Category Archives: Football Manager

Football’s Coming Home: A Wanted Man

We start today with an offer I could definitely refuse. Southampton saw my absolute bottling of the Northern Ireland game and figured I was the man for them, maybe because they have Steven Davis who could laugh at me all day. Regardless I turned it down, England requires all my focus if I am to bring England glory. Perhaps after I win the world cup, I will consider club management in this save if there is interest.

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How ’bout nah

And now I am going to go into hibernation until we play Slovakia.

Almost there, accidentally dropped Walcott in favour of Ross Barkley or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, told him I was sorry, I hope he forgives me. In other news, we have dropped to eighteenth overall in the world with Wales holding twelfth…

Wilshere has picked up an injury AGAIN, so I have replaced him with young Tom Davies, although I could of brought Walcott in… need more central midfielders.

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A team of people

I am now realising that I should not allow my assistant to make the suggestions as he has chosen one injured player and multiple players just coming back from injury… on a related subject I should learn my assistants name. Looking at the team, I may change Vardy to a Defensive Forward, and move Alli to Shadow Striker, with Oxlade-Chamberlain being given a support duty and let Lallana play as an advanced playmaker from the left. We need to win this one and I hope the players are up for a battle.

It’s now half time, from the start I have carried out the tactical changes outlined above plus changed Shaw to a wing-back, and the result:

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Oxlade day

So far so good, I am going to keep things as they are and let’s hope that we don’t bottle it like we did against Northern Ireland, if things look to be going south I may switch to the more defensive 4-3-3.

Gave a nice team talk, had a cuppa, time for the second half. Also, Wembley update, I have banned the band. You are welcome.

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We did good

After Skrtel’s headed goal I decided to switch to the 4-3-3 as planned which worked a treat, with us getting a further two goals. One came via Jamie Vardy adding his second of he game before breaking his nose, presumably from squaring up to Skrtel. The second was from Sterling following from excellent work from Oxlade-Chamberlain adding his second assist of the match. Comfortable man of the match for Oxlade-Chamberlain, although Vardy once again impressed.

We once again claim top spot in our group, hopefully we can keep hold of it this time.

The next match is a friendly versus South Korea, as it is completely inconsequential I will not present all the details. Not much experimenting will be going on here, just our standard 4-2-3-1 with a debut for Tom Davies and possibly James Ward-Prowse who has been called up due to injuries.

I have also been offered the Palace job…

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It feels good to be wanted

It’s a no I’m afraid, as much as I love gravy, I don’t want to follow in Big Sam’s footsteps.

A lot of teams have requested that their players only play 45 minutes, I’m not sure if I can ignore them or what? So for now I will comply with their wishes, might wait for a small team so I can see if they get mad.

Anyway, into the South Korea match (side note: all our friendlies so far have came against teams with directions in their name… and Isreal… or teams with ongoing land disputes I guess…).

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Tom Davies… calm down bro

The game turned out to be more interesting than I imagined following Tom Davies getting sent off in the eighth minute, poor lad must of been so excited for his debut and then he absolutely clatters some unsuspecting Korean in a show of passion and he is off. After this happened I dropped to three at the back, pushed the wing backs on, moved Rashford up top with Kane and moved Barkley and Ward-Prowse into midfield, reverting to a counter style. This was successful with Kane finally (FINALLY!) scoring on his eighth clear cut chance of his England career under me, he then proceeded to miss another clear cut chance so lets set the Kane counter at nine CCC, one goal.  He did also hit the post, and I believe he has the quality to be our main man. His goal was followed by Dier’s headed goal from a corner. From there we defended well and held on, overall a fairly decent performance all things considered.

Next time out we have Slovenia, followed by crucial double headers that will decide our fate – is it coming home, or are we? FIND OUT NEXT TIME!

 

 

 

 

Football’s Coming Home: No Pressure, Bottle Jobs

The biggest plus of my management so far has surely been the fact I am yet to be entangled in some kind of tabloid scandal. The negative, much like most England managers, I am yet to work out what I am doing. So I’ll just keep bobbing along until something goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Further good news, we have moved up one in the world rankings to twelfth. Bad news, Wales have moved up to ninth. Been a very mixed start to the session.

Squad selection in. I have decided to call up Mike Smalling and Jamie Vardy. Might as well give them a chance, I feel centre-back is a very unsettled position and whilst Kane is holding down the centre-forward position, he is yet to score for me.

A few days after selection Wilshere obviously picks up an injury, just two weeks, but we now require a replacement… a deep-lying, technically gifted midfielder… England’s strength… so I decided to throw a curve ball and call up a Championship player with real potential – Will Hughes.

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Looks alright

Whilst Will Hughes attributes aren’t world class, the alternative was a 35 year old Michael Carrick. I like Hughes’ traits, and for his age he has decent mental atributes, he should fit in nicely. Oh and Hart is injured, so Pickford is in.

So it’s off to Lithuania, seems like we’ve had a lot of away games at the start of these qualifiers, only Malta at home so far. The squad will be as follows.

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Sink or swim

I have made a bold move here and thrown in Keane, Pickford and Hughes in at the deep end. I know I should save this kind of risk taking for a friendly but you can only really learn about a player by seeing how they perform in competition. It is still early days for my reign so with no set starting eleven yet, we may see who can perform under pressure.

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Disappointing.

Well we spoke about sink or swim. Michael Keane sunk costing us the first goal with absolutely atrocious defending, ball was played over is head, after finally catching up to his man, he stood off him to allow him a free shot on goal – Lithuania’s only shot on target. Will Hughes however played reasonably well picking up an assist for Vardy’s late equaliser. Kane had another poor performance, missing two clear cut chances, making that around six clear cut chances missed with zero goals scored – his place is now seriously at threat.

This disappointing result leaves us two points off Slovakia. We can catch them, but we are building unneeded pressure.

Next up is a friendly against Northern Ireland, I will be experimenting. I completely forgot to capture the formation during the build up so here it is from two minutes into the game.

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4-4-fucking-2 kinda

Yes, two minutes in we are one-nil up thanks too Vardy. The team is very experimental, and very attacking. I will give a full run down after the game as I need to get back to pitch side, just had to dart into the dressing room to post this.

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Wut?

Well what do you make of that? Absolute bottle job. At one point we were 3-0 up, and then 4-1 up! I played an odd tactic and it was mixed we were very exposed on the break as was expected but it helped outline players strengths and weaknesses. Vardy had an absolutely fantastic game before his injury and has secured his spot as starting striker for the next game. Kane… Kane came on for the injured Vardy and immediately missed his seventh (SEVENTH!) clear cut chance without scoring, Northern Ireland immediately went to the other end to make it 4-3! The two centre backs played very poorly, but considering how exposed the tactic would of made them, I won’t read into this too much, however some lapses of judgement from Stones were not due to tactics. Ben Forster had a nightmare and may not see our net again for a while with Pickford and Hart firmly ahead of him now, his fragility is highlighted by Northern Ireland scoring five with only one clear opportunity. The game of Lavery and Vardy.

A lot to be learnt going into the next set of games. We have also dropped to fifteenth in the world rankings… which is a shame… Wales dropped too, but only to eleventh, we will catch them, we will destroy them.

The next game will be a must win against Slovakia at Wembley, which I will be covering next time out. But for now how about a look at the Premier League table at the start of January.

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This is the worst of timelines 

I do not like this reality, that bottle job against Northern Ireland and now Tottenham top of the table? And even worse, Arsenal in the meme position of fourth? Well… basically the same as real life. The top goalscorer is surprisingly Rondon on fourteen, amongst English strikers Deeney is the most prolific, followed by Afobe, Defore and Kane. Jack Wilshere is amongst the top assisting players in the league with seven.

After what has happened here, I need to sit down, since I am I need to lay down. Disappointing in every respect, and we need desperately to turn it around next time out against Slovakia.

Football’s Coming Home: Qualifying Begins

Off the back of a less than convincing friendly against Isreal, we roll into Slovenia for our first World Cup qualifying game. Being a little unsure of our quality, and rating Slovenia as a half decent team I have decided to start cautious in order to weigh up the game in the first half.

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Lack of faith?

There are a few changes to tactics in there to make the shape a little more attacking whilst retaining most of its robustness. For example, John Stones is playing as a Ball Playing Defender, but Eric Dier will be playing as an Anchor to allow the Full Backs to push wide and deep. Jordan Henderson will also be allowed a more adventurous role as a box-to-box midfielder following on from his impressive performance in the last fixture.

So let’s see how they get on in sunny Ljubljana.

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Well… could be worse

Ahh… not the result I was hoping for. The cautious start backfired as Slovenia scored a scrappy goal from a corner following shaky defending from Phil Jones (who I started for unknown reasons, maybe from writing the starting eleven on a pack of fags). We quickly equalised from a wildly deflected free kick from Eric Dier. I then at half time switched things up to a more controlling strategy and dominated the game, creating three clear cut chances, and missed them all. Oh well, at least Scotland lost.

A draw in Slovenia is not the end of the world, I still am fully convinced we will top the group comfortably. Next up Malta and Scotland in a minnows double header (oh god I hope I don’t fuck it up now).

As I wait the thirty-three days till we play Malta I have to wonder, what non-sense would Glenn Hoddle be saying about me? Answers on a postcard, or in the comments, you do you.

Malta at Wembley, not too much thought going into this one. Just going to look to control the game, and hopefully get some of the squad firing before the main event – Scotland away.

The team has been slightly rotated for this one with appearances for Lallana, Sturridge, Rooney, Wilshere and Rose plus Dier dropping back to play alongside Stones.

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John Stones?!?!

The most surprising thing about this result is that John Stones scored two. Performance was exactly as you’d expect, Malta managed a shot which was nice for them. The whole back line picking up yellows is somewhat of a concern but could maybe be put down to a lack of concentration after scoring four in the first half. We are also now top of the group. Next up, Scotland, a match John Stones has managed to pick up a suspension for.

It’s somehow seventeen Celsius in Scotland, in October, my immersion has been broken. The team for the game will be again rotated with Kane, Alli , Sterling and Shaw coming in for Sturridge, Rooney, Lallana and Rose, with Stones missing out Cahill steps in at the back. We will approach the game looking to dominate from the off, let’s get into this.

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I’m Shaw we won’t be Dier.

Seeing the strength of Scotland, this approach and this line-up should be sufficient as there appears to be a significant gulf in quality. Scotland are expected to line up in a similar shape and so I hope to just overpower them with our technical quality. See you after the match.

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Scotland have a player called Ziggy Gordon?

As expected, we just had too much for Scotland. Jordan Henderson scored a curler from the edge of the box in the first half, followed by a scrappy Gary Cahill goal from a corner and a neatly worked goal by Daniel Sturridge following an excellent pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Worth noting, Scotland at home had as many shots as Malta did against us at Wembley. Malta also earned a draw away at Slovenia… the same outcome we achieved… maybe I overestimated Slovenia…

This win leaves us joint top with Slovakia who are emerging as our main rivals for top spot in the group. Slovenia and Scotland both have only three points, quickly turning this into a two horse race.

So two wins against two minnows leaves us firmly on course. Next two games are against Lithuania and a friendly against Northern Ireland. I’ll be taking Theo to the giant’s causeway, says he’s always wanted to go, will make him right happy.

Football’s Coming Home: Taking the Hotseat

As a massive Arsenal fan I am used to crushing disappointment, but nothing could prepare me for last summer. Two disappointing draws, one fairly decent win (although in retrospect… it was just Wales…) and a defeat to Iceland that made Brexit look like a tactical move to avoid having to go back into school to face ridicule.

I am only just healing from that loss, I was in disbelief for around a week, I shouldn’t of been. Like you all I believe I could of maybe done better… except unlike you I can, and I’m going to prove it, on Football Manager.

So after 30 40 50 years of hurt, I’m here to take the reigns and lead the Three Lions to glory.

So, naturally I contacted the FA , said I bet I could bring football home, told them I had no previous dodgy dealings in football on account of having no experience, and finally, the clincher, that I am a tactical genius and I won’t quit the save till I win something (or get fired). Of course, they hired me instantly and set out their expectations.

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Easy… probably

Reasonable, I intend to do a lot more than just qualify but let’s see, it’s early days. Our World Cup qualifying group is fairly straightforward on paper: Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Malta and Scotland. Two decent teams in Slovenia and Slovakia, the rest should be straight forward, Lithuania could be okay, Malta a push over and Scotland… well…

Next, tactics. England’s reputation for tactics in the past has been… ropey? Seemingly lacking in identity for the longest time. It seems ever since 4-4-2 has been out of vogue we have gotten lost. I’m not going to move mountains here (yet) I’m going to go with a simple 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. Down the line I may look to move the 4-3-3 into a 3-4-3 as per current tactical fashion thanks to Antonio Conte.

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The Dutch Way – they win stuff right?

For our play style we will focus on dictating the game for the qualifiers as we should be a class above our opponents. For this we will be mainly sticking to our 4-2-3-1 shape, with a control mentality. The idea here is to keep hold of the ball, and force the other team to turn over the ball in dangerous areas. Moving the ball slightly slower may be a good idea as we look to play narrow, allowing space for our athletic full backs to bomb on in the final third, but we will play this by ear as moving the ball too slow may allow more defensive teams to hold their shape.

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How do I get those dozy gits to understand this? ‘Cos I don’t

The squad is usually the first thing people will think about with England, I believe most of the time this is a faulty approach, particularly due to our relative mediocrity amongst the worlds top teams. Instead I think it is best to clearly define how you want the team to play, and then approach from there. If England had a player that was good enough to base our team solely around, this approach would be naive, but for now we do not (although, and this pains me to say, Alli and Kane may be those men in time).

For now we have this squad. Not too many controversial calls, Walcott is on because I am a biased man, Wilshere is on due to a lack of players I feel can play Deep Lying Playmaker in this system, Henderson will also be tried in this role, Lingard is in at inside forward on the left wing for now, although I like Sterling for this role also.

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All places are up for grabs…

So, onto Isreal, my first game at the helm. It’s away in Isreal, never been there so will look to pick up a bit of the culture before I go, bring a gift or two, since I have fifty days to wait before the game… International management is pretty cushty all things considered.

In this long wait the world rankings have come in, we are thirteenth, one below Wales…

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LOL Holland

I’m confident we can correct that, or more likely Wales will screw it all up over the next few months. Oh, and Alexis Sanchez signed a new contract at Arsenal, which is a nice thought.

Coming up to squad selection and surprise, surprise there are injury concerns over Walcott. I’ll likely select him anyway but I hope this save can be less reflective of real life with regards to Walcott and Wilshere. Smalling will be missing out on this friendly due to a hernia, which is handy because I forgot to call up three keepers before that – Ben Foster will also be coming along as it turns out (don’t let him know we forgot about him, he’s a sensitive lad).

I have let Wayne Rooney retain the captaincy for now, with Henderson taking the vice role. Here is how we will be lining up against Isreal in Haifa baring in mind we have Slovenia away in a couple of days.

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Cheer up Rooney

No idea about Haifa so had a quick google so I could get together some quick cultural activities for the team, there’s some nice gardens and a science museum, so something for all of us, I imagine Lallana loves a nice garden (it’s about thirty Celsius so I’ll get some sun cream in) and I can teach Wazza about Newton’s laws of motion.

That’ll all have to wait till after the game however, with the incentive of no ice cream if they lose, the lads should be up for this. Catch you after the game.

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The result Is-Real 

That was… mixed… a 2-1 win but hardly a convincing performance or result, a lot of players under-performing, classic England problem. The two standout performers for us this game were definitely Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson, whilst I was concerned with Jesse Lingard and John Stones.

During the match I was forced into an early change due to Sturridge picking up a head injury, bringing on Rooney. I changed him to a False 9 and Alli to a Shadow Striker which seemed to work for Alli, less so for Rooney. John Stones seemed to get caught out by long balls in behind him aimed at Hemed, whilst this may just be due to Isreal’s style of play, it may be worth keeping an eye on as Stones is firmly in my first team plans. Lingard’s lack of involvement means I am dropping him in favour of Sterling for the coming game against Slovenia.

Lessons to be learnt going into the next game, one with much more at stake. Will I be the most loved, or the most loathed man in England? Find out next time!

Football Manager 2017: Why are we so addicted?

With the release of Football Manager 2017 I meet a yearly dilemma: Do I pay thirty pounds now to have one-hundred and fifty hours ripped out of the next twelve months, or wait for the Christmas sales and pay twenty to compress that game time to ten months. The time of purchase is usually reliant on Arsenal’s current form (which coincidently has a linear relationship with my love of football) and being able to justify spending money to fuel the addiction. The internal debate happens each year, why do I spend money to waste my time playing essentially the same game as the year before?

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