M, after which they proceeded to pull a glazer and charge the debt the club, a rather silly way of solving insolvency, but hey…get promoted and it all works out.

All that remains now is our date(s) with destiny. Promotion will see us climb the economic ladder and secure a much better position for the clubs balances, otherwise we’ll have to take the expense cutting way.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Published by fromero92

Argentinian writer and journalist

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