Auf gehts VfL Bochum – Part 3: Meeting the defence

There’s nothing quite like that palpable atmosphere in a football stadium – with its tension, mumbles and an energy you can almost taste. My first few times in the Ruhrstadion (AKA rewirpowerSTADION for sponsorship reasons… *grumble grumble modern football grumble*) I was transfixed by the tifo displays, the sea of flags, the constant drumming, the megaphones and the almost other-worldly tunes they sang. Perhaps not as tempestuous as Italy or South America, from my perspective the German fan culture still has an edge that seems to have long left the UK. It doesn’t feel dangerous, it feels alive. And they chant and chant and drum and hiss and cajole and chant some more. The Bochum fans in particular have some great catchy chants and one of them is responsible for the naming of this series of articles.
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Auf gehts VfL Bochum – Part 2: The staff (and pre-season)


Although often overlooked by many, getting together a functioning backroom staff that match your overall plan can be very rewarding. We may only be talking a 5-10% increases in coaching efficiency, tactical familiarity, team blend and squad personality (to use some examples) but in terms of player development, that could be the difference between having a good player and a world-class player. As discussed in the previous article, player development will be an important part of my philosophy at Bochum so when I start-up my search, I’m looking for excellent coaching ability first and foremost. I also look at their personality, history and age as well as key attributes for each role to make sure I secure staff that will be around long enough to improve themselves and rub off on the lads coming through.
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Auf gehts VfL Bochum – Part 1: The groundwork


After a protracted reorganising of my life forced me into a several month article hiatus, I felt it was time to jump back on the wagon, dust off my virtual boots and start asking my scouts to find me the next Jamie Vardy. So far FM16 has mostly been about tactics, tweaking and a new level of deeper learning for me, though like many of us I’m still prone to the occasional freak out of frustration when something just isn’t going as planned. To be honest, my most recent Altrincham save was binned when I took a few weeks off, came back and had no desire left to raise the sleeping Chesire giants to the pinnacle of English football, especially as it was something I’d done before. I needed a spark of inspiration… Continue reading

The Stoke Chronicles – Tactics – The 4-4-1-1

So I now sit here in the summer of 2024, in my first installment I caught you all up on the brief history of my time at Stoke. Since then the 2023/24 season has ended and Stoke have gone on to retain their Premier League title for the 5th consecutive season (gutted there was no Steam achievement) & also stormed back to win the Champions League after a 4-3 win over Arsenal (who I also pipped to the title by 3 points). All in all, the Stoke train keeps on rolling.

A big reason for our success is our 4-4-1-1 system that I’ll delve into in this piece. I’ll firstly say a big thanks to Jonathan Aspey (@JLAspey) as it was after his success at Newcastle with his 4-4-1-1 that formed the foundations of Stoke’s success.

So let’s look at the basic structure of the system, instructions & then plenty of in-game analysis will follow over the coming weeks.


A pretty straight forward set-up. The idea behind my system is to dominate the flanks whilst having plenty of support in the box to aim at. Coupled with my instructions I want to be incredible on the counter attack, press high, have good and meaningful possession (not possession for possessions sake) and most importantly – clinical. Let’s summarise how I expect each role to play out:-

– Goalkeeper – Set to the default setting – all I’ve asked is for him to distribute to our full backs; this way I hope to utilise the wings as early as possible whilst also opening up vertical passing alleys to the central midfielders.
– Full Backs – Fewer Risky Passes & Sit Narrower, the passes instructions speaks for itself, I don’t want him to be wasteful in possession or look to play too long & direct. Sitting narrower may seem a little ambiguous but it’s effective; in defence he will not so easily allow a wide man to cut inside and shoot or play a through ball, in attack he dovetails well with the W/WM – often starting in a different, more narrow channel than the winger allowing him to underlap, provide a passing option AND overlap where the winger is either forced or dribbles inside.
– Central Defenders – no frills, no spills, be solid defenders, keep it simple, break up attacks, mark the forwards etc…in practice if I can also have centre backs who are confident on the ball and can distribute well – then fantastic. Otherwise, just play it simple to those who can do it better.
– Right Midfielder – a lot of people will ask why this chap isn’t set to a winger, the main man I use there (Jevdjovic) is a perfect winger, not necessarily a wide midfielder. The answer is, mostly, balance. I find his starting/defensive positions are far better, he will occasionally sit narrow allowing the wing back to support, however I also want him to be a winger so I also require him to Shoot Less Often (not unnecessary shots from stupid angles, ideally!) , Dribble More, Roam From Position & Cross From Byline – and boy, there aren’t many better than Jevdjovic at crossing from the byline.
– CM-D – the midfield needs balance and can’t be too gung-ho – this chap is there to shore things up in transition but also be a key cog in our build-up play, always offering a passing outlet when possession needs recycling from side-to-side, something we do extremely well.
– BBM-S – arguably the most important player in the team. He needs to support both in attack and defence, so just has to be a fantastic all round player. Lucas Romero made this position his own.
– Left Wing – other than also asking him to Shoot Less Often (wide men do it far too much), all I want this player to do is give the opposition full back absolute hell. Raid that wing, get the ball in the box and also support attacks from the opposite wing.
– Trequartista (AMCR) – this position is lob-sided to the right to allow the BBM to break into free space ahead of him and also allow the striker to drop off without the AM-strata becoming congested. I want this player to always provide a passing option between the lines, look to play in the striker and also be someone who can score plenty of goals himself when presented with the opportunity.
– Striker – get me goals, goals, goals. Get on the end of all those crosses and be the one to take all the glory. I want this player to be quick, able to beat a man & most importantly, clinical. He’s also the first line of defence and a high work rate to close down the defence and block passing channels, forcing them to play long is key in allowing us to strangle possession.


As you can see, setting player roles shouldn’t just be something you do idly, each should have their place within the tactic as a whole – just like the instructions above.

– Mentality – Control – I want to be concise in possession and also look to dominate weaker teams, we’ll take slightly more risks and the full backs will often look to overlap. I know that we will be susceptible to counter attacks – but the goal is for my attacks not to break down and result in a goal 🙂
Team Shape – Very Fluid – this will allow my players to break out of a strict 4-4-1-1 setup to press the ball, close down channels whilst also roaming from their position to provide passing angles & allow for high creativity in our passing. It also ensures all of my team contribute to defending. Winning the ball back as quickly as we can is important to me.
– Shorter Passing – don’t hoof it long boys, be visionary, make good decisions and build the attack concisely
– Pass Into Space – I like to think that this instruction coupled with my other ones means that we’ll only do this when the pass into space is our best option and not just an aimless hoof into space.
– Play Out of Defence – again, shorter passing is encouraged, I don’t (usually) use a target man so long balls aren’t going to be successful
– Exploit the Flanks – we want to utilise our wide men and whip those crosses in, over and over again
– Much Higher Defensive Line – encouraging our high press and forcing more of the play into the oppositions half of the pitch
– Close Down Much More – press players, close down channels, win the ball back as soon as possible
– Prevent Short GK Distribution – another instruction that encourages the opposition to play long and preventing build-up play. I’d be much more happier with their GK lumping it onto the heads of my defenders then moving my players out of position with short build-up play

Opposition Instructions

Often overlooked but bloody important. As if telling my team to press & close down more wasn’t enough – I’m reminding them again. I want my defenders not to let their attackers out of their sight. I always want to close down their ball players and if I can force their full backs and wide midfielders inside then I can congest the pitch and hopefully turnover possession. I will also look at the opposition and ensure that strikers are shown onto their weaker foot. With players in the opposition AMC strata I will look at their system and see if they play wingers or inside fowards, it’s important to discover this as you may want to force inside fowards wide & wingers inside – and this can change from player to play, tactic to tactic, team to team.

I hope you’re still with me and have found the above insight interesting – and I know what you’re thinking – you want to see how this all works in practice. Well, conscious of my word count and the fact only half of you may have read this far, never fear – that’s coming next. Some key match analysis will follow next week where we’ll see how the instructions and player roles come to life on the pitch and all contribute to our success.

Until then!


The Stoke Chronicles: A Brief Story So Far

As many of you (hopefully) reading this you’ll know that for a fair while now I have been progressing extremely well with a Stoke save on Football Manager 2016. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s now definitely one of the best and most enjoyable saves I had in any version of the game.

I’ve been playing a lot, we’re into the 2022/23 season which, for me, is some damn good commitment to a save. I’m usually hopefully jumping from one to another, I get itchy feet – but I’ve found my slippers at the Britannia Stadium.

With all this in mind I’ve decided it’s about time I share my Stoke saga with anyone who will listen. In a series of blog posts I hope to give you an insight into the brave new world in the city of Stoke, the club, the players, my tactics, results and everything in between. Hopefully you’ll then all see a bit more into my FM mind and who knows, maybe even come to like Stoke a bit more than you do now. Forgive me for the lack of detail, but I will be revisiting past players & matches for you in future posts 🙂

So without further ado, let’s crack on.

The Story So Far

I sit here today on February 25th 2023 and things are looking quite rosy, but it wasn’t always this way you know. I’ve worked bloody hard to get where I am today, you don’t get paid £40k for nothing…come to think of it I really should be getting paid more – but I digress.


So this is me. A not too shabby looking manager wouldn’t you say? Other than my apparent complete disregard for domestic players (which is kind of true), 4 personal trophies but more importantly, 16 trophies with Stoke over the last 7 seasons.


Since 2020 there really has been no better team in Europe that Stoke – winning the Premier League and Champions League for 3 seasons running and 4 times overall since 2018. It’s been such an enjoyable trophy haul with some cracking matches and hopefully I can give you an insight into the reasons for my success both tactically and individually.


It wasn’t all plain sailing though…we finished 12th in our first season on 50 points, OK it wasn’t plain sailing for the first season but we’ve achieved over the odds pretty much from there on in. As much as we struggled in the first season I was able to make a number of transfers that would help change the face of Stoke;

– Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente) £3.9m
– Gabriel Barbosa (Santos) £9.5m
– Andrija Zivkovic (Partizan) £950k
– Leroy Sane (Schalke) £13.75m
– Robin Knoche (Wolfsburg) £1.7m
– Lucas Romero (Velez) £950k

The first 3 were bought in the summer, the latter 3 in January, alas they weren’t enough to make an instant impact, but all were big improvements and went on to have fantastic careers with us. As we moved into…


…we made these transfer;

– Geronimo Rulli (Sociedad) Free
– Emanuel Mammana (River) £7.5m
– Simone Zaza (Juventus) £15m
– Hirving Lozano (Pachuca) £12.5m
– Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) £10m
– Mayke (Cruziero) £7.5m
– Matias Kranevitter (Valencia) £24.5m
– Andrija Balic (Hajduk) £7.75m
– Matthew Targett (Southampton) £5m

These incomings were aided by the sale of Shaqiri to Utd for £40m, someone who I was reluctant to let go at the time, but he moaned, he wanted to leave and I rarely keep someone against their will. All of the transfers above went on to make a huge difference, with 4 of them still at the club with me now 7 years on.

Our second season is where we really started to assert ourselves as a top Premier League side, finishing 3rd (joint 2nd) with a record high 78 points, 10 off eventual runaway winners Arsenal.

In my next post I will delve deeply into my current tactic – but even in my second season, despite my success, I still wasn’t happy at the time with the system, we drew too many games (12) and I couldn’t get the two central midfielders to harmonise in a symmetrical 4-4-1-1. With the help of loanees Serge Gnabry & Rodrigo De Paul we ensured Champions League qualification outright. Rulli, Knoche, Juan Jesus & Barbosa were fantastic but it was Leroy Sané who stood head and shoulders above the rest averaging 7.90 and clocking 13 goals & 12 assists in 29 games. He quickly became a fan favourite and also won a special place in my heart as he tore right backs to pieces.


The Champions League was coming to the Britannia Stadium, would Lionel Messi be able to do it on a cold night in Stoke? Maybe we were going to find out.

A frustrating Hirving Lozano was sold to Watford for £35m, in truth he needs to play as an IF from the right hand side but I was stubborn and wanted a Winger in that role at MR – he wasn’t going to dislodge Sané in the ML position, he did quite well at MR but his incessant need to cut inside was a detriment to our play at times.
Out went Juan Jesus too, for a cracking £33.5m to Wolfsburg, he had a fantastic season with me but I had 2 left footed defenders at DC and he wasn’t getting any younger – I just couldn’t turn that sort of money down. It also allowed me to do the following business:

– Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar) £17.5m
– Rodrigo Bentancur (Boca) £7.25m
– Lucas Moura (PSG) £10m
– Filip Lesniak (Legia) £5.75m  –  Regen
– Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) £25.5m

Teixeira & Firmino were still fantastic players, unhappy at their clubs and available at good prices, with De Paul heading back to Valencia they would rotate in the AMC position. Moura would replace Lozano at MR, Lesniak was a cracking looking young DC & Bentancur is a potential world class midfielder able to play anywhere across midfield.

This season turned out to be quite special.

17-18 CL run

Initially I was happy to progress through such a group, but nothing could prepare me for the run we then went on to lift the trophy at our first attempt, the two wins against Barcelona were just…amazing, and I’ll be sure to analyse these games for you in the coming weeks. The final was then so special; 1-0 down, 2-1 down, 3-2 down and then a last minute winner from Teixeira sealed an incredible win.

It was a run that, at the time, kept me going with the save, our league form was incredibly inconsistent and we struggled with the hectic schedule and ended up finishing 6th – but they didn’t bloody matter did it?! Champions League secured for a second season and what a way to do it. It was at the back end of this season that I finally settled on my current lob-sided 4-4-1-1 system. This was also the season I discovered how good Jeff Rene-Adelaide was after a cracking loan spell with me averaging 7.50.


How could Stoke improve after winning the Champions League? Well I still had the desire to win the Premier League and now I’d gotten to grips with my 4-4-1-1 I was far more optimistic of a stronger domestic campaign. It was another busy summer…


18-19 Ins

Outs18-19 Out

Kranevitter never quite performed as I’d hoped so when PSG came in with a big fat offer, I lined up Kimmich and cashed in. Moura & Zaza weren’t happy with their lack of football so were sold. Chambers was an annoying one, I really didn’t want to sell but he moaned so bloody much. His story with Stoke wasn’t over though. Kyle Walker came in for a complete steal given what he went on to achieve with us, and this was the season we welcome Milorad Jevdjovic to the club. You’ll hear a lot more on him. A lot more.

But how did we do in competition this season? Frustrating that’s how. We bowed out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern in the Quarter finals 4-1 on aggregate and came runner-up to (bloody) Chelsea in the league, finishing on 77 points and 6 behind Chelsea. Again draws were our downfall as we drew 11 games, there were small improvements to be made and I was keen to find them, the title would be ours. Our team was starting to click with my wide men performing fantastically, Gabriel Barbosa getting 41 goals in 48 and Lucas Romero was becoming the ultimate box-to-box midfielder.

2019/20 – 2021/22

Three seasons, three titles, pipping Chelsea to the post on all three occasions made them all the more sweeter. 86 points, 91 points & 92 points and we had converted the frustrating draws into wins and the steady process of buying numerous wonderkids and regens was reaping dividends alongside the 4-4-1-1.

It didn’t end there, each of these 3 seasons also saw 3 Champions League titles added to the bag, making it 4 in the last 5 seasons. We have established ourselves as the best team in Europe through extreme pace down the widths, incessant pressing and some fantastic, intricate build-up.

2019 saw the birth of a star and a key cog in the Stoke machine – Milorad Jevdjovic. After a fruitful loan spell in his first season with me at Sporting Lisbon as an 18 year old – he progressed very quickly and I could do nothing other than start him the following season. Let’s just say his article will be the longest and the most enjoyable to watch and read.

Thanks for sticking with me here, I hope this quickly summarises how I’ve got to where I am today, please rest assured I will be jumping back to plenty of the key moments throughout this save and going into a lot more detail on the tactic, matches and the players.

Until next time where I’ll be drilling down into the successful 4-4-1-1.


Being Benfica – Pre-season, 2015/2016

Following the epic 100 hour plus save that I kickstarted Football Manager 2016 with, I’ve struggled to find the motivation to find managerial pastures new. An ill guided attempt to turn Sevilla into a strikerless force aside, it’s proven tricky to find a team I’m interested in investing my time into.

However, a suggestion from Occasional FM to look into ending the Gutmann curse at Benfica piqued my interest. So, after studying the league and the players I potentially had available to me, I decided to dive in headfirst and attempt to end years of European heartbreak.

Initial Analysis

Benfica is a bit of a dream team for most Football Manager players. Boasting a relatively decent squad filled with talented youngsters, there was enough from an initial scan of the first eleven to suggest there is a decent project at hand here.

After examining the side, I decided that I wanted to play a 4-3-3 with two out and out wingers. These are the reasons why:

  • Benfica has four decent quality wingers available at the start of the save. Nicolas Gaitan on the left and Pizzi on the right are both instant starters, while 18 year old Goncalo Guedes and 20 year old Nuno Santos (promoted from Benfica B) both look likely to develop into class talents.
  • The core of the side suits playing a trio in midfield with one as a DM. Almeida, Fejsa and Samarris are all capable of playing the role well, while the youthful talent of Renato Sanches suggested there was somebody worth building a side around.
  • Having looked at my striking options of Raul Jimenez, Jorge and Kostas Mitroglou, I felt that wingers would suit the relatively rudimentary skills of this slightly underwhelming strike force and that a runner or two from midfield might prove more effective at goal getting.

Shaping our tactics

So to begin with, I set the side up in the most basic shape I possible could. The back four featured two regulation centre backs, a right full back with a support duty and a left wing back with a defend duty. The midfield featured a Ball Winning Midfielder in the DM role, a box to box midfielder and a centre midfielder on support. And the front line consisted of a right winger with a support duty, a left winger with attack duty and a target man on support.

In the opening fixtures of pre-season, I set up no tactical instructions or set piece instructions. The reason for this is that I like to see how my tactic performs in the purest sense possible before fine tuning it, to ensure I’m not building a tactical approach which rests on uneasy foundations.

The early fixtures in pre-season were far from challenging. In each of the first three fixtures of the season, against my reserves and two lower league sides, we recorded over 22 shots in each of them.

However, in two of the games where we generated over 30 shots we only created one clear cut chance – the 2-0 win over Benfica under 19s and the 3-0 win against.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.41.53

Unimpressive number of clear cut chances prompted a change



The first change I made, therefore, was changing the left sided centre mid support role to advanced playmaker and brought in Talisca alongside Renato Sanches; a move that resulted in four clear cut chances in the next game from 22 shows.

Three games into the season and I still hadn’t given any tactical instructions for my side. We were still playing a 4-3-3 with mentality set to standard and a flexible team structure.

The next two games, however, changed that. The first game was the only real measure of the quality of the side through pre-season, which was a 1-1 draw against Napoli. I had been watching the games on extended highlights until this one, but I switched to comprehensive because I felt that I’d get a much better measure of what my tactic was like in this match.

In the game, a few things stood out:

  • Our distribution from the keeper and centre backs was causing us enormous problems when it came to retaining possession. Both Julio Cesar and my centre backs (Luisao and Lisandro Lopez) tended to punt long, conceding possession unnecessarily.
  • The target man role didn’t appear to be working. There simply wasn’t enough to Mitroglou’s all round game to open up space for the rest of the side and Raul Jimenez, despite his poor finishing and composure stats, showed in a defensive forward role that a bustling mobile presence worked better for us.
  • With Talisca injured, I switched the 17 year old Sanches to the left as a roaming playmaker and brought in the back up box to box midfielder, a 20 year old Brazilian called Lucas Otavio, into the side. Though this game was tough, the partnership proved complementary.

Backed up further by an unimpressive 2-0 win against Benfica B in the following match, where a midfield without Sanches and Otavio struggled to create anything of note in the first half, I made a few further shifts to the tactic including: changing the target man support role to a complete forward support role; instructing the centre backs and keeper to play it short out of the back; to change the advanced playmaker to a roaming playmaker; to instruct Otavio as a box to box midfielder to dribble and shoot more in an effort to punch through the opposition ranks.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.44.17

Though he needs to improve his composure, Otavio will hopefully be able to develop into a fine goalscorer


Allied to an increased focus on creating attacking set pieces, which suits this current Benfica side due to the quality of their centre backs in the air, we rounded off pre-season by thumping Athletico CP 5-0.

Looking ahead

So at the end of pre-season, and just ahead of a super cup tie against Sporting Lisbon, this is how my side will be lining up tactically.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.50.19

And though I’m not really sure how it’ll perform when we play quality opposition, there are a few things I’m looking out for in the coming weeks:

  • The performance of my strikers. When I was back managing Leeds, one of the factors behind my derailed first season promotion push was a dearth of ruthlessness from my centre forwards. If my forwards flounder, I’ll be raising some additional funds to find someone who can do the business.
  • The performance of my new signings. Lucas Otavio, the BBM, looks like a potentially important player for us, but 22 year old left back Nicolas Tagliafico is also going to go toe to toe with Alex Grimaldo and I’m interested to see who wins.
  • Renato Sanches. He’s 17 but is already the best central midfielder we’ve got to hand and has performed superbly in pre-season. The questions for me will be whether he can play well when it counts and how I can manage him when he’s still developing.
  • How the tactic works in competitive situations. We’ve beaten a lot of poorer sides in pre-season, without needing much possession and with lots of shots on target. I’m intrigued to see what happens in our first month of fixtures when the pressure is on
Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.42.49

The great hope for Benfica’s future


That’s it from this update. Stay tuned for another update when I’m a month or two into the season to see how things go.

FM16 – Cukaricki & Me

FM16 has been an utter bastard to me. As other FM’s have been in the past, most notably FM14 & FM15 (are you noticing a trend?) but by Joe Allen I still love trying to get to grips with a fragment of success through gritted teeth and smashed mugs of tea.

For those of you who’ve followed my woeful start to the FM16(beta) you’ll have seen I had planned a long term save with Padova; a potential fairy-tale story where I manage the team where my Father worked for much of my teenage life and where I used to join in local kickabouts with kids and did I worry about the language barrier? No, football is a universal language we can all play to.

Alas the fairy-tale became a nightmare and I was sacked after 13 games after winning only 2 of them, a measly attempt in the home town of Alessandro Del Piero & those local kids now laugh at me as I cross the street – I quickly sought pastures new.

I’m useless at decision making (not ideal for a football manager), so took advantage of a suggestion from @DMendoza1969 and plumped with Cukaricki in the Serbian SuperLeague (sorry if this is wrong but blame FM’s licenses), off the back of a record high 3rd place finish last season the pressure was on to keep the good times rolling at a club with minimal resources and only a 4,000 seater stadium. Step in Ed Wilson.

Serbia recently won the U20 World Cup and have a bunch of great youth players smattered around the teams in the top division, Cukaricki was no different and I’d be a fool not to look to build the club around these players and the other youth prospects coming through. Yet with recent success comes added exposure and alas I have been a victim of this. Larger clubs have made bids, unsettled my players, made more bids and in most cases forced my hand in selling on players I’d have loved to keep, bloody football ey?

Never fear! I’m confident I can reinvest the incoming funds on even more young Serbian talent and hopefully give Cukaricki the success their 4000 die-head season-ticket holders desire.

The early start of season seems to take forever, I’m refused from tinkering with my staff so I don’t even make them a cup of coffee before training. They swear at me in Serbian I swear…I set my training up as I want these kids to be worked hard and reach their undoubted potential…though I am trusting my staff and hoping they are lying to me about their star ratings.

As far as tactics go it’s pretty obvious I’ve struggled massively here and it’s my biggest weakness. I’m always torn between rigidly finding a tactic suited to the personnel & their desired roles, and forcing my squad into a system I ‘like’. So I decided to try and something much different;

Cukaricki tactic

I’m still not sure what to make of this tactic – this isn’t what I started with but after watching matches and analysing a number of players this is what I have for now (5 games in to season + 4 Europa matches). I’m doing my best to observe how it plays and the key things I’m noticing so far are:
– Conceding too many shots
– Not creating enough key/CCC chances
– My better players aren’t excelling like I’d like them to

Now I’d genuinely love any input on how to improve this tactic, I do have some player instructions in place that I hope will help. I’ve only used this set up once and it harboured a 1-0 away win in a fairly even game so I’m hoping for progress. What I’m trying to do (with limited/varying success) is:

  • Get my best players bloody playing like they are
  • Overload the right flank
  • Limit the amount of shots I’m conceding
  • Win games
  • Don’t lose
  • Enjoy FM16

As I hinted it earlier it’s been fairly busy transfer-wise so far. I’m coming towards the end of the window and here’s business so far:

Cukaricki transfers aug 15

As you can see I’ve seemingly spent more than I’ve earned, yet I’ve some good future fee %, instalments and clauses on all sales and most of my incomings were in long term instalments and finances at the club are fine as things stand with a balance of £1.6m.

I’m particularly sore about losing Srnic & Mandic, I wanted to keep both and even offered to cycle them to training each day on my extended penny farthing but their heads were turned by contracts where they could afford a second-hand Ford Capri. I milked the fees as much as I could/dared and focussed on replacing them.

Mandic is replaced from within as I still have 2 or 3 players who can fill that role competently, again the replacements are young and full of vigour and verve and I’m disappointed an option to use such a phrase has yet to come up in a press conference.
I’m hoping to retrain Milosevic as a defensive winger to suit my current tactic – though he has great versatility across the left hand side should I look to tweak things in the future.

So how have I started? Agh, a bit hit and miss, some promising stuff followed but less promising stuff. Here’s my early season form:

Cukaricki early season form

A couple of good wins vs Linfield got my hopes up for qualification yet we were just about undone by superior opposition in Slovan Bratislava, hey ho – the fitness of my squad was suffering hugely from the regular games so early in the season so I don’t see it as a major loss other than the financial rewards.

Partizan are bastards and definitely better than us and that showed when they comfortably beat us 2-0 in the Super Cup. Other than that, 2 wins, 2 draws 1 loss and sitting in 6th isn’t the worst start to the season especially as I’ve been tweaking nipples the tactic very regularly in and after each game. Let’s hope I can settle on one soon and the team can settle down and win some more football matches for god’s sake.

Now as we head into our first game at home with a ‘settled’ tactic i.e. one that I’m playing 2 games running – let’s see the outcome;

4-1 Win

A great, comfortable, home win with some really promising play at times and some good signs that my team will look to utilise our right wing dominance.

4-1 Prozone KP

As you can see above we played 24 key passes this match and the majority coming from the right or from central area towards the right hand side. Our best player is Filip Stojkovic at WBR who clocked 3 assists this game as well as winning 6 tackles and making 7 interceptions. A scorchio performance.

I love ProZone, it’s bloody brilliant. A fantastic addition this year and I’m finding myself using it during and after each game, being able to do so has hopefully help my tweak things to the stage where I have a more settled team and tactic and one we can hopefully build on. We shall see, my current FM16 form would suggest it’ll be a bumpy road ahead but I promise I’ll try to enjoy it guys.

More for you soon.

FM15 Career Update: Olympique Lyonnais Season 14/15

Oh this has been a long time coming hasn’t it? I can only apologise for me constant promises at providing some worthwhile FM content for you to read, but never fear, it is here, I’ve not drunk beer so wipe those tear…s as I’m here to stay.

On a serious note George and I plan to provide regular content to our listeners from now on, that’s your commitment in writing right there. We’ve some great plans for the site and hope you’ll enjoy what’s to come. Right, to Lyon!

As we all know FM15 is drawing to the inevitable stage where it takes all of our motivation just to double click on its small red icon these days. FM16 is so near yet so far and so what to do to pass the time between now and the beta release? My answer came unexpectedly at the hands of an old friend; oh FM15, it took a long time but I finally found a save that I’ve really, really enjoyed. It was suggested I manage Lyon, this Olympiqued my interest and I’ve never looked back.

Olympique Lyonnais – Season 1 (note: I am using LFC Marshal’s latest db update)

Summer 2014
In – Ganso (Sao Paulo) – 7.5m, Mosquito (Free Agent) – Free, Oliver (Atletico) – Season long loan
Out – Sidy Kone (Havre Athletic Club) – £325k & 4 loans of players that really don’t matter

Ed Wilson takes the hot seat as the youngest manager in Ligue 1 to the vehement protest of die hard Lyon fans. Riots in the street, tear gas, petrol bombs marred my first press conference but I was steadfast and after a calm performance swatting aside questions about Mosquito & outlying my ambitious plans for the future, the fans were generally assuaged and my reign wasn’t the beginning, but it was a beginning.

I quite liked the look of Lyon’s squad, some great young players and a sound base to be working from with the obvious goal of toppling PSG as the best team in France albeit without the Qatar-i owners & endless pots of gold. To make the most of the players at my disposal I decided on a narrow 4-2-3-1 system with two DMs (DLP-S & BWM-D), three AMCs (SS, AP-S & AP-A) & Lacazette as the AF-A up top.

My start was generally positive which, as some of you will know, is key for me is sticking with a save being the fickle FM player that I am. A loss in the Champions Trophy on penalties to PSG was followed by 10 wins from the next 13 games in all competitions. A valiant 1-0 away loss at the Nou Camp was then followed by the highlight of the season; a 4-2 home win over a full strength Barcelona with Nabil Fekir starring in the SS role. This in turn sparked a run of 7 straight wins culminating is a fantastic 2-1 away win at those bastards PSG. January came, we were top of the league & things were looking Jordan Ferri good.

January 2015
In – Luciano Vietto (Atletico) – £8.5m, Alberto Masi (Ternana) – £2.9m, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Atletico) – £8m, Suso (AC Milan) – £1.6m
Out – Arnold Mvuemba (Norwich) – £2.5m, Bakary Kone (Rubin) – £2.6m, Alexandre Lacazette (Chelsea) – £23m (rising to £35m)

January was a busy time at Lyon, our recent good performances had not gone unnoticed & suitors with lining up for the in-from Lacazette. In truth he was grumbling about wanting to leave in November which, as I told him, is how to behave like an utter twatazette. So I had already lined up potential replacements; Vietto was brought in for a lovely low free & Lacazette flogged for some lovely money up front rising to £35m. He’d bagged 22 goals in 26 games so I did worry if Vietto did not hit the ground running that we’d lose momentum.

Little did I need to worry, Vietto bagged 8 in his first 7 with Carrasco starring in a supporting role at AMC, but it was not to last. Vietto bagged 4 away at Nantes who were understandably pissed at how he was running rings around them. Vietto was subsequently clotheslined and out for the rest of the season.

Step forward Claudio Beauvue; if I’m honest, I had no idea who this chap was, he sat on my bench and was solid when he came off it but I didn’t pay him much attention, yet he was thrust into the main strikers role and didn’t disappoint bagging 31 goals in 33 starts across the season and, alongside Fekir & Valbuena, hauled us to a title push that ultimately fell short.

1 win in 6 across the end of March/early April saw our struggle with PSG for Ligue 1 supremacy falter and eventually die a painful death, it was an admirable effort but we just couldn’t cope with the talent of PSG & even slipped a point behind OM to finish 3rd. We did finish the season on a high however by easing past Saint-Etienne in the French Cup Final 3-1 with goals from man-of-the-moment Beauvue, Gonalons & Valbuena.

Lyon Best XI Season 1

2014/15 Best XI – the positions are slightly out…

Overall a pretty solid first season, some great wins and performances all round with the unsung heroes being my two full backs (both on CWB-S) who galloped up and down their flanks like Mad Max on acid.

Summer 2015 will be time to build on our cup success and ensure we sustain that title challenge, though with a budget of just £11m I sense it will be a busy summer of ins and outs.

Season 2 review coming mighty soon.