Surviving The Drop; Rebuild Or Spend?

Last season was a spell in Dante’s inferno for quite a few renowned clubs throughout Europe. Aston Villa and Newcastle United were relegated to the Championship in England, Traditionsverein VfB Stuttgart dropped a division in Germany, whilst renowned clubs such as Werder Bremen, HSV, Deportivo La Coruña and Valencia barely stayed above the relegation line.

So what is next for those clubs condemned to spend at least a season away from the limelight of top flight football? How do they pick themselves up after their disastrous spell from last season? How do they survive the drop? We look at strategies regarding rebuilding such relegated clubs with James (@FMPressure) and Matthias (@DerFManager), who share their own experiences.

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Strikerless 2.0 For FM17; Balancing The Midfield

In the past few weeks since the release of my first FM17 tactic, I have received a fair bit of feedback regarding the initial tactic. Most of it was regarding the defensive frailties of the tactic, the susceptibility of the tactic to quick counter-attacks down the flanks. Whilst I did not experience these problems in a manner similar to the experiences of others, I was nevertheless not entirely happy with the setup I was using.

The balance between the various lines was not quite the way I want it to be. The reason why the setup with two ball-winning midfielders worked for me was probably because I had two world-class midfielders in Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan. As I progressed in the Roma save, I noticed the same defensive frailties others mentioned when one or both were absent from the line-up through injury or suspension. Some of these changes may or may not be the direct result of another SI patch, we’ll not discuss that any further in this article.

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Hashtag Flackback; The FBA’s 2016

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that anything is possible, last Thursday provides you with an answer. Julius Caesar came, saw and conquered. I came, I saw and I defied the odds by claiming a Judges’ Choice Football Blogging Award in the Best Gaming category.

Since you’re reading this, I must assume you are a loyal reader of Strikerless. This means you know that Strikerless is by no means a major player in the FM scene, numbers wise. I don’t get the traffic major sites are able to get and I am okay with that. I realise that I am running a bit of a niche blog, focussing on gameplay strategies, gameplay mechanics and tactics.

I do strive to be all I can be and I feel I should proud that an objective jury selected my little pet project as the best blog out of a very strong line-up of nominees. It strengthens my belief that I made the right decision by starting my own blog instead of plodding along with TheDugout (sadly R.I.P. right now). It strengthens my belief that despite not being born in an English-speaking country, I can acquire the skills necessary to compete with the best out there in this particular area of expertise.

To be fair, I did not expect to win when I flew out to Manchester. I expected the judges’ choice and the popular vote would be lumped together, effectively rendering me powerless to mount any serious bid for an award, since my follower numbers are not quite on par with those of the major players nominated as well.

Since I did not expect to win, I was quite surprised when I heard my name called out and to be fair, it still feels a bit surreal I suppose, I don’t think the magnitude of my achievements has fully hit home yet. I do know I am absolutely over the moon to have gotten this far with a project that started out as a way to kill time, a way to hone my writing skills and perhaps even brush up on my English a bit.

If you are one of the people who helped in the process somehow, thank you for the vote of confidence, thank you for your efforts and thank you for putting up with me and my quirks along the way. I won’t try to name everyone who has played some role in this meteoric ascent to the top because I would inevitably forget people that deserve a mention.

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Scoring Corner Goals Has Never Been Easier

As FM17 has been released for a week, it’s time to test my earlier efforts from the Beta and see if they are still effective in the full release of the game. After all, with quite a few updates coming out during the beta phase of the game, the match engine has changed a wee bit.

 The observant managers among you (and loyal readers of this blog) will recognize this setup as being one I originally promoted for FM16. That would be factually correct. In fact, all I did in this Beta was import my old FM16 set piece routines to see which ones were still effective. It turns out, this particular one is still quite effective during Beta and remains effective during the full release of FM.

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Strikerless Retro Tactic For FM17

Okay, first of all, this is basically an updated version of the Beta tactic I released earlier. As the game underwent several updates, the altered Match Engine forced me to tweak the tactic in a number of places. Most of the article is a re-post, with some tweaks and edits made and a few new bits and pieces.

Everyone has heard the adage “classics never really die.” After all, they became classics for a reason, they have traits and characteristics beloved by all. In reference to Strikerless, it’s a particular brand of football you can create with a strikerless tactic. That daft prick Ruud Gullit coined the phrase “sexy football” during his stint with Chelsea and despite the fact that his managerial performances and qualities are roughly on par with those of a frozen fish stick, his definition of sexy football is quite apt for my own particular brand of football.

That is the kind of football Chelsea played under Gullit and it’s quite similar to my own brand of football. I want to create a style of play that sends waves of enjoyment throughout the virtual stadium, a team of artists that dazzle and mesmerize opponents, fans and pundits alike. Whenever my team gets the ball, I want to feel the buzz of expectancy because as a manager, I know something beautiful might happen, even if it doesn’t always come off as planned. I want to generate poetry in motion, smooth and silky passes, fluid movement through the lines.

Looking at the video above, I have highlighted some moments that are typical strikerless goals. I’ll let you be the judge regarding my own brand of football and it’s degree of sexiness.

Before I start explaining what’s what and how everything functions, allow me to get in the obligatory disclaimer that this tactic is, in fact, a tactic developed and tested during the Beta stages of FM17. I have absolutely no idea if and when SI might update the game and change the match engine, rendering the entire tactic useless again. Having said that, the entire concept works brilliantly so far. The Dark Side is strong in this version of FM and I am looking to bring sexy back, Justin Timberlake style.

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Everything You Wish You Didn’t Have To Experience But Really Ought To Know Regarding Injuries

It’s a returning gripe for many FM players, inexperienced newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. The injuries. Quite often they are absolutely ludicrous. The sheer number of injuries sometimes forces you to take desperate measures. The dreaded red and orange crosses in-game are often foreboding of bad news. They are more reviled by FM players than actual crosses are by vampires.

injury
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! MY EYES!!!!! IT BURNSSSSSS!!!!

Indeed, many a run of good form has been brutally cut short by an untimely and severe injury streak to certain key players of the squad. And what exactly are those doctors up to at times? Eight weeks out for a sprained ankle? Did they amputate his foot and clone an entirely new foot for him in some jar?

An amputation scene in a field hospital tent portrays an orderly holding a soldier in place while a surgeon works on his gangrene-blackened leg.
A club physio dealing with a knee injury. Actual in-game portrayal might differ slightly.

There are times when I seriously wonder if I wouldn’t be better off by hiring some voodoo witch doctor and letting him deal with this mess. Yet every year when a new version comes around, I get optimistic and try to sort out the mess and try to deal with the constant flow of fallen footballers doing their war veteran impression by rolling on the floor, clutching their leg and shouting “MEDIC!” off the top of their lungs.

scooby-2-06_15
Witch doctors are sadly not yet included in FM17.

In this article, I want to look at possible causes for injuries and what you can actually do to prevent them or at least minimize the risk somewhat. I have tried to be as thorough as possible and cover every angle in a semi-coherent and comprehensible fashion.

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How To Create A Strong Defense; The Phalanx Analogy

Most managers, myself included, prefer aesthetically pleasing brands of football. We are not content with merely winning a game, we want to win in style, preferably a grand style. Okay, I am not really sure if this applies to most managers, but it bloody well applies to me. I blame my Dutch genes for that little quirky trait. The Dutch are quite apt at losing games but declaring themselves the moral winners because their style of play looked better. I mean, Van Gaal anyone?

We played beautiful football! It's not like that Portuguese wanker is doing any better...
We played beautiful football! It’s not like that Portuguese wanker is doing any better…

Anyway, enough of my ranting and back to the topic at hand as promised in the title. What many people seem to forget is that there can be beauty in clean defending. The same ideas and principles so often associated with the attacking phases of football are just as easily applied to the defensive phase. The fluidity of positions, rotations and covering your teammates, maintaining a tight and cohesive formation, it’s just as much a hallmark of a strong defense than it is a characteristic of a strong offense.

That brings me to the concept of the phalanx. As an avid gamer, I played my fair share of the Total War series and well, you can’t play these games without picking up a thing or two regarding shield walls, testudo’s or phalanxes. The phalanx formation was a close-rank, dense grouping of warriors armed with long spears and interlocking shields. The Spartan phalanx was legendary in classical antiquity and renowned for hammering home the importance of keeping one’s shield up. It was not for the protection of the warrior carrying it, but for the warrior at his side. When the shield was dropped it created a gap in the impenetrable defense, which could be exploited.

A classic phalanx formation screenshot Rome 2 Total War.
A classic phalanx formation screenshot Rome 2 Total War.

I want to apply the concept of the Greek phalanx to how I organize my teams defensively. If that sounds intriguing (or just sufficiently hipstery), read on!

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