Stafford Season in Summary thus far
I always start every season tentative, my hopes for the future cautious. So i spend a tremendous amount of time during the preseason analysing my team to see where our strengths lie and where I need to shore things up. With Stafford it was clear, in order for me to progress my players have to be meticulously selected. And this is nowhere more true than in defense.
When it comes to defenders I assess the defenders and dmcs in the same group. This whole season I have been playing a 41221 exclusively with the occasionally dabble with Norwich’s real life 4411 that can morph into a 4231. My goal is eventually to have a system that can seamlessly play the 4411, 4231, 4312, 451 and 41221 formations. My side are now proficient in all these tactics. And as I have said time and time again, its not about the tactics. Its about the whole system. So beginning with my defending group, I always focus on these attributes in terms of priority:
Concentration :For me this is the game winner, if my defenders have great attributes but dont have concentration they are useless. Concentration is so important I cant stress it enough, its the difference between keeping a clean sheet and conceding one late. Concentration and anticipation allow someone to intercept through balls and cut off space.
Pace/Acceleration: You see fullbacks getting beaten all the time, have pace and they are able to chase down a ball, have acceleration and they will keep up with elusive wingers
Anticipation: You dont need great tackling if you are always there before the AI rite? ’nuff said
Tackling: Important for the times when they need to put in the challenge
Jumping:Defenders work as a partnership, make sure that at least one is great at jumping, and then you will be able to head balls out of dangerous areas
Strength: Important for central defenders not so for fullbacks
These were my key attributes for my defensive group of players, above all else this is where my attention focuses at the end of a season. Looking through my side, I realised that we always faced problems in defense, our opening game illustrated this clearly as we got dismantled by a late sub who outjumped. So I spent time looking through my side and then brought in a player called Delaney who had the right attributes lacking at the back. And now combined with Boateng, the much touted Nathan Ake is literally on the sidelines. When he comes back from his long injury we will be even stronger.
In attack I am hamstrung, only one new player called Antonio German, and well he’s only marginally better than the rest and we are still missing a lot of sitters.
Thus far this whole season we have done a great job of defending, we started out scoring an average of 3 goals a game and then we started slowing down. Our home record is impeccable 8 wins 2 losses, our away form not so fantastic. At the start of the season it was poor, so I started focusing on my selection priority and started paying attention to partnerships. There is nothing more vital than a good defensive partnership, so after I started making sure that the right two defenders were paired together we started ruling the roost. We are now undefeated away in our last 4 games 2 draws and 2 wins. Including one over league leaders Coventry and another over Leyton Orient. And both matches told the same tale; i feel sorry for Coventry though, they only had one shot at our goal.
And this brings me to my cardinal rules for playing FM:
Bedding in your system
You’ve started a new season and you want to get your team off to the best start how do you do it?
Select your players carefully. Use the custom screens to help. Observe during preseason, how different players perform in selected roles.
Make sure you set up for fitness, tactical cohesion and teamwork during preseason
Maintain a system for training and stick to it, keep it simple so you understand, home games match prep = attacking movement or attacking set pieces, Away day is defensive movement or defensive set pieces.
Use training performances to gauge how well your players are performing, if they do poorly tell them to improve, if they play poorly during a match consistently, then tell em they are doing badly then tell em they are to be moved to reserves to prove themselves
Great to score tonnes in early days, but more important not to lose as the knock-on effects are expensive. It’s better to start playing tight narrow and counter attacking. Patient probing football, while your team is gelling. Use this time to analyse your players performances using custom screens.
Adapt to conditions of play, and change passing styles or use OI sparingly to take advantage. Remember shouts and OI don’t win you matches they only lead to small swings. Your selection of players and choice of strategy is far more important.. Shouts are not the secret.
Once players start gelling observe during highlights who is performing better; if it shows you defending and almost letting the score you need to adapt. If it shows them scoring but you are counterattacking, you need to see why you aren’t scoring.
At all times be logical, you may have the best players but if both sides come out attacking then you know the battle will be won in defense, not attack.