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FM21 - Life After Lennon


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FM21 – Life After Lennon

 

Saturday 23rd January 2021

 

The catastrophic reign of Neil Lennon has come to an end. Celtic is in 7th place in the Scottish Premiership 31 points behind Rangers and 10 points behind St. Johnstone in 2nd. The 10 is long gone and the final 14 games of the season are all about pride and a desperate race to secure European football at Celtic Park!

 

Perhaps the bigger challenge is off the pitch where an overhaul of all departments is needed. The squad is a shambles, the scouting departments are almost non-existent and the entire structure from youth to board level is in need of modernisation.

 

Step up Andy Postepoodle, a no-nonsense Aussie to attempt to steady the ship. Despite being an unknown in Europe, Postepoodle has a glowing resume from the Far East where he has played a vibrant, attacking style of play in Japan and with the Australian National Team.

 

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In his first press conference Postepoodle had the following to say on the extent of the challenge he faces, his thoughts on the transfer market and the squad:

 

"First of all I am delighted to be sitting here as the manager of this wonderful club. Celtic is huge and has many, many fans in Australia and Japan, but that doesn’t make my task here any easier. A lot of things have gone wrong this year and such is the state of play that we cannot accept that. From day one I have to steady the ship and set us sailing in the right direction... winning games and engaging with the support. We’re a long way behind but we will fight until the maths say otherwise.

 

We have a few days left in the transfer window to bring some new faces in but until I have had a good look at the squad then I will be hesitant to sign off on anything the scouting department have shown me so far. We will work together to identify and sign players that fit my system as soon as possible. I had a few names in mind who would come in and strengthen us but for whatever reason Mr. Hammond and the scouts here say that they do not exist in their database which is odd, but we move on.

 

I am keen to get to grips with the squad here and see who has the talent and the fight to stick around and dig us out of this mess that we find ourselves in. Unfortunately we are saddled with some long term injuries in Forrest, Jullien, Griffiths and I hear that McGregor is also out for a few weeks. We are threadbare to say the least and with Christie leaving for Arsenal at the end of the season and Brown moving on there will be a large turnover of players. For now it’s about who we have here and putting the building blocks in place as we look forward to our first fixtures. It’s a fresh start and everyone has a clean slate.”

 

The Celtic board have released some aims for the rest of the season. It is understood that the Scottish Cup ranks highly in those targets but otherwise it is a free pass for Postepoodle who will be looking to promote a settled playing style and work with the scouting department to identify some targets for the shortlist. All eyes will be on Postepoodle to see if he has what it takes to launch a green and white fight back.

 

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(After Postepoodle's first game in charge)

 

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FM21 – Life After Lennon

 

January 2021

 

The hoops have three fixtures remaining in January, two league games and a Scottish Cup tie. On paper it’s an easy start for Postepoodle but anything could happen with an injury hit, nervous shell of a team!

 

Sun 24 JAN 2021 Scottish Premiership

St. Mirren v Celtic

 

Formation: 4-4-2

Line Up: Bain, Ralston, Bitton, Ajer, Taylor, Elyounoussi, Soro, Turnbull, Christie, Ajeti, Edouard.

Subs: Barkas, Kenny, Laxalt, Duffy, Murray, Perez, Brown, Rogic, Johnston.

 

A mere day after Postepoodle’s arrival Celtic were in action at the SMISA stadium away to St. Mirren. Postepoodle lined up in his favoured 4-4-2 formation with both Edouard and Ajeti providing a danger to St. Mirren’s back line.

 

Celtic dominated the ball but did not create much in the opening exchanges. They settled and raced into an xG lead but Turnbull saw his penalty saved. St. Mirren woke up and in their first chance of the game Dylan Connolly scored with a shot from the edge of the area. A shell-shocked Celtic went into the break a goal down and looking like a team struggling but a brace for Ajeti and a late goal by Turnbull saw the hoops finish the game 3-1 winners in a strong performance.

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WED 27 JAN 2021 Scottish Premiership

Celtic v Hamilton

 

Formation: 4-4-2

Line Up: Bain, Ralston, Bitton, Ajer, Taylor, Elyounoussi, Soro, Turnbull, Christie, Ajeti, Edouard.

Subs: Barkas, Kenny, Laxalt, Duffy, Murray, Perez, Brown, Rogic, Johnston.

 

Three days later Celtic were back in action with an unchanged side against Hamilton in Postepoodle’s first game at Celtic Park. Following a resounding win against St. Mirren surely it would be another three points against relegation threatened Hamilton.

 

Hamilton came to Celtic Park with one intention – to make it difficult for Celtic to score. Similarly to the last game it was a slow opening to the game, Celtic probed and Hamilton played it safe. Christie had a good chance early on but it was Ajeti who scored again to make it 1-0. Celtic well ahead at the break and looking good for another 3 points.

 

Hamilton responded well after the break and created a half chance. This was followed by a deep free-kick which was lofted between the Celtic centre backs for Ogkmpoe to slide past Bain in goals. A lapse in concentration and 1-1 on the scoreboard.

 

The game petered out and a series of decent attacking phases for Celtic were squandered without any end product. A frustrating outing for the Bhoys.

 

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SAT 30 JAN 2021 Scottish Cup Third Round

Arbroath v Celtic

 

Formation: 4-4-2

Line Up: Bain, Kenny, Duffy, Murray, Montgomery, Perez, Henderson, Rogic, Johnston, Ajeti, Harper.

Subs: Barkas, Ralston, Taylor, Brown, Turnbull, Elyounoussi, Edouard.

 

A break from league action for Postepoodle in the Scottish Cup. A trophy in his first season after the inheritance of possibly the worst Celtic side in a thousand years would be miraculous. It was also a chance to bounce back from the disappointing home draw to Hamilton. Postepoodle went full rotation as he makes eight changes away at Gayfield. Starts for youth players Murray and Harper and an almost full strength bench shows the lack of options available to the Celtic boss.

 

Celtic started slowly with mostly safe possession and gentle build up play. The high press was working well and Arbroath struggled to get a foot on the ball. Good play from Rogic released Montgomery high on the left wing who swung a deep cross into the box. Ajeti eluded his marker and headed home for one-nil to the bhoys.

 

Duffy was actually playing football, swinging pass after to pass to Celtic players stood in space. One of which was Montgomery who playing well which led to another headed chance for Ajeti, this time over the bar. Celtic knocked and knocked including Duffy heading onto the crossbar but it was Ajeti again who made it 2-0 with another assist for Montgomery. A rare chance for Arbroath and perhaps it should have been 2-1 as Donnelly found space in the box but flashed his first time shot wide with a huge 0.6xG rating. That was not the end of the first half action as Arbroath went down to 10 men after the sending off of Williamson with his second booking – surely that was game over?

 

The second half was a rather dull affair. A steady stream of Celtic chances were not taken as Celtic racked up their xG total as the score could have been much higher. Job done.

 

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Manager’s Office

 

 

A relatively quick end to January as the transfer window closes. No incomings and a few developmental players out on loan. Nominal fees came in for youth players on expiring contracts to leave early such as Moffat, Mullen, Beedham and Oko-Flex which will pay some wages for the week.

 

A good start to life under Postepoodle with dominant performances in all games. The Hamilton game was a disappointment but on the balance of chances I’m not too concerned. Tactical familiarity and morale are still low and will only improve. I’m concerned that too many good players are on the bench namely from central midfield and that I don’t have the squad depth to persist with the two striker approach so maybe a change of shape is in order.

 

Next month is a busy one that sees 5 games including the Scottish Cup and big games against St. Johnstone and Aberdeen who are still 10 points ahead of us in the league. It will be touch and go all season and we will fight for every placement.

 

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Hello all. It's good to see this getting so many reads. The format is a little experimental so far and I know the game by game updates aren't for everyone. I'm so slow at the game that if I go for the more standard half season updates then you'd be waiting a while! I may switch to monthly without the game by game focus especially as I look and see 5 games next month and the end of season run in gets hectic too.

I'm trying to implement my own brand of Poodleball with my favoured two striker approach, but squad depth is going to be a problem. I only have Edouard and Ajeti fit with no back ups of note. I may have to put that on ice until I have time to bring in some new signings.

So, thank for reading and it will pick up soon enough. I'm particularly looking forward to the rebuild as I've never had the opportunity to shape a squad so much. My scouts are out and about looking for players who will it into our new style of play so again more on that later. :thup:

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FM21 – Life After Lennon

 

February 2021

 

A little freshen up in my style of updates as we look to review February under Postepoodle. Hamilton was a disappointment but we bounced back dispatching Arbroath in the Cup. February was a busy month with five games (Cup game reviewed later) and some tough ones in the form of St. Johnstone and Aberdeen who are playing well.

 

We opened the month away at Kilmarnock, another tricky place to visit. Still utilising the 4-4-2, we steadily wore them down with second half goals for Edouard (2) and Turnbull. A late consolation from Findlay saw a 3-1 win away from home. A good result on the face of it but almost level xG shows we were quite lucky. Couple this with the Hamilton game, less than convincing build up play and quite frankly boring football and I was not happy. Full time: Kilmarnock 1-3 Celtic.

 

I decided to ditch the 4-4-2 and play a 4-2-3-1 at home against Motherwell. We were still hit hard with injuries but could still field a fairly strong line-up. Edouard at LW opened the scoring as we worked the ball into the box time after time but strong defensive blocks on Ajeti kept the score at 1-0. The bhoys had 66% of possession and we limited Motherwell to minimal chances. With time running out, a long ball over the top set Lawless free, pushed wide, Bain made a good save but the rebound fell straight back to him and from an impossible angle Lawless equalised – the match story didn’t even register it as a goal it was that close to being out of play. A disappointing result but an encouraging performance. Full time: Celtic 1-1 Motherwell.

 

Next up was the big game against St. Johnstone away. If we want to overtake them in the league then we need to be beating them. Soro came into central midfield as Bitton retook his place back at CB as we looked for more of the same. Our possession play was good and our creative players were carving out chances in good positions, but STJ struck first through a Stevie May header from a corner. Our shot map looked good with numerous chances from inside the box. STJ played well and troubled us on the counter and we never quite looked comfortable. That may be down to me chopping and changing tactics and lineups plus the fact that they are playing well this season. We perhaps left it too late to go after them but on chances created we should have won the game, yet we came away with no points in a 1-0 defeat. Full time: St. Johnstone 1-0 Celtic.

 

The games kept on coming thick and fast and after a cup game we welcomed Aberdeen to Celtic Park. Aberdeen are second in the league and pulling away from us. Realistically we are challenging for third or even fourth but this was a chance to lay down a marker. Perhaps in awe of them this year, we switched to a 4-5-1 and tried to control the game and not give away the chances that we gave to STJ last week. It was a very dull game as both teams huffed and puffed. We nullified their attack but we also nullified ours! Again I perhaps left it too late to go for the game and it finished 0-0 as Aberdeen very nearly nicked it with seconds to go! Full time: Celtic 0-0 Aberdeen.

 

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Manager’s Office

 

I can’t wait for this season to finish to be honest, we are woeful. I need to settle on a consistent lineup and shape otherwise squad building over the summer will be a nightmare. It was systematic of Celtic last year to not have an overall plan. The switch from Rodgers to Lennon was huge and the demands on the players were too much, the tactics looked undecided at best and we were like a ship without a sail. For us to become a modern, forward thinking club we need a clear identity. Postecoglu in real life seems to have come in and nailed this (although I would like a similarly minded DoF to come in to ensure we don’t hire another Lennon if he was to leave) and now I need to do this with Postepoodle.

 

I keep checking my scout reports but not much is coming back to me yet. I may go on a hiring spree because I want to recruit fairly realistically ie through my scouting centre not from attribute searching. Next month is quite short with only a few games to the split I’ll review it then and go into some details about the rebuild.

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Ok so this happened which isn't ideal at all!

I'm going to get around this by simply adding another manager of the same name. It's so close to the end of the season that there is a caretaker manager in charge until then so no harm done but it was quite a shock. Things weren't going great as we were flitting between 3rd and fourth. In the end we finish fourth and go into the Europa II qualification rounds. A huge window coming up with a high turnover.

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FM21 – Life After Lennon

 

The Rebuild

 

 

Let the rebuild commence!

 

The major downfall of being sacked was that my scout reports were lost. I remember a few who I wanted to sign but I hadn’t really begun to dig through them. Therefore as long as they come from reasonably realistic clubs and nations, I was willing to sign players through attribute searches backed up by a report card.

 

I have settled on a wide 4-2-3-1 formation with clearly defined roles in a clearly defined system. Therefore I knew what ‘type’ of player I wanted to sign based on key attributes. Everyone, regardless of position, needed to fit the required mentality. This wasn’t so much a personality test but if players score highly in ‘mentality’ then it was common that their personality matched.

 

The mentality test was simple, a rating out of 100 for work rate, teamwork, determination, stamina and pace. This fits with a high pressing, all energy squad who are all on the same page and never give up.

 

I also wanted a ‘skill’ test. We are playing a quick tempo, technical game plan so the incoming signings needed to score highly at this too. I narrowed this down to passing, technique, first touch, composure and decisions (with added vision consideration for the top end of the pitch). Again, out of 100. There were slight extras for a defending score and a sweeper keeper score too but I won’t bore you too much.

 

First, I had to identify the outgoings and what gaping holes that would leave. I wanted to keep this as realistic as possible and let the players who have left in real life leave the club. That means the loan players both at the club like Duffy and those returning on loan who have been sold like Bayo and Hendry. Brown has gone on a free transfer, youngsters have left and Ntcham has gone. Ajer has had a big money move to Brentford in real life but in game teams are offering £2-3m for him, no chance sorry. This is fine though because Christie has already left to Arsenal for £12m and Edouard to Leicester for £20m who are still Celtic players in the real world and I really hope they stay. They are big losses but they were unhappy and requesting moves. Hollow hands Barkas has gone and Griffiths too. Phew, I think I remembered everyone! Probably not but here’s a list!

 

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A total of 17 players have left the club for a huge sum of money. We did have a bloated squad in the first place and now we’ve stripped it back to the absolute bare minimum. We needed to strengthen certain areas but looking closely I saw that this was only a few key positions, plus some back ups in others. These were GK, RB, LW and ST with back ups needed at AM, LW, ST x2, plus potentially some reserves. To bring in the new players I created a benchmark for either the players who are leaving or ones already at the club based on the arforementionad mentality and skill ratings. I needed to bring in quality as well as quantity.

 

Goalkeeper: I had my eye on David Raya for months who would cost around £8m from Brentford. I set my sweeper keeper bench mark from Scott Bain who would be second choice. Bain scored 78/100 in goalkeeping and 43/80 in passing which was needed for our build up play. Raya scored 80 and 49, he would clearly be an upgrade. However my scouts and an attribute search threw up some more options in Angus Gunn, Darren Randolph and Max O’Leary.

 

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As you can see they all offer something slightly different, but I felt that there was better value than Raya even though I had the money to splurge. Gunn was a much better keeper but equalled Bain’s distribution. It is worth saying that Bain looked quite assured with his feet last season before I was sacked. Randolph was slightly better at both things but more expensive, wanted higher wages and was older. Finally, O’Leary is young has bags of potential and was amazing with the ball at his feet... but was a risky shot stopper. I decided to sign Angus Gunn for £2m and keep an eye on O’Leary for the future.

 

Similar models were in place for the other positions. At RB I was particularly weak with my options being Ralston and O’Connor who was returning on loan. Both are very similar and I could choose either however O’Connor has a higher ceiling and so gets the nod as a rotational RB. Incoming was real life signing Juranovic – a mental beast, a whole 10 points higher than Ralston and O’Connor, and decent skill and defending ratings for the bargain price of £1.2m.

 

In attacking midfield I was blessed with the skillful talents of Rogic and Turnbull but I’d like to play both. Turnbull becomes my CM partner for McGregor with Rogic at AMC. Both have weak mentalities and they are very similar in that their physicals let them down, especially pace and stamina. I wanted someone with a better mentality to come off the bench and give me something different, press high and be a menace. I found Amer Gojak who had played well at Torino on loan who was available from Dinamo. Rogic and Turnbull scored 59 for mentality, Gojak scored 78 and cost £2m. He’s a big downgrade in skill but isn’t bad and has the potential to improve slightly but so does Turnbull.

 

I had no left wingers at the club after Elyounoussi and Christie left – both are hugely talented players. Elyounoussi scored M65 S71 and Finishing 29. Massive scores. I toyed with the idea of switching Forrest’s flank and playing him at LW but he scored 65/60/28 so I went searching. In my scout reports I had a prospect in Monaco’s Enzo Millot. Millot (at 18) had a higher mentality at 67, higher skill than Forrest at 65 and wasn’t a bad finisher with 25. Crucially he has bags of potential too. He comes in for an absolute steal at £2.5m.

 

Back to my models… I also lost three strikers and needed to replace them. Eddy will be a massive loss but Ajeti and Griffiths bank me £10m plus wages and I thought I could sign wisely and match their talents. It was tricky, very tricky. As you can see I misrepresented Ajeti’s fantastic mentality score but he wasn’t a great finisher and didn’t play well for me. Incoming are the three listed and they all have their pros and cons.

 

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Connolly is first choice and fits the mentality, is a good finisher but his link up play isn’t great. Nisbet lacks mentality and skill but is a great finisher and Gelhardt is well-rounded. However all have potential and I’ll try and train them in the PoodleBall way. Finances were great again – Connolly £3m, Nisbet £2m and Gelhardt on loan.

 

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I’ll post my first choice XI, second choice and my reserve team and I could do well with what I have. I’d prefer a little more quality at LW (or RW if I move Johnston over) and I’ll look to flesh out my reserve team with some projects as I have a few in mind. Overall I’m very happy and I leave you with my gleeful tweet:

 

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Edited by Celtic_xG
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FM21 – Life After Lennon

 

The Squad

 

 

The last update was huge so I'll keep this nice and brief. As we progress through pre-season we have three teams full of quality footballers. I'm really happy with how we are looking. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we could shift all of the deadwood in one window and also identify and recruit new players who complement our playing style. I'll give my self a premature pat on the back. We have done this making a transfer profit of over £40m and slashed the wages from £430k per week down to £321k per week - an extra £5.7m saved over the year. Downsizing! Biscuit tin! 

 

First XI

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A very strong team with lots of quality. Can MIllot hit the ground running? Can Connolly replace Edouard? Big questions. Also, Ajer is attracting almost daily bids which are now up to £7m. He's very unsettled and I'm sure that I compromised by promising to let him go for £10m but I can't find any evidence of that. I may have to start looking for his replacement unfortunately.

 

Second Choice

 

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I like this. A good mix of youth and experience. Is it a step down from the first XI, yes it is, but financially it's great and these players should be able to step in when needed and perform well. I initially has Johnston as back up RW instead of Perez but a lack of LW options saw him switch flanks. Perez is performing decently well for me so I'm not unduly worried. I will be shortlisting some wingers though just in case it's not working out. I've plenty of reserves who are also fighting to be second choice.

 

Reserves

 

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High potential but short on numbers and a little low on mentality scores. I'm hoping some good training, reserve football and first team minutes here and there can see good development. Looking at this I need back up CB, LW, RW and ST as a priority.

 

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