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[FM21] Swiss Army Knife


_Ben_
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August 2036

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Against Basel, who set out in a really defensive 5-1-2-2 formation, our set play work paid off again as we crowded the box before Milosevic somehow beat the keeper to a header to score from six yards. We then undid Basel with some beautiful vertical (and I'll use vertical so I don't say route one!) football where just a flick on from Milosevic was enough to divert keeper Ion's ball into the path of Taseski, who finished spectacularly. Two of my old players, Trabelsi and Mesa, combined to give Basel a way back into it before we allowed them to equalise after some poor keeping from 17-year-old Ion. We nearly had the last laugh though as Taseski and Milosevic, again (see their dangerous pass combinations) teamed up but the young Serb couldn't finish. It gives me so much hope for when first choice Gonzalez returns. Our draw, however, was made much sweeter by the fact that YB has a particularly terrible 90 minutes, losing 7-0 to St. Gallen. It'll be interesting to see how they pick themselves up from it.

Aarau came to town next and we, despite a slow start, had enough to get past them. I did what I have done previously and that was to choose a specific penalty taker for the situation. In this case, I wanted to give Marta an opportunity to get his first goal for the club as he was yet to really perform well enough. I often find a goal, or, at least a good rating, is enough to start a run and settle a player. I do care, somewhat, about their Penalty Taking attribute but I care more about their body-language; I will not choose anyone who has a less-than-positive body language or is complacent, for example. In this case, it was enough and he netted comfortably. Milosevic, this time, turned provider with a nice cross from the right that Costa nodded in. 3-0 and we had successfully made it through the period of time with a hugely depleted first team. However, it was a successful time for the nine lads as they brought home Olympic gold from South Africa '36 - the first Olympics on the African continent, coming just four years after it was held in Qatar.

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We travelled to Lausanne for our cup tie, resting all the Olympians bar keeper Herzog playing a heavily rotated squad - only Pece Taseski had appeared in every minute of the season and was among the starters. We were, quite frankly, wasteful, scoring three times from 3.33xG, which included 29 attempts on goal. Still, there was a 7.0+ performance by every starter with the only downside being substitute Jonathan Royer lasting just three minutes of his comeback before being forced off with a hamstring strain, ruling him out of the next month, rat least. My u21 squad, the holders (how weird to say that!) also won their tie against Bruhl quite easily.

What followed was potentially the worst 90 minutes of football in my Luzern career. Just 0.21xG created against YB, who put us to the sword and ended our 46 game unbeaten run. When we have lost, domestically, over the past four years or so, it's been because we have been caught on the break after camping in their half. However, here, we were just second to everything and barely looked interested. As has been the case in the past in these big games - Ole Berendt didn't turn up - just 19 completed passes with no key passes and no attempts at a rating of just 6.1. 

 I needed a response against early table-toppers Sion and that we did, restricting them to a handful of chances and taking two good ones ourselves. The downside - we lost Milosevic for a month with a partially torn ACL meaning that I'm down to now-makeshift forwards Costa and Taseski.

I have this to look forward to next month, also...

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We cannot lose again!

----

I had planned a nice little detail into our own defensive set plays but it seems that, from closer inspection, there is little variation from the opposition.

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My plan was to run this for at least ten games and see how many players the opponents sent forward for corners, to see whether my routines were efficient based on our silly concession against Servette. However, it appears that the teams are reactive to us and only send forward as many players as we don't send back. Against Zurich and Servette, I kept one player forward, so they send six forward but against Basel, I kept two forward, meaning they sacrificed another attacking option. 

I want to ensure that we are a counter-attacking option from our defensive corners so will continue to play around with it but now, at least, I can see (albeit from a tiny sample but literally every corner setup was the same bar some differences in delivery place) that I, in a sense, control how the opposition attack corners.

I also decided to spend a little time on my offensive set pieces and came up with two rotating systems. Whilst we are pretty decent at converting corners, I do feel that, with just one setup - we can easily be marked or worked out. I've added a second, far post delivery, routine:

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The plan for this one (first image) is to reduce crowding in the box and back my two defenders to come up trumps in aerial battles with plenty of runners free to gather up any loose balls. I'll see how they play out over the next couple of months and feedback on this, plus anything else I can find out about defensive corners. At this point, particularly in Europe, it's the smallest things that will add up to make a difference and win us a tie we may otherwise have lost.

---

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A word of Zhao Qi.

THE shining light of the academy from when he joined us, the youngster has played 82 times for the u21 squad, with a highly impressive 42 goal contributions in that time. My concern though is that he is stagnating and not making any further progress. I am aware that the game favours training and not football at ages below 18 and I am aware that, with my setup, that's not entirely possible as, even if I kept him locked in the u18 squad, my u21 manager would still pick him. The extent of his stalling is clear, below:

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Worrying considering that just 12 months ago, I was earmarking him to move into the first team. Yes, he played well - double figures for goals and assists but his attribute development was very poor over the last twelve months, with gains only really coming from when he's been warned over poor performances. However, looking at his scouting report - my staff believe he's good enough for the Super League so maybe this is the reason why - he's just not being challenged at the level he is at. He's been on the loan list for a while but I didn't want to let him leave to second tier clubs. However, Pacos de Ferreira have just come in for a loan deal for him. They are midtable in the top flight of Portugal but their manager, Pedro Ribeiro, has a style that will really fit my playmaker: Controlling possession and working the ball from one end to the other meaning he'll be on the ball and, hopefully, allowed to pull the strings a lot.

He'll be joining an ever-growing group of players, below, who are hoping for the same kick-on as he.

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This includes Stefan Jelic, who has really taken me by surprise with his sudden boom in attributes and quality. I try not to loan out under 18 players, as a rule, but he was behind Valdemar Freire in the u21 squad so I broke with my ideology and allowed him to go into the second tier (where my u21 squad play) to be a first team player at Thun. He's certainly started his career well! He could actually do himself some massive favours this season. There are some holes in his game, such as his Work Rate, Dribbling and his Anticipation but they'll come with time and match practice.

How about this for a striking trio in years to come?

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55 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

August 2036 - Champions League draw

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We've turned a corner against Lyon after two wins last year. Progress again this year? I hope so!

Good results here will be great for yours and the clubs reputation. I wonder if your youth intakes become a bit more interesting in the next few years? 

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38 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

However, it was a successful time for the nine lads as they brought home Olympic gold from South Africa '36 - the first Olympics on the African continent, coming just four years after it was held in Qatar.

d419bf05a09bf8b53517786fc7ec91f9.png

That’s pretty amazing! And having so many players in the squad speaks to how well your helping to progress Swiss football.

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This is a brilliant career update thread Ben, the best I've ever seen on this site. What are your tactics looking like these days, have you changed much other than the CM roles? I know you talk about teaching suitable traits to some players, do you get bogged down in many PI's or keep it simple and use the traits to influence your players' behaviour?

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22 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Good results here will be great for yours and the clubs reputation. I wonder if your youth intakes become a bit more interesting in the next few years? 

 

3 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I hope so too! 

Yeah - we're making real strides in terms of continental reputation and are on the up in terms of our co-efficients:

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22 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

That’s pretty amazing! And having so many players in the squad speaks to how well your helping to progress Swiss football.

The full national team is 42nd in the world, which is a shame but their top players are well known to me, at least:

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22 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

All lefties :D

Who plays on the right?

It's kind of on purpose, actually. With the way we play and our left-sided overload, I like a left footed striker, who, naturally, drifts out to the left and leaves space for the Mez(a) to get further forward. I could maybe look to expose that even more by asking the winger to cross to the back post.

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21 hours ago, john1 said:

Such a shame Zhao Qi development has stalled a bit :( Hopefully with him going to Portugal, will aid his development.

Fingers crossed!

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1 hour ago, shaneomac said:

This is a brilliant career update thread Ben, the best I've ever seen on this site. What are your tactics looking like these days, have you changed much other than the CM roles? I know you talk about teaching suitable traits to some players, do you get bogged down in many PI's or keep it simple and use the traits to influence your players' behaviour?

Thank you so much! It's certainly just an extension of how much I've put into the game myself - so it's nice to hear people appreciate reading as much as I do playing and putting my own thoughts into words!

As for tactics - I seem to have really focused on small areas but then not the entire shape. My shape has stayed the same but we have evolved from much shorter, possession based football to more direct, vertical, counter attacks - and that was due to the fact I recruited two wingers in Ribic and Magola, who have bags of pace. The current shape is like this:

f1056cfc8d188fc9ade9527fe0d40365.png

I've spent a lot of time working on the midfield two and I think I'm happy with it, right now. I've also started playing around with the IWB(s)/WM(s) combo - in particular because Marta is, as I said a few posts back, a Box-to-Box Winger, and can add defensive solidity allowing the IWB(s) to tuck in. I'm still not entirely happy with how the IWB(s) and HB(d) work together but, really, most other things are working pretty well!

The PI's are just for the wide midfielder at the moment. I, admittedly, have gone about this the wrong way - adding them all and then slowly removing them. I should use a blank slate and see how Marta and Magola do before maybe personalising them. I think, for example, I'd have to ask Magola to cross more as it's not something he likes to do - whereas Marta is naturally better at it.

I've also got to just work out whether the combo of Attacking/Much Higher Tempo actually makes us a little wasteful as we rush our chances. I moved to Attacking without altering the tempo but I know it'll naturally increase it.

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On 09/08/2021 at 08:56, _Ben_ said:

May 2036 (Part 1)

With May marking the end of the season and the usual statistical analysis, I wanted to split my updates into two so I can focus on some recruitment stuff that I've been doing in preparation for next season. As you have seen, I have already sorted the Half Back role with the signing of Lukasz Bednarek but I still want a winger, at least.

My scouting team were able to find this gem:

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Rogério Marta, currently playing at Lens in Ligue 1.

For context, Lens are 8th and managed by Antonin Barak, who prefers a Route One styled 4-2-3-1, playing Marta predominantly as a left winger in, presumably, an IW style role. This comparison pits Marta against all other Ligue 1 wingers who have played more than 1000 minutes. I wanted someone who could cross the ball better than Magola does (15 Crossing vs 8 Crossing) and 1.36 crosses/90 against Magola's 0.85. I really like that Marta draws fouls and is also not too shabby with the ability of his passes, despite not actually passing the ball that much. What seals the deal here though is his defensive output - as someone who can also play as a Wing Back, he possesses good all round defensive ability and those statistics, from such an advanced position, are great. 

The downside is that this deal will probably be a record signing for me, beating the €14m I've spent on Ole Berendt. However, he's young and has great potential. 

----

Whilst I was reviewing scout reports, a player I have detailed before was brought to my attention again:

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Now, I know that Stefan is playing in the Serbian Superliga but this comparison is with any forward playing in Europe who has played more than 1000 minutes and is under 23 - so, essentially, the best young forwards on the continent.  He's had a great season, drawing a shedload of fouls and being absolutely lethal in front of goal - which extends for his whole career, with 54 goals in 101 starting appearances for his club. Like Marta before him, I am really impressed with his defensive work, too. I don't play a high block nor do I insist on heavy pressing, instead focusing on a compact, positional defensive block but there is still a necessity for a collective effort at regaining the ball and those interceptions will come in useful as we look to recycle possession.

Stefan has a €2.2m Release Clause and there would be absolutely no issues with wage demands.

do not need Stefan, as I am already well stocked going forward, but what this deal would do is allow me to be very creative with the forward five and their roles and positions, as seen below:

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I have twelve players for the five on-field positions, which is probably one too many and leaves probably Ribic as the unlucky party as the weakest player but it means I can really play around with some different stuff here.

---

That is my first go at a data vis like that, with a lot of influence from @cmason84's Le Havre thread and a lot of stuff I follow on Twitter. I'd love to hear a) whether you think they are a useful tool to share and b) whether you feel both of those players would take the team to another level!

Very nice - I like the graphics. Perhaps look to shade them by using transparency if making them in Office, e.g. PowerPoint?

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On 16/08/2021 at 12:54, SCCP1910 said:

Great thread @_Ben_, you've inspired me to start a save in Switzerland myself! What file did you use to get the lower Swiss leagues?

I could not remember so had just planned to upload (I have anyway) but it now appears, thanks to the name, that it's by Timo. Hope you enjoy Switzerland!

Switzerland (D5) - By @Timo@.fmf

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September 2036

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Another month down.

We started by avoiding a similar banana skin to last year - and overcame our u21 squad. This time, we peppered them with 22 attempts on goal, creating 2.72xG and not even allowing them a shot of their own. A solid, but necessary, performance from the second string.

We then overcame a really stubborn Anderlecht side in our first Champions League tie as I finally see the result of one of the newly created 'back post' corners. Realistically, it was only a matter of time - they didn't look like scoring and we did, keeping an average shot xG of over 0.1, which can be quite rare for us against bigger opposition. It was a silly game though, whereby my defenders came out on top ratings wise: 7.6, 8.3 (goal), 7.4 and 7.2 despite not really having a lot to do. It's always nice to start with a win though and we did that.

There was a huge continental hangover that spanned two games. 20 shots against Yverdon and a further 13 against Lausanne, in my 400th game for the club, and just the one goal to show for it. I tried to rotate, keep things fresh and use substitutes where possible but this felt a little like us four or five years ago - just devoid of any ideas or leadership on the pitch. Yes, neither team really came to get any points and neither team posed us any threat - we could have played last-man-back for all Yverdon cared but there was just that air of us just lacking that something.

Which is why it's great to play Zurich! We don't face many teams who play their 4-1-2-1-2 diamond shape very often, but play well against them:

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Just 11% of our attacking went down the middle (compare this to 21% against Lausanne) and three goals from Pedroso came from him being able to find space on the wing and the half space, of which, normally, one is covered by at least one player. We were a bit slow to start but the period from half an hour onwards was cut-throat and it was a goal that secured some good ratings for my forwards who aren't in the best of form of late anyway.

We can be very proud of how we played against Bayern. My favoured approach is always pragmatism against these sides and we marked their full backs and ensured that we sat deep and attempted to shut out all of their attacking prowess. You can see the difference in average positions from the Bayern game (left) to the Zurich game (right), below:

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Far deeper and the wingers are far more reserved and tucked in against the marauding full backs. I even made a relatively early change, realising that Pedroso just didn't have the defensive prowess to cope, replacing him with Alphonso Davies, against one of his former employees. Largely, we coped. Two lapses in concentration - one, annoyingly, from a corner (I always hate to concede from set plays as they are so easy, on paper, to plan for and we practice them so often anyway) and then from just being a yard too slow.

At half time I went for it a little more and we got our just reward with this goal from Milosevic. I love how composed Kabashi is when he steps in and side foots the through ball, with my Serb showing Georges Henry (remember him - my Friborg graduate and one-time loanee) a clean set of heels before tucking it away. 

In the end, the game finished relatively square - 1.08xG vs 1.14xG. We had to be at our absolute best and I'm sure Bayern have another gear but I'm happy to be able to kick it with the big boys. 

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---

We are, obviously, not top of the league and I'm really impressed with YB this year. 10 of their GA came in that freak show against St. Gallen and only Servette and Yverdon have otherwise been able to score past them, with them beating us 2-0, too. I still have huge amounts of faith in my team to take this title again but the 26th November will be a big day, when Young Boys come to town!

 

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On 15/08/2021 at 12:10, _Ben_ said:

Thank you so much! It's certainly just an extension of how much I've put into the game myself - so it's nice to hear people appreciate reading as much as I do playing and putting my own thoughts into words!

As for tactics - I seem to have really focused on small areas but then not the entire shape. My shape has stayed the same but we have evolved from much shorter, possession based football to more direct, vertical, counter attacks - and that was due to the fact I recruited two wingers in Ribic and Magola, who have bags of pace. The current shape is like this:

f1056cfc8d188fc9ade9527fe0d40365.png

I've spent a lot of time working on the midfield two and I think I'm happy with it, right now. I've also started playing around with the IWB(s)/WM(s) combo - in particular because Marta is, as I said a few posts back, a Box-to-Box Winger, and can add defensive solidity allowing the IWB(s) to tuck in. I'm still not entirely happy with how the IWB(s) and HB(d) work together but, really, most other things are working pretty well!

The PI's are just for the wide midfielder at the moment. I, admittedly, have gone about this the wrong way - adding them all and then slowly removing them. I should use a blank slate and see how Marta and Magola do before maybe personalising them. I think, for example, I'd have to ask Magola to cross more as it's not something he likes to do - whereas Marta is naturally better at it.

I've also got to just work out whether the combo of Attacking/Much Higher Tempo actually makes us a little wasteful as we rush our chances. I moved to Attacking without altering the tempo but I know it'll naturally increase it.

What was the thought process behind adding the PI's and then removing them? Just wondering what made you go against the grain in relation to this? 

Keen to hear your thoughts as I potentially am looking to conduct a bit of a tactical overhaul and would much rather leverage on PI's rather than a drastic change of system.

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On 18/08/2021 at 08:21, MattyLewis11 said:

What was the thought process behind adding the PI's and then removing them? Just wondering what made you go against the grain in relation to this? 

Keen to hear your thoughts as I potentially am looking to conduct a bit of a tactical overhaul and would much rather leverage on PI's rather than a drastic change of system.

I had, admittedly, done it backwards. My first move is generally to use the more vanilla roles (think CD, CM, WM, AM, AF etc) because they don't come with many pre-set instructions and you can see how the player plays that role, based on their attributes and traits. As you can see, this is the job of a Wide Midfielder on support:

c027367e72f149a5b877bf8985887736.png

Now, there are bits of this I like and bits I dislike:

  • Marta has pace (14 Acc and 14 Pac) so this role doesn't quite fit in with him
  • His teamwork is 17, meaning he'll link up but Work Rate (13) means he may not get up and down as much as he can. Stamina (13) means that it'll probably slow down as the game goes on, too.
  • Marta can cross (15) so I want to take advantage of the 'will still cross when it is on'
  • His passing is only 11 so the through ball section won't be quite as accurate
  • I do like the 'performs defensive (Tac 9, Mar 12, Hea 9, Pos 12) and attacking duties (Fin 11, OtB 13, Cmp 17) on the flanks, supporting...midfield and defence' 

It is the last statement, that isn't found in the other roles, that drew me to using this. I find that there is normally a vanilla role that, under the hood, works in at least some way, like you want the player to play. Look at a Winger, for example, and he does nothing defensively but look at a Defensive Winger and he does nothing offensively - plus, he has some hard-coded actions that will change his style of play.

Now, because I'm using attribute masking, this next bit is a little more complex and reduces the player pool size, but I like to see how he's doing in that role compared to other players who would play in a similar position, obviously I do not know the role of them though. I would do this after a few games so you have to forget that I'd already added all of the instructions:

b17b702b46d7c23d94bf4e1e8f421b42.png

The above compares the winger attributes (average of dribbling, crossing, technique and acceleration) with their dribbles, crosses and distance covered per game. Now, as I said, I'd already put in those Player Instructions, but, if I hadn't - and had seen that the role kind of expects that and he is good at it but just not doing it, I'd add it in. If he's not completing as many dribbles as I want - add the Dribble More. Not enough crosses? Add Cross More Often. The positional ones (Stay wider, cross from byline) are harder to analyse like this and probably need to be done more with the eye and through individual game analysis but it's a fairly simple method I use.

If you notice that I haven't looked at passing, that's because it's not hugely important, he's not amazing at it and we, as a team, don't do too much of it anyway. There are many other things I can look at, statistic wise, that would help me fine tune this role, but here is his overall comparison, among the same set of players - those who are competent on either wing in a world top division and those who I have enough prior scouting of to have revealed all of their attributes:

e4600a93b3e716bc5587cf0febd3ee28.png

So what can I change that he isn't doing well? Key tackles and Passes completed. Now - we don't defend, in the league, that much, so is he likely to be missing these key tackles? Probably not. Likewise, we don't pass the ball that much as we don't necessarily value possession over a driving counter attack, so do I want him to pass shorter just to increase that? No, definitely not. Also - I could teach him traits to try and improve his tackles but those defensive attributes wouldn't necessarily hold up and it may also inhibit his ability to play in different roles - so I'm happy.

From this stage, if I was using a vanilla role like a CM(s), for example, I'd add in the PI's and then, if I felt more suitable, convert finally to a specialised role - such as a RPM(s) or Mez(a), maybe. I really like to see how each player plays the role I give them before jumping in with too much. Marta won't do this though, because, like I said, the WM is really the only wide player who can play in both boxes.

When I first take over a club, I genuinely would play with two full backs, two centre backs, two wide mids, two centre mids - you get the idea! The attributes then personalise that role and, if I can work out 'how,' I can then add to that with PIs and TIs. Even with the settled players, I spend a lot of pre-season playing with roles and duties to see how the players react and how things change when a duty changes, for example.

I just did it backwards this time!

----

I then also need to consider how my backup, Magola, plays this role. He's far weaker defensively than Marta (comparison) so a WM(s) doesn't work for him. He's rating at nearly 1.0 tackles/90 less and 0.6 headers/90 less and, therefore, I need to consider whether I have the defensive solidity to play my roaming IWB behind him. In an ideal world, I can find a way to get both of their roles in because Magola offers 0.7 dribbles/90 more, 0.3 crosses/90 more and runs, on average, 0.5km more per game.

That squad fluidity is what is needed to give me that extra edge off the bench or when I need to change things up. I've learnt that it's more than just finding the best XI and the best tactic for them, it's all about options that work and ways you can change the game by changing up, slightly, how you play. I still keep within the confines of the 4-1-4-1-0 and the vertical counter attacking style, but a IWB(s)/WM(s) combo plays very differently to a FB(s)/W(s) combo and it's finding the right time to use that.

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6 hours ago, robmaass said:

This is honestly the most amazing thread I´ve ever seen and it gave me A LOT of ideas for another save myself.

But for now, I am going to read your other Thread :D 

Thank you so much for the kind words! Which threads are you going for?

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3 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I had, admittedly, done it backwards. My first move is generally to use the more vanilla roles (think CD, CM, WM, AM, AF etc) because they don't come with many pre-set instructions and you can see how the player plays that role, based on their attributes and traits. As you can see, this is the job of a Wide Midfielder on support:

c027367e72f149a5b877bf8985887736.png

Now, there are bits of this I like and bits I dislike:

  • Marta has pace (14 Acc and 14 Pac) so this role doesn't quite fit in with him
  • His teamwork is 17, meaning he'll link up but Work Rate (13) means he may not get up and down as much as he can. Stamina (13) means that it'll probably slow down as the game goes on, too.
  • Marta can cross (15) so I want to take advantage of the 'will still cross when it is on'
  • His passing is only 11 so the through ball section won't be quite as accurate
  • I do like the 'performs defensive (Tac 9, Mar 12, Hea 9, Pos 12) and attacking duties (Fin 11, OtB 13, Cmp 17) on the flanks, supporting...midfield and defence' 

It is the last statement, that isn't found in the other roles, that drew me to using this. I find that there is normally a vanilla role that, under the hood, works in at least some way, like you want the player to play. Look at a Winger, for example, and he does nothing defensively but look at a Defensive Winger and he does nothing offensively - plus, he has some hard-coded actions that will change his style of play.

Now, because I'm using attribute masking, this next bit is a little more complex and reduces the player pool size, but I like to see how he's doing in that role compared to other players who would play in a similar position, obviously I do not know the role of them though. I would do this after a few games so you have to forget that I'd already added all of the instructions:

b17b702b46d7c23d94bf4e1e8f421b42.png

The above compares the winger attributes (average of dribbling, crossing, technique and acceleration) with their dribbles, crosses and distance covered per game. Now, as I said, I'd already put in those Player Instructions, but, if I hadn't - and had seen that the role kind of expects that and he is good at it but just not doing it, I'd add it in. If he's not completing as many dribbles as I want - add the Dribble More. Not enough crosses? Add Cross More Often. The positional ones (Stay wider, cross from byline) are harder to analyse like this and probably need to be done more with the eye and through individual game analysis but it's a fairly simple method I use.

If you notice that I haven't looked at passing, that's because it's not hugely important, he's not amazing at it and we, as a team, don't do too much of it anyway. There are many other things I can look at, statistic wise, that would help me fine tune this role, but here is his overall comparison, among the same set of players - those who are competent on either wing in a world top division and those who I have enough prior scouting of to have revealed all of their attributes:

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So what can I change that he isn't doing well? Key tackles and Passes completed. Now - we don't defend, in the league, that much, so is he likely to be missing these key tackles? Probably not. Likewise, we don't pass the ball that much as we don't necessarily value possession over a driving counter attack, so do I want him to pass shorter just to increase that? No, definitely not. Also - I could teach him traits to try and improve his tackles but those defensive attributes wouldn't necessarily hold up and it may also inhibit his ability to play in different roles - so I'm happy.

From this stage, if I was using a vanilla role like a CM(s), for example, I'd add in the PI's and then, if I felt more suitable, convert finally to a specialised role - such as a RPM(s) or Mez(a), maybe. I really like to see how each player plays the role I give them before jumping in with too much. Marta won't do this though, because, like I said, the WM is really the only wide player who can play in both boxes.

When I first take over a club, I genuinely would play with two full backs, two centre backs, two wide mids, two centre mids - you get the idea! The attributes then personalise that role and, if I can work out 'how,' I can then add to that with PIs and TIs. Even with the settled players, I spend a lot of pre-season playing with roles and duties to see how the players react and how things change when a duty changes, for example.

I just did it backwards this time!

----

I then also need to consider how my backup, Magola, plays this role. He's far weaker defensively than Marta (comparison) so a WM(s) doesn't work for him. He's rating at nearly 1.0 tackles/90 less and 0.6 headers/90 less and, therefore, I need to consider whether I have the defensive solidity to play my roaming IWB behind him. In an ideal world, I can find a way to get both of their roles in because Magola offers 0.7 dribbles/90 more, 0.3 crosses/90 more and runs, on average, 0.5km more per game.

That squad fluidity is what is needed to give me that extra edge off the bench or when I need to change things up. I've learnt that it's more than just finding the best XI and the best tactic for them, it's all about options that work and ways you can change the game by changing up, slightly, how you play. I still keep within the confines of the 4-1-4-1-0 and the vertical counter attacking style, but a IWB(s)/WM(s) combo plays very differently to a FB(s)/W(s) combo and it's finding the right time to use that.

Excellent breakdown mate, I have come to expect nothing less from you! Thoroughly appreciated my man! 

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October 2036

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A lot to think about this month...

We started the month with an emphatic victory over St.Gallen. 26 shots to their 4 and 2.98xG vs 0.30xG. It is really a sorry tale for the team who once dominated this league. Granted, they'd lost aging Joao Felix and winger Junge before half time but they just offered so little. Their 4-2-3-1, full of ex players (Idrizi, Portela and Chipperfield) is aggressive and left so many gaps for us to exploit. What is more - they press yet they tire very quickly and we took advantage of that, going a little more attacking at the end of the game and hitting them twice on the break. Sadly, we followed that up with a poor offensive performance against Servette. Chances created, but none taken.

In Europe, we produced yet another abject performance - this time away at Lyon, in a game I really hoped that we could win to just show how far we've come. I'll put the loss down to the stupid confusion with kits and not a tactical misjudgement whereby I played two midfielders against their two - but, with both of mine being naturally offensive, really struggled to contain their playmaker, who, in the midfield strata, pulled the strings. 

The YB game, given their form, had turned into quite the occasion. 1st vs 2nd. A loss wouldn't be the end of the world, but it'd mean two defeats in two against them and a gap opening at the top. Here is the backstory:

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Our loss, obviously, comes against them and they have shipped seven in a game this season, too. We're super strong at the back and 40% of our goals conceded this season came in the reverse of this fixture. Bruno Iacopetta plays a very structured 4-4-2 and I know his teams are hard to break down. This is one of those games whereby I wish I'd have dug into the match plans - we start strong and YB don't come back well from going down a goal but it was Taseski, below, who had the best chance of the game:

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YB held out, and, by looking at the xG story, you can see just how structured and how defensive Iacopetta was. However, it's another game whereby we've looked short on ideas and the team that I put out have increased their time since their last goal, with the likes of Royer yet to get off the mark this season at all from the 1.39xG that he has created.

The month ended with a solid win, again, against St. Gallen. I played pretty much a completely second string team but still had enough to dispose of them with ease.

---

My big thing this month has been scoring. The below graphic shows you just how much that has been a worry. We'd sit bottom of the table if you were basing the league on xG differential as we are one of only two teams who are not, right now, outscoring out xG.

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How we get around this? I don't know if I'm honest. I'll do what I always do when we really need to focus on things.  I will really get into player interactions - talking to them after each game to either warn them about something they've not done well or praise them for doing well. It'll take time but we'll come out of this in a better position...

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On xG - are you getting lots of chances but not converting (little jumps in xG throughout the game) or a few big chances that go begging?

If the former, you might need to look to creating better chances even if it means less.  I see you’re tactic is a counter tactic, so I wonder if it’s the latter. Maybe against sides sitting back you need to push your lines and keep the game in their half so that you’re putting them under more pressure rather than letting them easily work the ball out of dangerous areas. Just a few thoughts….

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11 hours ago, 13th Man said:

On xG - are you getting lots of chances but not converting (little jumps in xG throughout the game) or a few big chances that go begging?

If the former, you might need to look to creating better chances even if it means less.  I see you’re tactic is a counter tactic, so I wonder if it’s the latter. Maybe against sides sitting back you need to push your lines and keep the game in their half so that you’re putting them under more pressure rather than letting them easily work the ball out of dangerous areas. Just a few thoughts….

Good question! One I can partially answer through what I see in games (yes, we do get quite a lot of chances and, sometimes, they aren't of the quality I want) but also one I think some data will back up. I will kind of answer this live as I make the charts...

Firstly - I guess I want to look at my creative players. Are we creating good enough chances for the strikers to score? This will be slightly skewed given our possession stats (we are 7th in league, and, as such, have the ball less than others) but it'll give me a good idea if the issue comes from the stifling of my midfield.

So this is key passes/90 divided by passes attempted/90 to see how many passes are key. The league average for creative players (midfielders and forwards) is 5.4%.

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Again - it can't be taken too seriously as we don't keep the ball as much as other teams but this looks pretty decent. I can also, probably, ignore the skew for the bottom three as they are players who often take corners for me. I have only recently realised that corners are a cheat way to improve the key passes/90 metric, which is a little annoying!

Ok, so I guess we need to look at actual chances now...

My thoughts here are, do we create lots of chances or good chances? Now, until yesterday - I didn't realise that a Clear Cut Chance (CCC) was given for any chance with a higher xG than 0.3 - so, a pretty good one. I have taken the total clear cut chances and the total team xG and converted them both to per 90 minutes.

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So we don't create the best quality chances - Servette and Lausanne create higher quality chances than us but we do average the highest xG per 90, even though, as seen earlier, we aren't scoring that many. I think that this is coming down to the form of my strikers a little more...

I guess the next thing I want to do to validate that is to check the average xG of each shot per team. It's all well and good having lots of shots but if they aren't of good quality - with the defence sticking nine men in the way, for example, we won't score many. I just divided total xG by total shots to find this and converted to a % of likelihood that the shot will lead to a goal:

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So - Servette create good chances and also take shots from them. We are doing pretty well in terms of the shot xG but just not taking the chances right now.

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I now need to take that data and see what I can do with it but the below quote does ring true:

12 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Maybe against sides sitting back you need to push your lines and keep the game in their half so that you’re putting them under more pressure

We are pretty relentless but our possession is increasing year on year. However, with some slightly anomalous data (2 years ago) - we've scored pretty consistently well over our time back in the Super League.

  • 84
  • 66
  • 80
  • 77
  • 90
  • 77
  • 64

That averages out at 2.13 goals/90 - exactly the same as what we are scoring this season. Counting just our title winning seasons, we are down around 0.07 goals/90 on that average but it's not a huge concern, really!

---

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this data! Also - @SixPointer, if you can't play right now, fancy being my analyst for what I've just found?!

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November 2036

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I spent most of last month discussing scoring issues but I feel that this won't be much different either! However - here's a nice goal from Ole Berendt to kick things off!

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That Berendt goal was one of six we put past Basel in a thrilling and ruthless encounter, whereby we only registered 1.64xG (there goes the negative differential!) Really, it was one of those - six shots on target and six goals. Basel, favouring their very defensive 5-1-2-2 shape, really didn't do much but did manage five shots on target, with their consolation coming late on from a corner. Another set piece that we have conceded from!

I went into the Lyon match after reading some other posts on the forum, but I was alarmed that I had no actual scout report, and had merely relied on the analyst team to provide me everything I know about the opposition. I don't know how I'd managed to miss that off my list within my scouting setup, but I had, and I really feel that I missed a trick. The tie itself was a cagey affair, with both teams creating less than 0.9xG each and Lyon just being that little more cynical, taking an early chance and then one straight from half time. That is usually a time we are relatively solid in, although, further inspection, below, tells me that there is a worrying trend popping up over the last fifteen games of early concessions - either a game plan thing or a motivation thing. I'll have a dig around!

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I went into the Aarau game off the back of reading the actual scout report but that has, actually, become a bit of a double edged sword. We were so much better than then and registered 3.50xG (including one missed penalty), scoring just three from that - converting 33% of our shots on target. 

The issue I speak of became really apparent in the loss to high-flying Sion. One-nil down at half time, I was looking at all their historical data, trying to exploit weaknesses and, in the end, just ended up with a mish-mash of positions and roles trying to be better than them - e.g. doubling up on their dangerous left winger (who leads the goal contributions for them) but then also trying to exploit half spaces on their right, knowing their full back is slow and one of their weaker players. This approach is all well and good if you're good at it - I am not and this is new to me. A late consolation from the impressive Serb but the damage had already been done and Nikita Zakharav's straight red early in the second half didn't help much, either!

We then played out a bore draw in the Champions League. Already out following the Lyon loss, I don't care too much but Anderlecht are the type of team we need to be beating and that we'll be facing in the Europa League. We should make it, barring a collapse against Bayern given our superior goal difference.

The month ended with a hard-fought win over Lausanne but there are still many on-field questions that need answering. 

Again, looking at chances and goals scored. With the analysis in the post above - I think we're creating decent chances by looking at the scatter plot again.

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Servette and Lausanne create the most high quality chances. That is something that is an interesting issue for Servette, who, managed by Juraj Kucka, press intensely and play a direct but fluid counter attack. It'd seem that this style probably 'doesn't' match up to the cautious work ball into box approach. This is mirrored by the gegenpress of Ricardo Pereira at Lausanne so there must be something more to it. It's probably no surprise that the top ratings for clear cut chances are heavily influenced by players from these teams:

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It is nice to see my own Patrick Bocaly on there - even more so that he's a right back!

So, yeah, I think we're making good chances, but I'm not so sure about us taking them right now. A little look at the opposition goalkeepers is of help to this as this shot screen is useless without a timeframe! Below is the data gathered from our last ten opponents:

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Now, I quite like this data and it's not something I've ever dug into before. I feel that these shot actions are almost a sliding scale. The 'easiest' save is one that the keeper can hold. The shot quality is slightly better if you have to parry it and then more difficult if its a (finger)tip save, with obviously the hardest to save being those that don't get saved! Now, looking at this initially tells me that the keepers are just facing, on average, six shots a game (that equates to six on target), which I'm not delighted with. Although it is in it's infancy, eight Premier League teams are averaging more shots on target against than this - so it's certainly something I can improve.

What is also standing out here is that 36% of our shots are, in my terms, easy for the keeper. If we then look at the save percentage and, although this is just from one game and not the whole season, look at that compared to the Premier League last year - Chacon, Freiburghaus, Berrio and Schlatter would eclipse the best save ratio that belonged to Nick Pope last season (77%). I must stress this is from one game - but they are making lots of saves and they are playing well. 

But, I feel we're making it too easy for them. Basel game aside, the opposition keepers are doing their jobs really well. We need to improve our shooting. My gripe here is that the Chance Conversion block in the training doesn't have any Match Prep influence and the Attacking Movement match prep block is so vague it's hard to tell. We already use both, so I'll repeat what I said last month - "we'll find a way!"

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Elsewhere, the loanees are doing a really good job of getting minutes and improving!

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5 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Thoroughly enjoyed the deep dive into chance conversion, I like how you have thought a little outside the box by drawing on GK metrics...well played Sir! 

 

Appreciate it, thank you!

I was conscious about that post coming across as an excuse but there are only so many gifs of keeper saves that I can post to completely explain that what I'm seeing on the pitch (a cry from the highly statistical stuff I tend to use) is just us being unlucky!

That being said - I have just started December with a BANG!

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December 2036

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Yverdon were my first victims in what was an all-round high-scoring round. We are far superior in every metric and just ran riot, with the five goals not flattering us at all.

Next up was a fragile St. Gallen side. Now, as my confidence with tactical elements grows, as does my want to experiment. Now, I foresaw them going into this game with some harsh words from their manager, either motivating them or putting them right off. I also saw a trip to the Kybunpark leading to a very animated atmosphere, whereby the fans wanted to help their team avenge the hammering they'd just taken. Therefore, I set us out to have a much higher LoE and defensive line (we normally sit deep) as well as pressing Extremely Urgently, Getting Stuck in and Preventing Short GK distribution. Basically, changing our off-the-ball style to the opposite but not giving the players, presumably low on confidence, a second to think. We played like this for the first ten minutes and was rewarded with a goal, courtesy of a pressure high up the pitch. You can see just how different this style (left and attacking from right to left) is compared to our normal one (right), which we switched back to for the remainder of the first half:

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We did exactly the same after the break until the hour mark and, by this time, were 3-0 to the good with their morale shot. I moved to a hybrid of the styled used in the game- wary of the intensity with a big game against Bayern coming - which kept our DL slightly higher than usual but toned the pressing down to a more manageable level. Milosevic added another two and wrapped up an absolute rout. I was impressed with his play as a Shadow Striker as he received 24 progressive passes in the middle third of the pitch. His movement out to the left, favouring his left foot, allowed a possessional-overload for Marta and Gonzalez down the right and an off-the-ball overload down the left for Pedroso and Zakharov.

But, of course, things don't like to go to plan. After being stuck on this page for 35 minutes, trying to find the pass map analysis, I realised there was an issue.

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I had to CTRL+ALT+DEL it and start again. I was so angry that I just instant resulted it. We won and that is the result you can see at the top of the screen. I have nothing more to say on this. I took the afternoon away and refocused myself before the Bayern game. The annoying thing is that, despite what it looks like, I feel like a tactical novice sometimes and seeing my plan work, so well, was just a wonder to watch. I had also written out quite a lengthy extension to this post about how my match plans could be formed from this kind of thing. I deleted it all. I'll have a rethink in January and get some ideas down...

Moving to the Bayern game - we put in a really strong performance, again, looking at ways to utilise different time periods of the match to slightly alter the playing style. However, it was a mistake on my behalf - too much intensity, for too long - that saw us stuck under pressure and an 89th minute own goal from academy graduate Carlos Perez gave them the win. We finish level on points with the Belgians but, I'm sure, our head-to-head (1W, 1D) would have taken us through anyway.

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Among some strong interest from Lille, we faced Zurich in our last game of the calendar year. With September approaching and the new FM released in, historically, early November, I'm always at a what-next point. Lille, whilst not being the German side I'd earmarked, are in a strong league and my managerial history means I can already speak the language. What is more, it feels like a natural step forward. However, we have built a great team and there is a significant amount of top quality youth players coming through and we haven't quite made the impact in Europe that I'd like. Worries and questions aside, we took the game to our lowly opposition and there was just four minutes separating a lovely move, finished by Gonzalez, and a ludicrous bit of animation, surely a bit of payback for the earlier crash!

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Maybe this higher pressure, less countering approach works better for us?! Next month I'm actually going to write about some match plans and probably have a little look at the rise and rise of Stefan Milosevic, who has been immense:

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My youth intake also looks promising, in particular the two forwards:

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On 21/08/2021 at 13:45, _Ben_ said:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this data! Also - @SixPointer, if you can't play right now, fancy being my analyst for what I've just found?!

Sorry man been busy couple nights but I’ll have a look shortly. At a glance Im loving the depth of analysis you have went to. 

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@_Ben_

Are you planning on becoming a Performance Analyst for a real football Team? the level of your analysis is amazing!

I wish I had the time to go that far in my save sometimes.....it might make my life easier on the pitch since I am going through a rough patch!

 

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3 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

@_Ben_

Are you planning on becoming a Performance Analyst for a real football Team? the level of your analysis is amazing!

I wish I had the time to go that far in my save sometimes.....it might make my life easier on the pitch since I am going through a rough patch!

 

Thanks! I'll take that as a massive compliment!

I have a background (in education at least) in sport and did some university modules in performance analysis but, sadly, it's never gone any further than a bit of volunteering at some academy clubs. 

I implore you to dive in - it's a rabbit hole but so rewarding.

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January (Part 1) 2037

I'll do the mid-season break and friendlies in Part 2, so here is some other stuff I've been thinking about.

Kicking off with an award I never knew existed...

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My players also brought home some awards, too:

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Away from the accolades, we were in a very rare situation whereby I felt that all the weaker first team players had ready made replacements out on loan. I accepted offers for want-away Nixon Mazinot (€3.6m to Besiktas), Endri Ademi (€6.75m to Sporting) and Pece Taseski (€8.75m to Milan). Pece's deal was a tough one - he started as a Shadow Striker but was usurped by better players and, to his credit, has played well as a Mezzala - but he's not strong enough in those areas. I was able to recall three people from loan: Emmanuel Addai-Mandela from Basel, Patrick Bocaly from Servette and Zhao Qi from Pacos Ferreira as well as promoting Edoardo Apollonio from the u21 team.

Normally, I would not look to make such widespread moves in the middle part of the season but Mazinot had been disrupting the whole squad after I refused a contract renewal in August and Pece's head was turned as soon as he saw interest from Italy. I'm not going to look into the specifics of their performances in too much detail, but, side by side, these four promotions don't appear to have changed the strength of the areas they are coming into:

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Addai-Mandela is, arguably, just as good as Carlos Perez (although he's two footed) and has played well in a Basel team who, despite missing out on Europe, should still be one of the stronger sides here.

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Bocaly moves into the area I'd consider my weakest. Neither new signings Bednarek or Hedegaard have really hit the ground running but he's not too far behind and played well at Servette, benefitting from their style to create some good Clear Cut Chances.

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Both newcomers are strong here - certainly more-so than Taseski in these roles. Qi will naturally be the playmaker deputy whilst Apollonio the Mezalla. 

It means that, sadly (for some), this transfer window won't see me comparing players from the far reaches of Europe to try and find myself any new signings!

---

Now on to something I've been wanting to post about for ages - Match Plans. Or, at least, changes within the team instructions to counter specific match events or opposition. I guess the first thing to re-cover is what our style currently is:

  • Verticality. Back to front quickly and clinically.
  • Overloading (in this case the left hand side) key areas of the pitch.
  • Utilising pace going forward.
  • Compactness of defence - a team approach to defending.
  • Intelligence through pre-empting interceptions rather than making tackles.

These principles have been with me (my in-game manager Joao Fernando) since the inception of this save, although things such as passing distance, have evolved over time.  There are still some areas I'm not sold on - defensive line and passing distance being the main two. Obviously, some of those ideologies, particularly the interceptions and pace, aren''t something that can be ticked with a team instruction and needs to be based on attributes that I recruit and develop. These are the instructions that we are using now:

00bc5c5d9353caeef564a7f3e0e07da9.png

The big questions come for having this fluidity in team approach and match plans:

  1. Can we play both a low block with standing off AND a higher block with more aggressive pressing when needed?
  2. Can we play both a more direct vertical passing game AND a shorter vertical passing game when needed?
  3. Can we play both a right sided overload AND a left sided overload should we need to change mid-game?

There are also those questions that come, like - 'do any teams alternate between such a heavy press and then no press?' I've never seen Klopp go from Gegenpress to Catenaccio mid-game but there are surely times when they don't press as much? It's also on a scale and I need to be confident enough to find the times when a little extra pressing or a slightly lower defensive line, for example, might unlock that door.

To best answer those questions for my team, I have looked at what my current squad can do. For reference, the dotted line, at 11.8, is the overall average of all the players' attributes.

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As I said - right now we don't press intensely, but can we? I'd say yes - given our Natural Fitness, Work Rate, Decisions and Anticipation. I'd also argue that number two, passing length, can be done - we aren't as good at passing as some of the mental and physical attributes, but Technique, First Touch and Passing run through the squad at a good level. Number three isn't an attribute thing as a team, more of an attribute thing for certain players who would need to be involved in the mirrored shape, however, I think we can do this as well.

Taking my thinking further - I want to think about what I might want to change in order to improve our chances of winning that aren't listed in the above.

  1. Re-group against teams who are looking threatening on the counter against us.
  2. Chase a game that we are dominating and is into the last minutes.
  3. Get out of the blocks quickly against a team in poor form.
  4. Shut up shop for the last ten minutes against a strong team/a team with good body language.

This is where the match plans and our core team instructions come in. Again, referencing what our style is and matching that to one/several instructions:

  • Verticality. Back to front quickly and clinically. Counter
  • Overloading (in this case the left hand side) key areas of the pitch. Focus play and overload (on either flank or central)
  • Utilising pace going forward.
  • Compactness of defence - a team approach to defending. Team shape being strikerless with players in each strata. DL to be at same level as/higher than LoE to reduce space between lines (so lower DL/higher LoE wouldn't work, for example).
  • Intelligence through pre-empting interceptions rather than making tackles.

If I then add the player specific instructions such as whipped crosses (small strikers) - I then have my set of base instructions that I have to use and can use match plans to influence other things. 

Here is an example of a match plan for the first 25 minutes of a game if I am drawing:

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The idea is to get off to a really strong start, get among them and press, looking to win the ball back quickly. I don't know if this overrides other instructions though, so I'll need to experiment...

I don't know if this makes sense or not but is literally just writing down the thoughts in my head. I think we can play these adapted styles, still meeting our ideology then pieced together my core team instructions before experimenting with plans or changes for certain scenarios. I'll look to create some more and then see how that translates to that actual playing of the game and report back!

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January (Part 2) 2037

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A nice, steady, mid-season with plenty of rotation and some good performances.

I've really spent some time thinking about how the training camp would look if a player was part of it. We've not done any work on building attributes this month, solely getting prepared for the remainder of the season - knowing that, by keeping the intensity down a little now, it'll benefit us in the long run. We've practiced our shapes and worked on all the areas of our game, as seen below:

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However, all is not well in the transfer market...

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The three images above show an accepted bid for Nikita ZakharovOle Berendt and a promise made to Jonathan Royer.

I've come to accept in a club that plays in the Swiss league that the players that I am finding and developing will eventually outgrow us. Fortunately, I have managed to put clauses in with Bayern and Atletico offers, which they accepted, to keep them both until the end of the season as well as start a bidding war with Juve in for Zakharov and Leeds (?!?!), the favoured move for Berendt, and allay to Royer's fears, until the summer at least. This, for me, is part of the job to replace them adequately but something I've never really done before - just declining bids and accepting unhappy players at the club, knowing it'll go away eventually. As I'm going for realism in this save, I won't stand in their way and they have both asked for those bids to be accepted.

Following a solid loan spell, I really feel that Zhao Qi is not far from the level of Berendt anyway and will also be under the tutelage of him for the remainder of the season. Furthermore, u21 player Valdemar Freire (look at his scoring record!!), whilst being a different type of forward, isn't far from his ability either. The major concern now comes at left back though:

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Very little in the way of a ready made replacement and, with Davies also coming to the end of his career, this is going to be a priority position for the summer. I do have one wildcard and that could be Junior Mpondo, who came through the intake last year. He's pacey and left footed but will essentially need to be taught how to defend - although this role is essentially another attacking outlet.

It does excite me though to get to play my hand at recruiting for this role again.

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How did the match plans play out for you a very interesting idea. As someone who tinkers a lot in game it could be an idea for myself. 
 

however I often use the reports and analysis to build my match plan each game with slight tweaks. Or with none. I now more than ever can’t wait to show some of the ways I do this in games. 

as for reading your creating good chances issues or the thought of not scoring enough. I had similar issues with Ruch to begin with however I’ve solved them and with Odd I had a really high scoring side mainly it was down to variety off attack and have clear plan of getting to goal. But also I think yours is Mainline a striker issue as you seem to have healthy numbers of key passes etc if in doubt I always try to have 3 sort of plans and players that I expect to get my goals I try not to leave it to a single position to carry the burden as if a player has a dip in form in one area of the pitch it can be a nightmare for finding the net.

At Ruch it’s early days in my tactical development so it’s better to speak about my ideas at Odd, 

my theory was.......

in possession overload/exploit idea which in theory gives 2 ways to attack straight out the block either the overload pays off and leads to goal as they outnumber or the opponent is sucked in and dragged to that side and leave the other side 1v1/2v1 in our favour which usually results in a goal after the switch of play.

This coupled with an out of possession attacking idea let’s call it attacking in the transition so right after winning the ball. So look to attack the space in behind straight after turnover. Not necessarily sitting deep but inviting the opponent into our compact high block. (High line with standard LOE) winning the ball and attacking space in behind with a quick poacher/AF/IF.

I also try sneak a player rotational attack in depending on formation. We’re  players switch and it gives you and advantage think DLF/SS.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, SixPointer said:

How did the match plans play out for you a very interesting idea. As someone who tinkers a lot in game it could be an idea for myself. 
 

however I often use the reports and analysis to build my match plan each game with slight tweaks. Or with none. I now more than ever can’t wait to show some of the ways I do this in games. 

really didn't like it. Firstly, it's not an extension, it completely overwrites team instructions so you have to add everything you want each time. Secondly, you have to untick 'Make Substitutions' each time or the ass-man has a field day and, lastly, the plans are available for really quite long chunks of time. When I notice something that I want to temporarily change, unless we are really grinding the opposition team down, I want to run it for ten minutes or so not a 25 minute or half game block.

I really think it's something that I want to do but I think I'm going to just pause the game and make changes manually. It's not like it's a hugely time consuming job anyway!

8 hours ago, SixPointer said:

But also I think yours is Mainline a striker issue as you seem to have healthy numbers of key passes etc

I had to sell Royer as he was causing a fuss but I genuinely feel like this is the strongest/most suited forward trio I've ever had.

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I think there are some tactical issues, such as the lack of variance we have in our attack sometimes but I also think there is a form issue. Stefan is converting 28% of his shots whereas Costa is converting 12% (although sometimes used on the wing) and Royer was converting 18% when he played. His output of 3 in 9 is down on 14 in 27 last year, too.

Get them in the form that Milosevic is in and I think we'll continue scoring well. After some slight tactical tweaks, we've scored 19 in our last four games, conceding none.

9 hours ago, SixPointer said:

in possession overload/exploit idea which in theory gives 2 ways to attack straight out the block either the overload pays off and leads to goal as they outnumber or the opponent is sucked in and dragged to that side and leave the other side 1v1/2v1 in our favour which usually results in a goal after the switch of play.

This coupled with an out of possession attacking idea let’s call it attacking in the transition so right after winning the ball. So look to attack the space in behind straight after turnover. Not necessarily sitting deep but inviting the opponent into our compact high block. (High line with standard LOE) winning the ball and attacking space in behind with a quick poacher/AF/IF.

I also try sneak a player rotational attack in depending on formation. We’re  players switch and it gives you and advantage think DLF/SS.

Definitely something that I need to take a look at. I think our low block was allowing teams to sit back against us but do enough to remove the immediate pressure and keep us at bay. Pushing up a little is helping us create and then attack the spaces, especially with a bit more pressing intensity. I'm looking at the changes of positions, too - especially considering I want to be able to have the fluidity to flip our shape, meaning my wide players need to be pretty well rounded, and, as such, swap between a WM(s) and an IW(a).

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4 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Some very interesting posts made recently :thup:

League form looks to be coming good at the right time as well.

Thanks!

Yeah, definitely. A couple of little tactical tweaks definitely seemed to have help us find another gear. It's really great that Sion are staying with us though in the league as I don't want it to always feel that the league is a foregone conclusion.

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February 2037

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Who knew shortening the passing length and pressing a bit more intensely would have such an impact?!

We started with three really comprehensive wins, scoring three in each and nullifying the threat of the opposition, bar a deep Young Boys freekick that somehow was poorly defended. I then scored six in a game, twice in a week, blowing Utrecht out of the water with a fine performance from Stefan Milosevic. We then beat Sion comfortably with Zhao Qi netting his first, below, and setting up another before we professionally beat the Dutch side in their back yard but needed the 2nd minute concession to sort ourselves out with several complacent faces at kick off.

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Breathe it in! An academy graduate, on as a substitute, getting on to the end of a lovely one-two to score his first senior goal, put the game out of reach and, potentially, the league out of reach.

----

I added some extra players to the u21 side on deadline day, but will obviously have a youth intake next month, too:

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Christan NgoyJulio Cesar ChecaTobias OberauerAlan Schwarz.

Ngoy makes his move from Kortijk for around €450k as he's now 16 but the others are on nominal fees from domestic clubs - an area that I tend to leave untouched during the March intake period, although I'm not sure why as Switzerland produces some good talent. Schwarz is the most exciting of the bunch, overall attribute wise but needs to work on his intelligence. The addition of these homegrown players boosts the depleted youth side, which saw five players moved from it last month. I know that is early in their career's as first team players, but I need to analyse their performances over the month and set some parameters in order to maximise their performance and development.

These are their stats from their first month within my first team (and I have included a player who plays in the same role for comparison):

Patrick Bocaly:

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Impressed out on loan at Servette so I'd like to see him continue his creative form. He registered 0.2 assists/90 and also 3 Clear Cut Chance creations - so I'd like to see that replicated as we create and score a lot more than they do. He's a backup for Hedegaard but I'm having some issues with him at the moment so I'd like to see at least ten appearances, either from the start of bench.

He's started really well for us with two assists going forward and has seen much more of the ball that Hedegaard - although this may be due to the shorter passing. 

Emmanuel Addai-Mandela:

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Even though Emmanuel is two years younger than his academy graduate partner at centre back, Carlos Perez, I want him to see the same amount of minutes between now and the end of the season. They are fourth and fifth choice centre backs so want to share the burden of late substitute, easier game option. I'll be looking for him to, at least, match the performances, too.

Despite his lower Average Rating, EA-M has started pretty well for us. His statistics, heading aside, seem to be on a par with Carlos Perez, which is what I want for a backup centre back.

Zhao Qi:

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With Berendt and Kabashi ahead of him - I'd like to see him reach around 10% of the available minutes (which is probably somewhere around the 1600 mark) left this season. I'd like him to also reach the KPI of two key passes per game, on average. He's certainly creative and talented enough to do this. He's in a mentoring group also, but I'll focus more on developmental stuff at another time.

I've been really impressed with Zhao this season (including his loan spell) and he's got off the mark with 3 goal involvements already. His key passes, although he did step in for some corners, is way outperforming what I'd like from him long term, too. Granted, he's mainly appeared in the easier games but it's a promise.

Edoardo Apollonio:

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Edoardo is in a very similar position to Zhao - although he's behind just Gonzalez, who is a key member of the team. Again, 10% of the games played and I'd like him to record at least one goal and assist this season, with an aspiration four goal involvements in this half season. For reference, Gonzalez had fifteen by the mid-season break (6G, 9A) - so, given the time, there is a chance! He's in the same mentoring group as Zhao Qi and will hopefully pick up some things from my two Model Citizens in Berendt and Gonzalez.

A little less impressed with Apollonio but he's barely had the time to influence anything and is now out injured for the next month or so. Based on what I see in a game, he got into some good areas and will hopefully return to the action and continue with that.

Valdemar Freire:

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As with any new striker moving into a new team - he's been very shot-happy but that is fine.  Two goals is a pretty good comeback when he's not actually had that long on the pitch (on at 73 mins, 71 mins, 54 mins and 41 mins, although the last was an injury replacement) so it's good that he's finding his feet quickly in games. Plus, he's being compared here to one of Europe's most in form strikers!

Valdemar will get some more football due to the sale of Royer and the ongoing fitness issues with Anderson Costa. I'd like him to reach ten appearances (either starting of from the bench) this season, but that may be curtailed if Milosevic continues his red-hot form and is un-droppable! I'd like him to record, ideally, three goals this season, too.

----

The implementation of these youngsters, necessary due to the mass influx of bids for my players (Wolves managed to bid for Royer, Costa, Magola and Pedroso in the space of a week) leading to players wanting to move on means that I need to assess where I see Luzern at the moment. I am sure that bringing five 18-year-olds into the team will weaken us over the coming months but hopefully not years as they grow into stronger and more suitable players than the ones they have replaced. Whilst we are nowhere near as successful as they are and we certainly don't follow the energy-drink modethat they do, I'm seeing lots of similarities between us and RB Salzburg.

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They are imperious domestically but are trying to do their best for Austrian football in Europe, fighting a lone battle, often. They are also, in real life more so than the in-game mechanics, kings of playing the same approach as I - targeted scouting and (from now on for me) allowance of players to move on, if the price is right. I think there are also probably comparisons with FC Midtylland (we are probably financially better off though) and Ajax (we probably have less academy players and more imported youngsters) but that surely is only a good thing and the kind of club culture we're trying to build.

My only thoughts:

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"What an earth to do with this ever growing pile of money?!"

I feel that FM doesn't really do these large finances too well. We're a cash cow and will continue to be! If we propose the building of a new stadium, I may dip into the editor to remove some of the funds that we have as we'll inevitably be burdened by a loan instead of paying upfront (although I don't think I can edit that). Spending this kind of money on players, as well as recouping, probably, twice as much, is hugely unrealistic for this level and I don't really know what else to do with it! I may take a deeper dive into contracts as we go through the season.

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18 hours ago, john1 said:

Another brilliant month :cool:  Tobias Oberauer, looks brilliant at his age :cool: What was the youth intakes preview like?

Thanks! I think it was probably the most dominant month that we've ever had.

Tobias looks good, yeah. A little older than I'd like when bringing in a player who I drastically want to change but I'll give him a shot.

The intake preview came through in December with a couple of good wingers and a Brazilian forward. I'm excited about this as the u21 squad is decent but is lacking some of that top end quality due to the fact that five of them have just been promoted to the first team.

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March (Part 1) 2037

Going to separate a few things out this month because the youth intake is always quite a heavily written piece and there is also the Europa League knockouts plus a busy month of league action.

However, I can't not post this bit of play from Stefan Milosevic, who is so much more than just an awesome finisher:

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Also, yeah, my intake...

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Deny MuhaxheriMamadi ContéFrancisco José.

I wasn't expecting too much and, quite frankly, I've not got it!

It is worth noting that this is the last intake that the previous HoYD, Regis Le Bris, would have been involved in after leaving three years back. Next year sees the players that M.Citizen Gerson Alegria started working with at a young age so I do have higher hopes going forwards.

As always though, I'll do my best to ensure that the majority of these players have a future in (semi) professional football. Muhaxheri and José are the two players who were mentioned in the intake and they are both of the right style to play as a shadow striker for me, which is where they'll train. I also quite like Conté as a holding midfielder, potentially.

I'll also be on the lookout for promising youngsters arriving at other academies over the coming weeks and months that will help supplement these players.

 

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March (Part 2) 2037

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Sometimes I just run out of things to say in these posts. This could be the greatest ever team (based on the level that they are at) that I have produced/developed/created. Another simply stunning month of football, with progression in two cups and domination in the league. Looking at the top ten players, on average rating in the league, you can see why we are performing so well:

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We kicked the month off with a comprehensive win against a Lausanne team, who are continuing to strengthen and challenge. The highlight, for me, was half back Neascu making a lung busting run from his Half Back role to join the attack and hit a well struck shot from the edge of the area. The tie was over by half time and I think that the five substitutes killed the game, preventing us from scoring any more.

We took the game to Valencia when they came to visit, scoring from a set play inside of 50 seconds before sitting back and controlling - showing just how we can play in multiple modes. The late goal from replacement Magola was the icing on the cake and it gave us huge leverage to head to Spain with.

The second string took on Yverdon and demolished them with the evergreen Alphonso Davies netting his first for the club from the marauding left back role. It has been a pleasure to see him perform that this season and a pleasure to work with a 36 year old who is still maintaining a really high level of physicality and overall ability. Even in his ten minute run-out, Stefan Milosevic couldn't help but get onto the pitch. The 20-year old has been wonderful and, scoring over thirty by this time in the season is a real statement of intent as we look to smash our league scoring records.

We were a lot more cagey in Valencia but did enough. There were large parts of the game whereby there was nothingness - a strange occurrence for us as we have the players capable of turning nothing into something. I feel like we'd met our ability match in this game and, if it wasn't for some tactical manipulation in the first leg, I think we'd have struggled going into this chasing the game. However, we are through and face Sociedad in the Quarter Final, missing the big English sides until at least the semis.

There was no continental hangover as we demolished St. Gallen in one of the most one-sided games I've seen. We've beaten Basel 6-0 this season also and are showing absolutely no respect for the so-called big teams that ruled this division ten years or so ago. Valdemar Freire made his first big impact with a brace as a highly-rested side caused absolute mayhem.

We also progressed in our domestic cup but did make a meal of the Servette game - letting them create some really good chances due to absolutely silly mistakes and conceded our first goal against domestic opposition in a month before we limped to a hugely dull draw with Zurich, who made absolutely no attempt to play football for the entirety of the 90 minutes.

We enter the last international break of the season before a busy couple of months. The league should be pretty straightforward and a domestic cup would always be nice but it's Europe where the focus lies now - for us to aim for silverware and for us, as winners, to bring another Champions League spot to the league.

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I've got my eyes on a target for the summer, but he may break the bank:

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I was firstly perusing the statistics for top young European centre backs (Top 10 leagues, 1000 minutes and Under 23) with Friday Osememe stalling on a new deal because he wants nearly €100k p/w and this man popped up.

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He's performing really well across the board and I, in particular, like he passing numbers. He's doing it in Ligue 1 (with additional statistics that, for some reason, we have no easy access to such as Blocks and Possession Won) and is really holding his own on the continent, too. He's just being fully scouted (as I do have some concerns, such as that Heading/Jumping Reach combo and potentially his Bravery and Composure) and I asked Alphonso Davies, my highest profile player, to encourage him to join in an attempt to knock down that huge €53m price tag. I want him but there are some weaknesses from what I can already see and won't pay over €35m (already double my current record, which, in turn, is the Swiss domestic record) for him - and that is only because Zakharov and Berendt are fetching me upwards of €70m this summer and the depth for left sided centre backs isn't fantastic...

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Things are looking good! Seems like your scoring issues are gone. I was starting a response to your goals post last weekend, but I have to admit you overwhelmed me with stats and data (good on you though!) then a nuts week of work hit me and that was that.

The pressing and shorter passing makes a lot of sense though. I’m finding with Livorno that even with ‘balanced’ or ‘shorter’ passing, if you have ‘counter’ on, you can still get those great, direct counters when they’re there to be had. If not, you start the patient build up.

I like that you’re forcing the issue too with pressing. If you have the players for it, keeping the opposition uncomfortable and further from your goal makes sense! Like I said before, I saw why you did the lower DL, but I think it hinders you as a favorite.

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Form turned fantastic!

That second leg Valencia result and blankness during could be more to do with tactical cancellation than a limit of potential reached. The only way to really find out potential reach is if tactical everything is the same but the other team has higher current potential players playing. Looks like you’ll need to go deeper in Europe to find out :D

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6 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Things are looking good! Seems like your scoring issues are gone. I was starting a response to your goals post last weekend, but I have to admit you overwhelmed me with stats and data (good on you though!) then a nuts week of work hit me and that was that.

The pressing and shorter passing makes a lot of sense though. I’m finding with Livorno that even with ‘balanced’ or ‘shorter’ passing, if you have ‘counter’ on, you can still get those great, direct counters when they’re there to be had. If not, you start the patient build up.

I like that you’re forcing the issue too with pressing. If you have the players for it, keeping the opposition uncomfortable and further from your goal makes sense! Like I said before, I saw why you did the lower DL, but I think it hinders you as a favorite.

We are certainly scoring at a much better rate than before!

I always felt that the lower defensive line encouraged teams to come at us and allowed us to exploit the space but, in reality, we're good enough to exploit any types of space and our counter (as you've said - probably more linked to the Transition option rather than passing length/DL) means that we still play like that anyway.

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6 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Hmm, what’s more expensive: 100k over the length of a contract; or, a contract fee and lower wages (not sure of limits of each here) :onmehead:

Well - let's get into a bit of depth here, shall we...

Here is Osememe:

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Now, Friday has been here since 2031 and has played 142 league games for the club. He's Highly Influential in the dressing room and the fans really like him. As you can see, he's in good form and a star player at this level, however, he does have a tendency to struggle in those big European ties. At 24, he's at the peak of his ability and a real star player, also earning just over a third of what our top earners do - so I get why there are some noises being made about a new deal.

However, this is the contract that he wants:

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€100k p/w with a 10% yearly wage rise as well as hefty bonuses. For context, I've added forty appearances, twenty clean sheets and five unused substitute appearances. Obviously, we wouldn't have to pay a Signing On Fee but there is a loyalty bonus and his agent would also net quite a windfall. To meet his demands, of which I haven't tried to negotiate, it'd cost the club just shy of €40m over the five years that he'd stay for. I think the biggest thing for me here is that it completely blows my wage structure out of the water. My top six earners, below, would be on considerably less than a player who isn't actually the best player here.

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Now, let's look at Maiga. He's still not finished scouting but I want to lock in this deal early due to other interest and then delay until he's fully scouted:

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I won't go into too much detail about what he's done at Sochaux and his career but he's clearly a top player. I managed to negotiate a bid of €35m up front, with a further €5m after 50 games as well as a friendly and giving Sochaux 50% of the profit on the next sale (not ideal, I know, but the market in Switzerland will mean it's pretty unlikely to get a €100m+ player!) I was concerned with the scout report saying that he'd want a wage between €88k and €115k. However, my first negotiation was successful:

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Now - I locked in the €50k p/w deal here. It still makes him the top earner, by some distance, but, with negotiation time coming up again, I can ease some players up to around that level. I also added the Match Highest Earner Clause as another sweetener, knowing that my plans are not to exceed this kind of budget. We are growing as a club but there is no way, realistically, a Swiss club will be paying €150k p/w+ for a player. If we get to this stage, I'll re-negotiate anyway. I packed in a hefty signing on fee and also a lot of bonuses (obviously he can't win the CL and EL in the same season) as well as similar appearance clauses to Osememe. His agent demanded the sell on clause but that's ok - it would still show as a profit for of at least €8m.

This is how that contract would break down over five years:

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So, he'd cost around €31m more than Osememe but, obviously, a huge portion of that is down to the transfer fee. When you compare the two players - Maiga is better and there is a bit of room for him to improve as well. The question here though is can I sell Osememe for that €30m to offset the extra cost? There is currently interest from Betis and Leipzig, two relatively big clubs but there hasn't been any formal bids for him for a year or so now.

The other concern, for me:

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We are very close to doubling the record for a Swiss club. Is he that good? 

I'd love to hear the thoughts of anyone else on whether to push ahead with this deal.

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I think his passing, tackling and interception possibilities look amazing! My only real wish for him skill wise would be having higher first touch. Still, if you can get him go for it.

Can you put a time limit on the sell-on clause?

Would you go ahead with the transfer before trying to sell Osememe?

 

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If you haven't already done it, I would go ahead and buy Maiga. Osemene has two major advantages over Maiga--he's significantly better in the air and he has better Teamwork. But Maiga has a lot more major advantages over Osemene. On the physical side, Maiga has Osemene well beaten in speed, strength, Agility, and Balance; Maiga has much better Anticipation than Osemene; Maiga is a much better passer than Osemene; and unlike Osemene, Maiga might still have appreciable room to improve. Especially if you are turning towards using a higher line, I think Maiga is your guy. His Agility, Anticipation, and speed are all critical for snuffing out counterattacks when they do come, and he has high Concentration so he should generally be switched on to see them coming.

The key thing your screenshot doesn't say, of course, is what your scouts think of Maiga's Big Matches and Consistency, and if those are both poor he might not be worth it.

That's my (possibly belated) 2 cents anyway.

 

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On 28/08/2021 at 13:52, Sonic Youth said:

I think his passing, tackling and interception possibilities look amazing! My only real wish for him skill wise would be having higher first touch. Still, if you can get him go for it.

 

On 28/08/2021 at 16:01, john1 said:

Maiga, looks insanely good at his age

 

19 minutes ago, Tajerio said:

If you haven't already done it, I would go ahead and buy Maiga. Osemene has two major advantages over Maiga--he's significantly better in the air and he has better Teamwork. But Maiga has a lot more major advantages over Osemene. On the physical side, Maiga has Osemene well beaten in speed, strength, Agility, and Balance; Maiga has much better Anticipation than Osemene; Maiga is a much better passer than Osemene; and unlike Osemene, Maiga might still have appreciable room to improve. Especially if you are turning towards using a higher line, I think Maiga is your guy. His Agility, Anticipation, and speed are all critical for snuffing out counterattacks when they do come, and he has high Concentration so he should generally be switched on to see them coming.

The key thing your screenshot doesn't say, of course, is what your scouts think of Maiga's Big Matches and Consistency, and if those are both poor he might not be worth it.

That's my (possibly belated) 2 cents anyway.

 

Thanks for the replies on this guys. I completely agree with all of your points, however:

42e072ce99f4cb5e6512108bb7f9c4a4.png

My thought process...

  1. Is this a realistic move in a career that I've tried to ensure a sense of realism? 
  2. Is this the player that will help us move to the next step in Europe?
  3. Does this fit the model of recruitment I've used to date?

I can't honestly answer anything other than 'no' to all of those three questions therefore I've pulled the plug. I'll still keep an eye on him, in case he becomes available for much less but, in my eyes, I'll feel much more content about plucking a youngster from obscurity and developing them into something like that.

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6 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

 

 

Thanks for the replies on this guys. I completely agree with all of your points, however:

42e072ce99f4cb5e6512108bb7f9c4a4.png

My thought process...

  1. Is this a realistic move in a career that I've tried to ensure a sense of realism? 
  2. Is this the player that will help us move to the next step in Europe?
  3. Does this fit the model of recruitment I've used to date?

I can't honestly answer anything other than 'no' to all of those three questions therefore I've pulled the plug. I'll still keep an eye on him, in case he becomes available for much less but, in my eyes, I'll feel much more content about plucking a youngster from obscurity and developing them into something like that.

You’re a stronger person than I am! I do always try to maintain the realism in transfers, but there are definitely times where I am weak…

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