Having been a long time fan of the ever not so popular international management on Football Manager and recently having read an amazing article on national team managing, seen here, my fire was reignited once again. FM12 saw me bring Canada to three straight World Cups, reaching the quarterfinals in 2018. FM14 I went to East Asia with Laos and spent 16 years with them learning all the tricks and strategies to small nation national team managing. Last year I took control of Austria for their 2016 European Championship campaign, taking them to the semi-finals to lose on penalties to Spain. This year I was a bit reserved and not so eager to start a national team save but I am ready to finally undertake one. I wanted to take a country that had a fair amount of clubs with decent facilities, if I wanted to do a smaller nation without the domestic facilities I would have to also manage a club to buy those players to develop them and give them a club. Since I want to move quickly and only manage the nation I wanted a higher profile nation. My first thoughts were turning around Greece’s fortunes but stirred clear of Europe to avoid managing mid-Euros campaign. South America posed a great opportunity for me, the game started at the beginning of World Cup qualifying and the 2016 Copa America hosted by my home nation was a great early tournament to turn some heads. South America gave me three options in my eyes, Argentina and try to get Messi a World Cup, or Peru or Bolivia, two of the smaller sides of South America. I ended up traveling to Bolivia to take held of their national team.
Bolivia have had three appearances at the World Cup, 1930, 1950, and 1994, having never made it out of the group stage. They won the Copa America in 1963, and were runner-ups in 1997. In most recent years it is safe to say they’ve become the under belly of South America.
The article I linked above lays out three useful approaches, keeping tactical styles and familiarity, always having a list of 15-20 core players that will be in the squad, and finally thinking long term with a 5 year plan.
My main tactical approach will be a version of total football, the common 4-3-3 which can be switched into 3-5-2. Our Plan B will be a simple compact 4-4-2 that is similar to Simeone’s Atletico play. I will always keep these 3 tactics so tactical familiarity on them will always be worked on. My next post I will explain these 3 tactics further and maybe in game examples.
The core player list is simple, a list of players that are the best Bolivia has available and unless there are fitness concerns these players will always be in the senior team. The list must be around 15 names to allow room for players who have proved themselves. This list will be updated after every major tournament.
The last approach and the most important is the 5 year plan, which fits into the larger picture of long term planning for Bolivia. In Bolivia’s 5 year plan it will end in about 2020. So where do I see Bolivia then? Summer of 2020 would be the year after the 2019 Copa America in which I hope Bolivia could make it out of the group stage and into the semi-finals. Within the 5 year plan is also the 2018 World Cup. My goals for that is to pushed for the 5th place playoff spot.
I am looking forward to the challenge, especially this will be the first time I have ever coached in South America, club or country. I will be putting out updates after each year.