Dare to think outside the box

The Academy; Applying What We’ve Learned

Last year, I wrote the Emulating La Masia series to determine which factors would allow you to improve the quality of your youth academy. All in all, this was a rather theoretical series of articles. While articles were larded with examples from my club at the time, it lacked a proper case study of how such a setup would grow and develop. That’s where this article comes in. I will apply all that knowledge and tell you about how I turned West Ham United’s already formidable Academy into a European powerhouse.

When it comes to youth academies in England, West Ham ranks among the top. Even though Southampton have gained much acclaim in recent years for their prolific youth development, West Ham was probably the best in the 2000s and continue to remain among the best. Dubbed as the “Academy of Football”, West Ham have always been able to attract the best youth players from London due to them being more likely to earn a chance than their more illustrious London neighbours Arsenal and Chelsea.


Tale of Two Sons – A Loan Report

I bet there must be tonnes of guides and references on grooming players by loaning them out and I should know since I have probably read most of them during my time with CM/FM series. However, I have never touched it in more detail myself. I think I have mentioned my loan strategies here and there, but maybe this time I try to put all the eggs in the same basket and see how it comes together. With this piece, I seek to narrow down the philosophy I use while I am loaning young players out.


The Contain Mentality. FTW!

When I first took the reigns at AEK Athens, they had not seen Champions League football for many years, at least not in the group stages. The primary goal when taking over was evident; break the dominance of Olympiakos, who had won the league in 18 of the past 20 seasons. The secondary goal was to establish Champions League football. The revenues to follow would be the foundation for developing the youth and training facilities to make AEK a self-sufficient and profitable club. At the time of joining Olympiakos had a player earning more than £60k p/w, while my top earner was on a third of that.

However, what has any of this to do with the contain mentality? Well, we were building a squad for domestic dominance. We could not possibly think about European dominance in the short term. With the prize money in the Champions League linked to success, we needed a system that would allow us to hold our own; especially considering a draw in a Group Stage match would pay our players salaries for a week. […]

Porting A Strikerless Tactic To Include Strikers

Strikerless football is not a style that appeals to everyone. Some are set in their ways and feel forwards are an integral part of their team. Others feel it’s an exploit to play in this way. There are also people who don’t like the aesthetics of this particular brand of football. Whatever their reasoning may be, there are plenty of people who would prefer not to play without strikers. Fortunately for them, all strikerless tactics can be converted to more conventional with-strikers tactics. This article focusses on changing tactics from strikerless to a more traditional style.


The Santos 3-5-2(ish)

Well, this is my first post back on Strikerless after a long absence running my own blog The Tactical Annals. First things first, thank you very much to Guido for having me back on the site, and it’s fantastic to be writing here again. All of the old articles I wrote on this website are still available, so if you have no idea who I am, or you haven’t read any of my articles before, then go check them out! So, my first article back is going to be tactically focused and – sorry Guido – it features strikers. Only one though. I’ve been developing it with Santos since they have an abundance of players able to play in several positions, and as any of you who follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey) will have seen, it’s been working pretty well.