International Football; A Bit Of A Rant

Winning international silverware is regarded as a great achievement. In fact, some would argue that it is the apex of one’s professional accomplishments. It is possible to elevate one’s career to legendary status by leading a team to a World Cup, European Championship, or Copa América victory. Just ask people like Maradona, Van Basten, or Zidane, all of whom were outstanding players who will be remembered for their international achievements for the rest of their lives.

So, why is it that the international management aspect of Football Manager appears to be so dysfunctional, as it appears to be? It should be the pinnacle of a manager’s career to win a World Cup or any other international trophy. But in FM, managing a national team is a tedious chore instead of an exciting challenge. It’s often not enjoyable because the game’s approach to international football has some obvious flaws and shortcomings, which make it difficult to enjoy this particular avenue of management fully.

Given this, I may appear to you like a bit of a grouch, a grumpy old man who moans and complains about everything that is wrong with the world these days. While I may no longer be able to identify myself to be a young man, I have had quite a wealth of experience with the international game during my time with FM21.

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Replacing The Irreplaceable; Zlatan 2.0

If you have been following me on Twitter somewhat, you will have noticed my ongoing digital love-affair with Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the course of my FM21 save with AC Milan. Ever since returning to Milan from his MLS exploits, the Swedish frontman has rolled back the years, playing like a man 15 years younger.

I always knew that Zlatan wouldn’t last forever and that the time of his impending retirement drew nearer every time I hit continue. Like any manager worth his salt, I saw what needed to be done. Who could replace Zlatan?

Bully-Ball & The Human Trebuchet

Over the past decades, we have seen ample evidence of the long throw-in and its effectiveness. Most notably, Rory Delap’s bullet throws long proved a useful piece of weaponry for Stoke City. Launching howitzers into the box towards tall and powerful players turned out to be a winning strategy.

The success of Delap and Stoke proves that football need not be complicated. Find someone to lob the ball into the box and have your strongest players shove around defenders and the goalkeeper. Since you can’t be offside from a throw-in, you can bring up your strongest players to cause mayhem in the opposing box.

FM21; I Play It My Way 02

Earlier I wrote a brief piece on my intentions for FM21. This the first proper article in this series, in which I want to look at the defensive aspect of things. Defensively, I want to look at the three defensive principles forcing the opposition wide, restricting the opposition’s space and maintaining a cohesive formation, how I am to achieve those and which performance indicators I use to make sure my players are performing the way I want them to.

The Corner Setup That Became A Throw-in Routine

Now that we have all been sucked into the enslaving obsession we all know FM can become if the game is good enough, it is time to look at another yearly seasonal tradition; the hunt for superb set-pieces.

I am no stranger to the subject, I have tried (and succeeded on occasion) to create successful set-piece routines. FM21 was no exception to the rule and I tried my hand at creating a corner setup. You have probably heard of the famous saying “necessity is the mother of all invention”? Well, if necessity is the mother of all invention, blind luck is the drunk uncle of invention. Not exactly something to be proud of but there’s a surprising number of such cases. This is the case of the mysterious throw-in routine that started as a corner setup.