Hello and welcome back to Football Manager Ambition.
Football Manager is fun. Even moaning about the bugs and stuff in the game is fun. I needed fun over the last couple of days. The news of the passing of Stan Lee, the driving force behind Marvel Comics, came as a shock. I got into Marvel comics in the late 60's and early 70's. Superhero fiction has had as much an impact on my life as my love of football. And for that reason, Stan The Man Lee gets an honorary place in our Great Football Manager Quotes today.
Meanwhile in the world of football... Chelsea's caviar-eater Bruce Buck has suggested all Premier League clubs chip in £250k each to give outgoing executive chairman Richard Scudamore a £5m golden handshake. Scudamore allegedly earns a mere £2.5m a season, so it's nice to know he'll be looked after.
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
“I began to realise entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives.” ~Stan Lee on the positive power of simple entertainment.
On Monday, 12th November 2018, Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95.
I love football, and I grew up on the comics written by Stan Lee. His amazing stories and characters, his quirky dialogue, and his commitment to humanity made him the kind of guy working class kids could look up to. RIP Stan. #Excelsior.
THE JOB CENTRE
I know I should be annoyed by this, but I can't help thinking we'll swap places at the end of the season.
MATCH OF THE BLOG
On the 18th of January 2019, I entertained West Brom at home. It was in the middle of a good run of form if you looked at results, but performances had been fragile as the team was emerging from a really patchy earlier run. This was the match, against serious promotion rivals, when I feel things really got back on track.
RESULTS NOT EXCUSES
so, I went into my second season of the save - my first preseason with Norwich - still feeling uncomfortable. I felt like I'd come close to landing a Premier League club toward the end of last season, and Norwich was very much in the category of a stepping stone for me. I'm impatient to make progress toward my crazy ambition as quickly as possible. Basically, I wasn't full of enthusiasm for the Norwich job. But there's nothing like a good set of results to make you start feeling like part of a club...
Preseason was great, playing against a selection of teams of varying stature, and getting good performances and results. Come on, Chelsea and Liverpool were always going to be more about the match than the result. But beating Roma was amazing (even if they had a man sent off).
The form carried over to league fixtures...
The 3-0 win over Bristol City was amazing, leading to this:
And then the wheels came off...
It wasn't immediately obvious what was going wrong. I had a squad good enough to be top of the league. I already knew my tactics were simple but very effective. But something was lacking.
Somehow, I managed to keep in touch with the promotion race, picking up a few wins by risking throwing the kitchen sink in some games. But the home reversal to QPR made me realise that my form wasn't just going to sort itself out, and that's when I made a simple change - which I'll explain in the Bootroom section of the blog. As you can see, following the change, I had six convincing wins on the bounce.
So by the end of the January transfer window, the table looked like this:
And I was suitably recognised...
Top of the league going into February, with some great results, in a great run of form, and some exciting new signings made. I was starting to feel right at home, in spite of myself. When the Burnley job came up (they were bottom of the Premier League), I applied because of the dictates of my ambition, but after an interview they turned me down. In a way, I was relieved, because I now want to take Norwich into the Premier League. It'll take a really good job offer to make me jump ship before the end of the season now.
I managed to do a little bit of wheeler dealing in January...
TOTAL SPENT: £19.825m
TOTAL SPENT: £18.825m.
NET SPEND: £193,806, in January. That's pretty impressive, considering that at the start of the season, my transfer budget from my board was a measly £146.000. In fact, why not have a look at the total in and out transfer performance for the whole season so far, rather than just January:
Yep, that's right. I have brought in exactly twice the amount of money in transfers than I have spent, making the club £27.5 million in the process. If this club really has Premier League ambition, they're gonna need to start shopping at Waitrose rather than Netto. This is what you get for having Ed Balls as a chairman. And this will be why, no matter how much I enjoy this season, I will leave Norwich for a proper club.
Time to talk tactics.
I know I seem to say this every blog, but today is not the day to do a deep dive into tactics.
Instead I want to share an example of how making one tiny change can have a huge impact on your tactical performance.
There is often a kind of nature versus nurture argument in football, resting on the question: Do you decide your tactics first and then fit your players into that plan, or do you look at your players and create a tactical plan to suit them? The answer seems have pretty much settled on a bit of both for most people. For me, though, I have fallen into a routine of choosing my tried and trusted tactics first, and the finding the players to best fit that plan. This maybe explains why I do so much buying and selling when I take over a new club.
One thing I knew I needed at Norwich was a tough midfielder in the middle of the park to add more physical presence. I went for this guy:
Tunnicliffe is clearly an aggressive ball-winner, although he is more well-rounded than people give him credit for. I like well-rounded players, so he was a good fit for me.
Tunny played alongside Tom Trybull; Tunny being the BWM, and Trybull as a box-to-box midfielder.
When my team's form dropped, and I struggled to work out what was going on, I had a good look through everything. And I mean everything. Training, player happiness, dynamics, etc, etc. In the end I came up with one thing. I thought there simply wasn't enough energy in midfield. Tunnicliffe was my most energetic, physical player, but I was playing him in a BWM role with the duty of defend. In other words, using his aggression as well as his physical and mental strength in a relatively immobile role. So I made a decision. I swapped the roles of Tunniclife and Trybull. Six straight wins and a rocket back to the top of the league followed.
I said that I prefer to start from my tactical plan, and then fit players into it. I've also made it clear in earlier blogs that I'm not keen on the green discs that tell us whether a footballer is suited to a particular role on FM. I think it's a primitive approach. Tunnicliffe is thriving in his new box-to-box role, and having the slightly less aggressive Trybull in the BWM role is resulting in less bookings. And have a look at this.
On the left, Tunnicliffe. On the right Trybull. I'm top of the league with Tunny as a box-to-box man, and Trybull as a BWM. You can't trust those discs, people. Although I will say that there's something pretty cool in FM when players respond the the roles I give them based on their attributes, even when I put them in roles that don't have a bright green disc!
FOOTBALL MANAGER PROBLEMS
It's that time when I vent my frustrations about either bugs or daftness within the FM game. I dialled it back in the last blog, but since then a few things have cropped up, so I'm going with it...
The Insanity of Pre-Match Tactical Briefings
The red highlight below seems to be telling me my players won't like it if I suggest going with a positive mentality, even though we are favourites.
So, I tell the players to go with a positive mentality anyway. And they seem to like that, because we are favourites. WTF?
Here's another similar example...
It looks like a bad idea to tell the players to go with our familiar positive mentality...
But when I tell the players to go with a positive mentality anyway, the like that as they are familiar with it. I repeat: WTF?
On a different note, here's what happened when I was selling this guy...
Which would have been fair enough, except he already had a transfer arranged...
What about this puzzler...
I'm being told Thompson's progress has been limited due to a casual approach to training. So why is there a big red button suggesting I praise his training?
Meanwhile this is just silly...
Football Manager promises us loads of analytical data to help us manage our teams. I count myself as a pretty analytical person, but this stuff is likely to just give me an embolism...
Last one for today..
I play a tactical plan that uses two inside forwards. I play a left-footer on the right wing, and a right-footer on the left wing. I also set the position / role training for these players to reflect that. You'd think different parts of FM would talk to each other, but that doesn't seem to be the case when it comes to the much-heralded assistant manager suggests which players to bring on in a substitution feature.
My first choice left-footed right-sided inside forward is Patrick Roberts. My second choice left-footed right-sided inside forward is Callum Gribbin. Here's the scenario: I need to sub Roberts. Gribbin is on the bench. But the suggested replacement for Roberts is... a right-footed fullback...
Seriously, just what is the point?
That's all for this time. I'll see you at the end of my save's season, but until then... May your game never crash unsaved.