The Academy : A Mist Rolling In From The Trent (19-20) 1.0


Welcome to the second post of my Academy save with Nottingham Forest. My Introduction post can be found here if you want to take a look. This post is the first since the game went live so we now have some game time under our belts so we can get down to shaping the save and the clubs future.

The save is titled The Academy for a reason and this is because my main focus of this save is to turn the clubs development system in to one of the best in the World. I have decided that whilst managing the first team I will also be taking control of our youth in a bid to win the UEFA Youth League but to develop our youth for both the first team and transfer market. I think season one I will keep the current staff in charge of  both the Under 23 and Under 18 squads whilst I get a feel of the club.  Yes it’s a great feeling to develop one of our own and see them work their way in to the 1st team but it is also important that we know when to sell to keep the club in a positive financial position.

So the board have given me a two year contract with the aim of getting promoted to the Premier League within these two years so I think any hope of extending my stay on Trentside I will have to guide the club back to the top tier. The club have good training facilities and good youth facilities both which I will look to upgrade at the first opportunity. The media prediction is for us to finish 6th which would give us a place in the playoffs but I want to target automatic promotion this season.

The Clubs Vision 


The five year vision coming from the board is as follows:

  • Play Attacking Football
  • Work Within The Budgets Set By The Board
  • Year 1 19/20 Reach The Playoffs
  • Year 2 20/21 Promotion To The Premier League
  • Year 3 21/22 Stay In Premier League
  • Year 4 22/23 Stay In Premier League
  • Year 5 23/24 Stay In Premier League

This is the 5 year Vision based on our current position at the start of the save which obviously will change season on season depending on our performance.

Financially we have a starting balance of around £15m with a transfer budget of £3.5m and a wage budget of around £470,000 per week. I don’t plan to spend any of the transfer budget but will look at our league position in January and to any area that we may need investment.

Squad Composition 


First Team squad 

With 8 players 30 years old or over there is no doubting the experience in the squad however my aim will be to bring down the average age of the squad over the next few years with both players from our development system and the transfer market. We do have a large number of players in their last year of their contract so the first half of this season will see me make a decision on who leaves and more importantly who stays.

Under 23 Squad 

The Under 23 squad looks to be pretty strong and will be my development squad meaning that I will be working very closely to this squad who will provide me with any natural successor to any position required in the first team squad through injury, transfer or end of contract. I will also use this squad to test my tactical systems.

Under 18 Squad 

Again like the U23 squad the Under 18’s looks strong with a number of potential talents that if nurtured correctly will form the future of the club.

Ten Secret Ingredients 


Something that sticks with me after reading the book on Villarreal (The Miracle Of Villarreal) is their 10 secret Ingredients policy which serves the club really well and something that I want to bring to Nottingham Forest during my reign here:

  • Quality of Leadership with vision, integrity, a clear sense of where they are going and how they will get there. A Leadership small enough and powerful enough to deliver its aims without internal opposition while generating great loyalty and affection in the many staff who help them implement their Project.
  • A kick start Financial Strategy based on investing the President’s own money sufficiently well to create a club successful enough to generate sufficient income for continued success to be self sustaining without further external investment.
  • A Political Strategy where network skills and other pressures are used to ensure that the club receives considerable support, financial and otherwise, from the elected assemblies basking in its reflected glory.
  • Developing a profile of the right kind of manager who can deliver the exact kind of attractive successful football the leadership want for their club, and then recruiting to match that profile.
  • A player recruitment strategy geared to produce a more talented squad of players at the start of every new season than the one at the start of the previous season. Linked to a Transfer Policy based on Buy Cheap, Sell Dear lines to generate sufficient income for the recruitment strategy to be self funding.
  • The development of a Football Complex as good if not better than can be found anywhere else in the world. From the base of that complex, the Cuidad Deportiva, to create a Cantera that will eventually ensure a regular supply of quality footballers for the first team of the Club.
  • A Modern Stadium geared to the capacity of the community to fill it and equipped for European club competition at the highest level.
  • A European success policy based on the simple premise the best way to hone the club’s competence in Europe is through regular participation in European Club competitions. Otherwise known as “You may sneer at the Europa League but we will use it to make us a power in Europe”.
  • A community ownership strategy within the community, to ensure that the club belongs to the community not any individual, and is supported by the whole community irrespective of age or gender.
  • A First Love Strategy involving a sophisticated campaign to replace a Big Club Wee Club dual love with an unambiguous First Love for Nottingham Forest.



I have decided to use the Vertical Tiki Taka pre set for the foundation of our system in pre season using both a 4-1-2-3 formation and a 4-4-2 set up. The clubs culture is to play attacking football and that’s what I am going to do. I have also an idea to play a 4-4-1-1 system and even a 3-5-2  but for the short term I want to concentrate on tinkering with the above 4-1-2-3 which will be played at all levels throughout the club. I think the system and roles give us maximum opportunity to make use of the skill set that we have at the club.

Starting with the defensive unit I am using a Sweeper Keeper on a support duty who will take short kicks and distribute to our central defenders that consist of a Ball Playing Defender and a Central Defender both with a defensive duty. I like this combination very much with the use of a defender who can pass the ball very much taking in the Forest way. The full back slots will see us use a Wing Back on support on the right side and a Inverted Wing Back also on support on the left which gives us a Vertical pivot that drops in to the spaces vacated by our central midfield. Ahead of the back four I have chosen a no frills Defensive Midfielder on a support duty.

My central midfield pairing will be made up with a Mezzala with a attack duty and a Box to Box midfielder on a support duty that gives us a dynamic of energy in the middle of the park. The front three will see us use a Deep Lying Forward with a attack duty flanked by a traditional Winger on the left with a attack duty and a Inside Forward on the right also on a attack duty.

The board demand a attacking style of play which I believe we can achieve without neglecting our defensive duty with the system that we are using.

Yuri Ribiero : The Vertical Pivot

For a few years now the full back position as become more and more influential in the game and yet again there seems to be more and more responsibility and flexibility required from the position. Football tactics are progressing faster and faster in the World of football today and that is cemented by Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder performing miracles with his wide attacking central defenders.

At Nottingham Forest we have a player Yuri Ribeiro signed from Benfica in the summer and a transfer target for a few Premier League teams just a couple of seasons ago including Arsenal.  Now Benfica are one of Forest affiliate clubs with a number of players heading to Nottingham in recent times.

Benfica are a forwarding thinking club and something that I see when watching their games is the use of their full backs which operate differently on either side. I have been lucky enough to watch a lot of Benfica B and youth team matches along with having a sneak preview to a certain coaches portfolio and book that he is working on that includes some fantastic material on the Vertical Pivot


The Vertical Pivot unlike the normal pivot seen in football could actually be named the rolling pivot because basically that’s what it does were the normal pivot tends to sit in his designated space centrally more often than not. What I want to explore and implement in my system is a rolling pivot and Yuri Ribeiro is the man I feel can give me that option.

The Normal Responsibilities of the Pivot Player is to Protect the Centre Backs by denying through balls and blocking passing routes into attack plus cover any holes when a defender gets pulled out of position.Work hard in the middle of the pitch to win the ball and create space for attackers. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park.

What I want Ribeiro to do is become the Vertical / Rolling Pivot in my Forest side playing in the Inverted Wing Back role which gives Ribeiro the licence to  roam.

It’s very early days in my experiment but it is something special seeing Ribeiro in action and I will be following this introduction up with a full analysis of Ribeiro and his role.



Here are a few players who have the potential to be very good first team players over the next few years :


Jayden Richardson is a 18 year old right full back who is currently on loan at Exeter City until the end of the season. Richardson is in the last year of his contract however I have activated the option for a contract extension which gives the youngster a chance to return to Nottingham and challenge for a first team place next season.


Brennan Johnson is a attacking midfielder who looks to have the potential to develop over the next few seasons and become a regular in my starting line up. Johnson will be on the fringes of the 1st team this coming season but a loan move maybe on the horizon to get some valuable playing time under his belt.


20 year old Toby Edser is currently out on loan at Woking this season and it will be interesting to see how the midfielder performs at the lower level before he returns to the City Ground next season.


Ryan Yates already in my first team plans and will be given the opportunity to dislodge one of our midfield players when the season gets underway. It could be a big season in the 21 year olds development within the first team squad.


If Jordan Gabriel is to make his mark on the club I feel he needs to get some game time under his belt with a loan move for the 20 year old high on my list. We have some quality options in the right full back area so he will be in direct competition with Jayden Richardson to become our future in their position.


Alex Mighten at 17 years old is our rough diamond who needs polishing up a bit. The winger looks to have plenty of potential and it comes down to me how I mould this kid for the future…… exciting times ahead.


Last but not least in this short round up is another 17 year old in Ethan Dekel-Dalks who is another player with loads of potential. A fine future ahead of this young man beckons in the centre of the park. I will be keeping an eye on the youngster during the season playing in Gareth Holmes Under 18 side,

Well that’s it I am underway with the save which I hope will be a successful one with the club who I support. I always have a desire to do well on FM but this year I am managing the club who I have grown up with which makes the save for me something special. We all get attached to random clubs via FM but Nottingham Forest have always been in my blood. I have a feeling that FM20 could be a vintage release and I just could not think of any better way than enjoying it than with Nottingham Forest.



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