FM21 is here and I’m heading to Norway.
I’ll be managing both Vålerenga and the Norwegian national team in a Club and Country save.
The Golden Generation
There’s been a lot of negativity surrounding international management on Football Manager. I’m going to completely overlook all of it. I decided months ago that I wanted to manage Norway on FM21. Looking through their squad, how could you not want to manage them? You’ve got Erling Braut Håland, Martin Ødegaard and Sander Berge as the three young standouts. Those three players are enough on their own. But then you have a supporting act of Alexander Sørloth and Kristoffer Ajer with new Milan signing, Jens Petter Hauge and his former teammate at Bodø/Glimt, Patrick Berg, both highly regarded too. There’s a raft of other promising young players that have the potential to be next on the conveyor belt of talent.
Numerous national sides across the years have had “Golden Generations”, groups of players who should achieve something together. This talented crop of Norwegian players should be firing the country to their first tournament since Euro 2000. For whatever reason, it hasn’t happened yet.
Lars Lagerbäck, thanks for stabilizing the national team & setting them on the right course for success, but it’s time to move on.— Ben Wells (@FRfotballBen) October 8, 2020
This team needs an ambitious, tactically fluent manager to lead them forward. Norway can’t allow this generation of players to go to waste.
Ben is spot on, this talented group of players can’t go to waste. That’s where I come in.
They’ll be plenty more aims and objectives to come with the national side but the early remit is simple, I’ve said it already. This country must break their hoodoo and qualify for an international tournament. I had a choice to make.
In the non-FM world, Serbia defeated Norway in the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final. FM21 gives me the option of playing through the condensed 2020 Eliteserien season or starting in 2021. There’s no guarantees that Norway would still lose to Serbia in that playoff in the background if I did choose to start in 2021, so I’ll be playing the 2020 season with Vålerenga which will give me the chance to rewrite some history to lead Norway to Euro 2020 (in 2021).
Developing the Next Golden Generation
Håland’s best domestic form came at Molde, Ødegaard didn’t last long in Strømsgodset’s first team before he was snapped up by Real Madrid but my choice of club is Sander Berge’s first Norwegian top flight club, Vålerenga.
At Vålerenga, I’ll be aiming to bring through future generations of talent. This means that I’ll be putting a huge focus behind youth development on FM21.
It’s a side of the game that I’ve neglected in recent versions. I don’t think I had one homegrown player come through at Eibar at all. I had a couple at Vitória but again, that was more about bringing them in from elsewhere rather than developing my own. I’m really looking forward to digging into this area of the game in much more detail on this version.
Bodø/Glimt are the fashionable side in the country. Molde and Rosenborg have dominated Eliteserien title wins in recent years. I wanted to pick a side that weren’t quite at risk of relegation but weren’t quite up at the top of the table challenging. Vålerenga finished 10th out of 16 teams in the 2019 Eliteserien, 6th in 2018 and 8th in 2017. Perfect.
The populations of Trondheim, Molde and Bodø, you can even throw Norway’s second biggest city, Bergen, into the mix too, collectively don’t match the latest population figures for the city of Oslo. Why isn’t this club, who are often nicknamed “The Pride of Oslo”, one of the biggest in the country and consistently competing for the league title? Why aren’t they consistently bringing through generation after generation of Oslo youngsters who’ll be next in line to export to further their careers abroad and ultimately play for the national team?
Maybe the club, and football in general, has struggled in the city due to it being one of the most expensive in the world. The cost of living is high, potentially pricing people out of living there. Despite this, my big aim is to bring in a culture of producing and developing elite young talent. Talent that can go on to play for the first team and be sold on to continue funding the cycle. Because of that, club facilities were a big factor in my decision to pick Vålerenga. I’ll hopefully be hoovering up Oslo’s, and then subsequently Norway’s, most promising prospects to come through our youth system, in turn making it one of the best in the country, and challenging Europe’s elite youth development clubs.
The Starting Point
There’s a couple of young players already on Vålerenga’s books that look like they could be very good players for me. I’ll tell you a bit about them below but we’ll take a much more in-depth look at the squad in the coming weeks. I’ve also mentioned that club facilities were a big part of my decision, so I’ll take a little closer look at those too.
Odin Thiago Holm
The 17-year-old attacking midfielder is the most promising young player at the club, and one of the most promising in Norway. I’m aiming to play him as our playmaker. He’s got areas to improve his overall game, but he’s already at a very good Eliteserien level for a lot of his key playmaking attributes; Flair, Passing, Technique, First Touch and Vision. I’m excited, you should be too.
It feels fun to have a future Norwegian number one at the club already. I mean, obviously I’ll have control over that, but he is currently the best young option between the posts.
Similarly to Holm, he’s got some improving to do yet, but at just 19, he’s got plenty of time before he hits his peak as a goalkeeper. Great Reflexes, Aerial Reach and Agility are offset by a few of his mental attributes being on the low side, including Anticipation and Decisions. Will he be my number one for the entirety of my time at the club, or will he get snapped up by another European club?
I needed a club that was set up for success already behind the scenes. Vålerenga is certainly that club.
There’s still a little bit of improving to do which I’ll look to do when we’re able to do it sustainably. The club’s 16.5k capacity Intility Arena only opened in 2017 and provides another foundation for success.
(All player and club details were taken from FM20, hopefully they’re even better on FM21)
What You Can Expect
As I’ve said already, my aim for FM21 is to dive deeper than I have done before on developing players. I’m putting the focus of my attentions on my players for club and country. I’ll be following the players eligible to play for the Norwegian national team alongside taking you through the in-depth development plans I’m looking to develop at Vålerenga.
I’m not one for sticking to a schedule or forcing myself to get pieces out so you’ll see me when you see me. I hope you enjoy following along as much as I’m looking forward to diving in.
United to Prevent Suicide
Across FM21 I’ll be shining a light on United to Prevent Suicide. It’s a new campaign aimed at breaking down the perceived barriers of talking about suicide, as a means of preventing it. Talking saves lives, and we should be comfortable talking about suicide to ensure we can do our upmost to prevent it. You can find out more information on the below website.
Want to Win FM21?
Course you do if you haven’t decided to buy the game yet. Click the link below and make sure you Tweet it out for a chance to win! You don’t have long to enter, I’ll be drawing the winner on Wednesday (11th November) at 5pm.