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The Red Bull Journey – “Gives You Wings”

So, recently Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the F1 Championship…

Too soon for some fans? Is there a relevance? Yes, of course, there is always relevance!

Recently, I mention that my Dortmund save had run its course despite my updates here on From the Cheap Seats.

With that save now just being used as a save to “pass the time”. The plan moving forward which has been discussed with various members of the FM Community is to undertake the Red Bull journey.


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The aim of the Red Bull journey will be to manage all the teams currently owned by Red Bull GmbH.

Together we're stronger: the synergy of Red Bull football teams | by  Theodoro Montoto | Box 2 Box (ENG) | Medium

The original plan for this journey was to start at RB Brasil and work my way through to RB Bragantino to make the journey to eventually manage RB Leipzig in Germany. After some research, I found that RB Brasil failed their attempt to reach the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. Red Bull Brasil remains active, functioning as a development team for RB Bragantino.


Before we get into the save, let’s look at the history of Red Bull GmbH and their ownership of football teams.

Football supporters are a loyal bunch. Loyal beyond comprehension with a devotion to their club’s crest and colours. A tradition and heritage which tugs at supporters’ hearts who love their club unconditionally. And their football club is much like a blooming flower – growing organically throughout time, nurtured thanks to its staff and, most importantly, its fans.

SV Austria Salzburg crest.svg

It all started in 2005 when Red Bull bought the then SV Austria Salzburg, changing the club’s name, shield and colours to fit the company’s visual elements. Although the purchase was not appreciated by everyone, it has made the club incredibly successful. The first coach for the club was the legendary Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni who caused the club great media interest immediately and together with the then assistant coach Lothar Matthäus they won the Austrian Bundesliga directly in the 2006/2007 season. Famous players who have played for Red Bull Salzburg since the takeover are Jonathan Soriano, Kevin Kampl, Naby Keïta and not least Sadio Mané and the new Norwegian shooting star Erling Braut Haaland.

New York/New Jersey MetroStars Team History | Sports Team History

In the same year, another team was acquired by Red Bull GmbH, this time in the United States. The club New Jersey MetroStars was acquired and given its current name in 2006. The club has its stadium in New Jersey, although the name suggests that it is a New York club (considered to be belonging to the “New York metropolitan region”). Although the club has been successful they have never managed to win the MLS Cup Playoffs, as the playoffs in MLS are called. However, they were in the final in 2008 where they lost to Columbus Crew 3-1. The biggest name that played for the club is undoubtedly Thierry Henry who played there between 2011 and 2014 and scored 52 goals for the club.

RedBullBrasil.png

In 2007, Red Bull established the lower-division Red Bull Brasil team in the city of Campinas, São Paulo. They currently play in the Campeonato Paulista Série A2, the second level of the São Paulo state professional football championship.

As the plan to reach the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in 10 years failed, Red Bull became owners of Série B side Clube Atlético Bragantino in 2019. Although the partnership began in April 2019, during the 2019 Campeonato Brasileiro Série B, the team was called ‘Bragantino’ and Red Bull appeared only as a sponsor. At the end of 2019, the team won the B Series of the Brasileirão and in 2020 competed in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A finishing 10th thus qualifying for Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana group stage. In the 2020 season, the club was renamed ‘Red Bull Bragantino’.

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Red Bull tried and failed to maintain a team in Ghana. The team, Red Bull Ghana created in 2008 didn’t have much success and were relegated to the third tier in

SSV Markranstädt logo.png

In 2009, it was the turn of the German team SSV Markranstädt, who at the time played in the fifth tier of German football. By the rule known as “50 + 1”, public or private investments are allowed so that members of a club have the majority of the votes (50% of the votes + 1).

RB Leipzig charges an initial membership fee of €100, plus another € 800 per year for maintenance rights, according to Tifo Football. With all these disincentives, the club has only 750 members, while Paderborn has 5,300, 706% more than RB Leipzig.

In the process of reformulation, the name of the club could not contain “Red Bull”, also by local determination, a fact once again circumvented by the company that registered the Leipzig club as “RasenBallsport” (something translated as “sport with a ball” of lawn “), generating the acronyms “RB”.

As Red Bull has four top tier teams, in addition to three other “developmental teams”, Red Bull follows the example of several multinational companies and relocates its employees from one place to another within its network.

If a player stands out for RB Bragantino, that player could move to Salzburg; an environment of less pressure than major European leagues, but still participating in the Champions League or Europa League. From there, if everything goes well, the player moves to Leipzig and competes in major championships such as the UEFA Champions League and the Bundesliga. To wind down one’s career a player may move to cosmopolitan New York and play the last years as a professional player in MLS

From the 2014/15 season to today, players have moved from one Red Bull team to another Red Bull team, an average of 4 per season. This number does not account for transfers involving smaller teams owned by Red Bull. If counted, this number would be close to 100.

Red Bull are well adept at recycling their roster. A footballing case of “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.”

From a business standpoint, Red Bull adopts an aggressive strategy and is not afraid to make tough decisions. Strong leadership is critical in building solid foundations through well thought out strategic planning, both short and long-term. All of Red Bull’s teams possess the same identity: identical shirt colours, club crest, nicknamed ‘The Bulls’.

Red Bull pride their clubs’ development on being a gradual journey to the destination. Each of their clubs started their respective journeys over a decade ago – demonstrating the company’s appetite for success is long-term to ultimately reach the summit of world football.


The Red Bull Journey – The Starting Point

So, for this save I am starting in Brazil with Red Bull Bragantino.

Before moving forward let’s look at some information about RB Bragantino. The thing that stands out for me with Bagantino being a club owned by Red Bull is that they don’t play in a stadium called the Red Bull Arena instead, they play at the 17,000+ capacity Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid, also known locally as Nabizão.

The stadium’s formal name honours Nabi Abi Chedid, who was the father of the president of Bragantino, Marco Antônio Abi Chedid, and a former president of the club. The stadium was previously named Estádio Marcelo Stéfani [ Stéfani was a player and a president of Bragantino]. The name change was badly received by the Bragança Paulista population.

In terms of training facilities, we have good training facilities and average youth facilities. This will be something that, over time, I’ll look to improve.

In terms of club culture, there isn’t really much. But, both of them I can get on board with due to my love of youth development:

  • Sign players under the age of 22 for the first team.
  • Sign players under the age of 20 for the future.

Officially, the club’s partnership with Red Bull began in 2019 but the club’s name was not changed until the 2020 season. Before the name chance, the club won the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B.

Prior to being owned by Red Bull, the club spent their time playing in both Campeonato Brasileiro Série B and Campeonato Brasileiro Série B.

Since being owned by Red Bull, the club has been progressing finishing 10th and 6th in 2020 and 2021 in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A.

In 2020, RB Bragantino won the Campeonato Paulista do Interior playing fellow Brazilian team Guarani FC in the final.

The club also got to the final of the 2021 Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana but lost to Club Athletico Paranaense.

Now that the history lesson is done, let’s move into the present day [obviously on Football Manager]. I have officially been announced as the new RB Bragantino manager on a one-year deal. As has already been pointed out by the media, I do lack the ‘reputation of a title specialist’ but my plan, obviously, is to change that.

After a warm welcome from the current club President, Thiago Roberto Scuro and a brief history (which I have already provided above) I wanted to get stuck into management. Another thing that I noticed, that I’ll look to improve due to the club’s culture of youth development is that the club only has average youth recruitment. In order to keep the club’s culture, this along with the training facilities will need to be improved.

The club vision, in my opinion, isn’t very ambitious. Considering that other Red Bull teams are winning titles and playing in European competitions I feel that I’ll want to push the boundaries of the current club vision.

Before even looking at the club’s players, there is something that I do need to fix. The backroom staff, or should I say lack of backroom staff…

Before getting into what needs to be improved, I can say that we do have a good Technical Director in former Manchester United scout, Sandro Orlandelli. Hopefully, Sandro can help me improve the backroom staff as let’s face it, the image below shows that it needs a lot of improvement!

For a start, I need to recruit the following:

  • Head of Youth Development
  • Head Performance Analysts
  • Head Physio
  • Head of Sports Science
  • Director of Football
  • Scouts
  • Recruitment Analysts
  • Loan Manager
  • Physios
  • Sports Scientists

The comparison of the backroom staff really shows how much work needs to be done.

So, as can be seen, there is a lot of work to be done on the first day. Once I’ve sought out the backroom staff, I’ll look at training schedules, tactics and individual player development.


Recruitment

Usually, when the phrase ‘recruitment’ is mentioned in line with Football Manager, it is usually about recruiting players to improve the squad. As mentioned above, a lot of work needed to be done to improve the quality of the backroom staff.

Upon even further review of the current staff members, I decided that some of them weren’t up to the standard that I would require to make any improvements. There all coaches and performance analysts were removed from their roles

After taking some time to sort out staff recruitment across the club and siff through the numerous application for the plethora of roles.

As the new season approaches, there has been a lot of staff recruitment and thus far there is a clear improvement in the backroom staff.

In terms of key recruitment we now have a new:

Recruitment is still ongoing for more coaches, performance analysts, scouts, recruitment analysts and a loan manager.


2022 Pre-Season

I’ll be honest, I have never managed in Brazil before on Football Manager so, unlike managing in Europe, I am unsure of specific dates so I’ve had to take some of pre-season reading up on the rules and registration dates in Brazil.

As already mentioned, I turned off the first transfer window so the players that I have at my disposal will need some adjustment to my way of management. With that in mind, I arranged the following pre-season friendlies with lower league Brazilian teams.

Nova Iguaçu Futebol Clube

Now, most you that have been following my Twitter will know that I don’t create the most normal looking formation on Football Manager. I enjoy creating asymmetrical formations (something which I have written about on Dictate The Game).

Before you start thinking, no it didn’t just take one pre-season game for me to decide on my tactical approach so let’s move on a look at the results of the other friendlies.

So, now to question after looking at the results what would jump out to you? The number of goals scored, the number of goals conceded? Granted after only seeing the scores for the game there isn’t much to go on.

The most commonly used formation during pre-season saw the following passing combinations consisting of 791 completed passes.

Now, granted the majority of those passed are on the and between the central centre back and a midfielder. What some may find odd is that there isn’t much in terms of passes up to the forwards yet we still manage to score five goals in the game highlighted.

You probably are questioning now, what is my tactical approach? Recently, I have been trying to develop a hybrid gengenpress/tiki-taka style.

When reviewing the unsuccessful passes (9 intercepted and 27 unsuccessful) those numbers from a total of 791 passes isn’t a bad number. What is glaring from the analysis is that most passes that failed to find a teammate or got intercepted came from attempted long passes.

In order to support tactical development, improve tactical familiarity I have always used the training schedules created by Passion4FM

You’re probably wondering by now (or you might have figured it out by looking at the positions of the players on the passing combinations picture) what tactic have I been using; to answer that see below…


Jubliant January, Into Fantastic February?

So, after a rather successful pre-season which despite being different in terms of recruitment the foundations of the club are in good order. The recruitment of sufficient backroom staff to support the development of players, provide advice on various aspects.

With the staff for the first team nearly sorted, I have now turned my attention to both the Reserve and U20s backroom staff. To save me some time looking through applications I have set the tasks of recruiting the backroom staff for the Reserves and U20s to the reliable Technical Director, Sandro Orlandelli.

After some time recruiting some staff for both Reserves and U20s things are looking better for the Reserves but there is a lot of recruitment still ongoing for the U20s.

Some of you might be questioning why I have prioritised the recruitment of backroom staff. The way I see it if I don’t have the staff available to support player development what is the point in bringing other players in?

Not that the backroom staff recruitment drive throughout the club has stopped Head of Youth Development, Luiz Fernando Moraes from searching for young players. Since joining, Luiz has signed three youngsters in a variety of positions.

At this stage in the season, I was hoping to be able to use FM22’s new Data Hub but it appears when you managed in Brazil that the Data Hub doesn’t work during the state championship. So, for now, data will have to wait.

In the meantime, let’s look at the results for both January and February.

January started with four back-to-back home games against:

  • Associação Ferroviária de Esportes – The first game of the season started very well at the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid. In a game that saw an xG of 2.59 for Red Bull Bragantino, a total of 4 goals were scored by four different players. Centre back Léo Ortiz scored the first goal of the season in the 5th minute with winger Morato adding Red Bull Bragantino second in the 16th minute, before the end of the second half Nathan made it 3-0. Early in the second half, Lucas Evangelista made it 4-0. Afer the fourth goal, the players settled down and saw the game out.
  • Guarani Futebol Clube
  • Botafogo Futebol Clube (SP)
  • São Paulo Futebol Clube – São Paulo are one of the well-known teams from Brazil. However, with how the season has started I was confident going into this game.

The final game saw us travel to the Estádio Jorge Ismael de Biasi to play Grêmio Novorizontino

As we go into February will this jubilant January form be carried over into a fantastic February?


Fantastic February?

Injuries are enough to cause pain (obviously!). However, when it comes to an injury that could see a player be out for between five to eight months when that player has been in top form – that psychological pain and frustration.

Unfortunately, striker Ytalo suffered a damaged cruciate ligament which has required specialist treatment. The annoying aspect of this injury is that Ytalo has been in good form playing in the False 9 role having scored nine goals in eight appearances with an additional four assists.

To accommodate for the loss of Ytalo some tactical changes have been made. Before we look at the new tactical approach, let’s look at some of February’s results.

We started off with an away fixture against Esporte Clube Água Santa at a stadium called Distrital do Inamar. In most games now after one month of Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 fixtures, the team are managing to have up to 60% possession in games with a plethora of successful passes. In this game against Esporte Clube Água Santa, Red Bull Bragantino completed a total of 689 passes. What is different compared to the analysis during pre-season is that there is better distribution of passes in the attacking areas.

The next game against Ituano Futebol Clube was more conservative ending with a goal from Ytalo in the 83rd minute.

The next game is the game that I was most looking forward to whilst managing in Brazil. The game against Sport Club Corinthians Paulista. Thirty-time winners of this competition, this was going to be the ultimate test of whether the tactical approach that I’ve gone for will work against one of the best clubs in Brazil. If you look at the results in January, you’ll see that we did beat São Paulo Futebol Clube, another strong team in Brazil, 3-0 so we have already known and currently continue to show that the approach does work. However, consistency is key!

Travelling to the Neo Química Arena which is a massive 47,000+ capacity stadium is quite something. Even though the stadium was 50% full with 23,280 of which only 43 were Red Bull Bragantino fans. Throughout the game, possession was fairly even with a 48%/52% share with not much difference between successful passes. Despite what looks to be a back and forth game, the game wasn’t that exciting and ended in a draw with the opening goal scored by Red Bull Bragantino’s Gabriel Novaes in the 71st minute a goal which I thought would be enough to see out the game and leave with three points. That thought was squashed in the 82nd minute when Corinthians winger Róger Guedes headed level.

The next game against Esporte Clube Santo André saw them be hit for six! It was the training sessions after this game that Ytalo got injured which resulted in the final game against Associação Atlética Ponte Preta having a slightly different tactic being used.

So, now let’s reveal the tactic being used from now on. Due to the limited quality of strikers at the club playing dual striker formation without Ytalo was always going to be difficult. So, the slight tweak has seen the False 9 become a Shadow Striker – see tactic.

By changing the False 9 into a Shadow Striker there are more passes around the attacking areas due to the Shadow Striker dropping deeper than the False 9. In the game against Associação Atlética Ponte Preta we can the compactness of the players allowing for more passes but also a fluidity due to the roles selected

  • The Raumdauter finding spaces
  • The Shadow Striker running beyond

A lot of this update has seen me talking about results and some tactical tinkering. So far, I’ve hardly mentioned the league table. Gives that ten games have already been played, now seems like the right time to show the league table.

After ten games, we’re two points clear at the top of the table. But, there is a long way to go! The league player stats make for frustrating viewing following the recent injury to Ytalo due to him being the league’s top goal scorer, has the highest average ranting and is jointed first for most Player of the Match awards. Let’s hope that the formation change will be successful going forward.


March Madness

With Ytalo injured and some tactical adaptations, I was nervous going into March. March in Brazil sees the end of the state championship with the quarter-final looming, the draw for the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana, the start of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil.

Serious injuries seem to be somewhat prevalent. Backup Goalkeeper Júlio César has suffered a damaged achilles tendon and will be out of action for between four and five months. Midfielder Emiliano Martínez has suffered a broken leg following a robust challenge during training he’ll be out for between five and six months.

The draw for the first round of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil saw a fixture against Campeonato Brasileiro Série C side, Floresta Esporte Clube. During this game, centre back Léo Ortiz scored a hattrick. Ortiz, so far, has had a fantastic season and with the foreign club release clause in his contract being £26.5m I am starting to wonder how long it’ll take before a club to activate that release clause.

The second round of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil will see us travel to the Aflitos stadium to play Clube Náutico Capibaribe

To continue in the league, the fixture against Mirassol Futebol Clube saw a total of seven goals with Lucas Evangelista scoring a hattrick. Evangelista is another player that I predict to lose due to his foreign club release clause of £14.75m.

For the second round fixture of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil against Clube Náutico Capibaribe saw an absolute downpour which affected the game. I’ll be honest, it didn’t look fun but the grand total of FOUR fans that made the trip to the Aflitos stadium clearly enjoyed themselves given the end result.

I could imagine four fans singing this in Portuguese.
“Eu estou cantando na chuva”

What I’d like to question is, who are these dedicated four fans to went on the journey to the Aflitos stadium? They’re very dedicated and to them, I would like to say…

Returning to the league, we played Santos Futebol Clube and beat them with late goals from Vitinho in the 88th and 90+1 minute before the knockout stages of the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1.

I’ve previously spoken about my desire to improve the club’s backroom staff. Improvements for the first team didn’t take long as can be seen when reading above. For the Reserves and U20’s I left Technical Director, Sandro Orlandelli the responsibility of recruiting a plethora of staff members. This recruitment drive has now been completed with all teams throughout the club fully staff across all departments

Moving forward we look ahead to the knockout stages of the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 and the group stages of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana where we have been drawn in Group A with the following teams

  • Liga Profesional de Fútbol side Arsenal Fútbol Club de Sarandí
  • Primera División side Club Nacional FC
  • Liga 1 Movistar side Club Sporting Cristal S.A.

Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 Knockouts

Quarter-Final

As mentioned moving forward we have the final stages of the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 starting with the quarter-final against Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.

What has surprised me whilst managing in Brazil is the pure lack of travelling fans. Granted the travelling is far in the vast country of Brazil but even for this game, a quarter-final there were only 40 away fans compared to 19,000+ home fans.

Semi-Final

The semi-final saw a home fixture against Sport Club Corinthians Paulista at the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid, a home fixture however nearly 800 Sport Club Corinthians Paulista fans made the trip. So, is it just me being overanalytical and thinking that Red Bull Bragantino don’t seem to enjoy travelling much. What can I do to change this?

I digress, the game against Sport Club Corinthians Paulista was a tedious affair that ended up going all the way to a penalty shootout. The first goal came from Red Bull Bragantino striker Alerrandro in the 26th minute with Sport Club Corinthians Paulista’s response coming in the 51st minute through midfielder Giuliano. Not much else happened in the game even as the game went to extra-time both team’s players played very conservative aiming to retain possession of the ball. The penalty shootout ended 5-4 to Red Bull Bragantino thus seeing the team through to the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 Final.

Final

The final of the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 saw my own Red Bull Bragantino take on one of Brazil’s top teams Santos Futebol Clube. Santos have won the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 twenty-two times. To put that into perspective Red Bull Bragantino have only won the competition once, in 1990 before they were owned by Red Bull.

The final of the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 is played over two legs. The first leg, like the semi-final against Club Corinthians Paulista was another irksome fixture ending in a goaless draw – that is about as much as I have to say about the first leg. To note, this was the first goalless draw since I had taken over at Red Bull Bragantino.

Returning home to the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid for the second leg of the final it took a goal from attacking midfielder Vitinho to see Red Bull Bragantino win their first top tier trophy since being owned by Red Bull.

With these knockout fixtures done and the first title of my career let’s review some of the statistics from Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1. There was a glaring difference between the number of tackles across the sixteen games with Red Bull Bragantino completing a total of 251, that, in comparison to the 177 from São Bernardo Futebol Clube Ltda shows the clear amount of work that Red Bull Bragantino have been putting in on the pitch to win the ball back when not in possession.

Another statistic that is mighty impressive is the number of shots which ended at 289 for Red Bull Bragantino compared to Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras’ 232. This statistic shows the nature of Gegenpressing in that possession doesn’t mean everything, the aim of the approach that I take to Gegenpress is that players should be attempting shots and not trying to pass the ball into the penalty area.

When playing Gegenpressing it is important that the defending team plays higher up the pitch, with that in mind it is pleasing to know that Red Bull Bragantino completed the most dribbles (132) during this season’s Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1.

Other statistics that Red Bull Bragantino topped in the Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1 include:

  • Fewest conceded goals (8)
  • Most clean sheets (5)
  • Most goals (39)

With a trophy ready to be placed in the cabinet, we can also check out the league and club records that have been broken following the completion of this season’s Campeonato Paulista Sicredi Série A1.

As we’ve broken records and put together some impressive statistics there are also players that have won singular awards.

Ytalo awarded the top goalscorer with nine goal despite a long-term injury
Ytalo also claimed the league’s best player award
Nathan came second in the young upcomer award
I, personally won the league Manager of the Year Award.

As we move forward, things get harder with fixtures coming think and fast as the season. We have the continuation of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana, the latter stages of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil and the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A.

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