Part of Great Sides of Football Manager Series
Last year I did a club highlight article on why AS Roma was a fun club to play in FM19. It is still the case in this year’s version. If you want to manage in Italy, Roma is never a bad choice. With FM20 release looming around the corner, I decided to highlight another club. It is a team that probably does not need an introduction but definitely deserves one. The club is Valencia and I would like to bring it to the attention of fellow FM players and football fans alike. Are you simply looking for a club with rich history and immense potential for greatness? Then look no further, go play with Valencia. If you love a story of a fallen giant, ready to rise again and challenge the world, then keep reading. Valencia is my choice for the most fun club to play in FM20.
When looking for good clubs to manage in FM20, often you don’t want one with world-wide reputation. Some people believe there is no challenge in starting out as Real Madrid or Liverpool. And probably rightfully so. Winning trophies is just not as satisfying when your club is world-renown and overflowing with cash and elite players. Which is why it is surprising to find Valencia in this exclusive group of clubs with world-wide reputation.
One of the less than twenty in the game with hundreds of million in value and squads filled with superstar players like Ronaldo and Lewandowski. So how does Valencia fit in among them? It definitely is not a billion-dollar club or one stocked full of superstars. The closest thing to a world-renown star that the club possesses is probably Jose Gaya.
One of the best wingbacks in the game right now, is truly the shinning jewel in Valencia’s crown. As you can see below, although Jose could excel in any role across the left flank, he would be especially deadly as an inverted wingback. He has all the necessary attributes needed to dominate the midfield as he moves in from the wide position. He can do everything that a good midfielder can do, especially tackle, pass and dribble at pace. And that is what makes him so valuable to any system using inverted wingbacks. As we see in the game and in real life, some of the best inverted wingbacks were retrained midfielders like Arturo Vidal.
Besides Gaya, Valencia’s most valued star (at 40 million pounds) is 30 year old captain Dani Parejo. Not exactly a household name, even in his native Spain. Neither is he a hotshot wonderkid for whose signature top clubs are breaking down the door.
Parejo is a great playmaker, despite his lack of mobility. I am actually excited by his attributes as he seems like a perfect enganche. It is a role that I always wanted to try in Football Manager. Parejo looks like he could really make it work. So if you are intrigued at all by this role and developing a unique system around it, then Valencia is definitely a side for you.
It goes even deeper than that. This club has a long tradition of fielding elite number 10 playmakers. In the last decade Valencia even boasted one of the best examples of a typical Argentinean enganche, Pablo Aimar. If you do not know who Pablo Aimar is, then check out the goal in the clip below. The context is important as this was Champions League match against Liverpool which Valencia ended up winning 2-0 thanks to this man. What a goal!
Like the turbulent history of the region, Valencia went through period of rise and eventual decline. Incidentally now it is poised to rise again. It has never been a better time to manage this fallen giant.
Valencia lies at the heart of Spain’s fourth largest autonomous community, after Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid. As such is has the third biggest following in the country. The region had a long history of conquest, invasions and nationalism. It is no wonder that like Catalonia’s world-famous club, the region of Valencia has bred staunch supporters who look at the two local clubs Valencia and Levante, competing at the highest level, as the focus of Valencian national pride. Valencia may be part of Spain but when it competes in LaLiga it represents all of Valenian autonomous region’s fervent drive for self-actualization.
Valencia CF was founded in 1919. They played their home games at the 49,500-seater Mestalla since 1923. In its 100 years of existence (in FM20 you would be celebrating its centennial!) they have become the 3rd most successful Spanish club behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia’s trophy cabinet is quite impressive with 6 LaLiga Titles and 8 Copa del Rey cups (most recent coming in 2018-19 season). The illustrious cabinet also includes 5 Continental trophies (although the coveted Champions Cup still eludes them).
Legacy of Youth Development
We tend to associate the word “Cantera” (quarry in Spanish) with the great youth academies of Barcelona, Athletico Bibao or even Real Madrid. It is true, those academies have unearthed some great players over the year, living up to the idea that all great world-class clubs need to be self-sufficient in producing their own talent. If world-class status is to be judged by this criteria then Valencia has more than delivered on all accounts. Over the years, Valencia has achieved global fame for their prolific youth academy, well known in Spain by its nickname Acàdemia.
Some of the best Spanish footballers of the last decade have started their footballing education in Valencia’s talent “quarry”. Players such as Raúl Albiol, David Silva, Isco, Jordi Alba, Juan Bernat, and Paco Alcácer have all started at Valencia’s cantera. Already when you start a new save with the club, there are some great young players in the u19 squad. For example, Jordi Escobar, while not quite ready for prime time, could develop for a nifty little poacher for you.
When it comes to youth development, you cannot underestimate the influence of your club’s reputation. It is no simple chance that clubs like Barcelona, Man Utd, or Bayern get the best regens in the game. The rule is that the higher the club’s reputation the better regens your club can attract. Of course the quality of your regen will still be affected by your facilities and the personality of your Head of Youth Development. Still one cannot underestimate how much impact club reputation and its status in the footballing world has on attracting the best young talent to its academy.
Challenge: Win Champions League and Spain
In the early 2000s Valencia was the best club in Spain and for a good reason, having won 2002 and 2004 LaLiga titles. During this same period they reached Champions League Final two years in a row, but lost to rival Real Madrid in 2000 and Bayern Munich in 2001. A period of stagnation followed for most of the last two decades. Unfortunately they have fallen behind the trifecta of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid in terms of trophies and player acquisitions.
So in FM20, the challenge remains for any manager to lead this former Spanish giant back into the limelight. Can you help Valencia to its former glory by reconquering Spain from Barcelona and Real Madrid or winning the League of Champions. Or maybe both?