In my last update, I highlighted the difficulty I’ve had in completing an unbeaten season on FM. Since then, pre-season has gone well and we’ve made two new additions to the squad.
As the previous update was in January, we were still able to make an addition in that window.
Given our moderately depleted striker stocks (only Robert Wechner and Paulao were capable of leading the line), we spent £27m on behemoth Kemal Guler.
Wechner and Paulao are similar sorts of player, but Guler gives us a different option against teams we’re finding difficult to break down. Given we have a number of excellent crossers of the ball (Diego Vandre – 20, Marcelo – 18, Ademar Aparecido – 17, Mongi Khcharem – 16, etc.), it makes sense to bring in a big man capable of making the most of them.
Those of you who’ve followed this save since the start will remember that we took a similar risk on Marouane Fellaini. We wanted a target man to give us another dimension, but all Fellaini really did was slow our counter-attacks down and we lost lots of fluency when he played. The idea is that Guler’s bizarrely good acceleration will mean he’s more than able to keep up with play.
In his first six months in Dortmund, he’s been excellent. In 15 league appearances, he managed 8 goals & 7 assists; given a number of these came off the bench, it’s an excellent tally. His assist tally in particular is one of the main reasons we were looking to bring him in and his input resulted in a goal surge for star player Robert Wechner.
Given Guler has settled into life well (despite a torn hamstring in pre-season), I decided to add another ingredient in order to bring out the best in him.
Yes, I’ve signed another central midfielder. Hear me out.
One of the tactics we’ll be attempting to use this year is a 4-3-1-2, without wingers. Given we’ve got so many different types of central midfielder, it makes sense to use a tactic that has lots of them in. Mena is slightly different to anything we have in that he’s capable of playing as a genuine right winger as well as a midfielder. So as the right side of a diamond, he’d have specific instructions to drive wide and exploit the free space out wide. If Inverted Wing Backs actually worked, this would be a great opportunity to use it, with the Central Winger drifting wide (‘Dribble More’, ‘Roam From Position’, ‘Run Wide With Ball’ PIs), the IWB could move inside and keep the shape of the diamond. Alas. As it is we’ll have to be happy with a FB-A who cuts inside.
With at least two good crossers of the ball, and the right tactics, we manage to keep width in a tactic which most people avoid using due to its narrowness. This means plenty of balls into Kemal Guler, and with our two best players buzzing round him in free roles, it should mean goals galore. That’s the idea anyway.
Aside from the fairly standard 4-4-2 and 4-1-4-1, the other formation we’ll be using fairly regularly against teams who play 4-4-2, is the Liverpool inspired 3-4-2-1. If Guler plays then we’ll use a similarly wide-drifting CM-A, but otherwise the focus will be on central domination with two CWB-A’s providing the width. The best thing about this is that the front three (LCAM, RCAM, STC) are entirely changeable in the roles you can use, and still create a functioning attack.
Given we’ve had good teams before, with reasonable tactics, and not achieved an unbeaten season, we must be going wrong somewhere else. So I’m going to focus on making changes elsewhere too.
• Every big game must have a plan for catering to opposition strengths and exploiting their weaknesses; tactical approach must be altered based on this plan
• Pre-match conferences & opposition instructions are areas of the game I often neglect; they must be used for each big game
• Every away game is a big game
In my six year spell at Dortmund, we’ve only lost three games at home; two of these came in the first year. By no means does this mean they are a given, but they’re certainly high win percentage games. The only time a home league game will be considered a big game is against Schalke or Bayern.
As well as all this and aiming for an unbeaten season, I’ll be hoping to have the most generally dominant season we’ve had. If I’m going to put so much more effort into this season then it makes sense to aim as high as possible. Last season we managed 116 goals scored (3.4 per game) and 15 conceded (0.44 per game). If we can beat those numbers, I’ll be extremely happy. Beating 30 wins & the record 92 points we achieved would be nice too.
Wish me luck.