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scousevasey

I have been feeling under the weather, so it is time to reach for the BeNeLux

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Welcome to my first career thread.  Having lurked on the site since the Beta of FM17, and being inspired to try different styles of gameplay, now comes my first attempt to document a save.

 

Background

Having grown up with CM01/02 and remembering the split between CM and FM, there were a few years away from the game, having purchased FM09 then a gap until 17, I was looking for something different than taking over Liverpool (own team) and failing to avoid the sack.

Stumbling across the forum I was drawn to the different styles of play and challenges, trying out the British Steel Challenge in FM17, and a Youth Only save using the Level 22 database (only going to L10 though) with Hayes and Yeading in FM18.

 

While I haven't decided to make the leap to FM19 yet, I want to try documenting a save, seeing what happens as I try, usually fail, and how strictly I can stick to the rules I have enforced.

 

Game Setup

As the title suggests I am loading up the divisions in Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg.  I have also added the big 5 as low as they will go (Claassen megapack loaded) as view only

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Filtering for the leagues available, I am going to start in Luxembourg as unemployed and to see what happens

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The Manager

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A Luxembourger, with a second nationality of Belgian, who has no experience in football apart from a friendly kick around (Sunday League is very generous).

Slider for the manager skills set to Youth Development, as that is one of the aims gave the following Manager Stats to start off with

Coaching

Technical - 3

Working with Youngsters - 2

Mental

Youngster Knowledge - 2

Level of Discipline - 2

Man Management - 2

All other stats start at 1

 

Save Aims and Rules

I have only loaded the three countries but want to dominate those leagues.  Each one has a consistent team, or small group of teams that rule the league who I hope to topple before moving on

Belgium

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Holland

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Luxembourg

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1) Win each competition in the three loaded countries (in any order)

2) Stay Youth Only

3) All staff appointments to be made by a Director of Football (appointed by the Chairman)

I may add to this as I go, as I have not decided about moving teams (only when sacked/when jobs offered/applying to others), or about international management yet.

 

Start date is 19th June 2017 (Luxembourg)

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Very first click of Continue brings the first job offer, and first dilemma

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Rosport are in the top Luxembourg league (of two loaded), and predicted mid table.  With the aim to win every competition, it seems odd to skip a league in the beginning but it is an offer.

 

Looking in the Job Centre there are many jobs available in Luxembourg (worst divisions, so seems like the best place to start)

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Job Update

Having decided to ignore the offer from Rosport, and instead wait for a job in one of the lowest loaded leagues three interviews popped up in quick successions

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All three in the Belgian Third Amateur leagues.

 

I attended all three interviews, asking for one philosophy, to develop youth, and nothing else aiming to get offered a job.  KFC Heur-Tongeren were the first to offer a contract for the princely sum of £300 per week.

Club Details

A fairly new team having been formed in 2013, but seemingly well set up

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Average Youth related options, with the club being Semi-Professional

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Media are predicting 3rd (a plethora of teams being promoted into the league.  I assume there was a reorganisation in Belgium, or it is a quirk of the edited database), Board want us to reach the playoffs which is top 5, and to reach the 3rd round of the cup

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Squad Overview

I currently have no staff, so I am hoping that the Chairman will appoint a DoF quickly to give me the best chance of understanding my team more, and hopefully get some coaches in to give a second opinion

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Team sorted by age with all players aged 20 and over being valued at £0, and  listed as out of Contract.  Most of these are wanted by other teams, so may be victims of being poached. 

 

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These three look like the best players available to me in their positions. 

Rahmani is listed in the top players for the division list on the season preview, but is non-contract and wanted.  A priority will be to lock him up and utilise his skills.

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Tactics

Looking to start with three basic formations, that will be changed as I get a better idea of player strengths. 

My manager has 4-1-4-1 and 4-4-2 set as preferred formations, and I have added in a 4-2-1-2-1 Wide (4-2-1-3DM) formation to fiddle with as the squad has some AM's who might play a role

4-1-4-1

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Aiming for solidarity, with Defensive Centre Backs (defend and cover), FBs on supports

BWM to hold everything together, with a BBM and WM (right) to provide a solid centre

Winger and AP hopefully will offer support to the lone striker who is a TM to begin with

 

4-4-2

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Same organisation for the back 4

BWM and DLP aiming to feed possession out wide to two Wingers, with a DF looking to drop deeper without the ball and a Poacher to finish all out chances

 

4-2-1-2-1 Wide

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Again the same back 4, looking to provide some solidarity to set up the team

Midfield triangle aiming to support that and launch attacks to the wide players.

Set as a Standard mentality for when we are overmatched probably in the cup

 

Team Instructions

Minimal instructions for each tactic, mainly trying to get the ball in the box, avoiding long shots, and to utilise the wide players (focus on the Left in the 4-1-4-1)

 

Other Tactical tweaks

Until I test players out there won't be much change to the tactics, but I am going to experiment with the PK taking GK.  Having read the stories of @Jimbokav1971 over the past couple of years, this seems like something else to add interest to the game, and the reasoning given for it (Rushing Out aligning with Penalty Taking in the attribute list if I remember correctly) seems sound.

I am not going to start with them on free kicks though, until I can work out how to stay defensively sound at the same time

 

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Rahmani looks like my best player, but feels the squad are not up to standard so won't sign a contract

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I have given him the Captaincy, hoping that might persuade him to stick around, either that or his Appearance fee of £160 will outweigh the contracts he is offered

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18 minutes ago, scousevasey said:

Other Tactical tweaks

Until I test players out there won't be much change to the tactics, but I am going to experiment with the PK taking GK.  Having read the stories of @Jimbokav1971 over the past couple of years, this seems like something else to add interest to the game, and the reasoning given for it (Rushing Out aligning with Penalty Taking in the attribute list if I remember correctly) seems sound.

I am not going to start with them on free kicks though, until I can work out how to stay defensively sound at the same time

You are sort of half right. 

In FM17 I had decided that with regards to taking free-kicks, Handling was being used instead of Free-Kick taking. While penalties were broken again, (and I think are broken again in FM19), I don't think that they are broken in the same way that Free-Kicks were broken in FM17.

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On 28/10/2018 at 20:16, Jimbokav1971 said:

You are sort of half right. 

In FM17 I had decided that with regards to taking free-kicks, Handling was being used instead of Free-Kick taking. While penalties were broken again, (and I think are broken again in FM19), I don't think that they are broken in the same way that Free-Kicks were broken in FM17.

That is not the first time I have misunderstood something linking to your in-depth exploration of the game.  I did wonder when I went to the Set Pieces screen and filtered for GKs only to have their penalty attribute listed (all three at the club had an attribute of 2).  I will stick with the idea of trying PK-GKs for the minute and see what happens

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Having set myself the limitation that a DoF would employ all staff, the Chairman acted quickly to provide one who soon got to work filling out the coaching staff

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He has worked quickly to fill out the positions, which has given me the ability to review the squad using the star system (not perfect, but gives a good idea of what is available)

 

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Squad details

 

GK

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Three similar options, with interest shown in Rolly, leaving a very young choice if he goes.  As there is a similar level of potential, the choice should be made early.

Yavuz has the better determination and personality, but Kerkhofs has a slightly better Octagon at this early stage.

 

Defenders

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Again lots of potential shown, and in theory there is a 5* future at each position (DR, DC and DL, with those also being the better current options too

 

Midfielders

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The strength of the squad with the three best players currently in this position

Slight imbalance as both Vranken and Gijbels seems strongest at ML/AML in my chosen formations.  This may require a chance to a 4-4-1-1 with Gijbels at ML and Vranken at AMC or to play Vranken and Gerits in the middle of the 4 man midfield with Gijbels at ML.

 

Attackers

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Choice of young potential again, with very little available currently, although the 2* level seems to be suitable to the league from early scout reports

 

Missing player...

Offering Rahmani the captaincy didn't persuade him to stay, taking up an offer of more money guaranteed each week elsewhere.  Not entirely surprising, but he would have been our best forward by a distance

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Matches (almost)

Having played a couple of friendlies, that were prearrange against teams in higher divisions, we have been demolished with some regularity, having tried out the different players and formations.

 

Now comes the attempt to get all of the best players on the pitch as regularly as possible, and hopefully to avoid the issues of playing a bunch of teenagers.

To try to get the best results matched up with the greatest opportunity for the players with high potential, I am going to guide my selection using cumulative stars.  This should get the best balance on the pitch, where currently there is lots of potential around with very similar levels of current ability.  As we progress and hit a stage with later intakes this will have to be reassessed to avoid imbalance.

For example

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While these players are not all directly fighting for the same positions in the team there is the best view of my plan.

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Soumah has the highest total of 5.5+* (4 gold plus a black in potential)

Thijs has a total of 5*

Binjens has a total of 3.5

Vandenberk has a total of 3*

If this was a straight positional battle, Soumah would start, with Thijs as the backup and Bijnens being the 3rd option when the need arises

 

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Best Options

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Having placed the best cumulative players in each position of the updated 4-4-1-1 and fiddling with duties a little to match their abilities I ended up with the top formation (Thijs should get a CD-S too technically to be a full green circle)

Playing around with strongest positions we get the second formation a sort of 4-1-2-2-1 that is imbalanced (the tactics screen calls it a 4-1-4-1 DM asymmetric AM (R).  I am going to start with the 4-4-1-1, replacing the 4-1-4-1 from earlier, and see how we progress. 

 

Tactical tweaks will be considered after 2-3 games (scientific repetition of results) aiming to balance the skills we have with the requirements of reaching the playoffs.  All games will be played using the Instant Result button so any in match changes will be down to my assistant, and then reviewed

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5 hours ago, scousevasey said:

That is not the first time I have misunderstood something linking to your in-depth exploration of the game.  I did wonder when I went to the Set Pieces screen and filtered for GKs only to have their penalty attribute listed (all three at the club had an attribute of 2).  I will stick with the idea of trying PK-GKs for the minute and see what happens

I think you are 100% correct to persevere with it. :thup:

I know someone else who has scored 13 goals with a GK for 2 seasons in a row, and I have scored 5 goals by GK's in 1 game, (all penalties), although it must also be said the game was a friendly.

I still believe that GK's gain an advantage when taking penalties. I just don;t know what is used to determine the result. 

Edited by Jimbokav1971

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August/Pre-Season

 

Having never ventured to the lowlands before the season shape and regulations are a bit of a novelty.  August was made up only of pre-season friendlies, and up to five rounds of the cup.  I only discovered this after the first game suddenly changed the squad regulations for selection and the draw gave further information.

 

Results

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The first four friendlies made me think I had bitten off a challenge that was too large, but after the first game, the Chairman and DoF had enabled me to get an assistant, and picking the team was less a stab in the dark, and led to the development/change in tactical organisaion.

 

All of the first friendlies were against better opposition, so I hoped that the team getting used to each other, the tactics and the strong opposition meant this wasn't a cause for concern.

 

Cup Matches

First up we faced a lower division (unplayable) team and in our first competitive fixture were able to perform well

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A 3-0 win, with us dominating the shot count.

The second round was again a win against a lower division team, with the scoreline of 4-3 nor refelcting the domination of 61% posession, and an 18(5) - 7(3) shot differential, although we were 3-0 up before the opposition drew level

 

The third round (our Board target) saw us drawn against an Amateur Division 2 side (one above us), and while we went to penalties we were unable to eke out a win.  So two wins out of three competitive matches meant that we had managed to make a respectable start to the season.

 

Our exit from the cup left two free weeks before the league kicked off, so I added in a couple more friendlies, against a lower rep team, and a local team (who it turns out are the league above).

A clear win and a close loss were to be expected, but it is nice to see we are not being majorly outclassed by higher division teams, and either bodes well for the season, or shows how close Amateur 2 and 3 are in quality.

 

Transfers and Contracts

The transfer window drew to a close, having lost 4 players, all of whom had an amateur contract, so no money came in

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Rahmani will be a loss, but having picked my strongest team, the other players to leave were either substitutes or unpicked, so we are only losing depth at minute, and with a 30 game season, the squad should be able to manage through a normal level of injuries.

Quite a few players had contracts offered to them, but decided to stay, so that is a positive overall

 

Having decided the DoF will be in charge of all contracts, I had news items pop up about players reaching the age for a pro contract.  When asked to negotiate these, he has only arranged Amateur deals despite us being Semi=Pro and able to offer Part Time.   This has left me with the issue that two youth players are now at risk of being poached for free. both of whom make it to my starting 11.  I will need to see if I can tweak the instruction to get some PT contracts signed, but this self-imposed rule may need reviewing until we reach Professional.

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Season Preview

Interestingly, despite losing 4 players, our media prediction has improved and we are now expected to be 2nd, with a player making the Dream 11, and two listed in the Key Players list

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Twice the odds of favourites Houtvenne, with 2-7th being the same gap again.  After 9th there is quite a steep drop off, and again for the final three, with it being 3 down plus one in a playoff, and 1 automatic promotion with 4 in the playoffs (our board target)

Hopefully our star players can step up, and the change of formation to include Vranken at AMC is clearly a requirement as he is our Dream 11 representative

 

Having looked at the league rules there are two that stand out.

First two U-21 players in the match squad, which is not a problem now (or for the next couple of years as Vranken is only 15, but something I often struggle with later in a stage having grown attached to certain players, especially if they are highly rated.

Secondly it is a 4 sub bench, with three being allowed on.  My current thoughts are to not have a GK on the bench to avoid wasting a spot, but the make up of the 4 is still to be seen.  Currently considering one per position (D/M/A) with a high potential wild card, but fitness issues may change this as we go.  It will be interesting to monitor how other teams use their bench, in relation to the U-21 rule and positional variation.

 

Five games in September to start the season, which will make up the next progress update, although I may add in any random findings I come across

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September

 

Turns out I misread the monthly guide to important dates send to me, and it was only 4 fixtures in September with the fifth being on October 1st.

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Three wins to start the season was a real positive, with the third game containing the first goal from my GK.

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The basic stats for each game are positive too.  We are the yellow team in the three breakdowns containing yellow, and white in the fourth (arranged in fixture order).

Possession battle was won in the games we won, and only marginally lost in the games we lost.  This is something interesting to me, as in a previous save using a fraudulent tactic I always seemed to lose the possession battle regardless of the result, and so having taken the time to try and develop a tactic (admittedly not a groundbreaking one) it is nice to see some benefits, especially with our strong Midfield hinting that we should look to control possession.

Shots both on and off target in our favour, which shows we are aiming to use our possession and not just waste the game.  Looking deeper at the post match stats, in the first game there was one clear cut chance (CCC) for each team, but in the other three games whoever created the most CCC's won, so working on making sure we are not just shooting but getting good shots is a key to look at over the next couple of months.

 

Tactically I think there are some real positives so far, without diving in too far, and so I am going to stick to the 4-4-1-1 for the beginning of October and hopefully correct the small blip in form.  If it continues for a couple of matches, I will need to look into what isn't working, and correct things.

 

Contract information

Had another coming of age story this month, being the star so far in Vranken.  Decided not to ask the DoF to sort out a 'pro' contract, to ensure that Vranken keeps a value, however small until I can work out how best to keep him.

Although our financial situation is not looking positive, with us losing money throughout the save so far and now reaching the red.  The biggest expense is staff wages, and while the DoF has not signed an excess of people, it seems like we are stretching the budget a little too far, but even without the staff we would be closing in on the red soon anyway.

 

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October

Having looked at the financial situation at the end of September I decided to try and add in some development.

The board wouldn't finance me going and gaining a coaching badge, due to the finances, but they did allow me to improve our Youth Recruitment

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Hopefully we can produce some quality to help cement our promotion push at the end of the season.

 

Matches

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Another month where we are perfect until the final game, although this time four wins behind us.  After nine games we sit 2nd in the table behind the media's predicted leaders.

This month did contain some wins where we didn't dominate possession, although shots were usually a good indicator of success again.  Recently I have been deepening a personal interest in Ice Hockey and statistics involved, and the correlations that can be found between results and shot attempts (Corsi and Fenwick).  I will be looking to track this at the end of the season to see if there is anything that can be drawn from the numbers.

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Coaching/Training frustration

I have repeatedly received the same update about player satisfaction around training 

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When I look at the situation it puzzles me.

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The players are not happy with the level of fitness coaching, yet the lead coach on fitness, who is only coaching fitness attributes has a Fitness attribute of 16.  This compares to a 3 and a 1 for the Assistant and myself respectively.  I have tried taking the other coaches off fitness to not success, and have all three eligible coaches training it, again to no avail.

 

Having seen that there are people viewing this (thank you by the way), can anyone provide any knowledge of what I can do to fix this?

My only thought is that with players either being on Youth Contracts, or Amateur contracts it is to do with the limited training time we have. 

 

[n.b. As I typed this I had a thought about the ages of my players, and the fact I was mentioning youth contracts.  The DoF has employed an Assistant Manager and Coach for both the U21s and U19s, so even though all of the players mentioned in the news item are in the main squad I checked the coaching responsibilities for these teams.  It was set with only the 1 attributed manager as coaching fitness.  While there is no one of the quality of the main coach available for these teams I have tweaked the set up to be more balanced.  Hopefully this will provide an improvement]

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1 hour ago, scousevasey said:

Coaching/Training frustration

I have repeatedly received the same update about player satisfaction around training 

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When I look at the situation it puzzles me.

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The players are not happy with the level of fitness coaching, yet the lead coach on fitness, who is only coaching fitness attributes has a Fitness attribute of 16.  This compares to a 3 and a 1 for the Assistant and myself respectively.  I have tried taking the other coaches off fitness to not success, and have all three eligible coaches training it, again to no avail.

 

Having seen that there are people viewing this (thank you by the way), can anyone provide any knowledge of what I can do to fix this?

My only thought is that with players either being on Youth Contracts, or Amateur contracts it is to do with the limited training time we have. 

 

[n.b. As I typed this I had a thought about the ages of my players, and the fact I was mentioning youth contracts.  The DoF has employed an Assistant Manager and Coach for both the U21s and U19s, so even though all of the players mentioned in the news item are in the main squad I checked the coaching responsibilities for these teams.  It was set with only the 1 attributed manager as coaching fitness.  While there is no one of the quality of the main coach available for these teams I have tweaked the set up to be more balanced.  Hopefully this will provide an improvement]

Having played around with the youth training settings, I have reached the start of December and had the monthly training update

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This has reduced from about a third to a half of the squad being unhappy which is a real positive.  Hopefully that will mean that I no longer receive emails warning me that people are unhappy with the fitness training.

I have no idea if my tweak is what has had an effect or not, and if it is due to players being young yet in the first team squad it will be something to keep tabs on as we progress through the seasons

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November

Unbeaten*

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*some results may be be as good as others.

Three more wins is a good thing, and the draw was a little frustrating.  Looking at the post match analysis, we dominated shots, but on the deeper level CCC's were shared 1-1.

 

While the results are still good then I am feeling positive, and if we are dominating teams who shut it down against us I can live with a few draws.

 

Next up is December, where we face three matches, the final one of which is the start of the run in by playing our return fixtures.  Due to a quirk in the fixture list that game is the final one before the winter break.

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The highlighted game is our first return fixture, while the final fixture of both halves of the season are against Houtvenne, pre-season favourites and current leaders. (Following the old adage that a league table too early is not worth the pixels the screenshot demands, the first league table will come after the Houtvenne game).

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December/Half Season update

Due to a mid season break we only had three games in December, and the best thing I can say is we are consistent

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Four months of games, four times we have dropped points, this time to the league leaders, meaning they are starting to open up a gap on us at the top of the table.

I have been approached about a friendly on the 30th December, and arranged one myself for the 6th January before we get back to the league on the 14th Jan.  First game should be a challenge as it is against a First Amateur Division side, and then what should be a confidence builder against a local bunch of grey players.

 

League Table

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This was taken after the game against Houtvenne, but before we defeated Esperanza Pelt before the break.

The only changes of note in that round of games is Woluwe-Zaventem leapfrogging Herentals and Nijlen due to a win and the others losing.  Otherwise the top four all won, maintaining a 5 point gap from Houtvenne to ourselves and Leopoldsburg who we lead on GD.

 

As we have hit the break, it is worth looking at the squad again, for some statistics, and development of players

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Team Statistics (Winter Break)

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This was the team selection for the last game in December, with some key stats shown

Firstly having picked my strongest overall team by combined stars I have tried to be consistent and avoid too much rotation.  As we have a small squad (those shown plus 7 players who had the worst combined star rating who were unlikely to play who were placed in the U21s)

Stand out players

When sorted by rating, unsurprisingly the highest ratings come to highest rated players, with Walter Thijs being the only anomoly as 2+2 and fifth highest average (7.29).  Interestingly he was only in the starting line up due to an injury to Daniel Houben (1+4.5) during the preseason who I clearly forgot to change back into the lineup when he was fit again.

 

Apart from injuries and suspensions the only positional changes I have made is to switch between my two forwards, Philip Bollen (1.5+5) and Nico Billen (1.5+4) as neither has consistently found the back of the net.  Each of them has managed 5 goals, which is tied for 3rd overall, but it is a three way tie with Thijs which is a slight worry.  Although if these are combined by position 10 by the forwards in the 19 games shown (16 league and 3 cup) in a 4-4-1-1 is not the worst return, especially as they are rated as suited for the league.

Looking at  the bigger picture in the league we are the second highest scoring team behind Houtvenne, and tied for second stingiest again behind the league leaders (tied with Leopoldsburg).

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Squad Review

As we have a young squad I thought now would be a good time to review any progress over the season so far.  Having looked at the squad overview compared to the first breakdown, it looks likes most players have regressed in CA.  Hopefully a more detailed look at individuals will show that this is a case of the best players improving more than others, as opposed to them all starting to decline.

Victor Atangana 

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Has been the best player by rating (7.97) so far this season and has been a focus of play with 4 goals and 5 assists while playing as a MR (Winger - Attack)

Jasper Vranken

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Highlighted as a star at the start of the season, he is the second best performer so far this season (7.88), and the reason for the change from 4-1-4-1 to 4-4-1-1, his 6 goals are second on the team.  Having looked at his profile there is a lots of decline despite still being shown as 5* (one of three players).  To understand this more, I clicked around and found that he was set to train as a DLP in the MC position, whereas he has been playing as a AMC (AP).

Individual training is not something I have focused on before, partially due to getting bored when trying to set it up for every player and constantly review it (much easier to allow the Assistant Manager to sort it), and partially due to being unsure on the best way to organise it.  Using Vranken as a guide to this...

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I know a player has to have a position and role to be trained in at all times (top left), but Vranken is a natural at AMC, and a full green circle of suitability for the AP role which he is filling on the pitch.  I have never worked out if matching the training and playing role has more benefit that playing a role that is suited, while training another to make a player more rounded.  While Vranken has the Passing attribute as his additional focus, and this is his lowest ranked attribute for his role, in my mind it would be easier/better if I could focus his training on improving the individual attributes I want than in a role he is natural in.

Theo Gijbels

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Third best player so far (7.68) even through two injuries, both to the same right knee.  Pulled ligaments (12 days) and a damaged knee cap (3 weeks so far of two months) seem like a worry on the face of it, but both injuries report there is no risk for further injury.

With the injury being current, I think this accounts for the limited change in attributes currently

William Gerits

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Fourth best player (7.68), but leading the team in assists (10) from MC (CM - Attack)  Showing minor improvements.

 

Selected others

While many players seem to have regressed due to the development of some of the star players, two stand out as having developed well

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Looking at the squad overview, Bax and Borin have both moved from 3 to 4 CA stars, but a look at their profiles show a variance in their attribute development. 

 

Squad Changes

Having reviewed the squad at the beginning of the season, I placed some of the older players who were not going to get games, along with some of the lowest rated youngsters into the U21s.  Most of these topped out at 3 combined stars, with the players left in the main squad having a minimum of 3 stars PA without adding on their CA.  The only variance to this is I have made 2nd and 3rd choice GKs available for the U21s due to a lower chance of them playing, and the limited 4 man bench

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Three of these players, all in their 20s and so showing no further development (equal CA and PA), and on Non-Contract deals complained about wanting to play so were allowed to leave to search for another team.

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January (and winter friendlies)

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Seraing are two leagues above us, and asked to play us.  It took an injury time goal to separate us on the scoresheet, but there was a gulf in class in the stats.  If we are to get promoted to Amateur 2 then I think we are not too far away from competing, but we will need to be tactically strong.

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Apollo Gellik are local to us, and I used to as a way for the team to get back to fitness after the month off, with some of my fringe players rotating in the team for the two games.

 

League Matches

Only three matches, but they were against the teams in 4th, 5th and 7th at the Winter Break, and while we had won two of the three the first time round, it was going to be a key month in our drive for promotion.

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Our first 100% month, which is an achievement even if it was just three games.  I am not celebrating too much as back in October we won 4 in a month.  The aim is now to ensure consistency.

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No changes at the top positions, although we were able to put three points between ourselves and Leopoldsburg who lost the biggest game of the month to Houtvenne.  We play Leopoldsburg in March, and Houtvenne in the final game of the season, and so at this point, being 5 points behind Houtvenne we need to stay consistent, try to avoid dropping points and hope that some teams can part the bus against Houtvenne.

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If we can win our four games in February, and hope a team draws against Houtvenne (they are currently unbeaten but have drawn three) then the gap will close to three points.  If we can replicate that in March the gap would be down to a point going into the final three games in April.  My hope is that we can get to a position where the title is on the line in the final game.

 

Training Update

I still don't fully understand how best to train my players, and am aiming to pick things up through trial and error.  As such I took over individual training during the break, and set everyone to train in a role that is either

a) the position and role they are currently playing (or is in the  line up) where they do not have a full green circle

b) the positions that match the tactics, but if they are a green circle for the role, training in another role that highlights some of the same skills, but with the aim of allowing me to change roles next season

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I then received a raft of messages saying the training load was too high, so I took every player off individual attribute assignments.  We will see how this progresses, and it will have to be reviewed once the Youth Intake happens

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First game of February played and one for @Jimbokav1971

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Interesting game for my GK, with two penalties in a minute and a booking.

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First penalty is straight at the keeper and saved, but the rebound results in a foul straight away.  If you look in the gif, you can see my GK not even make it back to halfway before the foul is given.

Second penalty was so far into the corner that it came back out of the goal and ended up where the first penalty did

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Kerkhofs was given the yellow for handling outside the area in the 44th minute, but saved the resulting free kick easily.  Would have been interesting if he was sent off with no GK on the bench and the game at 0-0

 

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February

Four more games, against the teams in 7th, 6th, 7th and 11th when we played them

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Four more wins, keeping us in the chase at the top of the league

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Houtvelle could only manage a draw in one game this month (just as I had hoped) meaning we close the gap to three points

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Houtvenne

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Most satisfying is that the draw was against Ternesse who are languishing in 15th

Leopoldsburg

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Slight wobble this month playing teams we have been facing and beating.

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February Continued

A couple of interesting things happened this month regarding matches

Heur-Tongeren vs Diegem (11th Feb)

From what I have noticed this is the first time we have been outshot and won

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Yet while a 7-15 shot count shows some domination for Diegem, there are a couple of other numbers that show it wasn't too much of a strange result

Shots on target was won narrowly by us, 4-3, and we had the only CCC in the game, while edging possession.

 

I am going to try and break down the shot totals in a way similar to Corsi and Fenwick at the end of the season

 

Kampenhout vs Heur-Tongeren (25th Feb)

A clear 3-0 win for us but it stand out for a crazy minute just before half time

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Two players sent off in the same minute, resulting in a penalty scored a minute later.  As an unusual moment I went digging in the match report (apologies that this reads bottom to top)

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My forward (Bollen) breaks into the box chasing a through ball, and is brought down by Van den Broeck.

This results in a straight red, and a crowd of players surrounding the ref, one of whom manages to pick up a 2nd yellow for something he said.

 

I don't think I have seen this happen before, and pretty much kills off the game with a 2-0 lead against 9 men as the half time whistle goes

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March Preview

This is not something I have done yet but is inspired by the message I received in the run up to the first game

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If we win, and Diegem fail to, or if Diegem fail to collect any points and we draw we will be guaranteed a place in the playoffs which was our aim for the season.  With 23 games played so far, that would leave us with 6 games to chase the title or jockey for position for the playoffs, and will give us the chance to blood some youngsters from the Youth Intake when it arrives (although as our core players are all under 20 this is a relative term)

 

So seven games to go, and in the last two months we have most of the teams around us in the table

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Our remaining games are against teams who are currently in 3rd, 16th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 14th and 1st.

In our first games we lost to Leopoldsburg and Houtvenne the only top teams left, who we have played away from home

We also only managed a draw against Diest, again away from home.

I don't think it is a chance to relax too much if the title stays within our grasp as by playing the bottom 3 (three go down with the 4th going to a playoff) we are facing teams scrapping for survival and who could be a challenge as Houtvenne found out when facing Ternesse

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It is still close at the bottom, although a hope is that by the time we reach April Wellen and Ternesse will be down and we will have easier games.

 

I am hoping to get the title chase news update to be able to explore the run in further, and think it will come after the Leopoldsburg game

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Youth Intake

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The first of the infamous FM18 golden generations

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Solid potentials with 5 players who could match the quality of my top players, and 5 more who could match my next tier

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If (big if) they reach their potential I would have a team who would be solid for the Amateur level in Belgium (Vranken is ranked as decent for First Amateur Division), and if we had 8 players of his level and a further 7 of the level of Bax currently we would be well placed

Details

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Verschueren - Not the best player currently, and below everyone who is in the first team currently, but if the HoYD is correct then there is lots of space to develop

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Jagodic - Second best by potential, and judged the best by current ability.  Unfortunately will be competing with Vranken for game time (Vranken is blue in the octagon comparison)

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Janssens - currently better than Verschueren although his tackling needs work.  Solid mentally and physically for a 16 year old

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Heymans - second best currently, and already ranked as better by stars than either current striker

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Heymans (green) compared against Billen (left) and Bollen (right).  After struggling to get these two playing well at the start of the season, it looks like Heyman will step straight into the team for the final five games

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Bernard - not as good as Kerkhofs but will be close with Yavuz for back up

 

No further comments until the U19 vs Youth game, although as we have not players in the U19s it should be a resounding win for the intake

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Youth vs Youth

For the intake game against the U19s I was able to set five players as available - Yavuz (GK), Jans (RB), Thijs (DC), Matumona (MR) and Billen (SC) [currently orange injury].  Billen was replaced at half time but the other four played the full match

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The highest ratings for the U19s were 7.1 - D Hansen (MC grey), 7.0 - R Silvestre (AMC grey) and N Billen (SC)

That means there were two players in the intake who played better during this game, and three who matched the top three from the U19s

 

It was suggested that all the real players brought in be signed, ignoring the grey GK from the original screen, and they have all signed up within the week

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Heymans has been dropped straight into the starting line up, sending Bollen to the bench

Janssens has also gone straight into the starting 11, replacing Daniel Houben due to being classed as 1+5 while Houben is a 1+4.  This demotes Thijs to the legion of unpicked players as a 28yo 2+2.  As with other older players not being picked I imagine he will look to move on soon and being out of contract he will be allowed to go

 

EDIT: as soon as I clicked continue the next news item was Janssens twisting his knee and ruling himself out of the next match.  He will return when fit

 

Edited by scousevasey

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March (mostly)

Having expected the title run in news item with 5 or 6 games left it arrived with four, so I will update the first three games in March, and leave the remaining game to count in the April update.

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After a run of 10 league wins on the trot a second draw of the season with Diest (0-0 away from home) looked like it might end our [realistic] title hopes. This was the first game after the Youth Intake arrived with me replacing Bollen with Heymans it seem to have mixed results

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Heymans scored on debut, yet with me using Instant Result was replaced at the break by Bollen, who then also scored.  Match stats were fairly equal, although we had a 3-2 CCC advantage that we failed to take advantage of

Elsewhere...

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Houtvenne were downed by Hoellaart who are currently in 4th

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Leopoldsburg only lost to ourselves, but it meant that of the top three we gained the most points during these three games

League Table

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I am not sure how to get Gyazo images to resize, but if I put too much in the image it seems to be appearing rather small.  As such I have moved to the League profile screen for a condensed version of the top 6

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7th placed Herentals are 8 points back from Diegem with 4 to play, so it looks like a two way shoot out for the title between ourselves and Houtvenne, and a three way battle to join the loser of the title race and Leopoldsburg in the playoffs.

 

Due to the loss Houtvenne suffered while we drew we actually gained ground this month leaving us two points behind. 

Run in to the title

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On the face of it we have the better run in based on positions, although it is worth digging a little deeper

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Of Houtvenne's opponents, Woluwe-Zaventem and ourselves are the only two playing for anything concrete with Herentals and Nijlen just fighting for bragging rights based on position

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Three of the teams we face are in the relegation battle, before the [hopefully] big showdown on the last day.  Sterrebeek are just outside the playoff position, but will be looking to gain as much as possible before they face Kampenhout in the penultimate fixture.  Ternesse and Wellen are six and seven points off the playoffs and one more off pure safety (looking at the league sorting rules it lists games won as the first tie breaker which means that both Ternesse and Wellen really need to be looking for 8-9 points from their four games)

As each team we face is fighting for their league place, we could be facing a backlash at the end of the season.

 

 

If all goes well over the first three of the remaining four fixtures I will provide a final day preview

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Contract update

Having managed to match the minimum expectations set by the board, they have invited me back for the next season

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Small increase from £300 with the clauses being new too

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April (with the end of March)

Four games left in the season after the last update

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One game left right now (game is currently on 28th April, the day before the end of season.

While we have held up our end of the bargain, have Houtvenne kept pace?

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In a word, yes...

...

...so that leaves us with a final showdown...

but first an interesting quirk (possibly due the the downloaded database, possibly due to the league rules being unable to show themselves)

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As mentioned previously games won is the first tie breaker

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Sterrebeek are three points ahead of Ternesse, with one game to play.  Both are shown as being guaranteed to be in the Relegation Playoff, but Sterrebeek have won six games ahead of four for Ternesse.  Using the league rules, there is no chance of Ternesse overcomming Sterrebeek.  I kind of want Ternesse to to win and Sterrebeek to lose to check this works as it is shown.  Their Goal Difference is currently tied, and therefore if this scenario plays out Ternesse would have the better GD it would show how the rules work.

 

One game to decide them all (or at least the Third Amateur Division (Flemish) in 2017-2018)

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Tactics for the big game

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The formation has worked up until this point, after the pre-season tweaks.

Gerits and Martens are classed as due to be fit and should be able to play a role for us.  This could be the final game for Gerits, as our only Part Time player reaches the end of his contract, unwilling to sign a new contract due to us not being able to match his quality.  Now as he is not ranked as our best player by CA according to my Assistant Manager this does seem a slight to the team, and having clicked on offer a contract he is willing to discuss, but seems to want guarantees, but in accordance to my aims the DoF has been asked again (third time lucky) to try to negotiate a positive outcome

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As this is the day before the final game of the season, hopefully a win will lead to a change of heart.

 

 

Next update is the big match, although it won't be tonight, and as work is busy this week, I am not sure when I will get chance to play through

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Final Game

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We go into the game as underdogs, as you would expect against the league leaders who beat us earlier in the season.  The only thing in our favour is home advantage, although our crowds are not huge, as is to be expected at this level

As each game has been played using Instant Result I cannot give a play by play account of the match, but instead I am going to go through some post match stats to provide an insight into the game.  Heur-Tongeren are in yellow (left) and Houtvenne white (right).

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Possession is in our favour, by the smallest of margins, which is notable in the fact that Houtvenne have dominated possession through the season (according to the questions posed pre match)

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Action areas are fairly equal. Both teams had more of the ball in their defensive third, than attacking, and both spent 6% of the game in that attacking third.  Having one more percentage point to play with we were about to spent more possession positively in relation to our opponents, but this was all congregated in the middle of the pitch.

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The heat map shows that we very rarely had the ball in the box, but kept Houtvenne out of our danger areas too.  They seemed to have the best of positions on the pitch with their heat spot in the space attacking the hole behind my MCR and infront of my DCR.  We were forced wide to the right, which sends play through the feet of Victor Atangana, one of our stronger players.

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Average rating is not looking good, with Houtvenne being over half a rating point better than us, and more importantly the Heur-Tongeren players have not made much impression on the game from the starting 6.0 ratings

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With the interest in shot totals I am exploring, we were outclassed here too, although we were able to convert a higher percentage of our shots to be on target

Result

Spoiler

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For those interested in the result now, before a follow up post about the end of season positions

 

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End of Season

One thing I forgot to note - win or lose against Houtvenne we would have at least one more game.  The winner would go on the face off against the winners of the A division to our B (seemingly a random distinction between two leagues of the same level in the same part of the country.  The loser would go into the promotion playoffs.

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So we lost to Houtvenne, to come a solid second in the league, 9 points clear of 3rd, left to face fifth place Woluwe-Zaventem, who we had done the double over during league play.

Unfortunately we were unable to defeat them a third time, losing on the dreaded penalty shootout

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For some reason my choice of GK for penalties only seems to have taken priority for in match penalties, and my assistant decided against using him.

 

Team Review

While the playoffs were still being finalised we received news of the end of season awards, which were very clear cut

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The team of the season is the starting 11 if everyone was fit, before the youth intake.  These players have played the most games so it is not a surprise to see them here.

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Victor Atangana took the clean sweep of award, from MR.  Looking at the stats used, as the leader in assists, match rating, and MotM awards this is not a survive.

Philip Bollen took over the starting SC role as the season wore on, although he was usurped by Heymans after the intake, and repaid the choice with 17 total goals.  Discipline was fairly good, with Youri Bax earning a one game suspension for receiving 5 yellows.

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End of Season review

League Table

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Woluwe-Zaventem managed to overcome Hoeilaart in the playoff final, meaning the lowest rank playoff team managed to overcome the hurdles to be promoted.  Houtvenne lost in the Champions match 6-4 on aggregate. Sterrebeek managed to overcome their lower division foes in the relegation playoff to maintain their position in the Third Amateur Division.

In positive news we were the highest scorers, and had the third best defence.  Hopefully with a couple of tweaks to the roles, and the improvement of players we can improve the defensive performance in 2018-2019

League Fixtures

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Fairly consistent in the results, with all of the dropped points in the first half of the season being away from home.  An improvement in the return fixtures, although all the dropped points in the second half of the season were at home.  No points against Houtvenne who go up, and only two against Diest are the low points, especially as we only lost the title by five points.

Team review

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This is everyone who played a game for us this season.  21 players in total, although some of these only got in due to injuries before the intake meant we had depth.

Three ever presents (30 league games, 1 playoff fixture, and 3 rounds of the cup totalling 34), with Borin, Soumah and Kerkhofs providing the solid base for us to build from.  Vranken appeared in all games, but started on the bench in one due to suffering a slight knock and starting on the bench.  Bax and Gerits would have turned out in every match but picked up a suspension each (our only ones of the season).

Of the Youth Intake, Heymans played in every possible game, while Janssens and Jagodic made appearances.

 

Goals came from across the 4-4-1-1 formation, with Bollen who lead the line in 17(12) games providing 17 goals, supported by 10 from Vranken at AMC, 10 from Gijbels at ML, and 9 from Atangana at MR.  Gerits played CM with an attack role which paid off with 9 more goals, before Kerkhofs appears with 6 from the spot.

I have not experimented with GKs taking free kicks, only penalties, and a return of 6 in 34 games (1 in 6) seems like a regular source of goals.

One more to note is Heymans scoring 3 in 6, while still getting used to the main squad, hopefully giving a solid platform for 2018-2019

 

Average ratings are lead by Atangana as the only player over 8 (8.05), with only three players over a 7.5, Vranken (7.86), Gerits (7.75), Gijbels (7.72)

 

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Match stat review

Having mentioned shot totals earlier I went back through each result to get an idea of whether there was a correlation between shots and goals

I looked at the result, shots recorded and shots on target.  This then led to look at the result and if there was a similar balance here.  I ignored the conversion rates as this would get too statistical, but if there was a clear gap in shots it should lead to a positive result, and no gap a draw.  

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Looking at the results and correlation a couple of things stand out

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The correlation matches up in most matches, including the losses through the 31 games of league/playoffs.

Nijlem loss, Diest draw, and Diegem win (2nd) all seem not to match up with the shots taken, with the first game against Diegem being the oddest of all.  The most frustrating is the playoff result which doesn't match shots

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Nijlem - we outshot them 15-10 and 8-5 on target but were unable to break down their defences

Diegem (1) - a 12-10 and 6-6 ratio of shots seems like it would be a draw (odd as mentioned above as on pure shots we would expect to win) yet we managed to earn all three points

Diest - 10-5 and 3-1 differentials but again unable to capitalise

Diegem (2) 7-15 and 4-3.  We were outshot in this game, although the shots on target are very close, which may point to a draw.  Instead we walk away with a win

Woluwe-Zaventem (playoffs) - 12-8 and 7-1 but a 0-0 draw is the result.  Possibly down to the youth in an important tie, but again it seems like a result lost

Points changes

From these five games (if we count the W-Z game as a league fixture)

Gained (extra points that we didn't deserve)

4/5 (Diegem game one would be two points [win instead of draw], Diegem game two would be 2/3 points [win instead of a draw or loss]

Lost (points we should have secured)

5 (7) (5 in the league matches, three against Nijlem and two against Diest, with the other two coming from the draw against Woluwe-Zaventem [seen as a loss due to the penalties])

 

Interestingly this turns out to be a wash-out, or as near to it as calculable, and while as Iooked into this, my thoughts were that occasionally results can be put down to being "FM'd", it seems like this balances out over the year.

 

Ideally I would repeat this over the seasons, but we will see if I lose interest in the work to find the relevant information

 

BeNeLux shots 2017-2018.xlsx

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18 hours ago, Joagamecube said:

Great save! Definitely following :D

Glad to see someone play in the Belgian lower leagues! I'm from Belgium myself :)

Thanks for the follow,

 

Never tried Belgium or the Lowlands before, having spent most time in England.  Thought it was something a little different, with strong teams in each country as a target to topple.

 

Hopefully I won't be in the lower leagues too long, although the first season shows that it may be a challenge to get out.

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On 06/11/2018 at 18:38, scousevasey said:

Thanks for the follow,

 

Never tried Belgium or the Lowlands before, having spent most time in England.  Thought it was something a little different, with strong teams in each country as a target to topple.

 

Hopefully I won't be in the lower leagues too long, although the first season shows that it may be a challenge to get out.

The thing is with the Belgian leagues it's quite complicated and total chaos for outsiders haha (I mean the league structures).

I hope you can get your way up soon too!

 

I have never done a youth only before, I'm still fairly new to FM, I don't know how to even start / manage I tried to make my own tactic in my last save and that went really wrong haha.

Edited by Joagamecube

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9 hours ago, Joagamecube said:

My hometown club is actually Diest :p

The thing is with the Belgian leagues it's quite complicated and total chaos for outsiders haha (I mean the league structures).

I hope you can get your way up soon too!

 

I have never done a youth only before, I'm still fairly new to FM, I don't know how to even start / manage I tried to make my own tactic in my last save and that went really wrong haha.

 

I didn’t really look into it, just loaded up and aimed for a bottom division team in any of the three countries.  Could just have easily been slagging through the Netherlands or Luxembourg.

 

i think I have worked out the league structure so far, although the season preview from the first season seemed to have extra numbers of promoted and relegated teams.  Hopefully it will clear up soon. At one point it seemed that there was no promotion and relegation between the First Amateur and th Second Pro, but it looks like there was a playoff league that developed (would have to look properly later).

 

Even though I have played for a while, I have not been all that good a player, and just started looking for something else to try. I found inspiration from the Challenges thread, and some of the posts in this Career section.  My last game started as Youth Only in the English level 9 with Hayes and Yeading, but I lost interest in that around League 2, and moved to Reading and went without the youth only.

 

i have found that posting the career has made me want to play more, as I want to see the progress develop.

 

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Season Preview 2018-2019

The new fixture list arrived, announcing the new season approaching.

As before we start with the cup, playing against Standaard Vosrt in the first round, who are not in a playable league.  As with last season we are expected to make the third round.

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The league has the same expectation too (lowest possible options chosen to solidify the job security)

 

Looking at the league preview we have a similar situation to last year, opening as 3rd favourites

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The gap in odds is fairly close, which means it should be tight at the top.  Last year we had odds of 6-1 when they opened, again in third favourite position.

It is interesting to see one of the promoted teams (RC Mechelen) leading the way, who will provide a challenge to work out to begin with.  Second favourites Dikkelvenne have moved from League A to League B for the season, while we only have one relegated team in the division, Vosselaar, who are 4th favourites

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Looking at League A, two things stand out - firstly there are five relegated teams there, which explains the movement of Dikkelvenne to our side, while we gain 4 of the 6 promoted teams.

This imbalance of promoted and relegated teams leads to the second thing - the odds are much more extreme in League B where we will play.  The top 5 in League A all have odds that are within double those of the team in 1st (4-1 to 8-1), with jump at 10th (33-1), then 13th (95-1).  League B has a top 4 within double odds (2-1 to 4-1) but have half the opening odds of the top team.  Our teams in 15th and 16th are much longer odds at 750-1 and 800-1, while Esperanza managed 11th last season

Quote

Having played on a few days, and reached the 30th June when contracts expire the following has occurred

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There are some noticable changes with Vosselaar dropping to 1000-1 odds and being favourites for relegation, while our odds have shortened to 3-1.  I will review this as the season draws closer

 

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The team of the seasons contains two of our players in Vranken and Gerits, although Gerits has now left the club after refusing to sign the contracts offered by the DoF

This year we have seven players who will be coming to the end of their youth deals, and hopefully the DoF can sign them to part time deals, although finances could play a role here.  I will be asking him to sign them though to avoid the risk of losing them next year, but a non contract deal still puts them at risk.  My worry is with Gijbels and Bax being too good for us

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Finances

Our financial situation is a bit of an oddity

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The board think my financial management is good, although are worried that we may lose out on people, but our overall finances are dropping at a rate

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We are nowhere near our wage budget, but lost money all season, with a slight increase for prize money.  We are currently £100 000 in the red, which is projected to hit £360 000 by the end of 2018-2019.  This means I have no chance of a coaching badge unless something dramatic happens, and even if I could sell all our players I wouldn't manage to scrape the funds together to reach the black

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Pre-Season (July)

I organised a heavy and fraudulent pre-season with three league competitions against strong top division teams.  This fraudulent way to improve finances means that we ended the month in the black, with a coaching course booked for myself, and a Junior Coaching budget upgrade, which should lead to it being satisfactory.

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I could possibly ask for more upgrades in coaching or facilities, but I want to see how the finances go this season, with last season being a large loss.  Without a longer cup run I doubt there will be an improvement, so I don't want to make the drop off more precipitous.

Fixtures

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Our heavily skewed fixture list was also aimed to bring up our match fitness after the summer, so while there are lots of losses against teams four leagues above us, we did get fit and rotate the team including the U21s and U19s.  The draw against Anderlecht and win against Lierse were good results with strong line ups put out by ourselves with the final two games against weaker opposition to boost confidence going into the cup.

 

We have one more friendly planned in August after the first cup game, but hopefully we will have cup games filling out most of the month.  Round three is our board aim, but hopefully a good draw will get us to the fourth round.

 

Squad

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My starting line up us similar to what we ended the season with, but with a couple of minor changes

With the departure of Gerits who didn't think we were good enough, Vranken moves from AMC to MC, and I may possibly change his role to give more freedom depending on how results and his performance goes.  Replacing Vranken is Jagodic (18b) who prefers an attacking version of AP to Vranken who operated as a supporting version.  This change has been made, which is why Vranken is still a CM and not a different role

 

Janssens has replaced Houben although Houben is 0.5* better in CA and 0.5* worse in PA, so they may switch around as the season goes on.  Depending on fitness Janssens may not play in the first round in the cup

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Yeah the relagation from second to third tier is not the real one, theze leagues A,B,C are region based and i can already see some teams Who have relegated to group A, that would never play their in real life :p

 

Glad your finances got back up, what's the pilosophy behind your tactic? Do you try give players the role which they are best in?

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Regional leagues can be a challenge for realism especially when it is a downloaded league as opposed to being out of the box.  Shouldn't affect game play.

 

Original plan was to start with 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 and tweak as we needed.  Due to our odds for the title and Vranken I went to 4-4-1-1 and aimed for roles that were suitable for the formation and player.  It is not concrete and may well change depending on intakes, but currently I have a shortage of MCs so moving to a 4-3-3 or variation of doesn't seem like it will be possible.

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August - Belgian cup and friendlies

The cup run didn't work out well, but we were able to add in extra friendlies to improve fitness and make sure the tactics were familiar

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The season starts in September, so hopefully the good run of friendlies will rub off.

 

Transfers

The plan to leave all contracts to the DoF may be starting to backfire.  His inability to sign anyone to a Part Time contract means that everyone is at risk of being poached, and while weren't the most actively raided in the transfer window we have got a slight problem brewing

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We only lost four players, one of whom (Jans) was a back up, although he did play due to injuries last season.  Seeing Herentals and Dikkelvenne lose a whole team means we have been quite fortunate.

But the three others players we lost all share the same position (Jans is a DR)

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While I hadn't given Bembo-Leta the (GK) nickname he was our 3rd string last season.  When he left at the end of July, Yavuz was promoted to the first team, having been there the previous season and swapped with Bembo-Leto in the off season to give him more chance to play and hopefully develop.

When Yavuz left, I was happy to run with just Kerkhofs in the main squad, as our only other GK in the team is from the youth intake, and while the squad is very young, again I thought he would develop better in the age group teams.

Days before Kerkhofs left he has been given the captaincy, not in a last attempt to keep him as I tried, and failed, with Rahmani but because he had be the VC, and our previous captain Gerits had left.  So now in one full season and an extra pre-season I have named three players as club captain, and all three have then left the club.

 

So our GK situation is as follows

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Bernard (18e) has the same potential as our other GKs who have left had, but starts with 1.5*s of potential, whereas Kerkhofs was 2.5*-3* through the last season.  This may well impact performance as we push for promotion, although we had one of the best goal differences last year.  Fortunately we have not been massively undone by this in the eyes of the bookmakers, so we should still be able to push for promotion.

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September

Four games to start the season off, all against teams predicted in the bottom half of the league

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Unfortunately we could only secure a draw against Bilzen-Waltwilder who were predicted 16th to open the season, but this is an improvement over last season where we lost the 4th game of the month.  We did have some key injuries this month which forced changes to our formation, going from the 4-4-1-1 to the secondary formation 4-4-2 from the original tactics I listed.  These injuries also required me to reassess the squad and promote some players to cover holes

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The two key injuries were to Jagodic (18b) which left a hole in midfield, and to Hendrickx which forced the promotions.

Jagodic had stepped into the squad to fill the gap left by Vranken as he moved back to MC to replace Gerits.  Vranken was moved back as MC was a weak spot with Bax and Benali being the only other players who were listed with any gold stars for CA.  Both of these are DM/MC and the balance of the team needed to split these if possible.  With Jagodic being out, the change to 4-4-2 meant that Bollen moved back into the starting lineup alongside Heymans (18d) who had replaced him, and he responded with a goal in the final game of the month.

Hendrickx had been backed up by Jimmy Jans previously but he left at the end of a season, and I was running with only one DR in the squad, although Soumah our starting DL can play both sides there is no back up in the main squad for him apart from moving a DLC across, which would be Houben or Borin.  With his injury ruling him out of at least one game, possibly more depending on the recovery of fitness I went back to the U21s which is filled with the majority of the better rated intake players.

Having had to have a reshuffle this is the current squad breakdown, using the selection for the first game in October

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There has been an increase in players obviously, with us having brought players up, but a squad of 20, when only 15 can be available for a game will need me to consider rotation more this season.

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I have grouped the defensive players together as Bernard is the only GK.  Verhaeghe (18j) has the potential to match Hendrickx and isn't far off the quality of Jans from last season, although he may not get too many games due to the small bench limitations.

I promoted van Grinsven (18i) at the same time as his 1.5* CA has him similarly rated to Janssens (18c) and Houben, providing us with a bit more flexibility.  It did lead me to demote Walter Thijs to the U21s as at 29 he is 2* rated for both categories and unlikely to play because everyone else has a PA rating equal to his total combined.

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While there are nine players in who play a midfield role there is a mini-surplus of wide players.  They usually fill the depth chart 

MR - Atangana 9.5*, Matumona 4.5*

ML - Gijbels 10*, Martens 7.5*.  I then brought Danny Vos 5* up to the squad who may make the starting line up on occasion when I rotate.  As I use IR this should get him about 45-60 mins until my assistant replaces him with the higher ranked bench player.  Vos will be made available to the U21s regularly to give him a chance to play

This also shows the dearth of MC options in the first team squad, but there is not much else at the club

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While there is some potential, the difference in CA between the three MCs in the U21s and U19s (shown)  as we push for promotion it is hard to promote them and play them.  Hopefully injuries will not affect us too much through the season to the stage where we are forced to play them.

One possible option for me is to change the 4-4-1-1 to a 4-4-1-1 DM where allowing Bax and Benali to play together in positions the are comfortable, while Vranken or Jagodic can provide support to the front man, but I would need to develop this further to work our roles.  Our previous third trained tactic was a 4-2-1-3 DM with two DMs and a MC with a AMR/L combination.  I am going to change this to the 4-4-1-1 DM and play around with roles/instructions so if we need it there is some familiarity.  Hopefully this will be a short term problem and in the next two seasons we will gain a couple more solid MCs in the youth intakes.

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Up front developments in CA and PA mean that there is a difficult choice between Heymans and Bollen, as overall they add up to the same ability ranking.  I am preferring Heymans but Bollen is always on the bench and providing some rotation potential.  Billen is available for the U21s and provides cover for injuries.

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