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[FM22] Matryoshka


_Ben_
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12 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

* Dinamo is the Russian spelling of the word "dynamo", which is a machine that transferred kinetic energey into electric power. Originally, when it was founded in 1923, the club was supposed to represent the electricians' trade union, but was taken over by the NKVD (the Soviet secret police). The name Dinamo was kept however, either for conspiratory purposes or simply because the new bosses liked it.

I've always found it strange this club name - Dinamo. There is all over the place in Eastern Europe.

Here at home, in Bucharest ( Romania ) we have Dinamo Bucharest - and guess what ? It was also the club of Interior Ministry ( police and secret services ) during the communist regime.

Without even searching I can name Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia, Dinamo Minsk in Belarus, Dinamo Tirana in Albania and if we look them up there are some more in Bulgaria, Czech Republic etc.

Digging a little bit I've found this interesting article on Wikipedia about the Dynamo Sports Club , an initiative created by the Soviet GPU in the '20. Under this " soviet sport society " a lot of sport clubs were created across Eastern Europe - clubs that will establish football teams eventually.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

That Oliver Skipp transfer, don't you just love how FM likes to throw in a curve ball,  just to slap us back in the face in the form of a wake up call.

So we remember that this is a game and not real life. 

It’s like a reminder to play the skills and not the name :lock:

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Interviews

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I have attended three interviews, to date, at Dinamo Dagestan Makhachkala, the B-side for Dinamo Mackhachkala, Dinamo Vologda and Olimp-SKOPA Balashikha. They are located here on the maps - with Balashikha being on the outskirts of Moscow, the beautiful city of Vologda further north and Makhachkala located deep in the Republic of Dagestan, to the south.

All three of these clubs are towards the bottom of their respected fourth tier division and all come with different thoughts. At SKOPA, I was told about budgets, a little over £1000 a week for wages and £9k to spend on transfers, whereas there was a lot less of that in Dagestan - for obvious reasons. There is, obviously, the opportunity for development and moving to the first team here though. SKOPA have not finished higher than 8th in the four years and did spend a year in the fifth tier, too, so they aren't necessarily on a stable footing right now, whereas the B side did win their league but failed in the playoffs four years back and have since been on a downward spiral.

Vologda, however, have finished sixth, third, sixth and seventh in their Zolotoye kol'tso (nope, no idea either) league and have some pedigree, plus, have a near-nine thousand seater stadium, to boot. Their objectives were simple: don't finish last for a few years and then try and make a name for yourself in the league. Now, I did make a promise that I'd stop putting in job applications but a little white lie here and there won't hurt me (read: it almost certainly will), but there is something drawing me in.

I'm processing through a little but I am likely to sleep on any decision...

.

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Interviews #2

I was not offered the jobs at either Dinamo-Dagestan or Olymp-SKOPA and, therefore, was ready to make the call on Vologda, until...

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These are both third tier clubs and Legion are actually the main team to Dinamo, who just turned me down! In fact, Mashuk were almost immediate to get back to me and offer a contract, which gives me so much breathing space to find where I want to be in this save. Exactly half way through the season, they sit fourteenth in the third tier of Russian football. This is not the deepest, darkest level, but this club is professional and has a budget which I can use to start my career and find my way as a manager here. They've never finished above mid table at this level so there is definitely a lot of work to be done but, given the location of it (Stavrapol Krai), it shares a natural link to Nikita's hometown, and, in the Caucasus mountains could just give me my first geographical and managerial foray.

My one concern is that, when looking for a club logo, I accidentally fell down a rabbit hole and have returned knowing that this club has been slated for it's use of a performing bear in pre-match rituals...

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Only in Russia, hey...

---

I think this is it...

 

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October 2025

My plan is to update monthly, as I have done previously except for busy periods and when I join new clubs as I want to thoroughly invest myself in them. In the past, this has worked best by posting and then, basically, procrastinating about them. So here we go!

My backroom team is the first thing I want to look at. There are several reasons here: the first being that I want to delegate things. As a brand new manager, I do not think I would ever  be allowed full reign over everything at the club. Secondly, I want to get those marginal gains and, normally, a strong backroom team can assist with that. I am in charge of what happens on the training pitch and game pitch but not a lot else - call me the Head Coach, maybe, in this role. However, I have purposely given myself really poor coaching attributes, spending them all on the mental side. My plan is to oversee training but not really get too involved - by that I mean this. I'll create the week plan but not actually coach it, instead, handing that over to my staff.

Here is the backroom:

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As you'd expect, a mish-mash of positions, styles and abilities with no real cohesion about them. It's interesting to note that we aren't actually allowed a Technical Director or Loan Manager, yet we have them. It's likely that I will be unable to renew their deals so they may be first out of the door.

---

In terms of coaching, it's quite bleak:

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A spattering of attributes above the '7' marker - of which anything below I don't hugely care about. Surprisingly, we have the best shot stopping ability in the league but that is about it. As mentioned before, the HoYD, Kotov, is going to be an asset at working with those youngsters but not really on the training pitch. However, it's all relative for this level and we can work from it. I have put an advert out for a new assistant as this is how all my staffing recruitment will be done.

Just a note - following the success of the Luzern game, I have popped into the IGE and added this to Russia:

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I prefer to work with more than one assistant when the time comes to be able to. I feel that they are able to have more delegated to them.

---

The medical department isn't much better:

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Nobody even remotely good at Physiotherapy and Sports Science and N'For isn't even going to be a nice bloke to work with! As these roles are filled, I cannot advertise for a replacement but I will look at other opportunities to replace these as we move forward.

---

Recruitment looks like this:

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Certainly bloated for this level. My Chief Scout will, mainly, be responsible for looking at my next opposition but I will aim to recruit someone to work under him and have advertised that fact.

---

The general staffing DNA is to have Determined, good Man Managers and Disciplined staff who favour a more direct, pressing style of play (Vertical Tiki Taka, Fluid Counter, Gegenpress) and, when we reach that point, a relatively similar formation.

There is a lot to do here!

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14 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

The medical department isn't much better:

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Nobody even remotely good at Physiotherapy and Sports Science and N'For isn't even going to be a nice bloke to work with! As these roles are filled, I cannot advertise for a replacement but I will look at other opportunities to replace these as we move forward.

First thing I noticed, followed by the thought not to annoy them if I was to be needing their service if injured :stop:

If your not putting yourself in as part of the training, does that mean your stat won’t increase?

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4 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

First thing I noticed, followed by the thought not to annoy them if I was to be needing their service if injured :stop:

If your not putting yourself in as part of the training, does that mean your stat won’t increase?

I actually have no idea! I want to get my badges done, obviously but feel that this is the most realistic first step.

4 hours ago, john1 said:

Loving it already and seriously can't wait for more! Unless I have missed this, any reason why holiday til 2025?

Because a lot of the jobs were unfilled at the start so I wanted to give them some time to be and I also wanted to ensure that my save was working as intended. Plus, it gives time for some of the newgens to come in, meaning the Zealand facepack is of better use!

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October 2025

I've met the staff, got some ideas together about how to develop them but now I need to meet the first team:

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A very mixed bag here - some quality but also a whole lot of weaker, mainly younger players, who I assume are there to fill in the quotas. There are very few players within my youth team who could be of use to fill the gaps, which will lead to some disjointed lineups as I have some strict criteria to meet.

Daniil Rodin is the pick of the players, good enough for this level but a player who is inconsistent and dreads a big game. Surely, my talismanic midfielder cannot go missing! On paper, Shershnev looks strong, too and has scored five times so far this season and I like the well-roundedness of Sakharov.

However, with no assistant manager and my reports coming from coach Ivor Logvinov, hardly an expert in judging players, I want to dig deeper to try and pick a team based on those who have performed well this season before trying to dig deeper into how they have played.

---

Goalkeepers

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A mixed bag here (and a statistic in Expected Save Percentage that I don't feel is working!) because, judging on Clean Sheets, alone, Chernikov would get it. However, attribute wise, Markov probably edges it. My big concern here is that they are both unable to string a pass together and, for obvious reasons, are not involved in any build up play. Markov's passing is 8 whereas Chernikov is less than 7, so the former probably gets the nod and, taking advice from the staff, is by far the better overall player.

Defenders

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Khripov is the standout here but, at 5'10", will have to be used as a more defensive right back, as opposed to a centre half. Sakharov is also very well suited, on paper, and I like the idea of trying to utilise his balling playing ability from the full back role but this would lead to Khagur, my second best performing defender, to be moved elsewhere. Bednozhey and Punegov have a decent attribute spread, minus strength, and are able to play in the middle, despite the former being under six foot tall.

Defensive Midfielders

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Kiril Morozov is the best performing player here and has spent his season moving between the DM and CB role - perfect for me as I tend to opt for a very defensive player in front of the backline. It would then also allow Sakharov, from the flank, to be more attacking. He, however, is the weakest of these players in the tackle but, to his benefit, completes more interceptions than anyone else - probably linked to the fact his Decisions are good for this level (13).

Midfielders

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Sergeev, a winger really by trade, could be a nice option in the middle here. He leads the key passes and shots statistics as well as having above average pace. Rodin looks to be a ball magnet but his outcomes aren't great; I'd expect he was probably played as a deep lying playmaker, with a defend duty. Although he's lacking in flair, I want him to have a little bit of freedom and put that good Vision and Passing to good use, knowing that I can rely on his ability to win tackles and make interceptions, too. He's potentially going to be a free 8 with some more defensive duties.

Wide Players

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With Sergeev looking suited in the middle (Cross completion of 36% compared to Toboev's 40% back this up, for example), I need to find another right winger. As a team who have been under the cosh this season - I'm struggling to find any real bright spots here!

Forwards

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Shershnev is nailed on here although Bogdanov looks the best finisher of the bunch. There is certainly not enough to be considering more than one up front here.

---

So, I've met the team, picked out some key performers from this (woeful) season and now I need to try and see how they've been set up, working out what they are good at and then trying to add my own twist in order to turn around the fortunes of this side.

 

 

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October 2025

Time for a look in the data hub:

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Looking at our overall performance won't give us a huge insight into how we have played this season, more of how we have faired. However, I can start to unpick some patterns. We don't create much, less than one expected goal per game and are the total number of goals is less than expected. Yet, we get a similar amount of shots on target as the rest of the league, yet we are wasteful from it. The average xG per shot numbers, whilst I cannot look at the spread of shots as there is no data collected yet, paint a clear picture:

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The quality of my shots is poor. We aren't getting the ball into great areas for my forwards (presumably Shershnev in this graphic) to be able to take high quality shots.

Moving on - we clearly like to get the ball wide an put it into the box with five of my players having a higher cross completion percentage than the league mean. From this, I can see that we don't get as many headers as the rest of the league, but do win a large proportion. Yet, it is my defenders who, on average at 6'0" tall (7th best in the league) skew this total as my forwards are 5'10" on average and fifteenth in the league. I can see that I need to work crosses in, but drill them, rather than float them up high. Maybe, this will also Shershnev, 5'9" himself, to get on the end of them and provide some better scoring opportunities.

Defensively, we are looking quite good - strong in our tackles and blocks and the lack of clearances suggests to me that the opposition aren't camped in our half all game. We concede a lot of fouls defensively, but this could be to do with our weak aggression (9th best in the league) and weak strength (11th best) but we are a fit team and one that can press well. I cannot access any statistics, at this stage, for where we win and lose the ball, but, given these ideas - I want to get away from our own goal and make sue of our good ball winning ability and fitness higher up the pitch - a perfect match for a semi-intense but strategic pressing system.

---

When focusing on players - it makes sense to keep a midfield trio of Sakharov, Rodin and Morozov as the midfield and defender statistics show that they are good with the ball, however, much work will need to be done with goalkeeper Markov, who is very wasteful in building from the back. However, it'll be my job to coach Sakharov to become far more dangerous with the ball as these assisting stats show - and Rodin doesn't even make that as his solitary assist wasn't even in the league. In any vertical style, I need my forwards to carry the ball but Shershnev hasn't done that so far this season.

---

A very quick look at our recent fixtures tells me a little more about our style:

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My predecessors, too, only played one up top and employed a back four with either a two or a three ahead. Right now, given our standing, we cannot afford to not play a holding midfielder, even if we need to push the game into their half. It appears, from a tiny dataset, that we do well against five man defences, too...

I'm going to set up a really quick set of criteria that I want to observe the players on over their first few games and I will look to build from there. Next up, I need to try and get a way to get my best players on the pitch at the same time, playing cohesive football!

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October 2025

Now, time to have a look at how I can translate what I've learnt to the pitch. I'm setting up, initially, with this shape and these roles:

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Without a pre-season to hone a tactic and get to know the players, I have to create something that can be adjusted on the fly and still be strong enough to work out in the short term. Despite having some decent wide players, I have opted to use them in the midfield strata because we are a struggling team and need to ensure that we maintain our defensive stability and shape. I have also attempted to add no team instructions that can't be done through player instructions or roles because I want to analyse how we play in the short term, building the tactic as I learn about the players.

I have tried to keep the player roles fairly vanilla, too. My use of IWBs is largely because we lack proper, offensive wing backs at this point and, with Morozov a great fit for a Half Back, I'm happy to allow them to drift inside. It also will allow Sakharov and Rodin, two creative players, to combine down the left and side and let my winger (even though he's right footed) to provide width and a shooting opportunity going forward. Shershnev's role will be flexible - just fifteen interceptions in fifteen games but I want more from him and his great stamina.

Additionally, I have pre-added some opposition instructions for areas of the pitch that I want us to pay close attention too. The higher defensive line and this targeted press is designed to keep us on the front foot at all times, even though we may be a) lacking in confidence and b) lacking in quality in some areas.

---

The response from the team is this:

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Passing, Creative Freedom, Tempo and Width are standard - meaning that the players have received no instruction on how to operate in these areas and, as such, may lead to some confusion early on as the role mentalities and individual instructions will lead this - but I will analyse and adapt as we go on. The players I have picked - probably my preferred XI - are only competent in their PRD so my first task in the three days before my first fixture is to get as much work done into this as we can.

I have combined these Match Prep blocks with a just one extra session, Attacking Corners before I face FC Tuapse.

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Here are some notes and initial tweaks that I plan to make, taken from the analyst report:

  • 9 of their 21 goals came from deep areas (7 being long balls) so I shall ensure that the pressing is hot from the first minute. I don't want to give them time to launch something. It also indicates that they might have a fast offence, but I'll address that in game. Their shape backs this up and I may choose here to man mark their AP in order to fully stop this.
  • 41% of their goals come between the 15th and 30th minute, yet they concede more than they score before that. I want to get at them and use that buzz of a new manager to get ahead before, probably, retreating as they grow into the game. This might suggest their manager is good at motivating them with shouts.
  • They have a CCC F/A of -23 when facing a 4-2-3-1, which my shape can basically translate into but do tend to do well (+6 CCC F/A) against a 4-1-4-1, so I need to get those midfielders further forward. It might be that I move to a more Positive style early on.

 

 

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October 2025

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Two games. Four points. Seeing things after 180 minutes that I did not after 5.

With little to no preparation time for the Tuapse tie, I went into it trying to scramble as much tactical familiarity and togetherness as I could - praising the training of the players and lifting their spirits with a couple of media interviews. The game was a cagey affair; as you'd expect from a side who have just appointed a new boss and two sides who are in poor form. They edged the xG, 1.14xG to 1.04xG but our shot quality was higher (as we took less shots) and this is the kind of silver lining I need to look for as I rebuild the image of this club. We conceded early as they found space outside my right sided IWB, Khripkov, and finished well. We reacted well but it was a screamer from Sergeev that brought us level, netting from 25 yards with an xG of just 0.04xG. The game petered out after half time as I was more concerned about plugging gaps than creating my own chances. Over the course of this early period, without the depth from my threadbare analysis team, I'll be conducting some data collection myself. In fitting with my tactical and managerial ideology, I want to see whether these lads can play progressive football and recover the ball for the full ninety minutes. My plan is to compare these stats as we go forward, but the initial data for this game is:

  • Mashuk PPDA (passes per defensive action - how many passes did we complete before we were fouled or dispossessed): 11.82
  • Tuapse PPDA: 23.36
  • Mashuk Progressive Passes: 134
  • Mashuk Gained Possession: 84

Big alarm bells. Our press just didn't work. We were lazy and allowed Tuapse 55% of the ball. Now, I'm certainly not about possession for possession sake but they had twice the amount of touches before we won the ball back or fouled them in our half.

I wanted to change things against Kuban and go a bit more offensive. We moved to Positive, Underlapped on the left (combining the AP(s) in the MCL role with the IWB(s) in the DL role) and added a Counter-Press to our game. I also worked on our attacking areas in the week:

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This is how I like to structure my week. I always recover and do some lighter work on Monday before working on a key aspect of the game, in units on the second day. We come together in the most demanding day on Day 3 before returning to our key foci and adding in some match preparation work on the Thursday before solely preparing on the Friday. I think the Attacking blocks looking at wing play, direct football and overlapping players works really well as the latter does actually put a main focus on defensive players and their ability to attack, too - as seen below:

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We came away from Kuban with an important three points and, in my opinion, a much better understanding of how we can play. Our metrics were much improved: 18 of our own passes before a defensive action was taken against us and only 11.06 for the opposition, 164 progressive passes and sixteen more ball recoveries. I think that we can play in this, more aggressive, manner, it's not just about balancing out the risk with the reward. We created 1.02xG, which is a worry - even more so when you consider we have only scored more than once in a game two times this whole season but pass completion was up, to 84% and, armed with data, I can now start to build on the below graphs to win the ball higher up the pitch, attempt more passes in their opposition half and, hopefully, continue our rise up the table.

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I really enjoy reading about the immersion in your games (I think I may have commented before about you playing in local currency), and how your thought process goes into each decision from a real life perspective, and how you build a career. It's my favourite type of save by far. It's a bit (lot) nerdy but one of the things that really bring my saves to life are reading about the country I manage in, as you also do, but I actually track the places my teams play at by 'starring' them on google maps. Needless to say I have a major interest in political geography. It may be something that you might want to consider, if you intend to take your save across Europe, however even just doing it in Russia would be worthwhile given the vastness of it.

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10 hours ago, BuzzR said:

No physical training ? Interesting.

Is it a long term choice or just for the moment to get things a little more tighter tactically ?

The third day is where I would normally do the physical training - as a team, rather than in units. We are recovered from the previous match but still far enough away from the next to up the intensity here. However, it's not something that I use week in, week out, especially during the season. But you're right at this point - tactical familiarity will need to come before mass attribute development.

10 hours ago, brookie1402 said:

I really enjoy reading about the immersion in your games (I think I may have commented before about you playing in local currency), and how your thought process goes into each decision from a real life perspective, and how you build a career. It's my favourite type of save by far. It's a bit (lot) nerdy but one of the things that really bring my saves to life are reading about the country I manage in, as you also do, but I actually track the places my teams play at by 'starring' them on google maps. Needless to say I have a major interest in political geography. It may be something that you might want to consider, if you intend to take your save across Europe, however even just doing it in Russia would be worthwhile given the vastness of it.

Thank you!

I'd looked at the Russian Ruble but one is around 1p at the moment, which would make the amounts very confusing! Also, there is no keyboard shortcut for the ₽ symbol. I am also really going to look at the geography as I go through this save and think about how I can present that in my posts. The scale of this country is ridiculous though - we just travelled 400km to Kuban, yet they are in the same local league as we are! This little town sits 1500km Moscow and is a 10,000km drive from Vladivostok!

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On 13/11/2021 at 11:11, _Ben_ said:

Just a note - following the success of the Luzern game, I have popped into the IGE and added this to Russia:

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I prefer to work with more than one assistant when the time comes to be able to. I feel that they are able to have more delegated to them.

Interested to learn more about how this works...

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November 2025

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Three matches this month and more progress being made on the field. With the harsh Russian winter to come, we have four months off, in which I can continue to work, behind the scenes, to embed my vision for this club but, in the meantime, it's all about the group of lads I select each game.

Given our stature right now, and the quality of the oppposition (Taganrog and Volgar are 1st and 2nd), these results aren't too bad. We have scored twice in a game for the first time in my tenure and recorded our second clean sheet. In terms of match momentum, we've never really been out of the game and the Volgar xG result only shows a skew due to the fact we gave away a silly penalty.

It also gave us a time to begin the implementation of our defensive training strategy, which, at present, looks like this:

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I want to look at these three games as a group of fixtures, rather than individual games and, therefore, I can put together all of my thoughts into the month rather than game by game. Firstly, as we look to identify whether we can play in a style that I want, I need to look at our PPDA and progressive passes:

Passes per defensive action

My intention is to create a team that is both press resistant and press orientated - but at a sensible rate. Therefore, I'd like to see that we restrict the opposition to less passes per PPDA than we have ourselves. To fully do this, we need to be smart on the ball but also fit so that we can evade their press for long periods of the game. These attribute developments will come over time, but I want to get the bare bones down and embedded as soon as possible.

Here is our rolling average for both, although I must note that we are in such early stages that the averages are hugely skewed as this is best evaluated over a long term:

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The Forte Tagnarog game (#3) really stands out here. They only won possession back six times whilst we were in our offensive half but we gave the ball away a huge 34 times there. You can really see the impact that this has had on the ratings of my midfielders:

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The other impact that this had, here, was the sheer number of passes my defenders received, with the ball often going backwards. Now - this is where we need to up the quality of players within our own team but, maybe, need to look at passing instructions, overall.

What is also clear here is that, as the month has gone on, we've produced fewer passes between each defensive action and the opposition have completed more between every one of our own defensive actions, culminating in a really poor press against top of the table Volgar, who made nearly 39 passes as we just failed to keep possession (they completed 713 total passes to our 413 over the course of the entire game). A huge amount of these came from their defence (95, 77, 99 and 98) as the drawbacks of our withdrawn wingers demonstrate.

Progressive Football

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Here is the total number of progressive passes we've made in each of our five games, so far. The increase in team mentality (Balanced to Positive) after the first game saw us make an increase in the verticality of our play, as it should, but there was a significant dip in the last game. However, with just 37% of possession, you'd expect this. Again, as expected, the main chunk of these passes are coming from the defenders but I have a real job on my hands to get my most creative player, Rodin, involved a bit more:

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Here are his progressive passes from the past two games - hardly create those incisive balls through the defence. I need to look at his roles, traits and take into account his ability to play how I want him before making any adjustments to his game but I know, right now, that he is not quite where I want him to be.

Player Positioning

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The big development here is to move Shershnev (#10) from a PF(s) to a PF(a) in order to create a focal point of our attack. You can see from the Kuban game that he was far too deep. What is evident here is that we are not playing wide enough and spreading the ball out to the wings as we should, so that is something to look at over the course of the winter break, too. There is evidence of that 3-2-4-1 shape coming when we are in possession - particularly against Taganrog - but, for a counter attacking team, we are far too close together to move and carry the ball quickly and vertically, stunting our counter attacking approach. 

So, I end with a little bit of a tactical to-do list that myself and my newly appointed assistant, Sergey Ilyukhin, will be working on over the winter:

  • Look at the impact of team width on the overarching principles of pressures and progressive football.
  • Look at developing the role of the key playmaker within the team.
  • Look at the options that will stop opposition teams playing the ball around their defence, skewing possession stats.

His first job, though, was to tell me that I wouldn't see my players for nearly three months:

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First of all! Just want to thank you for some excellent posts! Really love how you explain everything, and your thoughts behind it. 
The Russian League have caught my eyes lately, so great to see someone write about it!

Looking forward to the rest! 

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February 2026

I went into the winter break with three objectives (posted from above but, because it's the weekend and I've actually got to play, relatively fresh in my head still):

  • Look at the impact of team width on the overarching principles of pressures and progressive football.
  • Look at developing the role of the key playmaker within the team.
  • Look at the options that will stop opposition teams playing the ball around their defence, skewing possession stats.

I have used this time to come up with the following tweaks and changes to my plans:

  • The tactic has changed slightly:
    • I've employed a double Mez/Free 8 combo here - in order to get the creative duo of Rodin and Kuznetsov on the pitch together and also to force the play a little wider. They are both on attack duties. It does leave quite the gap behind them but the IWB(s) and HB(d) do create a nice shield.
    • I've moved both wingers to (s) duties in order to allow the extra impetus through the middle. They stay wide and are still just as key to our build up.
    • I've removed the Underlap-Left instruction as we now play with two of the same midfielders and I hadn't actually noticed a change.
    • We now only employ team instructions that can't be altered through player instructions. I prefer this minimalist style, personally.
  • I have watched and, right now, I'm happy to let the other defences keep the ball. I do want to apply pressure but it is highly unlikely, at this level, that anything is going to be created from this area. I'll keep the higher line and standard line of engagement but, right now, for me: compactness > intense press.

Here is how we fared in February:

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A series of great victories with just the one draw. My highlight, though, has to be the re-emergence of Rodin as my top player. Here are his statistics in the games that he was utilised for a period of time more than a late substitution:

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You've only got to look at the difference in progressive passes as a Mez(a), left, compared with an AP(s), right two, to see that he's dominating the spaces I want him too.

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The results are the least important thing here, instead, the tactical familiarity and role understanding is what has been worked tirelessly on this month.

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I have employed a very boring and repetitive training style that makes the most of match preparation, including the focus that this area does have on P/R/D and uses the game time to build fitness. Whilst there is no work split into units, players have stilled developed their attributes and there has been as much of an increase as you'd expect for a team at this level.

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The youth intake also happened:

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Some absolutely terrible personalities but a shining light in Filatov!

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I'm thoroughly invested in this save after the weekend! My playing time decreases hugely in the week but my foot is well and truly in the door and I've got some big plans for this club.

 

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Amazing work so far as always. I find adding the more direct passing to the player I want to be my most creative outlet along with training the PPM plays killer balls. Usually helps in turning them into key pass machines. But seems switches are getting the best out of Rodin already. 

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Thank you @Matt_1979, @Sonic Youth, @DefinitelyTaylor and @Tommo_ for your kind words!

21 hours ago, john1 said:

Filatov looks promising!

I agree. I think he can play at aged 15 at this level so I want to give him some minutes. There is no way he'll develop with just training at this level.

1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

I find adding the more direct passing to the player I want to be my most creative outlet along with training the PPM plays killer balls. Usually helps in turning them into key pass machines.

Both Free 8s are learning that trait! What a coincidence...

1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

But seems switches are getting the best out of Rodin already. 

His trait of 'Looks for pass instead of shooting' really interests me. I kind of don't want him quite so advanced but, with his passing ability, reckon he's better at most at finding that killer ball anyway.

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March 2025

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What a month! Three very different league displays but nine points and a surge up the table.

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We kicked off against Makhachkala and it was almost as if the hard yards put in over the harshest of winters were worth it. We tore them apart, with our midfield to thank. In particular, Daniil Rodin, below, was outstanding.

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We followed that up with a strong away win at Chernomorets, despite having, probably, the lowest possession stat I have ever achieved. We were resilient and compact and our trigger press was successful. I stuck to my guns with my original thoughts on possession - removing the intense press from their backline when I only have one naturally advanced player. It told here. They completed 665 passes in their defensive half, and only just a little over 200 going into our half, with their centre halves racking up well over 300 hundred touches between them. But, yet again, areas that I've worked on - a corner and a through ball from the left Inverted Wing Back, were the difference. A late goal caused a little worry but I was happy with the performance - even if the statistics look like it was a different story.

If we were great in Makhachkala and quiet against Chernomorets, we were utterly wasteful against Kuban. We regularly overloaded their defence, playing slick and vertical football but couldn't find the back of the net. Still, it's another three points that takes my record to five wins from eight games, with twelve scored and five conceded.

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I am well aware that I only have a contract until the end of this season but I want to now look ahead, and look to see what I can build with Mashuk, for however long I remain here. I have highlighted the below players as those who I want to keep at the club and become part of my vision:

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I'd like to maintain the key core: Markov, Sakharov, Rodin, Seergev and Shershnev - all key players from the previous regime and players who aren't going to easily be replaced at this level. They will, obviously, be joined by new signings Timofeev and Kuznetsov along with academy graduate Filatov. The likes of Khagur, Toboev and Bezrukov are all very strong rotational options at this level and I want to keep Glukshov for his versatility and good personality. All credit must go to the backroom team for the identification and signing of my two new recruits and, as seen below, they are starting to make moves to better meet my DNA:

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I fined Timofeev and this resulted in a one point increase in Determination and Work Rate (overview taken before this so it does not show it). It is no coincidence that these make up half of the key attributes that I want for each player and I believe will help with our playing style.

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April 2026

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This has been some turnaround in fortunes!

We continue our rise up the table and, with three games left, look secure to secure a top five place - actually overachieving our media prediction of eight. There is a huge gap between the top four and ourselves, along with the chasing pack and I must consider how best to close that going into next season.

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Some really impressive performances over the four games, with just the one conceded, which was from a dodgy penalty.

We comfortably pushed aside now-relegated Yeisk, with a lovely goal from Sergeev - playing as a left winger due to injuries - who cut in on his right foot and bent one in from the edge of the area. Sakharov netted an equally good, yet low xG goal, coming from a direct freekick. With both goals accounting for less than 0.30xG, it is also clear that we had a number of other decent chances, too. We couldn't find the breakthrough against Biolog in a game that won't be remembered for long. A drab affair with both teams creating a few scoring chances but nothing high quality. The Stavropol game was a designated fan day and we gave them something to smile about as Nikita Shershnev netted following a through ball from Daniil Rodin. Bezurokov, coming on just moments before, sealed the win. Two dodgy penalties made headlines against Druzhba but we came out on top with our late winner. Shershnev again, netting his eleventh of the season and a Seergev penalty were enough in a game that, statistically we dominated.

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If you take a look at my overall record since joining Mashuk, below; it makes for good reading:

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Compare the first and second halves of the season and you see two very different teams. I joined as the first round of fixtures were complete and have instilled a very different, but effective, type of football. Although the statistics are hard to really dig into at this point, given the fact that there is a skew by the aforementioned prior management, I can begin to compare certain areas to see that we are moving in the right direction with our footballing style:

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The two graphics on the left show where we gained possession and our defensive actions after two games. Compare those to the two on the right and you can see that we are moving away from our own goal, playing more on the front foot and that our press higher up the pitch is allowing us to win the ball back efficiently in the opposition half.

With a full pre-season under our belts and some solid recruitment, we could be a force to be reckoned with next year!

 

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9 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

There is a huge gap between the top four and ourselves, along with the chasing pack and I must consider how best to close that going into next season.

Keep doing what your doing :brock:

And you’re keeping your sheets clean too!

is there no option to select stats in a team for managers and all managers overall in the data hub to separate stats from each other? Should be included in there.

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