‘Match of the 1970’s’ Updating the British Style – Emulating Clough, Shankly and Paisley (4)

Well, the first season with Bradford City is over, much faster than I thought it would be. R01SheepskinIt’s a testament to how much I’m enjoying this save that I’m playing through it so quickly. Usually I take about 3 weeks to get through a season on Football Manager, and I’ve done this in far less. I actually played the second half of this season in one day, something I haven’t done since I was at school.

In the last post I covered the first half of the season. We were 5 points clear at the top of League One, having semi deliberately knocked ourselves out of all the cup competitions. I was also having serious issues with the form of my ‘best player’ Billy Knott, and really at a loss for reasons why he wasn’t playing well. So, how did things end then?

‘Match of the 1970’s’ Updating the British Style – Emulating Clough, Shankly and Paisley (3)

WellR01Sheepskin, 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.

‘Match of the 1970’s’ Updating the British Style – Emulating Clough, Shankly and Paisley (2)

R01SheepskinRight, 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.

‘Match of the 1970’s’ Updating the British Style – Emulating Clough, Shankly and Paisley (1)

I apologise that it’s been a while since I’ve produced any content for this blog. We recently achieved SI Affiliate status and I wanted to get tons of content out, but being a student at university and juggling a job isn’t easy, and sometime it gets in the way of playing Football Manager (rubbish excuse, I know). Nevertheless, most of my deadlines are done in the next few weeks, and I should have much more time to play Football Manager again.

Image result for shanklyAs you will know, the majority, if not all of my saves have a tactical plan behind them. With Eibar it was to test the 4-5-1-0, with Sturm it was initially 4-1-4-1, then 3-5-2, then 4-5-1. If there isn’t anything interesting to do tactically, a save usually dies for me. However, lately I haven’t been feeling quite the tactical inspiration that I usually have, and I think that’s because I hopped around so many different tactical ideas with Sturm, largely because of the freedom such a versatile squad gave me. Pretty much the only formation I couldn’t play was 4-2-3-1. That save effectively spoilt me in terms of tactics.

So, how to get around this, and get the tactical inspiration back? Well, I’m going to do it by restricting myself to one formation, and using it as a tactical challenge. I’ll explain more as this article goes on, and I’ll outline the save that will be coming soon to this blog.

Utilising The Mobile Targetman

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?

You Won’t Believe It

1753Well, I’ve reached the end of December in the first season of the Eibar save, so it’s time to update you on how we’re doing. This save has certainly been interesting so far.

First off, there’s something I forgot to mention in the last update, and that’s transfers (my mistake for getting caught up talking about the 4-5-1-0). I initially tried to ditch some of the strikers, but none of them either wanted to leave, or were wanted by other clubs, so for now, they’ve been retrained as temporary backups, and will be moved on at the end of the season. Obviously, we’re playing a bunch of midfielders in the 4-5-1-0, and we needed a bit more quality in the CM-D role, so I signed Aitor Monroy from Cluj in Romania for a fee of 60k, an absolutely tiny fee for a very versatile player, who has everything I need in the CM-D role. He tackles well, passes well, and has the ‘plays short simple passes’ and ‘marks tightly’ PPMs. On top of that, he’s decent going forward so towards the end of the game, I’ll usually sub either the CM-A or the BBM off, move Monroy to one of those roles and bring on a more defensive CM-D to make sure we close the game out. I was given a budget of £2M, but that’s all I’ve spent, preferring to analyse the squad in the first season and then make decisions regarding signings.

Tactically, we’re still using the 4-5-1-0 (as I will throughout most of this save, as I want to see how far I can take it and how flexible it is as our reputation grows) with no further tweaks from the previous update. I’m at the point now where I’m very happy with the tactic, and I will link a download of this tactic at the end of this post, along with a little bit of analysis about what makes it work.

So, how are we doing in La Liga?

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.

‘Playing The Patch’ – The Strikerless 4-5-1-0

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, That Was Unexpected…..

156Well, 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.

Why Can’t It Just Be Simple?

156First 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.

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