So, with regards to my Santa Clara series, I am a little bit ahead of where I am in the blog. By about two years.
But recently, something happened that I feel compelled to share, if only because I can hear the anger and cry of the players, coaches, fans, announcers, and surrounding region of Moreirense. I imagine them calling for my head, for dishonoring the game, for not playing football the way it was meant to be played, but yet another voice in my head (it’s OK, this one was already here, it’s the ones that show up uninvited you have to worry about) says there are players, coaches, pundits and fans of the game who appreciate what happened on the pitch that night.
So, what exactly did happen?
We lost. Because after 14 minutes in the game I was down 2 players. And for 76 minutes, I tiki-taka’d the hell out of them. In fact, if Paulo Alves doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night on occasion in a cold sweat, I would be surprised. So, how did we do it?
Since I first started playing FM, I have been a 2 striker tactic sort of player. My 4231 always morphs into a 424, or a 343, or a 4312, there’s a 3412 formation I really like as well, but this year, when perusing the SI forums, I cam across this post:
I don’t know a lot about the history of the sport, it’s something I am working on, but I was intrigued by the ideas in the post, and so I decided to use it in my blog save. It has led to some…interesting results, but at the end of the day I am liking it, and may try it in another save or two if I get the chance and don’t have 2 strikers on the squad.
This was what the team looked like at the end of the game
Perez went off on a double yellow, Inocencio came on to replace him and I took off Armoa. Three minutes later, Paredes went off on a straight red, I took Terceros off and Kwarbena came on. Then I pulled the lines back and set the tactic to Defensive.
With the exception of lowering the instances in which we trigger press, I kept the instructions the same:
At half time, we were pretty much stuck on our side of the pitch. But we we moving well, and defending well, the only downside being when we did lose the ball, the home team didn’t have to do much to get into scoring position, but we had obviously flustered them, because all of their shots, except one from inside the box, were missed.
The Second half, was more of the same
Final passing stats at the end of the game for Santa Clara:
Hero of the game: Gašper Lukač. The kicker? The 18 year old Slovenian U21 International only played 76 minutes…
He’s currently 3 star current/ 5 star potential. I love him because not only does he play short simple passes, his decision making, technique, anticipation and first touch offset the lower passing. He’s fast and agile enough to get to where he needs to be, is a solid defender, and he’s not the flashiest, becase he doesn’t need to be. I suspect this game, when he saw Paredes get sent off after a two footed lunge in front of the ref, he set his jaw, and said “Verjemi mi, brat, to imam.”
Having watched the entirety of the game, because how could you not really, he moved around the midfield, received the ball, and almost immediately kicked it to the most reasonably open player. I’ll be honest, I am not sure what Alves was doing, if he sent a player or two to man mark and/or press Lukač they didn’t do their job’s. And some of them are not the most technically gifted either, van den Berk in particular has a pretty low Passing, but he had the second most on the club this match.
I think this is one of a few games I am going to go back and study, if only to see and learn how the team moved and interacted with each other. Player positioning and how they move the ball hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind when watching games. But this game and a couple of others, plus my desire to get a little more into the weeds on such things, means I will probably be watching this one quite a bit. I’ll get some stuff wrong of course, at the end of the day the glasses just make me look smart.
Like a lot of FM Managers, I have a few favorite players across FM. Viktor Kolarev from FM17, Hans Kremer in FM18, Ryan Bates in FM20, but I can say without a doubt, for FM23, not matter what my later saves bring, I will always imagine…
Do I throw this or not…is the debate I am currently having with myself. Alvares getting sent off on a double yellow 11 minutes in may have been the result of an over eager referee, but the only person to blames for the two feet first hard tackle that left Luis ‘seeing sound and hearing color’ for a few minutes was walking down the tunnel. He apologized as he walked by, but it was hollow. He knew it, I knew it. I also knew the only thing more hollow than his apology was going to be his bank account when I fined him two weeks salary because of it. If I could fine him more, I would. I look at the bottle of water in my hand, flipping it a few times, and decided that it’s just was not worth it. I look off to the side, and see Kwabena still warming up, while Wesley Carvalho, my solid and steady assistant manager looked at me with a shrug and “No idea boss” gaze. I gathered my thoughts, and turned towards the pitch to yell for Magnus to come over. The captain nods but gets pulled aside by the ref for a moment.
I hate parking my car on the street, now I have to park the damned bus and all I have is an econoline van…I am not a happy coach…
I look up, it’s Gaspar. I have a hard time pronouncing his name, I wish I knew why, I call him ‘Gaz” but I can tell he’s not a fan of it. I think he has a hard time pronouncing mine as well, because he always says “Hey, Trener.” Hey Coach. Everyone else on the team is ‘bratec’, which means brother, but the way he says it, you know he’s saying ‘Bro.’ Bro, pass it here; Hey Bro, go there.
He standing on the sidelines, looking up into the stands, listening to the catcalls of the crowd as they heap amusement and abusement on us for our current predicament. I really like this kid. It was his performances in the U21 Internationals that convinced me to spend money to scout him, and after getting those reports back signing him was an easy call. Since he has arrived he’s been nothing but outstanding for me. This is his first full year as a starter, and while I expect great things, I also don’t want to put to much to soon on this young mans shoulders.
He looks at the crowd, looks at me, and over at the opposing coach, Alves, who is smirking at us. Gaspar looks back at me, and it takes everything in my power to not step back. I’ve seen that look before, I’ve given it more than a few times in my life, and I’ve been on the receiving end of it more than once as well. It’s the look that says “You have gone and made me mad and now you must pay…” Gaspar looks back over at Paulo, and then hocks an impressive amount of spittle near the man, and looks back at me before Paulo even reacts. Gaspar raises both his hands to me, as if in apology, then says “Hej, trener, verjemi mi, bratec, to imam…”
Kwabena chooses that moment to finish warming up, and runs onto the field, Gaspar a few steps behind him and yelling for Magnus and those closest to him to come over.
Paulo steps outside of his area to get close enough to me without breaking the rules. “O que ele disse, Thierry?” he asks. I flip the water bottle in my hand, and look at the former Portuguese International. I don’t know him all that well, but that smirk he gave me earlier has put him on the wrong side of OK for me, at least for the remaining 76 minutes of the match.
“Ele disse que você fodeu com o Paulo. Pegue uma caneta e um pouco de papel, você está prestes a começar a estudar…” I laugh at him, move back into my area, and motion Wes over to tell him to be prepared to take a lot of notes, because he and the analysts are going to earn their money.
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