Episode 29: Football Manager – Unlucky for some?

Ed’s back this week, and him and George are doing pretty well. It’s a Sunday recording, and it’s a bit of a strange week, but despite the lack of a guest, we’re still firing on all cylinders.

The question of the week is about the unluckiest things you’ve ever seen in FM. George’s new Oldham save has had a bit of a run of bad luck. Including one of the worst own goals you’re ever likely to hear about.

Ed regales us with a tale about an Arsenal team that were 14 points ahead with ten games left. And then a long throw in the 94th minute of the last game ruins everything. And leads to a rage quit.

Then there’s all of this goodness going on as well –

  • George’s Leeds save comes to a somewhat ignominious ending. Injuries and the tightness of the Championship table lead to the downfall of Osborn’s West Yorkshire dynasty. So he resigned.
  • But that’s not the end of the save. George has moved across to Oldham, and with a tricky run-in things are starting to get pretty spicy.
  • Ed got an ultimatum at Norwich to jump or be pushed. And so he jumped. All the way out of the save to a new one with Wolves. But he’s working on some new tactics, and he thinks they might be working pretty well.
  • And then we have a chat about finding the time to play FM16 between all of those annoying real life things that keep getting in the way.
  • If you’d like to listen to all of that, and more, then you can in the SoundCloud player embedded below. Or head over to iTunes and search for Deep Lying Podcast.

VfL Wolfsburg and their balanced, disciplined 4-2-3-1 – Part 2

In the last article, I discussed the basic style and approach of VfL Wolfsburg, generating a base tactic for FM16 in the process. After having blitzed through pre-season and moved a few games into the season proper, it feels a good time to start analysing whether or not the tactic is both stable and a faithful representation of the real life Wolfsburg. We start however with an aside with a relevance that will be established later…
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VfL Wolfsburg and their balanced, disciplined 4-2-3-1

First of all, I reckon there’s a small apology in order as it’s been an awful long time since the last post about Mönchengladbach, but with FM15 giving way abruptly to FM16, there was always going to be a crossover point in this Bundesliga tactics series… So we soldier on anyway beyond Gladbach and their “deep-lying gegenpress” and onto something that will seem much more familiar (and with less hipster sparkle) to fans of the English Premier League in particular – VfL Wolfsburg’s 4-2-3-1.

For a bit of background, Wolfsburg are one of those teams that German’s have reservations about because they’re not very German in their foundation and finances. Like Bayer Leverkusen, they are one of two top flight teams that are entirely owned by a company – in Wolfsburg’s case, Volkswagen. Though simplistic to say their recent success has been bankrolled by a multinational automobile conglomerate, it certainly hasn’t done them any harm having plenty of money behind the scenes. The peak of their success was a Bundesliga championship in 2009, but both Dortmund and the now virtually unstoppable Bayern have kept them at arm’s length in recent seasons.
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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.

Recreating the Deep Lying Gegenpressing of Borussia Mönchengladbach – Part 2

In the first part of this series, I used the FM tactics creator to cobble together the shape and the settings that would hopefully mimic Lucien Favre’s Mönchengladbach side of recent years. Various articles and diagrams informed my decisions beforehand, but the important part is the subsequent analysis where I get to see if it actually plays out how I envisaged. Football Manager is as funny an old game as the game of football itself, replete with unforeseen consequences that would make Gordon Freeman’s eyes water (yes, that’s a Half-Life reference). You can choose the settings with the best intentions, but end up with problems that you did not expect.

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Recreating The Deep Lying Gegenpressing of Borussia Mönchengladbach

First of all, hello and Guten Tag. I’m Felley and I think I have just written the most hipster-titled article of all time.

As for the actual content, I have been entrusted – if that’s the right word – by Ed and George to recreate some real life tactics in the marvellous game that is Football Manager. Based in Germany, I’ve been slowly absorbing the football culture like a sort of travelling nerdy sponge. Spending afternoons soaking in both the kitschy, wheat beer fuelled discussion on Sport1 and training with a local non-league side on a sodden, sandy Aschenplatz, one quickly learns the value the Germans place on football intelligence – both on and off the pitch. It is against this backdrop that I am writing my first batch of articles for The Deep Lying Podcast as I look to recreate the tactics of the Bundesliga. In the first of what will hopefully be a long and fulfilling series, I’ll be taking a look at Borussia Mönchengladbach, recreating their playing style and looking at their recent tactical exploits…

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