Samo’s Stirling – Futures Update

It’s been a couple of seasons since the last update on how my Futures (u21 talent) are doing. If you wanted to read that post again, have a wee click here. The general idea of the Futures can be read again below though.

Attracting young players to the club, giving them an environment to develop and a platform to play will benefit the club in the long term. I touched on this in the latest Strategy for Stirling post too. We need to ensure we’re sustainable and that occasionally means letting players use the club as a stepping stone.

My chief scout is in charge of assignments and we’ve had a very fruitful couple of years as we’ve grown as a club, culminating in that maiden top tier title win last season. If you haven’t managed to get to grips with scouting on FM18 I’d really recommend relinquishing control and handing it over to your chief scout, it helped me massively in terms of players that’ve come into the club, but also to embrace the changes made to it for FM18. If you want to hear me and AccordingtoFM debate the changes to scouting then have a listen to this episode of the One More Game podcast.

Updates on Futures v1

I introduced you to seven Futures in the first post, all seven are still at the club so here’s a brief update on how they’ve got on so far.

Fails ??

In the life of a Football Manager, not every transfer is a success.

Vasile Dinu probably embodies that for us. He hasn’t really kicked on at all in terms of his development and has actually spent the last two seasons out on loan getting first team football at Edinburgh City in Division One (second tier). It was a relatively low risk £200k transfer, but one that hasn’t come to fruition. In the summer of 2027 he’s been sold back to Romania for a big loss, £4k. Fail.

I had really high hopes for Bjørn when he arrived for £200k from Molde, and he actually made a cracking start to his Stirling career. He scored 40 goals in 34 u21 matches, before scoring six goals in 11 first team matches in the same season. Since then, he’s found himself down the pecking order of our forward options and has spent the last two seasons out on loan. He scored nine goals for Dunfermline in Division One last season, but has been playing in a disappointing Hamilton side this season bound for relegation, and has only scored six goals for them in 30 games. With a way into the first team looking unlikely, he’s been flogged to league rivals, Dundee, for the price we bought him for.

Jóhann Guðmundsson goes down as a failure too, although it’s not as much his fault as it is mine. The signing and subsequent form of Jordi Mboula since his arrival pushed Guðmundsson down the list of right wing options and he’s spent the past season and a half out on loan at Division One Dunfermline to some success. I don’t see a way into the first team for him and aged 22, he’s been sold back to Iceland for £50k. Fail.

Manos Balatsos struggled to force his way into my thinking for first choice centre back, and found himself out on loan for the second half of the 2026/27 season. His height (5’10”) really put me off throwing him straight in and his jumping reach of four hasn’t improved. He’s been sold to Kilmarnock for £200k, which is at least a profit after his arrival from FFA COE on a free.

The 21-year-old Bosnian, Damir Sejmenovic, has been in and around the first team for three seasons now, playing 71 times, laying on 21 assists and scoring eight goals. He’s probably right on the line between a success and failure, especially when you see the improvement and impact the two big successes have had.

Successes ??

I guess if you get one or two things right though things aren’t so bad…

Slobo Stankovic is our second most valuable player now and has massively improved over the last couple of seasons. Now classed as a coveted “wonderkid”, our number seven is attracting attention from Europe’s elite clubs. He’s so hard for opposition defences to deal with, but this hasn’t necessarily transferred on to his output for us so far. He only has a combined 16 assists across the last three seasons, and his total of nine in his first season is the highest he’s reached in a single campaign. After signing for £250k, will he be the first Stirling player to be sold for £20m+?

Or will it be this man?

The most valuable player at the club, signed for just £235k. It must be up there with the best bargains ever. Horvat is a regular in the Slovenian national side’s midfield, but he now counts as a homegrown player from Stirling after being here for the required period of time, which I love. I’ve said it a few times in the seasonal updates but we play worse when he isn’t in the side, he just keeps us ticking. There was murmurs of a move away last season, but he kept his head down and I was delighted to get him secured on a new deal until 2030. If his leadership attribute wasn’t so bad, he’d probably be in line for captaincy. How much longer can we keep this star man at Stirling for?

Futures v2

After their treble last season, there’s a new wave of promising young talent trying to break in to the first team. This batch has a bit more of a homegrown feel to it, which is nice to see after v1 was mainly all foreign players.

Martin Griffiths

Age: 17

Nationality: ???????

Cost: youth product

Potential: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It might say English on his profile, but I’m certainly still classing Martin Griffiths as Scottish. He was born in East Kilbride but is showing so much promise that England have poached him from under the noses of the Scottish national team, even after making a few u19 appearances for the country of his birth. Cairnseh might be the current shining star of the Stirling youth system, but Griffiths is the future one. After a blistering few seasons playing at youth level, scoring 125 goals in two and a half seasons, he’s now made the step up to the first team squad and played a handful of matches towards the end of our double winning season in 2026/27. My hopes are so high for him, will he live up to them?

Martin Ferguson

Age: 17

Nationality: ???????

Cost: £50k

Potential: ⭐⭐⭐

I poached Martin Ferguson from Stranraer in the 2025/26 season and from 27/28 onwards he’ll be in and around the first team. He’s still got some work to do to improve across the board, but he does show promise. I think with some first team football under his belt, he’ll turn into a solid, and importantly, a homegrown, option for us. I’ve currently got him training on just a full back regime, to improve his core attributes for the role, rather than overloading him with a complete wing back schedule.

Olexiy Nagornyak

Age: 18

Nationality: ??

Cost: £155k

Potential: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My scouts rated Olexiy very highly when they spotted him playing for Dnipro Academy and my coaches agree too. After a season with the Futures, he’s stepping up to first team football from this season onwards. I see him slotting in to our Deep Lying Destroyer role. He can tackle and pass relatively well and has a couple of the key qualities I look for in the role, speed and teamwork. He’s also cut from that classic FM newgen cloth of players who are tiny but can head the ball excellently.

Abubakar Diallo

Age: 18

Nationality: ??

Cost: £350k

Potential: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There’s just something about an African newgen. My scouts spotted him at Ashanti Gold and he looked very promising. Already standing out in a number of attributes, including passing, technique, determination, teamwork and work rate, at just 18 still, he should develop into a really good player for us. The plan is for him to remain with the Futures this season, but I’ll review that again in January and keep a close eye on his development.

Gerry Orr

Age: 17

Nationality: ???????

Cost: youth product

Potential: ⭐⭐⭐

Another product of the Stirling youth system, but one who has a little bit more work to do to make the step up to the first team. I always seem much more reluctant to throw a young central defender into the starting line up than I would do any other position on the pitch. However, where Balatsos was small for a CB, Orr is a monster at 6’6″. I’m really hopeful he can continue to develop, learning from the likes of Jaap Stam on the backroom staff and become a mainstay in the side for years to come.

Summary

There’s still a steady stream of foreign talent coming into the club, it’d be a poor choice from me not to look abroad to continue to improve the clubs fortunes, but it’s vital that Scottish and Stirling talent keeps making their way into the first team too. Fans love foreign players that come to the club and play well, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a homegrown player do well in the first team.

Part of the strategy is success, and that carries down from the first team to the Futures. Scott Robertson has done a remarkable job so far over the last couple of seasons on the pitch winning trophies and off it developing the Futures. I’m looking for Dean Smith, our HoYD who joined in 2026, to continue to bring promising homegrown talent to the club. Elite coaching and best in class facilities are also aspects of the strategy, and there’s still work to do there to give the Futures the best possible chance of making as footballers, at our club and beyond.

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