Following on from Guido’s piece on the transfer structure and signings he made during the close season, the pressure was on me to now utilise the squad he has provided me with and deliver some results. But what would success look like regarding this second season both in the eyes of the board and the supporters, and how would I manage my squad to deliver the goals set? Which competition(s) would / should we prioritise and why?
Short corners have to combat a negative reputation in world football. Just as a back-pass is seen as an inherently negative manoeuvre, corners which are not crossed directly into the penalty area are often met with disdain by supporters worldwide. Sadly, this opinion is shared by too many managers in the virtual universe as well; by opting against putting the ball into the danger zone you instantly forego a greater opportunity to score seems too much of a common place.
In my eyes, when a team takes a short corner it may be a wise decision in terms of goalscoring opportunities. Taking a short corner by no means gives up an opportunity, but instead creates a new and different one. Especially when your team lacks an aerial presence, a short corner offers up new avenues to scoring a goal.
We are all afraid of it, and I am fairly certain we have experienced it as well. The dying seconds of the game have started, your team is up by one goal, and the opposition is about to take a corner kick. Deep inside you are dreading this final play of the game; your gut feeling is a very negative one. ‘This is going in’. So how do you defend against these situations, especially since the AI seems awfully good at scoring from set pieces in this latest instalment of the Football Manager series.
Unfortunately, corners (and indirect free kicks) are an abundant source of conceded goals, with the default defensive routines coming up grossly inadequate to counter the AI’s routines. To balance the scales somewhat, I have decided to take a more in-depth look into corners. Last week, I posted my offensive corner setup. In this article, I will be focusing on the different defensive systems and concepts – man-marking/zonal-marking etc.
Defending corner kicks is a more fluid and irregular process, as it mostly depends on the manager’s personal style and preferences, and the level of football. For example, it is pretty tough to implement a zonal-marking system at a lower level, because this system needs to be practised every single week and demands quite a bit of spatial awareness from the players.
When we think about scoring goals, the first thought that comes to mind is hitting the ball top corner or maybe a simple tap-in from a cross, but we very rarely give thought to the throw-in. Unless you’re a Stoke fan, then you might have seen your fair share of goalscoring opportunities from the long throws over the years.
The throw-in has been part of the game since the nineteenth century when English public school boys would run amok with grassy knees. A wide variety of methods were tried and tested to return the ball to the playing field, including kick-ins and one-handed throws but eventually, the two-handed throw was accepted (having been stolen from rugby). All in all, the throw-in was not deemed to be that important or influential.
Founded in 1908 Huddersfield Town AFC locally known as ‘The Town’ or ‘The Terriers’ enjoyed their best spell of success during the 1920’s when they were the first team to win the English top flight 3 times in a row and won the FA cup in 1922.
In the late 1950s, the club was managed by Bill Shankly and featured Denis Law and Ray Wilson, before being relegated from the top division in 1972. The Terriers then spent 45 years in the next three tiers of the football league before against all the odds being promoted back to the English Premier League in 2017 under the management of David Wagner who instantly became a club legend with that achievement.
In their first season back in the Premier League they again surprised everyone with their #TerrierSpirit & managed to stave off relegation despite one of the lowest wage budgets in the division.
One of the prevalent developments in football over the past few years is a growing emphasis on the importance of set pieces. When you cannot break down a defence during the phases of open play, a strong set-piece routine offers you the opportunity to score a goal. After all, the premeditated nature of set pieces offers managers a level of relative consistency in preparation and planning. You can work out multiple routines and prepare your players for these routines during training sessions. In this blog post, I want to focus on the process of setting up a good corner routine, the variables that determine whether or not a routine is successful and my own routine.
For a good four years now, I have been running the weblog Strikerless.com, which is based around the ideas of strikerless football. When I started writing about strikerless football, it was deemed somewhat of a novelty, an oddity that tricked the mechanics of the match engine but had no actual foundations in real life football, barring one AS Roma team and the odd effort born out of desperation when teams found all their forwards banned or injured.
Since I started preaching the strikerless gospel, real life caught up. Several European teams play without a traditional forward and with a certain degree of formlessness. They either have no obvious focal point of attack or they can attack from so many directions that anticipating how they will attack at any given time is nigh on impossible. This is the underlying concept of a strikerless formation in a nutshell.
Instead of a traditional forward, you play a trequartista or other sort of attacking midfielder as your most attacking man on the pitch, position-wise. These attacking midfielders, be it a trequartista, an enganche, shadow striker or an advanced playmaker, tend to move into the space between defence and midfield to receive the ball, thus overloading the central midfield, establishing domination in terms of possession and creating space for surging runs by wide players or other midfielders.
That brings us to a new version of the game; Football Manager 19 is on the verge of going live. FM Grasshopper and I attended a private event and were allowed to play the Alpha version of the new game. This event and my results in playing the Beta inspired me to write this article. Please note, and I want to be very clear about this in advance, this article DOES NOT and WILL NEVER contain a download link because it was created on an ALPHA version of the game, not the finished game. What worked well in Alpha, might not work at all during Beta or the full release.
Having said that, the underlying train of thought might prove useful and insightful, so there is an added value to this article. Plus, if you are so inclined, it is not like you cannot manually write down the player roles and instructions to try this bad boy for yourself. I just don’t want to assume any responsibility if your gambit backfires. There are no proper plug and play tactics after all.
As you may or may not have heard, the weekend of October 13th and 14th was the weekend Sports Interactive released an Alpha version to a select few creators from within the community. Lord knows quality control is not a thing because somehow I managed to get invited. It was a grand weekend, where I got to spend time with some of the finest creators our community has to offer, drink copious amounts of booze, marvel at all the stuff on display over at SI HQ, talk to Miles and some of the developers and naturally get a feel of the new game.
Together with my compatriot blogger FM Grasshopper, whose blog you should be reading if you have never done and should continue to read if you are already reading it, I decided to focus my attention on one of the most influential and game-changing new features Football Manager 19 has to offer.
As you know, the new Football Manager offers a host of innovative new features. One of the options FM Grasshopper and Guido want to examine and explore is the overhauled tactical interface. As you may have gathered from the videos and play-throughs, the tactical user interface has undergone some massive changes. The most obvious difference is in the interface layout, which coincides with a new and more intuitive template-approach to creating tactics. Let’s look at the various new features and how to use them.
There was once a time not too long ago that having a dynamic, lumbering striker was almost necessary for success. The likes of Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez and Robin Van Persie were some of the most prolific goal scorers on the planet in most of the decade spanning from 2000 until 2010.
Since then, however, things have changed. While many of the world’s best clubs still deploy traditional strikers, others have opted for a strikerless attack. In the 2018 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United, Blues boss Antonio Conte opted to deploy a starting XI sans a traditional striker. With Alvaro Morata on the bench, Conte chose to play winger Eden Hazard as a de-facto “striker” instead. The Belgian would go on to score the game’s lone goal in the 1-0 victory.