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[FM22] Matryoshka


_Ben_
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October 2036

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First three games done as Groningen manager and, in all honesty, I couldn't have asked for a better period of time. These past twenty odd days as manager have really shown me that Krasnodar had become stale; whether I make huge strides here and find myself in the same shoes in two or three years, it doesn't matter as the building phase is the one I love the most.

In news outside of my own bubble, Kransodar moved quickly to appoint a new manager - yet the decision is certainly a strange one! Coming from the second tier of Germany and without, to be honest, a decent record at all. It'll be interesting to see how they do with him at the helm.

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Ahh! What a start!

Coming to league I do not know, against teams I do not have experience with and in a team that is not expected to win the league is a wonderful thing for me. It forces me into tactical decisions that I may have just skipped over whilst at the peak of the Russian pyramid.

Decisions are justified, such as putting two more creative players, Regeer and Vos, into the backline as they created four key passes against Utrecht. The idea that all of our performances are based on key opposition instructions is something I've barely dug into. Against Venlo, I instructed both centre backs to sit off their forwards as a) they're not au fait with the style just yet b) I'd watched and analysed that their two forwards, a CF and DLF, often roamed and left space for the AMC and c) they're not the fastest or best decision makers so I didn't want to put them on the spot 1v1. It worked. Granted, we did concede chances and the xG performance showed that we were perhaps lucky, but these are decisions that I - without any evidence in my favour - can say that have positively impacted the result. Playing Henry Westra, a slow and lazy player, has been a real eye opener into how the False Nine really works. He barely breaks into a job but pulling away the centre halves and then, somehow, still finding himself in the right position to get a shot off, has been lovely to watch.

Also, the cup game gave me my first chance to utilise my training-performance related play:

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Six debutants with Feenstra also breaking several records. Of course, building positive relationships and allowing these youngsters first team football is key and something that I haven't been able to re-produce elsewhere given the scheduling and registration for the 2-Teams. Alfred Asante really impressed me; a rangy midfielder who's really good on the ball. He's got to improve on his speed and passing but the foundations aren't too far off.

There will be harder times, of course, but I've really loved the process of starting over!

---

For reference, I took screenshots of the statistical stuff before I played my first game. I'm not too fussed about what they mean now but want to return to these later in the season to see how much my style has impacted them.

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Loving the enthusiasm you're writing with again!

Looking at some of the most notable players, here are my thoughts:

  • Westra is interesting, almost a poor man's Zlatan (especially with the player traits).
  • de Wit is class and screams future club captain if you're able to hold onto him. Good fit to play in the left of a three (arguably better suited for this role if anything). I'd probably focus on his defensive side and hope the physicals get a bit of a jump in the next couple years.
  • What are you doing with Jonsson? I'd be tempted to use him as a second striker to get the most of his off the ball movement, flair/vision, and long shots/technique. Don't love him deeper due to the limited ball carrying ability.
Edited by tyler16
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23 hours ago, tyler16 said:

Loving the enthusiasm you're writing with again!

Looking at some of the most notable players, here are my thoughts:

  • Westra is interesting, almost a poor man's Zlatan (especially with the player traits).
  • de Wit is class and screams future club captain if you're able to hold onto him. Good fit to play in the left of a three (arguably better suited for this role if anything). I'd probably focus on his defensive side and hope the physicals get a bit of a jump in the next couple years.
  • What are you doing with Jonsson? I'd be tempted to use him as a second striker to get the most of his off the ball movement, flair/vision, and long shots/technique. Don't love him deeper due to the limited ball carrying ability.

Thanks! I have to admit that I've really looked forward to every FM session in the past few days or so, which is obviously a plus!

Westra caught my eye in the summer, as I said, but I was really put off by his finishing. However, he scored 57 times in 140 games for a very poor Emmen side and is doing the business for me: I guess the corresponding attributes of Composure, Technique etc which are helping him out! de Wit is certainly a little short of where I want defensively but, right now, I'm going to work on his speed as my thinking goes that a fast and reasonably intelligent (Anticipation: 14, Decisions: 13, Positioning:14 - certainly above average at this level) player can probably get away with not being defensively quite as strong, yet. He's certainly started really well for us. Yes, Jonsson is a bit of a strange one. His dribbling isn't amazing, but neither is his  Finishing or Passing. I really liked how his Icelandic compatriot, Krystian Nokkvi Hlynsson played at Kransodar and he was never fast - just relying on insane Technique and Flair, which Jonsson has. The problem is that all my midfielders are, essentially, the same:

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They largely have that Vision/Technique/First Touch/Flair but only Speksnijder is in anyway capable of playing as a DM, attribute wise, - so it's not like I can play three there. 

Whilst I like the initial view of Bjarni, he's got to develop and play really well in order to get in this team. Then I also have to start the recruiting process for a DM, but that's another story...

 

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Just caught up @_Ben_and a sensible move, I think most would have tried the direct jump to Germany but Holland makes sense. 
A great start too!

In regards to your DOF and staff, were there any staff already there that align with your style of play and also in regards to the youth staff are you going to force them to play the same tactic as you or are you going to give them more freedom to play their own formation and style? 

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19 hours ago, danielgear said:

a sensible move, I think most would have tried the direct jump to Germany but Holland makes sense. 

I absolutely think so. I hadn't even realised that the boardroom are Russian, too. Just seems like a match made in heaven. Hopefully, I can enjoy this spell and then move to Germany, which, as of right now, is the top league in the world. Feels like a nice final goal.

19 hours ago, danielgear said:

In regards to your DOF and staff, were there any staff already there that align with your style of play and also in regards to the youth staff are you going to force them to play the same tactic as you or are you going to give them more freedom to play their own formation and style? 

There was a few! I burnt through nearly £1.5m in the changes, pretty much removing anyone who didn't do what I wanted. I kept only Sascha Marth and Richard van der Lee, plus a few scouts and physios because I want to 're-align' the club to one whole philosophy, which will mean the same style and approach, so that players can move through the teams as seamlessly as possible.

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1 minute ago, _Ben_ said:

 I want to 're-align' the club to one whole philosophy, which will mean the same style and approach, so that players can move through the teams as seamlessly as possible.

Will you play the same style as what you developed in Russia or will you tweak it to fit the squad you have now? 

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On 21/06/2022 at 21:04, danielgear said:

Will you play the same style as what you developed in Russia or will you tweak it to fit the squad you have now? 

Predominantly the same style - as, to be fair, the players I've inherited, largely, meet my needs. Yes, I'll look to improve but its' only really the absence of a physical presence in the DM role (all I have are playmaker types) that I have had to adapt for.

On 21/06/2022 at 22:19, Matt_1979 said:

caught up. Finally. Great job so far 👏

Love the move to Groningen. 

Thanks Matt! Appreciate it.

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November 2036

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Not a huge amount of time to play at the moment but absolutely loving it! November is complete and we're moving upwards.

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I played the first game of the season some five (real life) days ago, so my memories of these are somewhat blurred. However, we produced two strong performances - with an early focus of defensive solidity definitely being achieved. Against Go Ahead, I decided to try Speksnijder, the man I'd earmarked as a DM, in a more advanced role, and he certainly played well enough to give me a selection headache.

I then tasted my first defeat at Groningen, but such is the way I play now, I didn't panic. I'd be utterly distraught (as the board were) and would have probably not played for a few days (granted, I didn't but that wasn't because of that reason!) and instead looked at the xG story, re-watched the goals and looked at the stats before coming to an agreement with myself. There is literally nothing that I could have done differently during the game aside from score the penalty we were given late in the first half. My game management was pretty strong except for one small decision. The player who won the freekick for their first goal had been on the pitch for five minutes and I hadn't added instructions of not trigger pressing him as I didn't want to pull my midfield out of shape. He then went down due to a strong press and, alas, that led to their first goal. But, really, what could have been done differently? Conceding twice from set plays has seen me re-jig my positioning and also drop in a few more Defensive Set Pieces blocks into the weekly schedule. This is real evidence, for me, of the seismic shift I've made playing the game this way.

Next up was a strong win away at Willem II - but, again there was something that I saw that I need to act upon. Playing with a lazy striker like Westra can be dangerous, and it proved it in this tie. The pass map is a concern in that he just hasn't moved around and made himself available for the ball. Yes, he was marked by their best performing (7.6 AR) player but he needs to work harder to make those passing links. I want to try a few different options here and I actually think the suggestion made by @tyler16 - moving someone with the attribute balance of Jonsson to this role - was a great one. I also spent a little bit of time analysing our concession times (comparative data below) and zones and spent a little bit of extra time working through changes in team mentality and time wasting, particularly after our goal. 

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This data is from the last ten games, with 70% of those managed by me. It's easy to see that we start well but we concede most (small sample size as we haven't conceded many at all) around the time of my substitutions. Again, something to look at and work on. However, as I said - slowing the game down this time helped us keep it tight in the last ten, holding on to our three points and, again, making positive moves up the table.

I'm really getting into the Opposition Instruction part of the game as well as the opposition formations so, when I saw NEC were playing a 4-3-3, decided to field Lansma in the DM role, hoping for him to become somewhat of the de facto playmaker. I, again, set my instructions, based loosely on the following:

  • Always showing a player onto his weaker side if they are 'weak' or less on that foot.
  • Harder tackling on those less brave and in poorer condition
  • Trigger pressing, in this case, Paul Geppert, because he's a tricky winger, who leads their Dribbles/90, but has poor first touch and isn't brave.
  • Not tight marking the lone striker because, at this stage whereby tactical familiarity isn't yet at 100%, it has been seen to hugely draw one centre back out of position. He's likely to be an AF so will roam across the front line, too.
  • Tighter marking on their most creative outlet, Konte.

I also made a couple of changes to set plays from looking at this information. Their back five stand at 5'10", 6'0", 6'0", 6'2" and 6'2" and, whilst my players aren't necessarily larger, I just felt that these aren't hugely physically built players and instead opted to get more bodies in and the ball always getting straight into the mixer, as it were, rather than my variations of front and and back post deliveries. On further inspection, NEC also have the joint worst record for goals from DFKs, and joint second worst for goals from corners.

For the second game in three, a perfect game plan was executed and, had Jonsson not missed this sitting and Vos not missed another penalty, we'd have been out of sight and safe. Yet, a 20-yard superb freekick from NEC, amounting to half of their total shots on target, saw us fall to another unlucky defeat. Again - nothing to panic about. The bigger picture is that we'll be fine playing like this! We could do with, however, recruiting a player who can actually take a penalty.

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Ivan Melnik, my assistant from Russia, has produced me some depth charts, giving me a decent insight into the next steps for us, either in January or the summer:

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With just one true right back able to fit into my style, I absolutely need reinforcements here. El Khatib is a centre back by everything other than this tag and van de Pol won't have the quality to succeed. A ball player will be required and I'm not averse to a positional re-train if needed.

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With just one natural here, I need something more. I spoke earlier about wanting a ball winner as I've seen us been played through a few too many times and, although I want us to be compact and not chase the ball for the sake of chasing it - I think a really physical presence here would do us good in the short term and, if he's able to drop back to be a ball player too, in the longer term.

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The fans are happy with the players who are training well (blue indicates outside the first team and that the U18 schedules are impactful) now the longer term aim is to ensure we are developing talent and given them opportunties.

It's only be two months here but I have loved every day of it on and off the pitch.

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, Sport Lacost said:

Great update Ben!

What does Bruneck look like out of interest?

Thanks!

Did you see Bruneck because I'd mentioned lack of a DM and was training him as a BWM? If so - that's a great spot! He is currently playing for the Jong team and is doing quite well as he re-trains there. Decent physical frame but rather one dimension and wouldn't offer me a lot in terms of building from the back, although I am working on that. What is has made me do though is take a look at Ignacio Zambrano for that role. He's good at both passing and tackling and has a really physical frame - and maybe even plays to his (lack of) speed by taking him away from the last line of defence. It does take away a potentially great ball playing defender in the future but there is a need now and I think he could fill it.

I asked Melnik, my HoYD and Jong Manager, to play him as a DM in the next Jong fixture and he looked strong; his physical frame indeed standing out to me.

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Jong Emmen played an AM - 5'6" Uwe Hoffman and he was basically marked out of the game, failing to really register any touches of note in dangerous places.

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The first team play Ajax in a week and this has definitely given me some food for thought. So, whilst I hugely digressed from your actual question, I did, potentially find me something very valuable!

 

Edited by _Ben_
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Loving this aspect of the save and happy my take on Jonsson could be of some use!

The balance, first touch, off ball, and flair make me thing he's a player who would excel dropping deeper or laterally and either holding up play for more direct players or turning and playing them in, which is only aided by the one-two's trait you're training.

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2 hours ago, tyler16 said:

Loving this aspect of the save and happy my take on Jonsson could be of some use!

Thanks! For me - it feels really complete. I have married together all of the ways I want to play the game and this is the output of them. Plus, the very new found love for changing clubs and rebuilding off the back of AI decisions is one that I'm really growing into as is that 'living in the moment' ideology that stops me becoming attached to a club, or, worse, detached from a club as I know I won't be around in ten years.

2 hours ago, tyler16 said:

The balance, first touch, off ball, and flair make me thing he's a player who would excel dropping deeper or laterally and either holding up play for more direct players or turning and playing them in, which is only aided by the one-two's trait you're training.

I agree. Again - I've felt like I'm coming to terms with the end goal of this tactic. Still years, and probably clubs away, from reaching it, but the ideas are more cemented. My  mission statement, as it were, has essentially become this:

"We are compact in defence but fluid and vertical in offence, playing the ball over the top, through half spaces and in behind, utilising space by stretching play."

Therefore I've kind of worked out those attacking roles:

  • MC: Physical. Good on the ball. Can carry it and find the net. Key attributes: Dribbling, Off the Ball, Stamina, Passing, Work Rate, Shooting/Long Shots.
  • Wide Men: Space holders. Can dribble and finish when needed but occupy wider spaces, providing dummy runs and offensive outlets. Key on transitions. Key attributes: Off the Ball, Dribbling, Crossing, Acceleration
  • ST: Link man. Comes deep to feed the play but also can finish inside the box. Key attributes: First Touch, Flair, Off the Ball, Vision.

It does feel a bit Pep-like with that type of player but the verticality certainly isn't! I absolutely think that Jonsson has all the attributes to flourish as that False Nine. It's about slowly allowing him to adapt there, with him still being really quite young, and then building a squad around him.

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December 2036

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2036 complete and I round it off with what is probably my best month to date - in terms of the immersion with the save - most of which I don't write about - and the way we have gone about securing results against two top teams and a strong win against a team near to us in the league. Looking through the rules of the Eredivisie, there appears to be a playoff for teams fourth to seventh for a European slot and, despite the difference between the form since I took over (P10, W6, D2, L2) compared to my predecessor (P7, W1, D3, L3), think that is a realistic aim for us this year.

I think that there certainly needs to be some small steps over the three years or so I intend to stay her because, as of right now, we're simply unable to operate in the way that I want in terms of signing players who are performing well in their league; instead, I'm limited to those who aren't appearing or even registered. I definitely think that this'll be evidenced in the limited recruitment plans I have for January.

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We started off with arguably the toughest match up of the season - against a team where one player earns more than half of what my entire team do a week. Never the less, I purposely went for a cagey, overly-controlled start but that fell apart after some dodgy keeping/AI blunder for this incident, leading to the corner which they scored from. I was both annoyed at the keeping and the defending but what came next was really promising. As the xG story shows, we stopped them creating much for the majority of the second half - our wingers marking their full backs, initially, and then onto their wide midfielders as we pulled back into a flat 4-1-4-1 shape to see the game out. To restrict them to just 1.89 xG and to create more than we scored is a really strong performance against a team that, on paper, should be dominating us.

With our Jong team in action against Leicester in the U23 Cup, I turned to my first team players in need of fitness and game time, which, as expected, resulted in a really rusty showing against second tier Den Bosche. However, a stellar performance (thanks again @tyler16) from Jonsson - a goal and an assist - saw us progress to the next round.

Back in league action and pioneering a new shape. I'm a big fan of the Biesla inspired spare man theory so went for four defensive players against their two strikers and AM - handing a full league debut to Zambrano. Whilst the heat map shows that the double pivot wasn't quite necessary, we absolutely shut out their offensive threat. A bonus against a team performing well in the league. With just one CM and a False Nine, I do need to think about how the attacking side words as we have most of our success from overloads created - I think moving from a W(s) to an IF(a) might assist here but it's certainly a shape that'll feature again over time and one that impressed me. What is more is that Zambrano impressed and due to a combination of good form and good training, is being rewarded with first team football:

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Last up was AZ and, similarly to the Ajax game, I wanted to focus on keeping a little bit tighter. This came at the expense of some attacking creativity, but my first aim is always a tight defence. The media of course said it was a poor show - easily beaten on xG and had literally none of the ball but the heat map suggests that my game plan was, again, spot on. We allowed them to have the ball at the back -  their back four and keeper alone completing 543 passes, over 50% of their total completed. Further forward, their lone striker received the ball just 33 times and their front four, in total, had the ball passed to them less than 100 times in their attacking half. The next job in this tactic is to work out how to capitalise on that - scoring from a quick counter of making the most of set plays - 8 attacking free kicks and 4 corners in this game - but that will come.

---

Even after two and a half months, I've already earmarked the core of players that I want to build this team around. Granted, they are young and may not make it. Moreover, 5* potential here might not mean a lot on the European scene, which is, obviously, where we want to be. The best thing is that each of these players came from our academy.

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To kick things off, I've triggered an option on Asante and agreed new long-term deals for Jonsson and de Wit. The next phase is to ensure that these players have access to the first team - whether that be training: Koji has spent a month training with the first team as the U18 team went on their mid-season break and he's developed incredibly well whilst doing so - or minutes, with Schrijver just lefts to make his bow (Swager had 19 minutes against AZ after this screenshot was taken).

With incomings and progression, there must be outgoings...

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Bruneau moves back to Belgium for €3.2m (N.B: I have changed the currency to Euros now I'm in The Netherlands...). He didn't really feature since I took over with Westra and the emergence of Jonsson as a forward option and this money will be key to hopefully try and reinvest. I've also collated a bit of a short-list of expendable players, mainly those who have not played, moaned or not impressed in games or training. Obviously, the rebuild will be slow and I won't be shipping them all out in January, especially as we don't have replacements lined up yet.

But, on that note, we've managed to add 9% world knowledge thanks to the new scouting setup and I'll be looking to capitalise over the coming transfer windows:

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Baby steps, with a good finish in the league with the players inherited the first ones. Then skedaddle those you made a list of and checked twice. Going to find out if your players can last the distance though.

I agree with getting into that four-to-seven playoff looks like a good aim.

Would you have enough depth to add European football to your schedule?

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Great results this month and nice to see the squad take some shape.

I love the decision to move Zambrano to DM, specifically with the lack of options there you inherited.

The physicals, determination, bravery, balance, and tall frame combined with the already good first touch, passing, and technique make me thing he could be an elegant do-it-all player if the mentals come along with game time. I'd probably try to teach him the long passes trait too.

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2 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Baby steps, with a good finish in the league with the players inherited the first ones. Then skedaddle those you made a list of and checked twice. Going to find out if your players can last the distance though.

I agree with getting into that four-to-seven playoff looks like a good aim.

I think baby steps is the key word here. We've inherited a squad that was pretty poor and infrastructure that is a huge step down from Krasnodar, however, I stand by the fact that I do think the ceiling is much higher than in Russia. I'm just coming to terms with how well oiled our recruitment, and things like scouting packages, were as we're really feeding off scraps at the moment.

3 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Would you have enough depth to add European football to your schedule?

It's a catch-22. We currently are nowhere near but the reputation boost would allow us to sign those players which could make Europe work. However, as we're not there yet, I can't plan ahead and, as such, risk rushed signings!

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57 minutes ago, tyler16 said:

Great results this month and nice to see the squad take some shape.

Thanks! Slow process and we're a long way off, but it's positive movements.

57 minutes ago, tyler16 said:

The physicals, determination, bravery, balance, and tall frame combined with the already good first touch, passing, and technique make me thing he could be an elegant do-it-all player if the mentals come along with game time. I'd probably try to teach him the long passes trait too.

It's like you read my mind...

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I've gone for this rather than Switch Play due to his lack of Vision and I'm working on the Half Back schedule to try and iron out that Positioning, although a bit more speed and better Composure are also on my to-do list!

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Posted (edited)

(Early) January 2037

Just the one game in this mini-update as I got a little carried away with writing and have been bitten so many times by leaving stuff in the boxes for a few days without submitting it. Normally, it's fine, but my laptop does love an automatic updates, which, always, wipes this clear and leaves me some 1,000 words lost. Also - I have played a lot of FM today and, even though I don't get time to play as much in the week, I have neglected a lot of things that needed to be done in my real, non managerial, life!

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A strong win kicked off the year against bottom side Volendam. I was expecting a tough tactical battle, despite their lack of quality due to their 5-1-2-2 shape, which saw me pretty much sacrifice Jonsson as a F9 in a bunch of their defenders. An early goal - again from a free kick - set us up and running. It's interesting to see that we're topping the league for goals from Free Kicks (3 indirect and 2 direct) as this is something I really wanted to focus on. We've recorded just one goal from a corner, putting us joint ninth in the table - so that, of course, will become a focus of my attention now moving on. Vos then doubled his tally with a direct free kick of his own, netting from nearly 30 yards out before Neira rounded the keeper to net following a swift break. Zambrano further evidencing that he's growing into his role, simply by being in the way: although it absolutely has stopped us being played through so often. Going forward, I want to see more Interceptions but I think that comes from a) positional familiarity b) tactical familiarity and c) better overall positioning. Still - an exciting month or so for the young lad as he's developed superbly over that time and really broken into the first team squad.

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A very important new signing has been made (click the image for his profile):

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I want to work with a DoF as it was a huge success in Russia: see new European Golden Boy, Conberse, who's deal was brokered by one after my scouting team and then my analytics uncovered him as a hidden gem. That is the kind of transfer committee I want to work with here and, probably, in future saves. I deliberated for some time after the news I couldn't bring Maxim Savotsin with me but eventually plumped for Volkers, who's had experience at this level with Willem II. Right now, the judging ability is what I need and that is his strength - given the exciting talent we already have at the club and a very strong HoYD, who can assist in finding further players.

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It was a simple 'Suggest Transfer Targets' that got me my first signing though. It's not a feature I really like to use as I don't think it's particularly viable as the recommendations seem to follow no pattern: often players are recommended that are outside of scouting scopes, I have little knowledge of or have no chance to fit into the wage structure, playing style or even ethos of the club. However, amongst the unreliable finds was a player who interested me a lot:

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Yes. Another Ajax graduate. Devyne Rensch is a hugely experienced defender who, following eight years at Ajax, moved to Hertha for €4.3m, playing 127 times. He then moved onto Mainz and then Hoffenheim for fees of €3.9m and €1.7m, respectively. He was released after just one year but started 26 games in total for the German club. With 32 U21 caps and one senior cap, against Brazil back in 2031, Devyne is experienced and just the type of player I really needed to compliment the younger heads within the squad.

As his first job, Tyrick was tasked to sign Devyne, which he did, offering him a steady deal just above the average wage within the squad. What I like most is that he's come in and is already high up in the hierarchy and can assert his experience over some of the other team members. 

I thought that I had initially gone against my own grain with this signing, not basing it on statistics simply because they did not exist. However, an old save took me back to June of this year, before the seasons rolled over, and I was there able to compare Devyne with other full backs who accrued more than 1000 minutes in the top five (Bundesliga, Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga) leagues. I was not disappointed:

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His stats for Tackles and Interceptions are fantastic and his overall defensive actions are only let down by the fact that he's weak in the air. Whilst his game is built around him staying back at all times, he's still an accurate passer and does contribute to attacking moves. Twenty-six 90s last season is also clearly the sign of a player not yet over the hill and certainly one who has the ability to perform for a year or so more.

In Rensch and Regeer, I now have two comparable, talented and experienced full backs that certainly fill the gap for the next season or two in multiple positions and roles and can act as superb mentors for the next generation of right backs I bring through.

Well done Tyrick!

Edited by _Ben_
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I've eventually finished reading through this and have very much enjoyed it, especially as someone who has spent a lot of time managing in Russia on FM over the years and who uses spreadsheets to assist with the game.  I've also learned things about the game from this thread, for example how work rate and determination can increase after warning or fining players.  I'm also interested to see how your increasing use of opposition instructions goes as this is an area I've put a lot of thought into on FM2022 compared to past years and have used to create pressing traps, which results would suggest has been successful.

Whilst I have next to no experience of managing in Holland I think the squad/transfer rules are a lot more relaxed than Russia which will give you more freedom in terms of signing players.  Russia can be a nightmare with the restrictions, even though it seems slightly looser than it did when I last managed there.  

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Enjoying deep dives into your players as I don't have a save of my own at the moment.

Speaking of, what's the plan with Asante?

  • Slow and average at dribbling
  • Poor defensive attributes
  • Low team work and work rate

This rules him out from any wide positions or midfield roles for me. So what's he good at?

  • High technique, first touch, flair, vision and decisions
  • Tall, good balance, agility, jumping reach

In your system, I think he's best fit for the F9 role in a similar mold to Jonsson. I'd probably train his passing, heading, and finishing while starting him in the cup/against weaker opponents.

Edited by tyler16
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19 hours ago, Sir_Liam said:

I've eventually finished reading through this and have very much enjoyed it, especially as someone who has spent a lot of time managing in Russia on FM over the years and who uses spreadsheets to assist with the game.  I've also learned things about the game from this thread, for example how work rate and determination can increase after warning or fining players.  I'm also interested to see how your increasing use of opposition instructions goes as this is an area I've put a lot of thought into on FM2022 compared to past years and have used to create pressing traps, which results would suggest has been successful.

Whilst I have next to no experience of managing in Holland I think the squad/transfer rules are a lot more relaxed than Russia which will give you more freedom in terms of signing players.  Russia can be a nightmare with the restrictions, even though it seems slightly looser than it did when I last managed there.  

Thank you for the very kind words!

I've loved Russia and would manage there again in a heartbeat but I'm also really excited about the freedom that managing in Holland gives me. I can't wait to dig into the true youth recruitment, which is, in itself, a different ball game from the normal recruitment model I'd use.

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37 minutes ago, tyler16 said:

Enjoying deep dives into your players as I don't have a save of my own at the moment.

Speaking of, what's the plan with Asante?

  • Slow and average at dribbling
  • Poor defensive attributes
  • Low team work and work rate

This rules him out from any wide positions or midfield roles for me. So what's he good at?

  • High technique, first touch, flair, vision and decisions
  • Tall, good balance, agility, jumping reach

In your system, I think he's best fit for the F9 role in a similar mold to Jonsson. I'd probably train his passing, heading, and finishing while starting him in the cup/against weaker opponents.

Can of worms: opened....

You see, I'm dealing with three attacking players at the moment, all of whom are really promising (click their face for a full screenshot):

814b86bc96918745623384910bec0696.png f1c1d391fdfbd043103927de893f770e.png 3c10b691a3096365f127649a647fea50.png

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Obviously, the three of these lads have spent their formative years under AI tutelage and, without wanting to blow my own trumpet, won't have developed the way that I think they could have done had I managed them from 15/16. However - at 18, they're all quite well developed, performing well in the Jong side and training well, too.

My first port of call, for my own comparison, more than anything, is a comparison between their attributes and the average of attackers midfielders in the league. I cannot stipulate (as I use attribute masking so can't just view this on the player search) between attacking midfielders and defensive midfielders so this is some skew. However, as they're all attacking minded, I've removed some of the more obvious defensive attributes. Here is what I'm left with, in a style that I think works:

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For better viewing, here are their attributes in a more traditional manner.

Firstly, their Technical attributes. They're all actually decent ball carriers for this level (bare in mind that the comparison is with all ages of players, so does include any younger players within the first team but is largely experienced professionals) and have above average First Touch. I think Escalona really stands out with his Finishing ability here, which is also better than the average striker in this league, alone. I've got some reservations about Asante's passing as well as Swager's but they are both Technically pretty solid. Mentally, both Swager and Asante have good flair but Escalona is furthering the argument for the False Nine role with great Off the Ball (and, probably the key point here, complimentary traits). They're all pretty clever but the Anticipations of Asante and Swager are poor, meaning I'd rather not rely on them to prevent a counter against us. Physically, I could argue that all three are quite under developed - none of them are particularly fast nor strong or able to run for long periods of time. I do like the Balance of Escalona, even more perfect to compliment his good Off the Ball.

---

Sans Vision, I think that the False Nine role is perfect for Escalona although I could see that morphing more into a DLF(s) given the fact he's actually a good finisher. I had spoken about wanting wide men that could cut in and score but lack of Crossing, Teamwork and Pace put me off using him out wide. I think that I see Asante as a centre mid in future, although will train him with a Shadow Striker P/R/D in order to push on gains on Finishing and overall physicality. His traits, relatively rounded mental game and tall stature gave me the idea of a rangy box-to-box but he really needs some work on a lot of areas. Then I must say that I'm a bit of a loss with Swager - he really looks like a Number 10 to me; good Flair, Technique, Vision and Off the Ball but sadly doesn't really have an end product in either a good pass or a shot. I'm going to go with the AP(s) schedule in the MC strata but he does just feel a little lightweight...

I'd love to know your thoughts now!

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Great breakdown, thanks for sharing!

My updated ideas would be the following.

  • Escalona is comfortably the best player of the three and a natural fit for the F9/DLF role. That composure, anticipation, and off the ball are rare for an 18 year old. He's not the most aggressive, physical, or flashy, but he's good at basically everything. Forget what I said earlier, this is the Jonsson backup.
  • I'd move Swager to the right wing as an inside forward. He runs with the ball, has flair and dribbling, and enough quality in front of goal to take his chances. I'd prioritize getting his pace up in the meantime.
  • That leaves Asante who I'm trying to think outside of the box with. There could be a playmaking CM in here (first touch, technique, passing, flair, decisions, vision) now that you mention it, and he's certainly unique with his size. Lack of mobility, mentality, and defensive prowess make me think you'd need to watch it closely, but he's not worth writing off as I initially thought.

All are moldable and there's no ~right~ answers here, but that's probably what I'd do!

Edited by tyler16
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On 27/06/2022 at 20:30, tyler16 said:

Great breakdown, thanks for sharing!

My updated ideas would be the following.

  • Escalona is comfortably the best player of the three and a natural fit for the F9/DLF role. That composure, anticipation, and off the ball are rare for an 18 year old. He's not the most aggressive, physical, or flashy, but he's good at basically everything. Forget what I said earlier, this is the Jonsson backup.
  • I'd move Swager to the right wing as an inside forward. He runs with the ball, has flair and dribbling, and enough quality in front of goal to take his chances. I'd prioritize getting his pace up in the meantime.
  • That leaves Asante who I'm trying to think outside of the box with. There could be a playmaking CM in here (first touch, technique, passing, flair, decisions, vision) now that you mention it, and he's certainly unique with his size. Lack of mobility, mentality, and defensive prowess make me think you'd need to watch it closely, but he's not worth writing off as I initially thought.

All are moldable and there's no ~right~ answers here, but that's probably what I'd do!

I've really enjoyed reading your ideas for the younger players, so huge thanks must go for that. I'm really trying to push the development of all of the players, micromanaging x, y and z even though they may not make it to that level or, even, I may not be at the club long enough for them to do so.

The gains I see really justify the time spent working and deliberating! 

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(End) January 2037

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There is something that is bugging me a little with our performances, and it's this trend:

  • vs Ajax: Conceded first. Drew
  • vs NEC: Conceded first. Lost
  • vs VVV-Venlo: Conceded first. Lost
  • vs Vitesse: Conceded first. Lost

I'm quite happy with our chance creation when we are not chasing the game but the False Nine option doesn't really give me a chance to do that. When teams are ahead, I'm finding it harder for the Centre Mids to create spaces and overloads, getting in behind and we're finding ourselves creating less and less as the game goes on. 

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However, we comfortably were the better team against ADO, again, sticking to a game plan that gave them all the ball at the back as we sat, compactly, waiting to break. I played a hugely rotated team against Venlo and we were poor throughout. It's just emphasising the point that this squad is a long way off what I want and what I need in order to play the football I want. However, give me a transfer window and a pre-season and there is enough of a core, as has been witnessed by the fact that we've never been out of a game, yet. We succumbed to defeat against Vitesse, conceding, again, from a corner. From memory, we also conceded in a really similar way against Ajax so I'll need to look at the defensive play structure initially and then look at building in some more time to work on it during training. January finished with a strong away win at NEC with Ostergaard finally showing some promise on the right wing.

---

As I've quite frequently alluded to, we're not a huge club at the moment and, as such, signing players is quite tough and I'm really having to use all of my nous in order to find those hidden gems and bring through players who are, and could be, really important for us.

I've settled on four players after considerably filtering down, watching over the course of the month and scouting, who are all in important positions for us - clicking on their portrait will take you to their player profile:

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What you will notice is that none of these players are fully scouted and these are essentially me identifying players based solely on statistical outputs. I will, of course, ensure that they are fully scouted and will endevour to watch them if possible before committing to any permanent deals.

---

Leandro

My scouts alerted me to Leandro and, upon further inspection, was pretty impressed that a then-17 year old had started forty-two games in Brazil's Serie A for Flamengo. The league is loaded as View Only and they don't have huge squads but there are still several defenders in the team who could have played. I'm most drawn to the fact that this signing, which I've had a €240k bid accepted, would be a real adaption. Looking at the analytical data from both the game and my own work - he's a really strong defender but needs work on how he then uses the ball from there. 

Moustapha Diallo

After shoe-horning Zambrano into the first team, I felt that I needed a real defensive midfielder and certainly someone who can ease the burden on the young academy prospect. Looking across key metrics for defensive minded players in the Eredivisie, I came across Diallo and was instantly impressed. With just six months left on his deal, I'll be able to bring him in for free and the comparison between he and Djurre Laansma, who had been playing there, is telling. Whilst I'm sacrificing some creativity, I'm able to recruit a player who will patrol in front of the defence and win the ball back.

Victor Martin Salguero

Statistically tearing the Spanish second tier apart. Was offered to me by an agent so I took a look at how he compares and, like Leandro, there are some things that need massive work but a really strong foundation to him. Takes lots of shots from distance, with poor xG, so potentially has a trait or has poor Decision making but has an eye for a key pass, even if the strikers at Almeria cannot finish their dinner. One third of the goals they've scored this season have been, in some way, influenced by him. Another player with less than six months on his deal who, if tempted to Holland, could really improve that area of the pitch for me.

Isak Nildén-Lindner

Has been frozen out at Heerenveen, for some reason, so I'm making a bid to bring him in on loan before potentially signing him at the end of his contract this summer. With no data available to me apart from 11 Jong games, I went back to last season, where he'd been on loan at NAC - who finished bottom and went down without a whimper. Yet, statistically, Nilden-Lindner was in the top quarter of chance creators, and the top half of scorers. I think it's well worth a look at a player who has performed really well (ignoring the average rating, so often skewed by team performances) in a poor team but I must air some caution at the wonder why he has not made a first team appearance this season since returning to his parent club.

---

The work will continue into February and beyond, although my hand may be forced before full scouting knowledge of Leandro is reached, simply because I've got so little understanding of Brazilian football and, with a contract about to be offered, they may not be happy to wait around for too long.

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Happy to help! My favorite manager is Pep so I'm in love with the idea of molding players/finding creative ways to get the best out of their skillset. Also have an academy background myself so FM is my playground.

Some decent results, definitely excited to see how you reshape the squad over the summer.

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16 hours ago, tyler16 said:

Happy to help! My favorite manager is Pep so I'm in love with the idea of molding players/finding creative ways to get the best out of their skillset. Also have an academy background myself so FM is my playground.

Some decent results, definitely excited to see how you reshape the squad over the summer.

Thanks. Given how tough I'm finding the actual restructure, I'm really having to dig into the creative way - getting every last drop of juice from each attribute and trying things outside of the box. We've been quite unlucky this season (in the eyes of some; profligate in others) so I'm excited for a full pre-season to try some new tactical ideas and really push the develop of these kids.

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February 2037

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We're approaching the end of the season here and, to be fair, I'm really looking forward to summer. I've been able to very quickly identify my squad and the style that'll fit them but I really need to get some re-inforcements in, ship out the deadwood and have a pre-season really drilling these players: there's so much potential here!

It's a nice tight title race at the top but Feyenoord have fallen off the rails of late. I was thinking earlier about the defeat they inflicted on my Krasnodar side, thinking they were out of my league in terms of a move there, but, now I look closer, I think they're due a rebuild and, had I have held on a little longer, could have been the man for the job. But, as I've frequently said, the move to Groningen felt right then and still does now. Leverkusen have just replaced their manager so, given the natural FM cycle, gives me a few years before that comes back, Wolfsburg aren't really cementing themselves as a good Bundesliga team and Leipzig are flying - so I'm here for the long run.

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The month started in fantastic fashion - a really good win over Feyenoord where, once again, my defensive, pro-active strategy paid off. Whilst we had little control of the game, we defended really well: focusing on the Biesla extra-man principle again with a 4-2DM-1-3 shape against their lone striker and AM. What that does is crowd space in their offensive half and means that they, more often than not and as seen on the pass map, kept the ball in areas that didn't threaten us. We have to work on becoming better in transition, exploiting spaces and counter attacking but for me, the defensive solidity always come first. An important and well-earned three points!

We followed that up with a home performance in which we went behind but, for the first time since I took over, showed real grit and flair to try and mount a comeback from. We scored once and ended with a draw in a game that we really should have won but it was nice to see that motivation to win. I wouldn't say we lack attributes or personalities to do this but I'm really noticing a lack of 'green' motivation at the start and mid-point of games, just seeing that yellowy-green 'seems' to be motivated. Atmosphere and the general well-being of the players is developing and my manager profile suggests I should have less trouble motivating these players than I am right now - maybe it's a language thing, too?

If you remove the one chance that Ajax scored from and then a glaring opportunity they had to double their lead, we've actually matched them, again. Two of the four games this month have been against the big teams and we've really shown our intent. Or so I thought. The fans and board and unhappy at the lack of attacking football, clearly not enjoying my viewpoint on defence first! However, to have two games against Ajax and to have only conceded twice, taking a point in total, is, in my eyes, really good.

Following the criticism for our slightly profligate attacking displays, I turned it up a notch and went Positive against a good Utrecht side and what happened was wonderful. We peppered them with shots and looked dangerous throughout. I think the move has most benefited the False Nine - as seen here with the comparison between the position of his passes. Yes, he's still dropped deep but then he's also followed it up by moving, more aggressively, into the channels. On the flip side, this move saw us concede more xGa than average (1.21 to a season average of 0.99). In it's infancy, my tactical style can be seen as dull but we need to drill the basics and develop the players for the roles: it's a long process but one that has started well.

The below statistic tells me that, once we get it right, I think we'll be doing pretty well...

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---

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The window closes and the Eredivisie roundup really hammers home the financial gap that the bigger clubs in this league have got, especially when you compare it with the amount of money that I have spent. However, this was, largely, to be expected, since I haven't been able to thoroughly embed the recruitment model and we also lack the finances to spread our scouting net too wide. However, I was able to finalise deals for two players - both from Heerenveen - who I'd identified as options for pre-contracts.

Clicking on either of the images takes you to their contract terms:

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Both of these deals include extra money spent on clauses - in this case, Moustapha would net €110k if we qualify for Europe - a figure that either will not be spent in the two years he's at the club or one that will be engulfed by the prize money we earn by doing so. I absolutely think that these are realistic clauses and ones that will give me the upper hand when trying to keep the salary commitments down.

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For Isak, I could end up paying him €300k for a great season of ten assists and ten goals but, if he achieves that, from central midfield, in a rotational role, we'll almost certainly have challenged somewhere near the top of the league and that, in itself, will only bring in more money.

The summer will no doubt be busy - I've identified the following players that I'd like to leave the club:

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I just need to find suitable replacements first...

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Just caught up, very interesting move to Groningen and look forward to seeing how that works out. It seems like Ajax and PSV are far ahead of the rest so definitely should be a good challenge to overhaul them ultimately.

I like the idea of having a couple of clubs as a potential "end-game" and am doing the same in my save too.

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Glad to see your enjoying Holland! Caught up with the progress and I really think Groningen is great club for you and your philosophies and how clever you are in the market. Which the green and white faithful are already starting to get a glimpse of.

I found the false 9 wanting a little bit at Ajax, in certain games were the CB’s wouldn’t follow him. so I have another system which I have a AF in the for when I need him to become the man attacking the spade in behind. It gave me a good option for sucking the opponent out with a deeper midfield three then the AF causing havoc on the shoulder. 

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5 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Just caught up, very interesting move to Groningen and look forward to seeing how that works out. It seems like Ajax and PSV are far ahead of the rest so definitely should be a good challenge to overhaul them ultimately.

I like the idea of having a couple of clubs as a potential "end-game" and am doing the same in my save too.

Thank you. Definitely a move I'm enjoying but one that I'm not sure is hugely long term; I'm probably not going to be here long enough to overthrow the likes of Ajax. With the speed of play/detail of posting, I'm now seeing this as an entire edition save and do want to move into Germany at some point, even if it's only for a year or two.

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5 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Glad to see your enjoying Holland! Caught up with the progress and I really think Groningen is great club for you and your philosophies and how clever you are in the market. Which the green and white faithful are already starting to get a glimpse of.

Thanks! On paper, we're probably performing like the fourth best team in the league at the moment so it'll be an interesting 18 months or so trying to close that gap.

5 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I found the false 9 wanting a little bit at Ajax, in certain games were the CB’s wouldn’t follow him. so I have another system which I have a AF in the for when I need him to become the man attacking the spade in behind. It gave me a good option for sucking the opponent out with a deeper midfield three then the AF causing havoc on the shoulder. 

Really funny you should say that, as I'd made collated a few things, below, for my next update:

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I wanted to dig a little deeper into how Jonsson was playing as my hunch was that he was much poorer against teams who played a DM and also that my double pivot, by taking away a centre mid, made us less dangerous when facing teams who played a 5-3-2 (specifically with an AM). As you can see from the above data, this hypothesis was pretty much true. He's had a lot less of the ball when the space is taken by a DM and then hasn't been able to create as both the centre backs are then able to mark the marauding centre mids. Against a 5 at the back shape he's had more of the ball but, when you look at the average position, and strength of those teams, you may be able to see why. These creative stats mirror his output against the teams with no DM, the big dogs mainly of the league, which is really interesting to see.

Here are some snapshots, firstly against NEC, who played a DM:

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In the first image, in transition, you can see he's really tightly marked by the DM and, given that there's just been a turnover, the MCs haven't had chance to bypass him. The remainder of the highlight plays out with a hopeful ball over the top. Yes, we want to be direct but there is a missing piece of the jigsaw here in that we want to work hard to create good spaces and overloads. This isn't evident here. In the next image, he's found a little bit of space and there is a bit of an overload in that right centre half space/middle of the pitch with three players moving backwards and four going forwards: although they so have a covering defender. The only real time that he, as a F9, got any space against the DM is when the centre mids kept the ball for longer and pulled out the ball winner. However, he's isolated up top and the move came to nothing.

Now, here are a couple against Emmen, who played five at the back:

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In the first image, you can see that he's coming deep for the ball but he's just been picked up by an MC and has created no space for the MCs to fill. Hernandez has moved past him but, given the fact that they played an AM and two strikers, he's the lone MC and is marked by three defenders. The ball went down the line in a safe pass but nothing came of it. The next image backs up that premise, Jonsson has received the ball and is progressing but the options are so limited for him as their midfield have dealt with his threat. 

Lastly, against Utrecht, who didn't play a DM:

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Firstly, in combination with the two centre mids, we've pulled players out of space and allowed the late run of Jonsson to find him some space. The ball across is poor but we've comitted two centre backs and the defender nearest to Jonsson is actually the left back. A bit of a cleverer play could have seen Hernandez get in round the back but the ideas are there. The second image (I had to add some extra grass as it was too small, hence the extra random shadows) sees Jonsson and Bouma pulling their entire backline around and creating huge amounts of space that, sadly, Neira was unable to pick out. In the last image, Bouma has, again, exploited the half space to get in behind with Hernandez arriving a bit later on.

It, overall, feels like the False Nine (as expected) is weaker when the spaces are occupied that he would want to move into. However, there is a wider issue in that my tactical approach needs to develop as I rarely encountered five at the back in Russia and the current setup doesn't quite work. It also makes me want to build upon the Cruyff-ism of total football, having players that can play as a centre mid, or a winger or a striker and can be utilised differently - the F9 against no DM and then maybe swapping position so that someone, playing elsewhere, can move into the AF against a 5-at-the-back. However, that's pipedream stuff!

Edited by _Ben_
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Love that you recruit players who are both practical and realistic.

Diallo brings something different to the squad and can be useful in different roles and even off the bench protecting a lead. Should age gracefully with the elite natural fitness. Fernandinho vibes to this one.

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1 hour ago, tyler16 said:

Love that you recruit players who are both practical and realistic.

Diallo brings something different to the squad and can be useful in different roles and even off the bench protecting a lead. Should age gracefully with the elite natural fitness. Fernandinho vibes to this one.

Thanks!

I really like the Diallo signing, actually. It's a type of player we've been crying out for plus he's got the bonuses of, as you say, Natural Fitness and Leadership too. I'm devoting a lot of time to developing and recruiting the next generation of Groningen talent but that little core of 30+ players, of which Diallo will join, is really important to me and one that I see a lot of FM players maybe not utilising to it's full potential.

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March 2037

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Six points from nine with a solid win against a team above us - not a bad way to end March. Six games to go and I'm pretty happy to have, hopefully, wrapped up that top seven finish. It'll be difficult to them overcome those teams above us, especially Feyenoord, but qualification for Europe in my first season here would be both a blessing and a curse - the revenue generated would be fantastic but it'd knock me completely out of kilter with new players willing to join and me having not done my homework on them.

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I went attacking against Emmen and it really paid off as we dominated from start to finish, recording a resounding win that appeased my board's annoyance at the perceived lack of attacking football. PSV - the runaway leaders - lined up with a 4-4-2 and, given the post I'd made earlier, gave me confidence that the False Nine, Bjarni Jonsson, would thrive. However, unlike the Ajax matches, which were relatively tight and well contested, the pace, particularly of the front two, just gave PSV a dominance. They carved us open a few times and, even though it took me til about the 40th minute to drop the D Line, looked dangerous all game. The 2.1 xGA is the highest we've faced this season and, although we was away to the team top of the league, I felt could have done a little better with our gameplan. We ended the month with a slightly different kind of performance against rivals Heerenveen - keeping the ball much better, albeit deeper, than we had previously and getting the central overloads, as seen by Speksnijder's two goals.

A really tough month on paper but April looks nicer!

---

The day that Marco de Wit was announced as the 38th best teenager in the world was also the day that the youth intake, my first at Groningen, arrived. I am absolutely delighted with what it brought:

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Here is the intake in full.

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Links to screenshots of their profiles can be found by clicking their face.

Arjan Schaap is the real gem of this intake, although, possibly, coming at a time whereby I've made it clear that a striker coming deep for the ball is not always what I need. He does, however, have a really nicely developed set of mental attributes and I particularly like those, such as Flair and Teamwork that a) are hard to increase to elite levels and b) don't 'cost' that many CA points - meaning that there is, hopefully, a lot of room for growth. He'll work, initially, on a P(a) schedule as I look to improve some key technicals. Verveer will be converted to play on either side of the defence, given his ability to use either foot pretty well and, despite a lack of speed, is nicely rounded. There are, potentially, some worries about his height but - at 15 - he'll grow. Kampman is worrying in that he has both a low Determination and low ambition but, hopefully, he'll develop well under my tutelage. More of a playmaker than a destroyer in the DM role, he could make a decent Inverted Wing Back in the longer term. For a promising winger, Randel is annoyingly slow but doesn't have anything that stands out as hugely weak - just average across the board. He'll be converted to a right winger to offer some extra versatility and I'll just see how he develops before I look to hone in on anything. Brands comes with a trait that I like for my full backs  and, like Muringen before him, is pretty well rounded. I also like the base technical attributes of van Nispen and even Brian Butter, who, due to being from Edam might be renamed 'Breadand Butter' looks like he could do enough to earn a contract at a Dutch time, even if not a full-time one (being a cheese sandwich pun if nothing else).

The current first team has nearly 50% of it's players from the youth academy - granted, some are out of lack of depth - but this seems to be a proud tradition for this club and one that I will l look to continue.

Edited by _Ben_
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April 2037

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31 games played means just the three left until the summer break and I will reiterate that I'm both excited for what the summer could bring but apprehensive in case I don't get it quite right, particularly on the recruitment front. The title appears to be going the way of PSV and the likelihood is that Heerenveen, Utrecht, Feyenoord and ourselves will play out for the last remaining continental slot: you have to consider the Rotterdam club to be favourites despite their poor league showing.

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We're getting so many things right and they are so apparent on the pitch but scoring just isn't one of them. Two goals from  5.66 non pen xG created this month. We're getting the ball forward and into dangerous areas - as seen by Neira's key passes in the De Graafschap tie - but just cannot finish our dinners. Against Twente, we went a little more attacking than normal, hoping that bodies in the box on the counter would allow us greater opportunities; the outcome was not as successful as we, in the end, did enough in an even tie. Against both Go Ahead and De Graafschap we peppered the goal but missed multiple guilt-edge chances. Four points from these two games must be seen as a really poor return given our dominance. However, the offensive play on display against a team who played a 5-3AM-2 was great; I opted four the double pivot at DM, which, in the past, has depleted our offensive prowess, but not this time.

As you've probably read, I'm really enjoying the tactical aspects in game and trying to corroborate that with what I used to work with outside of the game has been fun. There are two interesting reports that were brought to my attention in the Data Hub:

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A shot every 6.4 entries on average from a variety of areas looks really promising and is highlighted in green in the data area. Firstly, this is one of those bits of data that FM collects and, seemingly, uses nowhere else. I'd love to see this statistic broken down for players across different leagues - even if it's entries as a standalone entity. However, as I said, it's promising but, actually, I have nothing to compare it to. I want to create a really potent, direct-in-transition team that are clinical when we move forward, so this is, in fact, very valuable data to keep and look at in future. Further that with the knowledge that 42% of said entries have been central shows you have the tactic is developing over time. 

Then the negative one...

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We have recorded an average shot xG of 0.10 in that time, which isn't too bad. However, looking at the individual players, you see some trends that have been running for much longer than the five matches on the this graphic. Digging deeper from this data, from my strikers and wingers, I can see quite a few concerning numbers arising:

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My two main forwards this season have been Westra and Jonsson (bar the first seven or so games of the season), so I really should be comparing the two of those, primarily. With supporting wingers, I'm not expecting too many goals but would really hope that, when they do join the attack, do so in dangerous positions. The gulf in xG differential between Westra and Jonsson is huge - with the Icelander have accrued over 4 more goals than he has actually scored. I stand by my thoughts that he will come good but that is an awful amount of really good opportunities, of which he has had the best, wasted. 

Overall, we're pretty light on goals - averaging 1.30 per90 over my tenure here compared to 2.00 over my entire career. Clearly the style works. Clearly the players are good enough for the league. It's just that interweaving of all of the smaller factors - something which a pre-season 'might' allow me to do.

---

I just wanted to share a small bit on my approach to meeting the club's culture, as seen here:

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Three things that I absolutely stand for me in terms of the teams I build and the chairmen I work with. However, as you can see, I'm not quite hitting them at the moment and I'm just going through the motions to explain to myself why I'm actually going a little bit out of my way in order to do so.

My aims as a manager are always to build from the bottom up. To win games, we need to keep a tight defence and, realistically, we can't play free-flowing, attacking football until we have this. So, naturally, we're a little more conservative and defensive early on. Likewise, to continually perform well, we need experienced heads who are fully developed and good enough for this league. Whilst I will always trust in youth, I can't - realistically - build a team to challenge with just kids. Once we are there, that answer does differ, but in the short term, my approach is to favour older players.

To start with, my central defenders:

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See the problem here? Only two players who I fully trust to play here. Not a long term solution by any means.

With that in mind, I've added another two Bosman signings. I am concerned that the two players profiled below (whose profile you can see by clicking on the news item) and the two players (Nilden-Linder and Diallo) add on nearly €25k p/w to our wage bill but these are the develops we have to make in order to progress, playing attacking football and then sign young players for the first team.

Here are my new recruits:

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Vikingur graduate Gunnar will become the second Icelandic in the first team after agreeing a contract with us. I'm apprehensive about his Volatile media handling but, as a player, he's pretty strong. Pretty good on the ball but that stereotypical Viking frame, combined with Bravery, Determination and Tackling means that he'll be a formidable opponent and one who will keep things steady at the back. De Graafshap are a poor team, and, as you'd expect from that, he's been doing a lot of defending. Whilst my own metrics don't' collate clearances and blocks, you can see that he's added that last ditch defensive ability with a really strong return in interceptions - which absolutely fits the style that I want. 

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My next recruit heads in from Portugal:

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Adelio has spent all of his career at Guimaraes, captaining them for two years. Capped twice at U21 level, he's a really experienced head with a similar build to Sigurdsson and quite closely comparable - with the Portuguese defender being a little bit more of a ball player. Their scouting reports are also pretty well matched, too. Again, I've been impressed with his blocks too but, with Vitoria fourth in Liga NOS, he's not done too much defender. However, when called upon, his key actions are simply sublime.

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Adding those two to de Wit and Vos makes things look so much better for next year. A back four that can be rotated, used elsewhere if necessary and provide me the depth to ensure that we don't go into any games worrying that we are going to be under an unsurmountable amount of pressure.

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Whilst I am going against the wishes of my board, not only signing older players but also making ourselves stronger defensively, somewhat ignoring, at this stage, our offensive outputs. However, there will be a lot of opportunities for other younger players within the first team and, of course, the B and u18 - as evidenced with an extended list of players with first team minutes. It's very much the case that we have to solidify and perform on the pitch before I can spread my wings, as it were, signing all of those promising youngsters for the first team: as, quite simply, any major European player (our scouting limit right now) is vastly overpriced.

 

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I feel your pain about not scoring. My current team often loses or draws while out xGing our opponents. Most of the goals our opponents score are worldies! from outside the box or Set-Pieces.

 

I am trying to turn around and save a team from relegation and am playing a much different style than my predecessor, but I think I will like you be in a good position next season.

 

 

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