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Affirmation Time

nestor on 16 November, 2018

After some amazing results in the first 12 months at the AFAS Stadion, including the first league title since 2009 a Dutch Semi-Final qualification, and just losing out to a really strong AC Milan in the 1st Knockout round of the Europa League the time to affirm the amazing results has come for the club from the city of Alkmaar. Could we actually keep on playing with such a high consistency we did in the first season? Would the league contenders Ajax and PSV going to do better this season?

Transfer Business

As we were doing pretty good and actually were over-performing in the domestic league, I was expecting loads of clubs trying to bid for my players. But the offers didn't come. Only Bournemouth offered over 10M for my rightback Svensson:

Transfers Out

Besides letting the swedish defender move to the UK, I also decided not to active Dorin Rotariu's clause of over 1M to make the deal permanent as I thought that I could find more quality for that amount of money. So he he did return to his club FC Brugge after the one-year loan at AZ Alkmaar. But luckily this two lads where only two first-team players that left after the first season.

How about new deals? As I lost both wide players on the right side, obviously I had to to some business there. The Spanish-Islandic right-back Diegui joined for 1.5M from Oviedo and Nicolas Benedetti joined from the Colombian side Atletico Nacional for just 1.3M to replace the leaving players. As I already mentioned in my previous post, Alexander Isak was joining (on free deal) too, after his contract at Dortmund had expired.

Transfers In

Benedetti is actually so good, he could actually fit every position on my lineup, except the Goalkeeping role:

Rating Benedetti

As I used only a bit of the transfer budget, I was able to add some promising youngsters to our academy and strengthen our weaker areas of the squad a bit:

Central Defenders: Ron Vlaar decided to retire end of the season, which only left us with 3 players who actually could play there and the 3rd option Stijn Wuytens was actually my first option for DM position. To cover the lack of central defender, Rivaldo Coetzee and Giorgos Antzoulas joined the club to use them as rotational options.

Squad Weakness

Before the the transfer Jonas Svensson I did analyze any weakness and improvements of our first team squad and my conclusion was that we'd look for players for the left back and striker positions (marked with a red background on the table above).

Left Back: Owen Wijndal had developed properly last season, improving his AAR from 56.74 to 60.7, which would see him take over the first team place from Thomas Ouwejan. But he was still far away from being a good first team option, as most of the other first team players were rated between 63 and 65. With some money on the bank I decided to sign Mads "Mini" Pedersen for just 1.8M from Nordsjaelland. After that I had to try to offload Ouwejan, but that wasn't as easy as I thought. Somehow I've been struggling to offload deadwood on FM19, so he joined Twente on 1y-loan deal.

Striker: Neither Fred Friday or Bjørn Johnsen offered some real quality playing as a deep-lying forward on an attack duty. Luckily I had already signed Isak, but he was rated much bette on a wide role (Winger or Inside Forward). His AAR as a DLF(A) was only about 60.9. Seeing that, I was scouting lots of promising youngsters, I even tried to scout most of the players that did take part in U20 World-Cup. And some day one of my scouted reported a certain Mokeri Shongwe:

Shongwe

The rest of my transfer budget for the summer 2019 was spent on him, which concluded all business for the next couple of months, just Fred Friday was loaned out to not have to many players again ...

Back to actual football

After actually finishing the season we good football, I didn't felt that I had to do any changes to the season. But that was wrong, we started the season with some bad performances. I lost the super to Utrecht, who had beaten Ajax in the final of the Dutch cup last year, struggled a lot in the qualification phases of the UCL. Only a goal from newly signed wonderkid Shongwe in overtime allowed us to qualify for the UCL.

It looked like we couldn't keep up our last years performances. After another few shite performances in the league and almost got thrown out of the Dutch cup by 2nd tier team Fortuna Sittard I decided that I had to tweak the tactic a bit:

Tactic

No big changes had been done, I just moved the AP up to the AMC position to be able to try Benedetti in main position and dropped AML and AMR deeper and used them as Inverted Wingers on the ML/MR. One of the reasons, I've been using IW on both sides now, was the with Pedersen we have now a classy left back.

After these small tweaks the performances of the team sky rocketed, we did collect win after win, we did beat Ajax and PSV. At the winter break we were on top of the table again:

Table Winter

Despite the lovely performances in the league, we couldn't collect any points in the Champions league. A group with Monaco, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid was too tough for us: 6 games, 6 losses.

The winter (break) had arrived at AZ Alkmaar and with it did the transfer window too:

Winter deals

I did try to calculate AAR ratings for new deals too. Andre Moreira's contract was going to expire soon, so I decide to sign him already during the winter window for around 300K from Atletico Madrid, as he had higher ratings as the 64.8 of current GK Marco Bizot. Arianit Ferati would join on a free deal at the end of year from HSV allowing us to have to similar rated Inverted Wingers on the MR position, together with AZ academy product Calvin Stengs:

Ferati

As we got some good offers for Marco Bizot and Piet Velthuizen, we had some additional money in the transfer budget. I decided to use that money to buy Denis Vavro for 1.5M (with another additional 1.5M if played 50 games for AZ Alkmaar), but he would joined only at the end of the season as the deal was sealed after the transfer window. Vavro would be the first player at AZ with an AAR rating over 70!

Obviously using AAR ratings only works for first team players, because we don't actually know how youth players are going to develop. One first thought was to scout players for the future by 3 different scouts and use the average star ratings of current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA) to multiply the current AAR ratings. Example Carlos Muñoz:

All three scouts would report back a CA of 1.5 stars and PA of 4.5 this would result in the formula:

POTENTIAL AAR = (CURRENT AAR / CA ) * (PA)

But I realized this wouldn't really work, so I tried to lower the impact of the potential ability:

POTENTIAL AAR = (CURRENT AAR / CA ) * (PA * 0.7))

Keeping up the good work

After the winter break we kept on thriving in the league, beating PSV and Ajax again, which allowed us to finish the season with 82 points and only two losses. In the Dutch cup it was again Ajax that did throw us out of the competition, this time in the quarter finals. Besides Stengs and Benedetti, who managed to grab 11 goals as an AP, Isak was one of the key figures for that title winning side with a total of 21 goals in the Eredivisie 2019/2020:

Final Table

After the end of season the board had another good news for me: Stadium was going to be expanded by 4035 seats:

Stadium

So that's it from my 2nd season. I hope you've enjoyed it, any feedback and sharing's welcome as always! You can find me on Twitter as NestorFM_ or on the FMSlack in the #nestorfm channel.

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