What a way to come back into an old save after 4 or was it 5 months. Looking at the save I realised I had slightly more than half a season left to be played. There was more, an England assignment for the world cup. Well we had qualified so it was time for me to manage a side..and this would be more interesting cos I would not have the benefit of training them ppms.
There are guys who actually groom their own sides to ensure they do well. This was my first national job in the save and I decided to do this old school. First things first..filters. I set them up based on team roles by dividing the National Pool into 3 groups. Defending Group/ Holding Group/Attacking Group. For the first two groups the attribute I valued highest was Bravery. For the next two groups it was first touch. Any player who fell below an acceptable value was immediately tossed onto the “Not Considered” pile. By this time the potential group of players whittled down, and I had myself a bunch of players for the national side.
The media outcry was shocking, my team had some players who were on the bench of some of the club sides. The stars were all around 30+ years old and this did not bode well for the future. So I started tracking all England U-21 players and had my Stafford scouts working the local scene. Before plunging headlong into the task, I had to be certain of the formations we would play. I settled for two the 4411 and the 41221, both tried and trusted formations and I knew that I could have some options in attack and defense. Time for a few friendlies with the side, and true enough the players who weren’t brave, quickly became an afterthought. 3 friendlies later and I had settled on my side. World Cup qualifiers weren’t too bad. We romped our way to the World Cup without losing a game. I knew that i needed more time to find a settled side, so I went back to the drawing board. And this is where it would be important.
Knowing your formation is so critical. I can’t stress how important this is. The reason why so many players struggle at the game is because they are too obsessed with having a 40 goal scorer or a side that dominates possession and slams 100 goals in one match. Now all this is irrelevant if you are too emotional about player selection.
When I look at my 4411 I see only a few things:
1. The 2 MCs are my rocks, they BOTH need to have high workrates, good tackling, positioning. pace, first touch and BRAVERY. At least one of them needs to be a lockpicker, but its not vital, it does help in tough games and if i can find one with decisions, passing and flair brilliant.
2. For me the crucial position to fill on this pitch is the AMC. He’s gonna create a shiteload of goals, or score them, So this dude absolutely needs flair, passing, off the ball, composure, first touch, pace. If he has finishing you’ve struck gold ……don’t let him go. And invest in another player younger..
3. One of my fullbacks overlaps and another wingforward wreaks havoc by making runs into the box, so choosing these players is also vital.
Once these players are sorted I start looking at my 41221 which is basically a more direct tactic thats built around 3 hardworking midfielders one of whom is the lockpicker. Another is a DMC who is supported by an MC who can go up if needed. After sorting that out I turn to look at my wing forwards who are really the goalscorers. They make all the runs and the DLF just plays as a deep lying orchestrator.
Once the players are sorted, I become merciless with player selection, the good thing about national selection is you don’t get moaners. So if someone fails at a friendly then he gets dropped. For me the strikers in both formations aren’t vital, its good if they can score, but its not crucial. The only thing that will lead to epic failure will be stupidity on my part if I fail to react to in game matches…coming up in the next blog my World Cup Roundup, including a desperate attempt to overhaul a deficit. My first time as national manager in FM2013.