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[FM22] - "Guardiola we've got" (The Only Way is Pep - A Tactical and Possession based Save)


BJT
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The Only Way is Pep / A Tactical and Possession based Save

I have recently had the urge to try and produce some Pep based tactics. I’ve always enjoyed watching games playing a very high possession based approach, and with the FM ME a little more receptive to playing in this way I’ve decided to play a career / tactical save where I have to achieve goals playing in the way Pep would. I think it may be an unpredictable and a fun challenge trying to win playing in this high possession style. 

So it is based on Benjy’s Glory Hunter Challenge but with a twist. The general aim is to win all domestic club leagues / cups in the top 5 leagues + starting in holland, and the major European trophies available - based on the successes of Pep / Cruyff and using their tactical philosophy. I’ve included Cruyff to add an extra dimension to the challenge, where utilizing the 343 diamond forms part of this. (shape below)

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To try break down the constraints and objectives, they are listed as follows:

-Win all Domestic Leagues and Cups

-Win the ECL x3 (total # won by Pep / Cruyff)

-Win the Fifa World Club Cup

-Win the European Super Cup

 

Additionally here are the tactical constraints:

-MUST Win Domestic Leagues with Highest Possession in League to complete title win and also over at least 58% average FM percentage (approx 60-61% RL equivalent – being the lowest av % ever recorded under a side managed by Pep), AND also have completed the most passes in the league after all league games completed.

-x2 domestic title successes MUST have used the 343 Cruyff diamond for all league games played those seasons.

-Cup triumphs MUST have at least 51% possession or more.

-30 season managerial career (should give enough time to boost a starting automatic reputation at Ajax before moving on, and potentially having enough time for a personal career at another club once all objectives completed).

 

Leagues required for completion:

England

Germany

Spain

Holland (start –Ajax / Auto Rep start)

Italy

France

 

I may also be tempted to travel over to South America or elsewhere at some point at the backend of the career before it is time to retire from football.

==

Career / Possession Records

(*)Denotes Target Failed (possession / passing) || (**) 343 Cruyff Diamond Used

Competition

Club (Season)

League Pos

Trophies

Possession %

Pos. Rank

Passes Completed

Pass Compl. Rank

Eredivisie (34 games)

Ajax – S1

1st

League Winners, Dutch Cup, Johan Cruiyff Schaal

70

1st

31654

1st

Eredivisie (34 games)

Ajax – S2

1st

League Winners, Dutch Cup, Johan Cruiyff Schaal

66

1st

30931

1st

Eredivisie (34 games)

Ajax – S3

1st

League Winners (**), Dutch Cup (**), Johan Cruiyff Schaal (**)

63

1st

27981

1st

Eredivisie (34 games)

Ajax – S4

1st

 League Winners (*), Dutch Cup, Johan Cruiyff Schaal, ECL

62

1st

27416

2nd

Serie A (38 games)

Inter - S5 (joined mid season in 7th)

5th

 Italian Cup, Euro Cup

NA

NA

NA

NA

Serie A (38 games) 

Inter - S6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Honours

Holland

League Titles: 4

Domestic Cups (Major): 4

Domestic Cups (Minor): 4

Italy

 

European

ECL: 1

 

Edited by BJT
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Season 1 – Ajax

Board Expecations

Eredivisie: Win

Cup: Win

Super Cup: Not Important

ECL: Be Competitive

 

Transfers / Squad

Playing the Pep way means not just a high quality XI, but also top players on the bench that can come in to do the job. So I invested in both defensive and offensive areas on the pitch. After all my wheelings and dealings I was pretty happy with the squad depth given the funds I had available.

That said, any injuries to the central midfield area and we don't have the strongest depth to cover here, despite the signing of Ceballos. 

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Tactical Style Used

I decided to go with the Ultra High Pep Barca possession style. A bit risky given it is highly player quality reliant, but I want to see how high a possession percentage I can get using this tactical style whilst hopefully achieving success with it.

Season 1 Review

Possession Objectives: Achieved

Pass Completion: Achieved

League (1st - Winners)

It proved to be a really tough and tense end to the season. We were actually 11 points clear around the half way mark and performing brilliantly. However Real Madrid called back Rodrygo from his loan start of January – and I wasn’t able to bring in a natural LW quality replacement in for him. Minamino was the player I brought in, but he wasn't the perfect fit and so I tended to start him on the bench.

As a result, with teams now parking the bus during the second half of the season and lacking that quality in the final third on the left flank, we were struggling to break teams down and were getting hit on the counter attack – to the point the title went to the last day of the season.

We lost our final match of the season away to Vitessse – but challengers Feynoord lost at home to Twente! So we unconvincingly took home the title, but we did it achieving a staggering 70% average possession overall. Feynooord actually did the double over us - their pressing was extremely intense both games and we could never get settled on the ball.

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Dutch Cup (Winners)

We took this one home facing off against Vitesse. We controlled the ball from the very first to the last minute, the game was decided by a Dusan Tadic penalty.

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ECL (1st Round KOs)

We initially got ourselves out what I would call a group of death. With Man City, Milan and BVB this proved to be a really tough group. We managed to pinch second spot, with a 3-2 away victory at the San Siro the pivotal result.

However we drew Man Utd in the first knockout rounds and went out 1-2 on agg.

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A bit fortunate to have won the league title in the end but nevertheless it was nice to have scooped up all domestic trophies, as we also won the pre-season Super Cup against PSV on a game that was decided on penalties. We easily notched up the most possession and most completed passes in the league.

Currently my reputation is now okay. But before I can move to the big clubs which undoubtedly I'll have to do playing the Pep way, I'll need at least two more years at Ajax before I may have a chance to land a top job in another league.

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Season 2 – Ajax

Board Expectations

Eredivisie: Win

Cup: Win

Super Cup: Not Important

ECL: Be Competitive

 

Transfers / Squad

A pretty decent window. A replacement for Rodrygo with Minamino joining permanently as a good squad player. We also added depth to the DM, Keeper and CB positions. Zagadou was I thought a steal at 2.6mil GBP. This time around we shouldn’t have any unexpected problems like last year, so I was confident we could repeat our success of last year and hopefully progress a little further in the ECL with a bit of luck

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Tactical Style Used

This time around I was playing a Pep City style but the same 433 shape used last year. Still high possession, but a greater willingness to hit teams on the counter if the opportunity presents itself.

Season 2 Review

Possession Objectives: Achieved

Pass Completion: Achieved

League (1st - Winners)

Good consistent performances led to a comfortable title win in the end. We looked a bit shaky away from home at times on the defensive front, but after tweaking a few things when seeing out games, we were no longer throwing away leads late on.

Again we dominated possession with 66% at the end of the campaign along with the most passes completed. A successful retention of the Eridivisie.

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Dutch Cup (Winners)

We took a convincing 2-0 win over rivals PSV in this one. Controlling the ball with 65% possession, we also looked the most threatening throughout the game and deservedly retained the Dutch Cup.

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ECL (Quarter Finals)

We got further than last year, and with just the objective to be competitive it was a good ECL performance. We had another very tricky group comprising of Liverpool, Monaco and Athletico Madrid, but we comfortably took second spot with the only two defeats coming of course, again the antidote for Tiki Taka Klopp’s Liverpool.

In the KOs we beat Barcelona in the first round, but Chelsea were a step too far in the quarters. They were a team we simply couldn’t outplay as they had better quality players, and as a result comfortably went through 1-0 on agg. I say comfortable, because we never really threatened them much over the two games. We just had moments that we weren’t clinical enough to capitalize on.

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A better squad, and a better season this year. We again won the Pre Season cup against Feynoord so all domestic trophies were retained. The change in tactical style this year seemed to work better against them, running comfortable winners in this one winning 2-0.

My reputation has gone up from Okay to Good. I think I will give it one more season at Ajax before actively looking to jump ship. I also think I will try to use the 343 Cruyff diamond next year as that forms part of this challenge.

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Season 3 – Ajax

Board Expectations

Eredivisie: Win

Cup: Win

Super Cup: Not Important

ECL: 1st Round KOs

 

Transfers / Squad

With the plan to try win a domestic league using the 343 Cruyff diamond to secure 1 of the 2 title requirements with this set shape, I had to reshape the squad a little bit. Grimaldo was the noticeable player we let go of. Being a left back there was no longer a need for him given the system has no wing-backs. A lot of big clubs wanted him but he eventually went to Barca.

Elsewhere, with Tadic now ageing fast hitting the 35 mark, I definitely needed to invest in a striker. In came Sesko for 14mil GBP from Salzburg. Marked as a wonder kid, though I intend for him to play ahead of Haller in the first XI, so the pressure will be immediately on him to perform.

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Tactical Style Used

I ventured this year to playing the Cruyff 343 diamond shape (post 1) at a slightly higher tempo compared to the Barca / City styles previously used. Daring yes, but I feel we just about have enough quality to pull it off…. Domestically at least.

Season 3 Review

Possession Objectives: Achieved

Pass Completion: Achieved

League (1st - Winners)

This season had the potential to be as nerve wracking as the first year. We didn’t have the best of starts, with our away form and defense especially fragile in this system. Although we were outplaying teams, by not being clinical and the opponents having clear cut chances that it was led to our struggle.

AZ were the team who were pulling away from the pack, and at one point we were 10 points behind! However a huge momentum swing was when we beat them 6-0 at our own place – and we then started to cut that gap till we eventually surpassed them.

We never let go of top spot which we reached after game week 20. They ended up falling away by season’s end, with us winning the league by a clear 11 points and our third league title running.

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Dutch Cup (Winners)

We again retained the Dutch Cup playing football the right way. We had to face AZ at their place at the point they were storming the league, but after comprehensively dismantling them 4-1 it was a fairly simple route to the final, with PSV the only real tough game which we won in the Semi’s.

The final itself was a case of one team parking the bus and the other trying to break them down. But we eventually got our rewards fives minutes into injury time from a corner set piece goal.

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ECL (Quarter Finals)

We had a less complicated group this time with Athletico Madrid, Benfica and Ludogorets – but we sure made hard work of it. Just about qualifying in second place, our reward was a tie against BVB without Haaland. We won this first leg 3-1 and then took a 2-2 draw away from home which was a good result.

However we then drew PSG – with Haaland =) So needless to say, he absolutely caused havoc against our formation, with us getting battered 9-3 on agg! Oh well, at least we exceeded the board’s expectations again. They are also happy at the club’s reputation growing strongly.

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So it looks like we have again conquered things domestically, and we again won the pre-season cup against Feynoord 3-1. I’m not sure whether we can progress any further in the ECL doing things the Pep way with Ajax. If I can’t find a job this Summer I may have one further year here to see if we can progress to the Semi’s.

I guess I'm happy with the results despite using this fragile system, and we didn't regress compared to our second year progression. But I think I'd need to secure the PSG job if I'm to use this formation again! -  although it doesn't appear my reputation has improved from this year's successes, currently at fairly good.

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  • BJT changed the title to [FM22] - "Guardiola we've got" (The Only Way is Pep - A Tactical and Possession based Save)
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Season 4 – Ajax

Board Expectations

Eredivisie: Win

Cup: Win

Super Cup: Not Important

ECL: 1st Round KOs

Transfers / Squad

As this is definitely my final season at Ajax irrespective of whether I have to wait for a job, I decided to splash a bit more cash this year in an attempt to do a little better in Europe. I improved the DM slot with Nico coming in from Leicester for 64mil GBP. I also brought in some extra wide quality in Fabio Viera from Leverkusen and Oyarzabal from Real Sociedad. The rest that came in were purely for squad depth.

I did try to balance the books with 94mil GBP coming in, so it was probably a little under a 100mil GBP nett spend overall. Happy with the squad as it is my strongest being here. Tadic is on his very last legs but will still have sufficient quality for this league for this one year hopefully. I expect we should comfortably win the league, but the ECL will be a bit of a lottery as the club will never have quality to match Europe’s biggest clubs.

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Tactical Style Used

The last system I haven’t yet used with Ajax is what I’ve used here (235 inverted pyramid). It is the most aggressive tactic that will have a little less possession, as the shape and tempo was designed to break down teams that park the bus. I expect it will have less possession if there are any teams that are based for high possession tiki taka football. But it should still achieve a high amount of possession overall and very rarely have less possession than the opponents.

For this FM ME, it is the strongest Pep tactic I have made from a results perspective.

Season 4 Review

Possession Objectives: Achieved

Pass Completion: 2nd to PSV(League)

Although we made a lot of passes, this year PSV under Stam notched up a huge total of 29563, which was higher than the 343 diamond of last year. However our possession count was higher than theirs. In the cup final as well, we had a 50/50 possession split – but we completed more passes compared to the opposition, so I deemed this as satisfactory (just), especially as FM’s % possession is actually less than the IRL calculation.

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League (1st - Winners)

We had a few fantastic performances this year. There were times when the opposing teams got lucky in not conceding or only letting in the single goal which was where we dropped the points in 4 games this year. But otherwise we were very free scoring, breaking the record number of goals in the Dutch league that was at 120 goals (we ended up with 133 goals in the 34 games).

Three biggest wins this year was 11-0, 10-0 both at home, and an 0-8 away. There was some very good attacking and possession football at a good tempo this year. We also ended up breaking the highest points total in the league previously at 89 points. We ended on 93 points and it gave us our fourth league title triumph in a row.

Here are the goals from our 11-0 win at home to Vitesse, but still 3 goals from breaking the largest league victory ever record in the Eridivisie.

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Dutch Cup (Winners)

We made the final again to come up against the possession based PSV. Despite them having more passes recorded during the league season, we actually had more in this one game and also had more of the ball. We took this one home 2-1, and it was a much deserved win.

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ECL (Winners)

We had a pretty easy group with Man Utd, Brugge and Olympiakos. We beat Utd at home whom we lost to away, but the identical 2-0 scorelines and our better goal difference saw us come top. Not that it helped, as we faced a Real Madrid with Mbappe in the first round knockouts.

They dominated us in the Bernabau, and we were very fortunate to only be 2-1 down after the first leg. However we were clinical at our home place winning the return leg 4-1. We then faced PSG with Haaland in the Quarters. Losing the first leg 1-0 away in a tightly contested game, we completely controlled the return home second leg and thoroughly deserved to squeeze through 2-1 on agg.

Barca were the team in the Semi’s who now had Pogba in midfield. We were the superior side in both games, winning the tie 7-3 on agg to book a tie against our fellow group buddies Man Utd.

It promised to be a very tight game based on the group stages, and well it proved to be a hugely intense final. We had taken the lead and deservedly so from Van Der Beek scoring against his old club. 1-0 up at the break things were going okay, although they were controlling things and had more shots (nothing too dangerous). But the second half saw them come strong in the later part of the game – and our young RB Rensch failed to cope with the pressure, scoring an own goal to gift them an equalizer.

ET was very nervous and it could have gone either way – and I thought they nicked it in minute 115, to find their goal was disallowed. So the final went to a penalty shootout. Rearranging the taker slots and trying to motivate our takers, we hit 5 perfect penalties, with Ajer Man Utd’s CB having his poor spotkick saved from super Onana who guessed the right way. 

I think we deserved it overall, given the own goal was pure lack of composure and we had the better xG. 

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It was a brilliant final year, and a great way to end my tenure at Ajax. We also won the pre-season Cruiyff cup again beating AZ 1-0. Whether this tactic can achieve a league title elsewhere on both the highest possession and passing completed front will probably depend on if there are any teams that play very high possession football.

To end the S4 review off, here’s probably the best team goal I spotted from the season. 

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Season 5 - Appointed Inter Boss

After waiting for the right job to crop up, 28 game into the Serie A season Inzaghi lost his Inter post and I was able to swiftly take up the position. They have around 65mil GBP as the transfer budget and almost x3 times as much in the bank. However I don't like the squad they have at the moment, and aren't balanced to play any of my 4 Pep systems.

Also lacking in quality width, an ageing backline, poor / lack of wing-backs, and midfielders that aren't quite up to title standard, I can see why they have fallen off the top of the tree. In fact, all four FM seasons the Serie A has been won by other clubs. So I certainly have my work cut out, and I'll need to carefully try and improve areas of the squad going into next year.

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However for this year we are still in the Italian Cup and in the Euro Cup. Champions League qualification is looking grim at the moment though, and with the players available it might be a little too much to ask to achieve a top 4 finish.

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Season 5 Review

Possession Objectives: NA

Pass Completion: NA

League (5th)

I joined the club in 7th spot seven points behind a top four place. Our league form was excellent since I had been at the club, but Atalanta who were actually in fifth when I joined had identical results – and they were the team who finished clear in fourth remaining five points ahead of us in fifth. My record was 9 wins and 1 draw, so they did a fantastic job to stay ahead of us.

AC Milan held on to clinch another Scudetto, but their seven point lead was trimmed down to just the single point.

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Italian Cup (Winners)

I had come in after a 2-2 away draw at Zebre. And things didn’t start off great in our 2nd leg going 1 down. However the lads rallied together and we pulled off a great comeback to win this home tie 2-1. AC Milan won the other semi final.

In the final, we produced a really top draw performance winning the game comfortably 2-0. We controlled the game, had a much greater xG and put their goal under siege. A very surprising lackluster performance from Milan especially seeing as they won the league title this year.

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Euro Cup (Winners)

There were a few more rounds compared to the Italian cup we needed to get through. Starting in the 2nd round KOs, we beat Everton. The quarters we faced off against Leverkusen and comfortably went through this stage as well. The Semi’s saw us against Benfica, with the other tie Liverpool (somehow) against high flying Atalanta. Both us and Liverpool went through comfortably.

Looking at Liverpool’s line up in the final that had Mane, Salah, and Lewandoswki up top along with Van Dijk and Bastoni in central defence, I’m thinking this is a complete mis-match. We were also without our best defender Skinrar who was injured for this one. With an ECL spot to play for, it was going to need an almighty good performance with a bit of luck to win this one.

The game was very tight on the match stats. However we amazingly kept their trio quiet who must have had an off game. Comparatively we were extremely clinical. We went ahead from a swift counter that saw Vlahovic fire passed Alison giving us a HT lead. Immobile then doubled our lead scoring an absolute belter from outside the box at the very beginning of the second half, and it was case of just trying to contain them and hold on.

We ended up putting the game to bed just after the hour, Liverpool failing to defend a corner, with a near post header diverting the ball to the far post area to see Jota nod home from close range. We probably deserved this from our better xG.

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Although we couldn’t make up the game to fourth in a league with some great league form, we more than made up for it with the Euro Cup and Italian cup successes. Both finals we controlled things with possession, so it leaves me with the Serie A and Italian Super Cup to win to complete the trophy haul in Italy.

We also were given a 137mil GBP transfer budget going into the Summer. We need depth and quality in the first team to sustain a full title challenge. Hopefully we’ll have enough money to bring us to a level where we can compete for the Scudetto next year.

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43 minutes ago, rich ruzzian said:

Inter fell in the same whole they did years back before Conte, all these old guys. Hope you can really overhaul the squad, so it fits more in your tactical vision. 

Looks like that indeed yes. It's a little tricky at the moment.. Immobile is 36 years old now and is my second best offensive player (behind Vlahovic). But he did a really good job playing AM-A backend of last year in the 235. I'm hoping I can get one more good year out of him first XI as I'm going to have to blow the full budget in other areas and depth this Summer. I can't really sell anyone as I was short of squad players when coming in.

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