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[FM21] The Di Canio Redemption


htgfm
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I’m no West Ham or Lazio fan, but I’ve always loved Paolo Di Canio, both as a player and manager. He straddles the line between genius and nutcase like few others have done, and in my view has been misunderstood and ostracised by many in the British media for no good reason. He is fondly remembered for his goal against Sheffield Wednesday, and his performances for West Ham and Lazio during his playing career, not so much for his time managing Sunderland. I think Di Canio would have made a brilliant manager if he had been allowed to continue, or if another club had given him a chance. Unfortunately, in 2020, it seems no club is prepared to risk drawing criticism by taking a chance and appointing him. But I’m not taking no for answer. I, as him, will play this out on Football Manager and see where it takes us…

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Besides creating an amazingly life like figure (FM’s avatar generation has got insanely good), I feel the attributes are also on point. With a UEFA Pro coaching badge and an International (Continental) reputation, I was able to give him high scores in attacking, determination, motivating and man management, which I feel is accurate (unless you’re Titus Bramble). Knowing his aversion for ketchup, I also have him 15 for fitness coaching.

With Di Canio in the game, the job hunt could begin. It took a while for the season to start and managers to get sacked, but when they did, there were many. Aberdeen, SC Caen, and Derby were some of the teams available, that I thought it was realistic to apply for (with a two/three star reputation). But then, from out of nowhere…

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The chance to start in a top division AND in a European competition was too good to pass up. Galtier had been sacked with Lille languishing in lower mid table, and they needed Di Canio to come in and get things in order.

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Even better, Di Canio gets a three year deal which offers some pretty good job security. It’s an unexpected (but amazing) turn of events to get things started, I honestly thought we would be at Leyton Orient or something. Stay tuned for a squad breakdown, the tactics and our first game in the Europa League against Granada.

Edited by htgfm
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League position & previous results

We’re taking over Lille in 13th place in the league, while we are second in our Europa League group, on the verge of qualifying. It could be a lot worse as you can see.

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The results have been average, but not terrible all things considered. This isn’t a dire situation to come into. Besides the bad losses to Nimes and Brest, it’s pretty much as expected, even if those expectations are high (Lille finished 4th last year).

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The Squad

Squad wise, the strongest XI seems good at first glance, but as you will see later, there are definitely some problems in the squad that need addressing.

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Renato Sanches is the biggest earner, and arguably best player when on form, but there is a lot of good young talent around the squad. Mike Maignan in goal is a French international, while Jonathan Ikone is the main threat up front and has also made appearances for the national team. Although not very highly rated in terms of stars, I also love the look of Timothy Weah, son of George. He looks like another great, young offensive talent. José Fonte, formerly of Southampton, is at the heart of the defence, and even though he’s not getting any younger, is still a great centre back for the French league. But on the whole this is a talented young squad which should be good to build on.

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Tactics

Di Canio is definitely not a defensively minded coach, so we won’t play that way, unless we’re going up against PSG or Lyon. Given the number of excellent wingers we have our formation will look something like below, possibly going for an extra attacking midfielder depending on the game for a more offensive look (and removing the DM). It makes sense to base our game on speed with the counter attack, given that’s where our talent lies. The philosophy though is whatever works, as long as it is done with a high intensity and everyone puts in a shift (I feel that is the Di Canio ideal.

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The first few games

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It started very well with convincing 3-0 win against Granada to secure qualification. Ikoné, Bamba and our midfield maestro Yazici were on the scoresheet in a dominant performance.

The game against Dijon was slightly less good, and we needed an 85th minute goal from Timothy Weah to get the win. Against the team at the bottom of the league, we should have been more comfortable.

The game against Bordeaux was another close fought encounter, and it was an unlucky loss. Both teams were even, but we let Koscielny give Bordeaux the three points from a corner.

Finally, the strategy against PSG was never to go out to win, simply to get a point away from home. Although given how the game went, it’s disappointing to draw. PSG were dominant, but we pounced on a mistake to get in front through Ikone and defended well until the last 10 minutes. Ultimately I think some poor substitutions and an unnecessary formation change let us down, and Mbappé got a last gasp equaliser for PSG at the 94th minute.

Fitness, injury and wage concerns

As we head into January and the winter break, there are some big concerns that need to be addressed. Firstly, injuries.

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José Fonte is out long term due to an ankle break, while David is only just back in the side and lacking sharpness. Ikone has also been playing a lot and looking tired. To counter this, the training needs to be adjusted, as the number of games we have had in a short time has been crazy. The aim is to prevent further injuries, because we can’t keep losing players at the current rate.

The other issue is the wage bill, which is significantly over. I would like to sell the overpaid players in January, and bring in some players to help out at certain positions where we lack bodies while also reducing the wage bill.

Stay tuned, next time will feature the January transfer window plans and big games against Lyon and Lens (in the Coupe de France).

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  • htgfm changed the title to [FM21] The Di Canio Redemption

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