Hello and welcome back to Football Manager Ambition.
It's been an interesting few days, both on FM and in real life. As you know, I'm a lifelong supporter of the greatest team in Sheffield; Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. On Friday night, we had the Steel City Derby, playing against some team in red and white.
The Steel City Derby
Apparently, this red & white team are doing quite well in the league, so I hear. Whatever. Meanwhile, the Owls have turned into a comedy outfit, being badly mismanaged both on and off the pitch. Still, we went into the match with a plan, and parked the bus. If the point of parking the bus is to get a nil-nil, then it was a raging success.
I was particularly pleased for young keeper Cameron Dawson, who had been getting undeserved criticism from some quarters in the Hillsborough faithful. But he saved a penalty, made one other great save, was competent in everything he did, and kept his first clean sheet of the season in an absolute cauldron environment. Well done lad. However, if real life was an FM game, and you browsed over to Job Security, I think you'd see Wednesday's Jos Luhukay listed as precarious. Trouble is, I have no confidence the chairman can make a good decision about who to replace him with.
Do the FM Shuffle
In the Football Manager world of my save, things have also been interesting. Perhaps I should provide a reminder about the current 'ambition' in my save...
At the end of the last blog, you'll remember I had left Swindon, and taken over at Peterborough. Well, erm...
We'll come back to the job shuffle, but for now, let's press on with our regular feature:
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
THE JOB CENTRE
So, What happened at Peterborough? I hear you ask. The answer is, not that much. I was in charge for 6 games, and it got me from League Two to League One, but it was never going to be a club I stayed at for long. However, I even surprised myself with how quick I was in-and-out. I played six matches, and moved up a couple of places in the league, but then the Norwich job became available. I didn't expect to be a serious contender for it, but I had to have a punt. Norwich were 9th in the Championship at that point (February), which meant I had a good chance of getting into the playoffs, and maybe finishing my first season on the save having gone from League Two to the Premier League.
I was absolutely delighted to get the job at the Canaries, but it proved to be more challenging than I anticipated, as you will see...
But before that, let's take a look at the finest moment in my short stay at Peterborough, with our...
MATCH OF THE BLOG
RESULTS, NOT EXCUSES!
My plan, upon joining Norwich, was to get them promoted via the playoffs, as Stoke and Villa were running away with the automatic places, and there were only twelve league games left. Once I got into the Premier League, I would move to a more established EPL club, and look to win a couple of cups while over-performing in the league. That would lead to a move to a top club, at which I would settle down and start creating my legacy.
Yeah, that didn't quite work out.
Results pretty much went my way, and I got the Canaries into the playoffs, finishing 5th, and having a couple of really memorable matches, including hammering Reading and Wigan 4-1 and 4-0 respectively. I faced off against West Brom in the playoff semis, and got an aggregate win. Everything was looking good!
So, who would I get in the playoff final?
Yep, it's that team in red & white!
In the pre-match tactical briefing (which I've been half-heartedly trying to persevere with), my players did not react well to my assertion that we should attack the Blades with a positive mentality. And this happened:
Yes, I outplayed them. Yes, I deserved to win. But it's the results that count. Fortunately, my board stuck with me, and I'm still in a job. (Although I'll be having a proper rant about the Norwich board in the next blog!)
It's all about next season, now.
THE BOOT ROOM
Later down the line in FM Ambition I'll be going into detail about tactics but today I just want to cover one little point.
Another FM gamer got in touch with me, asking for my thoughts on a problem he was having. He had set up tactics he was happy with, and was dominating opponents with 70%+ possession, but was losing matches, getting caught on the break. Could I help him work out what was going wrong?
At first, it sounded like it might be a simple issue of the striker and keeper not being good enough, but 70%+ possession seemed almost too high. I count myself as a possession-based tactician, but I usually get around the 60-65% mark at best. If you're getting over 70% regularly, that is extremely high, and is usually in the realms of a Pep Guardiola side playing a minnow. So I asked this chap about his midfield set-up, and almost immediately worked out what was happening. Have a look at what he was doing in midfield, and see if you can spot the issue.
Normally you'd associate a short-passing side who were getting a vast share of possession with packing the midfield. But this guy was doing it in an odd way. The ball winner is in the DM position, set to defend. So he's gonna stay just in front of the defenders. The playmaker is going to move forward with play a lot, and is going to get caught out by counters when moves finally break down. The other central midfielder is a box-to-box man who by nature of his role is going to get get caught out on the counter. And the fullbacks are pushing forward, leaving space in wide defensive areas.
With inside forwards cutting in from the wing positions, this tactic is clearly one that will have lovely build-up play but is ripe for being counter-attacked. The formation is saying Please, counter-attack me! With a little more discipline, this team would probably have still had good possession stats. The reason they were that high, though, was because the opposition were letting this guy have the ball, knowing that two central midfielders would actually abdicate the midfield, while the ball-winner would not adequately push up to support.
With this type of tactic, If you're playing a box-to-box man, it makes sense to put your playmaker in a DLP role. As for the ball-winner, if you're keeping him in the DM position, put him on support. Otherwise, put him in central midfield (on defend duty, not support). The thing about tactics is everything is linked!
FOOTBALL MANAGER PROBLEMS
Last time, I may have gone overboard on this, so I'm keeping it simple with just one bug I spotted, today, which I have reported via the FM19 bugs forum:
You can see from the above screenshot that I was using the staff search screen, but when I was going into the attribute filters, it was giving me player filters. Bizarre. Even more bizarrely, the fault has spontaneously gone away. Anyone else encountered this?
A new feature, in which I'll share anything Football Manager-related that's given me a chuckle that is at least on a par with Kevin Keegan's legendary rant...
When I took over at Norwich, it never entered my mind to think about the presence of celebrity cook and laugh-out-loud cultural icon Delia Smith. But then this happened...
Obviously, this retirement would leave a horrific vacuum for the Canaries. But surely someone would step into the void, right? Who could replace Delia? Who would I really like to, as it were, get my hands on?
That's all for this time. May your game never crash unsaved.