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S01 – 1 | Graduating Change

When starting out at a new club, much like when moving house, it’s not uncommon to want to put your own stamp on the place. Recently I have toned this down a bit in an effort to make things more ‘evolution not revolution’ – with the surfacing of Dynamics it’s much more easy to see how wholesale changes can upset members of the squad.
With this in mind, and also the plethora of new features I am keen to learn more about, I have decided upon “graduating change”. In other words, I’m focussing on one element at a time rather than setting myself any grand plans.


Tactical

This is an element of the game that I’ve admitted had caused me issues previously. I’m very impressed with the new tactical creator but while I get to grips with things I’ve decided to go with what I know – 4141. This formation also suits the current stock of players I have in the squad. I’ve opted against any of the preset styles and set out some basic instructions as below:

I’m not sure that we’re the strongest defensively so I want to combat that in a way by being on the front foot when the opposition is on the ball and, as such, we will adopt a higher defensive line and higher line of engagement to attempt to win the ball higher up the pitch before the opposition advance too far. I’ve stopped short of the ‘Gegenpress’ style play as it’s very intensive and I don’t feel we have that level of workrate/physicality around the squad just yet. With a lone frontman, who is not of the Target Man mould, I want our goalkeeper to distribute the ball short to the defence in order to build possession from the back.
In terms of our roles and duties, we are quite attack minded from the midfield on. Due to this I’ve opted for the playmaker as one of the central midfielders with the DM set to sit in front of the defence and protect them. Our striker will look to make the runs in behind and capatalise on crosses from the right. I’ve not added any player instructions at this time so the roles will play au naturale.
As always this is my interpretation of the tactics system and I may have made some glaring errors – finding and correcting those are part of what I want to achieve in FM19.


Training

I’m just beginning to explore the new way of training in FM19. For pre-season I left this up to a generic pre-season template while my focus was on other matters but as soon as the season kicked in I decided to dial down and tinker with my set up. My first port of call was Cleon’s introduction to the new Training Module to get a brief idea of how this will function. After a bit of thought I decided on a general programme that I would deploy in ideal scenarios of weeks with one matchday:I will continue to work with this throughout the first season to see what is working and what is not based on feedback from my coaching staff and also as more details are released in the real world. The focus of each category may switch week to week depending on areas I feel we are lagging in but as a general stance it will always be geared mostly toward my tactical style.


The Squad

Forgive me for deciding to discuss my squad after already outlining tactical and training intentions. Naturally the squad was my first stop when I loaded up this save but I wanted to outline two of the new features that I was trying to familiarise myself with first.
In my opinion we have a pretty decent starting squad. It’s average – in line with our expectations for the season – with a few players either at or capable of reaching a higher level. In accordance with this I was content to ensure we didn’t lose anyone and just added a few extra faces. The first thing that struck me was that within our senior squad of 19 players we had an average age of around 23. I’m not averse to a young squad but I do feel it needs a good balance between youth and experience, particularly in terms of mentoring.
We already had three players on loan in Tim Handwerker (ML/FC Köln), Uriel Antuna (AMR/Manchester City) and Mateo Cassierra (STC/Ajax). The board agreed a senior affiliate deal with AC Milan which we swiftly used to our advantage to bring in Stefan Simic (DC) on loan. The experienced heads we craved were signed up with deals agreed with free agent twins Hamit Altintop (DM) and Halil Altintop (STC).
Perhaps the neatest piece of business we completed was fending off bids for Mimoun Mahi (STC) who is coveted by Crystal Palace, Saint-Étienne and Al-Ahli (KSA) to name but a few.


Pre-Season

We opened with the customary intra-squad friendly which was settled by a late penalty from substitute Pohl – yikes! I was not overly concerned about results in pre-season as it took me a few games to settle on what formation I would go with. While we only managed two victories (in the real fixtures) I can honestly say I was content with the performances throughout pre-season. As you’ll see we were trialling a few players – namely Robbie Keane in this image – who did not end up staying on with us when the season began.


Results

With all our preparation completed it was time to step out onto the competitive stage. The board expect a top half finish with the media predicting 9th and odds of 70-1 to win the title. I’ll see how the first few months go before assessing my own expectations.
If I’m honest, I didn’t expect 3 wins from our opening 3 fixtures: granted De Graafschap are predicted for relegation and Willem II are expected to take up a bottom half position but 9 points and 3 clean sheets is not to be sniffed at. The Altintop boys are paying off immediately and we are looking solid.I leave the season update here for now as the summer transfer window has just closed and so it’s time for me to assess what comes next. In September we will host PEC Zwolle and AZ with a trip to Ajax sandwiched in between before entering the KNVB Beker 1st Round – the draw is yet to be made. I’ll now have a look at my coaching staff and see where we have knowledge gaps before turning my attention to our scouting set up.


I have made the decision to open the comments on this blog going forward, the reason being my intentions for this save: learning more and becoming better at the game. I invite anyone reading this to offer their thoughts on how I’m doing things or what I need to change/do better.

I don’t actively promote this site, for reasons that people close enough will know, so if you’ve made it here then thank you for reading and thank you to those people who decide to share my links.

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