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[FM22] A Day Without Football is a Day Lost


SixPointer
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March 2022

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Two dominant performances in the other two games in march but sadly  a really poor result at home to Go Ahead Eagles destroyed the perfect month. Yes you guessed it, a late goal from a corner provided the visitors with a point in a game that they never ever really looked threatening.

Bouncing back with a big result in Nijmengen was crucial and the boys really turned up and hammered the home side. A lovely goal from Mijnans  made it two goals in three games from midfield, he is fast becoming a real threat running from deep.

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March also proved to be a mad month for injuries, two lower back stress fractures one from a collision the other from lifting weights and the abdominal strain also come from lifting weights which is usual in a training program that requires no lifting weights whatsoever. Nagalo being injured for Go Ahead never did any favors as he's the best header of the ball at the club and it left a young Jair Haakmat coming off the bench to be out jumped at the back post.

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There are more than enough players there to be winning that header it's actually a 3v2 in the end and the Go Ahead player rises best to score with their only shot on target! The goal clips in off the post and i don't use players on the posts mainly because i've never seen a clearance from these players so perhaps now in FM22 i could be useful. The keeper's half hearted attempt to come and block is ridiculous especially from a keeper whose attributes would point to him being very strong in this department, further adding to my frustrations.

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4th place with 7 games to go, it's all to play for. Three points behind PSV and one in front of Vitesse, the fine margins are killing the chance of breaking the big three but also keeping us looking over our shoulders. AJax and Feyenoord really are in a league of their own.

Sparta however are still the most clinical in the league but certainly need to start creating more chances to even get close to the outputs of the big three. Possession and passing wise we still rank among the best in the league so it's a case of turning our dominance into more clear cut chances which with our clinical streak we should convert.

The next four fixtures will test our resolve and show if we really do have what it takes to nail down that best of the rest finish this season. Heernebeen have had a mediocre season but certainly pose a threat and will be looking for revenge. Ajax is the impossible task at the minute although the new system may lend itself towards countering their gameplans the game being played on their patch only adds to the uphill task.

FC Twente had looked to have turned the corner but then had a miserable month so long that may continue long after we have paid them a visit. AZ could prove to be another six pointer depending on how things play out in the games leading up to it. They have struggled for consistency much like ourselves this season and they really do have the squad that should be challenging the big three.

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After going on about variation in my attack and touching on it with @MattyLewis11 i thought it would be nice to show some graphics from the analyst's.

You can see clearly from the assists locations that it's very nicely balanced which in turn makes it hard for opponents to defend a certain area or lockdown certain areas. They cant choose to nullify one flank as both flanks are just as dangerous likewise they cannot offer up the middle too easily.

The types of assists are varied enough for my liking, the set plays are steady with 9 assists coming from them which isn't far off the main two. These two important ones being close is really important as again it affects how our opponents set up, they cant say let's defend narrow and deep to stop through balls as we can hurt them with crosses. They also can't decide to just defend wide and high to purely stop crosses as we are equally adept at playing through the press and exploiting the space in behind.

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Good stuff as always. Really appreciated the tactic write up and how it all works. I’ve always gone the opposite (forward players tuck in support players provide the width) but I can see how well it works in your system!

Rough about the corners, but still a great season so far!

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3 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Good stuff as always. Really appreciated the tactic write up and how it all works. I’ve always gone the opposite (forward players tuck in support players provide the width) but I can see how well it works in your system!

Rough about the corners, but still a great season so far!

Thanks man! Suppose there is many ways it can be done. With them being inverted they keep there width when the play is on the other side but they do cut in later on in the move so it’s sort of does both stretch and offer support depending on the situation. 

right now corners are killing me there destroying my enjoyment :lol: something I was so strong in previously is now my Achilles heel!

3 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Still hanging in there, potential to rise or fall from 4th but whatever happens this is an excellent effort with a modest group of players.

It’s definitely a very successful first season even if the wheels come off. as the style of play has been implemented and while inconsistency has been a real issue it does give hope towards the long term 
 

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9 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Overall this is still a very good season however you end up. By the way, does 5th get europe if one of the top clubs win the Cup?

Ajax definitely in a league of their own - over hauling them is going to be quite the challenge. 

 

5 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I was just about to ask the same question?! 

I believe 5th goes into the European places playoff. But am not sure if it’s for conference league or Europa. 

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1 hour ago, karanhsingh said:

Oh is it? I thought it was just two seasons in the challenge for some reason

It’s actually down a 7 seasons in the challenge. Because I will eventually need to take the job at either Feyenoord, PSV or Ajax  so I need to have time to get them as well

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Youth Intake

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A golden generation in the very first intake, the club is well renowned for producing fantastic talent so i am not totally surprised the crucial bit is do they fit the philosophy. The youth candidates further backed up the claim of being supremely talented by beating a very strong under 18's side with 4 first team players who were building fitness.

Two elite talents both playmakers at opposite ends of the midfield makes for a very interesting beginning and both should tie in to the philosophy as does the sweeper keeper. The advanced forward and NCB perhaps not so much but at glance it's certainly very positive.

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Mark Verbeek was picked as the standout talent and he also won man of the match and its now clear to see why, he has the making of being an incredible playmaker and one that is already suited to both the DLP(D) and HB roles. His DNA score of 107 is remarkable at the age of 15 and means he really already fits the bill and could actually challenge for a role as a backup to Burnic.

His DNA score alone is impressive but beyond that he offers a lot more and isn't just a stereo typical playmaker. His Heading, bravery, determination make him a force to be reckoned with defensively as well he could help become another handyman for defending the horrendous corners. Throw into the fact he is resolute and it's a perfect blend of course he still has to be guided to realise his potential but he certainly sits top of the pecking order for breaking through.

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Mr Grim was touted as the second elite talent while not as impressive he still boasts a very solid 96 in terms of DNA and again technique is the standout stat which is so important to see that trend as it already looks like the intake is being shaped well by the HOYD to our desired kind of player.

An Aggressive determined playmaker is useful for the high pressing and while right now i don't use a pure number 10 which Grim prefers, i feel it's only a matter of time before I need to make a system with a deeper double pivot which will in turn make the number ten a useful asset higher up.

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Edwin joins the growing list of new talent arriving in the under 18's and yet another 96 DNA score, but strangely his standout attribute within that is teamwork which is key especially in our system strikers need to be team players as they are often relied upon to link play and give us a platform to build from. His personality is also good and the fact he is a leader as well i feel he has the right character to realise his potential.

Besides his solid DNA score he also is extremely quick and a lethal finisher once his DNA beefs up he could even surpass the very impressive Jorn Triep, especially if he can stay injury free unlike Triep who has missed a lot of game time this season. Competition for places as who is the top prospect in the positions sums up Sparta Rotterdam and their great reputation for developing talent.

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How De Bodt is being described as a no-nonsense centre back is beyond me, a DNA score of 95 points would tell me otherwise. While first touch, technique, vision, decisions and composure are not incredibly high at 16 there certainly is not the worst and with the correct training he could certainly be shaped into a very sound technical defender.

His general defensive stats are some of the strongest at the club in his age group so pushing the technical should make him see some first team action. My big concern is getting that personality worked on. I don't want to invest my time and resources making him into the player required to make the first team then he decides to leave at the first chance.

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The surprise package Koos Kreekels is why you shouldn't just go on the recommendations and the ones touted for the top from your staff. His DNA sits at 105 which is second best in the whole intake which makes me question why my staff don't rate him so highly as i do. My only concern is his low composure but every other DNA is at least 9 with technique, teamwork and vision probing to be very strong.

I feel he has totally gone under the radar and is far better than Grim who was billed as the elite talent, their personalities are the same but Kreekels mentals are significantly higher. Again clear competition for places in the player considered the top prospect in the positions within the under 18's.

Verbeek is certainly the most talented but Koos is personally my favourite from the intak, as many people would have let him slip through the net just listening to their staff rather than having a good look themselves. I've actually signed about 6 players outside the recommendations, many not as clear cut as this but most have good averwags in DNA's and the keeper that was recommended was actually a slight let down but is good enough to be worked on. Vital to make your own judgments.

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The man responsible for honing the talent Andreas Patz the only other German on the backroom team he was originally sourced by Howedes to be his number two but he opted to keep the current man on to help a smooth transition into management having someone by his side who already knew the club.

While Patz has had a great intake he could well still move onto the original plan, this being his first job as HOYD he may have found his niche. While he does not boast the pest personality and i would rather his preferred formations swapped he has certainly done a great job thus far.

Prospects Overview

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A brief overview of the players I've highlighted as real potential to push for the first team. It is a really strong group and when you look at the DNA there is enough green and yellow to get excited about. There are a few with too many reds but they're still young. There is a clear strength in central roles with Finn de Bruin being the only real true player from the flanks and there is none in the defensive wide slots so clearly an area needing to be worked on.

The great intake has seen a few players downgraded from the start of the season as some of the new blood surpasses them, for instance Jafar Bynoe who was being groomed for the DLP slot now has a Verbeek to contend with who is better. While i dont solely go on attributes of course who performs and takes their chance is key and i take age into consideration while i think if your good enough you're old enough i am aware i could expose players to quick to heavy first team action and it have slight negative effect if they don't hit the ground running.

Players who are ready for full on first team action but no quite ready for our first team i will look to loan out the likes of Grabazis, Schoppema, Limouri, Haakmat, Udenhout, Bynoe, Garden and Hamerslag (what a name :lol:) fall into this category. If appropriate loan deals cant be found then unfortunately I see them further stagnating especially when all but Garden has made a first team appearance. I think it's now or never for these guys. 

Players who will come straight up to the first team next season and start challenging for a place in the team are

  • Finn de Bruin

  • Hamza el Dahri

  • Jorn Triep

  • Mark Verbeek

These coming up and hopefully the others getting loan moves or playing for Sparta jong should allow the likes of Grim, Scheffer, Kreekels, De Bodt dominate the under 18's and get regular gametime at that level and start to see them grow a lot more as the oath starts to become more clear to the first team.

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Some sad news on the youth development front as the talented mezzala Mats van der Eerden got a horrendous injury which will seriously affect his development. Good thing is he is due to sign his professional contract shortly and I won't give up on the kid. Hopefully he can bounce back and still push for that first team.

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Some good news to finish off the youth side of things with, There are only two games left to play and it looks like the under 18’s could well win the second phase of the under 18’s league, this would nicely match their unbeaten victory in the first phase. Winning both would again uphold the club's reputation as a superb talent factory.

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PSV took home the KNVB Beker beating AZ in the final. I sore point being the biggest underachievers as this is technically the first hurdle in the challenge. Howedes did however field two significantly weaker sides as he prioritised the league fixtures as they were incredibly tough and important at the time. This season the cup wasn't as key for growing the club as say finishing in the top 6 is.

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April 2022

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The inconsistency continues into April. It's been a huge problem especially in the second half of the season. The only loss of the month did come against the Ajax express who are steam rolling everyone in their path.

The Heerenveen result is a tough one to swallow as we created far better chances but just couldn't hit the back of the net, the performance was there which was positive to take into the big game against Ajax which i'll go into more detail later.

A trip to FC Twente was always going to be a tough game and fortualey Sparta nicked a point, a very late goal from the iceman secured a very important point in what was a poor display. Was nice to be the team that got the result against the run of play for a change.

Sparta were much improved against AZ, dominating the ball this time more like their usual self. ALthough improved in terms of possession AZ were incredibly hard to break down with only a penalty breaking their solid defence, a colossal three points which really saved the month from being a disaster.

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Benedikt Höwedes was heavily criticised in the press for changing from his favoured 433 to a more conservativbe 4141 to say this was rather harsh would be an understatement. Ajax dominated as you would come to expect but again it came down to other factors than a slight shift in tatkal shape.

The decison to frop the widemen a slot really helped keep Ajax at bay for over half the match and after all AJax were kept quiet for almost an hour when they broke the deadlock and yes you guessed it CORNER! The second goal came as Höwedes opened up and tried to get his side a point.

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Why oh why are we still conceding from corners, it always seems to be at the most important moments as well. Holding AJax for an hour and then one player out jumps three players at the back post to head home it's just a real kick in the teeth! It's 9 v 4 in the box in our favour. I have yet again tweaked my corners as I still look to find the perfect solution. I feel maybe putting too much faith in a goalkeeper who should excel in this situation considering his attributes.

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Three games left of the regular season and the common theme remains as Ajax and Feynoord battle it out for the title, 5 points in it but both are in sensational form. PSV have bucked up their ideas and pulled away from the chasing pack of the best of the rest, opening up a ten point gap as they start to show why it's referred to as the big three.

The battle for best of the rest is a fiesty one, two points separate us from Vitesse who then lead AZ by a point. All three teams are very inconsistent with their form at their minute but it's definitely interesting to have a look at who has who to play.

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The draw of fixtures throws up some very interesting fixtures. I would say our fixtures are by far the most favourable, avoiding Ajax unlike both our rivals and we also face all three teams currently in the bottom three and with Herceales Almelo and FC Groningen almost dead and buried I would really be expecting three wins. The only downside is two away games but our away record this season has been much like our home record to be honest.

Vitesse probably fall into second in terms of toughness of fixtures, they have two home ties but do play Ajax on the last day. But if they were to get six points from the first two games they will certainly be in with a fighting chance going into the last round of fixtures. AZ have arguably the toughest run in, Ajax at home first could well see them fall behind and FC Utrecht away is another difficult task they do finish at home against RKC which I would expect them to take three points from.

Things look to be in our favour but complacency will almost certainly be punished and now really is the time to be ruthless and seal that top 4 spot and the title of best of the rest!

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Verbeek is a record breaker at club and league level, hopefully this is the beginning of something very special for the youngman.

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5 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Good stuff, I believe you will make it looking at your fixtures. The win against AZ was key. I used to hate playing them on FM when they still had Boadu and Stengs.

Yeah they are definitely weaker after the summer sales. 
 

4 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

You have a good chance both your rivals have to play Ajax and you have 2 out of 3 against Relegation Fodder.  But be wary in those matches. 

complacency is definitely a big concern!

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25 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

A nice bit of late season drama, good luck! It's not all about finishing top - yours will be a great achievement whichever way it goes.

It’s definitely been a success regardless. Considering Sparta Rotterdam are sitting in 17th in real life. 
 

my main thing was getting the philosophy across and while it’s not perfect the base of it is very good and we’ve scored some great goals but it’s of course a working progress. 

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May 2022

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The final month of the season really summed up everything nicely, inconsinet results, dominating possession, poor late goals conceded and some slick football in particular the four goals at Groningen are up there with the very best we scored. The only thing missing was conceding from a corner!! You can imagine my delight at this statistic.

Great game, a 4-4 draw after leading 4-1 is bad enough but the fact the goal came in the 91st minute made it all the worse. Groginen countered immensely and battled like a team fighting for their lives but unfortunately for manager Clarence Seedorf it wasn't enough to keep his side up. The first goal for us was a very special team move which I consider the goal of the season as it perfects our positional play.

The last home game of the season turned out to be a very dull encounter as I struggled to break down the parked bus only doing so in the 90th minute. Nice to be on the reverse this time around. The final game of the season saw us yet again drop points to a late goal in the 91st minute again, however I did throw on some young player towards the end of the game as I looked to be in total control. 

Goal Of The Season

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Our build shape when the centre backs are on the ball. The red line shows the HB dropping in to help overload the first line of the press making it a 3v1 in the top shot and a 3v2 in the second shot as the LW steps up to press the RCB which opens up the right flanks wide triangle.

The HB also positions himself nicely at the bottom of the central diamond which allows him to conduct play and link eveyrthing. Originally I liked the idea of the DLP but the HB with a playmaker type player like Burnic is really good when adding more risky passes he becomes a weapon. That's not to say the DLP is dead and buried but the HB is a lot better at overloading the first line of the press.

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Further on in the move there is a great overhead of the team's shape as we start to transition into the opponents half. The right hand side has a clear diamond with the WB providing the width as the IW steps inside. The CF drifts towards the ball side of the pitch taking the attention of a few players with him.

While on the left side the team keeps its width and mirrors the half space domination and overload, in doing so stretching play which is essential when looking to create numerical and positional superiority.

The HB highlighted in yellow takes up a great position for switching the play if the Mezzala opts against going down his channel and looks to change the dynamic.

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Now in the opponent's half the team has transitioned into its attacking shape which now looks like a 4 man front line with IW CF MEZZ and IW all across the front. The CF has the attention of both CBs helped with the IW sitting in the right half space who also draws the attention of one CB. Their positioning has allowed the 2v1 in the green box as the MEZZ and IW on the left overload the RB in the half space.

The ball side of the shape still keeps its diamond shape to increase ball retention within the overload and the HB again has positioned himself perfectly to be the man to switch the play. He has options as well, he could whip one directly into the 2v1 or a slightly easier switch into the LWB or the easiest option into the LCB who in turn can play the harder passes from a better angle.

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The HB receives the ball and turns out to play the easy option to the LCB who in turns plays out to the LWB and now as the opponent tries to shift over the optimal overload moment kicks in. Both half spaces (green boxes) have 2v1's with each MEZZ and IW occupying the fullbacks. The CF has both CB's pinned down, both CM's have come narrow and now struggled out to help the LB. The switch of play has caught the opponent out and left them exposed.

Both wing backs can join in on each flanks as well, thanks to the clever positioning of the HB and both CB's who are there to cover space if the play was turned over. This is crucial but I must admit it's something I could look to be slightly more conservatibe in once we have a good lead as sometimes teams can get down the sides. If I was being critical I would rather the LCB slightly wider for defensive and offensive reasons.

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Images from the full move and the GIF (may take time to load as it's long). These both clearly show a dominance of build up play on the right and central areas, this like discussed above drags the opponent out of shape and leads to postonal and numerically superiority at several different moments of the attack. 

The damage is done when the play is actually switched as when the ball reaches the left flank there are only two passes and the ball is in the back of the net. 

I know i scored goals with third man running a big part of what i'm trying to do as well, but i felt this was the best team move and the best exponent of my philosophy of positional play right down to the point that the goal comes from a lovely cut back after ball retention had my opponents all over the place.

Final Table

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Benedikt Höwedes first season in charge at Sparta Rotterdam is a successful one as the club finishes best of the rest behind the big three. Ultimately too many draws cost us the chance of breaking into that big three, with six draws coming from late goals against us. It really highlights the improvement I must do when I'm trying to close out games.

However goals against was a strong point overall which means i need to improve going forward although we are best of the rest in both departements the gap to the goals score against the big three is the real difference. All in all, a very successful first season.

Ajax in the end lost a game and Feyenoord couldn't capitalize, both had tremendous seasons and blew everyone away especially when you look at the 14 point gap to PSV. The European places playoff was won by FC utrecht and they joined us in the Europa conference league. Three teams all go down and we will be joined by Almere who won the league, De Graafschap runners up and VVV-Venlo who won the playoffs.

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The cash injection will help massively as the club had been sitting in the red after a very expensive first transfer window, in the end the risk paid off as the league does not lie but more so the players that arrived played a huge part in being able to implement Benedikt Höwedes philosophy.

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I Don't think I can have many complaints about being overshadowed by Erik Ten Hag and Arne Slot considering the seasons that both had at their clubs. To be mentioned among the likes of Ten Hag in my first season of management is an honour in itself.

Yes Eme had a great breakthrough season, in all honesty when i first arrived at the club i see him more of an out and out striker but after working closely with him he really adapted his game well to coming in off the flanks and when you consider he hit 13 goals for us you can see why he claims the award that has been won by the likes off Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder to name a few.

Room For Improvement

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I would like to increase possession gained numbers a little higher up the pitch, with our defence area amounting to 53% overall. I would probably like to see just before the half way line increase trying to catch the opponent before they transition into their attacking shape. I do have to remember it's the first year and I did have concerns about some players' ability to press high, in particular the wide midfielders.

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Key pass numbers is another area that needs work on, with no players within the top 11 in the league it's definitely an area of concern which definitely has an effect on our goals scored and chance creation numbers which as we seen from comparison to the big three need work if we are to kick on. Now we dominate play but I need to make sure we aren't just keeping the ball for the sake of keeping it.

Mainly I'll look to wing backs to increase numbers as players strengthen and with the Iceman, Brunic and Mijnans starting to gel together they should increase as well. The change to the CF brought about a huge increase in his key passes and that only really happened in the second half of the season.

Leading The Way

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The attacking efficiency is the best in the league which furthers the need to start creating more, with lethal finishers at the club who take their chances an improvement in creation will work wonders for the goal tally.

We did however shoot far less than the big three so it's maybe a case of if you don't shoot you won't score as many. I do like that we wait for the right chance but I think finding the perfect balance is essential to improving the team.

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Passing stats are very interesting as they are only pipped to being the best in the league by Rotterdam rivals Feyenoord. very pleasing for me as it is a fundamental part of the philosophy to dominate the ball and move the opponent around.

However with the quest for more key passes and higher chance creation it could well be that these numbers lean towards the possession for the sake of it bracket. Yes i want the ball by i also want to punish teams once we get that 2v1 or third man run from deep. Playing through the lines with porgessive passes is certainly something that needs to be looked at.

Team Of The Year

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Lennart Thy had an extremely productive season in front of goal hitting 22, he really is essential to all of our play as he is the perfect focal point and excelled in his role as the CF. The player of the season with the young player heading to the young man Emegha.

Emegha pitched in from wide and really nailed down his place in the side, i feel next season he could be even bigger after a good pre-season in his new role. Pflucke poor return compared to Emegha shows that there is work to be done coming from the right hand side of the pitch.

Into midfield and Mijnans and Burnic set the standard. Both had very good seasons and showed how pivotal a part they have to play with all things good at sparta. MIjnans third man running saw him hit an impressive 9 goals and he backed it up with 7 assists taking his total to 16 for direct goal involvement which is exactly what I want from my number 8's.

Burnic was a solid performer, the heartbeat of the team and often the man breaking up play hence why he has the most yellows at 11. He got 6 assists but 5 came from corners which he is clearly an asset. Haye had a few good games at HB but I would expect the Iceman to be sitting in his slot next year.

Defence is where things went a little bit pear shaped, Nagalo the big buy was disurped by injuries and having to fill in at RB at times, Bauer and him shared the load and both never really held the consistency unlike Arrey-Mbi who showed why he was playing with Bayern.

Wing backs was a real weakness which is the biggest priority for recruitment in the summer. The defence was my big concern at the start of the game and while the number conceded didn't look bad I think it's mainly because we held onto the ball well.

Goalkeeper had a great season even though I really want him to start coming to claim some corners, with my final setup looking more assured in the last three games. I'm hoping the problem is behind me now as it is unacceptable by my standards to lose 8 league goals from them.

The Future Is Bright

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Edited by SixPointer
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Very good season and that's a superb team goal indeed. 

Are you pressing too much throughout the game, maybe the players are getting tired and conceding late goals as a result. I think stamina has been tweaked in the patch personally to make constant high press more difficult. 

Anyway definitely something you can build on. The conference league should be a nice experience as well. 

You need to stay here till you win a cup right?

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3 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Very good season and that's a superb team goal indeed. 

Are you pressing too much throughout the game, maybe the players are getting tired and conceding late goals as a result. I think stamina has been tweaked in the patch personally to make constant high press more difficult. 

Anyway definitely something you can build on. The conference league should be a nice experience as well. 

You need to stay here till you win a cup right?

No I’ve actually been doing the opposite try to defend late leads. Closing my lines and become more compact. I’m working on a 4231 to offer more protection in front of defence for certain situations. 
 

yes am here until I win cup and then I need one of the big three jobs!

1 hour ago, Sheriff7 said:

Excellent first season. You build something great there. :thup:

Thanks mate 

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13 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

No I’ve actually been doing the opposite try to defend late leads. Closing my lines and become more compact. I’m working on a 4231 to offer more protection in front of defence for certain situations. 

yes am here until I win cup and then I need one of the big three jobs!

Strange... sometimes when you invite the pressure on you do concede. Actually my teams concede a lot of late goals as well.

I wonder if its better to just not make any tactical changes :lol:

Got it - I feel like Ajax would be a bit too easy and the fans would hate you if you went to Feyenoord! So PSV seems like the best option if the job opens up

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6 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Strange... sometimes when you invite the pressure on you do concede. Actually my teams concede a lot of late goals as well.

I wonder if its better to just not make any tactical changes :lol:

Got it - I feel like Ajax would be a bit too easy and the fans would hate you if you went to Feyenoord! So PSV seems like the best option if the job opens up

Hopefully I get the choice of the three come the time. I expected to win the title quick so I can’t really be fussy 

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A fantastic season. You should be delighted with that I feel! Defensively astute and good going forward, a pretty well-rounded season. As you say, a couple of draws into wins and this season could have been an absolute dream for you but nevertheless, fourth place is nothing to be disappointed with. European football next season should hopefully help attract some quality to assist you further.

Edited by DefinitelyTaylor
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This has been great to read, and getting the whole season in one go was fun (though had itches to comment intermittently when catching up!).

Congrats on finishing 4th, and getting into Europe. Top effort :thup:

Your intake looked great for what you needed too.

Looking at the your final table made me wonder how high the top three’s line of engagement was compared to yours (especially Feyenoord’s) and as well as passing style (we’ve got an idea of Feyenoord’s :D ) as wondering if pushing up and slightly less short passing (fun to see the highlights you posted) could result in a bit more aggressive positive forward transitions and more chances/goals (I wish packing rate was included in the data hub).

One other things that would be great to see next season is multiple players with assists 10+. How many do the big three have?

Going to be a fun off/pre-season to read with transfers (loved that beginning you introduced the team with) and other tid-bits that come up :cool:

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On 23/12/2021 at 23:41, DefinitelyTaylor said:

A fantastic season. You should be delighted with that I feel! Defensively astute and good going forward, a pretty well-rounded season. As you say, a couple of draws into wins and this season could have been an absolute dream for you but nevertheless, fourth place is nothing to be disappointed with. European football next season should hopefully help attract some quality to assist you further.

Certainly a great first season. Need to get recruitment right to keep that’s 4th place spot as a minimum. I still feel we have fair bit of work to do if we are to break the top 3 especially with European football to consider now. 

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2 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

This has been great to read, and getting the whole season in one go was fun (though had itches to comment intermittently when catching up!).

Congrats on finishing 4th, and getting into Europe. Top effort :thup:

Your intake looked great for what you needed too.

Looking at the your final table made me wonder how high the top three’s line of engagement was compared to yours (especially Feyenoord’s) and as well as passing style (we’ve got an idea of Feyenoord’s :D ) as wondering if pushing up and slightly less short passing (fun to see the highlights you posted) could result in a bit more aggressive positive forward transitions and more chances/goals (I wish packing rate was included in the data hub).

One other things that would be great to see next season is multiple players with assists 10+. How many do the big three have?

Going to be a fun off/pre-season to read with transfers (loved that beginning you introduced the team with) and other tid-bits that come up :cool:

Thanks very much. It was a successful season. Sparta sit 17th in real life so the clear out and busy summer definitely helped. 

The youth intake was sublime I put it down to the club being a huge talent factory in real life but the type of player and positions is down to the HOYD and his team. having them all aligned with the tactical philosophy really helps the club pull in the same way.

The pre season (Christmas break for me🤣) should be under way in the new year. When I return the tactical plan is to be ironed out. I will look to have 3 systems made all with the same key principles but with certain variation to offer the edge against certain opponents.

I will then look to have either match plans made or 4 sets of team instructions for game situation, last season we struggled with late goals so finding an effective plan there. Also a set of instructions for a fast start.

Assists were spread evenly across the pitch and with my idea of being total football I’m not particular about who gets them. Wide men and 8’s are proving to be good goal threats so I don’t mind if they are not smashing big assists. 

I definitely need more from my wing backs and I would like to see more key passes from the midfield 3, the Switch to a complete forward seen him rack up very impressive key passes so if I can get other central players to match it I think goals will hopefully start to flow more like the big three. 

pre season is going to be a huge tactical working so hopefully I’ll be able to share some of it with you and get some ideas back

 

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Glad to see you back!

I wish I didn't get so involved with playing that I would forget to write.

But the time off will allow me to play with less pressure and experiment some more.

Even if I am playing 5-2-1-2WB to death in Wales right now......

My summer save involves an English team and a 2-3-5....wrap your head around that! If I can make it work.

 

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34 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

Glad to see you back!

I wish I didn't get so involved with playing that I would forget to write.

But the time off will allow me to play with less pressure and experiment some more.

Even if I am playing 5-2-1-2WB to death in Wales right now......

My summer save involves an English team and a 2-3-5....wrap your head around that! If I can make it work.

 

I won’t be back fully until 5th January! I know how important this summer is between my first and second season so I’m not wanting to give it half my attention while either hungover or getting ready for another part 🤣 so decided to give myself the full festive period off. Think I may be back to work middle of January but it’s regular shifts so it means my playing time will ramp up fast as I only do 8 hours a day and live on site with nothing else to do! 
 

what’s this you have started a new save? Or have I just missed something with drinking to much beer 🤣

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3 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

My summer save involves an English team and a 2-3-5....wrap your head around that! If I can make it work.

 

5 defenders and 5 attackers? Sounds like a plan :kriss:

Reminds me of the days in CM01/02 period where a tactic I’d use was 2-1-4-1-2. Worked a treat too!

Edited by Sonic Youth
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7 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I won’t be back fully until 5th January! I know how important this summer is between my first and second season so I’m not wanting to give it half my attention while either hungover or getting ready for another part 🤣 so decided to give myself the full festive period off. Think I may be back to work middle of January but it’s regular shifts so it means my playing time will ramp up fast as I only do 8 hours a day and live on site with nothing else to do! 
 

what’s this you have started a new save? Or have I just missed something with drinking to much beer 🤣

Know I just picked up where I left off on my annual Eceel Wehttam World Tour that I started with the beta currently managing the Cefn Druids in Wales.

The Baltika save was because I got so excited reading Career Updates and didn't want to miss out on the fun.

The 2-3-5 plan is provisionally called the 1880's Project...and I promise not to actually start it until June.

James Gladhill will be the manager and the team is one that hasn't won a trophy since 1938!

 

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Just caught up (though sounds like you and me both took the festive period “off”). Fantastic season, and fantastic youth intake. That you have several players ready to challenge for game time next season is really something.
On late goals - I’ve been moving away from trying to “see out” games, especially as a pressing/possession side, at least until right around stoppage time. Then I’ll sometimes waste time and play of set pieces and possibly do a few more things to try and keep possession depending on the TIs already in play. Still, I’ve found more success in changing attacking TIs than defensive in finishing out games - unless I’m seeing specific issues.

None of that helps with corners though….

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13 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Just caught up (though sounds like you and me both took the festive period “off”). Fantastic season, and fantastic youth intake. That you have several players ready to challenge for game time next season is really something.
On late goals - I’ve been moving away from trying to “see out” games, especially as a pressing/possession side, at least until right around stoppage time. Then I’ll sometimes waste time and play of set pieces and possibly do a few more things to try and keep possession depending on the TIs already in play. Still, I’ve found more success in changing attacking TIs than defensive in finishing out games - unless I’m seeing specific issues.

None of that helps with corners though….

Certainly did enjoy the festive time off! Will hopefully be back in business by the weekend. I have played a large part of the window up until the the start of pre season and it’s very much a success thus far. 
 

as for seeing out leads I think I may be pressing to much late in the game potentially the last ten minutes in the lead up to the injury time were the opposition throws the kitchen sink at me. But I certainly need to analyse more. Much like your suggestions I’ve went for a similar style of thinking. in this save my best form of defence was dominating the ball “if we have it they can’t score” but tired players lead to miss placed passes and bad first touches so it maybe an area I can just Lump it and regroup. Time will tell I suppose. 

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23 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

I think I may be pressing to much late in the game potentially the last ten minutes in the lead up to the injury time were the opposition throws the kitchen sink at me.

I did this to great success with my fast paced, counter focused 4-3-3 I played with Southampton in FM19/20(shh, don’t tell anyone, they’re Portsmouth’s rivals you know), but that was also because I focused on stamina, determination and pace and it wasn’t a possession tactic. I could twist the screw when ahead because my players could run all day, and I tried to keep it in reserve. A possession based tactic requires pressing throughout, so players are more tired and make more mistakes…

 

29 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

but tired players lead to miss placed passes and bad first touches

I’d agree with this, but feel like bad pressing can be just as dangerous and even more prone to exhaustion fueled mistakes. That’s a bit why I’ve been sometimes dropping mentality along with time wasting - I want less risk with the ball and with the balanced mentality they’ll usually pass to an open player or lump it forward and that’s okay late on sometimes. Then I do sometimes up the pressing to compensate for the less urgent pressing…

Just a few thoughts that I’ve been wrestling with myself.

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I've conceded three stoppage time euqalizers in the past month on my save despite going defensive and maxing out time wasting etc. The funny thing is a couple of them were still through balls even with the DL on normal. So I wonder if I should actually switch that to deep although it's something I haven't done in years literally. 

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4 hours ago, 13th Man said:

I did this to great success with my fast paced, counter focused 4-3-3 I played with Southampton in FM19/20(shh, don’t tell anyone, they’re Portsmouth’s rivals you know), but that was also because I focused on stamina, determination and pace and it wasn’t a possession tactic. I could twist the screw when ahead because my players could run all day, and I tried to keep it in reserve. A possession based tactic requires pressing throughout, so players are more tired and make more mistakes…

 

I’d agree with this, but feel like bad pressing can be just as dangerous and even more prone to exhaustion fueled mistakes. That’s a bit why I’ve been sometimes dropping mentality along with time wasting - I want less risk with the ball and with the balanced mentality they’ll usually pass to an open player or lump it forward and that’s okay late on sometimes. Then I do sometimes up the pressing to compensate for the less urgent pressing…

Just a few thoughts that I’ve been wrestling with myself.

 

3 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

I've conceded three stoppage time euqalizers in the past month on my save despite going defensive and maxing out time wasting etc. The funny thing is a couple of them were still through balls even with the DL on normal. So I wonder if I should actually switch that to deep although it's something I haven't done in years literally. 

Definitely things to be played around with here. Which is always good when a few of us are working on the same problem to bounce ideas off. 

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Transfer Business

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The budget given certainly wasn't a warchest and considering the improvements needed if we are to continue our pursuit of the top three also with a potential European campaign the squad will need bolstered. Simply put players would need to be sold, and with wingback being a real area of concern Jans would be top of the list to help secure funding. A bonus is 6 players are ready to make the step up and challenge for first team football full time.

A nice crop of youngsters to join the squad, three players from the first intake shows just how good a intake it is. All the players will still be made available to the younger squad if they are found on the outside of the squad, but I suspect they will all have a part to play especially in the early season with Euro qualifying and a league campaign kicking off at the same time.

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Sizeable list on the early departures two of the biggest being Vito Van Crooj and Laurent jans who bagged 3m which is some going for players well off the pace last season. Engels at 500k shows how much he sunk with him being valued around 2m when i first arrived. Abdou Harroui was on loan at Sassuolo and had a mandatory future of 3m. This was all inplace before I took over so I can't take any credit for the deal. Seedorf lasted a season as upgrades were found at his slot, he now joins Uncle Clarence in the second tier.

Incomings

Matthias Bader - DNA scores of 125 he's an attacking wing back who arrived on a free, he also adds to Howedes German contingency. Explosive pace and great team player needs to work on his decisions and crossing but at 25 he is a good age and certainly a huge upgrade on Seedorf and Jans.

Martin Frese - DNA scores of 125 against another attacking WB this time costing 400k from denmark. A bargain at that price as he is very well rounded and with only his decisions and vision being below 12. A player am looking forward to working with. I think with his exceptional technical skills he could be a success in the inverted role as well.

Rami Kaib - DNA scores of 125 which seems to be the magic number right now. A player who failed to make a real impact at Heerenveen he looks to Sparta for a chance to show and at 500k the former under21 international can certainly prove a worthy asset.

Palko Dardai - DNA scores of 123 he's the son of Hertha legend Pai but has not really lived up to his early promise, now he becomes the second left footed wide man. 700k was quite the outlay but at 23 and his clever creative style hopefully he can provide more needed assists from wide. If I can work his composure up he will certainly be a great addition.

Rio Hillen - DNA scores of 117 a free agent from AJax Howedes moved quickly in the January to secure the young man, he now challenges Brunic and Verbeek for a slot in the base of the midfield. The dutch under 19 is a great passer of the ball and versatile enough to slot into the back line. A typical Ajax youngster who has just fallen short of their high standards now comes to Rotterdam to show them what they missed out on.

Thijme Verheijen - DNA scored 117 his stamina and anticipation fail to meet standards set but with an off the ball of 14 am willing to let them slide and work on him especially at the age of 19. A natural finisher with a ruthless streak in him he will be able to press from the LW slot and now poses a serious challenge to Emengha. A free transfer from VVV Venlo it will be interesting to see if he makes the step up.

Davy Van Den Berg - DNA score of 129 makes him the biggest in that regard and with a price tag of 175k a real bargain. A 22 year old with a point to prove with a sweet left foot am sure he will push Mijnans all the way in the LCM spot. Billed as a DLP but with that level of stamina am going to convert him to a mezzala and use his dynmancy and his creativity to make him a real force.

MIcky Van De Ven - DNA score of 121 the left sided centre back joins on loan from Wolfsberg with an optional fee of 3m. The young man is another from Volendam who has been tipped for the top, heading to Germany for only 5 apperances in the bundesliga has prompt him to come back to his homeland for game time. A huge upgrade on Bakker now a techncial player but who can also defend.

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Last but not least, the most exciting bit of business in the summer window. A young RB from FC Volendam who cost a hefty price but will serve as a very solid right back and at the age of 15 add to our ever growing ranks of sublime youth. Half Canadian half Austrian he comes through at Volendam who are currently lead by Wim Jonk and there youth development headed up by Ruben Jonkind two very key players in implementing project cruyff at Ajax.

Mario Hasenhutl - Score of 113 at the age of 15 is something on its own before you add the other parts of his game to the DNA. A superb athlete and already a very combative defender if he can bring his technical levels up the sky's the limit for the young man. Poor crossing has led me to the possibility of training him into an inverted wing back full time but I'll see how things pan out in the new tactical plans.

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Percy van Lierop has joined Benedikt Höwedes as his number two, Howedes has been a great admirer of the man for some time. The dutch man played a pivotal part at RB Salzburg were he served as HOYD from the red bull takeover and left as the under 18 manager to return to his native Holland to join AJax youth ranks before heading to Switzerland for two years. Originally Lierop had been pitched for the HOYD and Pantz would move into the number two but after a successful first year for the young german. The older Dutchman who is famed as a pressing coach will sit beside and advise Howedes.

Tactical Devlopements

Shifting Gears

My thinking here is i now have three gears to work within. I have an aggressive attack setting which has its set in stone team instructions. This is when I want higher tempo and more risk gameplan. For instance unsettling a stubborn parked bus the ball needs to be moved quicker in order to catch them out of shape. The positive Press setting is probably neutral for most games that will start on this unless scouting shows glaring weaknesses or strengths which mean the aggressive attack is more suited. The holding on well does what it says on the tin ive designed this purely for holding on in those last 5-10 minutes in close games. It's designed to hold onto the ball as best possible and run the clock down.

This is my first foray into saving settings rather than full systems and I like the idea better than match plans but it's also opened the door to making possible settings for specific overloads or which I am going to delve into as the season unfolds but it's definitely something to evolve.

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A new system that was tested in Pre-Season. The idea is to shape into a 2-3-5 in possession. The center backs form a secure central base with the Inverted wing backs tucking inside in possession they will be positioned well for securing loose passes from the opponents back line that's being pressed by the front 5. The IWB's also provide great recycling options for Regista helping overload his area and leading him to become the freeman. The wingers hold width and stretch the game while both Mezzala underlap and break the lines in behind as third men runners.

The system provides a nice opposite on the flanks where the wing backs overlap and wingers tuck in, this will help keep our opponents guessing. A third shape will come in time mainly because I'm still deciding if it's time to revert back into my back three ways.

Pre-Season

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The system stands up to the early task of pre-season and takes a couple of big Eastern European scalps. A nice little dutch tour filled with three reasonably sized teams provided adequate game time for all the players and enough time for the system to mold with them. Interestingly the highest scorers in pre season were players from the Mezzala slot, their third man runs were brilliant and they had often been found from the IWB whos crips balls in behind were ideal.

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The pass map from the MVV game shows a perfect 2-3-5 shape and the Regista being at the heart of everything. It also shows how the IWB links really well at the base of the half space triangles. The Mezzalas now provide closer support to the CF and give a real threat in behind. All this has to be taken in the context of the opponent but the early signs are very promising.

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Edited by SixPointer
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Frese looks an an absolute steal at that price, if you can put him on individual training to improve his stamina I can see him dominating the flank.

I am also a big fan of your tactic, the use of two IWB's to provide simple outlets for the Regista is very smart and will no doubt improve possession. 

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34 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Frese looks an an absolute steal at that price, if you can put him on individual training to improve his stamina I can see him dominating the flank.

I am also a big fan of your tactic, the use of two IWB's to provide simple outlets for the Regista is very smart and will no doubt improve possession. 

Frese could really be the business of the window. I was actually tracking Daniel Svensson at the same club and Frese was was listed after comparing the two I decided the cut price Dane was definitely the better option.
The Regista has always be a tricky role for me to get the best out off. By I often think it’s cause I tried to give him so much space to operate in that I left him no real cover or simple options. It gives an opposite flavour to the other system we’re the half back drops in to make a 3 and wing backs go wide. The third system am still unsure what I want to achieve. I need to look for more positional flaws.

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13 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Wow I love the look of the Canadian newgen! A real gem on your hands there. 

Your new tactic has a very Pep feel about it. 

Aye he looks a real star! Paid a fair price for him but right guidance he will either be a huge star for years or bring some big money in. 
Well pep is the king of positional football so I would be very silly to not poach ideas. I don’t think he uses a regista these days he prefers is creation from a little further forward. 

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8 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Aye he looks a real star! Paid a fair price for him but right guidance he will either be a huge star for years or bring some big money in. 
Well pep is the king of positional football so I would be very silly to not poach ideas. I don’t think he uses a regista these days he prefers is creation from a little further forward. 

True, i didn't notice that. Was talking more about the combinations on the wings and the double mez. That along with a regista is quite aggressive! 

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5 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

True, i didn't notice that. Was talking more about the combinations on the wings and the double mez. That along with a regista is quite aggressive! 

I thought about DLP so he holds position but I like the idea of him pushing ahead as the mezzala’s look to break the lines and get in behind the defence. It’s still a working progress and we will see how it fairs in the early season 

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August 2022

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New season same problems for Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie win, draw and loss. This time it's sandwiched between a very impressive start to a European Conference League campaign. Destruction of Slavia Prague in the Czech capital is a huge highlight and while a loss to Ajax is a blow the manner of it certainly was a positive as we more than matched them and at least deserved a point.

Sparta Rotterdam 5-0 Slavia Prague

Overview

Pass Map

Heat Map

Key Passes

A real 5 star complete performance all over the pitch with some fantastic team goals, goals from each mezzala, goals from each side of the wing shows the midfield is capable of supporting the forward. The forward bagged himself a goal as well but showed that he is also willing to play the creative part as he set up two goals.

From the pass and heat maps along with our average position on the ball it's clear that our deep build up play was a huge factor in the result. The 2-3-5 shape in possessions has really helped with options on the ball and it's clear the Regista has been given the right amount of space to become the conductor of the team. Hasenhutl has enjoyed a great start and has taken to the inverted wing back role nicely, in the key pass screen he has hit a lovely ball into a threatening area. Frese on the other side has taken a little longer to adjust and may be more suited to flying down the flank.

The 7 key passes located in front of the golden zone is a huge plus point, as I look to create third man running. Crucial players are laying the ball off or sliding players in behind. 4 cutbacks from inside the box is another pleasing stat its something i really struggled to create last season but it appears wingers make for better cut backs than inverts as they tend to hit the byline better which is understandable i do however hope they still attack the space in behind and the fact that each wide man scored it would appear they wont be to blunted.

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The 5th goal and Thijme Verheijen first for the club sums up the performance perfectly. Starting from the goalkeeper the ball is worked through the center backs onto the right before the winger plays into the CF who lays to Mezzala who plays wide into the left winger. The ball comes back inside to the Regista and works to the other Mezzala who turns and plays the ball wide, the right winger hits the byline and crosses to find the LW at the back post.

A superb flowing move which shows our willingness to be patient but also willing to switch the play and be more direct when the time is right.

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Europa Conference League

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A superb flowing move which shows our willingness to be patient but also willing to switch the play and be more direct when the time is right. Just shy of 3 million euros for qualifying to group stages is more than useful. The squad is now well rounded so it could well be put towards infrastructure instead but also it gives room to cherry pick some more promising youth players to further supplement the squad.

The group draw isn't the worst but it certainly will see the air miles rack up with trips to the Ukraine, Bosnia and the Italian capital. The group has a huge banana skin feel to it with lazio being heavy favorites.

Edited by SixPointer
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Great summer business.  Like those signings, and even if that youngster was costly, with his physicals and mentality, he could really turn into a top player.  It's great how many good WBs you found, as I've always struggled to find good players for those positions.

Harsh times against Ajax, but the Prague win is definitely nice and got you in a group that should see you get through to the knockout rounds.  Verdi's only nemesis Lazio will probably be tough (don't know how good they are in FM22, but they were annoyingly excellent in my Livorno save).

And I like the tactical flexibility you're putting in.  Keep it balanced unless you notice something and then you can pick an area to exploit etc.  Interesting idea on the saving of switches.  Probably would save me some time to do the same!

Edited by 13th Man
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6 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Nice one, you should be able to get through that group along with Lazio one would think. 

Will depend on the league fixtures as I may have to juggle the first 11. I do feel this year I have better depth especially if a few of the young guns can step it up.

 

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5 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Great summer business.  Like those signings, and even if that youngster was costly, with his physicals and mentality, he could really turn into a top player.  It's great how many good WBs you found, as I've always struggled to find good players for those positions.

Harsh times against Ajax, but the Prague win is definitely nice and got you in a group that should see you get through to the knockout rounds.  Verdi's only nemesis Lazio will probably be tough (don't know how good they are in FM22, but they were annoyingly excellent in my Livorno save).

And I like the tactical flexibility you're putting in.  Keep it balanced unless you notice something and then you can pick an area to exploit etc.  Interesting idea on the saving of switches.  Probably would save me some time to do the same!

The idea of saving the switches so far has its up and down side. Its in a way made me lazy to look for other factors and just flicking up a notch can become more of looking for a quick fix. I’ve found it useful though. But I’ve also kept to setting certain plans each game Also. 

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