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A New Roman Empire


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Roma are pretty much everything I look for in a club to manage on FM; a good group of young prospects to build around (Nicolò Zaniolo, Luca Pellegrini, Cengiz Ünder, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Justin Kluivert) but a squad that still needs some surgery (mainly at centre back and in goal), some history yet not so much as to be overpowering (3 Serie A, 1 Uefa Cup and 9 Coppa Italia) and could realistically finish anywhere between 2nd and 8th. Plus @crusadertsar says they're one of the most fun clubs to play with in FM and we seem to have similar taste in clubs!

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That rent for the Olimpico is rather steep, but as long as we keep qualifying for Europe it won't be much of an issue. The debts of €244m the chairman has saddled the club with on the other hand...well let's just say its a good job that the youth facilities reflect the pedigree of a club that recently produced Alessio Romagnoli, Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini! 

Normally I use the Director of Football as a purely symbolic role, bringing in a club legend such as Gabriel Batistuta at Fiorentina. However at Roma, we have one of the best (and possibly the most high profile) examples of the position:

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So I'll be taking a leaf out of @ParanoidBuddha's book from what I've seen of him in the Serie A threads and setting Monchi in charge of all scouting operations, only signing players that he finds rather than searching manually (although if a player impresses in a match against us and isn't on the shortlist I may send a scout out). He will also be in charge of all transfer and contract negotiations and finalising transfers, which should dissuade me from bidding for 100 people every window as usual, although I will set the targets. When it comes to contract renewals too, I'll decide who gets a new contract but Monchi will negotiate it. 

Tactically I will be giving myself a limitation as well - sticking to a Balanced mentality. Two reasons for this:

1. I've had great success on higher mentalities in FM19 so would like to challenge myself more.

2. Despite said successes, creating a successful tactic is still a little too close to alchemy for me. Other than one true success I've always ended up copying @Ö-zil to the Arsenal!'s tactics, and whilst that has been fun the past few years at this stage I need to do it myself. Removing mentality - the most drastic change you can make in the tactics creator - from my options should help me focus more and learn. 

For added realism when taking over a club I always remove the previous manager's coaching staff. As Eusebio Di Francesco is very much a modern manager in terms of having a large backroom team with him, once the purge had been completed along with existing vacancies at the club I found myself in need of 28 staff members, and obviously once I filled those positions I requested - and received - more staff I'm not going to possibly list them all here though, but rather just inform readers of the highlights.

Former Empoli manager Aurelio Andreazzoli returned to the club as Under 18s Assistant Manager which one hell of a step down, but given he'd previously been at Roma for over a decade I guess he's quite fond of the club, and a great get for me. 23-time Italy international Simone Pepe, associated mostly with Juventus by most people (myself included) is actually a Roma academy graduate, and joins up as an under 18s Coach. 

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Marco van Basten - despite the injuries his Milan career was still great

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Dennis Berkamp - his Inter spell is...remembered.

To fill the vacant Assistant Manager I turned not to an Italian or an Englishman, but instead Marco van Basten - an outstanding candidate who scored 90 Serie A goals. I also decided to bring in his compatriot Dennis Bergkamp as a Coach - his Calcio career was far less illustrious but overall he's just as legendary. The only other non-English or Italian-based staff members I brought were Monchi's fellow Hispalense Salvador Bernal as a Data Analyst, Antonio Fernández - Scout at Sevilla until 2006 - as a Scout and Swiss Vincent Cavin as a data analyst for the under 20s as I don't like hiring the game-generated staff members. 

I also raided Arsène Wenger's former Gunners setup for Boro Primorac (Coach), Neil Banfield (Coach), Steve Gatting (Under 20s Coach), and Colin Lewin (Physio) and found that England appears to be a Sports Science powerhouse - 5/6 Sports Science roles were filled by Englishmen (3 of whom were employed by Leicester). 

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Shadow Squad: Karsdorp-Fazio-Juan Jesus-Santon | Kluivert-Nzonzi-Cristante-Perotti | Zaniolo | Schick

A cursory glance at Roma's squad would suggest a 4-2-3-1 formation, and in my previous two attempts to make this save go I used a 4-2-3-1. In order to get some inspiration I also researched Paulo Fonseca who, again, uses a 4-2-3-1.So why have I now ended up with a 4-4-1-1?

Because the formation in the tactics creator is pretty much your defensive shape. We'll defend in two banks of four, but out of possession the two WM-At will bomb forward so it will morph into a 4-2-3-1, and almost a 4-2-4 in the later phases of attack if the AM pushes up into the box. Both WM are instructed to Sit Narrower as in my head they were initially Inside Forwards, and by getting them inside closer to their teammates we'll be better able to play quick combinations. They have no other PIs as I want to encourage a pass-first style of play, whilst trusting that as all of my wide options have high Technique, Dribbling, Acceleration and Flair they'll still beat their man solo on occasion. The AM will Move Into Channels to make himself available, which should pull the opposition defence apart a bit more whilst the DLP and CM form a double pivot to help recycle the ball. 

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The aim is for a possession-based, high-pressing style as I've never seen anybody on these forums do it [/sarcasm]. Play Out Of Defence ensures we begin our plays the right way with no aimless lumps forward, whilst Pass Into Space should find our players encouraging their team-mates to be constantly on the move - essential to breaking down low blocks. Despite having Edin Dzeko (193cm) and Patrik Schick (190cm) up top I've chosen Low Crosses as otherwise I find you get too many floated crosses that are easily dealt with by most top-level defenders. 

Focus Play Through The Middle is used as a mentality modifier to make us more compact by pushing the centre backs closer to the midfield, and moving our their, my goalkeeper and the De duty playmaker's mentalities from Defensive to a slightly more palatable Cautious.  Overlap Left and Overlap Right are likewise used to bring our wide midfielders and wing backs closer together - they're now all on Positive mentalities. This gives us a very tight unit, with the lowest mentalities being the aforementioned players on Cautious and the highest being the AMC on Attacking. In my head the closeness of the wide players means if the cross / dribble isn't on they can quickly play it to the near-side central midfielder who can switch it to the opposite flank, but I don't know if it will actually work like that. 

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I encourage my goalkeeper to Distribute To Centre-Backs as a) none of my options are of the requisite quality that I'd want them to make long passes and b) it helps facilitate our possession play. When we lose possession we Counter-Press to hopefully win the ball back high up but we don't Counter as I'd rather my players not try to force it but instead reset and maintain control.

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Much Higher Defensive LineMuch Higher Line Of Engagement and Extremely Urgent are the basics for our high press. Use Tighter Marking further encourages our players to close down their man by keeping them close to begin with, whilst Use Offside Trap should hopefully nullify the main weakness of this style - long balls over the top. Prevent Short GK Distribution meanwhile actively encourages long balls from goal kicks as we're a very tall team - every central player from the striker right back to the goalkeeper is over 185cm with only Javier Pastore not actually being much use in the air. Narrow defensive width is used for the same reason - I'd back my centre backs to deal with any crosses coming their way. 

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On my first day Alberto de Rossi goaded me into a fixture against his Under 20s. On the one hand, a free hit surely? On the other, if we lose...tear up the tactic and start again.

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Luckily his son was up for it! I actually had to manage this friendly because I had no staff. I find it promising that on Key Highlights there were only 4 - the goals - which I interpret as  both teams keeping a good structure but the first team's significantly superior quality showing through in the end. 

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September 2018

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Lazio (H): You wouldn’t have thought this was a derby, there were barely any fouls.

Napoli (A): Edin Dzeko weakly rolling a one-on-one chance straight at the goalkeeper early on only became more frustrating when a deflection bounced kindly for Allan (71).

R. Madrid (A): 59’ Perotti was hauled down by Odriozola to prevent him reaching a lovely cross by Florenzi. The Argentine took the penalty…and hit the post, but it bounced back across goal and he thrashed it into the net! A poor game with 30 fouls committed - 20 by us yet only 3 yellows apiece. Still, that makes us unofficial champions of Europe!

Bologna (H): Ünder (48) Florenzi (56)

Frosinone (A): Kluivert (90+1)

Torino (H): Ünder (22)

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October 2018

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FCP (H):

Fiorentina (A): Fiorentina escaped with a draw thanks to the heroics of Lafont, twice denying Schick one-on-one.

Juventus (H): 10’ Bernardeschi floated in a free kick from deep, an offside Mandzukic headed right at Olsen then buried the rebound. The referee went to the pitch side monitor to receive his bribe confirm the goal. 32’ Chiellini pushed Dzeko out of Perin’s way as the goalkeeper came for a cross, conceding a penalty which Perotti placed perfectly into the bottom corner! 38’ a wonderful move: Perin’s long kick was headed down by Kolarov to Perotti who quickly played a one-two with Nzonzi, then moved it on to Cristante who slid it in to Pastore about 35 yards out, the Argentine drew four players towards him with a dribble before playing it into space in the box where Ünder volleyed it low into the goal! 69’ Juventus countered through Cuadrado who set up Mandzukic to score, but this time the VAR decision was much quicker to rule it out for offside. 86’ just as we were looking to close out the game - Zaniolo up front due to injuries, not expecting another goal - Olsen decided to take his goal kick straight to Nzonzi, who was marked by Mandzukic, they battled for the ball heading towards our goal and Nzonzi’s slide tackle only cleared it as far as Cuadrado, who powered a shot into the bottom corner from a tight angle.

TSG Hoffenheim (H): 11’ Karsdorp decided to push Grillitsch instead of letting receive a throw with his back to goal, but Olsen saved the penalty! That’s 2 this season! 52’ A promising move down the right broke down and they recycled it through Baumann, but our pressure forced him to go long into the channels and Juan Jesus recovered and played it back to Olsen who bypassed their press to Santon - 3 passes later Lorenzo Pellegrini was 25 yards out and the ball was in the back of the net! 60’ a wide free kick came in, Grillitsch headed back across goal and Brenet buried it.

Parma (A): Perotti (pen 8, 89)

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Reasons For Optimism?

If this post sounds like a rant that is because it is, only it's aimed mostly at myself.

So come 1st November I have a win record of under 50%, only 1 win in October and haven't scored more than twice in a game. 7th in the league, 3rd in my Champions League group - it's all going to hell, right?

Wrong. Part of the reason I like listing out my results in a thread like this is it provides perspective. 

1. My expectations are too high. Right in the opening post I said I like teams who can finish anywhere between 2nd and 8th. We're 7th with 27 games left to play, and even though 2nd halves of seasons are generally worse than 1st halves, I'm getting angry because I'm not 2nd? Idiotic

2. We lost to Atalanta (7th in 2017/18), Napoli (2nd in 2017/18) and Porto (1st in 2017/18). Only the Porto game was at home, so really only 1 of those losses was a disappointment.

3. We've drawn against Lazio (a derby), Fiorentina (away, but should have done better), Juventus (7 consecutive league titles) and Hoffenheim (Champions League, but should have done better). So only two results where I think we should have done better but the board are probably ok with it.

4. We beat Real Madrid at the Bernabéu! They're reigning European champions - with 3 in a row - and have only dropped points in 1 other game all season, a 0-0 at Valladolid. That's a seriously impressive result!

5. Our remaining league games in the 1st half of the season are against 6th, 20th, 17th, 7th, 3rd, 19th, 14th, 18th and 16th. The two Milan clubs are in there (6th and 3rd) but that is a run we should pick up at least 21 points from.

6. Finally, the big reason I think we're going to improve despite having some unhappy players: Team Cohesion. At the start of the season it was awful as we had 11 new first team players of a range of different nationalities, mostly with no common languages between themselves and our Team Leaders. I added in Teamwork sessions where I could, but not to the extent of disrupting the Heavy physical focus of our pre-season - there's no point having a cohesive unit if they're all working as a team to fill out an entire hospital wing come spring! - and when we opened the season by allowing Duván Zapata to score a hat-trick it was still negative. As of 9th November it looks like this:

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That's the worst I've seen at this stage in FM19, possibly ever. The teams I've stuck to long-term saves with had squad stability; Manchester United only signed 3 players prior to the start of the save (having signed 5 the previous season and finally moved on from Wayne Rooney) and one of those was a 3rd choice goalkeeper, whilst Lyon similarly only signed 3 players prior to the save start (having signed 8 the previous season). Roma - let's reiterate it once more for absurdity - signed 11! The Monchi gambit works in real life because, well... it only works in Seville. Even then they don't win much  (even the Europa League has evaded them since Unai Emery left) but rather happily exist as a team always in and around the European places. This is a game, the mechanics are more rigid which in this case means art imitating life (Roma finished 6th in 2018/19) and a bit of a mixed bag in terms of results and performances. 

So we've only just gotten up to Average team cohesion yet only lost to the Portuguese league champions, the team with the highest points total to ever not win Serie A, and a really exciting Atalanta side on the first day of the season when I didn't even have a fit left midfielder? Yeah we're going to be fine. 

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November 2018

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Milan (H): 34’ when Kolarov turned and played back to Manolas at half-way I thought a promising attack was done, but the defender held the ball just long enough to sucker in his marker before launching it forward, El Shaarawy got to it at the byline, his half-volleyed cross headed in by Dzeko! 41’ a corner was headed back across goal instead of away, Castillejo turned and rifled it across Olsen into the net. Milan successfully limited us to set pieces after that - Manolas had the most shots on our team with four.

TSG Hoffenheim (A): Pellegrini (3)

Chievo (H): Schick (8, 73) Manolas (38) Pellegrini (52). Well it took until mid-November but finally a) we scored more than 2 in a game (against the 20th-placed team with 39 year olds up top and in goal) and b) both our strikers have now scored goals!

Genoa (A): One goal disallowed for offside - rightly - and a 93rd minute miss from Patrik Schick meant Genoa got off very easily here. 

R. Madrid (H): 12’ Dzeko decided to two-foot Sergio Ramos with no danger, getting himself a straight red. I responded by bringing on the hard-working Zaniolo for Pastore to make us harder to break down. It worked - Madrid didn’t get a shot on target, and actually fouled us more than we fouled them. But that leaves us only 1 point ahead of them with a trip away to group leaders Porto for our final game so I’m nervous!

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Monchi Did A Thing!

In a previous save I left my Director of Football in charge of staff hires and despite us being under the recommended numbers of scouts he did nothing, so I took control. I presumed this save would be the same, and that leaving Monchi in charge of staff hires would just save me time having to click "yes" when mutually terminating contracts. But then Bayern poached our Chief Data Analyst (Simone Beccaccioli - 17 JPD / 16 JTD / 18 PD), paying €950k for the privilege. To my surprise Monchi moved swiftly and replaced him!

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I'm disappointed that he shares no common nationality with myself, the club or my DoF but he's a great data analyst and it saved me time so yeah, I'm really enjoying this Director of Football thing!

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I include Team Bonding sessions after every home game in my saves. Really helps with morale and team cohesion. After away games I do Community Relations sessions. (especially if a home game is next, gotta pump up attendance)

 

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@Hootieleece I used to just add Match Preview after every game, and other than adding extra Shadow Play sessions I'd stick to my assistant's recommended schedules. But on the past few failed saves, and this one, I've decided to use routines inspired by this post on strikerless.

When I noticed Cohesion was going to be an issue I did add Team Bonding and Community Outreach into the pre-season routines, but you could only use 1 per week which got me paying closer attention to the rest of the sessions. Match Practice and Teamwork are actually the best as they both Greatly Increase cohesion, but the former a) is more intense, limiting your options for the other 2 slots and b) is only available twice per week whereas Teamwork can be scheduled 3 times per week.

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December 2018

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Sassuolo (H): De Rossi (44)

Inter (A): 17’ after a sustained period of pressure Politano swung a cross in and Florenzi headed it back across goal where Vrsaljko pounced to put Inter ahead. 45+1 Manolas had the ball in the back of a net following a corner but Nzonzi was offside so VAR ruled it out. We generated a succession of chances in the 2nd half but our finishing was woeful. 77’ de Vrij gave away a penalty with a push and Perotti made no mistake!

FCP (A): A bore draw, but Madrid also drew 0-0 so we go through! The real losers of course are anyone who had to watch either of the final matches in our group. We’ll get one of Man City, Barcelona, Dortmund, Liverpool, Spurs, Man Utd or PSG in the next round.

Sampdoria (H): Pellegrini (12, 21, 89)

Empoli (A): Dzeko (pen 40, 80)

SPAL (A): Florenzi (8) Dzeko (30, 52, pen 60)

Udinese (H): Marcano (31)

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Mid-Season Review

The Good:

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As a Fiorentina fan I can only dream of them scoring that many goals...

We sit 3rd in the league, 2 points behind Lazio and 7 behind Juventus, unbeaten since 15th September and with the joint 2nd-best defensive record alongside Fiorentina. We have the highest possession in the league with 57%, having made over 1000 more passes than the next best team (Napoli). We have eminently winnable ties in the Coppa Italia - at home to Crotone, 17th in Serie B - and Champions League - Spurs, 15th in the Premier League having sacked Mauricio Pochettino on 21st December and with all their key players in the red zone suggesting they may be weaker when our tie comes round. That ourselves and Porto combined to dump reigning champions Real Madrid into the Europa League is no mean feat, and Team Cohesion is up to Good as well! 

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It's GREEN!!!

The Bad:

We've now scored more than 2 goals on 3 occasions but that was against nailed-on-for-relegation Chievo, Sampdoria (but it was a long shot hat-trick by Lorenzo Pellegrini, brilliant but not sustainable) and nailed-on-for-relegation SPAL, who have 1 point more Chievo despite the Veronese club being docked 3 points. Our playing style means when we do score its usually quite beautiful to watch (I'm watching games in 2D which makes passing moves arguably look better as you can see the whole picture), but we can struggle and ended our Champions League group with a goal difference of 0 - 3 scored, 3 conceded. But averaging 1.24 goals per game isn't going to win things, even in Serie A these days.

The Ugly:

Juan Jesus kicked off about playing time, I threatened to sell him and he asked for a loan, but I'm struggling to find anyone willing to pay his €78,000 per week wages so that's a potential conflict upcoming. Rick Karsdorp also asked for playing time, didn't back down and despite starting 50% of our games since then (he's on a Rotation contract and competes with Florenzi - this is fair to him and arguably harsh to Florenzi) he's not looking like cheering up.

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Rick Karsdorp's form - he complained between matches 8 and 9

Overall I think The Good just about edges the other two, although this post may be misleading as I found it easier to be concise about the positives - that probably says a lot about me. I'll end on another positive then: the board offered a new contract, which I negotiated to include an increased Transfer Budget, improved Data Analysis Facilities and improved Junior Coaching!

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January 2019

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Crotone (H): Perotti (63) Cristante (73)

Atalanta (H): Pellegrini (30) Schick (85)

Cagliari (A): El Shaarawy (17) Pastore (pen 79)

Juventus (H): 7’ Schick decided to go in with two feet, from behind, in pretty much exactly the same non-threatening position Dzeko did last month and got a straight red. Maybe its not my tactics that are preventing my strikers from scoring but their own lunacy? Despite that we created the best chance of the first half, Perotti with the whole goal to aim at put it straight to Szczesny’s feet. 86’ I brought on De Rossi to shore up the centre alongside Nzonzi, and Kluivert to replace a tiring Ünder on the right. 89’ Chiellini’s throw was knocked down by Ronaldo but intercepted by Zaniolo, who played one-twos with Florenzi and De Rossi just outside our box before giving it to Marcano, from there quickly to De Rossi then Nzonzi who switched it to Kluivert, inside our half in the channel. He ran past Khedira, Alex Sandro, Chiellini and Bonucci, shot at Szczesny then with all 5 of those players on him poked in the rebound!!! Best goal of the save so far!

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Winter Transfer Window 2019

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A reasonably uneventful transfer window - Anocic and Nura were surplus full backs, too old for the under 20s but behind 2 players in each of their positions (although Karsdorp picked up a month-long injury literally 30 minutes after Nura, a right back, was loaned out), the free transfers were youth products who weren't going to make it. 

As I originally promised to Juan Jesus, he was loaned out. He goes back to Inter for 6 months, them paying 70% of his wages with a mandatory €16m fee, but the player didn't agree to terms so it became optional. I imagine he'll be back here next year. I was going to loan in a replacement but all of my shortlisted options and any Monchi came up with using the 'Suggest Transfer Targets' option demanded high loan fees, so I decided to just do without and play Daniele De Rossi at the back if need be (although if I pair him with Fazio I'm dropping the defensive line as low as it can go) and save the money for summer moves. So of course as soon as the transfer window closed Napoli won their Coppa Italia Quater Final setting up a tie against us, meaning we start February with a Sat-Wed-Sat-Wed sequence, with only 2 days between the last game of January against Juventus and the first leg of the Coppa Italia Semi-Final. I may regret my inaction!

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February 2019

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Lazio (A): Ünder (21)

Napoli (H): Injures and the need to rotate means 17-year old David Bouah gets to start his debut at right back. 43’ Perotti put us ahead from the spot. 80’ Santon’s throw was intercepted by Fabián but fell to Bouah, who whipped in a cross and Perotti volleyed in at the back post! 82’ Dzeko got the ball in following a corner-induced goalmouth scramble. A resounding win in the Derby del Sole - and what a cool name for a derby!

Napoli (H): I made 6 changes from the previous match. 26’ Napoli had a throw deep in their half, El Shaarawy tackled Hysaj and fed Dzeko, who held u play then moved it on to Cristante on the edge of the box, he turned, took a touch and smashed it into the top corner! 30’ Kolarov swung in the corner and Fazio headed home.

Tottenham (H): 30’ Florenzi took a throw near their corner flag short to Nzonzi, who found Cristante retreating in the right channel, he switched it to Kolarov about 30 yards out in line with the side of the box, he took a touch and whipped it inside the near post! 54’ Kolarov took a throw short to Zaniolo at the byline, he turned and fed Cristante who dribbled into the box and smashed it top corner! Spurs’ injury crisis may not have appeared as hoped but we’re in the driving seat now.

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The Spurs game broke the club’s consecutive wins record!

Bologna (A): El Shaarawy (4) Pastore (pen 90)

Frosinone (H): Dzeko (2) Pastore (19)

Napoli (A): Dzeko (40, 45+2) Nzonzi (78)

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Youth Intake 2019

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...not a great bunch! Even most of the guys with 3 star potential lack the technical ability to make it without significant improvements, although Manuel La Rocca is a young Sweeper Keeper with 16 Rushing Out! I'll be devoting a lot of attention to him. More importantly though, we have a 'possibly...one of the best players of his generation':

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We only have 1 really promising winger in the youth ranks so far in Mory Bamba (actually a right-sided inside forward) so Marguetta has come through in a position of need. He's got good levels of attributes you can't improve in 12 Flair, 14 Leadership (possible future Vice Captain?) and 13 Natural Fitness as well as looking like a future set piece specialist. I'm quite excited about him, although I don't know why given I usually abandon saves right when the youngsters come good. 

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March 2019

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Torino (A): Riccardi (30) Fazio (60, 63)

Tottenham (A): Shipping 3 to Napoli had me concerned about this leg. 13’ a corner led to a goalmouth scramble and Pellegrini pounced - the away goal means its effectively 4-0 now! 30’ Marcano went off injured, replaced by Fazio. 45+1’ Son finished off a counter-attack to level it up on the night. 45+3 Trippier whipped in a free kick and Davies half-volleyed it into the net. 90’ Trippier’s corner was knocked down and Kane bundled it into the goal. We go through on away goals but that performance was concerning. Even worse, Marcano’s injury turned out to be a dislocated shoulder - he’ll miss 2 months.

Fiorentina (H): 60’ Chiesa launched a ball over the top, Fazio missed his header - he’s too slow to chase anyone under 40 - and Muriel acted on his trait of Likes To Round Keeper to give Fiorentina an arguably undeserved win.

Juventus (A): 5’ Perotti went off injured. 9’ Manolas recovered a long ball, played it back to Olsen who quickly moved it onto Fazio, he looked up and played it out to Ünder who drove towards the heart of defence before sliding in Schick to finish it! 51’ Dybala crossed to nobody in particular and Bernardeschi recovered it, drew a tackle from Kluivert then crossed it back in for Dybala to head in at the near post. 72’ Pjanic swung in a free kick and Chiellini was somehow left completely alone at the back post to volley home. So not only do we drop down to 3rd but Perotti’s injury was damaged cruciate ligaments and he’ll be out for 8 months. So not only am I robbed of a key player, but I can’t even sell him in summer.

Parma (H): Coric (54) Cristante (71)

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April 2019

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Milan (A): 45’ from a throw on the right we quickly switched it out to Kolarov on the opposite flank, he delivered a cross about 6 yards out and Ünder volleyed in at the back post! 69’ Donnarumma cleared it long and Manolas could only head it into the path of Castillejo, who ran down the left and crossed for Piatek, despite turning away from goal with 2 men on him he got a shot at goal, the rebound came straight back to him and he equalised. 76’ El Shaarawy’s wide free kick was headed away, Schick recovered it and quickly gave it to Pastore on the edge of the area and he smashed it low into the corner!

Chievo (A): Riccardi (1) Manolas (64) Schick (89)

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Liverpool (H): Alisson will miss both legs of this, but I still think we’re the overwhelming underdogs for this one, especially given Marcano’s injury means we have the immobile Fazio (10 Acc & Pace) and declining Kolarov (10 Acc) going up against Salah, Man and Firmino. So for the first time this season I made a tactical tweak and dropped the Line Of Engagement and Defensive Line down to the default level for this mentality (any lower would just invite long shots galore). 25’ Shaqiri played a free kick to Mané outside the area (despite having a guy set to ‘Edge of Area’ nobody marked him), he played a one-two with Shaqiri, took a touch and then curled one into the far side. 66’ I decided considering they were no highlights for either side I should put my defensive lines back where they were. 77’ a good team move was finished off when Schick came deep and played a through ball for El Shaarawy to finish first-time! 83’ they countered us and Mané crossed for Keïta to put them back ahead. 85’ we scored literally the same goal as last time!! We continued to create chances but Mignolet proved up to it sadly. I shouldn’t have adapted my tactic, we might have out-scored them, as it is we’re effectively down 3-2 and probably out of the tie.

Genoa (H): Pastore (pen 7) Kluivert (30, 86) Dzeko (47)

Liverpool (A): No alterations this time - going out in a blaze of glory! 17’ we had a throw deep inside our half on the right, played short Zaniolo, Pellegrini and Nzonzi exchanged passes to work space before Nzonzi launched it over the top, Schick ran onto it, dribbled into the box and smashed it into the far side of the net! 24’ Liverpool built up slowly, Firmino and Mané played a one-two, Mané crossed, Fazio - the Dejan Lovren of this project I’m building? - missed his header and Salah volleyed it past Olsen. 32’ El Shaarawy blocked an Alexander-Arnold cross, Schick ran onto the deflection, carried it down the left and crossed for Ünder to volley home! 40’ Liverpool retaliated, Henderson turned in Mané’s cutback. 45+1’ Olsen caught a cross, launched it out to the right, Ünder beat Robertson but the Scot recovered to block his cross which ricocheted to Zaniolo in the middle and he drew 3 men with a dribble before sliding it in for El Shaarawy with the first-time finish! 76’ Zaniolo was forced off with a groin strain (out for a month). 84’ Chekhov’s Dejan Lovren turned it into the net off a corner but it was rightfully disallowed for offside. Somehow we’re through! Vengeance for last season!!

Sassuolo (A): I would like to say I lost because I got cocky and/or had one eye on the Coppa Italia final, but the truth is most of the team functioned well however Rick Karsdorp decided to offer his own unique interpretation of the wing back role - he physically appeared to be there whilst offering nothing offensively or defensively.

Milan (N): 4’ Florenzi pushed over Kessie in the box and the Ivorian converted the penalty. 57’ with plenty of options available Manolas chose to turn towards our goal at half-way, wait for Suso to tackle him then chase in vain as the Milan winger set up Cutrone to make it 2. 65’ from a free kick inside our own half we expertly went up the field, Pellegrini setting up El Shaarawy with the through ball. It’s not over! 70’ Milan had a corner, we cleared it out to the flanks where Ünder picked it up, skipped past Mauri on his way towards the edge of the Milan box where he crossed for El Shaarawy, who got into the box then hit the near post, but placed the rebound past Donnarumma and in off the far post! 105’ Cristante and Pellegrini exchanged multiple passes near the centre circle before we went for the jugular, Pellegrini to Pastore out wide to Florenzi and crossed low for Ünder to put us ahead! That proved to be the winner - the club’s first trophy since 2008!!!!

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I was planning on effectively throwing the Inter game, but the inbox item below gave me pause for thought as whilst that 5 point gap may appear insurmountable in their last 4 games I Gobbi had lost to Inter and Lazio and drew at Milan, and once this round of fixtures was over we’d have arguably the easiest run-in. Plus I didn’t expect to win my upcoming Champions League tie with Man City anyway…

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Inter (H): Well, I had hoped to play a strong lineup here but given we only had 2 days gap after playing 120 minutes against Milan none of my first choice players were up for it. So I switched to a 4-1-4-1 in the hope of compensating for this absurdly unsuited back four:

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For the most it was an even, scrappy game as we couldn’t really create much but our new bottom-heavy structure prevented Inter getting any opportunities. Eventually when we were tiring 82’ an Inter corner was headed away, Schick missed his interception and Asamoah got enough space to squeeze a shot in. That result pretty much confirms Juventus will be champions again (they’re probably going to get over 90 points) but given that line-up conceding less than 4 goals is an overwhelming positive.

Edited by zlatanera
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May 2019

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Man City (A): Our one-club assault on the accursed English Premier League continues with a trip to the home of the most effective sports-washers in the world! We go back to the 4-4-1-1 that has served us well this campaign. 36’ from a throw on the left they passed it back around the defence to the right, the cross came in and deflected off Florenzi into our net. 45’ Florenzi took an attacking throw short to Nzonzi, he moved it on to Pellegrini 30 yards out, he drove to the edge of the D and slashed a shot into the net!! At half time I foolishly allowed van Basten to take my team talk, he told the players he was delighted but they’re more ambitious than him so it was negative reactions all round. 55’ they took a short throw on the left and a few quick passes later Sané had space in the box to hit one low at the near post. 86’ after subbing him on for Nzonzi, De Rossi went off injured with Pulled Ankle Ligaments and will miss the 2nd leg, but luckily we held on without further concessions.   

Sampdoria (A): Sampdoria have skipped the real life expense of hiring Eusebio de Francesco and gone straight from Marco Giampaolo (sacked) to Claudio Ranieri. What followed was - inevitably given our fatigue and Ranieri’s style - a poor game but two goals from Kluivert (11, 25) got the job done.

Man City (H): That away goal in the first leg would seem crucial but given we leak like a sieve in Champions League 2nd legs our only hope is to out-score them. Given no fit attacking midfielders I decided to go for a 4-4-2, Dzeko as CF-Su and Schick as CF-At. 8’ we built centrally with Ünder crossing onto the left side before playing it out to Kolarov, who looked up and saw 4 men attacking the box, crossing to the far post where Schick headed in across Emerson! 13’ Dzeko dropped deep into our half to make an interception, laying it off to Pellegrini who spotted Schick’s run and launched it over the top, the young Czech pulled left of the goalkeeper to make space and placed it just out of reach! 45+2’ we had a free kick on the right of the box and Kolarov hit it so powerfully the keeper getting a hand to it couldn’t stop it! 52’ we won the ball back near half-way, reset amongst our left-sided defenders before working it to Pellegrini, who launched yet another ball into space for Schick, he shaped to curl it into the far side and powered it in low at the near post for his hat-trick!! We’re in the final!!

Empoli (H): A bore draw.

SPAL (H): Pellegrini (7) Pastore (30)

Udinese (A): Kluivert (5) Pussetto go (40) Dzeko (pen 69)

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Champions League Final 2019

Atlético are reigning La Liga and Copa del Rey champions, albeit with the lowest points total (84) to win the Spanish league since Real Madrid's (76) 2006/07 title win. Still that's an impressive achievement and in combination with this being their 3rd final in 6 years has led myself and the media to make us heavy underdogs.

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Thanks to Young Boys' exploits in getting Lucien Favre sacked (Arsène Wenger now manages Dortmund, incredibly assisted by Thierry Henry!) Los Rojiblancos arguably had the easier road to the final although they had to take out the megastars of Qatar and Catalonia, whilst we single-handedly eliminated England from Europe. 

Both teams go in with reasonably good fitness levels as we're only missing the long-term absentee (and most likely spent force) Diego Perotti whilst Koke and Diego Godín are missing for the enemy. 

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Oh, and did I mention its a home game for them? Both in terms of them being deemed the 'home' team and it actually taking place at the Wanda! Anyhow they lined up in their classic 4-4-2, Rodri-Partey being a very defensive-minded centre so hopefully we can get some control there and prevent them getting the ball to Griezmann (27 goals this season) and Diego Costa (25 goals this season). We stick to our 4-4-1-1 as Simeone's style won't lend itself to being destroyed by a 4-4-2 the way Guardiola's did. Other than Zaniolo getting the nod at AMC over Pastore due to having 7 more points in Work Rate this is my first choice XI. 

The first half was extremely uneventful - Morata came on for Diego Costa at 45+2' due to a knock (I think, wasn't paying much attention) whilst Nzonzi picked up a yellow. 

The second half was also uneventful - two hard-running teams living up to their reputations by refusing to let a game of football break out! So before extra time I switched to the 4-4-2, sacrificing Zaniolo for Schick and also swapping out Nzonzi for Daniele De Rossi - after watching Gladiator during our run to the final I've reawakened my romantic side!

93' Manolas paused on the ball, then passed to Marcano who sprayed it out to El Shaaraway, he cut inside before laying it off to the overlapping Kolarov whose cross found Ünder...who was fouled! VAR gave a penalty. De Rossi stepped up and coolly slotted it away!!!

Straight from the kick-off Atléti tried to release Griezmann, Manolas headed it right forcing Florenzi to head it right into the path of Lemar, who skinned him and crossed for Morata to head them level.

105' I brought on Pastore for Ünder, with 1 eye on holding it for penalties. 

120' came round with no goals and I brought on Cristante for Manolas gambling there wouldn't be last minute corner. Then it was penalties!

We have no outstanding takers, but we have 9 players on the pitch with 12 or higher for penalties. 

 

First up, Filipe Luís...scored.

Pastore...scored!

Lemar...scored.

Schick...scored!

Kalinic...saved by Olsen!!

Dzeko...scored!

Vitolo...scored.

Pellegrini...missed completely. Oh god.

Morata...scored.

De Rossi...scored!! Sudden death now!

Correa...scored.

Cristante...saved by Oblak. Gah, that was cruel. 

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I'm left wondering what would have happened if I'd shouted Concentrate immediately after De Rossi's penalty, but ultimately nobody expected us to get this far so I'm really proud of the team. At our current rate of improvement - semi-finals under EDF in 2018, final in 2019...we're going to win it next year!

Edited by zlatanera
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Final League Table & Club Awards

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Despite the media dubbing it a five way title race in truth nobody was catching Juventus as Cristiano Ronaldo picked up where he left off in Spain hitting 27 league goals to win Capocannoniere, and they held the top spot from match day 18 onwards. The whole top five finished strongly, if Karsdorp hadn't threw in the towel against Sassuolo in April we'd have been 2nd. Given the strength of the league though top four is an outstanding achievement, especially paired with our Coppa success and European run, add in that we kept Lazio in the 2nd tier competition and it feels extra sweet. We had an outstanding defensive record with only 22 goals conceded - best in the league - with Olsen keeping 21 clean sheets in 35 games (Mirante got 3 games to dissuade him from retiring - decision impending - and had 1 shutout) although I'll hope to score more goals next season. 

Fiorentina are a surprise given their real life form but the squad was definitely capable of it, the positions of Torino and Milan are more surprising as the latter's squad has some real quality. There's no surprise in the teams that got relegated although if it weren't for the points deduction Chievo would only have been 1 win from safety. Sampdoria had looked like going down at one point, losing 7 of their first 11 games including losing 3-7 to Lazio, but they ditched Giampaolo (who always seems to fare on FM much like he did in real life at Milan) and brought in Claudio Ranieri to keep them safe. 

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DLP was an unglamorous role, so both CM-Su getting in our Team of the Season is no surprise, but other than no Nzonzi that is my first choice XI for the season. Given so much of our success was based around rearguard action its no surprise 3/4 of the defence dominated the fans' vote for Player of the Season. Pellegrini's goal was a real peach, playing a one-two to work himself some space 35 yards out then hitting a curling shot than just bent inside the far post.

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With goals although there appears to be a slight bias towards the strikers without Schick's hat-trick against City whilst playing a 4-4-2 the distribution would look much more even with all of the front 5 contributing which was cool. Likewise assists came from all the front 5 and also the full back position. The AMC role didn't contribute as much as I'd hoped though - excluding penalties Pastore scored 4 and assisted 6 in all competitions (although Looks For Pass Rather Than Attempting To Score might have something to do with it) whilst Zaniolo, admittedly a rookie but one with high attributes, contributed 3 assists. I'm torn between hoping to get more out of them or switching to a formation without an AMC and offloading the high-earning Argentine. 

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Champions League & Individual Awards

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Olsen got 6 clean sheets in 13 matches which was good enough to win Goalkeeper of the Season, Kolarov performed much better than a full back with 10 Acceleration has any right to in the top continental competition, and its good to see Pellegrini gain recognition despite his penalty miss in the final. 

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So there appears to have been literally no competition for this award but still, averaging over a 7 despite being included in that lineup against Inter (out of position there too) shows young Bouah has a bright future ahead of him!

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Riccardi also surprisingly came good, those 2 goals both being from outside the area despite him having little recognised finishing ability. 

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Similar to Bouah there appears to have been little competition for this award as Zaniolo appears to have gotten it by virtue of making more appearances. Next season should be better.

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I get the option for a training camp about once every 50 seasons of FM I play (excluding the pre-season that you're dropped in to at the start of the save), which frustrates me as I find it a nice added level of realism so to get the option for my first full pre-season with the club is pretty neat. We'll be heading up to the mountains of Valle d'Aosta to escape the summer heat and get the lads fighting fit!

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Future - Tactics & Transfers

I believe I've mentioned the club's substantial debts before but it bears repeating: we're paying off €1.6m / month until 2023 as the chairman loaded the club with €244m in debts to himself and the bank (€228m remaining) and whilst its nice that there is no interest on either of those loans that is still...not great. At one point the transfer revenue I'd see added into my budgets was a mere 35% although I negotiated it up to 50% once we got all the funds from the Champions League run. 

I presently have €39m to re-shape my squad and I'm looking to sign 1-2 Goalkeepers (Mirante is retiring and I want an improvement on Olsen), 1 Right Back (Karsdorp has been moaning about a new contract but I'm not going to make him a Key Player when I have Florenzi), 2-3 Centre Backs (Juan Jesus is rubbish, Fazio is 32 and has interest from China and although I like him I'd negotiate any offers for Marcano), 1 Central Midfielder (my change of tactic means Javier Pastore is likely finished at the club and Gérson looks a little lightweight) and 1 Winger (Perotti's injury could keep him out until December and a cruciate injury is going to remove what pace he had). So yeah, better get wheeling and dealing! 

1 position I won't be buying in however is left back. Kolarov will remain first choice, Santon will be sold (he's performed fine but he's right-footed which harms our offensive play and isn't that great mentally) and Luca Pellegrini will be promoted to the first team:

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He may have only contributed 2 assists and averaged 6.66 over the season but Cagliari finished a lowly 16th, scoring only 31 goals which excuses the offensive output and he held down a starting birth for a Serie A team in his first full season as a professional. He'll get a year under Kolarov's tutelage then the Bosnian will probably be released opening up the opportunity for the other L. Pellegrini to make left back his spot for the next decade!

Our 4-4-1-1 tactic was more successful than I could have hoped, but personnel (in particular a couple of declining personnel) means I'm going to change it to the 4-1-4-1 I previously used in the narrow loss to Inter where I played a back line of three full backs and a defensive midfielder:

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The back line stays the same as before, although I'm hoping to sign a more aggressive Sweeper Keeper behind them. The wide men stay in the midfield line as with the decline of Kolarov I don't want them positioned so high he has to cover his entire flank solo. The DLP drops to the DM position, the CM-Su moves over and the AM becomes a CM-At for two reasons. Firstly the AM role just didn't take like I wanted it to, Zaniolo is a natural CM as well so I'm hoping by pulling him back and making him into another runner from the midfield line he'll terrorise defences a bit more. Secondly Daniele De Rossi signed on until 2020 with the option of another year but physically he's shot, fielding him in a midfield duo seems too risky so I've taken a lesson from the post-Milan career of Andrea Pirlo and put two younger midfielders either side of him to do his running for him. Furthermore it is entirely possible I could end up signing less technical centre backs rather than my usual BPDs in which case having the playmaker as a closer option for them will help build-up and ease the risk of turnovers with nobody to recover. 

Edited by zlatanera
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Feature Discovery

In all my previous attempts at utilising a Director of Football I'd found myself frustrated with his effectiveness in the transfer market - one of the flaws being that unlike the human manager he would seemingly only negotiate 1 transfer at a time (as the rumour went for Ed Woodward last summer) often meaning that by the time he withdrew from my top target over £1k/week differences in wages, my 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. choices had also moved clubs. So imagine my intrigue when I accidentally clicked the wrong button and discovered this:

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I took a couple of re-reads to make sure this feature is going to work as I hoped, the key words to notice there are ultimately signing one player. This isn't for speeding him up signing a whole host of targets, this is effectively giving him your shortlist for a position and waiting to see if he brings in one of your targets i.e. very realistic and exactly what I was complaining about! So, here are my groups:

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I've tried to get three targets for each grouping, but outside of Mancini and MIlenkovic I'd have to have a real rethink of who I want to partner Manolas next season, and with the 'Rotational Winger' group my first choice would be Matteo Politano but he's joining Inter after his loan so I can't assign him (I was curious to see if, as sometimes happens in real life, once he joined Inter I could immediately open negotiations so will add him in once I get to 1st July). Fingers crossed this works!

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18 hours ago, zlatanera said:

Feature Discovery

Spoiler

 

In all my previous attempts at utilising a Director of Football I'd found myself frustrated with his effectiveness in the transfer market - one of the flaws being that unlike the human manager he would seemingly only negotiate 1 transfer at a time (as the rumour went for Ed Woodward last summer) often meaning that by the time he withdrew from my top target over £1k/week differences in wages, my 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. choices had also moved clubs. So imagine my intrigue when I accidentally clicked the wrong button and discovered this:

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I took a couple of re-reads to make sure this feature is going to work as I hoped, the key words to notice there are ultimately signing one player. This isn't for speeding him up signing a whole host of targets, this is effectively giving him your shortlist for a position and waiting to see if he brings in one of your targets i.e. very realistic and exactly what I was complaining about! So, here are my groups:

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I've tried to get three targets for each grouping, but outside of Mancini and MIlenkovic I'd have to have a real rethink of who I want to partner Manolas next season, and with the 'Rotational Winger' group my first choice would be Matteo Politano but he's joining Inter after his loan so I can't assign him (I was curious to see if, as sometimes happens in real life, once he joined Inter I could immediately open negotiations so will add him in once I get to 1st July). Fingers crossed this works!

 

 

Well it didn't work, quite spectacularly in fact. Despite after the screenshot was taken then assigning maximum bids, squad status, contract offers and wage limits he made absurdly low non-negotiable bids, refused to move onto anyone else at the same time as Gianluca Mancini and generally added like the worst of the FM19 AI until all my targets were at other clubs (in some cases spurred on by my interest). So I reloaded. Some people may frown upon that but I see it was a feature not working as intended ruining my enjoyment of the game, so I'm not ashamed. I then tried setting up the groups again but negotiating the transfer bids myself, figuring the preset limitations would then come into play...but once I bid for a player manually they disappeared from the list. So its back to just manually bidding for players - unless they have really low release clauses. 

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Another Reload

So I did eventually finish that transfer window and, well...it was a monster. But I'm reloading - first I'll show what I did then explain why.

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As you can see to go with our record sale we also broke our record purchase in somehow beating out PSG, Manchster United and Real Madrid for Federico Chiesa. There was a strong domestic theme as we bought Sassuolo's right wing and Fiorentina's wonderkid core as well as Fiorentina academy product Gianluca Mancini and 'Future FM Legend Sandro Tonali' as I have just dubbed him. So not only did I manage to offload the deadwood for £140m, but despite that I also sold our best defender yet arguably ended up with an improved defence and attack. So why the hell am I reloading back to just after the Champions League Final? (Yeah I'm never going to reload for a result, or even an unhappy player unless it was mis-click, its just transfer windows).

Well, in order to keep things interesting I like to set myself challenges. I mentioned the two main ones in the opening posts - my use of the Balanced mentality and my use of the Director of Football role. But another two I have just in my head are a) try to actually keep a squad structure, rather than ending up like I did with my Lyon save where my squad was so deep I rotated the entire outfield every match and b) not to sign a bunch of guys I've already used. I know every save can be different due to tactics etc. but what is the point of just building the same squad of wonder kids every time? 

I failed a) in signing Berardi and Chiesa - the former on a First Team contract when I just wanted a Rotation option to back up Cengiz Ünder, and latter on a Key Player contract when he'd compete with a spot on the left for First Team player El Shaarawy. 

I failed b) in that I've played a one season save with Fiorentina already on FM19 and intend to have one in the future, as well as playing with them on FM17 and 18 so I'm intimately familiar with how to use Lafont, Milenkovic and Chiesa. I've also had a brilliant Sassuolo save on FM16 where I got the best out of Berardi for 3 seasons before selling him on, but that's less of an issue given the time passed. 

So I'm going to go back to 6th June 2019 and try again, although Tonali is confirmed as I sorted it in February I’m expecting a much different look to my squad at the close of the window. In particular I'm not going to single-handedly kill Fiorentina's revival when without my intervention they'd most likely only lose Chiesa and thus become more competitive in the league. Watch this space!

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Summer Transfer Window 2019

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So here we are again, the end of the Serie A transfer window in early August. Similar to last time I managed to extract a high price from Premier League clubs for deadwood (Santon, Fazio), a troublemaker (Karsdorp), and got PSG to put up €55m for a 30-year old DM with Dwells On Ball as a trait. Manolas again requested to play in England and Manchester United obliged us with a club record fee. I was quite pleased to more than double our money on Maxime Gonalons too. Despite bringing in €230m and spending less than half of it I honestly believe our first team squad is stronger now. 

The New Guys

Spoiler

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Robin Olsen performed well, but there was always just a feeling I could do better, in particular for a Sweeper Keeper. Initially I looked at the real-life signing of Pau López but he wasn't actually much of an upgrade on the incumbent in terms of mobility. Then, as I've show, I considered Alban Lafont and also David Soria, before deciding to throw caution to the wind and continue my @crusadertsar tribute act by following up Champions League qualification and a Coppa Italia triump by bringing in David Raya from Blackburn Rovers. His Communication is a bit low but that Rushing Out, Acceleration and Vision are unheard of for anyone outside of the Ter Stegen, Neuer, Alisson bracket. 

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Pol Lirola is pretty much an ideal backup for Florenzi - more of a winger than a full back, with Vision which is rare in his position. He had a release clause which helped speed up the transfer, and is reasonably two-footed which will be good in an injury crisis.

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A player I've wanted to sign on quite a few FM19 saves now, I finally got my Man(cini). The Fiorentina academy grad is a more competent on the ball replacement for Manolas as a starting centre back. Surprisingly there was no other interest in him which allowed us to keep the wages decent (also surprising was Monchi offering him a decent deal but that's for later).

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Onguéné wasn't even on my shortlist at the start of the window, but as Monchi kept burning bridges with other targets such as Genoa's Cristian Romero by offering them lower wages than they were already on I was quite pleased to see him pop up in my recommendations. I intervened personally to get the contract sorted (Monchi offered 1/3 of what we're now paying him), he'll rotate with Marcano this season then probably be Mancini's full time partner next season - slightly less technical but more physically dominant than the Italian it should be a good partnership.

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The wonderkid every FM19 Calcio save needs, Tonali had a €6m release clause which I activated in February, completely unopposed which was a surprise. He'll backup De Rossi this season as a DLP then I plan to use him as a Regista in future years.

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With Diego Perotti's injury I needed another winger, and although I like to use Inside Forwards as my WMs, Kluivert on the right is slightly better with his Right foot than his left and I like to have the variation in my options. Laínez had a release clause and I'd always wanted him on my Lyon save, now I have him! He'll hopefully really challenge El Shaarawy in 2020/21.

The Tactic

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As promised, we now go to a 4-1-4-1. Due to the more defensive shape I've removed the Overlap instructions and bumped up Florenzi's mentality - the WMs will now offer the striker more close support by being more aggressive in their movement, and we'll have more attacking thrust from my athletic right backs than the ageing Kolarov on the left. Zaniolo is better suited to CM than Pastore so will be first choice (I only kept Pastore around as I think he'll make a good Regista in 2020/21). Raya is a natural SK-At but I find that role costs you 3 goals per season through dawdling on the ball, his attributes should mean he plays pretty aggressively on a Su duty too, especially with Focus Play Through The Middle affecting him. 

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August 2019

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Milan (A): Two debuts, with David Raya starting in goal and Gianluca Mancini slotting into Manolas’ old DCR position ahead of him. There’s a curious symmetry to the opposing defences as Milan signed Sead Kolasinac over summer, meaning each team has an offensive Italian right back and a slightly more withdrawn Bosnian left back. 22’ Marcano headed in from a corner but De Rossi had fouled Donnarumma so VAR cancelled it. Ultimately a bore draw.

Udinese (H): De Rossi (pen 7) Ünder (12) El Shaarawy (19) Pellegrini (45, 60) Pastore (71)

Cagliari (H): Zaniolo (16) Pellegrini (18, 66) Schick (pen 48).

I'm normally not such a fan of the long shot highlights, but the technique on Pellegrini's 2nd goal against Cagliari was brilliant. 

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September 2019

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Napoli (A): 30’ El Shaarawy sent in the corner and Mancini rose at the far post to head home! 40’ a short throw was quickly worked for El Shaarawy to shoot just inside the box, it was blocked but the rebound fell to Cristante who blasted it low at the near post! 44’ Lirola threw to De Rossi, got it back and crossed towards the 6 yard box, and El Shaarawy headed in. 59’ Zielinski pulled one back but VAR disallowed it for offside. 65’ after a period of sustained pressure Ghoulam crossed for Insigne to volley in. 90+4’ Allan finished off a counter to make the scoreline more flattering to Napoli.

Spartak Moscow (A): Laínez (41)

Fiorentina (A): 30’ we carefully worked the ball around the box before Ünder set up Zaniolo 20 yards out, the young Italian powering one into the net! 68’ Ünder’s cross was over-hit, but El Shaaraway recovered it and when he swung it in again Dzeko was there to head in! 89’ from a counter Benassi pulled one back at close range.

Juventus (H): A clean sheet against Juve is never unwelcome, but we should have created more.

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October 2019

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A. Madrid (H): I didn’t expect an opportunity to avenge our final defeat so soon, but here we are.  Straight from kick off they played it back, down the right, Diego Costa dropped deep then ran across the pitch before laying it off to Vitolo, who squared it to Griezmann on the edge of the box, he turned and rocketed a shot into the top corner. At half-time Lirola picked up a knock, forcing me to field Lorenzo Pellegrini at right back (Florenzi is already out for a month). 56’ Ünder was forced off as well. 66’ Kolarov took his throw short and we quickly moved it to Cristante who levelled it up from the D! 75’ Morata, deep on the right, drew 3 men to him before crossing for Griezmann to finish from a tight angle. 75’ another Kolarov short throw this time made it further over to Pellegrini whose left-footed shot gave Oblak no chance!

Frosinone (H): Laínez (17) Dzeko (48)

Parma (A): Perotti (38) Schick (41, 77)

Young Boys (H): Dzeko (42) El Shaarawy (52) Zaniolo (87)

Atalanta (A): Schick (77)

Sampdoria (H): Mancini (61)

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November 2019

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Salernitana (A): Perotti (18) Dzeko (44)

Young Boys (A): Mancini (31) Kluivert (82)

Genoa (H): I blame Monchi for this loss to Fatih Terim!!!’s Genoa - he sold Antonio Sanabria, scorer of their opener (Roma academy product Marco D’Alessandro got the 2nd) and he also refused to offer Cristian Romero more than €15k/week, leading to the Argentina playing for the opposition with Dzeko in his back pocket.

Sassuolo (A): Schick (55)

Spartak Moscow (H): Ünder (18, 58 pen 68) Schick (64)

Inter (H): I felt like I wasn’t getting enough out of Dzeko, either in the build-up or in terms of goals, so I changed his role to his natural TM-Su for this game figuring his natural technicality will prevent him just being a knockdown machine. 27’ with Joao Mario going nowhere fast at the edge of the box after a corner Florenzi decided to go through the back of him and get a red. I sacrificed the DM role, pushing the hardworking Zaniolo out wide, Cristante as CM-Su and De Rossi as DLP in the CM strata. De Rossi - who has announced he’ll retire at the end of the season - was an absolute warrior, finishing on 55% condition as we successfully killed the game, with there being more fouls than shots on target yet only 4 of those being committed by us.

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December 2019

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Bologna (A): Going into this game I was surprised to notice we were 2nd, 3 points behind Juventus but Bologna were 3rd only 1 point behind and with an unbeaten home record. 44’ we took a short throw on the left in our own half, Pastore quickly switched it out to Kluivert whose cross from deep found Perotti, Skorupski kept out the initial volley but couldn’t stop the rebound! 76’ Pellegrini’s crossed free kick was headed away and we recycled possession back to Tonali who switched it out to Dzeko lurking on the left wing, he crossed and Kluivert volleyed in!

A. Madrid (A): 10’ Ünder sent a corner towards the near post and Onguéné powered a header into the far corner! 63’ some head-tennis following a corner ended with De Rossi adding our 2nd! 71’ Ünder drove into the box past 3 men, drawing the foul and De Rossi converted the penalty. 89’ a quick counter saw Gelson Martins pull one back.

Palermo (H): Ünder (38) Pastore (90+4)

Entella (H): Capradossi (81)

Lazio (A): Lazio are way down in 18th despite only losing 1 key player (SMS) in the summer. Unsurprisingly Inzaghi has gotten the chop, but more surprisingly is his replacement, Alberto Bollini, was hired from Serie D side Modena. He did have two spells as Under 20s Manager, 1 as Assistant Manager and 1 as Head of Youth Development between 1999 and 2015 but still, a left-field move. 28’ we slowly worked our way up the right before Florenzi crossed, it was headed away by Acerbi and Zaniolo recovered it at the edge of the box, dribbled out and forward into the top left corner of the area and fired a bullet shot at goal, it hit post, Strakosha, post and in! 68’ Ünder drove infield and hit the bar from 35 yards. 87’ Lazio broke like lightning from our corner, Berisha laying it up perfectly for Pedro Neto on the spot and he side-footed wide!

Perugia (H): Pellegrini (3)

Torino (A): Schick (31)

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Mid-Season Review

The Good:

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We topped our Champions League group, unbeaten to boot! Obviously I would have much rather beaten Atlético in May than December, but they're still a fearsome outfit. Some good teams finished 2nd in their groups meaning our draw of Chelsea may actually be one of the kinder ones too. 

Even Better:

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We're top of the league!! Juventus have a game in hand, but given that comes some time in spring when their fixture list will be quite congested (as will ours) they could lose it, especially given Antonio Sanabria's form for Genoa. Back to us though: we're 3 points better off than last season, having scored 3 more and conceded only 1 more. Lazio being 20th makes it all even sweeter! Its disappointing not to see the likes of Sassuolo and Torino in the European spots though - Bologna have only taken 11 points in their past 9 games so I doubt they'll still be there in 6th come May. 

The Bad & The Ugly:

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Put simply, we should be scoring more. Edin Dzeko is a The Bad - only 4 goals in 15 starts is simply not good enough for a guy who doesn't appear to have declined much and is on €160k/week. He may not be getting a contract renewal in summer. 

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This shots analysis screen shows that in particular we're putting too many shots low and wide, which suggests in my head that players with the time to pick out a better shot simply aren't - the high ones are likely to be free kicks and headers from corners. So that is The Ugly.

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All of my strikers and AM's seem to miss the goal a lot also.  The high ones might be Headers....it seems like no one knows how to hit a header low anymore (more like back to the future) on my team.

But otherwise good work with Roma.

Are you thinking of Resurrecting Totti's Trequarista Role?

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@Hootieleece Yeah even Dzeko can't head to save himself - if I recall more of his goals came from him being behind the play, a cross to nobody being weakly headed away and him volleying in than him actually managing to meet a cross in the first place.

In a way, perhaps. Right now I'm seriously considering some Pep-inspired changes to my 4-1-4-1, mainly because Rodri is available to loan for 18 months for only €28,500/week wages and that actually may lead to me using a Treq in the striker position when Schick plays. But the other way to go would be to re-introduce the AM position (De Rossi ends on around 50% condition if he plays a full 90 so I'm already blooding Pastore as a DLP so why not just go back to the 2-man midfield?) and try Zaniolo as either a hard-working Trequartista or a Shadow Striker. 

EDIT: Or now I think about it, perhaps going back to the 5-2-1-2 that they won the Scudetto with the last time, Zaniolo as AM, Schick as CF-Su and sign Luka Jovic as a Poacher. I'd need to coax better performances out of my wingers in order to sell them though as currently only Ünder is wanted. 

Edited by zlatanera
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  • 1 month later...

Il Riavvio

As my last post before abandoning this thread may have suggested, part of the reason for abandoning this save was tactical indecision. But there was also the lost momentum of that summer transfer window (I've no intention of going back to trying transfer groups again), and although we were performing very well I just missed my free-flowing Attacking tactics. I kinda wish I'd stuck it out to see Lazio get relegated, but because I'm a weird obsessive I decided that as the save hadn't lasted two seasons I was unlikely to take it up again and deleted it. On the bright side, I now get the joy of starting over!

...or the pain of failing to live up to (very recent) past glories...

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Il Protagonista

I like to give my managers a bit of a backstory, my latest trend being folding my username into an authentic-seeming name for the nation I'm playing in:

29th February 1984 - a baby is found by a Bosnian (then Yugoslavian) tourist floating along the banks of the Era near the town of Pontedera. Adopted by a family of diehard Roma fans, there are no prizes for guessing which teams he favours. Fluent in Bosnian - as a tribute to his saviour along with his name - he also excelled at English and Spanish in his schooling (some say the latter is why Monchi brought him in despite no footballing experience). [obviously for ease of gameplay I actually have the highest possible qualifications and experience]

June 2018 and Zlatan da Era is presented as the new Roma 'mister', ready to lead his people to the promised land of argenteria...

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La Tattica

Out go the Balanced, compact formations with their emphasis on passing and pressing above all else, and in comes what I now refer to as my ‘Monaco Preset’ given my only tactical recreation came with a set of TIs and role distribution that can easily be adapted to make any team normally in contention for a Champions League spot into a trophy-generating machine. To get more of a focus on possession I add Slightly Shorter Passing and Slightly Lower Tempo.

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Florenzi / Karsdorp | Fazio / Marcano | Nzonzi / De Rossi | Pellegrini / Cristante | El Shaarawy / Perotti | Dzeko / Schick

Obviously what I’ll be expecting is the usual goal-fest, but I’ve put some thought into the distribution of the roles. The aim is by having two playmakers on the left that despite the generally symmetrical mentalities we’ll get a little bit of an overload on that flank. Add in both my ‘Fantasisti’ possessing strong left feet and there should be ample opportunities to play that killer ball over to the opposite side where Ünder’s excellent movement and direct traits should see him wreak havoc. 

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In games where we're the underdogs (in FM terms this probably only means Juventus domestically), we will drop down to a 4-4-1-1 with the tempo and passing set by the Attacking mentality. No alterations are made to the 'In Transition' or 'Out Of Possession' instruction as I'm simply looking to gain more solidity through our formation whilst keeping the overall setup familiar enough for the players to perform at their maximum. If I really want to just do for the jugular, as I did against Manchester City in the previous iteration of this save, I'll move Dzeko over to the left as his natural TM-Su role, swap Pastore for Schick and play him as an AF or CF-At and un-tick Play Out Of DefenceAll of this is hypothetical of course, but I can't see why it won't work.

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Scoperta del Giocatore e Acquisizione dei Talenti

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Mr. Pallotta wants me to develop our own young players and complement that by signing other teams’ youth as well. Hmm…you’d almost think he’d loaded the club with debts!

Anyway, this is an excuse for me to show my scouting set-up:

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I’m going for a targeted approach here: I’ve instructed Monchi to look for young players per the club philosophies, and to scout in Europe due to the nEU regulations. In my Ajax save I was using the style focus to look for Technical players and Distributor goalkeepers, but that was because I was mainly aiming to sign under-18s whom I could do a lot of work on. With Roma though I imagine I'll be going more for players in the 19-25 range. I’ll complement that with 4 short-term focuses, twice annually outside of transfer windows;

  • South America (East)
  • South America (West)
  • North America
  • Under 19s (Italy)

No messing around scouting the entire continent of Africa just in case the next Messi is Ethiopian, I want a high amount of quality players to pick from. The month-long extra focusses get a good coverage of prime youth-developing nations such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, whilst also ensuring I don’t lose out on the ample talent to be found at home.

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I Mentori

As with my last thread I’m going to show my mentoring groups so everyone can see my mistakes and occasional successes.

mentoring.thumb.png.8cd60f42f2d0f4f766e4fcb035f24bf8.png

Two thirds of these groups were really easy to set up;

  • Florenzi and Karsdorp share a position, and Karsdorp and Kluivert have each other set as favoured personnel. Florenzi has higher Determination and a better overall personality than his mentees.
  • As well as De Rossi’s group all being natural central midfielders, Pellegrini has him set as favoured personnel, and Pellegrini and Cristante favour each other. Zaniolò was added as De Rossi is the only player in the squad with higher determination than him.

However the final group gave me some difficulty. Patrik Schick and Cengiz Ünder favour both each other and Edin Dzeko, our 3rd team leader. However Dzeko has only 11 Determination and would only improve Ünder’s personality. So I was left to choose between Fazio, Manolas and Kolarov. Kolarov and Manolas both also favour Dzeko so I figured that can’t hurt. Referring to the mentoring guide one factor to take into account is age. Whilst I presume this is primarily because it will be harder to mentor an older player, I figure a bigger age gap may help mentoring so I chose Kolarov as he has almost 6 years on the Greek.

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Imparando dai miei Errori

Apologies to any actual Italians for my google-translated headings, but its something to keep me intrigued!

In the 'first' iteration of this save I found one thing that was holding me back was team cohesion - I just assumed the pre-arranged pre-season friendlies would get the team to gel, before later adding training sessions to improve things. This time, I targeted it right from the start, folding it into my pre-season. Here's where we were on day one:

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With 9 new faces in the first team its unsurprising we were nowhere near operating as a unit, especially with a new manager and tactical system to learn. I arranged 5 friendlies over a month-long period (three weeks with one fixture each and the fourth week had two) and used the following routines:

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As you can see by the indicators this schedule gives a great increase in cohesion with 5 sessions that increase it (Teamwork is the best) and a game, whilst still getting 4 days of intense physical training to condition the squad for the long season again.

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Of course if you're playing matches you don't want to see your entire team pull muscles after 80 minutes, so I actually gave rest sessions the day before the fixture. But we still get 5 physical and 4 cohesion sessions, with the extra games meaning it improves it more than the other schedule. 

I also set up a 0 game schedule but had no use for it:

Spoiler

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This routine would have had much more of a physical focus, yet giving over an entire day to match prep sessions, along with Team Bonding instead of a Recovery session and the slight boost coming from the Outfield sessions means the team cohesion would still get a boost.

Anyway, come match day one there was a significant improvement:

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As you'll see below, I believe the effort paid off...

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Agosto 2018

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  • Fiorentina (H): El Shaarawy (43) Pellegrini (45). I foolishly decided to give Diego Perotti 5 minutes towards the end as we tired, he promptly damaged his achilles tendon and won’t play until 2019.

  • Juventus (A): 15’ Pellegrini whipped in a free kick from wide, Szcesny parried Kolarov’s volley and Marcano buried the rebound! 86’ we got them on the counter: Marcano intercepted a ball over the top from Pjanic, Ünder to Pellegrini,  out to Kluivert who drove from halfway to the D before sliding it across to Ünder who stood up a cross at the far post for Dzeko to head home! The 4-4-1-1 then 4-4-2 worked just as planned, Juventus having 6 shots all game and generating no real opportunities, and whilst our 1 Clear Cut Chance was the goal for Marcano this was by design as I used my Big Match training schedule which features all of the set piece sessions.

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