I keep hearing this every season, even when I created supertactics people would get frustrated with their inability to break down top sides. After all they were using a tactic that others were using with amazing success, why couldn’t they?
Everyone understands gelling, getting a team to spend time together and working as a unit to achieve those 3 points. What some fail to understand are the intracacies of fitting in the right players and that’s the true challenge of Football Manager.
Let’s take the evolution of WBA as an example. Season 1 I hardly beat any of the top sides, getting clobbered was commonplace, so our goal was to become hard to beat. We took the Atletico approach, worked on set pieces and made them the cornerstone of our approach while playing counter attacking football. It got us into the Champions League.
We used a variety of tactics but deep down I knew I needed better players. My entire midfield needed to change and I couldn’t even hang on to players who scored 20 goals in all competitions. Sell sell sell.
Season 2, we used player sales brought in 2 players in key positions and loaned the rest. Still playing defensively we managed to win the title, but those matches against top sides were still proving tough. More player sales and and this time we brought in nearly 10 players.
Season three, we almost had the crux of the team I wanted, by then I knew I wanted to play a 4312, but the team wasn’t good enough yet, we tried playing a 4132 and we would flip it to a 4312 against weaker opposition. By now I was studying the weak areas to bolster.
My 2 ball winners weren’t good enough. I had decent players but we were short of one more player. While Sergi Roberto was a great player he still wasn’t the right fit. The former Barcelona player wasn’t even good enough, we needed a better player. In came Jamal Tran. A defender who could play that BWM role but he was supposed to be my future centreback stalwart. The team was nearly there, my focus switched to my strike force. We needed better players. I had Nathan but Moreno whilst good was inconsistent. I had a young player called Perkovic, who had been given some starts but he seemed too lazy. Screaming for starts he just didn’t have the quality to put sides to the sword. I was about to sell him and decided to loan him out instead. Diego Rubio was finding the net, but again those matches with top sides were still to close to call.
We ended the season, Perkovic who was on loan had scored 20 goals, some club offered 80million for Rubio it was too good an offer to pass up. We sold him, we needed another central defender who could read the game better than Murillo and find that missing BWM. 80 million buys you a lot. We entered the market got the two missing pieces and then the 4312 clicked.
Season 5. We had taken our time to get the pieces together, players who appeared to be good enough failed to deliver on their potential. We knew where the key positions were. Romero our DLP needed 2 ball winners who could deliver, leaving him with the simple task of finding the pocket. At the back we needed 2 world class centre backs who could read the game leaving the wingbacks free to rampage, and upfront Nathan needed two strikers playing in front of him who could drag defenders apart. More players needed, two more seasons more players needed.
Perkovic banged in 30 goals that season, we knew now that the system could work, conservative we still were against the best, but this time the Baggies were poised like a hungry cheetah seeking out its prey. It would take the team another two seasons before they were to become an unbeatable force. It’s 2028, 13 years after I took over; we are unbeaten in nearly 250 games in all competitions. The attention to detail was worth the time.
Transfer patterns since we started… Its now 2028, a lot of these players are gone leaving only a core group , and one truth remains – it takes time and its hard.