I couldn’t believe this, 32 wins in and I started thinking to myself this can’t last, but last it did. For the first time since my supertactics in 2001, we have achieved a 100% win season. We won every single match this season in the league. We’re through to the FA Cup Final , ECL final and along the way we only drew once. Thats only 1 draw the whole season long. Thats unprecedented.
Does this mean the game is ridiculous? Should one not be able to do such a crazy thing? It take a lot of work, its not easy. We nearly lost a few times, mounting comebacks 15 times this season. Our biggest comeback was overturning a 2 goal deficit. We also managed this minimising squad rotation, and that was the hardest part; ignoring player development for glory. It wasn’t a hard decision, not after we started the season on a streak.
Did I do anything different this season? Well there were a lot of changes to how I usually play. Lets list down the ways:
For one thing I was entirely dependant on using this new mode of playing which involves using skins that give me opposition roles. Along the way I developed this rule, for most sides if they came at me with less than 3 attacking roles I would adopt an attacking mentality, if a side came with 3 or more, I would go counter. If a side played a 4231, or a 41221 I would study the game, and if they had pacey forwards I would drop my CWB to a FB. All pretty common sense stuff I would ordinarily do in every game. As the season wore on, that 3 rule quickly changed to ….if I see my wingback in trouble having to track back or he’s making no interceptions then we drop him to a FB role. And if a side has pushed me into my own half EVEN when I am on attacking mentality, counter.
For most sides it worked. For some it became a slugfest, Barcelona came calling we took a 3-1 lead, they switched to a 433, it seemed logical that I should get into a counter, yeah, big mistake. They took control of midfield and could now string passes to their strikers. They pulled a goal back forcing me to go the Nou with a slender lead. Last season we left the Nou losing 3 zip. Our first leg 4 nil win enough to get us through on aggregate. This season we had a slender lead. We headed off to Spain, I decided to go counter, Suarez and co scored early and for the first 20 minutes they had 10 shots on goal to my 0. It was then that I realized that those 3 in midfield were getting every chance to string the balls to Messi, Neymar and Suarez. It was time to go attacking, and take control of midfield. The decision proved critical as we came back to win 3-1 and progress to the final.
During the course of the season, I was forced to make these kind of decisions, and these can only happen in the game, and its things we need to adapt to. You either take control of midfield or you bypass it altogether and hope you have great passers.
I had a clear strategy from the start of the season, we knew how the system should play, I had absolutely no doubt where the strengths of my system lay, and where our problem areas were. We knew from the get-go that I needed the strength and anticipation in midfield and the skill and guile on the flanks. Up front, I knew that intelligence was key, creating chances would only come from great movement. The key was knowing what we could, and for the first time I truly played one system end to end. I usually try popping some system in just for the heck of it for my youth players development. This time however we stuck.
There was hardly any rotation, maybe the League Cup, I played the first 11 for nearly the whole season, losing 3 key players towards the end. It helped, cos I knew exactly what hole to fill if the treatment table became an important team member.
This season was only possible because I had faith in my system and I made the right decisions to adapt to changes. Will it happen again? No way, I was lucky. I escaped a few matches with my tail between my legs scraping narrow wins.
It was a team performance, I am very happy with how we did this whole season and one stat that screams it was our assists, 6 of our players made the top 10 assists for the league, now thats fantastic. I had assists coming from my AM, my F9, my DLF, my fullbacks and one of my midfielders.. We only had 5 goals from corners this whole season, low. Our goals from setpieces were low. If you can set up a system thats solid and you have it well thought out. You can succeed if you pay attention to what happens in a game. We didnt make major changes, we just observed where the threats were coming from and countered them