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Will be updated with screen shots - in particular squad view, attributes, PPMs and tactics - over the weekend hopefully*

In line with Herne's recent challenge https://community.sigames.com/topic/433557-tactical-challenges-2-tis-and-pis/ I'm taking over management of Leverkusen.

This will be my first foray into the Bundesliga for a number of years (Ulf Kirsten, Oliver Neuville, Michael Ballack and a young Dimi Berbatov were running the line for Leverkusen last time I played a German League).

Thanks to BT sport, and my particular admiration of Schalke and Hoffenheim, I'm fairly au-fait with the current state of German football, the players and squads.

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The manager:

Westy Chimp

Bit of a cheat, I've set myself as a superstar with high attributes. This isn't intended to be a long term save taking a minnow to glory over the course of a lifetime, the challenge is tactical so why make my life harder than it needs to be?

Born in Koblenz, my favourite part of the beautiful Mosel valley, I cut a rotund figure from a life of gluttony in the wine region. I have adopted second nationality of Portuguese.  I wont have a huge budget in the short term at Leverkusen; Portugal is one of my favourite leagues to steal good young talent at a reasonable price. I'll want to stamp my authority on the squad with some senior players in season 1, but somewhere down the line, the likes of Quieros, Dalot, Rui Pires, Rui Pedro, Nuno Santos, Pedro Neto etc will be on my radar.

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Quick assessment of squad:

First step when I assess is a squad is sorting out my 'squad view' - add columns; ability, potential, personality.

Overall ability is fair in line with expectations. Media prediction 3rd, board expectation was Europa qualification - I upgraded to Champs Lg Qualification to enhance my budget.

Potential is good. 2 or 3 players certainly have potential to be world class. Akkaynak, Havertz, Bailey, Brandt look like the cream of the crop. First action; tutor Akkaynak and Havertz. Both have good PPMs so my priority is to increase their determination and professionalism. Thankfully we have plenty of good personalities in the senior ranks, Sven Bender and Volland are my first point of call.

Overall personality is very good. By the time I've demoted some waste to U19's there's scarcely a 'balanced' person in the squad, let alone any of the negative alternatives. Possibly the best squad personality I've come across other than perhaps Juve on FM17.

Attributes & PPMs are encouraging. Considering the challenge is to not use PI/TI, the amount and combinations of PPMs throughout my midfield and tack looks like my task will be made a lot easier.

The strikers have a theme of playing with back to goal, good work rate and teamwork. The midfielders like to paly one twos and pass rather than shoot. The wingers all like to cut inside.

This is all building a tactical DNA in my mind ... back to goal, one twos, passing rather than shooting, cutting inside to overload the middle - screams at me for a slow, patient & precise build up. Strikers can hold the ball up while the wingers cut inside, CMs can get up the pitch playing one twos to have bodies around the striker.

In terms of squad depth and first 11 there are no major weak areas.

Alario is banned until September, Kiesling is ageing, Volland may be needed as RW and Pohjanpalo doesn't meet the standards I'm after. Target 1; I need a striker comfortable as first choice or rotation.

There are several injuries at the back and no second choice for LB. Target 2; A CB good enough to open the season but then willing to take a back seat. Target 3; A LB as backup to Wendell, or possibly first choice as Wendell doesn't look amazing.

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Staff:

During a traditional save this would entail a total overhaul. Step 1; request more coaches. Step 2; remove dead wood. Step 3; search for coaches/scouts that are of a suitable standard, usually based on determination, motivation, discipline & personality/ JA, JPA respectively. Step 4; max out my physios and data analysts etc.

However, this is not a priority with this save. All I have done is sign 2 good coaches to fill the available spaces and then just signed youth coaches/physios etc as they are presented to me in news items.

I'll do a 'deep-dive' staff review in season 2

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Recruitment:

£15m, £6m excess wages

Dolberg - negotiated to £30m. Out of my price range.

Dembele - £16m accepted but I  tried to hard to reduce his salary and he pulled out.

Di Santo - Loan agreed but after a delay I withdrew. I was reluctant to pay his £3.5m wage once I'd secured another option.

Petagna - DONE DEAL £12.5m with reasonable wage. One of my favourite strikers for any team but the elite. Has the work rate, teamwork and PPMs that will really fit in with my squad. Determination a little low but Petagna is young and I have the consummate pro in Kiesling as a ready made tutor -

Quieros - a hot prospect, not quite good enough to make the first 11 whilst I have injuries, reluctantly pulled out of bidding at circa £5m.

Ashley Williams - I like his PPMs and he has the ready made ability, £5m accepted, but broke down on wage negotiation.

 Mertesacker - Sentimental effort here, ultimately too costly for his age and wage was out of my reach.

Maresic - DONE DEAL £2.5m and low wage. A youngster I've gone to before, looks even better in the update, ticks my box for CA and PA.

With not a lot left in the kitty I took to the loan market. Loans are a good way of allowing for early doors injuries and/or tactical changes whilst you settle.

Jordan Lukaku - DONE DEAL. Potential to fight Wendell for first choice. Has PPM to get forward and knock ball past opponent.

Ganso - DONE DEAL.  I'm playing a slow build up tactic and he fits the bill as an attacking CM or AM. PPM likes to pass rather than shoot is appealing.

Joaquin Correa - DONE DEAL. Similar to Ganso in what he brings to the table. Like my other wingers he also likes to cut inside.

On my radar if the budget comes next year; 

Alfred Duncan - good all round stats, served me well on FM17 in Jambos Sassualo challenge.

Roberto Sensi - Same as Duncan, a player that's done me well in the past,

Arthur - Wonderkid Brazilian playmaker,

Tierney - Pacey determined young LB,

Fiete Arp - Looks like a young striker in the mould of my current strikeforce.

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Tactics:

Going back to squad DNA I already had some ideas of playing slow - this means I need bodies between the lines to keep possession and allow the team to progress into attacking positions, rather than have a top heavy formation or two strikers to enable direct play.

Back 4 picks itself with lack of options. I dont have enough CBs to entertain the idea of a back 3. My left backs have more pace than anyone who can play RB so I suspect I'll have an attack duty there and either a FB s or IWB s on the right

I have the Bender boys, Dominic Kohr, Baumgartlinger who all have the traits of a BWM (not a role I fancy) but certainly can all play their trade as a DM/AN/CAR/BWM/CM(D) - I have strength and depth with that list of names so have to encompass at least one of the roles listed.

Playmaker wise I have Aranguiz, Akkaynak, Havertz, Ganso and Correa. As none of the above DMs have playmaker traits I wont have a DLP so I want a PM role in CM or AM strata. Any of these guys can fit the bill.

Wingers all like to cut inside, Bailey, Bellarbi, Brandt, Volland, Correa - so at least one if not both will be IF

Strikers Petagna, Kiesling, Alario, Volland all like to hold up the ball, play with back to goal... and none have Pace. I'm thinking DLF or DF (all have high work rate and teamwork).... TM would work, but not a role I favour as loan striker, especially in a patient build up tactic.

Choices; I'm going to start with two basic formations in very simple setups. 4123 wide, 4231 wide

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in the 4123 I have a question over my Mez (A) ... the role will fit well, but I don't have the ideal player. I'm eyeing up Havertz/Correa/Ganso whos PPMs should keep them akin to a playmaker, but the MEZ role will  encourage them to get up the field

In the 4231 it's the same question over DLP (D) - Aranguiz possibly fits the bill, Akkaynak certainly does but maybe too young to be relied on first season.

As identified I have a squad with good spread of attributes and PIs. The challenge is to use only two TIs and 5 PIs - I'm going to start with just 1 TI and 0 PIs (as I have the formation, roles, duties, attributes and PPMs working together in harmony [in theory])

The only TI I want for both formations is 'retain possession' - I have midfielders that like to pass rather than shoot, I have forwards that like to hold the ball up ... this TI will place further emphasis on the overall goal of patient precise build ups. I don't expect to score hundreds of goals, I expect to be clinical - for lack of a pacey finisher or complete forward/bully i'm going to need to create good chances.

Mentality - standard to start with. During the game I may need to tweak between attacking/defensive ...

I'm going with Fluid shape to start - on standard mentality I don't hold a great deal of faith that this makes a huge difference... but in theory it should see my strikers drop back more to help defend, and my defenders to push up when we attack. My squad have the work rate and teamwork to pull this off.

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One final comment for now before I start posting some results (spoiler, I got off to an ignominious start with a penalty shootout defeat to what can only be described as a pub team compared to the riches at my disposal... but then came back with a 3-1 away victory at Hertha in the league opener) and proper screen shots to back up the detail above... something you rarely see mentioned on any thread let alone tactics, but I think holds a bearing...

Pitch size - pre-season you have the choice of minimum, standard or maximum. I want my team to have the space and time on the ball to keep possession and if the opponents want to press they are going to have to do it over large distances. I don't have the quickest of squads so I could suffer a lot vs teams who counter quickly with direct balls... but over the course of the season I'm putting faith in the high work rate and stamina of my squad and that on the whole I expect to have more of the ball than my opponents so want to stretch them out.

4123.JPG

4231.JPG

Edited by westy8chimp

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Tactics - early tweaks

First tweak was primarily around making more out of Bailey so giving him an attack duty. To accommodate I had to change a few other roles.

The second tweak was because I was leaking goals against the good sides. So needed a slightly deeper formation with the 2 dms.

tactic tweak 1.PNG

tactic tweak 2.PNG

Edited by westy8chimp

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Half season table shows I was struggling - behind in my prediction and board expectation. I'd started strongly with 4 wins in the first 5 games. But came up against RBL and Bayern in top form. Two big defeats lead to a slump.

I made a couple of tactical tweaks which saw quick wins but I cannot maintain momentum.

 

614931086_halfseason.thumb.PNG.99b5ad0c11d99bd1a03dd4bfc15cd856.PNG

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During this first season the top two teams just charged ahead and I quickly realised the best I could hope for was my media prediction third.

Along with Dortmund and Schalke none of us could maintain form, we'd take it turns to go on winning streaks then losing streaks and certainly in my case too many draws.

Big injuries kicked in - Bender broken leg. Bailey took a 2 mother and my strikers had rotation on in the physio room as much as the pitch.

Discipline cost us on multiple occasions - Volland sent off 1 minute after giving us a lead away from home against Bayern sticks to mind, as we went on to lose that match and start one of many mini-slumps.

A particular low point came near the end of the season when it looked like I'd definitely lost the race for third with Schalke and Dortmund. A 6-2 defeat to RBL saw my brought in, shame faced, to the boardroom to explain myself. I escaped the ignominy of an ultimatum but certainly felt under pressure.

One final tactical tweak, right back to basics ..

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It saw me home to 3rd place with a strong finish. A season without many highlights was very happily signed off with a 4-1 away win, with Schalke losing at home to RBL for a final day swap of position.

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What went wrong?

Besides a few big injuries there were some notable issues.

Looking through my squad on the final day it's alarming to see how few goals we've scored. Petagna top scored with 10! The lowest, I suspect, I've ever had in an FM season.

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The patient approach was great when it worked and some glorious 1-0 wins early doors meant the game plan was coming together nicely.

When the honeymoon period wore off it was soon obvious that we had no plan B. I'd built a squad where the strength was shared traits and similar styles of player..in the end it was our downfall as there was no plan B.

My strikers were too slow and not good finishers, all of them a great second fiddle DLF but none of them a leading man.

I can't pin the blame fully on the front line - I didn't pay enough attention to my defence. I've used players like Tah and Jedvaj on several previous versions of FM and they usually come good. Their starting ability was far lower than I gave credit for (to the point I even loaned Jedvaj out in Jan). I relied heavily on wonderkids Maresic and Retsos.

Lastly, with no European competition, and being knocked out in the first round of the only domestic trophy, I really struggled keeping my players happy. My squad was too big with too few games, and I think that affected overall performances with so much rotation and unhappy players.

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Next season...

I need to invest in a CB. RB (Heinrichs overrated? Lacks pace, determination... can't tackle, head or cross?) and a striker with pace and or finishing.

I also need to look at tactical approach - I still have the core strength of several good defensive midfielders and several good technical midfielders... do I go for a narrow formation overloading central areas? Do I sign another quick winger to match Bellarabi and Baileys pace?

A clearer idea of first team, using cup and Europe to keep the rest happy.

 

Edited by westy8chimp

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I'm also playing with Leverkusen. Here's my tactic and the standings.

 

20180521131236_1.jpg

20180521131228_1.jpg

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@Goretzka doing very well. getting a lot more out of Volland than I have.

Herne wont be happy :) our tactics are very similar except for the TI... so maybe they are very important :D 

I ended pretty well though so I'm expecting better results next season.

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Do you think the problems you have are what many have. Like me sometimes i use one system and after the ai somewhat adapt and because a lot of the players are like for like people struggle to change it. Other than that you have had a solid first season with a platform to build off.

Edited by Bairdy

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On 18/05/2018 at 12:36, westy8chimp said:

...I was leaking goals against the good sides. So needed a slightly deeper formation with the 2 dms.

I find the changes you made due to leaking goals a bit strange, please correct me if i'm wrong.  You went to a 4231 DM with wide players pulled back to get players to defend deeper and shield the DC's, but then made the whole team take lots of risks by using Attacking mentality + Very Fluid team shape and created more space behind you by adding the Push Higher TI on top.  I think you might of lacked pressure up the field with so many deep players to prevent a high line being exploited.

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16 hours ago, westy8chimp said:

I need to invest in a CB. RB (Heinrichs overrated? Lacks pace, determination... can't tackle, head or cross?

I don't know what stats he has on your game, but I'm a few seasons in and he looks like this. I'd say his determination is decent, pace is good, tackling is good for a fullback, and yea his crossing isn't great, but I'd say just about acceptable for a high level fullback. I'd have probably worked on it more in training if he were my player though. Heading is definitely disappointing for a player of his height and standard though, I agree there. Overall I'd still say he's in the upper tier of fullbacks.

henrichs.jpg

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15 minutes ago, summatsupeer said:

I find the changes you made due to leaking goals a bit strange, please correct me if i'm wrong.  You went to a 4231 DM with wide players pulled back to get players to defend deeper and shield the DC's, but then made the whole team take lots of risks by using Attacking mentality + Very Fluid team shape and created more space behind you by adding the Push Higher TI on top.  I think you might of lacked pressure up the field with so many deep players to prevent a high line being exploited.

Correct, I wanted two DMs as a lot of my best players play there... but I still need goals and don't have the players to do it so went attacking. Also with lack of PIs it gave me the higher pressing, direct passing and higher D line I needed.

that said... I only used that tactic on a couple of occasions... a 2-1 win vs Bayern and 0-0 with Dortmund.... and probably the 6-2 defeat to RBL started with that tactic. After that game I solely used the 4123

9 minutes ago, Tom8983 said:

I don't know what stats he has on your game, but I'm a few seasons in and he looks like this. I'd say his determination is decent, pace is good, tackling is good for a fullback, and yea his crossing isn't great, but I'd say just about acceptable for a high level fullback. I'd have probably worked on it more in training if he were my player though. Heading is definitely disappointing for a player of his height and standard though, I agree there. Overall I'd still say he's in the upper tier of fullbacks.

yeah he is listed as wonderkid so i'll see how he goes. whilst agree he has good attributes in your save... they are too broadly spread for me. I'd still sooner see the pace higher.

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16 minutes ago, westy8chimp said:

Correct, I wanted two DMs as a lot of my best players play there... but I still need goals and don't have the players to do it so went attacking. Also with lack of PIs it gave me the higher pressing, direct passing and higher D line I needed.

that said... I only used that tactic on a couple of occasions... a 2-1 win vs Bayern and 0-0 with Dortmund.... and probably the 6-2 defeat to RBL started with that tactic. After that game I solely used the 4123

Just a minor clarification regarding "direct passing" on attacking.  The defend duties are by default on attacking very short passing distance with the aim of playing simple passes to the support whom have more balanced passing and the attack duties have very direct passing to try and break open defences.

I guess this shows the difference in managerial styles, if I don't have the players to get goals i'd focus on clean sheets and just nicking a goal, especially against teams above and around me.  Throwing more players forward who are even worse as scoring/creating just sounds strange.

I'm still not sure why you felt you needed to be so pushed up with a contracted team length (very fluid) with two DMs even if that's there preferred position?  I was expecting you to of just tweaked the 433 into the 4231 and keep the parts you liked as similar as possible rather than basically making a new tactic and a very different team mentality.

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My reasoning is poorly written, due to laptop issues I was retrospectively updating and probably lost a bit of the real thought process, especially as this tactic was my secondary slot and only used for specific couple of games.

 It is a much more attacking style of play overall, you are right in what you say... but to me to go bottom heavy with attacking mentality is to create counter attacks.

Next season I'm still going back to 4123 ... with possibility of a 352 (because I don't like my FBs) or a 4231

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Season 2 - mid season update

Starting in the right frame of mind I've decided to approach this season as I would any other save, instead of focussing solely on tactics in line with the challenge.

First step was to have a word with the board and sort my coaches out;

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Season 2 transfers

Low budget meant, even with net profit after sales, I spent little in the window. I had to go to the transfer listed players to find anyone affordable, much to my surprise I found Vincent Kompany top of the list.

Lapadula wasn't the marquee striker I was after but for reasonable value he was an upgrade (in terms of goal scoring, if not all round ability) and has great personality (Driven).

The rest were squad fillers. except for Trincao, who goes in the u19s for development.

 

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de sciglio.PNG

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Kompany.PNG

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trincao.PNG

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Tactics

Sticking with last seasons 4123 which finished strong, I also added a 4231 to try and tackle my lack of goals.

Nothing too unorthodox in the roles/duties chosen.

The 4231 is now my primary tactic

 

4123.PNG

4231.PNG

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Season form

League form is marginally better, but made to look/feel very good because I'm 15 points closer to first place than I was this time last season.

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Early form was pretty awful, my only left footed defender, Wendell, broke his leg before a ball was kicked which meant Henrichs was playing LB (a player I already had reservations about playing in his own position).

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It feels like I'm in a genuine title race, not due to the form, so much as in the confidence I have now in my teams goalscoring ability. We have almost reached our entire tally of last season in just the first 17 games. And at individual basis Lapadulla has come good and already has more goals than last seasons top scorer.

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In cup and CL I play kids/bteam and rightly suffered. Just scraped 3rd place in my group so after Christmas I look forward to having a crack at the Europa.

 

cup and cl form.PNG

Edited by westy8chimp

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I'm off to Germany in real life for 9 days, may stop in Leverkusen for a pint and go see the stadium for 'immersion' :D 

When I get back I look forward to spending some money in the Jan window. Think I still have some Bellarabi money to squander (probably spend my week on the Mosel thinking about transfer targets).

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11 hours ago, westy8chimp said:

I'm off to Germany in real life for 9 days, may stop in Leverkusen for a pint and go see the stadium for 'immersion' :D 

Awesome :thup:.  Sorry, I haven't been ignoring this thread - I've been to Amsterdam for a few days.

Some good analysis and interesting how you turned things around.  It's always a tough gig in Germany to get past the big two (especially Bayern) so holding your own in 3rd place is no bad thing.

@Goretzka  Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your Leverkusen tactic :).  westy is taking part in a challenge to use a maximum of two Team Instructions (see this thread) so won't be able to use it on this occasion.

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On 25/05/2018 at 00:41, westy8chimp said:

I'm off to Germany in real life for 9 days, may stop in Leverkusen for a pint and go see the stadium for 'immersion' :D 

I was there myself for the Atleti game last year. Lovely, modern stadium.

KUTGW with the save :thup:

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Back from Germany (we didnt go via Leverkusen... Wife didnt comprehend the footballing romantacism that comes with FM devotion). Baby is asleep... Wife at gym... Roland Garros on TV. Perfect playing conditions for FM... 

F#&-£&+ laptop wont work! Hopefully manage to get it fired up at some point this week to at least finish my season or try and retrieve the save file. 

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Managed to finish the season late last night.

Update on season 2 Jan onwards

Transfers

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Arthur - sure everyone knows what he is about by now. A player I've turned to a number of times and suits his description well. This is a player I could build a team around in the future depending where I take this save.

Rhuan - never heard of him, but I had no good young LB nor any first team backup. He has pace and can learn the rest, scouts say he has 4-5 star potential.

Cutrone was a dead line day signing, having sold Alario I needed extra cover but didn't want to commit to buying a striker at this point with Lapadula banging them in and keeping himself fit enough to play every game.

Europa league adventure

... or not as turned out to be the case. Just like in the CL group game I played backups and kids and paid the price. Europe was not a primary focus. At least we went out in a thriller, not with a whimper.

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Continued improvements

As mentioned at the end of season 1, I needed to approach this save in a more orthodox fashion and pay attention to my facilities and off-pitch behaviours.

Additional coaches were added, improving my training. Facilities were improved. Plenty of attention was paid to tutoring and now some PPMs

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League form and season finish

Now for the exciting part. Post xmas break my team carried on form to a 16 game unbeaten streak in the league. We only lost one game in the league for the entire second half of the season, away to Bayern.

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we toyed with first place in a tight top 3 right up till the last days. In GW 33 it all went wrong - I had a frustrating 0-0 with Wolfsburg and was leapfrogged by RBL who put 7!! past Frankfurt (notoriously hard to break down... apparently).

Little did I know how important that 7 goals would be for RBL. They won 7-2, an extra 5 goals to their GD.

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As you can see from the final table. That 5 goals was the deciding factor. We each won 3-0 on the final GW, RBL took the title on goal difference. Gut wrenching, especially as I'd held 1st place (albeit by a fine margin) for long periods.

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Squad goals

The main area I needed to focus on, as summarised at the end of season 1, was scoring goals. We certainly did that, producing very few blanks. Lapadula performed far better than I'd expected and his consistency was a surprise. He finished with 25 league goals and more than double my top scorer last season. I'd say he deserved a winners medal by himself... but RBLs Timo Werner scored 33 in 33 and therin lay the difference between the two sides.

1225935880_squadgoals.thumb.PNG.bdfaac5f257a33c393166bf4d3d9ac22.PNG

 

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Summary

Technically I've completed the challenge. First season I was level with MP (3rd) and 1 place higher than board expectation.

This season my MP was 4th, board wanted CL qualification and I've come second (or joint first as I'd like to think :D )

Thanks for the challenge @herne79 really good idea on two fronts. 1) to challenge those people who think they need to have a plethora of PI and TI (often contradictory in their setup) 2) those naysayers who say FM is becoming too difficult and cant create a simple tactic that works.

I wanted to do your challenge to show that the basics still work. I've certainly done that... I used 0 PI, 0 TI for majority of the time (toying with retain possession for a few early games).

I stuck to Standard mentality 90% of the time, and apart from one mistaken move to very fluid, I was either flexible or fluid in shape.

You'll notice a distinct lack of tactical analysis in my posts. My aim was to prove that FM can, to some extent, still be a plug and play game. In the GD forum there is still a lot of talk that FM has become too elite. I haven't overachieved or done anything spectacular in these two seasons... but surely what I've shown is that by picking a very orthodox formation... with sensible roles and duties (all of 5 minutes effort) I can be successful in a league I'm not familiar with and without spending a great amount on players. (Net gains in the transfer market).

Season 1 - assessed what I had, formulated a plan ... it worked ok.

Season 2 - understood what had let me down (pace and goals) - signed a new striker and added some pace to the side... improved

What next?

I feel like there is unfinished business having come so close to the title. With laptop issues and FM19 not too far away, I think i'll carry on with this Leverkusen side. But probably not with the challenge.

A tactic I've wanted to toy with for a long time is 'Ginga Style', reminiscent, but not a re-enactment/replication, of Brazilian world cup teams of old and new. I'd planned to do a Brazil save - most likely as Santos, the team which gave us Pele....but maybe the juxtaposition of seeing free flowing expressive football in the Bundesliga with such an industrious side as Leverkusen will be a fun way of signing off FM18. (lets just hope I don't lose 7-1 to German ruthless efficiency every game).

I'll assess the squad again and see if I have any players that can start me on my way (agility, balance, flair, technique, vision, dribbling etc) if I proceed it'll probably be a new thread.

Edited by westy8chimp

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Great thread this, top stuff westy.

It's interesting to see what's possible when having a plan, some common sense and not expecting too much.  So much for elitism ;).

Also like the use of 2 support duties in central midfield in the 4231, not something you see often.

Just imagine what you could do with a working laptop!

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1 hour ago, DamianJMcGrath said:

@westy8chimp Why did you change from a CF to a AF?

And what did you see as the major difference between Very Fluid and Fluid? 

The change from very fluid to fluid was influenced by the formation... 4123 being bottom heavy, on control, using v fluid gives a bit more licence for those in defensive positions to push up. 

It wasnt as necessary in a 4231 as thats more top heavy and using fluid was more to pinch the cbs with the cms to make up for a lack of dm. 

CF to AF was personnel based... Id previously had very hard working strong strikers capable of an all round game... Lapadulla much more about playing on the line of defenders than coming deep and linking up

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