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[FM18] O'Leary's Leeds United - If I Could Turn Back Time

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Before I begin; I initially planned this save to be a tactic recreation, but having fired it up, I realised the extent of the work needed and that this was truly a club rebuild save. I imagine I'm extremely likely to get the sack, but damn it I'm gonna give it a very good go! 

The story:


The article above tells the story brilliantly well, but in short, this was the Leeds United team that I fell in love with growing up. Built around youth, team work, work rate, a couple of fantastic flair players and a healthy amount of stupid spending, Leeds United were one of the most exciting, yet ultimately under-achieving sides of the late 90s/early 00s.  Famously, the board gambled on silverware arriving too soon and it all fell apart, leaving many to wonder what might have been if they could have kept the team together.

O’Leary was sacked before the 02-03 season after realeasing an I’ll judged book entailing details about the workings of the club during Lee Bowyer and Jonathan woodgate’s infamous court case coincided with a dramatic loss of form, causing the team to drop from top of the league at Christmas to 4th place and missing out on the Champions league. This,  every single asset the club had was eventually flogged and the club dropped all the way down to League One, going through two administrations on the way. 

After several painful seasons in League One, Leeds finally won promotion back to the Championship, where they have been since 2010. After many terrible owners (seriously way too much for me to write about here!), Andrea Radrizzani took full control of the club in the summer of 2017, buying back the club's Elland Road stadium and putting cash into the club towards building up the club's infrastructure that had been stripped away over time. 

The objective:

Build a squad that emulates O'Leary's Leeds - a young, energetic, physical core, as British based as possible, with some home grown Leeds heroes, alongside a couple of genuine flair players and some old heads to take the lead (think Radebe, Batty, Martyn). I will try and emulate O'Leary's tactics and use players to play the roles of the stars of O'Leary's sides. I already have in mind that Vieira will be my Dacourt, Phillips will be my David Batty (although lacking in experience) and I'm hoping Alioski can be my Alan Smith.  The end game is to ultimately go further than O'Leary's babes managed and win some silverware back at the top table! 

The playing philosophy:

As mentioned above, a lot of this save is going to need to be clever squad building, as I will show you later on, the current squad is majorly lacking in some key stats and I will need to make several important signings over a long time. 

However, I will attempt to create a playing style based on pace and work rate, closing down high up the field (Smith leading the charge here), yet retaining shape at the back. There will be 3 different formations, O'Leary's main tactics. 

The first and most used being this one: 

Player roles: 

GK - Martyn and Robbo were classic shot stoppers.
No PI's. 

RB - WB s: Kelly and Mills were keen to bomb forwards and overlap Bowyer. I toyed with cross from byline, but they certainly weren't limited to that and went with WB over FB for the width as Bowyer didn't stay wide. 

CBR -  CD D: Rio was a master at bringing the ball out from the back. As soon as I have player capable, I'll teach them that PPM. Until then, I'm keeping this role simple, more like Radebe, Duberry, Matteo.
Close down less. 

CBL - BPD: Woodgate was a cultured centre back, capable of picking a pass, so I'll give him a BPD role.
Close down less. 

LB - FB s Harte never had pace, so he won't fly by down the left, however, he can cross the ball brilliantly.
Cross more often. 

RM - WMs: Bowyer was truly a BBM who found himself on the right. 3 time player of the season as he always came up clutch. One of the key players in the press from the front. 
Sit narrower, get further forward, close down much more, mark tighter, tackle harder.  

CMR -BWM s: Batty was a classic BWM. 

CML - DLP D: Dacourt sat deep, won the ball and played defence splitting passes.
More direct passes. More risky passes. 

ML - W a. Kewell was at times a winger, at times given a free role. I will start him as a winger but may make it a lopsided formation with him as a treq in an AML position.

STR - TM a: Viduka was a pure predator. Amazing in the air and as a finisher. 

STL - DF s: Smith led the charge from the front. I'm not sure whether this role's lack of creative freedom will need me to change it though as Smith was actually quite technical and a great finisher. 

This post has gone on for long enough, so I'll leave it there as a start. I hope people will enjoy this save with me.   

Leeds 442 line up.png

Edited by Ellandroadhero

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Nice Philosophy subbed...........even if it is a Leeds save........but hope you do well they are a Fallen Giant.

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Cheers guys. It's gonna be a long one to be successful, let's hope I can avoid the sack in the early stages whilst I try to get the right players in for the style of play! Christensen's Leeds are much more based on technical, passing football, playing with a no10, whereas I want to primarily use a flat 4 midfield, playing fast attacking football. 

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So, onwards with the tactics: 

Here's how I've attempted to replicate the main tactic of the flat 442:5a293254271ee_ScreenShot2017-12-06at07_59_19.thumb.png.5d0446cc158a039cc2ec6ed801c2ee96.png

The one difference here is the Smith role, filled by Alioski is a DF. However, if I feel it's taking away his creativity, I will make it a DLF, as Smith was certainly very capable of playing a clever pass and was more technical than he was given credit for. The forwards may also be different if I want to emulate different players from O'Leary's time, we also have Hasselbaink, undoubtedly an Advanced Forward, as well as Robbie Keane, Michael Bridges and Robbie Fowler, who would fit a poacher role. 

The rest of the roles will stay as they are, aside from I will make one of the CBs a BPD when I find a player I can use as my Woodgate.  

I went for standard as the mentality as I will occasionally tweak depending on opponents but I feel standard is a great point to work from and allows us to play fast, direct attacking football. 

I went for structured shape as I wanted to be able to emulate the closing down of the forwards, and midfield, whilst maintaining the shape and line of the defence. In pre-season this has been working well so far, with several occurrences of the ball being won high up the pitch. 


Higher tempo - O'Leary's Leeds overwhelmed teams with energy. These highlights against Manchester United show how the team was about closing down, fast attacks, causing them a nightmare on the day that they were lucky to escape with a draw. 

Get stuck in - we want to disrupt the opposition's play. Leeds didn't have a great disciplinary record during this time, with Smith, Bowyer, Batty, Dacourt and Mills all ready to put a foot in. 

Be More Disciplined - I may remove this one, but I felt that the team only had a few flair players, though the ones they had were exceptional. The rest of the team knew their roles and carried them out to the letter. 

Play wider - Players like Kewell need space, and the space for him is out wide. 


My alternate tactics the same mentality and shape, with the same TI's apart from play wider as they are a 4312 and a 442 diamond. These tactics feature Bowyer (Dallas in the screen above) as a BBM rather than a WM and with Kewell (Saiz) as a Treq rather than a winger, in the AMC or striker roles. O'Leary knew that Kewell was his main creative force and therefore when needed, he gave him the freedom of the pitch to attack. 


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2 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Looking forward to seeing who becomes your Rio.

Probably going to be the hardest player to find. There’s nobody capable of bringing the ball out in the team now and nobody that has his blend of physical and technical attributes. For now I’m concentrating on finding a Jonathan Woodgate type as a Dominic Matteo/Radebe/Duberry is your more normal central defender and easy to find. 

Ive set up specific shortlist’s for called ‘Rio’ ‘Woodgate’, ‘Bowyer’ etc to try and do them the most justice. I think it’s gonna take several seasons of squad building and I will look to upgrade players to get closer to their attributes as time goes on. 

Edited by Ellandroadhero

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2 hours ago, Conndre3000 said:

Interesting concept. I'll be paying attention to this for sure. :brock:

Thanks. Hopefully I can do this justice! Definitely my biggest FM challenge! 

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Loved that Leeds side and it's a pity to see them slide down the divisions. Glad to see that they are closer to the premier league now and hope you can take them up! Will definitely follow this!

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As a Leeds fan, it goes without saying I will be following this :D Smith and Viduka were the heroes of my childhood.

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The Squad: 


So, some very good players there, including a couple of great prospects I'll look to use from the U23's, but not necessarily ones for the long term in my objective of creating O'Leary's Leeds. This squad is ideally set up for a 4231, with good depth in the attacking midfield and looking to play possession football. Instead though, I want a blood and thunder midfield, so this will be a main area to address, particularly looking at mental attributes as the side has a major weakness in some of those areas, particularly leadership, which is the worst in the division, whilst work rate and aggression aren't much better. If I can't address this, it may cost me badly as the intensity of play I'm after just won't work otherwise. 


So here's what I'm thinking in terms of players that can instantly work emulating the player I've identified for them: 

*Disclaimer* I'm not going for a particular season, but the whole era of O'Leary, so some of these players never featured in the same side together.

Viduka - This was tough, as I think Lassoga can play the role perfectly, he actually has incredible attributes including 15 finishing, 17 heading, BUT, he's costing me 150k a week, so I did try and find an alternative. However, my scouting range is very limited at this time, so I think I'll keep him as he's essential to how I want to play. 

Keane - For now Kemar Roofe is a good option as Robbie Keane; he's got pace, agility and decent finishing. 

Bridges/Fowler - I believe Kun from the 23s has the potential to be a lethal poacher, as Bridges and Fowler were. 

Smith - I went for Alioski here, although I don't believe he will be my Alan Smith in the long-term as he is more of a flair player. However, he does have great work rate and team work, which is why I went for him as Alan Smith to begin with. 

Hasselbaink - Caleb Ekuban may be able to take this role. Pure power. 

Kewell - Samu Saiz is the arch creator for the current Leeds side, so I just felt like I had to slot him into O'Leary's most creative player's boots. Issues here are that Saiz is really a no10, so he will flourish when I use the Kewell treq role, but in the 442 I want to play it might not quite work out, in which case, I will make Alioski my Kewell and look to find a new Alan Smith. Another issue is that Saiz is right footed, when Kewell was known for his left. 

Batty - I've got two versions of him, in that I already had Kalvin Phillips, who will grow into my long term David Batty, but in order to address my lack of leadership, I also signed Flamini on a free. 

Dacourt - Ronaldo Vieira is perfect for this role. He's got the defensive ability but also the technical skills and passing, plus a great future. 

Bowyer - As Bowyer featured on the right or in central midfield, it takes a very well rounded player, plus with very specific attributes needed including aggression, bravery, team work, off the ball and finishing (he got into the box and scored a lot) so I'm torn whether to sue two players for him and depend on whether I'm utilising the bowyer on the right formation or the box to box Bowyer. For now I like Stuart Dallas as Lee Bowyer on the right of midfield. I think he'll be a good goal threat. 

Bakke - Mateusz Klich. Bakke had an eye for a pass, as well as being a good box to box midfielder. Klich is more a ball player, but I think this could work. 

McPhail - Unfortunately he struggled badly with injuries and missed a lot of games, but in the early seasons of O'Leary's reign, his playmaking was excellent and he had a wonderful eye for a pass and a glorious left foot. O'Kane will take this role. 

Kelly - Luke Ayling will be great for this role in the Championship. When I get promoted he'll most likely need upgrading. 

Radebe - This is a bit of a stretch, but I'm going for Pontus Jansson. He's the rock of the current backline and no nonsense in a similar way to Lucas was. I also signed Lescott on a free to bring in some additional leadership, similar with Flamini and think he'd work as Radebe in his older years at Leeds. 

Paul Robinson - Bailey Peacock-Farrel. He will be a great Paul Robinson character when he grows a little more. He's not ready yet though. I will blood him as early as I can though, as O'Leary did. 


The rest of the squad doesn't quite work, but the issue I have is that the majority of the team are new signings and hard to move on to raise money for the players I need to sign. Here's the roles I definitely need moving forwards: 

Ian Harte - I need a left back who can cross the ball incredibly well! That's a priority signing, which I'll show you soon. 
Woodgate - I need a BPD here. Pennington may be able to do it in the first season, but he's on loan, so might not work long term. 
Matteo - Utility man defender, also a leader.
Rio - A tall, powerful, technically gifted centre back with the ability to bring the ball out, or at least learn that PPM. This is going to be my hardest signing.
Martyn - The current goalkeepers in the squad certainly don't have the safe hands, reflexes and leadership that he had. I may not be able to sign this player until a future season. 

The rest of the players I will look to upgrade to better versions of the player I want them to be as I go! 

Next up I'll show some transfers, pre-season and the start of our first season!





Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 21.38.23.png

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 21.39.05.png

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35 minutes ago, kandersson said:

Used to like that team too, you absolutely need a couple of good Aussies though!

Yeah. It would be amazing to try and do it using he nationalities of the players. I think I might have made it challenging enough though! 

28 minutes ago, Fola said:

Love your approach to this save

Thanks mate! I just hope I can really get it going before I get the sack! Season started alright so far. 

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Even if i don't like Leeds, i really do like careers with some specifical tactical approach :D


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16 hours ago, Ellandroadhero said:

Probably going to be the hardest player to find. There’s nobody capable of bringing the ball out in the team now and nobody that has his blend of physical and technical attributes. For now I’m concentrating on finding a Jonathan Woodgate type as a Dominic Matteo/Radebe/Duberry is your more normal central defender and easy to find. 

Ive set up specific shortlist’s for called ‘Rio’ ‘Woodgate’, ‘Bowyer’ etc to try and do them the most justice. I think it’s gonna take several seasons of squad building and I will look to upgrade players to get closer to their attributes as time goes on. 

I have a feeling you may have to end up resorting to retraining a tall, gifted defensive midfielder.

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So here's the first proper update - I'll skip through pre-season, as nothing really happened, we played almost exclusively weak teams and thrashed them, apart from Koln, which we got a good 3-3 draw with. 

So here goes August:


So, a bad start against Botlon in terms of result, although I was really happy with the way the team played. The tactic was working very well, we just couldn't get the goal. Lasogga had a great chance after we closed down their defence, but he was slow to take the shot and the keeper came out to make the block. After that we went 3 games without conceding and have only conceded twice in the league, which was a surprise to be honest as I thought the tactic was mostly attacking. Meanwhile we struggled to score, whilst making a lot of chances. Both Alioski and Lasogga were guilty of being wasteful in one on ones. 

The last game of the month was fantastic though as I decided to put Kemar Roofe up front as a poacher in the Robbie Keane role and he put Forest to the sword in a perfect away performance. 


Here's the chances created stats for the league that show the tactic has the attacking thrust I've been going for:

Another highlight was Kun from the 23s making his debut in the Carabao Cup and scoring. I have hopes for him as a Robbie Fowler type and this was the perfect start. 




As mentioned in a previous post, I brought in Lescott and Flamini as Radebe and Batty type players, with O'Connor joining as a defensive utility man, much like Dominic Matteo. Craig Forsyth is my Ian Harte, with 15 crossing and some ability from dead balls. He scored a free-kick on his league debut against Forest, which I just thought was perfect. Hanson is the big signing and has great potential as a box to box midfielder like Lee Bowyer. He definitely needs working on his determination, but I'm trying to boost the whole squad's mentals.  



No outgoings as this point, although I did try! In January I hope to shift Lonergan, Sacko at least. 

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September '17 Update: 

Things are going far better than I expected or even hoped for at this stage. 5a2bee43607a6_ScreenShot2017-12-09at13_36_57.thumb.png.7579b3e8d9fcceaba698802fe6923a31.png

We've not lost a game since the opening day of the season, only conceded 1 league goal in the month of september (the other 2 goals conceded in a league cup loss against Bournemouth, where I fielded reserves). I wasn't expecting the tactic to be as successful defensively, but the intensity of the forwards and midfield have been incredible at winning the ball high up the pitch and stopping nullifying attacks before they even get to our final third. Here's an example of that dominance: 


As you can see, an issue here though is chances created vs goals scored. We're winning the ball very high up the pitch and getting loads of chances from it, but our finishing has been massively lacking. Fortunately it hasn't cost us too badly so far, although it did mean we threw away two points against Millwall. 


My two highlights from this run of games were the win against Birmingham, where we came back from a goal down with two goals from Alioski, the winner a stoppage time penalty. I used Alioski in the Kewell role in this game as so far he hasn't quite convinced as my Alan Smith. However, Saiz has also played well as Kewell, so it's difficult to know what to do here! 

The second highlight was a convincing win over Cardiff, as I'm hoping it means a turn of the corner for Lasogga as my Mark Viduka, as he finally took his chances and scored a match-winning brace. 


Here we are sitting at the top of the league!


Other notes from the month - this tactic racks up the yellow cards and the injuries, so could bite me later on in the season. 

Also, I think Connor Shaughnessy could be my Jonathan Woodgate. i've got him training as a BPD and have played him in several games and he's keeping Cooper and Lescott out of the team. 

This save is so fun right now!

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October 17: 



Didn't go quite so well this month, picking up only one win and losing for the first time since the first game of the season. 

The good news is, we're still top, but our poor finishing is starting to cost us points! 

The first half of the Bristol City game is the first time we'd been outplayed as we found ourselves 2-0 down. I changed to the second formation at half time and we were all over them but ended up coming up short as we didn't take our chances until the 90th minute when it was too late. 


Next up was Sheff Utd, who we absolutely battered but couldn't finish against, even going 1-0 down to a Billy Sharp breakaway, their only decent chance! We needed an own goal to save us. 


The last game of the month looked like more of the same, again struggling to finish, but we found the way through a 30yrd free kick from Samu Saiz, who has begun to flourish as our Harry Kewell. 


I've had a few issues with players wanting more regular football, but have managed to mostly placate them, aside from Klich and Berardi, who I'm happy to move on and have organised transfers for both of them; 1.5m for Klich and 1.8 for Berra. 

Alioski  and Saiz can play the roles I've given them - I may have to replace one of them on promotion to the Prem, but I'm happy with them for now. 

We have an issue in front of goal that I don't know how to fix. Lasogga is missing too many chances to truly be our Viduka, who was a pure finisher. If I can get somebody in at January, I will. Who can I find that has better attributes than this for the Championship?!


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November 17: 


Inconsistent. Our incredible defensive record has fallen by the wayside this month, however, we did manage to score 6 goals in 4 games, so the attacking side of the team is more what I'd like to see. A big change I made was to give Stuart Dallas an attack duty, as I wasn't happy with his goal scoring contribution, which was a key aspect of Lee Bowyer's play. If Dallas is going to be my Bowyer, he needs to score. He got on the score sheet immediately after I made that change, so I think that will be a good one moving forwards. 

I decided I'll write in a little more depth about games now, including goals and assists, so here goes: 

Brentford 2 - 0 Leeds:

The Brentford loss was poor and we didn't deserve anything from the game. I decided to promote Kun from the 23s to encourage his growth as my Bridges/Fowler character. It didn't work as I brought him off the bench to not really do much. 

Leeds 1 - 0 Boro: goal - Braithwaite OG

This could have gone either way, but we nicked it in the 88th minute with a free kick played accross the box by Saiz to Flamini, who drove it in, taking a massive deflection on the way. One of those games you're delighted to get the win as they make the difference in a long season. This was a good game from Craig Forsyth, our Ian Harte, as he put several dangerous balls into the box. I haven't been blown away by him so far and will probably change his role to a wing back to get him a bit more involved in areas he can cross from. 

Wolves 4 - 2 Leeds: goals - Kun (a Lasogga), Dallas (a Alioski) 

We went behind early, to a very dangerous Wolves side, but turned it around through goals by Kun, scoring on his first league start, after running on to a Lasogga flick on, and Dallas, tucking in an Alioski (playing as Kewell, rather than Smith) cross at the back post. This was a classic Lee Bowyer goal so I hope to see many more of these. Disappointingly, we crumbled as Wolves turned the screw and conceded 3 after going ahead. We also lost Alioski to injury for a month, which was very annoying! 


Barnsley 2-3 Leeds: goals - Cooper (a Hanson), Jansson (a Grot), Hanson (a Grot)

This was a huge win for us. Another late goal gave us a win against promotion rivals Barnsley. We were hanging on in injury time, but we made it. 

We sit 3rd at the end of the month. The board are delighted (I chose top half as my season expectation as I didn't think I had the players for the tactic) and have already given me another contract. I have attempted to bring in another option to play the Kewell role, a young scotsman available on a pre-contract. If I get him I'll post his profile on here. 



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December '17: 


A very strange month as we went 3 games without a win, then seemed to fix our goalscoring problem by scoring 10 goals in 2 games to win consecutively for the first time in a couple of months, before losing 3-0 against Birmingham. We finish the year in 3rd. 

Obviously, Lasogga hasn't scored. I'm cancelling his loan; he is not our Viduka. 



Leeds 1-1 Villa: Goal - Ekuban (a Kun)

This was the first time we've been outplayed at home, but fortunately we still came away with a point. Nice to see Ekuban on the scoresheet. If I don't find a replacement for Lasogga,he'll be my target man. 

QPR 1-1 Leeds : Goal - Roofe (a Phillips)

Disappointed not to win this one as we looked comfortable, but unfortunately we conceded an own goal from Ayling. 

 Leeds 0-2 Norwich 

This was poor. We were on top and conceded from a ball over the top. Once Norwich got in the lead we just couldn't get back. 

Leeds 5-3 Hull - Goals: Saiz 3 (a Alioski 2, Dallas) Alioski 2 (a Lasogga, Dallas)

We finally managed to break our goalscoring hoodoo in this game, with great style. I decided to swap Alioski and Saiz, and dropped Saiz to be a shadow striker. It worked to great effect as he got a hat-trick and Alioski picke0) d up 2 from the left. Our defending was poor though and I always felt like we might throw it away! Sadly, shortly after his 3rd goal, Saiz picked up an injury and ruled himself out for 3 weeks. 

Burton 3-5 Leeds - Goals: Turner OG, Cooper (a Grot), Cibicki (a Hernandez), Hernandez (a Lasogga), Lescott (a Hernandez)

I made a few changes and we shared out the goals this time. Once again, we tried to throw it away at the back, but got through. 

Birmingham 3-0 Leeds: 

This looks like a pasting, but it was actually a close game, apart from 2 long range rockets that we had no chance with. One of those that you just wipe yourself down and move on. 



So, onto January. I'll be looking for a new Viduka and Lasogga is going back. We look good for a promotion push, but can we keep this going the second half of the season? 

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6 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

It's bizarre, Lasogga should make mincemeat of the Championship.

I know. His attributes are brilliant. I can't understand it. We're competing right at the top of the league, despite having a striker that can't score. 

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January '18: 


Not the best, could have been so much better. Plus, some interesting squad changes. We're 3rd, but the league is very tight, a couple of losses could see us tumble from the playoffs. 

Leeds 2-1 Forest: (Ekuban x2 (a Hernandez, Alioski)
This was huge. The first game after Lasogga's loan was cancelled, Ekuban came in with 2 big goals to win the game. He'll be getting a solid run up top now.


Leeds 1-2 Arsenal (Ekuban)

Ekuban scored again and I thought we'd win this at the 87th minute. Unfortunately they scored twice between then and the final whistle and nicked it, but we played brilliantly. I was actually happy not to have a replay though! 

Ipswich 1-1 Leeds (Saiz) 

Another heatbreaker, as we conceded an own gaol in the 88th minute to lose two points. Saiz scored from the edge of the area to give us the lead and what looked like a great away win, but it wasn't to be. These moments may cost us auto promotion. 

Leeds 3-0 Millwall (Cibicki, Ekuban, Roofe) a Cibicki, Ekuban

Ekuban has become a goal machine. We throughly dominated this game and should have won by more. Cooper was sent off lte on to taint an otherwise perfect performance. 

Hull 5-2 Leeds (Phillips, Alioski) a Cibicki, O'Kane. 

We went ahead early doors, then we utterly capitulated. The less said, the better. 



Shifted some deadwood. I didn't want to lose Dallas, but 10m was silly money for him and he wanted to go to Newcastle so I took it. So, with only a short time to go in the window, I need to replace my Lee Bowyer! I went after Conor Hourihane, and agreed a deal, but it fell through due to not being able to cover his wages of 35k as well as the fee of 9m. Instead, against the clock, I brought in this guy: 



Dempsey is certainly not the finished article, and I hope to increase his mental attributes in some areas, but I think he could be great. If he doesn't work out long term, he hasn't cost me too much! 

Ekuban is flourishing, but he certainly won't be our target man in the future. We need a Viduka! 


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Too bad about Lasogga........maybe he was injured before he joined you on loan. Injuries often lead to dismal goalscoring form. I had a CF/(Kasper Doiberg) with similar Stats in Ligue 1 leading the league with 20 goals in December got hurt (about a month) and didn't score a goal until the final game of the season.

What are Ekubuan's stats?

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Here's Lasogga:


Now Ekuban: 

In every key area, Lasogga crushes Ekuban; yet Lasogga only scored in one game for me, and Ekuban has 7 goals in 11 starts and 4 sub appearances. I've done nothing to change the tactic, so I am baffled. 

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February '18:


An unbeaten month comes at the perfect time. We are not missing Lasogga at all as Ekuban continues in great form. Kalvin Phillips also came to the fore with a couple of goals and great performances. We're in a ding-dong battle with Norwich and Villa at the top, all equal on points, with Norwich holding a game in hand advantage. 


Alioski and Saiz have been brilliant recently. I do wonder if I'd be running away with the league if I'd started with them in these roles! I'm still happy either way though, as I didn't expect this tactic to be so successful with these players. 

Leeds 4-2 Cardiff (Ekuban a:Cibicki, Phillips a:Saiz, Dempsey a:Alioski, OG)

We made this a lot harder for ourselves than it needed to be, but I always felt we had enough going forwards to keep Cardiff at bay. The main forward players were sensational and I was really pleased that Dempsey arrived at the back post to score on his debut. 

Sheff U 0-2 Leeds (Cibicki a:Vieira, Saiz a:Roofe) 

It'd been a while since we got a win and a clean sheet! It took us an hour to get the first goal, but we thoroughly deserved the 3 points. Cibicki has played well whenever I've used him. He doesn't have a future in my vision for the new O'Leary's Leeds, but he's working well for me here!

Leeds 3-2 Bristol City (Phillips, Lescott a:Jansson, OG)

We got off to a flier in this game, with Kalvin Phillips burying a free-kick on 3 minutes. Unfortunately though, Bristol City brought it back both times we went ahead. Their second goal came in the 85th minute and I was furious as I felt we should have buried the game, but we nicked it with an OG in the last minute after a goal mouth scramble at a corner. 

Derby 0-0 Leeds: 

We got away with murder here. They slaughtered us and we owed Wiedwald as he made a great save from a penalty. 

Leeds 1-1 Brentford (Hernandez)

2 points dropped in a close promotion battle. I'm disappointed with this one, but we actually went behind, so we were up against it to even get the 1 point, although we did deserve more on the balance of play. 


The next two months are huge for us. We have some really challenging games, but I don't have reason to doubt our form. I've increased our scouting range to Europe to look towards potentially being in the Premier League next season, expecting to need to find some bargains!


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Thanks for your Story. I´, currently playing Leeds by myself and enjoy you writing...


IF you are looking for a new Rio Ferdinand take a look at Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax Amsterdam... in my Save he has amazing mental Stats...good technique..and he is 18 ;)

maybe take a look

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1 hour ago, Katangi said:

Thanks for your Story. I´, currently playing Leeds by myself and enjoy you writing...


IF you are looking for a new Rio Ferdinand take a look at Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax Amsterdam... in my Save he has amazing mental Stats...good technique..and he is 18 ;)

maybe take a look

Thanks mate. Yes I’m aware of De Ligt but he won’t come to me at this point. I have just signed Perr Schuurs. Gonna try and develop him and see how he might fit the role.

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March '18: 


I spoke too soon! Our from dropped off a cliff and those draws at the end of last month became the start of a 5 game run without a win, instead of the end of 5 games unbeaten! Boro and Reading were particularly painful games as our tactic that has been great all season, looked completely lacking. I know that no tactic will be perfect, but in the past at least our energy and closing down has made the difference. At this stage of the season, our lack of leadership in the team may be a major issue. 



Look how tight it is! We could be champions, or we could finish 8th! You can see above our final run of games as well, including many of our rivals. My confidence is evaporating rapidly and I'll be happy with top 6 here.

Boro 3-0 Leeds 

We got completely taken apart. I backed off at the start of the game, playing a counter mentality and it cost me badly as I think our energetic closing down would have been much better. Dempsey was sent off for a rash tackle in the second half, but we were already 3-0 down by that point. 

Leeds 1-1 Wolves (Alioski pen)

Against one of our promotion rivals, this felt like 2 points dropped as we missed some great chances in the second half, including Saiz shooting straight at the keeper from 5 yards out. Considering our thrashing against Wolves last time though, we can't be too gutted. 

Reading 2-0 Leeds

Again, awful. We picked up 4 yellow cards, and that's pretty much all we did. Reading defended deep against us and we just didn't have the creativity on the day. 

Leeds 3-2 Sheff Weds (Cibicki 2 a:Jansson & Roofe , Phillips a:Roofe)

We were desperate for a win to get back into some form here and Cibicki came up big for us, playing in the Kewell role on the left wing. As I mentioned before, he may not be the guy for us going forwards, but he's certainly chipping in at important times. At this point I was asking when we might get a clean sheet again? This game was also painful, as we went 2-0 up, before Weds brought it back to 2-2. Fortunately, Phillips came up with the winner. 

Leeds 2-0 Bolton (Roofe a:Cibicki, Forsyth)

We finally got a clean sheet again! Roofe came in to play as our Michael Bridges type forward as Ekuban has gone back off the boil after impressing for a run of games and was rewarded with a goal. Forsyth sealed the win late on witha cross that flew straight in. I'm disappointed he's not scored more playing as our Ian Harte, who always had goals and assists up his sleeve. 


So that's the month. We came out of the end of it well after an awful start. We've now got the toughest run of our season to finish and I just don't know where we'll end up. I've never had a season where so many teams are competing so closely together. Anybody from 7th upwards is in with a shot of the title. 

I've decided to move players round in the roles again as I think we're missing the intensity that we had from using a defensive forward, which I think is the true Alan Smith role. I'm going to try Alioski back there again as he is best suited to it, with Cibicki as our Kewell and Saiz wide on the right. Wish me luck! 



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8 hours ago, Ellandroadhero said:

Thanks mate. Yes I’m aware of De Ligt but he won’t come to me at this point. I have just signed Perr Schuurs. Gonna try and develop him and see how he might fit the role.

Schurrs could be an excellent choice.

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April & May 18:

So, the end of season climax. It could barely have been closer, as it went down to the final day. Were we fighting to stay in the playoffs, fighting our way back in, or competing for the title?

I'll take you through it one game at a time for added suspense!

Fulham 0-2 Leeds (Saiz a:Cibicki, Alioski a:Ekuban)

This was a huge win to start off our toughest run of the season. As I mentioned above, I felt we missed having a defensive forward and returned Alioski to that role. Our pressing was much better and we never let Fulham settle. I was delighted with Alioski's goal as it came from a perfectly executed counter as Fulham were pressuring us. After that we looked comfortable. This was a particularly big win as Fulham were the form team coming into the game. 

Leeds 1-1 Sunderland (Ekuban a:Cibicki)

I felt this was two dropped points as Sunderland were languishing low in the table, but to be honest, we didn't deserve to win the game. In contrast to the last game, Alioski was anonymous and our pressing was getting us nowhere. Ekuban buried our only decent chance in the game to keep us in touch at the top. Whilst we were losing, we'd dropped down to 5th, such was the competition in the top 6. 

Preston 2-3 Leeds (Roofe x3 a:Ekuban, Phillips)

For this game I decided to rest Alioski as he was very tired and this was one of our easier fixtures in the run in. His replacement in the DF role, Kemar Roofe, made hay, coming away with the match ball! His second goal particularly pleased me, as he won the ball from their centre back and finished, which is pretty much exactly what I want from a defensive forward. Roofe brought something different to this role, leading me to decide to stick with him for the next game and shift Alioski back left, at the expense of Cibicki, who probably didn't deserve to be dropped. 

Aston Villa 2-2 Leeds (Roofe a:Ekuban, Ekuban a:Dempsey) 

This game was one of a few in the season that really put me through the mill. We were 2-0 down after 52 minutes, against one of our main rivals, who would leapfrog us into 2nd with the win. Their 2nd goal was particularly awful after Ekuban played a ball all the way back to our keeper, who didn't come and get it, leaving an easy goal for Scott Hogan. At that point I thought we'd left ourselves too much to do, but I brought on Flamini and Dempsey to mix it up a bit in midfield and we got a quick reply through Kemar Roofe, who justified me keeping him in the side! It wasn't until the 89th minute that Ekuban headed the equaliser from a Dempsey cross. It's safe to say I was delighted! However, we did drop down to 3rd as Barnsley, our next opponents, won.

Leeds 4-3 Barnsley (Ekuban x2 a:Forsyth & Roofe, Roofe x2 a:Saiz & Phillips)

Another epic! It felt like we won the game twice, as Ekuban and Roofe, forming a great partnership, akin to Viduka and Smith, at the perfect time, put us 2-0 up before half-time. I really enjoyed the first goal, as Ekuban bulleted a header in from a Forsyth cross from deep, exactly as I remember Viduka doing from an Ian Harte ball in. 

Unfortunately though, we didn't respond to Barnsley turning the screw and they managed to bring the score back to 2-2. I went very attacking with the tactic, raising the tempo even higher and increasing closing down, as I was desperate for us to get back into the lead. We couldn't afford to draw with the league so tight (Birmingham would have been 5 points away from us with them in 1st and Fulham winning had pushed us down to 4th. However, we managed to grab the winner in the 90th minute, after Ekuban buried it from 5 yards after Roofe headed the ball across goal. With that, we were back in 2nd place, 3 points behind leaders Birmingham.


Norwich 0-2 Leeds (OG, Jansson a:Saiz) 

At this point I began to feel that the football gods were on our side. Norwich were comfortably the better side, but we came out with the points! We went ahead through an own goal after Saiz's cross was turned in under pressure from Ekuban. Naismith hit the post from a penalty to keep us 1-0 up at half time. 

We were better in the second half, but definitely still hanging on. Alioski was given a perfect chance to bury the game as Roofe was fouled in the box, however, he put the penalty straight down the middle and it was saved. Fortunately, Jansson was a rock at the back and was rewarded by heading in a 91st minute corner from Saiz to finally allow us to breathe a sigh of relief. We'd go into the final game 2nd, equal on points with Birmingham, who had lost, and only 3 points ahead of Fulham in 3rd place. Fortunately for us though, 1st place Birmingham were playing 3rd place Fulham in the final game, so we knew that winning our final game would guarantee us promotion and could even see us crowned champions.   


Leeds 2-0 QPR (Roofe a:Alioski, Saiz a:Phillips) 

From the 4th minute of the game after Roofe put us 1-0 up, the result was never in doubt. QPR couldn't deal with our tempo on the day and we fully deserved the win and promotion! Not even a 2nd missed penalty in 2 games by Alioski could ruin our day! Finally, Leeds United back in the Premier League! The question of the title remains though... 


Fulham managed to defeat Birmingham on the final day, meaning that Birmingham, who had topped the league for a long time, bottled it and dropped into the playoffs and giving us a totally unexpected, Championship title in our first season! 

Here's a screen shot of our end of season form, which we massively owed to the partnership of Ekuban and Roofe. 


End of season review to come!



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End of Season Review:

Hard to say much more than it far exceeded expectations! I never expected that our squad would work well with this tactic, but we seemed to have the physical stats to maintain it, which was the key! We will need to make some important signings next season to stay up, which will be our only goal, but I don't see why we can't defy expectations again. 

We didn't get 20+ goals from our Viduka character, initially expected to be Lasogga, who couldn't hit a barn door. However, Ekuban, who came in from the cold in january, hit 12 goals in the second half of the season. Perhaps even more impressively than that though, was Kemar Roofe's run of goals in the last month of the season, which were instrumental to driving us onto the title. Perhaps if I'd considered him earlier for our Alan Smith role, he could have been top scorer in the league! We also had Alioski and Saiz score double figures, these two both played as either Kewell or Smith for the whole season, until I moved Saiz to the right in the Bowyer role at the end of the season to accommodate Roofe. 

Key areas I want to address next season - a premier league quality Viduka, a settled right midfielder to play in the Bowyer role, a quality BPD (still no clue about a Rio just yet!) and a goal keeper. We need our Mr Reliable Nigel Martyn. 

Here's the end of season awards:



I'll report back when I have some transfer news! I've been given 35m to spend, which is going to require some good wheeling and dealing to get everything I need. 


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Season 2018-19

Pre-season - Aug 18:


So quite a lot happened in the summer. I'd already arranged transfers for Morgan, who has great potential to be a long term Harry Kewell for us, and Perr Schuurs, who I think will be our long term Woodgate. However, unfortunately Morgan got a cruciate ligament injury before he arrived so he'll miss the majority of the season. 

The first big money transfer was Albrighton, who we got from relegated Leicester - I think he will be a major step up playing as a right sided wide midfielder. Perhaps not a complete Bowyer type player, but he has great mentals and should weigh in with goals, which is what I want from him. 

Next up Kenneth Zohore. Ekuban did brilliantly at the end of last season, but we needed an upgrade for the Premier League. I had to buy from the Championship as unfortunately I failed to get anybody else due to major wage budget issues. He could be great for us, but he wasn't my first choice.


Next was the big one. I really hope this is our Nigel Martyn for a significant time. for 19m, Jack Butland! 


Costas and Velazquez come in to strengthen a weak back four. Velazquez was transfer listed by Atleti and rated really highly by my scouts. He has the PPM 'brings ball out of defence' and I think he has a chance to be our Rio, although if he's not, he's cost us nothing major. 

Arfield came in free from Burnley and gives us an option in the Bowyer and Kelly role, which is important as the team doesn't have Premier League depth.

I went for Hugill as he has amazing mental and physical stats for a defensive forward and might be our ideal Alan Smith. Roofe's goals were key at the end of the season, but that's not really his role. 


I got Jefferson on transfer deadline day as I had no other left back. 

Major outgoings were Cooper, who I could get a decent fee for and wasn't gonna be great in the prem, Anita, and Sacko. I hope I might move others out in January. I had to sell clauses from several older transfers to raise some extra cash to get players in, including Lewis Cook and Stuart Dallas's sell on fees. 

I have to say I think we have strengthened, but nowhere near to the level I'd hoped. I'm really not convinced Zohore will do the business for us, but I know Hugill could also that role and we'll bring Roofe back in to the starting line up. I think we will be in a relegation dog fight with this squad. 


I won't say much about the friendlies, as frankly, who cares. However, the season started incredibly for us! The only game I expected us to win, the Preston game, we lost, but the other two were amazing results. 

Leeds 5-1 Burnley (Hugill 2 a:Albrighton, Saiz; Saiz 2 a:Hugill; Albrighton a:Saiz) 

Just an absolute dream start. Hugill was unplayable on his debut and Saiz, on from the bench in the second half, made mince meat of the Burnley right back. Albrighton scored at the back post on his debut as well, which was great to see. The only blot on the performance was Zohore missing a sitter from 5 yards and then going off injured. I pray he's not another Lasogga.


Top of the league!


Bournemouth 4-5 Leeds (Roofe 3 a:Hugill 2, Alioski; Hugill a:Albrighton; Jansson a:Saiz) 

This was miraculous! We were 3-0 down at HT and 4-1 down after 63 minutes but Roofe and Hugill really turned it on in the last half an hour and Pontus buried a header from a corner in the 81st minute to give us a shock lead. After the whistle went I couldn't believe it! 6 points from our first 2 games is glorious.


Leeds 1-2 Preston (Ekuban a:Flamini)

I played the reserves. We went 1-0 up and then played crap. It proves we don't have the depth in this squad. We will need to keep our core players fit. 



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48 minutes ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

Brilliant comeback against Bournemouth. Good luck in the league!

Thanks mate! At 3-0 down I was thinking, ‘this is what it’s really going to be like this season!’ Perhaps it is, it’s too early to tell, but we’ve certainly got grit. 

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2 hours ago, soyos said:


lovely write-up.

Please share more information about your tactics development (442 and secondary 4312 narrow), players growth.

Hi mate, I’ll try and do this tomorrow! I’ve actually ended up playing pretty much exclusively with the 442 as it’s been so successful! Thanks for your interest! 

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Well, the Premier League is going alright! 3 great results and again, we lost the one I thought we could get a result from. 

Leeds 2-0 Tottenham (Alioski a:Ayling; Saiz )

Spurs had 28 shots to our 7, but no real clear cut chances to speak of. Butland only got a 6.7, so he didn't have to make a number of saves. Spurs were taking a lot of long shots due to our strong defensive line. Both our goals came from throw ins from the right wing, which we then worked into the box. Firstly, Ayling crossed to Alioski at the back post on the half hour mark to give us the lead. Then midway through the second half we did the same, only hugill challenged their defender and the ball came to Saiz, on for Alioski in the Kewell role, 15 yards out who made no mistake. We were comfortable after that. 

Huddersfield 3-0 Leeds

This was much like the first half of the Bournemouth game, only this time, we didn't have the comeback up our sleeve. We were carved open waaay too easily. 

Leeds 3-0 Swansea (Saiz a:Alioski; Hugill a:Jefferson; Vieira a:Albrighton)

Our most dominant performance so far. We took the lead on 22 minutes, but always looked like we'd win, from the first whistle. Saiz, this time playing in the Bowyer role on the right, scored from the back post after good wing play from Alioski. Hugill then got himself on the score sheet again after Jefferson put a great cross in from deep and Hugill buried the header. Vieira put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time after Albrighton kept the ball alive after a corner was cleared and Vieira finished from the edge of the box. 


Man Utd 1-1 Leeds (Hugill a:Roofe)

I didn't have high hopes for this game at all, but we came away from our first league game against Man United in over a decade, with a point! We'd gone for a counter attacking formation, with our midfield two dropped into DM strata and frustrated Man United for an hour. However, we gave the ball away in the middle and they transitioned too quickly for us, Forsberg burying their first clear chance. However, it wasn't over for us, as we pushed up to try and get something from the game. Again we scored late on, with Man United leaving themselves exposed and Hugill scampering onto a through ball from Roofe to grab the point. 5a378f73927d5_ScreenShot2017-12-17at15_40_28.thumb.png.37ad427b01671743992b7f3d6660fee1.png


Being underdogs is definitely suiting us as teams are giving us sopace to run in behind. Hugill is proving a great signing, we just need Zohore to score now he's back from injury.

As @soyos asked, here's our current tactic:


The only change from our original tactic was to give the right midfielder an attack duty, as I needed him to get into the box more often and score goals as Bowyer did. It seems to be working well!

Intensity is a key part of this tactic - as you can see, the bar is quite high. We have 'get stuck in' 'higher tempo' and 'prevent short gk distribution' ti's on for that reason. Our forwards and right mid also have close down much more, mark tighter, tackle harder on and we have OI's to close down, tackle hard and mark tight all defenders as we want to win the ball high up and overwhelm our opposition with energy, as O'Leary's Leeds did. It's risky tactic for injuries and bookings, but worth it. I also train fitness and tactics most of the season and need players with high physical and mental attributes, which I believe is why we have scored so many late goals.  

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The comparisons to the 90s/00s Leeds have made this really interesting, so I’ll be reading onwards. Keep it up please!

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4 hours ago, Ropo said:

The comparisons to the 90s/00s Leeds have made this really interesting, so I’ll be reading onwards. Keep it up please!

Thanks so much. i will be keeping it up. I'm having a lot of fun with this save; it's really made it a challenge for me, to try and find those players to reflect the team I remember. 

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October 18:


A much tougher month! We couldn't score in the first two games, but came back strong in the final game. 

Leeds 0-1 Fulham 

Although we've lost by more in other games, this was our worst performance. We had nothing going forwards and couldn't get through Fulham's bodies at the back. 

Southampton 3-0 Leeds

We couldn't get near Shaqiri and Gabbiadini and honestly could have lost by more. Again, no real chances to speak of. 

Leeds 4-1Birmingham (Hugill x3 a:Zohore x2, Albrighton; Jefferson pen)

This was badly needed. Hugill's finishing was fantastic and he is our signing of the season so far, no doubt. he scored a header, from a knockdown and a one on one. Jefferson's pen was pleasing as he pays in the Ian Harte role, he needs to weigh in with goals from set pieces. Zohore's finishing is a worry as he missed two chances, but he's got the flair and assists of Viduka. 



3rd in the league 3 months in, is miraculous! Hugill is top scorer in the league, which is something Alan Smith never was, but he's playing incredibly in that role and I can't complain! I don't know why I can't get goals from Zohore though. When he starts scoring, I'll be delighted!

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