Eibar – The Strikerless Revolution

1753Apologies for the lack of writing from me over the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a couple of deadlines at Uni that have forced me to prioritise my time, and as a result, Football Manager has remained unplayed (largely because if I had kept playing, there’s no way the essays would have been finished), but now normal service will resume and I’m back writing, with a new save to boot.

Well, it isn’t actually a new save really. I’ve been debating writing about this save with Eibar for some time, as this was the save I started so that I could develop the Strikerless 4-5-1-0 formation I wrote about previously. Furthermore, my friend @MerryGuido has also written a fantastic tactical review on the 4-5-1-0, analysing its strengths and weaknesses, and I’d highly encourage you to go read it on his Strikerless blog here. Guido is something of an expert when it comes to Strikerless formations, and his analysis has helped me improve the 4-5-1-0 beyond the level it was at when I wrote about it last month.

I’m not sure it’s possible to hear Eibar’s story and not fall in love with them. Until this season, Eibar had never been in the top division in Spain, and they were lucky to even make it this year! Eibar achieved two promotions in two years to finally get there, but were then threatened with relegation to the third tier as a result of their lack of funds (but no debt at all) and inability to become a ‘Sociedad Anónima Deportiva’. As a result, the club launched a campaign in order to raise the funds and by July 2014, the club reached the €2M thttps://i2.wp.com/footieculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Eibar_ground.jpghreshold they needed. Revista De La Liga on Sky Sports talked in some depth about Eibar, and how ludicrous it was that a club with no debt whatsoever, was in danger of being relegated, rather than promoted as the top team in the Segunda. Fortunately, Eibar made it, and are doing very well in 8th place. Barring a major collapse, they’ll be in La Liga next season. As you can see on the left, their stadium is absolutely tiny, but is without doubt one of the hardest places to go in Spain, with a small pitch and fantastic fans.

Tactically, I’m still using the 4-5-1-0, although it’s been tweaked slightly since Guido reviewed it, in order to improve our play going forward and retain the defensive stability. I really do think that this tactic is one of the best you’ll find when it comes to relegation threatened teams, and once it’s tested more, I’ll probably release it for download (which I’ve never done before).

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 13.47.10Here’s what it looks like currently on the right, and it’s going from strength to strength. One of Guido’s main critiques was that there wasn’t enough penetration at times, leading to the Treq becoming isolated if the CM’s don’t transition quickly enough. To alleviate that problem, I’ve moved one of the wingers up into the AM strata as an Inside Forward. Crucially, this gives the Treq an out ball when he receives a pass if there isn’t a fast pass to the onrushing central midfielders.

In addition, it’s given us more offensive threat. I’m happy to have the Winger on the left flank deeper still covering that flank, but when we’re attacking, the AMR moves higher up more quickly, and makes our counter attacks far more deadly (something Guido spotted in his analysis) and he’s become more of a goal threat, with our attacks now layered.

Apart from that, it’s all the same. No instructions have been altered, and it’s amazing to see the difference that one position change can make. We’re still very strong defensively, but we now have more fast vertical movement from the flanks as well as the centre of the pitch. When 4 players are running past the Treq on the break, it makes us so unbelievably difficult to stop.

I’m going to wait until the January update to show the table etc. and go more in depth, but for now, I think it’s certainly worth showing you a few results we’ve had lately, that show just how well we’re doing.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 21.52.55

Villarreal are having a terrible season so far (they currently sit bottom of the league), but even so, this was a fantastic result. Del Moral was fantastic in the Inside Forward role, getting us off the mark, and from there we were never really threatened. The game was at home, but even still, it was fairly simple.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.35.44

This is by far the best result so far, away at the San Mames, against a Bilbao side that would have gone 3rd with a win. We were wonderful, and again Del Moral performed brilliantly in the Inside Forward role. It was 2-0 for some time, and although they pushed forward and got a goal back from a corner, we never really looked like conceding another. We won with only 38% of the ball, showing there’s more than one way to play Football Manager and win. At times, I am unashamedly defensive, and I don’t care. The football my teams play is still attractive and effective.

I’ll update again come January, hopefully still doing well, and being the giant killers of La Liga. Until then, thank you for reading and as always, feel free to ask any questions you have.

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