FM Confession’s Matchday Programme #1

Do you play Football Manager? Do you enjoy it as much as we do? Are you compromising your very existence for the sake of a virtual cup run with Brentford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy?
Did she leave you?

Football Manager Confessions is a monthly(ish) blog & podcast produced by the Blast Process team and dedicated to the tragically compelling world of Sports Interactive’s Football Manager games. The show not only aims to delve into the nerdy, but compelling, world of fantasy football management whilst simultaneously delivering regular features such as scout reports and quizzes, but also tries to come to terms with the implications the game inevitably has on the lives of its loyal players.

As you may or may not have heard/seen/smelt, our pilot episode was released last month to a standing ovation from the crowd. During our pilot episode we introduced you to our regular features, as well as our current career stories, and mentioned that we’d be writing an accompanying blog with screen shots etc. Well this is that very blog, well done. On these very pages you will find our monthly scout reports, tactical analysis, game/goal/player of the month and perhaps even some confessions.

At the time of recording/writing, we have a number of saves on going. Sam is riding high in the Premier League after 4 successful years with a Crewe side, while Jack is taking the mighty Alfreton Town up from the Blue Square Bet Premier.

In the first podcast a few challenges were established. Sam challenged Jack to save Portsmouth from financial oblivion. Jack’s challenge for Sam was to take a no mark Premier League side (probably Reading) and win the FA, without getting relegated.

Jack took the challenge considerably more seriously and the Portsmouth save became his main game. Sam is yet to start pre season.

We’re also experimenting with FM13’s online mode running a season in the Blue Square Bet North, with title and promotion heavy weights Chester and Altrincham. So far the game has featured all the managerial back biting and attempts to unsettle players you’d expect from two fully grown men with an unhealthy addiction to a sports management simulator.

So without further ado, let’s get straight to business with our first scout report…

SCOUT REPORT 1 – Simao Mate Junior, Shandong FC

Simao Mate Junior is a player who at the beginning of the game is playing for Shandong FC in China. Having started his career in his native Mozambique he was spotted at an early age by Greek legends Panathinaikos where he became a first team regular before moving to China.

In my (Sam) specific game I found him available for free during the January 2014 transfer window, and he has since become a stalwart of my Crewe Alexandra midfield. Winning the Championship title in his first season and proving himself capable of performing int he Premier League as well. He is a player with great defensive attributes as you can see below and I find he works equally well as an Anchorman in the DM position, or as a ball winning midfielder in the CM position. During the 9 games he had in the Championship with me he had an average rating of 7.23 and claimed one assist. Although he is not particularly young any more and his attributes generally don’t improve much, he still has a long career ahead of him and rarely lets you down in terms of work rate and positioning as a defensive midfield, and lets face it, for free he is an absolute bargain and a coup for a team like Crewe Alexandra!

fmx sim

SCOUT REPORT 2 – Conor McGrandles, Falkirk FC

Jack: Conor McGrandles is a little beauty of a player you can pick up very cheaply. On my Portsmouth challenge save I needed some cover in central midfield and the right wing and he slotted in very nicely for a bargain price of 190k.

The fans were initially unhappy at the signing, the ungrateful wretches. The Pompey fan base apparently wanted a marquee signing that showed real intention to fight for promotion (and crippled our wage budget in ‘Redknapp like’ overspending), not an 18 year old from the Falkirk
and Leon ‘Passmaster’ Britton from Swansea for free. I shut them up anyway and by the end of the season we were promoted and won the FA cup.

CMG as I like to call him, is a versatile player, capable of playing M (RC) and AM(RC), he’s very useful cover and can be leading light in a League 1 or Championship squad. Unfortunately he’s never going to be a star in the Premier League, but if you’re deep in a relegation battle and injury crisis, you could do a lot worse than sign him. He’ll be cheap and will definitely help get you back up next season.

He’s also very young, at the start of the game he’s only 16, and his stats are nothing to write home (or a blog) about, but with a couple years growth you’re looking at stats any winger would be proud of high dribbling, crossing, team work and creativity. Having signed CMG a few times I’ve been in a jam you really need to watch out for his acceleration which can vary widely between games.

Conor McGrandles – a certified BUY.

cmg before

Conor before he was signed by Sam and Jack…

cmg after sam

…after he was signed by Sam…

CMG After Jack

…and finally after Jack had signed him

PLAYER OF THE MONTH – Will Hughes, Derby County FC

Will Hughes, an absolutely gorgeous player. Both Buchanan and I (Jack) are in love with this Derby County youngster. You can pick him up for around £7-9 million after a year or so, neither of us have tried to sign him in the first transfer window. He runs rings round the majority of League One at only 17, can play an attacking role just about anywhere on the pitch. Very decent all round stats, and lovely platinum blonde hair. Playing as a bigger club, you might be
better off leaving him to develop at Derby for a few years then snap him up when he’s a world beater.

Will Hughes – A certified buy, we fancy his pixels.

will hughes scout

GAME OF THE MONTH – Crewe vs Man City OR Crewe vs Barcelona

Beating Man City 3-2 at home was my (Sam) game of the month. We were dominated in every aspect, the statistics were ridiculous, but we managed to score a few tap ins from corners and free kicks. It was basically the equivalent of Chelsea versus Barcelona or Bayern Munich in last seasons Champions League.

Beating Barcelona in Champions League with Crewe the following season was also pretty special. Unfortunately the Catalan’s won the rest of the game’s in our group and we drew Real Madrid in the first knockout leg and needless to say our Champions League dream was over for
the year.

fmc crewe vs man city

SAM’S CREWE TACTICS

Throughout my career with Crewe I (Sam) have remained loyal to three main tactical setups (coincidently the same amount you’re allowed to train regularly), none of which will come as any great surprise to anyone with an interest in football as they are without doubt the three most common formations used in English football, and perhaps world football today. They are of course 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. Nothing out of the ordinary at all, however even within these
three classic formations there are still many parameters and tactical decisions to be made which can make the difference between winning and losing, and also give me the ability to be unpredictable despite the apparently cliched nature of my tactical setup.

This week I will analyse the 4-4-2 formation, for it is ostensibly this tactic that I have used during my career at Crewe. I used this tactic to gain promotion from League 1 and the Championship, I have also used it on a number of occasions since joining the Premier League, but nowhere
near as often as I had done in the lower leagues. This is due mainly to the formations defensive vulnerabilities and the type of players I have available in my squad.

The tactical options I like to use are as follows:

Style: Balanced/Fluid
Strategy: Control
Passing Style: Balanced/More Direct
Creative Freedom: Default
Closing Down: Press More
Tackling: More Aggressive
Marking: Zonal
Crossing: Default (Individual instructions)
Roaming: Default (Individual instructions)

In regards to the individual player instructions, I will start from the back (goalkeeper) and work my way through the team. In terms of goalkeeper, I have never changed the setting to anything other than default. I don’t even truly understand what a sweeper keeper does, so let’s move on. My LB and RB are generally used as full backs, but occasionally as wing backs depending on the work rate of my wingers and the strengths and weaknesses of the oppositions wingers. I do find that committing them to a wing back role as default leaves gaping holes in my defense and in turn I concede a lot more goals on the counter attack, however if I want to dominate a particularly weak opposition I never hesitate to push them forward. In regards to their tactical
mentality, I rarely change them from the default role, therefore their mentality changes with the main tactical mentality of my squad tactics, whether it be control/attacking/overload or standard/counter/defensive. I do however sometimes check my assistant managers report sheet for a player to find out his opinion of a particular players ideal tactical role and mentality, and depending on whether or not I trust my assistants judgement, I have been known to change their role in my tactics accordingly. This is infact true of every position on the pitch apart from my goalkeeper and my centre backs for whom I can’t ever recall changing their roles from the default setting.

In central midfield I normally keep both players fairly deep. If I have a good enough creative talent I’ll use him as a deep lying playmaker, preferably in a supporting role. Next to him I like to use a ball winning midfielder, again preferably in a supporting role. I find that with these positions there is always a defensive presence in the middle of the park and there is a rarely a time when a player in my team doesn’t have a simple passing option, thus keeping our
(hopefully) fluid control of possession to a maximum. My MR and ML are normally both wingers with an attacking mentality. In terms of player attributes I like to have fast, creative players with good crossing ability and preferably a few tricks up his sleeve. It is also ideal for a wingers work rate and teamwork attributes to be as high as possible, in turn aiding your defensive efforts.

My two strikers are usually given the tactical roles of poacher/advanced forward and deep lying forward. My deep lying forward acts as a link between my deep central midfield and my advanced forward/attacking wingers, therefore he needs to not only have the key striking attributes (finishing, composure etc) as well as having high work rate and teamwork attributes, but he also needs some key midfield attributes such as creativity, passing and long shots.

In regards to my poacher/advanced forward, this is the guy that will get most of my goals, but will probably see the least of the ball, therefore he needs to have all the great striking attributes, which for my money include finishing, composure, off the ball, anticipation, technique, determination, heading and first touch. Of course good physical attributes are worthwhile on any player, the better they are, the more situations of advantage your striker will find himself in with the ball.

JACK’S PORTSMOUTH TACTICS

My Portsmouth tactics this season have been an all or nothing approach, either an attacking 4-2-3-1 and running the relegation fodder opposition into  submission with a high defensive line and quick passing. Most of the energy for this tactic comes from my midfield trio of Joel Lopes (a gem of a player my Head Of Youth Development found for me), Chuks Aneke and Will Hughes.

For a slower more defensive game, I play 4-3-3 with Leon Britton sat as a defensive midfielder in the deep lying playmaker role, with a ball winning and box to box midfielder sitting in front of him. This strategy has lead to a few canny 0-0 away draws against tough opposition, but the fans tend to be disappointed when the tactic loses 1-0 and seem to prefer we get mullered 6-0 and keep pushing forward.

Another big change I made in my Portsmouth game this month was with my staff. As soon as I was sure of my PL survival, I started poaching some key coaches and scouts. Up to then I still had my budget staff from our League 1 days, who were all offered a mutual termination because they were holding the club back. Sorry Ashley Westwood.

———-

Like what you’ve seen? You’ll probably like the podcast then. You can hear the first two podcasts via this link. It’ll soon be appearing on iTunes too. Give the lads a ‘like’ on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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