PHILOSOPHIES & STAFF CHANGES
As previously mentioned, we had arranged a meeting with the owner to discuss philosophies and it was my vision to put forward that we not only sign younger players for the first team but also that we develop players through the youth setup.
Choosing these philosophies was my initial reaction to the financial status of the club, but having since looked at the projection, it seems that not only is the club more financially viable than I first thought, but also projected to make a profit moving forward.
I also pulled the trigger on a couple of staff changes too; Martin Haar came in as my new Assistant Manager:
Brian Eastwick became the new Head of Youth Development:
And to improve the Coaching team, we hired Thomas Helveg:
The first game out of the box for the team was the obligatory match against the U23’s and despite one or two players not having returned yet from holiday, we still were able to field a half decent side and the first team won 2 – 0, both goals scored by Richarlison the new signing from Brazil. It’s fair to say that he looked very sharp!
As you can see, the rest of the results were fairly decent (including testimonials for both Baines and Jagielka) with a couple of exceptions; but it was my feeling that perhaps the preseason wasn’t sufficiently challenging enough and I vowed to change that in the future, the reason being that I had played with the tactics a little (tweaks and adjustments to suit the team) but due to having all of our games against weak opponents, I did not feel it was a good representation of how we would perform against Premiership opponents.
So; we have now played 3 Premiership games and one Carabao Cup tie and our results look like this:
Worse than that; the current table looks like this!
Now I would argue that things aren’t as bad as with Fulham or Newcastle who both have managed to concede 10 goals each but with that being said, they are both above us in the league! Also being knocked out of the Carabao in the first tie isn’t ideal either and even though it is the very early stages, it is very important to improve our fortunes soon or my job could be under pressure.
Tactically speaking, I have been playing with the tactics mentioned in part one of the blog, both of which served me well in preseason, with the 4-1-4-1 DM best fitting our pool of players. I had kept the standard roles and instructions for each of the tactics, only tweaking them during the match depending on how we were doing which when it came to the Premiership games; none of the tinkering had the desired effect, hence the results. Consequently, the next stage before we go into September is to have a long look at the tactics and see what I need to modify in order to get the best out of the players.
I am also mindful of the fact that there are a few new signings for the team and as such there is a slight lack of cohesion / understanding on the pitch, the result being that I am seeing a metric ton of misplaced passes during the matches which make it look like I am back in the Vanarama again!
As mentioned, 4-1-4-1 DM fits our squad best this season and I have taken the basic formation and created a tactic / tactical instructions from scratch, rather than using the presets. I will stick with one version for now, which I will tweak and get right in terms of player roles etc. The initial version looks like this:
The Midfield roles will likely change but I am starting out simple with CM’s and a DM on support and as I have a veritable plethora of AML’s who want to be IF’s, it seemed silly not to play with one and due to a lack of IF’s for the right, I chose the W role instead.
The lone forward has historically been an issue for me, especially when playing LLM as there are no roles outside of TM, AF, PF and P though sometimes you can find a decent DLF if you are lucky! So getting the right supply to the role you end up playing there can sometimes be a challenge and I found the CM’s and DM combination, historically, to be quite effective in helping with that, especially if wide players were struggling to be effective. In this first version I will go with a PF on attack, though I do have more options available to me, for the simple reason this is more closely following something I have had success with.
Defensively, I started with FB’s but decided to go for CWB’s purely based on Digne and his preferred roll. In the centre, we have a CB on defend and a BPD as a stopper. I don’t tend to play a stopper if I use and Anchor Man or HB, but with a DM on support, a stopper can close the gap if the DM is caught further up on a counter attack.
For the In Possession instructions:
Out of Possession
Once more, I have favoured a more pressing game and ever since I started playing FM19; the ‘Play for Set Pieces’ button has always been highlighted so in this instance, it has taken great mental effort not to do it! Whilst part of me says I should because I now have some proper set piece takers; the other part of me knows that it could impact the flow and creativity negatively. Consequently, no set pieces play and the addition of be more expressive!.
The First Test!
The first test of the tactics was against Brighton:
It’s fair to say, that the result did not match what I believe to be the performance of the team and to qualify that, I watched the entire game and was very pleased with how the team played, especially with improvements to how the Midfield worked. They ‘looked’ that bit more cohesive but also, compared to our preseason efforts, they also looked more threatening in the final third (managing 2 goals in a game which we hadn’t done since the draw against West Ham AND we were without Richarlson due to injury). At this point, it crossed my mind that morale might be an issue; so I decided to call a team meeting:
The results of the meeting showed a decent improvement in morale across the board which we will take with us into the next game away at Huddersfield, where I am hoping to record my first Premiership win!
We will come back in January for the next post, with a review on the first half of our season, assuming I have not been sacked in the meantime!