Tag Archives: England Football

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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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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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: 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!