I’ve had this growing feeling of frustration as the seasons passed by in this challenge. “Nothing is happening” was a thought that kept popping up. I enjoyed playing and I still do. I also enjoyed blogging about the save, but whenever I put together a season review the feeling was that I was writing the same episode over and over again. I mainly attributed this to the fact that I couldn’t get any players to Europe. However, in the 2024 season I finally did! And not only once but twice, as Renyer left for Real Madrid and Talles Magno for Lazio. But the feeling remained. The feeling of frustration and unfulfilled goals. The aim of the save felt almost unattainable so I had to find a bit of new energy and a bit of comfort. A reassurance that I was going in the right direction with the save perhaps.
I felt lost.
I know that many of you have been in my place when it comes to FM (and of course in real life as well) whether it’s a blog save or offline. Things are going too easy or they prove too hard. The save becomes monotonous or you fall out of love with it for other reasons. I’m going out on a limb here and guess that this feeling more often than not has led you to abandon your save, either for an FM break completely or a brand new save. Well, I’m not about to go in that direction. Instead I’ve gone for a bit of soul searching.
Scuba diving in a puddle of mud
Since I lack imagination and have the attention span of a gold fish I simply googled “lost sight of goal” and clicked the first link that came up. Luckily for me it was an article by the lovely Diane Gottsman (I actually have no idea about this, she could be a monster but looks nice!?) titled “How To Get Back On Track After Losing Sight Of A Goal” from huffpost.com.
Ok, this could be what I’m looking for, I quietly thought to myself. A feeling that grew stronger as I started reading.
“Whether it’s achieving a certain level of professional success or maintaining healthy eating habits, we set goals with the best intentions and start by pursuing them with enthusiasm. But it’s easy for those big ideas to fall by the wayside when our schedules get disrupted or we have an emotional setback.
Under stress, it’s often difficult to sustain the energy we had at the beginning. Whatever the reason for getting off track, it can be even harder to resume our efforts than it was to start them in the first place. Even those with the most steely resolve lose steam once in a while.”
Wow, it’s as if Diane Gottsman gazed straight into the depths of my soul, which actually isn’t that hard since my soul is as deep as a puddle of mud. At least I felt a warmth inside of me and an urge to keep on reading.
Straight after putting my most inner feelings into words, Diane, who now proves to be quite pragmatic, lists five ways for me to get back on track! A guide to get my save back on track and the love back!
First point on the list then.
1. Redefine success.
Maybe your plan was to go to the gym every single day, and you actually managed to do this for awhile before missing a few days and then giving up altogether. In a situation like this, it’s best to re-evaluate your objective and set more realistic goals.
So, what you’re saying Diane, is that I’ve set my goals to high? Should I aim for a lower Ginga Rating, fewer goals scored or scrap the goal of getting my players to Europe? No, I don’t think so. The whole point of this challenge is to set the bar high! Lowering it would be the same as giving up. Next tip, please!
2. Schedule it.
You put meetings, project deadlines, medical appointments and social engagements on your calendar; make a point to add the time to work toward your goal(s) there as well.
Hmmm, well, this isn’t really a problem. When it comes to actually playing the game, I don’t have to find any more time for it (you can ask my wife) and I’ve at least managed to keep myself on a fairly regular blogging schedule. An episode on Tuesday or on Friday, depending on how much time I’ve had for playing and writing. Sometimes both Tuesday and Friday if I’m lucky. I’m losing faith in you, Diane!
3. Consider your timing.
Set yourself up for success by working with your natural inclinations. For example, if you are taking on extra education outside of work that requires you to study, identify an opening in your routine for schoolwork that suits your personality and preferences.
Isn’t this basically the same tip as number 2!?
4. Set the stage.
Often we fail because we make grand declarations of our intent, and then do absolutely nothing to prepare for our new commitment. Pave the way for yourself by taking care of the details: if you want to be a better networker, write down the steps you need to take, whether it’s joining a professional association, participating in more events outside of work, or reaching out to strengthen ties with existing contacts.
Setting the stage, you say? Well, that’s not too dumb, is it? For me it’s very much about context when I play and blog. And about details. And about setting the stage and painting a picture. When someone asks me what sort of FM player I am (that happens a lot) I proudly answer that I’m the nerdy roleplaying type of player. I absolutely love the newgen faces by Laura/ChilledMoose, they make my playing experience so much richer. While playing my Santástico save (and blogging about it) I listen to the latest Brazilian hits to get into the mood, make sure you check out “Bebi minha bicicleta” by Ze Néto and Cristiano if you haven’t already! I recently ordered a Santos FC jersey from Brazil (and had to pay a customs tariff of £30, just to get the jersey delivered in the mail) to wear when I play. And I like to play pretend. And therefore a bit of context is important. As in the Neymar/Pélé narrative of this challenge.
You’ve got my interest back, Diane! Now, deliver your final blow!
5. Consider why your goal is important.
If you are having trouble sticking with a goal, stop and think about why it’s important. We make time for things we care about.
Ok. This felt a bit obvious when I read it the first time. Even trivial. But when I read it again, it hit home. Like a child’s wellie in a puddle of mud it hit the bottom of my soul. Of course, this is what it’s all about!
It’s about what’s important to me! And the most important thing when I play FM is to have fun. And I have the most fun when I immerse myself into a save that turns into a story, or even a little world of its own! I’ve temporarily lost this and treated the series like an endless line of lists of player development stats. Let’s rekindle the love for this save. Let’s take one step back and look at the whole picture, before we dive back in, head first!
The comfort of perspective
So, let’s take that step back and let’s make it a big one. What’s the big picture here? What am I actually trying to achieve? I’m trying to create the legend of the next great Brazilian football player, someone to walk in the foot steps of Neymar, maybe one day even surpass him and get within touching distance of the one true great. Pélé.
In the opening post of this series I lumped together Pélé and Neymar, an act I’ve received plenty of criticism for since then. I wrote:
“The original footballer personifying Ginga and o jogo bonito Pélé and the modern player closest in comparison, Neymar, have two things in common (except for the Ginga):
1. They are considered two of the best Brazilian footballers of all times
2. They both came from the Santos Youth Academy
My new series is based around these two common denominators, in an attempt to make this duo into a trio. This series is a bit different compared to what both I and other creators usually do. It’s not primarily about silverware or squad building or necessarily creating a great team. The main aim of this series is to develop a player fantastic enough to be compared to the two Brazilian legends above, a new Pélé or Neymar“
I can understand why some of my readers have been provoked by me calling Neymar and Pélé legends in the same sentence, but my primary reason for this was that it suited the narrative. It’s obvious that the man who was both voted the best player ever and the athlete of the 20th century is on a level of his own, but I wanted a modern counterpart that’s actually in the game, and I decided to go with Neymar. I’m not ready to go as far as calling Neymar “bang average” as some of you have, but let’s compare the two to see how big the difference actually is.
We’ll compare the two in several categories and throw our best player so far into the mix to get a bit of perspective.
Round 1 – Ginga
In the first episode of this series I explained the concept of Ginga and introduced the Ginga Rating as a way to measure how much Ginga a certain player has on FM20.
In 2019 when the series started, Neymar had a Ginga Rating of 95 at age 26, which has now deteriorated to 85 six years later. In his prime, Neymar absolutely oozes Ginga!
Using the Return of Legends database I found a 22-year-old Pélé playing for Santos.
In this database he has a Ginga Rating 89, just below my aim of 90. At age 22 one could hope for a slight increase before he reaches his peak, but I don’t think he’ll ever reach a Ginga Rating of 95. Therefore:
Our own contribution in this category is of course our Ginga Rating leader in early 2025, 20-year-old Gilberto.
With a Ginga Rating of 85 he is not too far off the aim of 90, but his biggest problem is his fairly low Flair.
Round 2 – impact for Santos FC
How do you manage impact for a club? Well, I’ll do it by looking at actual contribution in the form of goals, but also by comparing how successful the club was in the era when the players played for the club.
Neymar played five seasons for Santos FC in 2009-2013 before moving to Barcelona. In those five seasons he managed 136 goals in 223 games for the club. His version of Santos won the State Championship three times, the Brazilian Cup once and the Copa Libertadores on one occasion. That must be considered a really good period for a club that had only won the Copa Libertadores on two occasions before this. However, it’s nothing when we compare it to Pélé and his Santos team.
Pélé scored 643 goals in his 656 games for Santos, which is of course a club record. During his 19 seasons with the club the club experienced their most successful era ever, with 6 league titles, 10 State Championship titles and 2 Copa Libertadores trophies. This group of players got the nick name Os Santásticos, “The Santastics”, which was my inspiration when coming up with a name for this series.
If our contribution in the previous category had a bit left to reach the heights of Neymar and Pélé, it gets a little different in this category.
Since I took over the Santos FC managerial job in 2019, the results have been excellent. Four Série A titles and three Copa Libertadores titles in six seasons has given this team the nick name “Os novos Santásticos” or “The New Santastics”. The most prolific player in this team has been Kaio Jorge.
With 172 goals in 320 games he has been pivotal for us, but sadly he hasn’t developed like I had hoped. No-one can take away from him that his contribution in winning these titles were huge, but I don’t think he’s a man for the future.
Round 3 – impact for Brazil
Since 1916 a total of 60 Santos players had represented the Brazilian national team, of course including both Neymar and Pélé. When this series started Pélé was the record goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games, but Neymar was not too far behind with 60 goals in 97 games. Since then Neymar has passed Pélé to become the all time best goalscorer for Brazil with 96 goals in 157 games. But Neymar hasn’t won a World Cup and Pélé won three, I hear you crying! That’s true, at least at the start of the series. In 2022 Brazil defeated Colombia in the final of the World Cup to win their first World Cup for 20 years. One is still less than three, so:
Our contribution in this category is very modest. With 7 games for Brazil, Renyer is our most capped player. He is yet to score a goal though, which makes the road to the aim of 50 seem almost endless.
With a new national team manager though (me) I have the feeling that many Santos players will get the chance to play (and score!) for the national teams in coming years!
Pélé wins this little competition with the score of 2-1 over Neymar. This result was expected, but Neymar has had one hell of a career on my save. We are not really close to reaching the heights of this duo in any of the categories, not even when I use my best player in each category. For one single of my players to reach their level in all categories is far away right now, but when we consider that Pélé and Neymar are 50 or so years apart, things are put into perspective.
And I find comfort in this perspective. There is no need for me to rush this or even look at it as a challenge. I’ll just put on my new Santos FC shirt, let the beautiful sounds of “Bebi Minha Bicicleta” flow out of my speakers, close my eyes and pretend that I’m in Brazil. And play FM20 and just enjoy myself.
If you’ve read the entire post until now I say thank you. Thank you for following along on this crazy ride! My love for the series is back and maybe you feel the urge to rekindle an old love too!? Just remember to do what makes you happy!
That’s it for now. In the next post I’m back with less rambling and more regular content. See you soon for the 2025 season!