Right, so it’s time for the next update of the AaB save. If you follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey), you will have seen that I was a little unsure about writing this update, but I think in terms of helping me understand what’s going on in this save, and why things aren’t quite going as I’d have hoped, it’s really important. There’s a possibility I just rush ahead now without processing what’s gone wrong this season, and it would ruin the save, plain and simply. I’ve already considered ditching this save because of how things have been going, but I said that my focus for FM21 would be consistency, so I’m sticking with it, and it’ll be all the better when I get things right. For those of you though who don’t speak Danish, Ude af Ideer means ‘Out of Ideas‘, which is really how I feel right now with AaB. I’m not sure I’ve had a save go this way for quite some time. Still, hopefully that should make this an interesting read for everyone.
So, those of you who have read the first and second updates will know that we began by using a Back 3, but after a truly horrific run after Christmas 2020 – it’s like the game knew what would happen in real life – I switched to a deep 4-3-3 system, but with two DM’s rather than CM’s. This stabilised our form, and actually got us into the final of the DBU Pokalen (the Danish Cup), but that was the point where I saved the game. Saving when on a good run is a dangerous thing to do on Football Manager, because you never know whether you’re going to continue the run when you turn the game back on – and we certainly didn’t.
We did however, win the DBU Pokalen final so we at least have our first piece of silverware for this save. However, we only just beat 1. Division opponents Esbjerg in the final, and I had to switch system to a more standard 4-3-3 because we just weren’t creating anything against our inferior opponents, and were actually being outplayed at times. The respected xG of 1.62 to 1.42 in our favour shows how close the game actually was. So of course it was nice to win, and we did deserve it, but there was a considerably dark cloud coming along with that silver lining to our distinctly average first season. Even then, the second goal came from a rebound from a free kick, not exactly a great way to win a cup. We then finished the season with two losses – one to OB who were relegated – and two 4-3 goalfests, as I switched to a press heavy, Rangnick inspired narrow 4-4-2, which at the very least got us two wins to end the season. I’m not sure however, that it’s a reliable system moving forward.
So, what now? Well, certainly I’m going to leave the game for a little bit. If I were to just continue playing, this save would be done. The issue is that because I’ve spent all season trying to get something to work consistently, we really lack any kind of identity or consistent system. It’s really been a wasted year. We’ve played Back 3 systems, a deep 4-3-3, a standard 4-3-3, I’ve attempted 4-3-1-2’s and now we ended the season with a 4-4-2. In the midst of all that, the club has lost its way completely, as have I as the manager. Apart from the impending arrival of Max Svensson, I haven’t spent any money yet for next season, and I won’t until I decide on a set philosophy and way forward as a club. We may have finished 7th in the league and won the Pokalen, but realistically we were 3rd in the league at Christmas, and should easily have been competing for European places through that, not getting into the Europa through winning the cup. The rest of the season has been nowhere near good enough.
Overall, it’s difficult to say who’s really impressed me because things have been so inconsistent. Kasper Kusk has been fantastic when he’s been available to play, but is still getting back into top form after his injury. Tim Prica was a nice discovery and ended the season with 11 goals with a lot of development, and Tom van Weert has been good everywhere he’s played this season. I think putting him upfront with Prica is the solution to our goalscoring issues, and this is something I’ll keep in mind tactically next year. Other than that, Charlie Weberg has been solid – if unspectacular – at the back and all our central midfielders have been decent. Lucas Andersen has been a massive disappointment, scoring only one goal in 29 games, usually form positions where he was being relied on to score. He’s our top earner on almost £10k per week, and I’m really considering selling him to make some money. There are big changes ahead for AaB, but I want to make sure that I think each one through, because I can feel that this save is on a knife-edge. We are one mistake away from being unable to recover it, but a few good signings and tactical moves away from being up at the top. My next update will most likely be some kind of tactical think tank ahead of pre-season, covering the transfers I make and early results in the Superliga. So until then, should you have any questions about my plans for AaB, or how I’m managing not to pack this save in, then please don’t hesitate to contact me either in the comments section, or via Twitter (probably the best, @JLAspey). Thank you very much for reading again, and I’ll be back again soon!