Tartan Tigers - Turning Hull City Scottish on FM17
I have started a save where I want to try and build an all-Scottish side in the English Premier League. I hope to use the riches of the Premier League to help build great facilities and sign a number of young Scottish players to try and improve the standard of the Scottish national team whilst remaining in the Premier League. I have set myself the goal to have an all-Scottish side (or at least the first team) for the start of the third season.
Well, I do like the the name Tartan Tigers and I was tempted to do the 'Create-a-club' option and actually rename Hull but I felt that was a bit like cheating because I could simply move a team of Scottish players over rather than try to sign them in-game. Despite the poor quality of their staff and the on-field injury problems I thought Hull were the best team to play as. They are already a Premier League side and have 5 first team players from Scotland so I start with a good base of players to build on. Hull start with a low transfer budget but that isn't a big problem as I will be able to raise funds by selling players while I build the Scottish side over the next few seasons.Due to their club stature the board expectations would probably just be to stay in the division and I’m sure I can do that. The problem would be if they demanded European football because that would be too difficult while I’m trying to build an all-Scottish side.
Improving The Staff
Hull City start off with the worst coaching staff in the Premier League according to the comparisons on the Staff Overview page so I had to quickly add to the skeleton coaching staff which the club started with. I hired Steve Clarke to replace Neil McDonald as my Assistant Manager which improved the defensive training at the club. Jamie Ramsden was signed as a second Fitness Coach and Jim Stewart joined as a second GK coach while I also brought in Arthur Albison and Allan Russell to strengthen my coaching staff. As for the other outgoing staff, Leicester signed my under 18’s coach Richard O’Donnell and I terminated a couple of youth coaches who I deemed not good enough. Overall the coaching quality is much higher now and by bringing in 6 good Scottish staff members the off-field team is looking strong.
Transfers - Ins
With the all-Scottish side being a 2-3 year plan I looked at buying lots of young Scottish players to develop and hopefully feed into my first team as they become good enough. I basically bought an entire reserve team with Robby McCrorie, Zak Rudden, Liam Burt and Jack Thomson from Rangers, Jason Cummings and John McGinn from Hibs, Jack Aitchison and Stuart Armstrong from Celtic, Jai Quitongo and Scott Tiffoney from Morton, Jack Paterson and Adam Frizzell from Kilmarnock, Tony Gallacher from Falkirk, Matthew Knox from Livingston. I am managing my under 23 side so I can make sure they all play regularly in the same or a similar role they would be used in for the first team as good preparation for when/if they eventually get promoted to the first team. Stuart Armstrong, John McGinn and Jason Cummings will also be used as backup first team players but aren’t quite ready yet to be regulars yet. I have also decided to sign a few young English players who I can develop and bring into the first team as a stop-gap who will then make way for Scottish players a season or 2 down the line. I managed to get Jack Stephens from Southampton for £950,000 who will be a rotational centre back and can provide cover for right back and as a defensive midfielder if need. Ryan Nyambe from Blackburn was also signed for £600,000. He will provide extra cover while Odubajo is out injured but will mostly be playing for my under 23 side. The very first signing I made was Diego Poyet on a free transfer but I immediately loaned him out because the plan is to maybe fit him into my first team next season because I have strong depth for centre midfield this season. My final signings were in the last week before the August transfer window closed. I managed to get Ryan Fraser from Bournemouth for only £8,250,000. Currently on the fringes of the national team but I hope he can progress well with me and establish himself with Scotland. I will be playing a counter attacking game away from home and his pace could be crucial.
Transfers - Outs
I couldn’t sell as many players as I wanted to because of the current injuries at the club, but I was able to sell Adam Curry to Rangers on a free transfer and I let Eldin Jakupovic join Cardiff for £325,000 because I didn’t feel a third choice GK was necessary. The only other player I was able to sell was Michael Dawson to Fiorentina for £650,000. He was still recovering from injury at the time so I didn’t expect any bids but when I offered him to clubs I got a few offers. Due to his age and with 12 months left on his contract I chose to sell him. Fourth choice GK Dusan Kuciak along with 9 other reserve/youth players who had 1 year remaining on professional their contracts also had their contract mutually terminated because I had no intention of renewing their contract and no clubs were interested in loaning or buying them. Adama Diomande was loaned to Celtic, David Meyler to Aston Villa, Jarrod Bowen to Doncaster and Greg Olley to Northampton. 10 youngsters were also sent out to North Ferriby on loan who are an affiliated club in the Vanarama National League. This was partially to help them out to see if they can get promoted but also because the players I’m sending don’t have a future with me.
I have 2 versions of this tactic. If I use this at home I will have a controlling mentality with my players instructed to play with a high tempo, get stuck in and vary their passing while most are to stick to their position. This hopefully means I can win the possession battle while actively trying to create chances. Away from home I am more likely to play on the counter attack. Most instructions are the same but I’ll also be trying to exploit the flanks to get the best out of Ryan Fraser’s pace out wide along with Hernandez who may also create chances if we can hit teams on the counter.
This is my more attacking tactic which I'll use in cup matches and sometimes in the league when I believe I can match up with the opposition and control the game. Almost every player is fully trained in the position and role they play in so they will be comfortable with the tactic. Team instructions are to control the game, play with a high tempo, close down often, use short passes and be expressive. I won't be rotating much from the main 11 but as cover the main players are Sam Clucas, Jack Stephens, Ryan Nyambe, Tom Huddlestone, Ryan Mason, Stuart Armstrong, Shaun Maloney and Will Keane. Once Allan McGregor and Moses Odubajo recover from their injuries they will also be involved so a 21-man squad is more than enough.
The Under 23's
I’m controlling my own u23 side because most of the team are Scottish players I have signed and hope to bring a few into the first team in the next year or 2. John McGinn is the stand-out player and only isn’t with my first team because as my 4th choice CM he will benefit more by playing regularly with the u23 side. The likes of James Weir, Jason Cummings, Josh Tymon, Adam Frizzell and Jai Quitongo also help make up what looks like a very talented group of players so I expect to be very competitive in the u23 league this season. My u23 players are also available for my u18 team so I won’t always be able to field my best team but as a result the players will all play plenty of matches.
The Season So Far...
The competitive season is only a few games old at this point so it's too early to judge but I feel I am in a good position good forward. Results during pre-season were a bit mixed with a good win against Bilbao and a draw against Torino but I also drew with Birmingham and Wolves. I arranged lots of friendlies and as a result most players were 100% match fit in time for the season to start. I hadn't realized David Marshall was suspended for the opening 3 Premier League matches so I had to play Robby McCrorie in goal which probably explains why I conceded 6 goals in the opening 3 games. I used backup players for the cup game against Rochdale which I won, although it went to extra time. Harry Maguire and Jake Livermore missed most of pre-season due to injury so are a little behind on match fitness but I will be arranging friendlies during the September international break to help them get fit quicker as well as keeping the non-internationals in good shape. Abel Hernandez has scored in the first 3 Premier League games of the season so I hope his form continues.
Fixtures and Results so far
End of Part 1
I have laid out the challenge I am attempting along with what club I am going, the tactics I plan to use, the staff changes I have done so far and the massive volume of transfers/loans I have done so I think I'll stop part 1 of the blog here and post part 2 at the end of the first season which will focus more on how the team performed and how players have developed. I will also have an update on transfers during the January window because I already have a few ideas on who I want to sign and there are a few players I'm looking to offload. If I am to have an all-Scottish team in place for the third season I will need to keep busy in the transfer market because that only gives me 4 transfer windows to have the team in place.