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[FM22] Matryoshka


_Ben_
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1 hour ago, john1 said:

Wow, what a brilliant write up Ben! especially with Eric Laurie's analyst :cool: Will be interesting to see how this pans onto FM!

32 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

Love the tactical write up! Right up my street my favourite aspect of the game. 

Thanks both!  I, again, recommend looking into Eric's work and following him on Twitter, at least. The best thing with this kind of thing is that he's going to be one of hundreds, even thousands, doing that so my inspiration will be endless.

My PowerPoint infographic is not quite up to the level of his but it was an eye-opening experience actually thinking about how I want to play, putting that into words and then matching it with how the tactical creator and match engine work. Certainly a task that I'd recommend that many people do in their tactical development.

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1 hour ago, _Ben_ said:

Thanks both!  I, again, recommend looking into Eric's work and following him on Twitter, at least. The best thing with this kind of thing is that he's going to be one of hundreds, even thousands, doing that so my inspiration will be endless.

My PowerPoint infographic is not quite up to the level of his but it was an eye-opening experience actually thinking about how I want to play, putting that into words and then matching it with how the tactical creator and match engine work. Certainly a task that I'd recommend that many people do in their tactical development.

Can't wait for this. :cool:  Will you also be looking at changing formation? or sticking with 4-1-4-1 for now?

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January 2029

I'm going to use the same style and formation as the one used at Anji and Mashuk, a basic 4-1-4-1, as it'll give me a chance to analyse the players and seek improvements. There is an initial issue though:

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More important than the results is the above. We're not used to playing this way and this is the biggest difference compared to the Mashuk -> Anji move. I've got a month (plus three games in a little cup thing that I'm not bothered about but I want to beat Anji) to get things right and see us moving up the table.

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We opened up the post mid-season break with a really good draw against Ludogorets, of Bulgaria. They're currently in the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League and we're, well, we're not that good right now - so this draw, and performance is great. Dominating them for most of the game, we should have scored more and put the game to bed early on. Next up, we conceded early against the Turkish Super League side Malatyaspor - a nod to the fact that these players aren't accustomed to me and, therefore, not as motivated by my team talks as they could be. The performance was the opposite to what I'd seen previously as we looked toothless going forward and didn't register a single shot with our feet - and two of the three headers also came from corners. We started really well against PFC Kuban but lost concentration at the end of the game, something that mirrors Sochi's performances over the last 20 games - clearly the team is not fit enough, doesn't concentrate enough and isn't motivated enough on the pitch and it'll be my job to stop that. Some mess I've inherited here! We finished off with a routine win against my kids as there was literally no other options for an easier friendly available.

I'll repeat: some mess I've inherited here.

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I have completed my first signing of my tenure at Sochi, spending £240k to bring in Vladislav Klepikov from Rotor, the club that promised to cause my Anji side so many problems but never really delivered upon them. This is 24x the value of my last highest signing, yet is not even 20% of my current transfer budget - an early indicating of just where I have landed here at Sochi. When I arrived and had investigated the state of the squad, I set up an immediate search for a striker with a track record of goalscoring and he was on this list. I was taken aback by, statistically, how he's done really well. Granted, the step up from the third to the second tier is big, but Raul Budunov at Anji did it for me with relative ease. I've also given him the #89 as a homage to Calcio and the random number that FM-god Stefano Chuku Okaka wore at Roma for absolutely no apparent reason, but that seems to be quite the in-thing here in Russia anyway.

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Attribute wise, he's what I want in a striker and his DNA (seen on my new polygon) is pretty decent, although I'd like him to make better Decisions. He's quick off the mark and agile, meaning that he'll be tough to mark in and around the box and, combining that with his Off The Ball and First Touch, I think he'll make quite a good link up. However, get him into the box and his 6'3" frame, good Jumping Reach and Finishing ability, combined, magically, with two traits Budunov had, means I think that he'll score well.

Before he signed, I ran some further statistical analysis on him:

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Outscoring his xG per game, and certainly acting as that fox in the box that we look to desperately be after. Seems to win a fair amount of headers and draw some fouls too, whilst, importantly, creating chances for others around him.

He's here as a Squad Player right now so I will be able to take it slowly integrating him into the team - remembering that, until this point, I'd only managed two games at the club and I might (somewhere hidden away very well) have some amazing forwards here...

I'm also eying up a move for Durel Avenou, who on paper, usurps the rest of my midfielders, even more so when viewed graphically. below. I want a player, who can play as a Mezzala but who can be the link between the defensive five and the forward five - carrying the ball with him. He's been on trial since the start of January since I was contacted about the availability of the ex Caen man by his agent. He's the wrong side of thirty - although that is no bad thing considering that we are lacking a little in leadership and experience but what he brings is an all-round game that is not matched anywhere else. In an ideal world, I'd want to teach him to Come Deep For the Ball, in order to make the most of his skillset of carrying the ball, but he's too old I'd imagine to learn anything new.

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The size of the bubble indicates the average DNA (Decisions, Determination, Work Rate and Natural Fitness) score.

I've just concluded the friendlies and, as such, he's now ineligible to play but I want to spend a little bit of time comparing his performances across pre-season to the other midfielders, ensuring that he is going to be a worthwhile signing - as I have no official analysis of him, as he's yet to play competitively this season. I'm also more than concerned that he appears to be a terrible trainer and has not reached above 6.0 this pre-season and, given my thoughts around this, that would significantly limit the amount of game time he'd be able to access.

---

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I'm starting to mould the players into the positions and styles that I want, paying careful attention to the coach workloads in order to keep training as good as possible and ratings as high as I can. I've found that pre-season, specifically the Boot Camp styled week at the start is a killer for good ratings but I'm hoping they'll pick back up soon. I'm using the same template for my tactical periodisation as I've used elsewhere and will just be tweaking it, initially at least, in order to develop areas and styles of play based on what I'm seeing.

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2 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

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I'm starting to mould the players into the positions and styles that I want, paying careful attention to the coach workloads in order to keep training as good as possible and ratings as high as I can. I've found that pre-season, specifically the Boot Camp styled week at the start is a killer for good ratings but I'm hoping they'll pick back up soon. I'm using the same template for my tactical periodisation as I've used elsewhere and will just be tweaking it, initially at least, in order to develop areas and styles of play based on what I'm seeing.

What’s this screen? Pretty handy having all training options on one page. Is this one of your new skins?

I like the new looks :thup:

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6 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

Attribute wise, he's what I want in a striker and his DNA (seen on my new polygon) is pretty decent, although I'd like him to make better Decisions.


Loving the thread @_Ben_! Did you do the DNA polygon in game? Very quality skin as well. Any thoughts of releasing it?

 

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8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

What’s this screen? Pretty handy having all training options on one page. Is this one of your new skins?

It's just the squad screen with a custom view that I created. But, agreed, it's something that's much more user friendly than the training area.

2 hours ago, Cornfed said:

Loving the thread @_Ben_! Did you do the DNA polygon in game? Very quality skin as well. Any thoughts of releasing it?

Yes - they are part of the tabbed panels on the homepage, as seen here:

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I need do work on some bits of it still but it's a nice start.

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8 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

It's just the squad screen with a custom view that I created. But, agreed, it's something that's much more user friendly than the training area.

It’s a good idea, cleaner, and much easier to see what’s going on at a glance :thup:

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13 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

What’s this screen? Pretty handy having all training options on one page. Is this one of your new skins?

I like the new looks :thup:

I think it's just the regular squad screen but with training related columns. I recently downloaded a similar view from steam here though I'm sure his is homemade!

 

EDIT: Oh wow, for some reason the posts following yours didn't load. I'm about 4h late to reply. :lol:

Edited by RogerC
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February 2029

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We kicked off my competitive time at Sochi with the squad in a difficult place, struggling with tactical familiarity and a poor atmosphere, meaning that this unimportant competition actually becomes a great chance to improve morale and get the squad working for me. It did just that.

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Although we lost to Anji, my old club, I do feel that we really started to demonstrate some of the things that I want to see. Their goals came from a huge punt up field that, annoyingly, beat all of our defence and then a cross from some well worked play down our left, where they were able to double up against us. That has led to a couple of thoughts: a) a change from W(s) to WM(s) on these roles to lower their mentality but also to help link the play a little better. I'm looking for a screenshot of it in game, but our pass map really shows that there is a big gap between the forward three (Mez and AF) and the defensive unit, so I need to broach that quickly and b) that I need fit and hardworking wingers for this system, which I don't really have right now. However, the xG story is one that shows we kept plugging away and, once we're familiar and in a bit of a better place, I think we'll do well with it.

We got almost everything right against Orenburg, moving the ball a lot better out to the wider areas a bit quicker, fully deserving the win. The only blip was the concession through another through ball between the centre backs, something that has plagued me in the friendlies, too. Never the less, the signs are there and the first win for me and the third win since September for Sochi, is a real positive. It has also come against the highest scoring team in the league and we've been, largely, untested. A real sign of confidence for what appeared to be a beleaguered defence.

We then faced off against Leningradets and controlled the game, recording an xG of more than 1.75 for the third game in a row. This time, we only scored twice but that was all that was needed to see us progress into the 'Second Placed Finisher Semi Final' - yeah, of course!

The Shinnik game was the best, yet. The first goal demonstrated how much our positional play has already improved - with the full backs tucking in and us maintaining that width. The next job is to develop the players or recruit the players who can successfully make the switch in play as Khalilov, on the ball, hasn't got that many options and, against better opponents, may get crowded out. However, the star man was Klepikov, netting not just his first goal but a wonderful hattrick as he utilised spaces around the defence that our clever movement had drawn players out from. The is the biggest difference between xG and goals scored and a clean sheet represents a really solid overall performance, just when it was needed, too. One other thing I'm interested in is our reaction to goals, and that can be seen on the match xG story. When we score, the Match Plan changes my style to a little more conservative, pressing less and taking fewer risks, with the idea that we are most likely to concede right after scoring. You can see the four 10 minute areas (the time we move to this plan) highlighted after each goal and, from this game, alone, it's quite promising to see our reaction to scoring - with a clear restriction in each zone except the final five minutes.

We went into our final (remember, this is the final for the 2nd placed teams and not the final for the 1st placed teams) in Cyprus (because, oh yeah, this competition is in Cyprus) against a strong Khimki side. We were unlucky early on as Klepikov have a goal ruled out for a tight offside but, in a game of few chances, we took ours from the spot mid way into the second half.

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Joyous scenes, as you can imagine.

Now time to use this weird little second tier cup run as a catalyst for some improvement in the league.

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The youth candidates came too, and it wasn't great!

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Yeah it's subtropic , so even -4*C is cold. For this week temperature is +6*C +10*C for example

image.png.c03e7a1e879ccb4095c9384f49ebdbf8.png 

Could you check Zenit home games weather please? Their stadium has roof, so even in winter there is a comfortable temperature. However, the SI ignored this fact and it was cold there until FM22. Not sure if this was fixed in the new edition

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В 12.11.2021 в 13:14, _Ben_ сказал:

* Torpedo means just that, even though the modern Russian name for the underwater weapon is now spelled torpeda. Nobody knows for sure why the automobile-plant team adopted this name. Some say it's what they called a certain car part in those days, some say it's simply supposed to represent the speed, a concept very important in the automobile industry.

 

Just to clarify, it's not linked to torpeda as water rockets.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo_(car)

Tordepo is car body style :) 

Logo_torpedo.thumb.png.669d89aacfdb73fea8388a97f14b802b.png

Not really important information, but still :D :rolleyes:

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March 2029

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We moved back into the league campaign hoping to pull away from the chasing pack of relegation candidates, allowing us to cement a mid-table place ready for a bit of an assault on the league over the next two years. Whilst the performances overall, were really good, and, to be fair, the results too, our league position has not changed.

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It's clear that the cup form didn't directly translate into the league as we took a little while to find top gear, although the loss to then-third placed Neftekhimik was probably expected, even if we did really limit them to just a couple of big chances. A much needed win over bottom side Fakel propelled us into a great win against 6th placed Kuban, hitting them later in the game as they tired. We then returned from Moscow with a really well earned point against Torpedo - one of the bigger sides at this level.

 

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21 minutes ago, Novem9 said:

Yeah it's subtropic , so even -4*C is cold. For this week temperature is +6*C +10*C for example

image.png.c03e7a1e879ccb4095c9384f49ebdbf8.png 

That's so much there that conflicts - palm trees and snow, for example!

21 minutes ago, Novem9 said:

Could you check Zenit home games weather please? Their stadium has roof, so even in winter there is a comfortable temperature. However, the SI ignored this fact and it was cold there until FM22. Not sure if this was fixed in the new edition

We're away at Zenit-2 next up and, in April, it's a breezy 8 degrees. For comparison, Zenit are at home to Spartak and it's 3 degrees and sleet on the other side of St. Petersburg.

15 minutes ago, Novem9 said:

Just to clarify, it's not linked to torpeda as water rockets.

I won't claim the credit in writing that little but thanks for the clarity. I've noticed that Torpedo now have a red/green badge, whereas in the past FMs, I'm sure it was black/white. What's the story with this?

11 hours ago, SixPointer said:

The cup win must give you confidence that the squad has some ability to play your way. Although the league form was patchy. You would agree your more optimistic about then taking on Board your philosophy?

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Play the way I want, yes. However, the above is the big problem. The squad needs a rebuild and we've got very lofty aspirations for next year. There is, currently, no way we're a top four side. Maybe this is why they've got through so many managers?!

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13 минут назад, _Ben_ сказал:

Torpedo now have a red/green badge, whereas in the past FMs, I'm sure it was black/white. What's the story with this?

Have no idea :D Mb some legal issues. Red/green is original logo despite kits are black/white

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April 2029

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Quite frankly, I've made a pretty poor decision here. Anji, the club I fled from for those perceived greener grasses has just turned out to be a team that is in quite desperate need of a huge overhaul, overseen by a board with very lofty ambitions. Strangely, I'm ok with it. I have a career record of ninety wins in 133 games, but that 67% win percentage is brought down by the 53% here in Sochi - but even lower to some 40% in the league and, maybe, just maybe, the Mashuk and Anji gigs were too easy. Whilst we reel away, unlikely to finish any higher than 13th, Anji are now in third, hot on the heels of Baltika and Neftekhimik for an automatic promotion spot - allowing the man I appointed as my assistant to be there for two promotions in two years.

Maybe that's why I'm not really enjoying what I'm seeing.

Or maybe it is the long-list of players who just aren't good enough for this club or who really haven't impressed me over the four months of my tenure. More to come on this, though.

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The first game of the month, against the terrible defence of Metallurg allowed us to get off to a flier, yet it was much more of an even game than the scoreline suggests. We then decided not to turn up at all for the second half. A dull draw against Zenit-2 followed and then a loss, against Shinnik, whereby we were so toothless upfront without Klepikov, who missed out with an injury. We came from behind to beat Volga but, truth be told, still didn't really show what I wanted and then played out a hugely dull game in the far east against SKA.

We're just not gelling as a team, severely lack creative and other goalscoring options aside from Klepikov and things like this are creeping in:

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It'll go one of two ways - I fix it over the summer or I'm not in this job come April 2030.

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As I mentioned, there is a long list of players who just need to moved on, leaving just eleven players I'd like to see in a Sochi shirt next season.

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There's still not a hugely settled presence of DNA here, nor any kind of depth. It goes without saying that this summer is going to be hugely busy and I'll be pulling on every resource that the club has to offer in order to create the kind of squad that can achieve what both I and the board want. With absolutely no young quality from within the team, I'm seriously looking at recruiting ten or more players - something that is a) largely not my style and b) potentially significantly dangerous to the cohesion as we begin the season.

I kind of just want to get these three games done!

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20 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

That's so much there that conflicts - palm trees and snow, for example!

We're away at Zenit-2 next up and, in April, it's a breezy 8 degrees. For comparison, Zenit are at home to Spartak and it's 3 degrees and sleet on the other side of St. Petersburg.

I won't claim the credit in writing that little but thanks for the clarity. I've noticed that Torpedo now have a red/green badge, whereas in the past FMs, I'm sure it was black/white. What's the story with this?

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Play the way I want, yes. However, the above is the big problem. The squad needs a rebuild and we've got very lofty aspirations for next year. There is, currently, no way we're a top four side. Maybe this is why they've got through so many managers?!

Looks like you have an over ambitious board there, like quite a few clubs do. But it says work towards, so I suppose some sort of a challenge would be acceptable?

If you extrapolate your form since joining the club, and assume it can at the very least continue, I guess it should be fine.

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2 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

But it says work towards, so I suppose some sort of a challenge would be acceptable?

I'm happy with the objectives! One thing that I've never really faced in FM (due to how I've played the game) is adversity. I've always chosen the easiest objective and never moved clubs, so now that I'm faced with the real prospect that I'll get sacked if it goes wrong, I'm quite excited!

2 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

If you extrapolate your form since joining the club, and assume it can at the very least continue, I guess it should be fine.

Overall, yes. But our league form of 40% wins gives us just about 46 points, and that's not promotion form!

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May 2029

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I made a couple of changes tactically, in order to try and finish off the season with some kind of positive! Whether it was the intelligence of the players or the slight contradiction of styles, I've removed the Counter-Press instruction, finding that it pulled my players out of their structured defensive shape, leading to holes that have been exploited during my time here, as seen below in this graphic from our last fifteen games:

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To then add into our transition play, I've added the Play Out of Defence team instruction. First up, it reduces the passing length of my defenders (see BPD before and after) and will, hopefully, bring the attacking players a little deeper in order to create more spaces for our counter-attacking style and allow us to attack as a more cohesive unit. Our overall team instructions are still relatively simple, allowing the most personalisation through player styles, roles and then instructions.

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Just the three games but three important wins, showing me that we can adapt to things I'm putting in place and that there are, at least, a few players that want to fight for their future here. We are conceding quite a lot of chances and I need to get to the root of that but, at least, we're offering some kind of threat going forward.

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Rather than do a full breakdown on this season, I'm just going to create some headline figures and then move onto how I plan to rectify them for next season. I've only been at the helm for thirteen league games and we've employed a very different style to what was seen before so the statistics are going to be somewhat skewed.

Statistically, we've underperformed this season. We're wasteful in front of goal, ranking seventh in shots for and ninth in average game xG, suggesting that we're not creating the best chances but we create a lot of them. Some more creativity within the team and a bit more depth up top and we should be able to work on this. Defensively, we're good, with 38 goals conceded, but, alluding to the previous point, its a travesty if that still gives you a negative goal difference. We're not attempting many passes in the final third and are quite wasteful with possession anyway and also defend much closer to our goal than I'd like.

Lots to consider, certainly.

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After a little bit of Excel-ing, I now have a bit of a better idea of my plans for next season:

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There are the players that I'd like to move on, as well as their wages that'll be saved and an idea of the transfer budget that they'll bring in. I'm well aware that, with them out of form/out of my plans, it'll be hard to recoup over £3m for them, but I've taken that into account when I look at the rough amount I can spend per player to replace them. Obviously, if I sign one player on a free, that doubles the amount I can spend on another player. In terms of meeting registration guidelines, I am allowed 4 foreign players (that excluded Belarussians, Armenians, Kazakhs and Kyrgzystanis) and I'm thinking of making those almost my designated or luxury players. Whilst I can't scout outside of the local region, and Serbia, due to some good links from staff, this is where I'd be all over the Brazilian market, for example. I need to find some realistic way of getting into that South American market aside from just agent offers 

Now I've got the idea of where I need to strengthen and how much I can spend, I'm going to get some scouts out and then really dig into the type of player that I need. Here are the base expectations:

For the club DNA:

  • Decisions
  • Determination
  • Work Rate
  • Natural Fitness

For the playing style:

  • Speed
  • Anticipation
  • Teamwork
  • Stamina

Then to find the right type of player that will keep me at Sochi for, at least, this season!

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June 2029

Three hugely important signings made this month. Three players, all recommended by my DoF who, despite expiring contracts, were signed for minimal fees to avoid the lottery of contract-expiry time! 

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Daniel ParaschivVadim KarpovPedro Torres.

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I have created some questions within the squad now as £60k signing Paraschiv becomes the best player, leaving other striker and top performer last year Klepikov as the second best striker. Now, this could be seen as a luxury, two top strikers vying for one position. However, it was the kind of deal that I've felt pressured to make - needing the quality to score as many as we can and have different options available for me and, again, not one that I'd normally use. Daniel is, however, a top striker with no real weaknesses for our style of play, Natural Fitness aside. He's played at the top level in Romania for Cluj last season so this deal must be considered as a huge coup. Again, my top consideration is how to keep two really good strikers happy. Next in was Karpov, who was listed for £0 and had an expiring contract. He signs from top tier Rostor but never really got any football there. He's slightly less weak on his left side and will slot into that area of defence. Lastly, for now anyway, is creative outlet Pedro Torres, who signs for £40k from Orenburg, in this division. Another one who I didn't want to leave to the luck of the draw - he's a cultured player but not physical enough to manage the hustle and bustle in the middle of the park, making himself absolutely suited to the Half Back role.

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June is always quiet elsewhere. We scout, click through, arrange friendlies and that is about it!

However, I've just been told my staffing is being cut:

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Not sure why as we have £9m in the bank and are predicted to make a profit of around £8m over the next three-year period.

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A positive end to the season :thup:

A couple of good signings to help you move the club forward. Though what the board are thinking when they penny pinch and reduce the staff levels :stop:

What would happen if you left those staff positions in place?

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(Early) July 2029

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Three friendlies and three very good results, albeit two of those completely expected. Whilst I'm not entirely satisfied with my transfer business, I feel that I am probably done due to the difficulties I've faced so far.

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We started pre-season with a really strong win over Dnipro, the Ukranian side. It was a tight affair but the changes I've made to the tactical shape are clearly working, as we've conceded a rand total of 0.65xG across our three friendlies. I decided to go from one end of the spectrum to the other - initially removing Counter Press but now going one step further and asking the team to Regroup when possession is lost. I don't have a before image as it was from last season but you can really see the difference between our with ball (left) and without ball (right) shape from this image.

---

As I previously alluded to - I think that we're done with our transfer business this summer although I did manage to add Khaider Khalilov and Alexandr Laptev to my first team. Khaider re-joins from Ufa after being on loan here last season and Laptev was a semi-regular in the Krasnodar-2 side that I faced in the third tier. Neither signing has really pushed the boat out but both could be solid back up players. The issue has arisen from the fact that I must have at least one Russian u22 player on the pitch at all times. When you look at the age of the players I've recruited, you'll see that I've focused on experienced heads rather than youth and exuberance as we really need to just solidify and do the basics right. But, that has left only Kleptikov as the eligible player, and, with Paraschiv arriving, he isn't guaranteed first team football anyway. Furthermore, attracting the kind of youngsters I need, who can be rotational options, means that I would be paying them significantly more than I pay my overage players who are key to this squad. I have promoted Kalichava and Gorshkov from the academy to the first team to add to those numbers but they're short on the quality I really need here.

With a little moving around and some clever re-training, I can make a best-XI that looks like this:

f8c5c084641a297d5bace095a12f384b.png 

Firstly, this has reminded me that some of these attributes are now not what I really want as these custom views are from last year and I've changed my ideology slightly - however, you get the point!

For each area, I've broken it down into the key attributes that sit along side the overall club DNA. Whilst there are still some question marks over the suitability of the squad (ideally looking for a very good attribute - over 12), there seems to be a decent fit for what I want to do here. Let's split it up into positives and areas to develop:

Positives:

  • I think Paraschiv could be a really good Mezzala. Considering how aggressive they are, we often look like we play a three pronged attack, which is where he's been used before. Flair aside, he fits all of the criteria to be good in that role. I will have to take a hit on Decisions whilst he is uncomfortable there and, annoyingly, you don't get a hint on versatility, or speed of retraining, just that he 'Can only play in on position' which doesn't add anything I don't know. Him moving to this role could really impact our performances this season and it keeps him and Kleptikov on the pitch - a) we need our best players there and b) it helps with the squad rules.
  • Klepikov is a great Advanced Forward. I wanted long shots previously, but now don't. His Finishing, Off the Ball and Acceleration means that he'll hopefully continue his rich vein of form from last season.
  • Pedro Torres seems to be a really good fit for the role I want him to play. I'm a little concerned about his strength and wish he was younger so that I could try and develop some traits, but he's good!

Areas to develop

  • Both of my full backs are very much full backs. As you saw from the in-possession shape, we play with a bank of three ahead of the defenders so I need these players to be super creative and, they're not. Going forward, I'll more than likely be converting centre mids or even wingers to play in these roles, as long as I'm not giving too much away defensively. They will, probably, have to be the most complete players in the squad.
  • The right winger, Mosiyan, can't really do what I want my winger to do - get the ball into the box. I will have to look at either changing his player instructions to make sure his crosses have a higher chance of completion (probably cross to near post) or even change the team instructions to focus the play down the left (which might allow Paraschiv, playing on the right, to get himself into the box with his good Off The Ball). Certainly something to develop.
  • The big thing here - this is just my first XI. The players behind these are not as strong and I know that. I haven't been able to recruit quite as much as I wanted and nor have I really got the level of players I wanted.

---

With the board wanting a top 4 finish this season, I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical but I've got a steady start to the season:

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Chaika are newly promoted and Tyumen finished 14th, one place below us. You have to think that we need, at least, four points here or the pressure will be starting to mount already.

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(Late) July 2029

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So far, so good. Just the two league games and we're off to a decent start.

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We should have beaten Chaika and I hope it's not something we come back to regret. However, we did put Tyumen to the sword and with Paraschiv as a Mezzala, looked to have some really good firepower through the middle. We also kept the ball really and were barely threatened.

---

Now, here is where the alternate universe bit comes in.

I was progressing through with a write up about a tactical issue that we have when I had a crash dump, meaning I lost the Tyumen game that we'd previously won 4-1. However, I noticed that in both that game and the Chaika one before it, we conceded two almost identical goals. Obviously, in the replayed game, we didn't concede but I still feel that it's an area that will come back to haunt me later in the season if I don't address it right now. Also, I'd written and prepared a lot of the below so wanted to make use of it!

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In the left hand goal, the player was marked by DM Pedro Torres and the right, by CB Anatoly Leontjev. Here are my defenders, sorted by height, for reference. 

Earlier in this save, I moved a completely man marking system from defensive corners, in order to try and limit free headers and big chances. I felt that this was realistic given the intelligence of the players at that level and, therefore, their inability to zonally mark anyone with the slightest bit of quality movement. I can honestly say that I'm not sure what is going on in these images. Granted the screenshot doesn't tell the whole story as there is player movement as the ball is kicked, but our marking wasn't great for either of these situations.

Now, though, as we progress, I feel that we can be a little more creative with our systems. Here are the players that I'd want to be key men in our defensive corner set ups:

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There are probably just two fully suitable players here - Karpov and Mischenko, although even the former has pretty average Decision making, meaning he could, or couldn't go to win a key ball into the box. The likes of Karpov isn't great with his head and, whilst Torres is ok, he's not strong enough to be winning duels in a man marking situation. The further Gerchikov gets from the corner, the better!

Now, in my mind - a duel between a defensive and offensive player will come down to, in simple terms, their attribute score. If one player has 15 for pace and another has 10, then the former will win. Yes, there is more to it than that, but I feel this'll give me an idea of where we are. So, here are the league averages for those attributes that will be used in duels when we defend corners for all players except goalkeepers.

  • Height - 5'11"
  • Weight - 73kg
  • Heading - 7.28
  • Aggression - 10.18
  • Anticipation - 10.23
  • Bravery - 9.15
  • Decisions - 11.20

Now, these attributes are skewed. There is simply no filter for those players who will be sent up for corners and those who will not, so I'd expect these to be the absolute lower end of what you'd find in that penalty box. I know how many 5'11" players with 7 for Heading I'd like attacking for my team...

My thoughts are two do two things from the back of this:

  1. A general corner set up
  2. Knowing when to make tweaks to suit the players I have.

---

1. General corner setup

Overall, the Decision making is pretty good as is the marking so I am going to have a play around with employing a more zonal based setup as we are then able to anticipate where the ball will go, concentrate on it's flight and react accordingly. I will make sure that the smaller men (Full Backs and Half Backs) are on posts or other areas as this is where, overall, the bigger attackers are going to be.

2. Specific tweaks

  • When Gerchikov plays, he'll be assigned to the edge of the area and a taller winger will be called back. 
  • I will adapt player positioning based on what I see from the first three opposing corners.
  • Any teams who are scoring well from corners via the analysis screen will have extra match prep for Defending Corners added before the game.

 

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Excellent logic based post as always. This is just my own hunch and I have no stats or done any research so just call it my own personal preference, but when deciding on which players play which role on defensive corners, I completely disregard the heading attribute. To me it is based on precision, or the ball going where the player intended. Obviously this is massively useful for my attacking set pieces as I want those to turn into attempts on goal, but for a defensive situation I put all my eggs in the 'defender has to get to the ball first' basket, and so I'm not too fussed if the ball ends up where my defender intended, just because if I get there first I feel like my defender can put it anywhere and it be safe.

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17 hours ago, brookie1402 said:

Excellent logic based post as always. This is just my own hunch and I have no stats or done any research so just call it my own personal preference, but when deciding on which players play which role on defensive corners, I completely disregard the heading attribute. To me it is based on precision, or the ball going where the player intended. Obviously this is massively useful for my attacking set pieces as I want those to turn into attempts on goal, but for a defensive situation I put all my eggs in the 'defender has to get to the ball first' basket, and so I'm not too fussed if the ball ends up where my defender intended, just because if I get there first I feel like my defender can put it anywhere and it be safe.

I agree, which is why I have paid more attention to those mental attributes. I've always been in the school of thought that mental attributes are the foundations of technical attributes and that certain aspects of play build on each other:

  • Engaged marking, from my experience, is easier than disengaged because you don't have to position yourself, just mark your man.
  • Man marking is easier than zonal marking because you don't have to position yourself to anticipate the run made by the forward
  • The third man run is harder than the first and second player who just need to complete a pass/one-two as it's all about anticipating the play.

Therefore, my move to the zonal marking comes as a result of thinking that, actually, the Heading attribute doesn't mean any more than just their ability to put the ball where they want with their head. The attribute description doesn't add a lot...

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don't think that this has anything to do with their likelihood to get their head in the way (Bravery), to know when the corner is coming (Anticipation) or to make the right call going for the header (Decisions) so I should work with where my strengths are.

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August 2029

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A really good month and one that has really left me confused as to what was happening at the back end of last season. I still really don't consider us favourites to go up but we have performed excellently to this point. I'm less bothered about the cup but we made progress with a really strong win over Shinnik before a comfortable win, albeit from behind, against third tier Stavropol. We scored three of our goals from follow up tap ins, which is something I've never really seen to this extent. Both games were played by a fully rotated squad, given my focus on the league right now.

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I wasn't expecting much from the SKA fixture so, upon taking the lead, I decided to sit back and absorb the pressure that there we, in my mind, bound to throw at me. However, and I am happy to admit this, from this point on, we were tactically outclassed. Instead of throwing the sink at us, they were very careful in their approach, pulling us out of place with lots of horizontal movement. Eventually, the levee broke in the 88th minute and they netted an equaliser. In the grand scheme of things, it's a fair result based on their twenty minutes of play but, over the whole ninety, we certainly had the better chances. Still, a strong point away from home. With all my thoughts about defensive corners, I'm happy to confirm that their goal did not come from one - instead, just a well-worked move.

Kuban came to town next and we blew them away. I can't imagine that there are many wide midfielders at this level who can play a pass as well as the one below that opened up the scoring for us - the weight and pace on the ball made it hard to defend and put it on a plate for Klepikov to get us going. After that, it was one way traffic as we created some really nice chances and restricted them from doing anything of note.

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We then ground out a win over Dinamo-2, who are struggling somewhat this season and then secured another win against bottom club Sokol thanks to a perfect hattrick from Klepikov. Whilst I really wasn't anticipating much this season - we have started really well and certainly are playing like a team that deserves to be top of the table and leading the league in several areas:

  • Goals scored - 14 (rank 1st)
  • Goals conceded - 3 (1st)
  • xG - 9.38 (3rd)
  • Shot conversion -16% (2nd)
  • xGa - 1.96 (1st)
  • Shots on target against - 13 (1st)
  • Possession won - 526 (2nd)

We're also making some positive changes to our style of play, as seen with these scatter plots:

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We're much more reliable in possession than before (Pedro Torres is a big part of this) and a really positive bonus has been the goal scoring form of Mukhametshin from the Mezzala role. We're playing with much more quality and confidence than last season and, whilst it might be attributed to the new signings, I believe that the togetherness and cohesion is at a really good point right now.

---

I've made a couple of moves in the transfer market to replace the unhappy Kalichava, who moved to Shinnik. This had meant we'd lost an U22 player (and I wasn't entirely sure of the rules further than that) so moved to sign two loanees: Alexandr Galimov and Julian de Rose (who, strangely, has his Scout Report on his profile rather than his Coach Report). However, despite both being U22, it looks like they have to be a) Russian and b) permanently at the club, so, whilst both are good, neither help my squad registration rules. Also, the young Argentine provides me a no-risk opportunity to see how a more ball-playing Inverted Wing Back, as his attributes are relatively well suited with some re-training:

eb765bafb34bae6c528d9d2097141e59.png

He's potentially available at the end of his loan for a relatively small fee so I'll see how he goes!

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How are you faring with the Player Regulations? Are you down to 4 foreign players?

I still had 8 foreign players in 2026, but the League kept saying the rules were changing.

I ended up leaving the country.... for a team I think needs more careers!

And yes, I went to boring old England!

 

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On 24/12/2021 at 20:38, Hootieleece said:

How are you faring with the Player Regulations? Are you down to 4 foreign players?

Second tier has a maximum of 4 foreign players but the top league has 8. I'm looking forward to building a culture within those slots.

On 24/12/2021 at 20:47, SixPointer said:

Flying this season!! Amazing what you can do with a good pre season.   

13 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

That start should please the board for now

I do find it strange to think that, this, alone, is the reason for our massive upturn in fixtures but it's kind of realistic, I guess! We've played some really good football - reminding me of the promotion season at Anji although I absolutely will not get ahead of myself.

9 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

What a beautiful name for all the speakers of this world

Even in my head, I just call them Chaika!

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September 2029

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It's been a long old month, with lots more time spent skinning rather than playing - I've made some improvements on the pop-up panelleague overview and some quality of life stuff including colours, as seen in the development squad. However, we're through another month and, despite a blip at the end, and, to be fair, some really boring football, sit atop the league.

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We opened up with a terribly bore draw against Torpedo but they are the games whereby the point is what is more important and it's good that we can grind out draws, as I did slow things down in the second half, judged by the strength of their squad. We neutralised them fairly well and kept them at bay. I'm not one for defensive and attacking tactics but it's good to see that some tweaks to my shape can keep us tighter. We then followed up with a couple of decent wins, keeping both Zenit-2 and Amkar at bay again before two losses - probably both undeserved but I can't moan too much given the start we've made.

---

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Annoyingly, I lost loanee Galimov as it was decided that he wasn't being played in the right role. However, this happened with no warning and with no interaction prior to this as well as not ever having a preferred role given to him during the loaning-in process! I did manage to strengthen before deadline day though with the £120k acquisition of Nikita Kharin and the £40k signing of my old Anji player, Andrey Marjanov. Both will add some much needed depth to my squad.

I'll hopefully be putting a little more effort and emphasis into the write-ups, just as soon as I've completed what I want at this stage of my skinning journey.

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October 2029

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We're through another month with six league games and a cup tie against the giants of Lokomotiv Moscow, which, with defeat, sees us bow out of the Kubok Rossii.

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We performed really well against Novgorod and fully deserved our victory, especially coming off the back of the run of defeats. That form was then not carried into the next two games as we dominated, but drew them both. A strong win over Volgar came before a disappointing defeat at Alania, where we surrendered top spot in the league. I felt that we did enough to take a point, at least, from that game. The month ended with a good win over my old side Anji, although I turned down any chance to boast to the media about it!

---

Whilst I'm quite enjoying my time here at Sochi, I'm very much aware that this is not where I intend to be for many years, given the relatively poor infrastructure, poorly supported squad and, weirdly, a feeling of a slightly plastic club - few fans, no history and no players who are even listed as favoured personnel. I'm less than a year into my tenure here, although that does rank me as one of the longest serving in the time at the club in recent years but I felt that it was an appropriate time to test the waters of what the board will and won't do, in the knowledge that I'm being strongly linked to the near-vacant Rostov job, in the top tier and there is a potential for a merry-go-round to come, with the vacant Yenisey job potentially being filled by the Ural manager, who are also in the top tier. To my surprise, they agreed all of the below:

Now, my B- rating probably has something to do with this - taking the team from 15th in the league to the upper echelons in under a year but I really must question what the issue with the other managers has been, unless it's purely from on-pitch performances. My rise has been quick and I'm conscious of that, having not even completed five full seasons of being a manager yet, having started looking for jobs in the September of 2025, see below:

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But this save is still in it's really early stages. Yes, I've looked at tactical developments and created my own style, but I've barely dipped into any recruitment fun or deeper analysis of the playing squad and certainly very little player development!

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2 hours ago, john1 said:

Things starting to fall in places especially with the facilities at the club :cool: 

You say that, but there is a bit of a storm brewing in the top flight that might give me my chance:

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There are now four jobs in the top flight that are on a level or a step up from our own 2.5* reputation here in Sochi. What is more, the key man linked to the Akhmat job (Dimitry Naniev) is the current manager of Rubin Kazan whilst the manager of Ural, Sulieman Khomyakov, is tipped to take over at Yenisey, potentially opening up a further two positions.

For realism sakes in terms of where I make my next geographical move, here they are plotted on a map:

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  1. Sochi
  2. Kazan - home of Rubin Kazan
  3. Grozny - home of Akhmat
  4. Rostov-on-Don - home of Rostov
  5. Yekaterinburg - home of Ural
  6. Krasnoyarsk - home of Yenisey

A stay in the south in Chechnya, in Grozny, or at Rostov would be the most realistic, however, probably the real realistic answer is to accept that I'd unlikely be considered for these jobs at this point in my career!

---

EDIT 1: Yenisey make a bold call to appoint a third tier manager, Victor Mironov, after poaching him from Rotor, of all places.

Edited by _Ben_
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November and December 2029

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I like to share the positive news updates, so I felt that it was only apt to share this one to open this update, too.

I've also joined November and December together as, with just one game before the huge winter break, wanted to keep it all together.

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When things are going well, I can click through, enjoy the performances with minimal intervention and reap the rewards of a well thought out ideology. However, when things don't go as well, I find myself micromanaging, unable to leave the game until I feel that I've addressed the problems that are evident on the pitch. Even after I congratulated the board in the last update, I can see where the reputation has come from with some real anger and absolutely no match confidence from our few fixtures, moaning about pretty much every area of our game.

Sadly, the buck falls with them. I've inherited a poor squad and the Director of Football, appointed and managed by the Chairman, to keep things realistic, didn't provide me with the signings that I really needed for this season and now it's starting to show. When we are playing Sunday and Wednesday, we need a squad, yet right now we just about have a strong first eleven with a few players to supplement that. This is not passing the blame, but an observation of what happens when the fixtures pile up and when I start having to heavily rotate in order to manage fitness and the like and, when compared to the start of the season, it's completely different.

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We started the month of with a pretty good draw against Tom Tomsk, who are defying all odds despite being predicted to finish in the bottom two or three following promotion last year. They're currently going through a potential takeover and I think, with some decent backing, might become a force in this league although I still feel they'll struggle, like ourselves, if they were to go up. Another draw followed as we were so poor against Chaika as the board lamented our lack of excitement as we failed to register a single shot on target (and not for the only time this month). We finally found out how to win as we coasted past SKA in a performance much closer matching to what I was able to see at the start of the season - little coincidence that it was the game where I didn't need to rest players and consider my substitutes with a midweek game in mind. Yet we then drew against 19th placed Tyumen, giving away a huge chance in the 85th minute, their only real one of the game, which, of course, they converted before going three goals down inside 40 minutes at Kuban. Obviously, when you don't have the rub of the green, you don't win things and you can see the huge xG mismatch. We rallied and scored twice, created a hatful but never found our third in a game where our performance and sheer dominance meant we should have got more. We used all of those chances up and had nothing left for Dinamo as we didn't get a shot on target and then, to make matters worse, lost, at home, to bottom team Sokol - ending a torrid little time for us.

---

So, where does the issue stem from?

Aside from having, at least, six players in the first team who are just not of the quality nor are performing well, see below, there are concerns with some of our tactical play, too.

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Zhidkov is my starting right back but he, and the rest of the players, above, have accumulated more than ninety combined appearances this season, contributing just two goals and assist between them as well as two mistakes leading to goals and just three key tackles.

On the other hand, my offensive, important players have played pretty well:

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Goals for Klepikov have been hard to come by of late and, in all honestly, it's not right to lay all of my hopes on a teenage forward with half a season of experience at this level. However, I made the call to move Paraschiv to a Mezzala role and, largely, he's done well there, with nine G/A this season but has tailed off of late and is a constant bad trainer, which is contributing to his lack of action. He does, however, lead my regular players with a 14% conversion ratio, 1% above Klepikov but, as a team (more on this later), we are struggling. For a set of midfielders, bar Klepikov, I feel that we aren't creating a huge amount of chances and, certainly, our danger from set pieces has gone this season (Goals from corners: 3 (rank 6th), Direct Free Kicks: 1 (rank =4th), Indirect Free Kicks: 0 (rank =17th) but also from crosses (179 complete -  rank 8th) and crosses completed (25% - rank 8th). 

It's the shot thing that I want to focus on, though:

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We are having shots, creating chances and expected goals but, as a team, converting just 9% of them, leaving us in the bottom half and incredibly wasteful in front of goal. As a team, our xG to goals ratio stands at 34.4 : 33 and we have five players who have scored at least one goal whose xG is greater than their sum of goals. As I mentioned before, a lot of that issue is down to the midfielders, who shoot a lot and a team who aren't quite getting the ball into the right areas:

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Despite creating 7.43xG in the last five games, two goals have come from a combined 0.09xG as Sherbavkov netted two lovely goals from in the left half space. Yet, the player in the striker role has seen just twenty six, a little over a third, of those total shots fall to him. Looking at the assist positions and our crossing data from this season, you'll see that we really aren't utilising the wide spaces as much as we can - especially as we overload there with an IWB tucking in and a Mez and WM in the half space and wide channel. Now, here is the biggest kicker - I think I've allowed this by changing the Winger(s) to a Wide Midfielder(s) in order to maintain a more solid defensive structure and link the defensive, transitional and attacking phases together, as you can see by the average positions and pass map of #6 and #19 in my last game. This has come at the detriment of our attacking style, nullifying the threat of getting the ball into the box or in behind the defenders to allow my strikers to get shots on goal.

---

This poor form and board pressure leaves me with a few options:

  1. Hand in my resignation to save face, knowing that the Sochi board has previous with short staying managers.
  2. Sit things out, going through the motions and looking for jobs that interest me, knowing that I'm not building any bridges with the board right now.
  3. Dig deep, really focus my intentions on working to get the best out of every single player, working alongside any new recruits in the winter window and trying to replicate our early season form once again.

I'd love to know what people would choose here!

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Just caught up with the thread, brilliant analysis and exciting story telling.

Regards with what next, I see the current period as more of a temporary blip before you can bring reinforcements in during the winter window. So it is worth sticking it out, see where you end up with your current club by the end of the season (given you don't get sacked before then), then decide from there.

However, I'd hand my reisgnation in due to personal distaste for the club. Being well-versed football-wise in this part of the world, I never liked Sochi as a football club.

Personally, I'd say option 1, but option 3 sounds like a decent idea too.

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That pass map gives a clear idea of the attacking third falling away, with teams wearing you down (possibly) when that goal doesn’t come and taking advantage by (potentially) nicking a goal.

I’m in favour of a little from each section, with options 3 and 2 combined followed by option 1 when the right opening appears.

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Rostov is an obvious candidate, but Rubin Kazan is also a bit of a sleeping giant. The same can be said about Kryllia Sovetov and Rotor Volgograd.

In Russia a Moscow job is the target or Zenit. Everyone else is fighting for scraps, but Rostov has won the league in the past decade I believe.

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6 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Rostov is an obvious candidate, but Rubin Kazan is also a bit of a sleeping giant. The same can be said about Kryllia Sovetov and Rotor Volgograd.

In Russia a Moscow job is the target or Zenit. Everyone else is fighting for scraps, but Rostov has won the league in the past decade I believe.

Moscow and Zenit are dividing the championship. Kazan won it 2 times almost 15 years back. 

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