Well, we’ve reached January in the Bradford City save, so it’s time to update you on how things are going. In the last update, I went through my plans for the save, and discussed my ideas on player loyalty, squad management and tactics. In short, I’m hoping to remain very loyal to players (until they are ‘past it’ or stop being loyal to me), focus on Home Nation talent whilst not excluding foreign signings, and use a 4-4-2. Of course, I can’t just be simple and I’ve still not been able to use a standard 4-4-2. It’s ended up being a lopsided 4-4-2, with 3 central midfielders and a right winger. It’s extremely influenced by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side.
Right, it’s time to get this new save rolling, and outline my plans. Here’s my 70’s/80’s style manager on the right, sporting an untrustworthy smile, and stereotypical sheepskin coat (channelling his inner Don Revie). Complete with an abrasive attitude, unrelenting self confidence, a love of attacking football, and a burning passion that 4-4-2 is the best formation in football, he’s going to take English football by storm.
So, who is he going to be taking English football by storm with? In the last update, I hinted that I had a particular club in mind, and that club was Preston North End, over in the North West of the country. I went to University in Preston, and as such know the club fairly well, but in the end I decided against them, and went for a team that have been mentioned quite a lot in the football media over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately it’s for sad reasons, but that club is Bradford City. In ‘The Damned United’, Brian Clough says ‘you can’t manage a team that’s not your own people’. I’m from the North East, but a short drive away from Yorkshire, and therefore the move slightly south to Bradford made sense. Much like Clough moved South to Derby, and Revie moved South to Leeds, my manager is moving South, to bring Bradford back up into the promised land. With all this 70’s/80’s nostalgia, I’ll do my best not to call the Premiership Division 1.
People have been fairly critical of the ‘Target Man’ role this year on FM15. By and large, the main criticism has been that the role induces West Ham levels (though not this season) of direct football. In laymans terms, it’s been said that the game automatically thinks that your Target Man is Andy Carroll, and that you are Graham Taylor’s Watford, and will take any opportunity to hoof the ball up to him. Somewhat irritatingly, this can be at the detriment of your team instructions. I lose count of the amount of times I read people complaining about direct football (that they don’t want) despite asking their team to ‘retain possession’ and ‘work ball into box’. I loved the Target Man role on FM14 (it was a crucial part of my Defensive 4-1-2-2-1), but as a result of the reports I’ve heard, I’ve avoided it on FM15.
So, how can we get around this on FM15? Well, this role I’ve had in mind is extremely influenced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Yes, he’s a Target Man type player, but he’s far more than. He’s strong, good at holding the ball up, but he’s also very creative, mobile, and can set up his team mates outside of the classic Target Man cliches like ‘flick ons’ and ‘one-twos’. He’s a classically talented footballer. In Football Manager terms, a mix between a Target Man, and crucially a Deep-Lying Forward. This idea actually spawned out of some of the stats I saw when I was testing the 4-5-1 for my previous article. If you go back and see, you will notice I put Kevin Friesenbichler (an uncreative player, who was strong and fast) at DLF-S, with the responsibility of dropping deep and feeding the ball to the onrushing players in the midfield 5. Surely this wouldn’t work right?
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those FM articles where someone claims that their tactic is ‘the best and most effective tactic you’ll find on FM15’. However, I’m going to put forward my opinion of what is the ‘best’ formation to use on FM15.
Of course, my idea of ‘best’ is going to differ from those that claim their tactic is the best, really meaning the best for that particular team, in that particular league with those particular players and signings. My idea of the best formation relates to the most useful, the most versatile, whilst still being very effective.
So, first off, why do I like the 4-5-1 formation, when it’s largely thought of as such a bland formation, right alongside 4-4-2? Well, this won’t turn into a rant, because those of you that have read this blog will know of my complaints relating to the positioning of AM’s and DM’s, but conversely, my love of CM’s in this year’s version. They’re so versatile in their positioning, and you can make up for the issues with AM and DM positioning by tweaking the roles slightly. For example, as I showed in the Central Winger article (a tweaked CM-A), the CW will regularly move up into the AM strata to support the strikers.
I’ve had a few problems with FM15 lately. There’s been a few things that have really been irritating me, particularly relating to player positioning, and how SI have interpreted certain positions. This article isn’t going to be a rant, but there’s several positions that I’ve become very annoyed by. I don’t like AMR/L’s on FM15. I find them largely useless when defending, and for someone as focused on defending (shamelessly a defence first manager) as I am, it’s meant I haven’t used them. Last year, I used them in a very successful 4-3-3 with *coughSalzburgcough* but I won’t use them this year until a patch sorts out their farcical efforts in defence. A bunch of successful teams throughout football history have used what SI would consider to be AMR/L’s, and they don’t act anything like they do in FM15. I also don’t like the positioning of AMC’s. With an ‘attack’ duty, they end up too far away from the rest of the midfield, and again, don’t contribute at all defensively. On ‘support’ they’re too close to the rest of the midfield, leaving me to think why on Earth would I bother using an AMC then? With Stuttgart, Roguljic was set as an AP-S, and he ended up being in the same line as the double pivot when I looked at average positions. If he’s going to end up in the same position as a central midfielder, why am I using an attacking midfielder?
Well, I’ve finished the 2016/17 season with Sturm so it’s time to update once again. I think it shows how much I’m enjoying writing these updates that I’m playing FM faster than I have in a long time. Usually it takes me forever to actually play a season on FM, and I’m already through 3 of them with Sturm. So, last time I updated we were 4 points clear of RBS, had been beaten to end our undefeated run at 56 games, and had made our way through to the first knockout round of the Europa League, having been knocked out of the CL by Celtic in the final qualifying round. I’d also started to use a 3-5-2, that I felt got the best out of our new striker ‘Super Kev’ Kevin Friesenbichler.
First off, Happy New Year to everyone. Although this blog is only a few months old, it’s received some fantastic support in 2014, and I’d like to thank everyone that has supported this blog in any way, be it commenting, favouriting, retweeting or following. It really does mean a lot to me. I hope to bring you more quality tactics based FM content throughout 2015 and onwards.
Anyway moving on. I’ve reached the Austrian mid-season break in the 16/17 season, so it’s time to update you on where we stand with Sturm. The last update on this save outlined my transfers beginning the season, and I think it came across how excited I was for the next season with the players I’d signed. I was expecting big things after signing Dibon, Wydra, Spendlhofer (now here permanently), Ligeon, Sallahi and Gregoritsch. I also covered a new 3-5-2 formation I was looking at trying alongside the 4-1-4-1, particularly in the games against Salzburg. I ended up betraying my own ideas in the Salzburg game, but I’ll cover that later on.
I’ve finished all of the transfers I plan to make for the Summer at Sturm, and it’s been a very busy Summer, so I felt it was probably best to do a quick update, outlining what’s changing for the next season, and look at how the club as a whole is progressing. As you will have read from the previous post on this save, we won the league last season, going undefeated and still only beating RBS by one point. Worrying in a way, but winning the league is still a huge achievement in the second season of the save, as well as going undefeated on top of that.
When the save began, the club was not in a good position financially, and very quickly reduced my transfer revenue to 30%, which wasn’t ideal considering we weren’t getting very much money in to begin with. Good league performances over the last two seasons and the Europa League run last season helped the financial situation severely, to a point that we now sit with a good amount of money in the bank, and the club gave me £6.06M to invest over the Summer in order to allow us to withstand the demands of Champions League football, and continue to compete for the title with Salzburg. It really is exciting times at Sturm.
Apologies to everyone for the wait for this article, but there’s been a few reasons why it’s taken me until December to write this. Firstly, I’ve wanted to make sure I get this right after the success of the FM14 article, and have all the material needed to show why the Central Winger is such a fantastic role. Secondly, I’ve actually had some problems using the Central Winger on FM15. I developed a 3-6-1 on the BETA with Manchester United, with Angel Di Maria as the CW. I’ve always said that Angel Di Maria was the archetypal Central Winger, and to my surprise, well, it didn’t work very well. Januzaj ended up being far better in the CW role, but on the whole, I didn’t see many of the movements I saw on FM14, and I worried that my favourite role was going to be largely useless on FM15.
In the end, I figured out that the CW’s ineffectiveness was as a result of two things, both my fault in a way. In an attempt to avoid horrific Back 3 spreading that I’d seen on FM14, I decided not to ask the team to ‘play wider’, condensing the diamond midfield in the centre, meaning that the Central Winger didn’t have the space he needed, and therefore was largely useless.
Apologies for the lack of mid-season update in my Sturm Graz save. I’m enjoying playing this save a lot (once again thanks to @Shrewnaldo for developing the edit) and ended up playing past the mid-season break pretty quickly, meaning all the screenshots I’d need would be unavailable. So you’re going to get one long season update, and I apologise if it ends up being too long.
So last time I updated, we’d lost star striker Marco Djuricin to Vitesse for £1.5M, and sold Hadzic for making wage demands I simply couldn’t afford. I then brought in Manu Molina to play at striker, and Deni Alar from Rapid to play the Central Winger role I developed on FM14. This would prove to be a fantastic piece of business. I’d intended to use the close season to get the depth I wanted for the team (particularly considering that we qualified for the Europa League, effectively) but these transfers left me with pretty much the same level of depth as I had before once I’d brought up some younger players. Some good bench players, but not a full squad, with particular weaknesses at striker, full back, and on the wings. I said that this next season would be vital, challenging Salzburg again, and fighting with what I was sure would be a rejuvenated Austria and Rapid Wien.