The Return To Glory: Winter Update

It’s exciting times at the Veltins-Arena. Currently we sit atop of the Bundesliga undefeated  with a five point lead over the Bavarian mega club, Bayern Munchen. We have the second best defensive record in the Bundesliga conceding 10 goals ; 2 Europa League; and 0 in the DFB Pokal. I am happy with our defense and that they have turned our ground into a fortress. Therefore, we can build a foundation of positional play based on having a rock solid back four of hard-working defenders. I don’t want to bore you with restating my philosophy because if you follow me you already know who and what inspires me, as well as who are my FM confidants (@totalfootball71 and @sasfm21)–so I will use our time together to present the Bundesliga table, players, formations, fixtures, results, and highlights. I’d rather let you judge for yourself if we’re on the right track.

 

Bundesliga Table

bundes.PNG

First Team

Left Fullbacks

babaaogo

Centre-backs

honaldonastasic

Right Fullbacks

cauchicoke

Double-Pivots

gorebengeisstamb

Attacking Midfielders

konomeyersamschp

Forwards

breelchudihunt

Keepers r

gei.PNG

 

Formation

Bielsa’s 4-2-3-1/4-1-1-3-1

4231.PNG

Fixtures/Results

Bundesliga

fixture

German Cup

gc

Europa League europa

Highlights

Schalke04  2 | Dortmund 1

Hoffenheim 3 | Shalke04 4

Conclusion

As you can see we’re in a good position to qualify for continental football and possibly win the Bundesliga. I’m fortunate to have at my disposal a group of committed players that are playing to return the club to glory.  Thanks for reading and I am always happy to hear your comments and feedback.

Cheers!

 

 

Tottenham Win The #TR3BLE

 

4
TR3BLE Winning Season

I am flying high after completing a #TR3BLE with the boys from White Hart Lane. I am sure Bill Nicholson is proud of our achievements this season. All of this was possible because we were consistent in the style  (see below)  we played and bringing in Chancel Mbemba in the January transfer window.

4231
Juego de Pochettino 4-2-3-1

We not only exceeded our expectations–we bested Bill Nick’s double-winning season of 1961. These are monumental achievements and I am glad to bring three coveted trophies to the White Hart Lane. I won’t bore you with going over every single match but I will add fixture results across four competitions (Premier League, English Football League, Champions League, ad English FA Cup)  various highlights from this fairytale season.

 

 

epl
Premier League
efl
English Football League
cl
UEFA Champions League
fa
FA Cup

 

Highlights

Chelsea 0 | Tottenham 6

Burnley 0 | Tottenham 6

Oh When The Spurs…

 

Thanks for reading and be on the look out for Season 2: The Glory of Juego de Pochettino

Cheers

The North (London) Star Shines Bright Over White Hart Lane

Things a looking good over at White Hart Lane. We had a great preseason and a great start to the Premiere League season. This season marks our return to the Champions League after a six year absence from the Europe’s elite club tournament. Spurs last outing in the Champions League was under Harry Redknapp in 2010. My hope is that we give a good showing and gain lots of experience from playing against Europe’s best.

The squad is pretty much the same, except for a few additions in the attacking and defensive departments:

Attacking

Vincent Jansen, Complete Forward

Georges Kevin-Nkoudou-Inside Forward

Moussa Sisoko-Winger

Defending

Victor Wanyama, Ball Winning Midfielder

Terence Kongolo, Ball Playing Defender

Jordan Spence, Central Defender

Keepers

Timo Horn, Sweeper Keeper

Pau Lopez, Goalkeeper (on loan from Espanyol)

The purpose of this post is to give the community a quick update of my work at White Hart Lane thus far. I  leave you with our current standing in the league, our current form and short video of our match against our one our biggest rivals, Chelsea FC.  Congrats to Moussa Sissoko for his four goal return to grab the Man of The Match award.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les Parisiens Season 1: Implementing The New System [Juego de Posicion] At The Parc des Princes.

We’ve just about reached the half point of my first season with PSG, and its been loads of fun implementing the new system at the club. This piece will focus on the system that I think is the closest to emulating juego de posicion (JdP) as expressed by Josep “Pep” Guardiola and Mauricio Roberto Pochettino. I’ve heard folks say that JdP can’t be emulated on FM17 because the system is too complex, I disagree with that because in some form or another each of us has played a variation of JdP whether we were aware of it or not (I can hear hipster analysts across the globe moaning that JdP isn’t that simple).

For the remainder of  this piece I will:

  1. Outline team  training methods;
  2. I will discuss the purpose and rationale for choosing these methods;
  3. Further, I will discuss 4-2-3-1;
  4. Lastly, I will present match results and statistics .

Team Training: General Training, Match Preparation, and Training Focus. 

I stated earlier my attempt to create a JdP tactic that is a synthesis of training methodologies used by  Guardiola and Pochettino. Therefore,  I will be discussing general training, match preparation, and training focus.

General Training

Fitness

gt 

It is well-known that Pochettino played for Marcelo ‘El Loco’ Bielsa at New Old Boys and the Argentinian National Team. When Pochettino stepped into football management  he would employ some of the tactics he learned as a player for Bielsa. Since we play at a high tempo and involved in multiple competitions this season my primary concern is players’ fitness. During the season I’ll lighten the workload, yet still be unrelenting in my pursuit of fitness. In a nutshell, my sides attack their opponents which also means they press relentlessly too. Therefore,  I need players that can play at high tempo for 90 minutes;  high works rate, stamina, and strength are important qualities players need or be willing to work towards obtaining them.

Match Preparation:

Defensive Positioning

Bielsa’s teams are very aggressive. They don’t let you breathe…Seven arrive in the penalty area, they lose the ball and 11 defend. Their games are all up and back, up and back, without stopping.”

Pep Guardiola

mp

The most obvious characteristic of any Guardiola and Pochettino team is its work rate and concentration of numbers without the ball, but it’s not just about full-out pressure. It’s about creating favorable match-ups to win the ball back as quickly and as high up the field as possible. It’s about intelligent positioning as much as the work rate: midfielders match up one-on-one, leaving no easy outlet to forwards. Opponents will not find time to build out of the back or connect simple passes through the pressure, instead having to hoof clearances that Les Parisiens can latch onto more easily.

 

Training Focus:

Ball Control

foc

It is no secret that ball control is a major part of  Guardiola’s training. Therefore, the Rondo is training exercise  in which the group who is possession has a numerical advantage.  Rondo can be as little as 3 v 1 to 10 v 2 over another group of players. The objective of the group in possession is to keep the ball away from the defenders, while the defenders objective is to win the ball.

Rondos develop players in the following ways:

  1. Decision Making & Number of Touches: Players need to think very quickly in rondo as the ball can move very fast.  Being a step ahead and having good vision is required to maintain possession.
  2. Technique, Mobility & Agility: In order to keep possession the players must have a good level of technical ability.   That includes being balanced, mobile, quick, agile, technical and making quick decisions.
  3. Teamwork and Collective Understanding:  Rondo is not an individual game.  It requires teamwork to possess the ball.  It also requires teamwork of the defending players to win the ball back.
  4. Problem Solving & Creativity:   Rondo tests the player’s ability to problem solve the entire time.Being creative can often help break down a defense.
  5. Competition: Competition pushes players to train at higher intensities and elevate their game.

Attacking Movement

PSG can also build out of the back. The double pivot of Blaise Matuidi and Marco Veratti  controls the middle of the field effectively, and sweeper-keepers James Trapp/Guillerhmo Sara are comfortable playing passes of all lengths and difficulties from the very back. From our  4-2-3-1 starting point, PSG usually builds out in a 2-3-1-3-1 shape, with Veratti/Motta dropping just ahead of the center backs. The wing-backs Kurzawa and Aurier advance, and the two creative midfield players fill in gaps between the three forward-most players.

Match Statistics

stat
PSG 3 : Nice 1

 

s22
Champion League PSG 2 : Shakhtar 2

 

 

0-4
Montepellier 0 : PSG 4

 

 

awb
PSG 3 : Nice 1

 

 

Position without the ball

awob
Compactness without the ball, high up the pitch in the opponents half

Average Position

avp
PSG’s average position throughout the match

Heat Map

hm
Heat map: PSG spent a majority of the match in Nice’s half.

 

kurzawa
First goal Lucas Moura assisted by Kurzawa (lwb)
2
2nd goal Edison Cavani assisted by Aurier (rwb)

 

mat
3rd goal Matuidi assisted by Lucas.

 

Conclusion

As you can see JdP is alive and well at the Parc des Princes. I worked on this tactic for about 6 months and it boils down to the team  and individual training. I oversee match training and I leave individual training to my assistant manager, Ryan Giggs. Overall, I am happy with the way things are moving along. If you have any questions about training and training instructions feel free to reach out.  Cheers.

 

Les Parisiens lure American Guardiola to the Parc des Princes.

Hey all, it’s been a while since my last post and lots has changed since then. Earlier this week I announced to the community that I would be taking on a new challenge managing  Ligue 1 juggernauts Paris St. Germain. A few members of the community jokingly gave me some schtick about the club but for the most part I’ve gotten a lot of support. To be honest, I am very excited about this save because I’ve been to a PSG match at the Parc des Princes so there’s a bit of nostalgia on my part–also my 10-year-old daughter is massive PSG supporter and she asked why haven’t I managed her favorite club. So there’s a bit of outside influence too. I don’t want to bore you with my rambling, so, I will outline what I’m hoping to cover since taking over the managerial role:

  1. Players
  2. Formation
  3. Pre-season

I tend to alternate between three-at-the-back and four-at-the-back depending on the players at my disposal. I decided for this save that I am going with a sweeper-keepers, Kevin Trapp and Guillerhmo Sara (€1.5m); flat-back four–attacking fullbacks, Maxwell (inj), Aurier (inj), Kurzawa, Issiaga Sylla (€3.5m), Thomas Meunier; ball-playing-defenders, Thiago Silva, Presnel Kimpembe, and Marquinhos; central midfielders, Blaise Matuidi, Marco Veratti, and Thiago Motta, Adrien Rabiot. They are the backbone of our defense and major part of the build-up in our attack.  Attacking players, Angel DiMaria, Ben Arfa, Jese Rodriguez, Dries Merten (€20.5m), Javier Pastore, Simon Kalou (€6.5m), Lucas Moura.

Formations

You can gather from this list of players that I have a highly skilled group of players that money can buy, no pun intended. Anyway, I’m excited to bring Juego de Posicion to the Parc des Princes. For that to be possible I decided on three formations  The Disciple (4-2-4), The French X-Mas Tree (4-3-2-1), Les Parisien (4-3-3). And on occasion, I will use my friend Gustaf’s @sasfm21 tactic ‘The Gustaf.’ My friend, Michael Skidmore @totalfootball71,  mentioned the tactic in his post, The Garibaldi Reds 1.1. Similar to Michael, I will not be revealing any details about the tactic until Gustaf completes his product. Even though the Gustaf is still in the early stages of development it is one helluva tactic and once its complete it’ll change the face of the Football Manager tactics.

4244321

 

433

Transfer: Players

We had a very quiet transfer window, I was given €62m to spend, and I spent €42m in the transfer window–a large chunk of the transfer budget was spent on Dries Merton.  The Merton purchase was planning for the future when Edison “El Matador” Cavani decides he wants to try his fortunes elsewhere. Below are the screenshots of the players brought in during the summer transfer window: Dries Merton, Guillermo Sara , Assuage Sylla, and Salomon Kalou.mertonsarasyllakalou

Staff: Assistant Manager

As a rule I don’t make major changes in the first year, but I thought it would be a good idea to bring in someone I respected and admired. So in comes my right hand, Ryan Giggs. The Welsh man had a great career as a footballer, and having spent two years under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal, Giggsy jumped at the opportunity to work in France.

giggs.PNG

Pre-season

Below are our preseason results, plus our triumph in the Tróphee des Champions over Olympique Lyonnais. It is nice to start my Ligue 1 campaign with a trophy, it has been a while so its a nice boost to of confidence for the players and myself.

Conclusion:

In closing, I want to reiterate that I am looking forward to see how this save unfolds. So I will leave you with this video of my favorite player on PSG.

Happy Holidays!

Cheers

The Empoli FC Project: Juego de Posicion

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.

Finances

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.

Possession-Based Football

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.

ep

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.

tab

Thanks for taking the time to read and all comments and suggestions are welcome.

Cheers!

rovazz.PNG

 

 

 

Coming Soon: American Guardiola Continues to Spread The Philosophy: Universidad de Chile

4686876881

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.

Cheers!

The Unsung Hero: The Defensive Forward

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.

Defensive Forward

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.

José Portiga

image
José Portiga of Rio Ave

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.

Technical

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.

6.PNG

Mental

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.

benfica
José man-marking Brian Cristanté

Physical

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)

8
8.7km
7
Four matches later 12.8km

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.

Conclusion

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.

168148_galeria_sc_braga_v_rio_ave_j9_liga_zon_sagres_2013_14.jpg[1]42

Cheers.