Welcome to another part of this excellent series by Mikaelinho. This save has an interesting aim of winning the Champions League with a team made entirely of under 21’s. We’ve seen how Benfica performed in season one, now let’s take a look at their preparation for the future!
Time to plan ahead
After surviving the first season it became time for Ronaldo to start planning ahead. The four players born in 1997 turned 22 and therefore fell off the end of the conveyor belt. They were all offered out and sold, with Ruben Dias €59M move to Man City obviously being the biggest one. With only a couple of players born in 1998 in the squad this was going to be another season of rebuilding.
Ronaldo felt both excited and frustrated. Excited about the fact that he had been given the confidence to keep guiding this team towards the ultimate goal of European domination. Frustrated by the total focus on the past season and how to keep his job. By only focusing on the current season he felt that the club might miss the long term goal altogether, so he decided to lift his gaze towards the horizon and start planning for the long run. If this meant that the results suffered a bit short term and he lost his job so be it. Then he would have at least laid out the groundwork for the next manager.
Instead of focusing on winning now he had to look ahead. Perhaps two years, maybe five. Perhaps even longer. He needed to focus on the 16- and 17-year-olds that could help him win the Champions League in the future.
Unrest among the fans
Many fans had been sceptical about last season’s change of strategy where a lot of loved members of both squad and staff had to leave. Players were forced to leave because they were too old and staff members simply because they weren’t good enough to develop the young players into future superstars. Many of the remaining players in the squad were completely new to the fans in contrast to previous years when the squad had been filled with household names. The fans had trouble relating to the new players and reacted with frustration at the inconsistency of their performances.
Another group of fans stayed supportive of the new plan throughout the season, hoping and believing that this new approach could eventually propel the club into heights they hadn’t been close to for several years. The unexpected league win made life a bit easier for manager Ronaldo, but both in the stadium and on fan forums discussions had turned into fights between the different groups and the fans were divided. Ronaldo felt that the fans needed something to unify them once again, but he didn’t know what. Then his eyes suddenly fell on the club emblem and he got an idea.
The Rise of the
“The mythical bird, the Phoenix, is modelled on the Eagle,
and through this the Eagle is given the attributes of
rebirth and baptism”
Ronaldo thought that this perfectly summed up what they were after. The golden eagle on top of the club crest could very well be the symbol he was looking for. Rebirth and baptism, what could be a more fitting description of the transition the club was going through!? Ronaldo was going to unite the fans around the eagle and he was going to do it by turning his young players into young eagles! So, what really characterises an eagle (or águia in Portuguese), he thought to himself as he opened up Google.
The creation of a new identity
“Eagles are large, powerfully built birds of prey”
He read and frowned a bit to himself. Yes! Of course they are. That’s an obvious one. But I cannot tell the squad and staff that we’re simply going to produce the largest players out there, Ronaldo thought. That won’t win us any Champions League titles. But we can work harder than anyone else. We must develop players with the best Work rate and Team work out there! He read on.
“Eagles’ eyes are extremely powerful”
Hmm, this is more like it. This can certainly be translated onto the pitch. Our players will need great Vision and Anticipation in order to become eagles! But working hard and spotting opportunities or prey isn’t enough, neither for an eagle nor a football player. They must be able to know how to strike and when to do it as well!
“It has been observed that most birds of prey look back over their shoulders before striking prey. All hawks seem to have this habit, from the smallest kestrel to the largest Ferruginous – but not the Eagles”
Ronaldo smiled. This was the final piece of the puzzle. He wanted his players to always look forward from now and never look back. Games were won by scoring goals and by going forward, but at the right time. And to be able to know when to go forward and when to be patient his players needed both excellent Determination and Decision-making skills.
If we could scout for young players with these attributes and refine them into true Águia’s they would certainly become loved by fans all through Portugal, he thought to himself. And if they managed to win titles together they could take off and fly all over the world!
Ronaldo wiped a tear from his eye. He was such a poet and he didn’t know it! Now he needed to inform the staff.
The Eagle Rating – Classificaçao da Águia
All this boils down to a few changes. The introduction of the Eagle Rating or Classificaçao da Águia (CdÁ) is the biggest. Players will be assessed based on the following six attributes:
- Work rate
When these six attributes are combined you get a rating between 6-120, the Classificaçao da Águia or CdÁ for short, which will act as a measure of how much of an eagle a player actually is, the higher the better of course. This rating will be used both for the current players in the squad but will also be used as a guiding light when scouting for what young players to bring in to the club. A mediocre player with a high CdÁ won’t be brought in to the club, since there won’t be any need for young eagles that can’t kick the ball. However, excellent players with a low CdÁ won’t be signed either unless the player is very young and therefore has a good chance of improving the important attributes. Ideally the players who are brought into the club in the future will have:
- A potential of 4.5-5 stars
- A CdÁ of 60 or higher
- A Determination of at least 10
This scouting strategy will hopefully provide the club with Academy players with enough potential to become world class players and the mental abilities to realise this massive potential! In the next episode we’ll take a look at the player development plan that will help these players develop from wonderkids into world beaters!
Thanks for reading another excellent post by Mikaelinho. You can follow him on Twitter here:
- Twitter: @mikaelinhofm