Interviewee - Dave Griffiths (Pathetic Athletic)
Interviewer - Johan (IFK)
Forum Post Date - 27th November 2009
Original Thread - Click here
Long time since the last one but here it is, PA from the Prem one of the oldest clubs in the English league.
1. Who’s Dave Griffiths?
A 32-year old Sociologists from the Wirral, who has lived in Stirling for the last year and is loving it in Scotland.
2. When you started out in TM did you have any early plans and did they go like you wanted?
From day one I wanted to build up a side through youth development which could go on to win the title. That meant I had a few lean years early on where I was developing players rather than selling them to bring in better ones but I think it turned out well for me. I’ve ended up with more strength in depth than any other English side, which has earned me a title and many Champions Cup campaigns.
3. Any advice for a new manager starting the game today?
Find your enjoyment in the game. For me this game is all about generating youths and seeing them in your first team. For others, it’s about making as much money as possible. For others, it’s about wheeling and dealing in the transfer market. Before all else this is a game, so find what you enjoy the most and stick with that – the beauty of TM is all those approaches can get you to the top.
4. Happy with your YD so far and the results from it?
Yes and no. Keeping all my early pre-season 6 youths has been brilliant for me. We got lots of great players in those days, who are sadly nearing retirement. Since the bloom system was introduced there have been some great players for me, but no-one in my first team squad was ‘born’ in the last six seasons. That will change soon, so I’m in the middle of a lull at the moment.
5. How much time do you spend on TM every day/week?
I used to spend at least 20 hours a week on TM, but don’t have the time for that now (thankfully). I probably spend about 30 minutes most days, with the odd 2 hour session a few times a week. Most of my time these days is spent just watching my results and my training, then reading the forums (and clearing up that transfer thread which takes ages).
6. If you could hack Thomas account for a day and change TM at your will what would you change and what things would you implement?
I would set a squad ASI cap of 800,000. I’m not a fan of the player inflation in this game and found it more enjoyable when I had a squad ASI of 200,000 and needed to budget on what I had than now with over 1,000,000 and players with great skills in everything. Having a limit on our squad ASI, or wage bill, would certainly make things a lot tougher and more tactical – do we want to have 150,000 ASI great players if it forces sacrifices elsewhere. They are the questions I want to face so would love that. It would also make it easier for newer sides to make it towards the top.
I would also alter the NT squad and sale. I would lock squads as only having 23 players in the NT a season. Managers could decide when to add players to that squad, but players who are banned or with an inactive squad could not be added. If they were already in the squad at the time of the ban, they enter the NT sale. This would again make things more tactical. Managers would have to decide whether to fill their squads early to avoid potentially losing players, or keeping their options open if there are injuries at the potential risk of losing players for ever. It would end the player searches at the end of the season (which take up a lot of time for little practical benefit) and prevent the smaller nations having lots of cheap bargains each year. Since I’m productive, I’d still have time to do a third thing. I would create women’s teams for our clubs (for Pro days, like B teams). Rather than having the same structure as our men’s clubs, I would have seasons lasting for 6 weeks (4 games a week in divisions of 12 teams) with an entirely new squad generated for each season. There would be no training, transfer or other things, just having to pick a squad from what we are given. That would be great for sorting out who are the best managers, all other things being equal. Allowing us to set-up Friendly Leagues for the other 3 nights of the week – as ‘worlds’ with promotion and relegation, would be great for the banter and arguments.
7. TM is a great game, what do you like most about it?
I love the matches. You spend ages building your squad, selecting the right line-up and then all you can do is watch. For me everything I do builds up to matchday, so obviously that’s what I like most. The randomness at times can be frustrating (or very welcome) but that’s what generates the excitement. You really do never know what is going to happen, but you know it will raise your pulse either way.
8. What do you least like with it?
I don’t think this game rewards good management enough. We’ve seen plenty of people raise from the lower leagues up to Division 2 and get no further. Some have made it up to division 1, then been sent packing quite quickly. Those people are often great managers, who have concentrated on getting results. Other people seem intent on day trading, or lucking out in youth development, and getting the quality of players to perform well. Great management of average players should be better rewarded than average management of great players but it seems the other way round to me.
9. Routine is it important in TM?
No. I don’t see my players who are fully bloomed getting more consistent every season. Some get more inconsistent. Even taking player inflation in other clubs into account, I’m not seeing any real benefits. If you take the opposite view and see routine as a bad thing for players, who can find as much support for that as you can that it’s a benefit. My theory is the routine of individuals is irrelevant, but the total routine of your side is important. I’m starting to think that it is aggregated across the team, but it’s too new an idea for me to have thought through properly yet.
10. Do you think you have your facilities at an affordable level?
I lose nearly 40m every Tuesday. With matches (if in Champions Cup), season bonus and selling players rated 12*-14* I break even. Therefore, my only profit and new blood comes from the youth development giving me 15*+ players. Thankfully I’ve got enough to tick over so am at an affordable level, but not a profitable one.
11. I think you are like me and lose more than you earn, how do you survive financially and do you have a plan B if your YD stopped producing anything decent at all or if the transfer market collapsed totally?
I ignore the transfer market if I can help it. I prefer to use my own youths as I have a particular make-up of skills I want in my side. If you look at Seaman, for instance, his lowest skills are in the ones most people would think are most important for a MR, but are that way through design. If I got no new youths are 3 seasons then long-term I would struggle, but would just try to use my managerial skills to overcome that problem rather than panic-buying new players. I’ve built my B team up to Division 3 despite having a relatively average squad for my division every season (I only use non-fully bloomed youth pulls) so have had some success with being a little experimental with a limited squad.
12. Captaincy is that important and how do you chose your own one?
Captaincy is the single most important thing in TM. Find a good one and you’ll do well consistently. Find a bad one and you will lose. Every time Seaman has captained my side I’ve lost, for instance. I find professionalism isn’t important at all. The only way to tell is to put someone as captain for five matches and see if you generally think you’ve over performed, underperformed or done as expected. When you find someone who has over performed, keep them. That’s the beauty of B-teams for me. You can experiment with the captain as much as you want. My current captain is Tudor, my weakest player but an exceptional captain. If he wasn’t my captain, he wouldn’t even be in my squad yet alone see me alter my formation from my preferred 3-5-2 to accommodate a DR.
13. 5 foreigners rule, good or bad?
Anything which makes the game more challenging is good in my opinion. Personally, I’d rather see it changed to 3 foreigners in the line-up, 5 in the squad to make the smaller nations weaker (a big problem for me with this game, as mentioned earlier). Getting rid of the ruling will just play in the hands of traders at the expense of people developing youths, which is the last thing the game needs.
14. You have been here for more than three years now, does your interest for TM go up and down from time to time or are you an addict like many of us?
My interest goes up when I’m doing badly and down when I’m winning most games. I like having the challenges really and need to overcome problems, so when I’m losing I’m more interested. Overall though, I’m probably as hungry about the game as ever.
15. Your only title in TM is the Prem trophy, how bad do you want a second one?
It is embarrassing that my reserve team has a more impressive trophy cabinet than my main side. It’s been really annoying for me fighting for the title so many times and only having one to show for it. Chute, Leyton and Broughton have all beaten me in title battles so a conversion rate of 1 in 4 isn’t great. Still, qualifying for the Champions Cup is a massive achievement in my opinion and anything else is a bonus. I’d rather have 6 CC campaigns and 1 title, than 2 titles and having not qualified any other seasons.
16, You have been in the Prem since season 5, how much harder do you feel the 1,1 is these days comparing to back then?
In terms of winning the title there isn’t a massive difference. Luck always plays a part. I don’t deny it did when I won it. In simple terms, if you’re strong enough to get 56 points, then winning 4 more very tight matches (i.e., should be draws) than you lose will give you 64 points and the title. Now you’re wanting to be the 1 in 8 capable teams who gets it rather than the 1 in 3 strong enough early on. In terms of the bottom half, it is completely different. In the early days there were many very poor sides who were surviving each season. Now, you have to be very good to even make the play-offs, yet alone avoid the dreaded drop zone. Basically, we’ve seen everyone catch up with the very top sides now and a fantastically competitive division. I don’t think there is any shame in being relegated these days; 2 years ago teams were finishing in the top half despite not being particularly good.
17. For a newly created club is the Prem only a dream or is it possible for them to go all the way?
As I say above, you have to find what interests you in this game. If you want to play the long-game, I think a newly created club can compete in the top flight. My tactic if I started again would be to ignore promotions in my early seasons, making sure I get to level 10 TG and YD as soon as possible. Once you get that and produce players, you can then get the players (eventually) to complete. My strategy would be to generate as much cash as possible, but lose a lot of games as a result. It might take me a year or two to start moving up the leagues, but I think that approach would one day get you there. We’ve seen lots of clubs try to win back to back promotions, only to find Division Two is their natural level. Some have had one season in the top flight, but very few have established themselves in the top flight. Scorpio is the side most people should aspire to be become; it takes him an age to get his first real promotion, but has thrived since.
18. "day trading" is it a good or bad thing in the long run for TM?
Very bad thing for TM. As mentioned above, I feel there are poor managers who are very good at the transfer market and punching above their weight as a result. I don’t like to see that. Worst than that, the current situation encourages people to day trade to catch up. Firstly, this is taking their time and efforts away from understanding the Match Engine and what skills are important, which should be the main focus of everyone. Secondly, this is creating a lot of legwork for people and meaning you have to be fully committed to the game and put in many hours to generate success. It shouldn’t be easy to have success, but it shouldn’t involve the tedious job of buying and selling players who won’t play for your side either.
19. Are there any of your rivals that you feel that extra "derby" feeling for when you see them show up in the fixture list?
It’s also nice to beat a Scouser, so Mossley is always a big game for me. But it’s the Frodsham matches I look forward to the most – statistically speaking it’s surprising to see one Tranmere fan in the top flight; two just proves that Rovers fans know their football.
20. What’s your best moment in TM so far? Was it a special game, season or a certain youth pull?
Mine isn’t winning the title, but finishing 6th. I started in Division 3, got a freebie promotion from Division 2 and ended up in Season 5 playing sides who were generated with far, far stronger sides and much more money than me. I thought relegation was the only option, especially after how poorly I performed in division 2. But, that was the season things started to click for me and I ended up on a great run and somehow managed to qualify for Europe. It was very unexpected and I doubt anyone would have predicted it. I doubt my central midfield pairing would have got on the bench at any other club, but they achieved a lot for me.
21. Anything else you want to add before we say goodbye?
Asking anything about my future in the game would have been nice. My aim is to be the first English manager to qualify for Europe using a team comprised solely of youth pulls. I want to spend an entire season using only youth pulls and see how I get on. Unfortunately I’m a few players away from having a squad capable of surviving (no sub keeper, for instance), but I’m living in hope one day I’ll be able to give it a go. I did make the cup semi-final one year, losing on penalties, using only home-grown players so I’m sure it can be done.
Cheers Dave for answering this.