A Brainstorm

Before I begin this post, I feel it’s probably best to explain that I’ve always been a Pep/Bielsa disciple. I’ve always particularly believed in Pep’s style of football, and his philosophies. Looking at my Sturm save, you can identify this. I put my best players (Alar, Lovric and now Wydra) in the centre of the park as a midfield 3 in order to achieve numerical superiority there. I’m a firm believer that, like chess, achieving dominance in the centre is a sure-fire way of giving yourself a good chance of victory. It’s now become a football cliché, but this is something I’ve believed since I first started to watch Pep’s legendary Barca side. I’ll always maintain that the Barca/Real 5-0 is the best I’ll ever see a team play, and watching that match in a full pub at University confirmed my allegiance to Pep Guardiola.

https://i1.wp.com/www.spox.com/de/sport/fussball/international/1312/Bilder/roger-schmidt-600.jpg

Lately however, I’ve started to become influenced by a different style of football, that has moved me away from wanting my teams to play just like Pep. This probably started with the first time I watched Mourinho’s Madrid perfect the counter attack, or the first time I watched Dortmund’s gegenpressing. Now, I always make the point that possession isn’t everything to me, and I always look for that point of perfection between vertical movement and possession play. The epitome of this other style of football is former Red Bull Salzburg boss (I won’t hold that against him) Roger Schmidt, someone who Pep has openly admitted his admiration for.

Hmmm, Upgrades…

If you got that Matrix reference, then well done. 156

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.

Utilising the Central Winger on FM15

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.

The Perfect Season, And We Needed It

156Apologies 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.

Developing The First Team

156I’ve finished all of the transfers that I want to make for Sturm in the transfer window, so I thought I’d do a quick update to summarise what I’ve been up to. As the transfer window started, I was given a budget of absolutely nothing, so I came to the conclusion that it was best to stick with what I had, and begin to re-sign those that were coming to the end of their contracts. Sound like a good plan? Football Manager had other ideas.

In the last update, I talked about our top striker Marco Djuricin, and how he wanted to leave Sturm, and had clubs (particularly Werder Bremen) sniffing around him. This would have been fine, but he’s got a £1.5M release clause in his contract, that had me worried, particularly considering we already had a lack of depth upfront, with the other options nowhere near the calibre of the Austrian international. Well, in the end, it was Vitesse Arnhem who matched the release clause, and off he went for 1.5M. I couldn’t do anything to stop him.

Well, I Was Right

156Well, I’ve reached the end of my first season in charge of Sturm Graz. First off, I’d like to say thank you to @Shrewnaldo for creating this edit. I’ve had a lot of fun this season, and I can tell it’s going to be a challenging save. When I last updated, we were at the end of December, were pushing Red Bull Salzburg as hard as we could in the league, and were 3 points behind, having suffered two horrible losses against them. I was also having issues deciding whether to stick with the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 I’d been using at the start of the season, or switch to the Hidden Diamond I’d started using once Stankovic broke his foot.

At the end of my procrastination, I ended up doing neither, but I’ll cover that later in the update. So, most importantly, how did the league go, and did we manage to achieve the Champions League qualification I was so focused on?

A Tactical Brainstorm And Preview

I’ll admit it, I was hoping to have had a tactical piece out by now. Whether that was the FM15 Central Winger article (which is coming) or something altogether different, I wasn’t sure. I was only a few matches away from being ready to do the article on the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 I’d been using with Sturm Graz, but then FM intervened, taking away my star Number 10, and forcing me to change tactics, meaning I hadn’t managed to test the 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1 enough before writing an article on it.

To compensate for this (and also because I’m missing writing about tactics) I thought I’d give you a preview of what I’m hoping to use down the line on FM15. I’d use it now if I could, but there’s certain elements of the game that don’t work quite as SI said they would, meaning for now at least, they’re largely useless.

First off, I’ll show the formation and roles I’d want to use, before explaining the theory behind it.

Salzburg Hatred, A Broken Foot, and Hidden Diamonds

156Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season, 19 games into the Bundesliga. How have things been going? Well, pretty well but it’s not been easy and there’s been challenges along the way. Looking at our record, you probably would think it’s been plain sailing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I said in my first post of this save, I was planning on using a formation and tactic that was a combination of a 4-4-1-1 and a 4-1-4-1. A bit hipster-ish perhaps, but I’ve got a problem when it comes to Football Manager, and I can’t bring myself to use something simple. I’ve always got to try to make it complicated or different.

So, Change Of Plans….

In my FM15 preview post, I said that I would be starting this year managing Austria Salzburg in @Shrewnaldo’s edit of the Austrian league structure. At the time of writing, Shrewnaldo planned to put Salzburg in the Bundesliga, however, when he holidayed the Austrian leagues, and saw the level of the club in general, he decided that it would be better to put them in the Erste Liga (the second tier).

That left me with a bit of a dilemma. I’m notoriously slow at completing seasons on Football Manager. I spend too much time messing about trying to make the tactics perfect, daydreaming about how to make them better. Plus, with the tactical ideas I had in mind, the level of players at Austria Salzburg wouldn’t have allowed me to have it play quite how I’d like. To me, tactics is everything in Football Manager.

So Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

In my FM15 preview post, I spoke about wanting to do something along the lines of the current Real Madrid setup, which is basically a 4-4-2. I’m an avid supporter of 4-4-2, and I’ve always believed that the formation gets a bad reputation, especially amongst British fans/media (I’m looking at you Gary Lineker). I’ll go further into my support of 4-4-2 when I do the full article on this tactic when the game releases, but I believe Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan are one of the best teams to watch that I’ve ever seen, and they used 4-4-2. It’s about the system, not the formation. I’m sure Pep Guardiola could use 4-4-2 at Bayern, and they’d still produce wonderful football.

Anyway, back on topic. After a brief dabble with my 3-6-1 with Manchester United, I switched saves to try out this ‘4-4-2’ with Real Madrid. I put 4-4-2 in inverted commas, because it’s not a standard 4-4-2 and is quite asymmetric. I’m not doing this just to be complicated (although that’s probably a factor), I’m doing it to try to accurately recreate the performances of specific players, particularly Kroos, Modric and Ronaldo.

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