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AndySummers

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  1. I fancy an opener in Mexico's Liga MX. Or potentially Argentina/Brazil league structure, with an outside shot at Colombia if it feels competitive. I am usually tied to Ajax but enjoyed a save with Argentinos Juniors on FM18 as they had quite a nice youth link including the three MacAllister brothers. If I can find a similar scenario or potential, that might be the early winner. I have also long promised myself a first English LLM file with a local club, Blyth Spartans, but I can never quite seem to get over a lack of player graphics. Even with nigh on everything downloaded.
  2. Frequently. He won't dribble past a player as a winger would (I haven't looked at dribble stats and he's injured currently > possibly why it doesn't count?) but he will often dribble through the lines and prompt a forward pass. Or equally as often, he'll bring the ball forward and suddenly stop and play short as if he's walked into an invisible wall. But it's that forward momentum that makes a subtle difference, transitioning out of defence more urgently or prompting aggressive opponents to move out of position to close him down.
  3. The green circle is a method to represent what the game ascribes as a player's optimal role based on his attribute set. But that does not mean the player will perform any less capably in another role given to him; context is key. To give you a practical example: I have a player who is a full-circle deep lying playmaker, a half-circle halfback. He's not a natural halfback, lacks the defensive aspects and has no real aerial ability. But I use him as a halfback. Why? Because his ball retention is second-to-none, passing and vision dynamic, and his dribbling ability combined with a 'brings ball out of defence' PPM makes him liable to instigate moves more quickly than a more regular player and also helps to draw opposing midfielders out of position, setting up better counterattacking possibilities. The player is a distance better than the natural halfbacks I have in the squad. The green circle also doesn't take into account ability. For example, I also use a BBM. See below: So who is your BBM of choice? The youngster because the game tags him as a full-circle BBM, or the experienced part-circle player who has far better all-round attributes, the ability to finish etc.
  4. 'The WM' - 2021-22 This thread is mightily quiet, have users moved on? So, prefacing 2021-22 from the previous thread, I went into this season with dissatisfaction. The 'WM', whilst successful, had begun to lose its lustre in 2020-21; occasional insipid play, just a little 'dry' against increasingly defensive opponents. So I made changes: The formation on the left is what I was using, the one on the right what it became. The aim was to remove the symmetry of the base formation and increase variety. Putting more emphasis on runs from deep (CWB(a), BBM), less emphasis on the wing contribution (IF(s)) and bringing a creative force into the frontline (T). It was an intention to make the formation more dynamic, unpredictable, and hopefully a return to the free-flowing football of old. Early signs were positive; a strong pre-season followed by a 1-5 win at NAC Breda on the opening day and an 8-0 against NEC in the first match at the ArenA - easily my biggest Eredivisie win in three seasons. Immediately apparent was the sheer variety in goal contributions, players chipping in all over the pitch, and this would be a theme throughout. Also apparent, we were more open. The anchor-man does a good job of protecting space vacated by the aggressive wingback, but the changes did cause some instability in the early stages and we were conceding more frequently. Some gentle tweaks alleviated this as the season progressed. Eredivisie form in the first half of the season was good, albeit with a few draws ensuring in-form AZ - led by in-form Ajax loanee Lassina Traore - were able to keep us off top spot. We slowly began to reel them in from January, coinciding with the return of Frenkie De Jong. Unloved and unregistered at Barca, he rejoined for £25.5m. I had to break my wage structure at £92k, but as with Klaassen before him, I'll do that for an 'Ajax man'. And I had £325k spare in the wage budget. This time I moved De Jong away from central midfield and installed him ahead of Daley Blind at halfback, where his 'brings ball out of defence' trait and dribbling ability make a subtle, but significant, difference to how the 'WM' functions. We barely dropped a point after his arrival and a decisive week where we won 3-1 against PSV and 0-2 against AZ made a fourth consecutive Eredivisie a fait accompli. Although we again couldn't quite go unbeaten, losing limply 3-1 at Heerenveen in January after De Ligt saw red early. In the Champions League, we went deep to the quarter finals but again came up short, falling to eventual-winners Spurs in two very close encounters. However, the crowning glory of the season was the KNVB Beker final to wrap-up a domestic treble.. We actually went a goal down in the first minute here, before a trademark 60-yard mazy run and cross from Antonio Marin set up Armin Djerlek for the equaliser, De Ligt netting a second before the half. Then we ruthlessly exposed PSV having a man sent off to score four times in the next fifteen minutes, Dolberg adding the seventh. Djerlek scored four from his IF(s) role and the Serb proved a worthy successor to the ageing, injured Dusan Tadic. Overall, the changes made brought a freshness back to the pitch and, previously mentioned, everyone contributed. Allowing for a slight variation due to players featuring across two positions, as near as I can make it the main positional contributions were: T(a) - 28 goals, 8 assists W(a) - 27 goals, 15 assists IF(s) - 17 goals, 7 assists BBM - 16 goals, 9 assists MEZ(a) - 13 goals, 25 assists Minusing set pieces, the CWB(a) was the most prolific assister in the side. And one main change was the relationship in central midfield, where the BBM became a more potent source of goals than the MEZ, but the MEZ - with the players now on their strongest foot - really became a very potent creative outlet. Setting up for 2022-23 Heading into the summer, I was happy with all aspects of the squad and based my plans around keeping my 'five pillars' at all costs: Kristensen, De Ligt, De Jong, Gravenberch, Marin, and assessing any other player bids as they came. I did make a couple of early sales. Perr Schuurs went to Brighton for £21m and Sigurd Gronli to Southampton for £15.5m. Schuurs had been the John O'Shea of Ajax, featuring at HB, A, CB, IWB, and latterly CWB. Giving him 'hits early crosses' had made him a more effective wingback, but the fee was good value for a squad player. I replaced him with Alexis Saelemaekers for £14m+Sint. Long on my radar, his lack of defensive atts had always put me off. But now I'm using a CWB, his winger-like abilities made him a very intriguing prospect. Steven Bergwijn is my other main signing, hounded out of Atletico. Marin is horrifically injury-prone (as is Bergwijn seemingly) and although this gives me perhaps too much depth out wide, there should be enough games for all. And it covers either Marin or Djerlek being poached at a later date. Last of all, I re-signed my former star keeper Andre Onana for a paltry £5.75m. This was in the expectancy that current keeper Timo Horn would join Everton or Fulham for £25m, but the deals fell down on contract. Having two starting keepers on £50k-ish isn't really my style, so I will be open to Horn moving on. He has better atts that Onana, but the Cameroonian was terrific in my first season before Spurs poached him. And arguably trading up whilst making a £20m profit is hard to ignore. Very little incomings elsewhere, as I like to keep changes limited. I did future-proof the HB/A tandem though with two excellent 16-year olds. I've seen better teens overall, but these two really fit my mould:
  5. This has always been my take on shouts; a well-aimed comment here and there, rather than repeatedly. Purely speculation, but I have always assumed there is some control - let's call it a 'timer' for sake of description - that proportionately increases/lessens the effectiveness of a shout the less/more it is used. Whether that applies to each shout individually or all shouts, unknown. That follows on from the logic I use to approach team talks; the more a certain talk is used > the less effective it can become > variety and timing is key.
  6. If you navigate to your squad and click on your desired player, then click on their 'development' dropdown menu, the 'discuss trait to add' option is just under their player traits info. Or within the training menu, when on the individual training dropdown make sure that it is set to 'detailed' (yours is on 'list'), then select your player and you'll again see the 'discuss trait to add' option.
  7. 'The WM' - 2020-21 I'll aim to keep this update relatively brief, as I'm short on time. After coming within a penalty kick of a quadruple in 2019-20, season three proved altogether less accommodating. The campaign started in the vein the previous had ended, a defeat on penalties to PSV in the Schaal, and an early defeat in the league at last season's rivals Feyenoord. The squad was on edge; David Raya and Donny van de Beek unhappy after being tapped up and this really had an early impact. Raya didn't get back into the groove until November, whereas Van de Beek was often 'disenchanted' during matches, and was still fairly petulant even after his unhappiness had faded. The squad underwent an overhaul; Veltman, Xadas, Eiting and Kaastrup headed the summer departures, joined by Tonali and Neres in the winter window, totalling a profit of £79.5m as I put faith in youth, signing no experienced players bar Clasie on a free as a squad half-back. Although I was rarely out of top spot in the Eredivisie, a certain panache had been lost - winning a number of games in a George Grahamesque 1-0 fashion, generally lacking dynamism. This was exacerbated by some real underperformance; the previously-deadly Ekkelenkamp limited to 3 goals, and I'd be surprised if the MEZ(A) role managed 10 goals from all personnel, all season. It may have been any combo of reasons: opponents again adjusting, too much rotation (I struggled to find a 'best XI' this year), immature players, effects of unhappy players. Whatever the root cause(s), the football just didn't feel 'right'. I did win the Eredivisie, demolishing PSV 4-1 at the ArenA in the 31st game, putting an end to their title charge and eventually finishing 14pts clear: ironically, despite the general feeling of tepid football, I ended on more pts than in both previous seasons, finished only 5 goals off last season's treble-winning team, and conceded three less. But the stats hid the facts. The European campaign was a disappointment though. Drawn against Man City, Milan and Dynamo, qualification was a distinct possibility. Predictably lost against our CL-nemesis City in the opener, before fine wins away to Milan and Dynamo looked to have ensured a commanding position. But 1pt from the home fixtures and a heavy defeat at City sealed an exit on -GD. Dropping into the Europa, I then lost 0-2 against Spartak in Moscow in the depths of Russian winter, and couldn't claw back the deficit in a 3-2 home win. And continuing a running theme, I then went out of the KNVB Beker in the semi final at home to Feyenoord in a penalty shootout loss, our third straight major loss on penalties. So, moving into pre-season 2021-22 I knew I needed to change things up. Squad wise, I aimed to brook no indiscipline or underperformance, so when the summer window opened and I was inundated with offers and both Raya and Van de Beek demanded to leave again, they were both punted off to big-spending Monaco. Raya, £26m, Van de Beek £38.5m. That wasn't as high a fee as I'd hoped for Donny, but it did include a p/ex on a very talented youngster, Roger Saunier. Backup Academy keeper Daan Reiziger also made noises to leave, so he went too. Decent keeper but replaceable. And finishing the main sales, I also sold non-performing Dani Olmo for a healthy £20m. In: after considering a range of keepers, it came down to a straight choice between Thomas Strakosha and Timo Horn. I preferred the Albanian, but with my wage rule and De Ligt the highest earner on £68k, Strakosha's £100k+ wages would never fly. So in came the dependable Horn for £15m, with Cho as the second keeper. I also re-loaned out the underperforming Joveljic with a view to sell and picked up a fantastic bargain in Fiete Arp for £5.75m. Bayern had nabbed him for pennies from Hamburg, probably a relegation clause, but hadn't used him. He is a perfect fit for what I planned to do with the 'WM' this season, and foil for Dolberg. Van de Beek's replacement was harder to find; most of my targets had already moved out of my wage point. I looked at Sander Berge first of all, cycled through a range of other options, eventually took Wanyama on trial, before passing up all of them and returning to Berge for £17m. -- The final main deal, Celik, was an Overmars signing. He's now made four across this save, demonstrating an eye for talent: Proper is around the first team, the physical beast Cahyono now the de facto option to De Ligt, Celik is promising, Derksen unlikely to make it. ---- Overmars' eye for a talent has helped mitigate a poor return from the academy. Mirroring season one, season three's intake was atrocious - no player above two stars, zero chance of any graduating through to the first team. The only two players who are on track both came in season two's intake. Vos is on loan in the KKD for a season to refine his craft, whereas Schilder was a surprise hit at Heerenveen on loan last season, 7 goals in 21. This year he's with Strasbourg in Ligue 1. -- Moving on to tactics. One of the most important factors to bring back dynamism was to resolve the lack of an effective crossing game. I've thought for a while we were too symmetrical, and the double wingback-double-winger combo was, at times, too blunt - in light of the general problem on this game with deliveries coming in late too. I needed a deep threat and more combination play to free up space for a better quality of delivery. That meant one role: a CWB(a), positioned down the right due to Kristensen's quality. The left wingback then became an IWB(S) to help steady against the aggressiveness on the other side of the pitch. Directly in front of the CWB(a), the halfback role had to change to an anchorman; past experience told me this was more effective to stabilise the structure whilst using a raiding wingback, and the role does a superb job of dropping back to form the three-man defence when the wingback is merrily exploring space somewhere near the forward line. Completing this combo, the W(a) changes to an IF(s) to drag defenders out of position, freeing up space for - and combining with - the CWB(A) I switched the MEZ(A) to the right of the pitch, to put the player on his natural foot when drifting wide, given all my options here are right-footed. The RPM role has currently become a BBM, but that is under review. The last change was to drop the CF(s) and change to a trequartista. I thought about this one for a while, tested various options across the duration of pre-season, and the treq just gives a better level of presence in the box from crosses, whilst being a creative force. It has proven much more effective than CF(s) or DLP(s) and suits the technical game of both Arp and Dolberg. My thoughts may change across the season. So, quite a change-around overall. We now line up in this way: 9 wins and a draw across pre-season bodes well and the fluidity has returned to the play. We've started the season well, winning the Schaal and battering NAC Breda 1-5 on the opening day.
  8. In isolation: with his high tariffs for tackling, anticipation, decisions and his physicals - and workable positioning - he'd be a halfback for me. With the caveat that I would be concerned about the third of his PPM's. As a second option, box-to-box midfielder to utilise his first PPM, physical fitness and solid all-round game. I wouldn't entertain a '6' finisher as a mezzala personally, as that is a role where I want a good finisher to contribute heavily to the team's goalscoring prowess.
  9. One way to overcome your dilemma is to take a reference manager and implement his tactical style and preferred formation. Then you are working towards one common goal, with some nuances, and have no need to flip-flop between styles and formations. Find an historical team or manager that interests you, research how they went about playing football and try to implement it. And the more offbeat the better, as you will have less reference material to work with from these forums to guide you (i.e. not another 433...). Personally, I don't even look at the players I have at my disposal at the outset. I pick a way that I want to play and then work towards it, developing the players, traits and signings as appropriate. And I almost always try a different approach in each version of FM, or in different saves if I end up having multiple. Currently it is Herbert Chapman's 'WM' formation from the 1920-30s, next time around I might try Francisco Maturana's approach with the Colombians in the 90s - as examples. The more disciplined you are, the more rewarding the save I find. Set yourself rules appropriate to the task.
  10. In-game, usually very little - minor tweaks. The one semi-regular change I make pre-game is dropping the line of engagement and defensive line, and also removing 'prevent short GK distribution' if I am facing stronger opposition where I feel I may be outmatched. This is a double-edged sword though, as a lot of the success of the 'WM' (my version of) is, I feel, in the high pressing and limiting passing options. The drop back does stabilise the chance to be caught out by accurate long balls, but the negative is that it can make it easier for opponents to get in positions where an accurate through-cross from mid-wide positions takes out the defence. It's a careful balancing act. In terms of roles, I use a few variants situationally. The most regular changes are: RPM > CM(s) - where I feel a playmaker won't be beneficial (i.e. if I am more focused on countering as ^) WB(s) > WB(a) / CWB(s) - if I am struggling to create chances, sometimes I like to bring in a greater threat from deep. And linked to that: W(a) > IF(s) - one wideman focused narrower, freeing up space for an aggressive wingback ^. Mentality is nearly always 'balanced'. Occasionally I will ratchet it up to 'positive', and link that to overarching changes in roles , such as dropping both widemen down to a support duty. I never go into any game with anything less than a balanced mentality, and I've changed in-game to 'cautious' perhaps only twice in two seasons.
  11. He was transfer listed for that amount, found him purely by chance. Delighted to pick him up really, can't turn away an academy graduate with a lot of scope for development. Along with Overmars picking up Proper for peanuts, Hoever is probably my favourite deal to-date. It'd be great to see others trying the shape out, as there are many ways you can approach the roles. Assuming their atts aren't too variable, you may have some decent HB options already in the squad. Both Van Gelderen and Schuurs did a solid job for me in season 1, before I picked up my two Italian playmakers and moved them both back into defensive coverage. Van De Beek is the ideal partner for Blind to me, although I preferred using him further forward last season after De Jong departed.
  12. Yes, certainly. The 'WM' is the only formation I'll be using during this save. Defensive performance. Overall, it is good and very stable. 15 Eredivisie goals conceded in 2018-19 and 20 in 2019-20. I did have some troubles in the away Champions League games last season though, and also once or twice in the Eredivisie. I put that down to increased squad rotation and having inferior players on the pitch more often, in addition to some changes to the squad, as well as some unique situations in the Champions League where I was defending large leads in the knockouts. I could also do more with the balance of the squad and maximising defensive capability; such as bringing in a player with a more natural halfback skillset, such as Tousart. That would certainly help, but it's not what I'm aiming for right now. I've also been experimenting with different combinations more, which can create some instability, If I can keep the expected GPG around 0.5 this season, I'll be happy.
  13. I've just finished pre-season and started digging into season three, 2020-21. Keeping to my plans, the off-season was about squad trimming. Veltman was the main loss, allowed to leave after 'achieving all he could'. Passed up on signing a replacement to promote Van Gelderen from his jack-of-all-trades role into the dedicated backup to De Ligt. After three Eredivisie goals in two seasons, I wasn't seeing enough from assist-king Kaastrup and allowed him to depart for £9.5m and 40% future sale profit. With Ekkelenburg now firmly established as the MEZ(a), I also moved on Xadas and promoted the impressive Dirk Proper as his backup. Xadas had a reasonable debut season, but freeing up possibilities for Proper and Gravenberch made sense. I also kept to my philosophy to sell to Eredivisie wherever possible; Eiting, Magallan and Mazraoui moving across to rivals. £146m in the bank, £57m transfer budget, no major signings made. I had Tousart on completion, but pulled the plug at the last minute as I'd recently brought in Clasie on a freebie as extra cover at HB. This was a player asking for £50k in the final stage of his Southampton contract, but I picked him up for £5.25k per week after a trial. Excellent experienced squad player to have as an 'influence' replacement for Schone, who has a season left at best. Purchased a few youngsters to round out the B-team. Florescu is effectively Kaastrup's replacement, whilst Djerlek I see as a future Tadic replacement. Partizan are akin to Dinamo Zagreb, a superb source for players and they have 3-4 more players of interest in their squad. Florescu is a sure-fire future first-teamer and Djerlek more of a punt, but the former has moved out to feeder-club OH Leuven for a season whilst Djerlek proves his mettle. Solid academy coverage across the squad at present, nine full members having progressed through the system; Reiziger, De Ligt, Van Glederen, Blind, Van De Beek, De Waal, Gravenberch, Klaassen, Ekkelenkamp. I've mentioned Ekkelenkamp on a couple of occasions, as an unglamorous but effective player that I chose to work on early. I have another in that mould; Ki-Jana Hoever. Former Ajax academy graduate, picked up from Liverpool for £63k. Nothing exceptional, but very mouldable either as a WB or IWB. A good dual-sided 'option' player that I will be keeping close tabs on.
  14. So, it has taken a while, but I've now reached the end of season two, 2019-20. As it has been a while since my last post, a reminder to the guidelines I play within: Philosophies Use and develop the 'WM' formation. Promote or replace from the academy wherever feasible, but not exclusively. No signings from rival teams (top 10 Eredivisie) to keep competition healthy, unless player is due to be sold abroad. No overstocking of the three squads / sign few players. Tight control over wage budget, no marquee signings if they shatter the wage structure. Allowing star players to leave if I feel they have outgrown the club. 'WM' Squad Building I lost three starting players over the summer, which put an early spanner in my plans. Onana went to Spurs and first-season star-performer Ziyech to Inter, in addition to the loss of De Jong . David Raya came in as the new stickman, Jurgen Ekkelenburg (more of him later) stepped up as the starting mezzala, with Xadas signed as competition. In my last post I mentioned that I keep a lean shortlist in general, as I need specific players in the WM system. I wasn't able to sign any of my main targets; I couldn't afford or attract Kenny Tete or Kevin Mbabu, unable to sign Kristoffer Ajer due to huge wage demands and also turning down Xaver Schlager due to his wage demands. So I had to improvise, moving Van de Beek forward to replace De Jong, and bringing in Sandro Tonali to replace Van de Beek as a halfback. Tricky Dani Olmo rounded out the main signings. That did mean three of my central quad of midfielders had either been sold or moved position, so I anticipated early issues there. In January, I made a couple of other major signings. Club icon Davy Klaassen returned to fill a future leadership void with Huntelaar retiring, Schone ageing and Veltman making noises about needing a new challenge. With Heerenveen sitting 12th, I also picked up Arjen Van der Heide, one of my main Dutch youth targets. A little bit more change than I like, but necessary in the circumstances. I also let my DoF run free to pick up youngsters, and Overmars pulled off this coup for £95k... Eredivisie / Cups A 3-0 win over Heerenveen in the Johan Cruijff Schaal set up a strong start to the season, and I had a comfortable lead - but never large due to the form of Feyenoord and PSV - until I lost my unbeaten record in February at home to PSV, with a second loss against Willem II and a couple of poor draws against PEC Zwolle and Heracles Almelo. Suddenly, I was in third and as much as 8pts adrift at times due to the fixtures. I was also due to face Feyenoord at the De Kuip on the final day of the season. All three sides kept winning until Feyenoord drew in the penultimate fixture. This was the table going into the final game: A draw could seal the title, but with the caveat that a win for PSV by 3+ goals at home to Vitesse would see them win the title on goals scored if tied. It was the craziest final day in any FM I've played. PSV scored in the first minute, whilst I held Feyenoord to no shots on target in the opening 45mins. The second half was a very cagey affair, until PSV scored a second after 71mins. One more goal, the title is theirs. I pushed on and thought I'd sealed it with a Joveljic strike in the 80th minute - only for it to be VAR'd out (incorrectly!). With Feyenoord creating chances, I then had to throttle back and play for a draw, hoping PSV wouldn't score another. Then in the second minute of stoppage time, De Ligt makes a rash challenge, penalty. Kraev steps up and chips one of the worst pens I've seen straight into Raya's arms. . PSV couldn't find a winner and I won the title by one goal, with all three sides on 82pts. It was refreshing to have such a strong challenge from multiple sides, and it also gives credence to not targeting signings from rivals. A week after the title win, I completed the domestic treble against AZ in the KNVB Beker Final. Although that was fraught too; due to Champions League commitments the squad was lower than AZ on fitness and couldn't capitalise on Tadic giving an early lead. 1-1 at full-time and the side really suffered in extra time, eventually winning on pens. End-season stats: ------ Champions League If that wasn't enough drama, the Champions League campaign was practically a novel of ups and downs. I scraped my way out of a group featuring Atletico, Lyon and Hoffenheim with 7pts by virtue of having a better head to head record v Lyon. And then made it all the way to the final thanks to some mighty home performances and decidedly ropey away performances. 1st knockout -- I conceded two early goals in Munich to cause doubt, but a couple of tweaks shut down Bayern's fire and a late Klaassen goal ousted the Bundesliga Champions. Quarters -- With a healthy lead, I didn't take the return leg lightly against the side that knocked me out last season in two very high scoring games. An early Marin goal seemed set to ease passage to the semis, but Barca roared back and scored three before halftime. Dembele added a fourth and I had to hang on with a desperate defensive effort for the final half-hour. Semis -- This was a tie made trickier as the return leg fell directly after the extra time Cup final victory. With a 5-1 lead, I felt obliged to put out a very understrength side and nearly regretted it. Atletico were three-up by halftime, and again it took some major tweaks to stop their swagger, before Marin looked to have sealed it five minutes from time. Correa pulled another one back for Atletico, but they didn't have time to find a tying goal. They did go on to win La Liga though. Final Art imitating life, the final was against a Man City side that had defeated Liverpool in the semis This was one of the best tactical games to-date. I had to contend with the flying runs of Sane and Sterling, but caused problems of my own with City giving up the flanks to Marin and Tadic. It finished 2-2 after extra time, thanks to two Dolberg penalties. In a cruel twist of fate, Dolberg missed the first - and only - pen in the shootout and we were denied a quadruple. Making a Mezz Way back in my opening post, I noted a player in the academy that I rated above all others, despite his lack of glamour or seeming potential; Ekkelenkamp looked ideal for the mezzala role in the 'WM'. He had a low-key debut season backing up Ziyech, but exploded this year - helped also by the traits that I'd developed for him. 12 goals in 33 starts, nearly a goal every other game in the Eredivisie. First touch and finishing prowess helps make him deadly from the edge of the box, a real difference-maker. His atts have barely developed. 2019-20 intake and plans -- After last year's atrocious intake, this year I still only had four players recommended by the DoF. But at least I gained this serviceable young striker, Vos; not the complete forward I use, but a sharp poacher who can be moulded. Last year's best talent, Ljuma, is developing quietly in the U19s. Still, two poor intakes for a club with Ajax's facilities and staff is disappointing and puts more emphasis on scouting. ---- -- There are now a few youths making a name around the first team. Ekkelenkamp is a key starter, but Gravenberch, Van Gelderen, Reiziger and de Waal made 69 starts/sub apps last year. Reiziger was promoted to backup keeper at the start of the season, replacing the underwhelming El Maach. de Waal is a player I like, not flashy at all but a consistent spread of atts. Those four, with Ekkelenburg, Schuurs, Proper and Van Der Heide give a great Dutch core to the squad youth. I am happy with the 1st team squad as is, and intend to trim some fat. Any major purchases may only be linked to departures. Although after last year's sales - and De Ligt and Dolberg both wanting and getting new contracts - I am not expecting any key players to leave. 'WM' development I posted last time about wanting to develop the 'WM' further and bring in different tactical sets. I had started on a strikerless version, which was abandoned after pre-season. In practice though, I did change roles and duties quite a lot throughout the season. One role that I am constantly in flux about is the RPM; this has variously been a CM(s), BBM and back again to an RPM when I wanted more control. It is the one role I cannot fully nail down. One area of concern was how we performed in away games this year; very solid last season against the best the Eredivisie and Europe had to offer, bar the one aberration against Barcelona. But this year - not so much. It is problematic and I have a few ideas where I need to develop my approach further, or develop personnel groupings further. One for next time perhaps.
  15. The colours have remained the same; green, yellow, red. Do you have a custom skin or other graphics files, that may be what is affecting your view.
  16. No. Ajax begin with £49m in the accounts, so the sales of De Jong and Wober aren't reflected from the start, and it isn't added at the end of the first season either.
  17. Interesting to see the development of your 'WM' @Cleon - you are well ahead of me now, I am barely halfway through my second season. What was the reason for seven different mezzala's in consecutive seasons? Were you upgrading players as you go, having your players poached or using the 'no attribute' model to see if you could gain consistency/enhanced performance across a range of players in that role? The IWB vs CWB comparison shows exactly how just simply watching how roles perform can inform changes that can have a significant impact in the level of threat and performance a tactic offers. I decided early that I wanted tucked-in WB(s) rather than IWB(s) and I've also started to consider whether or not to upgrade to a CWB. The RPM is an interesting role for me; I have been firmly on the fence with it for half a season and a CM is one of the few options I hadn't yet tested. I can see a lot of logic in that. @mdougal - there are numerous ways you could approach your 'Hungarian' formation. We all play the game differently of course and there is no right or wrong way, but for me there is much more satisfaction in bringing something unorthodox to life and testing the boundaries - whether successfully or not - than another identikit 4231 etc. Good luck with it.
  18. Persevere with that. Inter unsettled Ziyech with repeated offers of £300k per month on loan, which I flatly rejected. They had sold Icardi for £99m and were flush with cash. After deciding to allow him to leave, I offered him out and Southampton came in with a £36m offer and that prompted Inter to stump up £37.5m.
  19. I sold Onana to Spurs for £22m after they unsettled him and went for David Raya as his replacement, after narrowing it down to Raya and Jonas Omlin. Raya's rushing out, agility and distribution was ideal for what I needed using the 'WM'.
  20. It seems like you've got your head screwed on with what you are hoping to achieve. Based on my personal preferences and possibly dependant on what overall mentality you intend to play on, I would contemplate: Changing the IWB(d) to a different role offering more width and also on a different mentality. With two players in deep midfield, I don't think the IWB brings anything to the party here. I'm also not overly keen on a (d) and (a) split on the wings, it doesn't hugely promote combinations (granted, counterattacking is your aim, but I'd want my fullback to be involved in this phase and also combining with the winger when you do have phases of ball possession). Having one of the fullbacks on an (a) duty. Personally, I like the stratification it brings. I'd then place the HB on the side that has the fullback on (a) duty. CF(a) to CF(s). With one-up top its always tempting to maximise his mentality to give him more threat over the top/in behind, but he's isolated there. I'd want a support duty to ensure the forward is working back, leaving less gapping to the midfield for opponents to exploit out of possession and is closer at hand to get involved in the transition phase of a counterattack. Particularly with two adventurous (a) duties behind him. Other roles are not necessarily what I'd choose, but those are my opening suggestions based on what you've got.
  21. Ajax: The ‘WM’, a nod to the elders. Part 2. Combo Play When it clicks, it can be glorious. Here you see a back to front move involving the ‘wingdeuter’. Image 1: Onana in a normal distribution phase, spreads it wide to Kristensen (off camera). Image 2: Kristensen is about to triangulate with the supporting RPM(s) and the W(s). Image 3: further into the move, the triangle has led to the first W(s) Kaastrup drifting inside into space. At this point I was cursing that he couldn’t see the pass to the other W(s) – perhaps his low decision-making counting against him. Instead he dumped it back to the advancing half back who, in turn, is about to swing it back into the path of Kristensen (image 4) who is again about to make the trademark diagonal run. In possession (image 5), Kristensen is now attacking the box. Well-marked, seemingly little danger? However, he takes the available pass into the W(s) Kaastrup, sidesteps the defender to the rleft, receives the one-two from Kaastrup and rifles it left-footed into the corner of the net. Ajax 2.0 I mentioned previously the talents in the Ajax academy that I split into tiers. So how did they fare across the season? Between them, they made 90 appearances all told. The ‘under the radar’ gem Ekkelenkamp was given the most game-time and he did reasonably, although currently lacks some aspects that I’d want (those PPMs I’ll talk about soon) Ekkelenkamp – 18 + 16 apps Gravenberch - 8 + 13 apps Van Gelderen – 6 + 4 apps Schuurs – 22 + 3 apps In tier 2, El Maach played backup to Onana but is developing slowly and looks like being usurped by other talents. J.Timber, Sint and Brobbey all made nominal appearances – but featured. As expected, tier 3 were mostly developmental. Musampa is developing acceptably, but Q.Timber, Kuhn, Taylor and Traore may all fall by the wayside. But the tiering did demonstrate not to write off players too early. Eros Maddy wasn’t even on my radar, but has developed quicker than Sint and could now easily be a tier 2 talent – needs work but has potential. That brings me on to the PPMs. I like to develop these sparingly, it is easy to overdo it. And I didn’t touch them for the first half of the season until I had a full idea of what I wanted. Then the training began in earnest. There were four areas in particular I wanted to focus on: Desired: likes to switch ball to other flank Option: dictates tempo, stays on feet Undesired: dives into tackles I mentioned earlier about slowly transforming the halfbacks into proto-playmakers. That’s something I really wanted to explore; a halfback that retains its defensive nous but can act in the transition game. Likes to switch ball to other flank is my key PPM here; we’ve already seen how space can be exploited crossfield, and this trait helps get the play from side to side before the opponent can shift position. Dictates tempo is an option, although I am cautious to see how it may pull the halfback out of a natural position and I have trained a lesser player in this as a test. I also want the halfbacks on their feet, winning possession through position and not coughing up chances through careless play. I loathe the dives into tackles PPM; it brings disorder where there should be order. Desired: tries long range passes Option: runs with ball through centre Undesired: slows play down, comes deep The RPM I want to bring a dynamic element to the offensive play. I don’t want him slowing play down, certainly not coming deep and sitting in the halfback space, and quite possibly not even dictating tempo. He should be a dynamic quarterback figure that can either exploit the space the two wingers move into or can break the lines and draw opponents. Desired: gets forward whenever possible, get further forward Option: tries first time shots Undesired: arrives late in box, shoots from distance The MEZ, an easy one. Either of the traits that will see him get further forward are desired – and this is where Ekkelenkamp lacks currently. Given the space he gets into, an option for a quick shot against an unset keeper is also appealing. But I don’t necessarily want him arriving late in the box and the combination game isn’t helped by players taking potshots from range (another trait I loathe). Desired: tries killer balls Option: n/a Undesired: comes deep The CF is another simple one for me. With two often aggressive wingers and the CF on support, there is a real opportunity to use this advanced player as a creative force. Tries killer balls fits the technical quality of a Dolberg. But I don’t want this player deep, inhibiting the space ahead of the central midfield. If I want the player to drop deep, I want to be able to control that by roles and duties. There are a number of other potential options for PPMs, but these are some of the key ones that I want to develop the academy players around. The work continues. Ajax 3.0 The academy is the pivotal feature of an Ajax save and I looked forward to intake day, but oh woe: That is one of the worst intakes I have ever had, and a surprising one. In fact, it was so bad: I think that's the first occasion in 20+ years where the DoF hasn't recommended signing everyone. There was one solid talent, although ironically even he wasn't Dutch (well, half-Dutch), and one other possible. Ljuma is a 'tier 2' talent in my eyes, but has a good PPM for a potential MEZ role. Schilder is tier 3 at best. All in all, hard to get excited by this year's crop and my scouts will be on double-duty locating a few more bodies for the U19s (I have a rule here, no signing top players or cherry-picking youth from the top Dutch clubs, to keep the league structure more competitive). Ajax 4.0 Ajax 4.0 is the future squad. That is, how can I improve it and where do I need to improve? I have built an extensive shortlist but the need for quite specialist players – the right players – limits targets. What I want to do first is to strip the squad back. Ajax have a large squad and some of the chaff needs to be removed for the young wheat to prosper, particularly those that don’t fit the system. I am aiming to move on: Magallan, Van Der Weil, Mazraoui, Sinkgraven, Bande and possibly Cerny and Huntelaar. Targets: WB(s) – Kenny Tete, Kevin Mbabu HB(d) - Kristoffer Ajer RPM(s) – Xaver Schlager (potential PPM issue) CF(s) – Artem Besedin, Hwang Hee-Chan There are a few others, but these most closely fit what I need from a ‘WM’-ready player. The hole left by De Jong will need to be filled and I have been toying between bringing in a quality replacement or going with a stopgap ageing Schone as Gravenberch develops. Ajax-old-boy Tete’s aggression fits the remit for a fullback as I really want to shift the negative personality of Van Der Weil. Recruitment is also going to be driven heavily by… Developing the ‘WM’ Next, I want to develop the structure further; that is, bring in some ‘WM’ option tactics to use in certain circumstances. I haven’t fully formulated this yet – for a future post maybe – but one example is a strikerless structure where the CF(s) is dropped back into the attacking midfield strata as a SS(a), the wingers operate on support only, and I look to overload the centre with the support network behind the SS(s). I have a few options that I am mulling over and the options really are endless. Pre-season testing will give me a better idea where I want to go with this. So that is where I'll leave it for now.
  22. Ajax: The ‘WM’, a nod to the elders. Part 1. So, after a couple of weeks I have finally reached the end of season 2018-19. This is not solely a season or club review, but rather an indication of how I have implemented Herbert Chapman’s ‘WM’ into the modern-day and touching on some of the quirks of the system – positive and negative - and a little bit of club development. It, therefore, is an extension of previous posts on @Cleon's 'create a tactic' series, and also a reflection of some of the collective ideas expressed there. As this will be a long post and I'll hit the image upload limits I'll break it down into a mini series. If it can give even one manager an idea for their own save, or is just an informative read, it will have done it's job. Eredivisie To start with the domestic campaign though, the aim was to develop a potent balanced tactic. I touched on how I saw my set-up working in the previous post(s). Moving away from two IWB(s) and instead using two tucked-in WB(s) for additional penetration in the final third. The lone defender augmented by two halfbacks who, in time, I aimed to develop into proto-playmakers. IF(s) were soon replaced by W(a) to add an explosive element in behind adventurous opponents, although in practice these roles toggled between (s) and (a) duty across the campaign. The MEZ(a) was viewed as a major source of goals here, supporting the lone frontman. Although the midfield quad and some of the Tis shown (in base set-up) would lead you to suspect that possession was a key focus of the tactic, that is not the case. Yes, I wanted to move the ball carefully and 'working the ball into the box' to ensure we weren’t counterattacked easily, but again in practice the approach was flexible – I quite often toggled this to a 'pass into space' mentality. Situation, situation, situation. At the basic level, the ‘WM’ performed admirably. A league win is not surprising of course, but a headline stat is the goals conceded column. Until late I had hoped to keep this in the single digits. The single-back set-up proved very stable throughout the campaign. In fact, we conceded more than one goal in only two Eredivisie games all season – one of which was a late collapse when down to 10-men. Drilling down into the stats, you begin to see some of the reasons for the solidity. Fouls made: The success of the 'WM' is in the control of space in a controlled manner and not overcommitting or allowing easy space by launching into tackles. This controlled aggression led to: Only one penalty conceded all season, and that was a shove in the box. A key focus is ensuring areas are covered, time on the ball is limited and that wherever possible the decision-making capabilities of the defensive players are not called into question. Contrast that stat with the threat the intricate play caused opponents. I was also hoping to be able to get some stats for offsides too; the ‘WM’ often gives a team shape similar to what you see here, where the centreback is acting as a sweeper behind a bank of four, offering both a natural sweeper system and a very effective offside trap. The Hidden Dangers The widths of the pitch. I touched on this in the previous posts as an obvious potential problem area. It’s why I feel the wingbacks are the pivotal players in this set-up. In the NFL you will often hear commentators talk of ‘shutdown corners’ – cornerbacks that can match up against the most explosive wide receivers and take them out of the game and cornerbacks ‘being on an island’ (i.e. able to be left in man v man coverage without support). The principle is the same here. The wingbacks have to be able to shut down the best opponents and do it quickly and aggressively enough that the opposing winger doesn’t have the time to play a quick crossfield pass – another potential danger of the ‘WM’ structure. However, the ‘hidden’ aspect comes from a particular problem I had to set about solving: opponents who double-down and combine both a winger with a very attack focused wingback. I came across this early in the season against PSV. Check this out: fifteen seconds into the game and the raiding fullback has already raced clean through the space between the Ajax WB and the left-sided HB. The ballplayer is being pressed and can’t get the ball to the winger in order to make a quick pass. However, fast-forward another twenty-five seconds and the ballplayer (Hendrix) is in position to make a pass before the press can close him down. The winger is being marked by the Ajax wingback, but the PSV fullback is in an ocean of space. He received the pass, raced away and we nearly conceded instantly. This was only one of several instances I could show in the early part of this fixture. Here you have two choices: risk v reward. Do you adjust or do you accept the danger and turn it to your advantage? Here I adjusted, dropped the entire engagement lines backwards, pulled off the ‘prevent GK distribution’ TI, but kept my aggressive press and took my chances that defensive structure and quality would be enough to dull the wide threat. End result: a 0-0 shutdown. Soon after, I have the same issue v NAC Breda. Again, the wide 4231, but a lower-quality opposition. This time I accepted the risk, allowed the overloads to develop, trusting in the recovery potential to be able to recycle possession and for my own aggressive wingers to be able to exploit the spaces left by the opposing fullback. There are likely better screenshots available, but I’m working retrospectively from notes: this will give you the picture. The Breda winger and fullback on a dangerous overload and the Ajax winger set aggressively and not overly tasked to track back, but where a turnover would set up a prime counterattacking opportunity. The approach is risky but there are times where you have to turn a weakness into a strength. Did it work? Yes, insofar as a 0-1 win, but we actually couldn’t make the most of opportunities with some poor play on the counter in this game. However, in the second image you see an example of a counter in action: Breda have been robbed of possession on the right, one ball into Ziyech sees two players running clear with four in support; almost a 2v6 overload developing towards the right flank. This formation is very adept at generating a lot of bodies streaming forwards on the counter and this is one of a multitude of images that could be shown here. Sometimes, though, there are times where anything you try seems fruitless. This is the CL knockout against Barca. After a frantic 4-3 win at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, I dialled it back for the away game. Moved away from the high line, toned down the press, played it safe. I couldn’t get it going against a perfect storm of Suarez’s settings seeing him move wide and drag the centreback out of position, Messi’s legion PIs that sees him drop deep, and then Sergi Roberto at wingback playing like he is Carlos Alberto reincarnated. Here is a sample of it all going wrong: In the first image, my wingback is facing up Messi but not attached as Rakitic plays in the short pass, and the W(a) is sleeping as Roberto marauds in behind. It has danger written all over it. Messi receives, plays in Roberto. By then, the winger has woken up but it’s far too late. Roberto steams to the box and faces the ball across for a tap in. I tried everything in this game, perhaps too much, but that marauding fullback killed me dead. In games like this, you can learn as much in 90 minutes as you can in endless easier fixtures. That moves me neatly to the next point. I mentioned the wingbacks as being the key players. But you need the right personnel. That should be true in any system of course, but I feel more so here, in a very specialised structure. I give you here two players for comparison. And I chose them because they are directly comparable: same position in the squad, similar no. of games, no set piece duties to boost ratings or stats, and atts not vastly different. In the base stats, that is a heck of a difference in Kristensen’s favour in terms of productivity. And where you see two of Kristensen’s PPMs come into play (gets forward whenever possible, knock ball past opponent) in addition to his raw strength, aggression and work rate. Van Der Weil gets into opposition area, but that was rarely seen. I'll talk more of PPMs later. Drilling into their stats sheets, the difference is even more marked. That sees Kristensen attempting nearly double the amount of crosses, approx. treble the shots, an extra 50% dribbles per game and with a vastly superior win percentage (77% v 55%) – that one is an interesting stat as Kristensen largely played more difficult games across the season. Each stat is small in isolation, but the whole demonstrates a far more effective player. Where having the right player gives you the edge (equally it shows one potential weakness where his dives into tackles PPM sees him commit a higher percentage of fouls per 90mins). Kristensen actually led the league in rating: The ‘Wingdeuter’ Having the right player also opens up possibilities. One of my favourite ‘option’ tactics is to set a WB(a) role. I use this sparingly to preserve the defensive integrity of the ‘WM’, but in the right circumstances it adds a dimension and stratification to the attack. In combination with the switching of the point of attacks and overloading the centre with an IF(s) you can quite easily generate situations where the WB(a) is aggressively exploring a lot of space on the edge of the opponent’s box – acting almost as a wingback version of the raumdeuter. Again, there are better images available if I had more time to search, but this is a sample: I captured the shot just before Kristensen attacked from the diagonal. With play developing on the opposite flank and opponents drawn to an IF(s) on this occasion, the space for an aggressive WB(a) can be significant. To be continued...
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