‘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 (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?

‘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.

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.

Deep Sleeping Playmaker

Getting through the season one defensive calamity at a time.

FMPressure

These aren't the blogs you're looking for...

Il Mediano

Fictional Ajax youth graduate. De Rossi's missing sleeve.

The Dugout

Football Manager blog for old people

Confessions of a Rambling Red

A blog about tactics and Liverpool FC.

Four-Four-You

Blog of a Football Obsessive

andrewmijflintdotcom

Peeling back the layers of Russian life one at a time...

13 steps

Tactical analysis

develop to win

Football Analysis

The Coffeehouse: FM Discussion

Discussing the intricacies of Football Manager