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Leverkusen - Season 6 - Challenge #1 - 442

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The Series so far for posterity's sake

https://community.sigames.com/topic/433707-leverkusen-challenge-2/

https://community.sigames.com/topic/434557-leverkusen-continuedginga-style/

https://community.sigames.com/topic/436576-leverkusen-season-4-the-false-9/

https://community.sigames.com/topic/437933-leverkusen-season-5-4-2-3-1/

Season 6 - the Poacher challenge

The game has come full circle - Herne's challenge number 2 reignited my FM interest and as that interest is waning (and as the sand drains on my FM galore week) it's his challenge number 1 where I will finish the series (barring a Disney takeover or an impending challenge #3).

The challenge - https://community.sigames.com/topic/430427-tactical-challenges-1-the-poacher/

To create a tactic using a poacher - and for the poacher to be key in exceeding club expectations. For me this has to be winning the league as per last season, winning German cup or CL would help exceed expectations.

My initial thought was to my beloved Arsenal as a break from Leverkusen. But I started a save and before a ball was kicked Ozil and Aubameyang (key to my plans) received long term injuries. It was fate that Leverkusen had another tale to tell.

The Poacher

I grew up in an era where the poacher role was still important in football, across Europe, certainly in England - picking up the mantel from legends like Linekar. One of my favorites was Inzaghi, but a great advocate of the Poacher was Alex Ferguson. It seems strange that someone so synonymous with hard work and performance almost always used a poacher, considering the role in it's essence is one dimensional - stick the ball in the net. I hated Utd and Ferguson, still do (though wish him good health) but I always respected them and to some extent enjoyed watching them play under his stewardship. You knew you would always get a good attacking game, just a shame you so often knew it would be totally one sided.

His 442 dominance will probably never be seen again, and I had to grow up under a succession of great goalscorers winning titles with the Red F'in Devils; Andy Cole -> The Baby Faced Assassin -> RVN -> Little Pea

Out went the poacher, out went Ferguson and finally out went their dominance. Along with it, any chance of ever watching an entertaining Utd side again, so it's safe to both hate and lack respect of them.

Here is the FM description of the role, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any research offering far different alternatives. It's simple as mentioned above, play off the shoulder and score let your team mates do the hard yards.

1354095898_poacherdescr.thumb.PNG.17664e09ec487672a8acf163f5eadaae.PNG

The key attributes I'm taking (keeping it minimal), acceleration, composure and finishing.

I have two young strikers with a long way to go in their development, but in their raw form they still strike me as worthy poachers.

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4-4-2

In my previous season I wrote about how I like to play FM and that 4231 in my favourite formation. For this season I'm going to combine the poacher role with my favourite real life formation, the 442.

The Golden age of the 442 has definitely past, some teams still use it (At.Madrid, Leicester are recent successful examples), but growing up 90% of teams I watched in the EPL and English League system played 442. I blame Makele, we had DMs before him but they played mostly as the defensive half of the two central midfielders or were all action players (Keane, Vieira). Makele was the first in my memory who anchored just in front of the defence with no attacking intent whatsoever, paving way to the 4123 formation. Modern teams have also moved to deeper roles for the number 10, who used to be a creative striker partner or target man, but is now a midfield role with much more emphasis on distribution and possession.

442 is easy to understand and implement - you don't have central players so you need width, you have two strikers so you can attack quickly and not rely on support. However, it lacks the complexity of passing lanes and angles so can be one dimensional. I'm ok with this because I've now built a reasonably elite team (if a little young) and like last year I expect teams to sit back so width and direct play will be just as useful as any clever playmaker triangles could be.

As mentioned, my memories (painful ones) of successful poachers are in Fergies 442 setup. I'm not trying to replicate his tactic but nor will I shy from elements of it. It's going to be an attacking proactive 442 with pacey attacking wingers.

 

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Very simple back 4. Fullbacks could just as easily be on defend, I don't anticpate them joining attacks at all. I've left them on support in case the wingers need out balls for one twos etc.

I want to attack with width so I've used wingers for both wide men.

Left wing attack;

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Right Wing Support;

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Not quite going for the 'box' defence. Just one defend duty in midfield and that role is a playmaker, paired with a CM s, so pretty aggressive use of midfield. If I was a lesser team with need for a more robust defence I would have a CM-D and BWM-D (or more likely setup up with 2 DMs). I think I can get away with a CMs and not get a real advantage from that role in terms of 'second ball' picking up the pieces. Considering the midfield will be overrun you need at least one all action player. I have Ndombele for the CMs :D 

ndombele.thumb.PNG.0b50518aae816de702171584eaf7bea9.PNG

I don't think there is a single role that doesn't partner the poacher well in some aspect. CF/AF would run the channels more and occupy defenders. DLF, F9, TQ would provide more deep movement and draw defenders out and would be creative roles to assist the poacher. I've chosen to partner the poacher with a target man on support duty. I don't have the personnel which gives the added excitement as I have to go back to market and find a suitable TM (sold Petagna a couple of seasons ago, he was perfect for this!).

I signed two players who aren't perfect but will give something very different to the role.

Monaco was a target I'd identified last season if I'd lost my main striker Hernandez. He is only 20, wonderkid with potential, good mix of technical, mental and physical stats, I think he can play any role - even though he doesn't necessarily jump out as a target man.

1736736217_TMn-Monaco.thumb.PNG.396e4aec24fa916e8d1d8e19a505afa7.PNG

The second is more of a typical target man. Strong, good in the air... except, he is a midfielder. No FM18 save is complete without having signed this man... im sure you have all used him (unless you are purists sticking to LLM), and I think he can be a great TM.

1374537986_TM-Savic.thumb.PNG.e054cc6d092ed7d544fe29b4eb8f9980.PNG

The TIs used;

Close down, high line, high tempo - all to be aggressive and attacking. Without a DM I want to win the ball in and around the half way line and retrigger my next attack immediately. There is space behind which is a weakness - I spoke about this in last seasons thread, I think it's a weakness I can live with.

No PI or OI

 

 

Edited by westy8chimp

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Transfer window

At every window opportunity I thrive in the chaos and see high turnover, so why do anything differently. I didn't have a choice in some cases - great form last year saw us all the way to champions league final, and an early wrap up as league champions, with this comes unwanted interest in my players!

Arthur, Malcom, Dias were all stolen for their release clause. But hey, £200m + to spend, so why not.

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Analysis

I'm not very succinct or orderly with my analysis, I'm writing this first update as usual as I hit the Xmas break. Trying to piece it back is difficult, I took these images as I was playing... so here is a smattering of analysis (use the term loosely, it's some pictures of our goals and in some cases with the linked events).

I'll start with my poacher as that's the primary purpose of the thread, here is a lovely hatrick vs Hoffenheim.

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Fox in the box - throughout the season if I pictured every single goal, probably 90% would be within a yard of the 6 yard line.

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Goal 1 - a very typical goal. In this match I have my main pairing up front, 9 - Bailey (winger) crosses in, 17 - Monaco (TM) nods down, 13 - Hernandez (Poacher) smashes it in.

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Seeing the image I remember why I chose this match - here a cross has been cleared by the defender. You can see it's my number 7 - Ndombele (CMs) who picks up the pieces. Same in goal 3...

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Not only is it goals 2 & 3 making the hatrick for my poacher - but it shows the vital nature of having a physical specimen in the centre, doing the leg work of a DM, BBM and AP.

Here are some more lovely knock downs from Monaco, and Yalcin is the poacher;

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(ok this one is a through ball)

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In the OP I mentioned weakness of 442 being one dimensional attack - look at these two goals, virtually identical, does it feel like a disadvantage ;) ?

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Yalcin is really taking to the poacher role, in this match he had 4 goals by half time... and again see the fox in the box radius in action;

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The target man isn't sole provider so to balance things out and remember this is definitely a 2 striker partnership, not a modern 10-9;

I like this goal, it shows another reason why I like the TM, he encourages the early ball, so an attack can be triggered by anyone, from anywhere... in this case the GK. TM wins the high ball, gets into the box and gets on the end of a cross.

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The next 3 are the target man doing what he does best, putting away crosses

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Speaking of crosses...these files are named Keller and Sane so I'm assuming they are some nice wing play resulting in crosses :D

Yes, this image shows a lovely performance from Keller, three assists from three lovely crosses. I've included the team sheet on the left, in this instance Monaco is in the poacher role and Savic is the TM...both benefit from Kellers delivery.

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I probably should have taken more analysis here, so I've made a note to do so for the second half of the season. This image shows, in my opinion, different between the winger on attack and support. In the previous image, and others before hand, you can see the crosses from the left are certainly more advanced than those on the right. Here is a couple of Sane assists, just showing the benefit of some variation and early balls in.

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Found one more image for analysis, though on opening it isn't pitch side... just shows the wonders of a good partnership. Poacher hatrick of goals - TM hatrick of assists. Must have been during Hernandez's month off as again Savic is the TM provider, Monaco is the Poacher scorer.

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Form

Absolutely splendid. Unbeaten in the league;

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Clean sheets in abundance leave us clear at the top

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And things are no different in the cups or Europe. Shaping up to be a great season

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Here is how the goals/assists are being distributed, Bailey just off the screen only has 1 goal and 5 assists. He's had injuries, had his head turned by the big teams and has been a little off form. More than made up for by his understudy Keller. Hernandez and Monaco neck and neck - with good contributions from the B team Yalcin and Savic.

690422678_squadview.thumb.PNG.a771cd729bda74b8ea81d3a17ef34b84.PNG

 

Edited by westy8chimp

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11 minutes ago, westy8chimp said:

barring a Disney takeover or an impending challenge #3

#3 impending indeed ;).

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26 minutes ago, herne79 said:

#3 impending indeed ;).

just-when-i-thought-i-was-out-gif.gif.495746e6335d99e58f7fb5f07b81ada3.gif

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I wish I knew FM like you :( You're actually insane. You get an idea, work out the plan, execute it perfectly. 

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2 hours ago, Elitee said:

I wish I knew FM like you :( You're actually insane. You get an idea, work out the plan, execute it perfectly. 

Thanks. Its far from perfect... Did you read my struggles in season 1...the plan failed there :D and had a few bumps since. hopefully you can apply some of my simplicity

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Further analysis

This season was about the poacher, but every role works with in a system and if his support and supply isn't sufficient, the poacher may as well not exist.

The Target Man has been my key supporting acts, one of my favourite roles in FM18 (I cant put my finger on what's changed, perhaps a little more mobile, but I'm seeing far more returns this year than previously). I've had two very different TM in my squad, Monaco a young pacey striker with steely determination (comes in at 6'1 so no slouch in the air), and Savic, a big mobile midfielder promoted to TM due to his strength.

It's really interesting seeing how each player plays the role and the subtle, and at times less subtle, way in which they differ. You will see from the final squad view that Monaco actually provided far more for than Savic did... where Savic almost ended with poacher style goal tally.

I think it's fair to say the majority of players and formations centre around short GK distribution and playing out from the back. I've found great success this season by going the other way, route one to the TM who flicks on for the poacher - a move straight out of the 'football book of basics'.

These two are as simple as it gets GK high ball -> TM flick -> Poacher beats the last defender and slots home

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And just as easily, this was a possession turnover to my CB who played a one touch long pass (hoof) TM control and pass to poacher who taps in;

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This one I took pictures as it played out as I could see it coming a mile away, Monaco has received a long ball from the GK;

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Controls it, CB closes down and there is the poacher running behind to calmly slot home just like Owen in his heyday.

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The TM is not just a provider though. Here he is completely running the show with goals and assists vs Liverpool in the CL semi;

One goal the TM receives from throw in - he is always a good receiver - whips in for the poacher. The other circled and shown event is yet another typical assist from deep, collecting from the defence to release the poacher clean through.

You will also see goals from #17 (Monaco) and his replacement #6 (Savic) from inside the 6 yard box. It's important to note the combo of #9 (Bailey) assisting Monaco for his goal.

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This image builds on that comment, it's such a tight cluster with TM scoring 2 and poacher scoring 2 from virtually the same spot on the field. Notice how the cross from the left (Keller) is from deeper, and inside the box in this instance, than the cross from the right... and that it's again Monaco enjoying the rewards...

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This was part design and part find during my save. Where I had an attack duty winger on the left and support duty on the right... it ended up that Bailey/Keller on the left, when making the additional yards to get to the byline, actually gave time for the TM to make late runs deep into the box. Nearly all of the target man goals are assisted from the left winger... and nearly all of the poacher goals are assisted by the TM or RW. In hindsight this is completely logical - the support winger is described as beating his man and putting in an early cross (naturally the poacher is always on the shoulder so will be ready for early cross), the winger on attack dribbling more and crossing from the byline lends itself nicely to the more physical TM to win aerial challenges in the box.

Also it really doesn't have much impact on defensive shape. In fact looking at avg position ... the left wing is more advanced in attack, as we would expect, but also deeper in defence (albeit marginally).

1338049985_averagepositionwingerattackvssupport.thumb.PNG.6f15ecb0103a1946719bea1882951212.PNG

The heat maps further illustrate the same - that we see more extreme movement front and back from the LW

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Here's an example in pictures; If Bailey was on support whipping the early ball, Monaco would be out of action on the right wing. As it happens Bailey controls, moves to the by-line and when he delivers, Monaco is on the 6 yard line to head home.

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Back to the poacher and a nod to things to come, enjoy another neatly clustered hatrick from Hernandez;

191033176_Hernandezhatrick.thumb.PNG.064ff0cb830897f1e7ae4eef77c79f53.PNG

 

crosses poacher two goals tm 2 goals.PNG

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Back to back CL Final

Here we go again. This time just one injury concern, the engine Ndombele recovered from injury 1 day before the final, he takes a seat on the bench

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This time we take an early lead, guess who...

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TM assist, poacher goal.

Ut oh - Madrid score late in the half to change my team talk. Tierney asleep!

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And the second half is off to a bad start, this time the CBs have left Kane completely free;

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Time for my first tactical tweak of the season! RM are dominating the middle with Isco as AP and the wingers happily drifting in. My FB are redundant at this stage. In comes a CB and DM to give us more numbers in the middle. Mentality upped, we need to outwork and outpace them now, Ndombele takes the Mez role that saw him equalise in last years final

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Quick rewards! Guess who.. TM assist, Poacher goal

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Extra time... I can't lose the final again can I?

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Bailey out wide... both strikers moving in to the box

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This time it is an early ball from the left, Bailey sensing the urgency?! This should be dinner time for the TM!

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No - the sneaky poacher again :D Hatrick!!

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Poacher Challenge

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Hatrick in CL final... that does the job surely?

End of season form - stats - squad

We didn't quite manage unbeaten in the league or cup, but just 2 defeats all season in all competitions is pretty good for a basic 4-4-2 setup

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Team stats were completely mediocre, which in an odd way made me happy... we had 11th highest possession, and were top of nothing except clean sheets and crosses.

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But the players tell a different story. Bailey was the stand out player of the division, Hernandez owned the rest of the attacking stats.

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E:

And the squad view, shows Monaco was really important, Bailey improved a lot second half of the season, Savic had no issue as backup striker...

and the poacher Hernandez 39 in 34 starts :D 

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-----------------------

Really enjoyable season backed up with success. I love the simplicity of 4-4-2, play it quick and direct to the target man who releases the poacher... happy days. Or get it out wide and bombard the box with crosses for both strikers to enjoy.

What next?

Challenge #3 taking the worlds best poacher and using him in a strikerless formation! Great ...

Here is how Hernandez looks after another years training... fairly formidable - I can't wait to see him age 25ish. I've trained 'knocks ball past opponent' PPM, it may come even more handy than I thought, as from strikerless position he is going to be dribbling more.

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---------------

any questions or comments on this thread or 4-4-2 in general are welcome

Ta!

Edited by westy8chimp

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The things I like most about this (and your other threads) are having a plan and not over thinking it.

Great stuff westy :thup:.

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The plan is essential, and you've just made a really valid point in the strikerless thread "...before piling into the [FM] tactic creator".

Moving from a simplistic 4-4-2 to a strikerless system is going to result in a lot of change for me... so I'm going to do a very small piece shortly on 'the planning phase'.

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3 hours ago, westy8chimp said:

The plan is essential, and you've just made a really valid point in the strikerless thread "...before piling into the [FM] tactic creator".

Moving from a simplistic 4-4-2 to a strikerless system is going to result in a lot of change for me... so I'm going to do a very small piece shortly on 'the planning phase'.

This will be very helpful for me as i’m doing the exact same thing :D Struggling for initial ideas.. had thought about moving to a strikerless 442 but seems like a cop out

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@westy8chimp just curious, any particular reason you don’t close down more than you’ve chosen to or play the highest possible line on the standard mentality? I tried out your tactic and really liked it, just trying to understand the bits and pieces

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11 minutes ago, Tcufrog said:

@westy8chimp just curious, any particular reason you don’t close down more than you’ve chosen to or play the highest possible line on the standard mentality? I tried out your tactic and really liked it, just trying to understand the bits and pieces

It was probably instinctive... The lack of dm already makes it a pretty high line...so i started with high buy not highest and it worked. 

Im sure a very high line and much more closing down would add risk and reward... You have to find the right balance for your team (pace of defenders etc) and make sure the reward is more than the risk

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1 hour ago, westy8chimp said:

It was probably instinctive... The lack of dm already makes it a pretty high line...so i started with high buy not highest and it worked. 

Im sure a very high line and much more closing down would add risk and reward... You have to find the right balance for your team (pace of defenders etc) and make sure the reward is more than the risk

Sounds good, thanks!

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@westy8chimp revisiting this great thread, I’d really like to give this tactic a go but don’t have a good TM. Do you think a DLF-S and AF combo up top would work? My AF is more of an all around player, would hate to limit him to only the poacher role. Thanks!

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On 17/03/2020 at 19:28, Tcufrog said:

@westy8chimp revisiting this great thread, I’d really like to give this tactic a go but don’t have a good TM. Do you think a DLF-S and AF combo up top would work? My AF is more of an all around player, would hate to limit him to only the poacher role. Thanks!

Dlf and Af is a classic combo. I like it with more of a link up man tho like an Am or Mez... Less so for a 442...dlf-s is looking for link up play.. Af gets dragged out wide into channels a lot... So it cries out for a third attacking option. 

Whereas TM a little more stationary and poacher stays more central than an AF and does less donkey work... Means you can get away with just two strikers and let the wingers work the channels. 

See how you get on, you don't need a perfect tm/po just using the roles might be more optimal. 

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15 hours ago, westy8chimp said:

Dlf and Af is a classic combo. I like it with more of a link up man tho like an Am or Mez... Less so for a 442...dlf-s is looking for link up play.. Af gets dragged out wide into channels a lot... So it cries out for a third attacking option. 

Whereas TM a little more stationary and poacher stays more central than an AF and does less donkey work... Means you can get away with just two strikers and let the wingers work the channels. 

See how you get on, you don't need a perfect tm/po just using the roles might be more optimal. 

Thanks for the feedback, I really like my right striker in the AF role but am open to another duty for the left striker. Thoughts? Unfortunately I don’t have a good target man...

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