PROZONE to the Football Manager’s rescue!
55 messages in my inbox, so maybe, just maybe we can start off the season by securing our first win – over the wage budget. It’s vital to make this a priority if you want to build for the future. As I look at my squad, it’s become evident that we have room for only a few friendlies to give me an indication of how their football skills will translate on the pitch under my tactics, so it’s time to Prozone this.
We plan to use the 4141 system I used during my West Bromwich save last season, with some very minor changes. We know that Sports Interactive have finally made the bold move of punishing unbalanced systems. Its evident now that exposed parts of the pitch will be exploited. This means that you need to work hard on getting the balance right. My goal will be to secure a decent position in the league this season. So I will play a system that allows me to switch easily between counter and attacking without too much fuss. To do that the 4141 looks like the best system. If I find that the DM in the system is under worked, we will start working on other systems, and the Defiant 41221 looks like the prime candidate. I will start trying out the Defiant with 2 games left on pre-season.
For year’s I’ve loved having 2 strikers, and I am no different now, but I need to make securing a decent position a priority. The flashly 4312 will be used once I’ve made sure that my back 4 and midfield 3 are some of the best in the league. My side fails to match pace with the rest of the league in defense we are one of the slowest and this means that playing with exposed fullbacks will be our undoing. So we will use the security of having 2 banks of 4.
Our first preseason came is against Caen. They are a decent side, a nice way to start. We should be beating them, and I plan to start with the players who I’ve elected to keep. Those that have been put on the Unwanted List will not be donning their jersey’s. We win our first friendly 3-1, its a comfortable win. We start out with a counter attacking strategy and 20 minutes in I switch to a control system, by making changes to 2 shouts.
We dominate the game and even though we only have 6 shots on goal, our conversion rate speaks volumes. The boys look comfortable and while we suffer one injury, its not serious enough for me to worry.
I then take a look at the Prozone features in the game. We need to see how our side line up on the pitch with and without the ball. We also need to see where and why we lost tackles in key areas. Finally I need to start assessing the passing efficiency of my midfield. First I go to the Analysis tab>Teams> and choose Heatmap overlay, then I look at our average positions with the ball. Now it does look messy, because the whole bench played. On the whole it looks good, but if I move the time slider, Ican narrow the analysis to just the first half. That should tell me how the side shaped up. And, it looks very good. The players are well positioned to play their passes and they have good width. Passing options look delightful.
When i decide to add the Without and Without Ball options (WIMBO) I notice something immediately. No 17 was brought on as a sub after an injury to our winger. And he has a tendency to move quite far forward when we have the ball. And, he also drops deeper when we need to defend
Before the match started, I hadn’t even thought he’d figure in the first team much, but this little piece of information, tells me that he could prove to be an interesting option as a screen for my fullbacks, whether or not he puts in a challenge, his ability to position himself quickly reduces passing options.
I am getting decidedly excited with this new Prozone feature that my assistant manager has been raving about. Oh yes, and he’s a new assistant manager who was brought in. We now have two Englishmen managing this club, I do wonder if the lads will ever understand us.
As I turn to look at our second half performance, I remember that we swapped out nearly the entire team except for our No 17, it will be interesting to see whether there were any changes to his pitch coverage. I now take the slider and move them to the 60th and 90th min marks. By then, all subs had been made, and Martinez our No 17 looks like he’s stopped covering every blade of grass.
His conditioning may have played a big part in this behavior. It’s now time for us to assess how our midfielders did for passing. For my 4141, passing and off the ball will be vital. I need to also know if they put in a fair shift in tackling. This is a friendly after all, and the amount of challenges they put in may be few, I still need to see how they performed overall.
For the first 20 minutes we played a counter attacking style with direct passing. And during that time, our direct passing didn’t look good. We seem to have a lot more success moving the ball over shorter distances. I made some adjustments, went short and control and we managed to improve those numbers. What disappoints me about the Prozone feature is that it doesn’t capture the passes of players who have been subbed out. So we will need to account for that in our next friendly game, and start taking these screenshots proactively. Prozone features that are central to my tactical creation are:
- Heatmap overlays – Let’s me know where my players are for most of the game
- With ball without ball – Positional reference, gives me an idea of whether I need to adjust my defensive lines, are players out of tackling coverage area
- Crosses Intercepted – Do I need to whip, float, mixed or change the player?
- Scoring Chance – Where and how well, then I also check the videos, best feature of Prozone
- Passes Received – Right there at the top, the most important feature, a real time saver for tactics. Remember all those years I told you to watch your players off the ball and see how well they receive passes? People just couldn’t see it, now we have a Prozac
- Mistakes, Interceptions and Tackles – Your staple stuff, tells you whether they do their stuff right and when they don’t you can look, if they missed a tackle because they were late, its either a slight close down adjustment or you have the wrong player
For now though, I have a good idea, that our 4141 looks solid enough for us to continue with minor adjustments to players. Our second game is a bore draw, we were lackluster and showed little desire to chase after the ball. Now it’s time to take a closer look at our squad so I pop up my Club DNA view, and something pops out.
We are planning to play a 4141, which will deploy essentially a mid-raumdeuter on the left and a winger/playmaker on the right. Its pretty similar in style to the 442 I used with Atletico Madrid, with some slight changes. We have a challenge, we really only have one winger in our team. We have no depth and we probably have no effective screens for our fullbacks.
We could employ a more aggressive overlapping style, but that would open us up to a host of problems. So I take a look at the U20 and U18s. We could push a few up into the senior team, and let a few more players out of the club. We find only 1 player but he’s 16. Its time to search for some players , we identify two players who can be brought in.
Within a week, we’ve offloaded 7 players, 5 from the youth teams and 3 first team players, we are now slightly richer, with each friendly game, the team keeps improving. With two more friendlies to go, the side looks set for their first upcoming league fixture. We’ve tried out a 4141 with a counter and control setup. We still need to stock up on some solid players, with a transfer kitty of 17 million now, I can afford to be selective so long as we are under the wage budget. The Torino Diaries continue soon, things are looking cautiously optimistic, and there’s more stuff to follow on my youtube channel at BusttheNet.