FC Twente The Pride Of The East (1.0) Moneyball #FM17

IMG_20170508_195834_processedWelcome to the city of Enschede the home of FC Twente a Dutch football club formed in 1965. The club have won the Eredivisie title once in 2010 under the guidance of English manager Steve McClaren who has had two spells at the club. The club have had financial problems during their existence and went bankrupt during the 2002-2003 season which nearly ended the clubs existence. Fast forward to the 2014–15 Eredivisie season, Twente found themselves in financial trouble again, forcing the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) to deduct the club three points from the side in March 2015. Club President Munsterman, who had announced to leave the club at the end of the season, then already quit the club on 1 April 2015 over allegations of financial mismanagement.  The club fired 18 employees and closed their scouting department after they received a second three-point penalty in April 2015.  They also decided to withdraw Jong Twente from the Eerste Divisie for the 2015–16 season and the women’s professional team was relocated in a separate foundation.  On 18 May 2016 the KNVB declared its intent to relegate FC Twente to the Eerste Divisie. This was however still subject to appeal by FC Twente  and on 17 June 2016 the KNVB appeal committee decided that Twente could remain in the Eredivisie however they have been issued with a European ban for 3 years. So the perfect time to take the managers job, yeah! lets recap (1)No Money, (2) No Chance Of European Football for a while. Sound appealing? you bet it does.


Here is a look at our 1st team squad on day 1 of my contract:  At a glance we have a young squad with very good potential with 4 players in on loan with only Enas Unal fitting in to my tactical system so fortunately I was able to terminate the loans of both Bersant Celina and Yaw Yeboah who we were paying wages of £8k per week.  I also decided to transfer / loan list Chinedu Ede. More about the squad later in the post.

squad day 1

And here is the club finances on day 1 which I may add that the club is just over £40m in debt. You can see the balance is £1.6m with the wage budget being overspent by just over £2000 per week meaning we are overspending before we start.

Finances day 1


With the club in a tricky financial situation I needed to investigate and find out how and were I could save money and put a plan in place to protect the club’s future. The first place to look was at the players contracts to see how I could reduce the wage bill as soon as possible. The first obvious place was the loan signings at the club and by terminating the loans of Celina and Yeboah we instantly cut £8000 per week off the wage bill. I then discovered that a player signed before I took over Oussama Assaidi was on £41,000 per week wages plus an appearance bonus of £8250, a goal bonus of £4100 and an unused FC TWENTEsubstitute fee of £2100 and then a loyalty bonus of £475,000. To put it in to perspective Assiadi is costing the club based on 30 games a season around £2.4m per season a staggering 30% of our wage budget and miles ahead of our next highest earner who is on £9250 per week £481,000 per year. The problem I have with Assaidi is that he is a new signing who does not fit in to my tactical system and definitely does not fit in to my wage structure but the biggest problem is trying to unload him. I have put him on the transfer list and loan list with the hope that someone picks him up but you know how difficult it is to move somebody on who as only just joined the club. To release him it would cost the club £4m not an option. So at the moment Assaidi is in the Jong Twente squad collecting his pay cheque whilst my Director of Football is trying to offload him. No wonder the club have been close to going under with desicions like the one to sign Assaidi.

So as a long time admirer of the Moneyball project I am going to introduce it in to the club. Although I have long admired Moneyball I have never gone as far as to implement it in to one of my saves but with the situation at Twente being as it is there is no better time than to embrace Moneyball like now. I know there is a few of the FM Community who have done Moneyball saves and funnily enough @TN_TheNorthman has blogged about his take on Moneyball on @MerryGuido’s blog which is a very good read that you can find here . I have also read the original Moneyball book about the Oakland A’s baseball team on how Billie Beane the general manager implemented it. There is also another couple of books which I recommend which are Soccernomics and The Numbers Game. In Soccernomics the authors Kuper and Szymanski listed their 12 main secrets to the transfer market:

this list from “Soccernomics” by Simon Kuper, Stefan Szymanski –

1. A new manager wastes money on transfers; don’t let him.

2. Use the wisdom of crowds.

3. Stars of recent World Cups or European championships are overvalued; ignore them.

4. Certain nationalities are overvalued.

5. Older players are overvalued.

6. Centre-forwards are overvalued; goalkeepers are undervalued.

7. Gentlemen prefer blonds; identify and abandon ‘sight-based prejudices’.

8. The best time to buy a player is when he is in his early twenties.

9. Sell any player when another club offers more than he is worth.

10. Replace your best players even before you sell them.

11. Buy players with personal problems, and then help them deal with their problems.

12. Help your players relocate.”

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.eu/fwsrvj1

So how does this and what rules from the list will I translate in to my FM save with FC Twente ?

  1. A New Manager Wastes Money On Transfers : Self explanatory I will try not to fall in to the trap of buying for the sake of it.
  2. Use The Wisdom Of Crowds : I will be using my scouts / chief scout and director of footballs knowledge to build the big picture when looking to bring players in to the club.
  3. Stars of recent World Cups or European championships are overvalued; ignore them : I will not sign any players on the back of a good tournament. 
  4. Certain Nationalities Are Overvalued : When buying players I will bear this in mind fashionable countries players cost more than unfashionable countries for example a Brazilian will cost more than a Bolivian.
  5. Older Players Are Overvalued : Something to watch out for however I don’t tend to buy older players.
  6. Centre Forwards Are Overvalued and Goalkeepers Are Undervalued : The Goalscorer is the star of the team, I will be looking to develop my own however I will be looking at players disguarded by their club’s to see if I can find a bargain who I think could do the job.
  7. N/A
  8. The Best Time To Buy A Player Is When He Is In His Early Twenties : This is a very good rule because the player is already well developed and you can analyse his past performances.
  9. Sell Any Player When Another Club Offers More Than He Is Worth : I will abide by this rule and sell any player if the bid exceeds their value, selling a player at the right time is key.
  10. Replace Your Best Players Even Before You Sell Them : Important for keeping the club competitive.
  11. N/A
  12. N/A

I am also adding that I will be looking to use the loan system if  the right player and conditions are to our advantage in the short and long term already this season I have turned to the loan window and brought in 6 players all on free season long deals that have allowed me to add quality and depth to our squad whilst implementing my tactical system. Yes it would have been easier to create a system around the players that were already at the club however I wanted to stamp my philosophy and tactical system FC TWENTEstraight away has I feel it’s the best way to maximise the club’s chance of success from day 1.  My Philosophy is always built on controlling the game with an emphasis on attacking whilst built on a a strong defence, I have found the 3-4-1-2 to be my best way of achieving this. In the defensive phase it’s a 5-2-1-2 shape that aims to cut off all passing lanes and turning over possession. That’s enough now about the system has I plan a future post to focus on it. So who did I bring in to the club and at what cost in terms of wages.

  • Thore Jacobsen free season long loan from Werder Bremen  wages £0
  • Simone Mazzocchi free season long loan from Atalanta wages £450 pw
  • Lucas Coelho free season long loan from Gremio wages £600 pw 
  • Sherko Gubari free season long loan from Grasshoppers  £925 pw 
  • Mykyta Burda free season long loan from Dynamo Kiev  £1500 pw 
  • Lucas Evangelista free season long loan deal from Udinese £3800 pw

Total wage cost for this season for the above players is £170,675

In addition to the above loan deals Enas Unal is also at the club on a free season long loan from Manchester City with City paying his wages in full.

I have also transfer listed and loaned out Chinedu Ede for £14.5k per month thats £145,000 for his loan period plus his wages of £4000 pw thats £160,000 for the duration of the loan bringing in to the club a grand total of £305,000 that easily covers the above loan wages of the players coming in to the club.



When I arrived at the club the staff levels were pretty poor so I set about at bolstering my backroom staff with the best the club afford. You can see below how we rate against the other clubs in the Eredivisie. I will continue to bring the best staff in over time to keep the club improving.


hans van breukelen

michel jansen hoyd

Jong FC Twente

jong twente

Under 19 Squad

under 19

Board Expectations

Although we have a European ban the board are expecting us to finish in the Europa League positions this season along with us reaching the Quarter-final of the Dutch Cup.


Pre Season 

Pre-Season went well considering I brought a number of players in to implement the tactical system. Only time will tell if I have made the right desicion.

pre season


August 2016

We kicked the season off with a 3-0 win against ADO Den Haag, we got off to a flying start with a goal in the 3rd minute from Jeroen van der Lely followed by a Enes Unal strike just before half time. Unal got his second and secured the points in the 2nd half. A trip to Amsterdam followed for our next game against Ajax which turned out to be a cracker for the neutral but a roller coaster for everyone involved with both clubs has we raced in to a 3-1 lead at the break via 2 goals from Unal and a Lucas Coelho goal however after the break we sempt to struggle for fitness and got took apart by Ajax who turned the game around to inflict a 3-5 defeat upon us which left me feeling deflated. I then made 9 changes for our next game at home to Heracles and was pleased with the performance has we bounced back to winning ways with a 2-0 scoreline thanks to goals from Enis Bunjaki and Mateusz Klich. We then ended the month with two 0-1 defeats away at both AZ and FC Utrecht. Not the start I was hoping for with 2 wins and 3 defeats but I was pleased with what I was seeing during the games has the squad are getting to grips with the tactics.

aug 16

September 2016

We started the month of with the visit of PEC Zwolle who were 3rd in the table and on the back of a victory over Ajax in their last match but it was our young Italian forward Simone Mazzocchi who stole the show in his first full start for us by netting all 4 goals in a 4-0 win that raised morale in the dressing room. Mazzocchi’s performance was fantastic and by far the highlight of the season to date. An unchanged side struggled to break Sparta Rotterdam down and we had to rely on substitute Lucas Coelho netting the only goal of the game that sealed all 3 points. We were then in Dutch Cup action and played EVV in the first round tie that saw us advance to the next round after 2 late goals from Lely and Vankan gave us a 2-0 win. Another potential tricky game against Willem II ended up with us taking all 3 points after a 2-0 win which featured goals from both Klich and Unal. Another 3 points to end the month with a 4-0 win against Heerenveen with goals from Coelho 2, Klich and Mazzocchi all coming in a faultless first half.  Very pleased with this month’s work 5 games 5 wins and 5 clean sheets.

sept 16

October 2016 

October got underway with a 1-1 draw against GO Ahead Eagles, I was pleased to see Sven Mbikulu get on the score sheet after I had promoted him to the first team squad. We followed up with a 0-0 draw at Vitesse who themselves have been playing well.  Our next game alowed me to rest players when we took on BVV in the Dutch Cup 2nd rd whilst letting some of our fringe players get a good run out. We won the game 4-0 with a brace from Gubari along with a goal from Bunjaki and a 2nd half own goal. Back to Eredivisie action next and an home game against Roda JC  which produced a comprehensive 3-0 win with Unal, Burda and Coelho all getting among the goals. Our final game of the month against N.E.C saw us extend our unbeaten run to 10 games with a 1-0 thanks to a Lucas Coelho goal that as put us on top of the table at the end of October and whilst our goalscorers take the plaudits its worth noting that we have had 9 clean sheets in our last 10 games.

oct 16

eredivisie tab

Ist Team Squad Statistics

The squad are performing well in all areas, I have used the squad to its maximum in the first few months of the season our leading goalscorers are Enes Unal and Lucas Coehlo both with 6 goals followed by Simone Mazzocchi on 5 but the player who has court my eye the most is Mateusz Klich who has been the heartbeat of the team with some brilliant performances that have seen him grab 3 goals and 7 assists in the 8 games that he has played with an average rating of 7.95. And a shout out to young Wing Back Thore Jacobsen who the fans were not too happy about when I brought him in on loan but he has performed well when called upon in 5 appearances he has provided 3 assists with an average rating of 7.56.

squad oct stats

Finances End Of October 2016

We at last have some breathing space within the wage budget and with a bit of luck we can get the wage bill reduced a little bit more by off loading Oussama Assaidi in January fingers crossed.

finance oct 16


wages 1st team


Dutch Under 19’s Group 1

The under 19’s have got off to a good start using the same system as the first team, they lead a strong group with some talented youngsters so I am really pleased to see our boys competing at the top of the table.

under 19 table

Well thats all for this post which hopefully as set the scene for the future has I delve in to the world of Moneyball which may I add as added an extra dimension to the save for me. I am spending a lot of time on the financial side of things and scouting in a different way than I have before whilst still putting my faith in youth development. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have not already and you are interested in the Moneyball system I highly recommend checking out the following books by clicking on the links below.






FC Twente Moneyball FM17 



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