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_Ben_

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Everything posted by _Ben_

  1. Exactly - I have always found that they bring in a feature 2/3 before it is really ‘ready’ so this makes sense. Being able to use the stats is a part of being a manager so I’m hopeful for it. I’m also hopeful they sort the pre-match tactical meetings, too, linking them to stats and the like. Data has never been a ‘headline feature’ in any FM release, to my knowledge, so it’s great for me - especially as I’m just discovering the depth I can go into on the pitch! I just want tactics to fully marry up to training now - with evidence that I’m working on x area on the training ground being seen on the pitch - and it’ll be perfect for me! I don’t care for newer leagues (I’ll just download), better graphics (you don’t play FM for the graphics!) or variable PA (most of my players are newgens anyway) so this is almost a complete release for me.
  2. Absolutely! I am excited to see the 'Possession gained' stuff that appeared on their screenshots and really hope that we can start to utilise the data that is being collected in game - such as length and distance of passes. I'm likely to continue with a progressive style of football and would love to be able to compare my player's progressive passes with that of the league instead of having to count them all up individually! I'll still run some kind of data capture, probably, because I am always trying to push how much I can extrapolate, but it's certainly looking promising!
  3. February 2038 From the outside, this looks like a super successful month. It was not. We have been utterly terrible in every single game here, despite picking up maximum points in the league and moving to 24 points ahead with just 39 available and closing in on another unbeaten season. We have looked absolutely placid in-front of goal, failing to score more than once in all but two ties - a shocker when you consider that this is the best offence that the Swiss people will ever see! The big thing though is the win against Real. I'm an optimist but I know that, going to the Bernabeu, will be very tough for us. A goal, direct from a well worked corner, was our only real threat on goal as we sat deeper than normal and looked to cut off every bit of threat that the Spanish giants have. Whilst the league is a formality and I'm sure I could field any half decent forward, I also have been rocked by the loss of Milosevic for 5 weeks, after getting injured in this tie. Clearly Friere is a good replacement and took his chance against Servette, but we will be missing our mercurial Serb as we head to Spain at a time when we need him the most!
  4. I will be resigning at the end of the season, yes, which marks ten years at the club and ends a really successful career: I will holiday on for a few years, unemployed, to see how Luzern do and track some of the players. If this was earlier in the game-cycle, I'd have moved to a German side and continued the Joao-ball that I've started here, but FM22 is too close and I've really struggled for game time of late.
  5. December 2037 and January 2038 A double month as there wasn't a lot going on! Two December league ties whereby we pushed on, earning six points and, probably more interestingly, watched ex-champions St. Gallen see Christmas in bottom of the league. We also held Barca to a 0-0 draw, allowing them just 0.26xG - a clear demonstration of the team that we have become. Sadly, we have drawn Real Madrid in the first knockout phase and that is probably where my European dream will end. January saw us jet off to Tunisia for a bit of warm weather before Milosevic netted a hatrick after a goa-less December, moving to 47 league goals in 44 league games for us, which is utterly insane. --- Stefan Milosevic caps off a wonderful year with a hatful of awards but it's the top three here that make me proud. Pedroso, an academy product joins imported Milosevic and Filip Radanovic, who was actually on trial before he moved to Bayern, with me not being too sure on his potential at that time. It's a real credit to my own youth development but also the recruitment model that we've built here. --- A quiet early transfer period as Alan Schwarz leaves the club, heading for Dortmund in a deal that will net us just over €10m. He came on a free last year and this is certainly a realistic move for him, particularly as he's behind at least four other forwards. It all got busier on deadline day, though... Lukasz had his head turned by Barca, and, in the spirit of the save, I allowed him to move on. We received a fee of €39m for a player who I'd spent €9.5m on and was able to replace him with Igli Mema, from the u21 squad. Nobody has joined the club, meaning that I bring my time here to a close after spending just over €113m on transfers, a number far eclipsed by the amount that has been brought in, this season alone. --- As I wind down the save, I wanted to take a look at those players who I have managed, noticing just how much quality I have both developed: And produced: In total, fourteen players have left my academy and are now playing at the top level of Swiss football, added to the eight that are representing us; certainly not a bad total in just over ten years at the club. An All-Time XI would certainly include the likes of Zakharov, a mere €5m signing from Rosenberg, as well as Cifuentes (free from Real Madrid) and Wang Tao (free from Guangzhou and later went on to move for €119m), Stefan Lolic (a player who netted me a near €50m profit) as well as the likes of Georges Henry (an academy graduate when I was managing second tier Fribourg and a two-season loanee at Luzern), Anderson Costa, Toni Gonzalez and Stefan Milosevic.
  6. November 2037 Still loving this game just as much but having absolutely no time to play or post about it right now. We have absolutely smashed November and have progressed through our CL group, too, but, given the timings and how infrequently my playing has been, I can't really add much more meat to these bones! I'm desperate for this save not to fizzle out, and, with December and January containing very few fixtures, I still hope to be able to conclude the season in style.
  7. October 2037 Another month done as we look to really push on in the league and grow the gap between us and surprise chasers Zurich. Thun, without half a team of Luzern loanees, aren't that strong and we comfortably took them apart with a much rotated squad. Joksimovic scored from the penalty spot - his first league goal in a very good start that has seen him rapidly learn the left back role as well as a trait to run down the left. Stefan Milosevic was to thank in the next two ties: a bore draw with Sion and a comeback against a surprisingly strong St. Ettiene side to give us an important three points in our quest for progression in the Champions League. A home win against Ajax in the next round of fixtures will be key to ensure we progress behind Barca. We dominated the next two games but only won the one - drawing with Zurich in the league thanks to a late Anderson Costa strike, coming off the bench. All in all, it's positive and we continue to move forward. --- We had a record breaking international call up, too: Amazingly, it has taken a matter of months for Valentin Vallejos, uncapped by Argentina even at youth level, to have his head turned and earn a role in the Swiss side. Below are all of the players at the club who are currently in the full national team of their country: A really strong mix of Swiss (33rd in the world rankings) players along with relatively strong nations in Czech Rep (19th), Nigeria (=11th), USA (=11th), Serbia (29th) and Romania (38th). It is also showing that we are producing and importing young talent and giving them a space to demonstrate their skills on the biggest stage of them all, which is something that I have always wanted to push on with.
  8. Just a hunch I had. May or may not have worked and been a complete coincidence but does make sense!
  9. It’s the sentimental side, too. Because he’s a club icon, he often pops up in the press warning me about x player but now he’s working for me, too! I really like Jelic but, as neither of my forwards can play on the left wing, I’m left with a real back log of players who just wouldn’t get a fair amount of minutes. There is a recall clause so I’ll see what January brings!
  10. I have man marked full backs with my wingers to some success but not really any more than that. Firstly, that’s because one wing back is naturally way more offensive than the other, so those instructions will completely change how the role plays out, but also because I like to build a team who are positionally strong and then drill them really well with how we play. To achieve what I wanted with the Arsenal wingers, I instructed them to be shown onto their weaker foot (both were natural wingers) and used the extra men we had (they didn’t field an AMC for the entirety and one forward meant that either/both of our DM or CB were free) to close them down as much as possible.
  11. September 2037 A busy month filled with some promising performances and strong results. We kicked off with a routine win in the cup against Etoile, of the third tier. As always, the rotational players (or, at least, those rotational players who weren't part of a squad wide injury crisis!) took the field and took their chances. We were really poor in the tie against Ajax and not helped by a red card early in the second half for Joksimovic, who, without Alphonso Davies on the bench, forced us into a back three, a shape I'm not quite comfortable with using, yet. The YB result was a real success story in how I'm learning to approach parts of each game. I had noticed that the manager had used a shout (didn't catch what it was through the commentary) and it had had a negative impact on the majority of their squad - causing them to be 'overwhelmed by the feedback' - which would be a really concerning thing for me if I was in charge, especially after just 10 minutes! I took this as a sign to attack, so we went high intensity: pressure, quicker progressive movement of the ball and more vertical and it worked with three quick goals completely killing the game off. For the next game, against Lausanne, on an eight game unbeaten run and in good morale, we picked on players: lower fitness, morale, picking up a booking, very one footed, and just tried to win each individual battle, which, again, we did. Six goals from 3.72xG was a great return, including a lovely hatrick from Pedroso was a great return for us against a team who are really starting to impress me with their recruitment. A slightly reckless performance against Basel followed, with just two goals from 2.71xG but it was all one way traffic and our nice clean sheet run was never going to be challenged. We finished the month at the Camp Nou and, to be fair, we got exactly what we deserved, nothing! The gulf in class is still huge despite all of our European progress and we would be, realistically, another five to ten years away from being able to challenge a side like this, even with an underdog mentality. Whilst St. Gallen are floundering and neither Basel or YB have found any consistency, Thun continue to be huge overachievers, and, as I said in the previous update, a lot of that is down to my loanees. However, special praise must go to Stefan Jelic: At 3.5 stars rating, he's more than good enough to come back into my squad but would still be behind Friere and Milosevic. However, the 18-year old has scored 30 in 30 over a season in a bit for them with 11 in 8 this season. I feel as if he (or any of my other two forwards) would need to be a little more flexible in terms of then being able to play on the left wing (as Anderson Costa now does) in order to facilitate him back at the club. He's clearly a top striker, suited excellently for our style that would utilise the Pace and Off the Ball as well as the traits, but I just can't drop either of my two starting players to give him enough minutes: If I had more time left in this save (and FM21) I'd almost certainly look to maintain that level of realism as both of my strikers are wanted by the top clubs in Europe and, for a club at the level that we are, would more than likely look to move them on and replace from within. However, it may be that he doesn't actually get the chance to represent the first team of the club. ---- I have also boosted my close backroom team with a familiar face: Whilst Tiago is not quite at the required quality to be a true asset in any particular area that I use the assistant for, he's got a great personality and, by being so new to his non-playing career, will certainly develop. It's also something that I like to do with players who have had a big impact during my time as a manager and he will join Renato Augusto, who, for those who can't remember, was one of my first signings at Meyrin, my first club, and really epitomised the style of playmaker that I wanted at that time.
  12. They are improving, yes. I think the combination of luck, an upgraded HoYD and facilities as well as a real focus on youth team training as well as fixtures at the highest standard (for them - the 2nd tier) has helped. Below are the top players, by ability, in my first and u21 squad (although all but one are out on loan!) that came through the academy: It's fair to say that these players, as well as the young players I am importing from other sides, has given us an academy that is the envy of most of Europe...
  13. August 2037 I lost the Sion game but, even after three sets of replaying it, couldn't match up with the draw from previously so I stuck with a narrow win thanks to a set piece converted by Osemene. I want to highlight the importance of the goals by Friday as well as those by Ionesi and Adilovic as they are now our primary set piece threat, as we are without Long Throw specialist Zakharov. We started August with a bore draw against Luzern and a thrashing of Vaduz before we faced off against Champions League winners Juve. Of course it was Nikita Zakharov, the man who we'd just sold to Juve, who ran the show against us. The game was largely even but the class they had told in the end and we couldn't add another trophy to the cabinet. We ended the month with a solid cup win and two league wins, leaving the table in a strange place. The bottom four being last year's runners up and the three historical big sides is a huge shock, even at this early stage. Lausanne have recruited really well and I'd expect them to continue to push but newly promoted Thun are somewhat of a shock. However, when you look at their best XI: You will see that Labyad, Alich, Mpondo and Jelic are on loan from us, with the latter joint top scorer (with Stefan Milosevic) after netting six times already this season. --- Not a lot else to report on really as I am finding my feet again after a tumultuous couple of weeks! I'll dive deeper if I can get any kind of sustained playing time but I don't want this to go out on a whimper....
  14. I've absolutely loved this journey. Wish I'd have taken in more than three sides but Luzern just felt right and I've certainly garnered an affinity for them. Are you planning FM22 straight away or will you see this out? As soon as there is talk of a new game, my focus shifts to that so I really couldn't carry on at Luzern knowing I could be playing a newer FM. As for my games - yes, I do have an idea. I'm going to explore Russia! I'm hoping to hold off until the full game is out and get all the realism fixes as well as some of the lower tiers and just use it as a chance to broaden my geographical and historical knowledge! I want to manage three or four different clubs and continue my learning into the training and development of players as well as recruitment and tactical modules, plus anything new that they throw at us! Do you have any plans?
  15. August 2037 - Breakthrough! After literally having to reinstall Steam and FM every time I turned my computer on and a pretty hectic couple of weeks at work, I'm hoping to be back with a bang. Although this will be my last season of the save, I have just unlocked something that has made me very happy! For the whole of this save, I've accepted a literal 5 minute wait for the game to load and for the in-match animations to be really slow and temperamental - because that it how I thought it was! However, I turned the graphics from Very High to Medium, and now things are smooth and fast! Here's a nice GIF goal to celebrate that, with, you guessed it, Stefan Milosevic putting the St. Gallen defence to the sword. I most like the way his body shape suggests he's going to go to wide of the keeper but instead he pulls it to the nearer post.
  16. Definitely a lovely area of the world! I enjoyed posting on FM Now but went through an age whereby I just couldn't log in to the site. It seems that they have a nice little core of posters but not a huge amount of activity - which is a shame as it's great quality stuff. I have spoken to @F0rzaHa few times and have read the books he's written and I occasionally see a tweet from @Shrewnaldo. There are a few people who I haven't heard of since then, such as IJ and there was the whole The Third Half forum who, I believe, set up on new forum. I have documented and shared my tactical journey pretty well over the course of the thread. Plus, we have our overarching principles but things change from situation to situation so it's hard to actually pinpoint and then upload a tactic. Here is my core shape and usual roles, although they too fluctuate widely:
  17. (Early) September 2037 I turned on my laptop and fancied a little analytical work this evening, despite being rather tired from actually having to hold down a real life job and not play FM all day. So I did... Now - we're rather good but not unbeatable, yet three goals conceded in just two games marks a change from our normal defensive solidarity. I wanted to know why. Below are the players who have played for me in the two games: A reasonably settled backline with Osemene, Perez and Ionesi being here for a good while and Addai-Mandela coming through the ranks, joining the first team in January. Obviously, Joksimovic is a new player and is completely new to his position, which, I believe, reduces his Decision making somewhat. However, when I isolate their KPIs from the two matches, I get some interesting results: Because it's such a small data collection, I did this manually - using the match analysis to single out things like Defensive Area (and penalty area) as well as Progressive/Forward passes - this means that I can get a more accurate version of Total Defensive Actions than before because things like 'Gained Possession' don't appear to exist outside of the match analysis tool. What this looks like is that we don't actually do a lot of defending. I knew that because of what I see in the highlights but this really enforces that. We don't really tackle (nor have I wanted that, and it's pleasing to see that Interceptions > Tackles in two of the players) and we are certainly pretty good at stopping shots coming in as we aren't making many blocks, potentially a sign of real last ditch defending. Slightly on a tangent, but I couldn't help it, is to look at the number of times we gain possession and then move forward with it in almost all players except Carlos Perez, who appears to be reluctant to move the ball forward when he wins it - certainly something to explore within his skill set. I'm concerned at the heading numbers from Addai-Mandela yet it appears that three quarters of those headers he does win are key - talk about saving them for an important occasion! I wondered if we'd faced a particularly tall group of opposing players and this was maybe why we'd struggled with those numbers, but that wasn't really the case: Collard didn't feature for Thun as Ocompo and Cuellar (from that list) did, with Borie and Avdic in the Sion tie. ---- So I guess I need to look at the goals: The left is against Thun and then first and second against Sion are next. Now, the first Thun goal, the lowest of the xG, came from a flick on from Cuellar that Osemene misjudged. Whilst the volley was emphatic, I do wonder whether he could have been that little bit tighter. I want to see whether this was poor play by Friday or good play by Eduardo, so here are some comparative attributes, in the sense that I think one could match the other (certainly not gospel, just thinking out loud!): Ocampo OtB 14 vs Osemene Positioning Ocampo Strength 9 vs 13 Osemene Strength Ocampo Anticipation 12 vs 13 Osemene Strength Ocampo Agility 14 vs 15 Osemene Marking Certainly in the favour of my centre back. However, given Ocampo another eight of those, this'd be the only one he'd net from this exact same position. I can't complain too much! --- The first Sion goal came from a through ball, at an xG of 0.23, meaning that one in every 4 from here, roughly, would go in. I feel like the defensive ability of Joksimovic (Marking 8, Positioning 10, Tackling 8) plus the reduced Decisions (is 14 - but that is, presumably, whilst in his favoured role) means that he's just allowed Bognar to move through and put the ball away. My concern does, however, come from the three players moving towards him! We are a little bit disorganised here and that is something I can't accept defensively. Not a mistake, per se, but something that will hopefully reduce over time as he becomes more settled. Certainly I feel that it is worth persisting with considering what he gives us going forward. This is 6'2" Borie beating a man of the same height (comparative attributes - Heading 14 vs 12 and Jumping Reach 15 vs 17) in Addai-Mandela to the ball. Now, my concern again here comes from the fact that EAM, the right sided centre back, with no man marking instructions, is there challenging for that in the right half space, where Perez occupies. What it did was leave a huge gap for Avdic (high Agility, Stamina and Determination, good Off the Ball and Anticipation) to sneak in. Again, I must ask questions of Ionesi's Positioning (15 and normally a strength combined with 15 Decisions) but it was a well taken goal. --- What are my thoughts then? Well, it appears we are doing pretty well as individuals in most areas except maybe aerial challenges but we are just lacking a little organisation and drilling defensively. Nothing has changed tactically over the summer but there is obviously a refresh time in the tactical familiarity and maybe we just haven't found it quite yet. I'm sure it'll be a great season and there'll be many more goals scored than conceded but it's nice to dig into trying to find out why!
  18. July 2037 It's been a while! Life has got in the way so just a brief update as I look to get back into the game for what will probably be my last season on FM21 due to more perceived time constraints and the announcement of the new game... We had quite a successful pre-season, gaining match fitness and working on a few tactical and partnership ideas but there was little to really write home about. The league season started well, with a comfortable win over newly promoted Thun, although a silly goal concession just before half-time took the shine off the score line somewhat. Nick Jones marked his debut with a lovely delicate chip over the keeper after coming on as a late substitute, breaking the lines well and converting - something which I will need to see more of as I look to ease the burden on Toni Gonzalez, who, himself, was a delight to watch. Albert Vegas, however, was less easily pleased, or maybe has just, himself, perfected a compact 4-1-4-1 shape that is lethal on the counter, full of young, exciting prospects looking to take their league domination into continental football: Our blushes were spared against Sion by Stefan as we put out an absolutely shoddy performance, lacking any kind of forward-thinking fluidity and defensive stability, going 2-1 down before half time and thanking Stefano Herzog for a penalty save that kept us in the game. Escaping with a 2-2 when we were never in the game is a relief and one we need to address as we move on! --- Just a quick update on Zoran Joksimovic, the striker-cum-full back that I brought in over the summer. He's started pre-season in fine form with three assists and a goal (plus a missed penalty) but the match stats, and I could have taken any of his three appearances to demonstrate this, show the potential he has to be a great player in this role: Getting into some really good areas and utilising good technical skills (Passing: 14, Crossing: 13, Technique: 15) along with some strong mentals (Composure: 17, Decisions: 14, Off the Ball: 18) tells me that he's going to be a really dangerous, and slightly different to Zakharov, prospect down this side. He's got pace, but not as much, so won't be relying on that - more so getting into better areas and making things happen. Plus, his natural striking instincts are going to massively help as we create those overloads in dangerous areas. I still feel that I am only scraping the surface of really utilising attributes to their fullest, regardless of player positions. The only big loss here is the lack of a Long Throw specialist, but I'm going to try and recruit someone else who can fill that role from elsewhere on the pitch.
  19. I absolutely love everything you’ve done in this thread except giving a keeper THE NUMBER 2 SHIRT!!
  20. Thank you! I've thoroughly enjoyed this save - probably the one I've learnt the most from, too. Thanks! Really got into the tactical analysis/tweaking in this one, too. The charts are made in Excel but all the data is easily pulled out and there is nothing I have to do manually. Thanks! I think I'm done with anything long term now in the big leagues (definitely the Premier League) so it's all about these smaller, unusual leagues now. High praise from Mr Strikerless himself! How are you Guido? The Dugout was a long time ago now I think back!
  21. June 2037 (Part 2) Something has changed... But look at the ridiculous knock-on effect that it has had: There is no way in the world that Bednarek and Perez are worth over €30m but clearly that is what the reputation system does... --- You can, obviously, see that I have been busy in the market with Jones, Vallejos and Joksimovic arriving for a combined €14m. I also added youngsters Kraft, Lopes and the really promising Pintaric to the youth team - finding out that signing young Austrian based players does not actually incur a compensation fee. These signings are really laying out the vision for the club here. Jones comes in as an ample replacement for Apollonio, who needs a loan to get first team football and overcome the complacency that has wormed it's way into his game. The young American literally has the perfect set of traits for the Mezzala role, where I believe he played previously and will become, hopefully, a valued backup. As Swiss players, most of the squad speak English but Alphonso Davies, as a natural English speaker, can always help him out. Vallejos, as mentioned, is the second kind of moneyball deal here and, despite the poor passing (probably attributing to the relatively poor pass completion % that I was warned of), he's the real deal. Bags of potential and just oozing with that South American flair meaning that I definitely see some traits coming to his game, too. For now, he's great competition in that midfield role. Wonderkid Joksimovic comes in to become my new left back. It's a deal I've been looking at for a good while now and, being honest, it's only a few attributes for that role that really need developing: He'll train as a WB(a), working on his Defensive Positioning and be part of the Defensive Unit. I do worry that this drastic change may not please him, but I hope he can produce in the same way that Zakharov has done for the last two years. In terms of out-goings, I decided to move Hedegaard on before this ridiculous value boost so only got €8m for him, but that does represent €3.2m in profit. Obviously, Zakharov and Berendt will be joining them two but I now feel that I have a really strong squad with plenty of options now. I'll obviously be scouring the release lists come the 1st July for any experience, as I did with Alphonso Davies, but I don't expect much else from here.
  22. June 2037 (Part 1) So, some initial transfer target thoughts - baring in mind that I still have the problem at left back to fix... Right Back I've considered Bjarne's role in the team a lot this year. He's just not really performed, either with the eye test or statistically. As a big believer in youth progress and development through the club, I am thinking about using Alain Kongnyuy, an academy graduate, to replace him. Bocaly, after coming into the team in January, performed arguably better and Valentin Ionesi is also able to cover here, too. Looking at the comparison between Alain and Patrick Bocaly - you can see that I have two quite defensive full backs, but two who aren't too bad at passing (that's around the league average for a defender) but this is in line with Ionesi - who has performed best here. I am thinking long and hard about this role and this move but I think that the IWB(s) experiment is probably over, given the suitability for Hedegaard to play there and I will likely look at a new direction for this position and either move Bjarne on or change him to play elsewhere. ---- Mezzala I think the word Moneyball was thrown around earlier in the thread and I think that this man hits that nail on the head! Nick Jones, who I'm just finishing scouting, plays for Portimonense, who finished thirteenth in their domestic league, hardly pulling up any trees, yet this man is standing out as one of the top young offensive players in Europe and is available for a cut price fee of under €1m due to the significant debt his club find themselves in. They are playing a wonderful game though and have a load of American's in their squad, all signed for peanuts. The analyst report of him is promising so it's now a case of finishing off the scouting as he looks to be an upgrade when compared with Apollonio, certainly in the short term. --- Playmaker This one is a little left field but I couldn't help be impressed with what I am seeing. Valentin Vallejos, of Estudiantes La Plata of Argentina but currently on loan in Colombia. I was drawn his Analyst report, which paints a really great picture of him but, when comparing him with u21 midfielders across the whole continent, it's even better. There are few players who are creating as many chances, moving with the ball, scoring and also contributing so well defensively - especially for someone of his stature. I know that the Colombian Premier League is very different from the Raiffeisen Super League, but, these are great stats and I'm sure there'd be some sell on opportunities, if not - considering that he'll cost around €4m-€5m. Now, I haven't finished his scout report yet and there may be some massive red flags, but, combine the above with the below little bit of news regarding his nationality: Of him being one of those rare Argentine/Swiss dual nationals (thanks to the editor here for letting me see all players in the database), I think he's potentially going to be a great deal for us. It's not an area I need that re-enforcement but three players capable of playing as the playmaker (Qi, Kabashi and Vallejos) would be great. I'd also love it if he could be tempted into playing for Switzerland, too.
  23. I’ve had this before! I set up an affiliate in Poland and had a player travel a thousand miles to my club from that tiny town - yet this was all a coincidence! Watching the whole affiliate thing closely because I’ve been very disappointed with the lack of (I.e zero) players that I’ve had from my own affiliates in FM21.
  24. May 2037 (Part 4) The season wrap up in what has been the busiest month (for big games and posts!) A wonderful league campaign where we smashed the goals record and, despite being pushed for three quarters of the season by them, finished well clear of surprise runners-up Sion. It was joy for the club, as a whole, as our u21 squad finished second in their league. We've witnessed some shocks in our domestic cup, but the Aktiv Cup (the cup of Liechtenstein, for those unaware!) was not won by Vaduz this year, so Eschen/Mauren, of the fourth tier, experience life in the Conference League. With our sixth league title in a row, I don't want to spend much time actually analysing the team as, clearly, our statistical data is going to be far superior to everyone else in the league. I also haven't collected this year on year (in raw numerical form, at least) so can't really compare how our change in tactical approach has impacted our actual game play this year. Therefore, I'll just focus on the players... --- I spent quite a long time looking at my defenders throughout the season, looking at defensive actions. The standout weak-link there was Perez, although he has come out of the overall game play with the second highest average rating - although this is likely to be because he (4G and 1A) and Osememe (7G and 1A) have been involved in considerably more goals than the other centre backs. It's an area that, right now, I'm not unhappy with but one where there may be some movement, especially for Ionesi. With Hedegaards underperformance (more on that later), Valentin spent a considerable chunk of time at right back, as seen here: Now, I'm less concerned about his average rating and more interested in the fact that he is making more defensive actions there than any of the centre backs. Whilst not a great comparison, he's clearly been effective when we need to defend - often in those bigger European ties. Some food for thought! Elsewhere, Goran Adilovic missed a big chunk of the season after becoming unhappy about a move to West Ham being blocked. This was poor from him but, after apologising, has made his way back into the team. On paper, he's the most suited to the role, attribute wise, but needs to sort his performances out next season or he won't be here much longer. A big area of concern here, if you look at AR alone, however, I am not too unhappy. Bocaly, stepping in from January, played well and got himself three assists and a goal - something that I had mentioned when I talked about him coming into the first team. In a direct comparison with Hedegaard, he was less useful with the ball but much more solid defensively - but that is maybe to be expected as the Dane is probably more of a converted midfielder. Neascu has shown his quality by marking Riquelme out of the game in the Europa League final, among other jobs and has rotated well with Bednarek, who, to be fair, didn't quite have the debut season I was expecting. I'm going to think about what I do with Hedegaard as, on paper, he's the perfect type of player for the IWB role but really hasn't set the world alight. Maybe it's the role. Maybe it's first season syndrome. I will have a think. Toni has turned into a world class playmaker and I'm so lucky to have him. This is a nice settled area as Zhao Qi will take over from Berendt who will be moving on this summer, as previously stated. He was great in the league but literally went missing in Europe - with his 6.9 against Arsenal by far being his best performance: We can't have such a key role being held by a player who dreads these big matches. He's not the best player in the team but can be the heartbeat and we all know what happens if that doesn't work! Elsewhere, I am concerned about the lack of impact Apollonio has had. Niggly injuries and not much off the bench worries me, to the point where I think I'm going to play the market for a backup for him. I've been monitoring some players over the season and want to weigh up my options next month, whilst the mid-season holiday is in full swing. Nikita has genuinely become one of my favourite players and has been amazing this season. 21 goal contributions from LEFT BACK is insane. Davies has been a great backup but, at nearly 37, won't be around much longer. Magola and Marta have rotated brilliantly and have been used in different situations - contributing to 40 goals between them. I have plans afoot for a replacement for my mercurial Russian and I'm hoping I can stretch another year out of Davies, but I'm not too confident. There is not a lot else I can say about Stefan that hasn't been said or seen in his GIF goals. He's been amazing and, considering it's his first season in the country, even better. Freire is developing really well and was the best of the 'January promotions' - really putting himself in the reckoning as second striker, ahead of Costa, who's now here on the basis of versatility and sentimental reasons. I expect nothing to change here. --- There are few plans for the summer, just a left back and centre mid needed but some other things to consider! Time for the players to get a well-earned break.
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