Empoli FC?! Why Empoli? What’s your connection to Empoli FC? To be honest, I don’t have a real connection to the club, except, that I love football and they’re a football club that dazzled Europe last season. I hope this is a sufficient reason for taking on this project that I am calling “The Empoli FC Project.”
Plans for Empoli FC
My plans for this save are: (1)stabilize the club’s finances; (2) avoid unnecessary spending; (3) play possession based football; (4) sign and develop young players for the first team , (5)build on last year achievement.
Empoli’s budget is 375K in wages and 1.1.m transfer budget. The transfer budget would have been double but I had to reallocate the transfer money to cover the wage bill. Managing finances is still new to me so I’ll describe it as an ongoing work-in-progress. Year two is when I’ll implement changes within the club. For exampe, I will sell or release players better suited for the lower leagues of Italian football. Then, I will reassess players returning from season long loans and determine if they are ready for first team football.
I will buy players strengthen areas we are lacking depth, and the player should have loads of potential and challenge for a spot in the first team. Similar to members in the FM community I’ve been guilty of buying players for no apparent reason other than I had the funds to do so. There will be no unnecessary spending in the transfer market. I will reinvest the proceeds from transfers into player and staff development. I want excellence from everyone at each level of the club.
I’m amazed that the board agreed to my philosophy, play possession based football. Italy and the Serie A are home to some the most technically gifted players are in Europe so a possession based tactic complements the player’s strength. Those of you that know me know that I like my teams to gradually build up from the back and use my keeper as an extra outfield player. Sound familiar? Our attack will focus in the middle of the pitch, that is where the most expensive real estate is located. The wide men (WBs) will contribute immensely to the build up, meaning they will support our attack and disrupt the opposition’s counter-attacks. Below is the passing map from our match against Palermo, the red circle highlights our qualitative and positional superiority led to us earning 3 points.
Sign Young Players
At this time we have nothing to report.
Build On Last Season’s Achievements
I intend to carry on the work of Empoli’s previous managers, Maurizio Sarri (now of Napoli) and Marco Giampaolo. Last season Empoli finished 10th in the Serie A, a great achievement for a club expected to go back down. Sarri laid a solid foundation with an emphasis on connections and compactness, lateral movements and ball security (possession). Giampaolo did not tamper with the foundation Sarri laid down and I will do the same, except, I will add an intense pressing scheme to regain possession. So far things are working out and I expect things to improve this season.
Thanks for taking the time to read and all comments and suggestions are welcome.
I want to announce for my first FM17 save will be at the Vincente Calderon with Atletico Madrid. For now, I wanted to take the time to announce to the community where I will be applying my trade come November 4th. Be on the look out for my first in-depth piece a couple weeks after the release of FM17. Cheers!
Quick update: We just completed a treble winning season: Chile Super Cup and the Opening and Closing Stages of the Chilean First Division. We’re currently in the first KO Stage of the Copa Libertadores, and we will face Pablo Guede’s San Lorenzo of the Argentine Primera Liga. Wish us luck, because my record against Argentine clubs is poor.
Anyway, I’m hoping to have my new piece up by Sunday afternoon (NYC time). Until then.
Its been a while since my last post, and I am excited to share my work with Portugese side, Rio Ave.
This write-up will differ from my previous ones because it’s a role and player analyses. I will be analysing the defensive forward (DF), and a player who fits that role and has caught my attention, José Portiga of Rio Ave. I chose him because he’s a rising star climbing his way into the Rio’s first XI.
I’d also like to state for the record that I am not a football expert nor do I claim to be one. I consider myself a student of the game like members of the FM community. So, the views and opinions expressed in this piece are my own.
Whenever I think of the DF two players come to mind, Diego Costa of Chelsea FC and Mario Mandzukic of Juventus. Both are fierce competitors that use their physicality and aggression to score goals and pressure opposing centre-backs in to making mistakes. Costa and Mandžuckić are comfortable with the ball at their feet, and good at holding up the ball for their more attacking teammates; Mandžukić is widely known for being dangerous in set pieces, and Costa is known for his quality finishes in the 6yd box.
The DF is the least understood and most underrated player in football. To quote Cleon “one of the best striker roles around.” The DF is a hybrid, part striker and part defender. He is unique because his strengths lay within mental and physical attributes. He may also have great technical abilities which make him a constant goal threat too. He is the enigmatic player that can stick it to the opposition in more than one way.
For example, a DF needs a good first touch to deliver quality finishes in the box. He may be exceptional at heading the ball making him an asset for set pieces. His defensive qualities: aggression, bravery, work rate, and determination are indispensable and beneficial to his team. The DF is a pain in the arse to opposing centre-backs, he constantly applies pressure by harassing them at every chance they get (see the clip below) and never allowing them to have time on the ball.
Costa’s work rate was outstanding, one of the best match-ups of the 2014-2015 season, because we see a tireless, relentless, and aggressive DF working his socks off for his team. What we don’t see is, his efforts gave his teammates time to re-organize themselves to fend off a City attack. At the end we see Costa show Kompany respect, something he does not do too often. It takes a certain personality to fill this unglamorous role and Costa has made it his own.
Now I’d like to spend some time to discussing the focus of this analyses, Jose Portiga, and how he is becoming Rio Aves next rising star.
José is a natural DF on support duty, so he’ll stays up high, alone, and will do battle with opposing centre-backs; closing them down and marking it hard for the opposing team. He is good at linking up other into play which makes him the spearhead of counter-attacks
José is 21 years old, so there’s is time to mold him into an exceptional DF. So far, he’s made six appearances, two as a substitute; he has four goals (2 from preseason; and 2 in the Premiere Liga), one assist, and eight tackles. Not bad for someone my assistant suggested I send out on loan. I’m glad I followed my instincts and kept him at the club.
José has decent technical abilities; his strongest attribute is penalty taking. He’s a skilled dribbler, finisher (hence, his 4 goals), and has a decent long shot too. But at the same time, there’s loads of room for improvement. Specifically, his first touch, man marking, and tackling could use a little extra attention on the training ground.
I can’t stress enough the importance of Having players with a strong mentality to carry out the duties of this role. José’s is always looking for ways to improve those around him in order achieve our main objectives:
(1) Play cohesive football
(2) Play defensive football
(3) Dominate the league with Juego de Posicíon.
We see that José has good mental qualities necessary for positive match results. He’s skilled in the art of closing down defenders and keepers, and willing to man-mark opposing defenders and holding midfielders.
Rio Ave 1 Benfica 0
For example, our league tie against Benfica, I chose 4-1-4-1 as our defensive shape. I was looking for my first win against them after five previous meeting that ended in us losing. My goals were to play at a slow tempo and work the ball into the box, while neutralizing the goal scoring threat from Renato Sanches. I realized that Benfica’s build up came through their number six, Bryan Cristante, so I asked José to mark him for the entire match.
My strategy was to force Frank De Boer’s men to go long because I suspected they had no plan B . José was brilliant! He disrupted Benfica’s plans, so Renato Sanches had to come deep to get the ball, which fit right into my plans. There was no way he’d be able to run up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. To make a long story short, Renato was ineffective in the build up play, so they turned to Luisaõ, and that left them open to counter-attacks. José was outstanding, he provided the assist (Lionn) for the winning and only goal of the match.
José stands at 5’9″ which makes him less of an aerial threat. However, he makes up for his lack of aerial abilities by having other qualities such as his acceleration, agility, balance, natural fitness, pace, stamina, and strength. Pre-season we focused on increasing Jose’s stamina because he struggled in during latter stages of matches. Since he’s natural fitness levels are good it didn’t take too long before we started to see improvement (see the screenshots below)
Jose’s most recent statistics show that he is covering greater distances than before. The screenshots show a 4.1km increase from his last appearance, which was approximately four matches.
I can’t say enough about monitoring your players individual training, I became more proactive about this in my Hadjuk save. I get satisfaction and pride from seeing a player grow that is under my tutelage.
You probably can tell that I’m advocate for the DF. Rio Ave is happy with Jose and the progress he’s made this campaign. We are excited to see what the future hold for both him and the club. I will try to keep you posted on José, but life and reality can get in the way. So I want to leave you with a clip from his most recent goal which saved us from defeat.
The winter break and training camp are over, and the January transfer window is closed. And I’m happy to report that things are looking good. I support having a winter break because it gives managers and players a chance to recharge and reevaluate the current situation within their respective clubs. And if necessary, it’s a time to make changes to improve the club’s situation.
For this post, I’ll be discussing some of the changes I made during the first half of my first season at Hadjuk. Specifically, within the backroom staff, (e.g. Coaches) and players. In addition to that, my plan is to bring Bielsa’s type of football to the club, meaning that we are going to play at a high tempo, use quick and direct passing, with intense and immediate pressure on our opponents to win the ball back and hit them on the counter. This philosophy and concepts are non-negiotiable, and those who oppose it will be shown the door. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I will discuss this later in the post.
I will give an overview of the Croatian First Football League; then I will discuss my assessment of staff and players mentalities; I will report on transfers, specifically, players bought and sold; and I will report my experience in the Croatian and Serbian transfer markets. And lastly, some closing thoughts on my time with Hadjuk.
Croatia First Football League (PrvHNL)
For those of you that are not familiar with the Croatian First Football League (HNL), here’s a link to Wikipedia explaining the system. But let me give you a brief synopisis of the top flight of Croatian football. Currently, 10 teams are in the top flight. Dinmo Zagreb won it’s 11th consecutive title since the creation of the league in 1992 following the dissolution of the Yugoslavian Republic. They have won a total of 18 titles followed by Hadjuk’s six. The fiercest rivalry are between Hadjuk and Dinamo is known as the Eternal Derby. Supporters live for this match which happens three times during the season. The Torcida, an ultra supporter group goes back to 1950, which makes them the oldest firm in all of Europe. To say the least, it’s a very important match and has more significance than any other match.
PRVHNL July 2015-December 2015
After taking over the club, I met with the board and their expectations were realistic; finish in the top half of the season; qualify for the European football; use the club’s youth system to develop and promote young players. Outside of those expectations they left it up to me to bring my philosophy to the club; a manager’s dream in virtual and real life. I’ve given full license to bring the principles of juego de posicion and tactical periodization.
First, to make that possible I had to assess the overall club, finances, backroom,and players. I was in for a shock when I was told my transfer budget was £160K quid and a wage budget of £60K per week. The first thing I said was how do they expect me to run this club on a shoestring budget. I immediately reached out to my brother from across the pond, Michael Skidmore @totalfootball71, and his words were “well you’re going to have to be prudent.” I am fortunate to have a friend like him because he gave me the answer I needed instead of what I wanted. With that said, I conducted the first phase of the assessment: data collection and assessment of player mentalities.
Phase 1: Data Collection
Before I started this save I collected as much data as I as could. This consisted of me browsing Hadjuk’s website and reading player’s bios to get background information on them. Then, I searched YouTube for highlights showing their strengths and weakness on and off the ball. Lastly, I watch the first and second legs of the Eternal Derby, which took place on 16/03/2016 and 20/03/2016, respectively. For some FM’ers this might be too involved, but before I start a new save I like to get as much background information as I can to avoid disastrous results (see my earlier post about getting sacked by Roman Abramovich). To say the least, I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a talented group of players, and manage a club with a strong tradition and rich history.
Assessment: Players Mentality
The players and backroom staff had been settling for mediocrity prior to my arrival, and those of you that know my management style, mediocrity is intolerable. This was baffling because the club was filled with talented young players, however, for some reason or another, they weren’t being nurtured the way a young player should be. I was surprised to find that there was no battle tested veteran in the dressing room for these kids to look up to, someone who could guide and mentor these youngsters. I attribute this to a couple of things: (1) the coaches lacked credentials from UEFA, and those that did have credentials were content with National A or Continental A license; (2) none of them had experience working with young players. I was shocked to learn that the U19 and U21 Managers and Asst. Managers that had low ratings (8 & 9) for working with youngsters. No wonder their mentalities were in the pits because no knew how to bring the best out of them.
Additionally, the club had players brought in on season long loans whose commitment and dedication were questionable. To be honest, they had difficult personalities and bad for morale. I gave them the usual spiel that managers give to those temperamental players: that needed to get their heads out of the sand, and get on with their jobs. Tong story short Manuel Arteaga on loan from Palermo remains with the club, while the other two loans were terminated.
I’m sure you can tell that I had a lot to contend with my first 6 months on the job. Our list of fixtures and results for the first half of the season should give you an idea of what I was happening at the club.
Fixtures and Results
As a rule I try not to make major changes, but I could see there are going to be wholesale changes at the Poljud. We went into the winter break (20/12/2015) with an abysmal record of 6 wins 6 draws and 4 defeats; excluding our poor showing in the third round of the Europa League Qualifiers and Croatian Cup. Morale was at an all-time low and I needed to make changes and I needed to make them sooner than later.
Backroom Staff: Assistant Manager & Coaches
Remember I don’tlike making major changes in the first year, but it was imperative that I took action. So first I needed to change my backroom staff around with coaches and managers that could train the player to be total footballer. I conducted an exhaustive search for some the best coaches eastern Europe had to offer, and I found some real gems. I’m surprised that more of these coaches are not at some of the other clubs across Europe.
Transfers: Nikola Vlasic, Fran Tudor, Hrvoje Milic, and Franck Ohandza
Now that I’ve assembled solid backroom staff it was time to focus on identifying potential targets for the following season, but I had one problem; remember my budget is £160K quid. So I had to be strategic and really think through who I was going to bring in. Honestly, acquiring players on loan seems logical and feasible. However, we would find a solution to our problem; wonderkid Nikola Vlašić was a target for a number of clubs around Europe. Arsenal, Real Madrid, Man United, Man City, and Liverpool got in a bidding war for his signature. the opening bid was £800k, then it rose to £1.5m, then £2.5m, and so on.I realized that if they really want him I could dictate the terms of the deal. I needed bigger transfer budget and if I got a good fee for Nikola the board would get a majority of the fee (75%) but we’d still have something to work with. Eventually, we settled on a deal with Arsenal for a fee of £6.25million, upfront and no add-ons.
Fran Tudor request to speak with Hoffenheim was somewhat of a surprise because he seemed settled and began to show promise. Reluctantly I gave him permission to speak with them and the came with a bid of £2.8m (£1.1m upfront) plus add-ons.
Hrvoje Milić was transferred to Swansea City for £1.2m (£850K up front) with add-ons. He was not a good influence in the dressing room, then had a change of heart and wanted to stay but I thought it was best if he tried his luck at another club.
Franck Ohandza is an interesting case, he was injured during preseason and spent the first half of the season recovering from his injury. He did find it hard to adjust to the new system and group of players. Malmo FF offered £180K (£140k up front) with some add-ons and we accepted and the transfer took immediate effect.
Below is a screenshot of the business we conducted this season. I am pretty content with the way things are going and I am expecting great things from this group. Be on the look out for part two where I will give a recap of my first season at NK Hadjuk Split. Cheers.
You can tell from my latest adventure in Football. Manager that I thoroughly enjoyed my Croatia National Team save. So much that I decided to try my luck managing one the biggest clubs in that country that sits on the Adriatic coast, NK Hadjik Split.
Be on the look out for part one of this series, and I’ll try to post regular updates. But before I go I want to leave you with a screenshot of players who impressed me last season. I am looking forward to working with them next season and our hope is to win the title. Until the next time. Cheers.
Hey everyone, its been a while since my last in-depth post about what’s been going on in the world of football management. If you haven’t noticed something about me is that I’m always looking for a new experience. And I recently got the bug for a new challenge after winning the Champions League for the third time.
First, I want to announce that I am taking a break from my Spurs save, I want to devote my time to an international save inspired by the Copa America and the 2016 European Championship. To be honest, I’m going into this save with an open mind and zero expectations, however my new employer (Croatian Football Federation) have their own set expectations they want met while I’m in the job. Later on in the post I will discuss their expectations and what we achieved and hoping to achieve in the future
Second, I always wanted to return to international management after my short stint managing the Chilean National Team, which I left for the Bayern Munich job. Anyway, for one reason or another I didn’t have the patience to scout players who might get called up to the national team. Lets just say my attention span was not great so it made it hard to do the job effectively.
Lastly, following my success in the German and English leagues I had a change in heart and mind about international management. However, it had to be under certain condition, specifically, with a team that I support in real life. As you can see from the title I decided to apply to the Hrvatski Nogometni Savez (Croatian Football Federation) for the manager position at the senior level. Despite their skepticism over my lack of managerial experience at the international level they took a gamble and hire me on the condition that we qualified for the group stages of the 2016 Euros. But before I get into that I’d like to spend some time discussing the CFF and the some key player on the national team.
Hrvatski Nogometni Savez (Croatian Football Federation)
The CFF was founded on June 13, 1912 and is located in the country’s capital, Zagreb. The country’s affiliation with FIFA began on July 16, 1941; and with UEFA on June 16, 1993. Croatia has a reputation for producing talented athletes and some of the top footballers past ad present were products of the youth systems of GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Hadjuk Split, HNK Rijek, and NK Osijek. These are some of the notable clubs however there are others not mentioned in this post.
Croatia is also home to some famous footballers, notably Davor Suker, Luka Modric Ivan Rakitic, Darijo Srna,, Ivan Perisic, and Mario Mandzukic.
Šuker famously led the national team to a third place finish at the 1998 World Cup held in France. A product of NK Osijek’s youth system Davor went on to become one of the most celebrated and decorated footballers in his country. From 1992 to 2002 he had 69 caps and 45 international goals. At the club level he applied his trade in four countries where he had 448 combined appearances and 203 goals Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla FC, Real Madrid, Arsenal FC, West Ham United, and TSV 1860 Munich. Currently, he is the president of the CFF a position he’s held since 2012.
Luka Modrić, Deep lying Play maker
Luka is Modrić is a one of the best central midfielders in the world, he is well known for is tactical intelligence, vision, composure, work rate and powerful shot. He currently plays for Real Madrid where he has won the UEFA Champions League twice. He earned his first cap for national team more than 10 years ago and has represented his country in 5 major tournaments: 2006 and 2014 World Cups; and 2008, 2012, and 2016 Euros.
Ivan Rakitić, Attack Midfielder
Rakitić is a Swiss born Croat that is a product of FC Basel’s youth system. He also played for Schalke 04, Sevilla FC, and currently FC Barcelona. Similar to his teammate Modrić, Ivan is well known for his incredible work rate, vision, of and movement. He was captain of Sevilla that won two consecutive Europa League titles. In addition to that, his first year at Barca he completed a treble; La Liga, Champion League, and the Copa Del Rey.
Darijo Srna, Wing-back (R)
Darijo is captain of the national team and has represented Croatia at every age level. He is a product of the GOSK Gabela and Hadjuk Split youth. Srna started out as a midfielder but overtime he began to play as a hybrid wingback which gave him freedom to drift inside. SRna played for two clubs as a professional Hadjuk Split and Ukrainian side, Shaktar Donestsk for the past 13 years. Srna, has played in the 2006 and 2014 World Cups; and 2008, 20012, and 2016 Euros. Srna is also known as a free-kick specialist often scoring sensational goals from great distances.
Perišić is another bright star produced by this county’s youth system. A product of Hadjuk Split’s youth system he is a winger with incredible pace that can be deployed as an attacking midfielder or forward. Currently, he applies his trade in Italy for FC Internazionale, and before that he was with the Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg. He’s already has 49 caps and 14 goals to his name and we’re expecting hear more from him.
Mario is by far one of the best Defensive Forwards the world and it is a privilege to work with him. He’s developed a reputation for being temperamental and unmanageable, hence why he’s been at a number of different clubs the past few years. However, at the national level he’s been professional and proud. He stands at a towering 6ft 3inches which makes him an easy target for wingers and attacking fullback and wingbacks. Below is a clip of him scoring against bitter rivals Serbia in a WCQ match in 2013:
I mentioned before that the CFF’s condition of me taking the job is that the national team qualify for the group stage for the Euros in France. Normally, under different circumstances I would’ve given some push back because I wouldn’t been setting myself up for failure. However, I thought the expectation was realistic considering I was a real supporter with a decent knowledge of both youth and senior players, so I had every right to feel confident.
Results and Fixtures
My first match in charge would be a European Qualifier match against Italy. A massive fixture against a team that we’ve met three times before and each ended in a draw. Their most recent match before this latest fixture had to be played behind doors because the first match in Italy had to aborted due to Croatian supporters unrest.
I’m happy to report that the match was incident free but it was a fierce competition that lived up to its billing. We used my customary formation, 4-1-4-1 and were able to walk away with a point after falling behind on a Balotelli goal in the 17th minute. Rather than panic we stayed true the course and fought back to get on level terms on a set-piece (Vida 31′). I realized something about my management style; I’m pragmatic and have a bit of Jose in me too, but only the good parts of him. Below are screen shots of my formations and players that fit the system.
As you can see from the screenshots above only certain players made the starting 11 only because they tended to fit better in the system. For instance, Madzukic was deployed as a defensive forward and his primary job was to harass the centre-back and defensive midfielders; and he did a magnificent job–his defensive efforts , that is win the ball back ad hold it it for the counter led to 4 goals. We also lost some key first team members to injury: Verdan Corluka, Milan Badelj, and Ivan Strinic (was reinjured red while on duty). Josip Radosevic did not have a cap prior to the tornament, but injuries to Badelj led to him getting called up, the same goes for keeper, Maric Delac; Subasic was hurt in the Italy match and Maric stepped in and never looked back. Tin Jedvaj had a magnificent tournament, to be honest, I preferred him over Lovren due to his tactical awareness and versatility. Overall, I was very happy with the squad and their performance in the 2016 Euros.
Quarter Final and Semi-Final Result
Final Thoughts and Assessment
My time managing the Croatian National team has been absolutely delightful, so much that I’ve decided to stay on and manage them for the 2020 World Cup Qualifiers. I’ve found that the players possession a good amount of technical ability to go far in the tournament if they qualify the tournament to be held in Russia. I am excited about the up and coming younger generation of players who I will be calling up to the Senior squad over the next few years. Below are screenshots of young players that have caught my eye since taking over the side:Conclusion
Thanks for taking the time to read the post and I will try to not to let so much time pass in between each post. But I want to leave you with a highlight of our first WCQ match against the Ukraine. Enjoy and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.
Yes! We are Tottenham, super Tottenham from the Lane. I want to congratulate the players for putting together a magnificent run in fairytale season at White Hart Lane. I also want to thank the fans, the Chairman, Daniel Levy, the Board, and my staff. Without their support we couldn’t have done it. I also want to thank the “English Michels” @totalfootball71 for helping me work through the difficult times and for being a vast source of football knowledge. Thanks to @cleon81 for his contributions, even though he’s retired, he still my all time favorite tactician. I’d also like to give Gustaf (@sasfm21) a shout out, he’s studying for his exams and writing papers…good luck mate! I’m not sure when I’ll write my next post because I’m going to be fully immersed in the Euro’s. Until then, cheers.
We are continuing to push through the season on three fronts; the English Premiership, Capital One Cup, and Group Stage of the UEFA Champion’s League. In the Premiership only four points separate us from my mentor and idol, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (25 vs 21). We have to stay focused and play perfect football if we’re to keep them at bay.
English Premiere League 2016/17
Capital One Cup
We’ve progressed into the Quarter Finals of the Capital One Cup, and we will face our crosstown rivals, Chelsea FC. We’re expecting this to be an entertaining and defensive match between the two best defenses in the Premiership.
UEFA Champions League Group Stage
When I saw that PSG and Fenerbaçe were in our group I got nervous; PSG is my bogey team–I lost a CL final and semi final to the Ligue 1 outfit. You can see that we are at the top of our group in the Champions League–I am happy to report that we have met the boards expectations for this competition: qualify for the first Knock Out Round.
And lastly, the Emirates FA Cup, the oldest football competition in all of Europe. we’ll enter the competition in the third round in January. This year we’re hoping to improve on our performance from last season. I am looking to add more silverware to our trophy case.
Player Updates: Injuries
Last month we had a series of injuries to key first team players, Wimmer broke his leg and wont be available until the end of season. Dele, pulled his hamstring and will be sidelined for a few weeks; Toby, has strained knee ligaments; Vorm sustained a hip injury; and Yûto is out with a twisted knee. I am confident that the medical staff will do their best to get these players back to full strength and on the pitch at White Hart Lane.
However, in the meantime, I’ve had to make adjustments, meaning that in our system, juego de posicion, players need to be able to play in a number of positions. For example, Eric Dier can play as an Anchor Man, Defensive Midfielder; DLP, RB, and centre-back as well; Bazoer is versatile player as well, similar to David Alaba. In addition to that, I began playing with a defensive mentality because I needed to take a cautious approach to matches because I am shorthanded. To be honest, I was very skeptical about playing with a defensive mentality because the best form of defense is to attack. However, after watching Darko’s and Robbie’s work on the training ground I had complete faith in the boys ability to get the job done. As you can see in the screenshot above, we’ve conceded four goals(2 at home; 2 away) in 11 matches. I’m extremely happy with the way the boys have rallied to play for the shirt, and the house that Bill Nick built.
Formations: 4-1-4-1; 4-1-2-3; 4-4-2
Injuries forced me to give some of our younger players a chance in the first team; Thomas Glover (GK-D), Rico Henry (LWB), and Grant Ward (CM).
Thomas jumped at the opportunity to showcase his skills; he earned his first start and a clean sheet in the Capital One Cup. We’re extremely proud of Thomas’ and we’re expecting more from him the future.
Rico is someone we acquired last season from Walsall FC, and he’s impressed us during his loan spell with Newcastle United. We’re delighted with his progress and the staff are predicting that he will become a top LWB in the Premiership in the near future.
Grant is a special player in the mold of Moussa Dembele; great pace, strength, vision, and difficult to take the ball of him. He’s impressed us during preseason and as a substitute. Darko thought it would be good if he was sent out on loan so that he got first team football else where. So far things are working out very well for him.
Thomas Glover, Goalkeeper U21s
Rico Henry LWB, U21s
Grant Ward CM, U21s
Things are good at The Lane considering the number of injuries we’ve had this season. Importantly, the boys persevered and fighting the good fight; and keeping the tradition and values of the North London club founded by J. Anderson, T. Anderson, E. Beaven, R. Buckle, H.D. Casey, L.R. Casey, F. Dexter, S. Leaman, J.H. Thompson (jun), P. Thompson and E. Wall on September 5th, 1882. Well that’s it from me, thanks for reading and be on the lookout for part 3 of the series. Cheers!