If January was about overcoming external influencers on my game time, then February is about absolute investment in playing. Whilst I’ve stepped back a little from too much in the way of tactical analysis on a game-by-game basis, I’m now just sitting back and watching the game unfold. I like to break down every move and write words about it but, sometimes, I’m avoiding clicking ‘Continue’ because I’m on the third paragraph of eight describing a nil-nil draw! There is also another part of me that wants to just get through until the end of March in order to get the next batch of young players into the club – given the enormous amount of fun I’m having giving minutes and developing the young superstars at the club.
Altinordu 1-0 Genclebirligi
Whilst the result is not quite what I wanted, there are many positives I can take from the performance.
The change in midfield roles seems to allow us a little more possession, although, as you can see from the Heat Map, a lot more of it comes through the defenders now who have the space and the license to play out a bit more. However, our compact, high line is in clear view here and we made it very tough for Altinordu to break us down, as you can see with their Heat Map – most of their work was interplay down the sides as we forced them wide.
Genclerbirligi 0-1 Istanbulspor
Two defeats in a row but I’m still not hugely worried.
A massive positive for me, since Christmas, has to be the midfielder positioning. Gokhan Gul now acts like the quarterback role to progress the ball, to whichever midfielder is in space. This time, it was the MC(a), who, as I’ve shown before, has a much deeper starting position than the Mez(a). A lot of this move also goes down to the really good off the ball running by the striker to create the space for a through ball from the CM(a) – however, this time, he’d just strayed offside.
The through ball, or just any progressive ball, has been an issue for Cem Biglin, the brightest of my youth players. If you compare his stats to the other midfielders, ignoring Ozu’s limited contribution, you’ll see that he massivel stands out as an underperformer.
I decided to criticise his form – as I would when someone is rating at 6.60 in the last five games and said the following to him:
He absolutely agreed this and it’ll be really interesting to see how it transpires. I much prefer (and would love the opportunity to do this at more occasions – half time, for example) to criticise or praise a specific thing rather than just ‘form has declined’ as I then have a metric to track change that isn’t built around a number of things.
Goztepe 0-3 Genclerbirligi
Talk about an instant reply!
Cem netted his first career goal and then doubled his tally with an assist from Enescan Ozu, who, at 16, must be the youngest to do this for our first team. I don’t know how much I can credit the talk with him then being the best player on the pitch but to record five progressive passes (even though the data shows 7 – something @Shrewnaldo has repeatedly questioned) is a great turnaround and his two goals will do him the world of confidence. You can see how just ninety minutes changes his overall possession stats from before (top image) to after (bottom image).
I felt that we were a little defensively frail or naive against Istanbulspor and this was a welcome return to the really tight and compact defensive line.
Genclerbirligi 1-1 Umraniyespor
Another game where we probably should have won but a point is important to us.
Here, we struggled a little to get out and spent a huge amount of time chasing the ball as they kept possession really well. You’ll notice the difference in heat map with this game compared to Altinordu and we are much deeper, despite me changing nothing. But, again, we restricted them to a number of low xG chances with their only big chance coming from quite a soft penalty.
Bodrumspor 0-4 Genclerbirligi
For context. We are away at the top of the league.
We have blown them away.
18% of the total goals that they’ve conceded came in this game and 10.2% of their xGa came in this game. That’s just how well we’ve done. Whilst we now sit in a place whereby we are – quite considerably – underperforming our xPts and they are – quite considerably – overperforming theirs, the win and the performance was something special. The highlight, for me, was another youth player, Dunyacan Copur, getting his first assist for the club as well as Cem Biglin netting from the spot to add to his tally in what is fast becoming his break-out season.
Now six points clear of the relegation battle and moving in the right direction. We’re still a little too inconsistent to really push on in the very near future but the plans are in place for a longer-term. I think a lot of my initial thoughts are coming from the image, below:
Whilst we have just been able to announce improvements to our youth recruitment, junior coaching and the number of coaches we are allowed to employ, the financial outlook looks bleak and, as far as I am aware, we get our TV money as the season goes on rather than in one lump sum. Looking at the finances screen, we’ve received just around €940k this season so far, compared to a total of €1.328m last season and, even if we were to have no outgoings between now and the end of the season, still wouldn’t be back in the black. However, last season we did get a big lump – just over €1m – in sponsorship in June and will be signing a new kit sponsorship deal this year as ours comes to and, a total that may bring more than the current €275k per season. We’ve also got just over a year left on the €2.1m loan taken out in 2020, with payments of just over €8k a month adding up.
In terms of players that need replacing, we’re not in that much immediate need:
With Cagin retiring and Yucel, Muhammet and Furkan very much being backup – we could, realistically, rely with a few loans and free transfers. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t prepare for for the window. I’ll get the scouts out and see what I can find, trying to replace better quality for lesser financial output – the dream of recruiting!
Because of the way I play, I need a player who can contribute defensively but then also have a free role going forward. Ideally, the number 10 I crave but with the grit, size or work rate of a number 6. I know at this level I won’t be able to have all three so it’s just about being clever!
I’m certainly looking at devising different shapes that can be used against different set ups. The easiest one, following the Bielsa-style spare man approach, would see me playing an extra DM when I face two strikers and and an AM. It’s early in the process of that but could look like this:
It kind of creates a 4-4-1-1 build up shape which is more counter-proof against three offensive players and is also a different way, should I feel that there is an opportunity to counter a specific threat. Once again – my key point here is that the instructions remain the same. I want to build a style and not a formation. I’ve read, just today, in regards to Unai Emery’s team selection is that he selects roles not positions. That’s kind of what I want to do. A role that ‘diminishes a threat’ or a role that ‘exposes a threat’ will be the way I hope to think tactically.
On paper, we’re stuttering somewhat but I think we’ve proved ourselves to be significantly good enough to replicate, at least, this next year. I’m now through 20 games – 8 wins, 8 draws, 4 defeats. A whole season at this (1.6 PPG) would, in last year’s table, see us finish in 5th place. I don’t – realistically – think we’re any better than that, at this point but, like I said, I don’t feel that we’re going to be consigned to a relegation battle. A lot though, hinges on the successes, or ultimately failures, that the summer brings.
Gençlerbirliği 2-0 Boluspor
Off to a really strong start to the month in a game that can only be described as a visual nightmare – with, somehow, both teams being allowed to play in red: us with black stripes and Boluspor with white stripes. I know FM isn’t perfect and I will never hide about the things I thing could be improved but I must say that there is a little touch that I notice in the match engine and that is the improvement in quality when a player is in form. Kemal’s first goal was a tap in from four yards, assisted – once again – by youngster Dunyacan, who is making quite the impression. But his second was a lovely spin around the last defender and a strike that was full of anger but directed perfectly into the back of the net. The same strike I’ve seen sail into Row Z when a player is out of nick. I’ve really started to notice the first touch, or lack of, based on the player, their ability, their form and the situation of the match and I think it’s quite fantastic.
Overall, we’re becoming quite the team! Limiting the opponents to just thirty-four touches in our box in the last five games, and, even more impressively, one one goal coming from there. Whilst this was a game we should have won, I’m really happy with how we won it.
Kayserispor 0-2 Gençlerbirliği
The polar opposite of the Boluspor tie.
I’m sure momentum and possession are tightly linked and you can see that from the possession stats – with just 27% of the ball, it was the lowest we’ve recorded this season. Yet, looking at Kayserispor’s pass map, you’ll see very few in our half and even fewer in dangerous positions, an absolute credit to a resolute and well-drilled defence. We allowed them to have a couple of chances, but, really, their overall xG/shot wasn’t that great, whereas ours was. Mert netted from a corner and another young graduate getting minutes, Omercan Tekin, got his first senior goal late on.
Gençlerbirliği 0-1 Sakaryaspor
We faced two issues here and had no answer for them: a 5-3-2 shape and eight first team players injured.
With just a handful of youngsters at the club and an U19 league that plays on the same day as the main team, we have been very stretched and busy months like this can cause us damage. Missing a host of offensive players, I was able to keep things relatively tight at the back but lacked the firepower going forward. A pretty awful mix up at the back between my DM and LB, who both happened to be playing as CBs in this game, let them in t score the only goal of the game, slotting it low to the left of keeper Ubeyd.
It’s battles like this and inconsistencies like the last three performances this month that will cost us dearly – not this season as I feel we’ve little to play for but going forward.
İskenderunspor 0-0 Gençlerbirliği
Another quite dull affair as we are badly missing first team players and are giving even more minutes to youngsters. No goals, little excitement to note but a point on the road moves us further from any danger.
A momentary pause in tactical thinking as I’m greeted with the youth candidates (of which you can see a full list by clicking the above image). I must say that I am delighted with the top end of it with Duhan Bel, Resit Yildirim, Sirat Keceli and Canpolat Ank all looking to be really good players, with Resit probably my favourite of the bunch. I’ll get them signed up and work through my plans for player development, which have – for obvious reasons – been somewhat overlooked to date.
Genclerbirligi 2-2 Manisa FK
A much better offensive performance but we were poor and somewhat rusty at the back as I was forced to play defenders returning from injury and not quite match fit. However, the game, and probably the save, will be remembered for what I must say is one of the best strikes I have ever seen. A Stankovic-esque strike from deep beating the flailing keeper. From that, alone, we deserved the win.
Eyüpspor 0-0 Gençlerbirliği
And back again to a match whereby we struggled to create against a stubborn defence. Both strikers are a few games without a goal now and that sharpness in game that I mentioned earlier seems to be gone. It’s times like these where I need – or want – the flexibility within the squad to move to a two-man strike force or to be able to vastly change the positions whilst still employing the same style. Just looking at the match ratings tells me that I should have done a better job at exposing the side that Omer Bayran was on, particularly after his card. This kind of thing will come – we don’t have an ultra-pacey winger right now, nor a tall wide target forward that could expose those weaknesses whilst still playing on the counter but we will!.
Kind of in no-man’s land here: not going up and not going down but just playing for pride right now! However, everything I do in the next few matches is all about our preparation for next season.
Season is done! A pleasing end to the season but I have reservations about what the summer will bring for us, considering our financial plight.
I’ve made two very important staffing changes this month with noticeable names popping up in two of the many long-running adverts. First and foremost, my plan is to develop the players at the club, but, if I can extend that to staffing too, I think we’ll be doing really well. Both Eren and Kazim-Richards are ex-international players who are young and eager to learn (as both have undertaken new courses since signing) and match, roughly, the style I’m trying to achieve here. Their nationalities are important, too, as I know have a little more world knowledge that can lead to free scouting. If they make the grade and continue to develop, expect the two ex-strikers to move clubs with me and progress into more important team member – moving from youth to senior team coach to assistant manager and, maybe even manager in their own right.
I also tied in those two new contracts with one of my own:
Two more years here is perfect as – by expiration of that deal – I hope to have challenged for promotion from this division.
I really want to dive into four youngsters, who have found themselves within the first team this year. My first love will always be player development and, with great facilities and the necessity to play young players due to (lack of) squad depth, I’ve been left with no choice.
At an established club, these gains wouldn’t be happening, but that is because their root to the team at such a young age would likely be blocked, and then they’d spend time on loan, which, more than likely, would be at a level below ours. However – in just a matter on months, I’ve seen some serious attribute increases and I think – for me, personally – this is the favourite part of the skin that I’ve created, where I can really see how the focus has impacted their game.
Omercan Tekin is a two footed striker who lacks some physicality but is also quite blinkered in front of goal. Not quite good enough off the ball or quick enough off the mark to make a real Advanced Forward, I’ve looked to create just a more rounded player – using the CF(s) schedule with specific focus on his Shooting. This has worked well as I’ve seen gains of one in his Finishing and two in his Technique. Also showing impressive growth is his First Touch (two) and Dribbling (at least two). There is plenty more work to be done with this lad but he’s often the best trainer and has chipped in with 19 goals in 22(8) appearances in the u19 Elite League for the youth side, at an average of 7.46. Enescan Ozu has had two bouts of injury: a broken cheekbone and a hernia, ruling him out for four weeks both times, yet has managed to learn (by learn – I meant competent to accomplished) two new positions, AML and MC. I like the looks of him as a bit of a free 10, utilising his sheer inability to use his left foot and, due to that style, I like the improvements in Technique, Decisions and Vision as well as some much needed physical development. Cem Biglin has been the big breakthrough star for me, with the ability to play as either a 10 or an 8 in my eyes, and I’m impressed with his work on Finishing, Composure and Off the Ball as I’ve trained him as a Mez(a) with a focus on Ball Control, where he’s made good progress with his Dribbling, too. Dunyacan Copur is another superb trainer, learning the MC role after temporarily learning (and then forgetting) the ST role, where he was going as a False Nine. I like his Comes Deep To Get Ball trait and that fits nicely with another 10. He’s also trained as a Mez(a) as I look to make him a bit more rounded but his Shooting focus has had great success, with Finishing and Technique both improving.
I’m not developing world class talent here – but I didn’t expect to. Instead, I’m just trying to improve the youngsters at the club in order to get them first team opportunities here or elsewhere. I’m really invested in it though!
Genclerbirligi 1-1 Somaspor
We huffed and puffed but we just couldn’t break down the Somaspor door.
Some lovely interplay and build up but just lacking the killer instinct that had also gone AWOL towards the end of last month. The fact that Eric Ndizeye – a centre back – won Player of the Match, is telling, as he won 25 of his 26 headers across the game, making eight interceptions. It’s stats like this that show just what happens when our game plan doesn’t quite go to plan – you can see that their defence was somewhat impenetrable and the majority of our shots were low xG, long shots. So, we’ve been unable to go over them or make headway from in front so need to work better on pulling players out to get in behind. I’m aware that forward runners don’t make it easy to do that, instead, a player like a False Nine would have been better, but we don’t have the players and I don’t have the tactical familiarity with it just yet.
Adanaspor 0-1 Gençlerbirliği
From one extreme to the other!
Absolutely outplayed by title chasing Adanspor, with them registering over sixty percent of the ball and the highest xGA I believe that I have faced. However, we leave with the three points, putting a dent in their hopes of getting out of this league. In the dying minutes, a swift counter attack, starting with Mert (BPD) before moving forward to Dunyacan (Mez), to Ceylan (IWB), back to Dunyacan (Mez) and finally to Yilmaz (W), who slotted home to get us the points. Not pretty – but absolutely massive evidence that we can match up against the bigger teams in this league.
Genclerbirligi 3-1 Çaykur Rizespor
Another surprisingly poor defensive showing, in terms of xGA but, again, three points.
Mert Kula turned provider with two knockdowns from corners were converted, whilst youngster Omercan Tekin got himself on the scoresheet again.
Tuzlaspor 0-4 Genclerbirligi
A pleasing end to the season.
Three quarters of the goals came from academy graduates in an eight minute spell where we took the game away from them. Sadly, there was no clean sheet and sadly, we were unable to convert one of the fourteen shots that we took from inside the area, with our shooting boots already away for the summer.Cagri Ortakaya, hardly a club legend in his first season at the club, was given a guard of honour in the last game of his professional career but there was little else to really note, despite the quite extravagent scoreline.
Season done! Quite the turnaround from where we nineteen games ago, rock bottom of the division to finishing fifteen points clear of the drop zone. Lots to digest and I will be breaking down the team and player stats as I head into May and June before the new season comes around in July.
We’ve lost around €700k since I took charge in November and it doesn’t look like it will get better at any time soon. However, the budgets are decent and I will be clearing an extra ~€4k p/w in wages with a loan ending and end of contract players leaving.
The big issue is that we just don’t make money. If you look at our expenditure (left) vs our income (right), you’ll see why:
Our wage bill is barely covered by the TV revenue and, although it seems like a bug (??) we have received a tiny amount of ticket money – with an average home attendance of just 2,000 people at €3 a ticket and a season ticket at €30. All of the transfer expenditure this season came before I took over so there should be an area that I can save over the course of the summer but the other big thing is the youth setup. As good as it is, that’s a lot o money for a club of our size. If we say that TV revenue covers wages and Sponsorship covers Youth Setup, then game day revenue and prize money needs to cover the rest, which, it has not!
My plan is prudency. I don’t want to make wholesale changes but if I can get an upgrade on a player for lower wages as well as – maybe – commanding a transfer fee for their sale, I’ll look to do that but, overall, we don’t have one profitable asset that I could look to move on to get us some wiggle room. I need to, realistically, ease the load on the 16-year old kids that I’ve got playing for me right now as, even though we have a great academy, I don’t feel that it’s entirely realistic.
It’s difficult to do an actual overview on a playing style when it’s only been implemented for half of a season. We are building a team that is strong at the back and can attack with pace, power and extremely clinically. Yet, we’re still not quite there with how we transition the ball forward, being a little more wayward than I’d like with the passing, probably due to the quality of player I have at my disposal. However, we’ve built ourselves a really strong foundation to build on as a team and, with the right analysis of players and the right recruitment, could go a long way!
I must admit to knowing quite little about goalkeeping stats and always leaving that to, hopefully, acquiring a strong number one who performs well at all times. I think Ubeyd has been fantastic this season and a has a good set of hands on him but had no idea what a good amount of shots saved would be. A bit of analysis tells me he holds more than 70% of the goalkeepers in the top two levels of Turkish football and is nearly in the top 20% for the overall amount of saves he’s made. As he’s not an Eccentric type keeper and stands at 6’4″ tall, the number of saves tipped probably leads me to agree that we have allowed the opposition the opportunity to shoot for the corners.
I’ve built myself a little stats tracker for my club to see how their outputs alter over the course of five years and it’s good to see that he’s conceding less: a number I’d hope would drop in a full season under my management. His in-game stats largely back up that he’s a good keeper for this level and I need to keep him.
The way I’ve split the graphic shows just where we are struggling: two centre backs and two defensive midfielders with five full backs! The first choice trio – Metehan, Mert and Gokhan Gul, have all been great but I need to make my mind up on Gokhan – his in-game stats tell me that he’s not performing well offensively but he’s a man who dictates the tempo and works hard for the team, with decent Dribbling skills. I want him to continue as that Quarterback, which will mean that he’ll need to improve on that 0.04xA/90 by, possibly, learning a trait to move the ball longer or more direct. Mert appears to be developing more of a ball-player, whilst Metehan’s stats show that his season has been a little more in line with the previous one, before I took over.
All of the full backs are new to the club this season so there is no comparative data but I have been impressed with Koc’s ability to progress the ball either with his feet or at his feet whilst still maintaining a strong defensive output. Some quite intensive recruiting will have to be done here to provide backup for the three key men and quality on the right flank.
Some interesting stuff in the middle of the park.
Cem has had a bit of a breakout season but, firstly, hasn’t actually assisted anyone despite scoring five times himself but needs to work on progressing the ball better. It’s a concern that, in a team that plays progressive high risk football, his passing is neither. Some roles will have higher pass completion rates than others but his trait of Tries Killer Balls along with good Technique, Passing and Decisions means that he should be threading the strikers through. It’s not even indicative in his key passes of xA to say that he’s doing that but it’s not being finished. At 18, there’s plenty left in his tank. Dunyacan has been the opposite: five assists and no goals and carries the ball less – showing he’s probably more suited to the 10 rather than the 8 role, which I play both of. It’s interesting to see though that those two, and Enescan, who have all had all of their minutes under my management, are playing when we are scoring way more and conceding way less than the guys who started the season at the club.
Out wide, we are short on quality. I’m not pushing to cross the ball as that’s not how we play – progressing it through the middle with supporting wide players but we making those, with non-regular Muhammet aside. Safa Kinali is dribbling a fair bit but it’s, overall, not a strong area of the team.
Statistically, Karakas was the top man last year but the signing of Ruzgar, by my predecessor, proved quality as he netted fifteen for us, whilst youngster Tekin chipped in with four. I think we’ve got enough to cover here but we’ve got three strikers who have overperformed their xG total meaning that they could easily mirror that next year and struggle.
June is shopping month! My list, albeit non-exhaustive, looks something like this:
- Goalkeeper cover
- Centre back cover
- Right back
- Defensive midfield cover
- Right wing
- Left wing
We’ve got no money and no wage bill free with no sellable assets and are losing money fast. This’ll be fun!
My pre-window recruitment is following a similar theme…
With huge thanks to the knowledge that Colin Kazim Richards (although I have absolutely encountered a bug as he and Eren Derdiyok have now randomly retired) brings us and my overarching philosophy of young African players (with only one actually born there), I’ve trialled five youngsters, with four coming from Premier League clubs (Ogungbo – Arsenal, Quansah – Liverpool, Mendel-Idowu – Chelsea and Sodje – Man City) with Sidibe joining from Atalanta.
I’ve really taken to how the recruitment focuses work and these players appeared when looking for youngsters with expiring contracts – presumably based on new knowledge of a country. Whilst I want to rely on my academy, these players are still young and raw and developing them to sell on for profit will be a great way to develop the club as a whole. My only concern is that I’d normally recruit players who are playing well but none of these actually have any first team action this season.
- I can, however, analyse a loan that Alassane Sidibe had at second tier Cosenza, where they were relegated after finishing sixteenth. I really like his ability, at such a tender age, to take players on and be involved in goal scoring opportunities. Davide Dionigi, manager at the time, liked a 4-3-3, so it’s likely he’d have played further forward in that shape but a direct winger is what I want and hopefully a player I can continue to mould. He’ll join on trial as I look to assess his attributes.
- Mazeed Ogungbo, of Arsenal, completed a year at League Two Crawley where, defensively, he was sound. Currently, League Two is the 71st most reputable competition in Europe, whilst we play at the 51st – so it’ll be a step up if I do sign him. The scout report suggests acceleration and pace are his strengths, which immediately drew me to him and, if he was to be signed, I think I could work to iron him out and make him a suitable backup player, at least.
- Quansah, Sodje and Mendel-Idowu are much harder to judge – with no first team football to speak of, I have to be creative. Sodje has had an impressive Premier League 2 campaign, leading the xG/90 metric and sits 11th in terms of xG per shot – with an average of 0.13 per shot, on par with Karakas, slightly less than Ruzgar and around half of Tekier, although he’s taken significantly less shots. Mendel-Idowu has made 21(13) appearances this season, having a hand in six goals as Chelsea won the Premier League 2 and Quansah made twenty appearances for Liverpool. There is no comparison between a youth league and the men’s game, especially when factoring in that there’d be a bit move to another country – but the outputs as well as the scout reports – Sodje: Agile, Determined, Pacey, Consistent, High Potential; Mendel-Idowu: Versatile, Flair and Pace, High Potential; Quansah: Heading, Consistency – mean that they are all players who bring in the kind of things I want to the club. I’ll trial them and see what I can get from this.
I really think that, at this level, raiding the young, expiring contracts for players who I can develop and move on is a really smart, but realistic move for us. With thanks to extra scouting knowledge, a recruitment focus has brought about some young, unheard of players that really fit the bill. Time, though, will tell as to whether they will actually become realistic signings. It’s unfortunate that the timing of their trials, and, ultimately, the expiration of their contracts, means that they’ll likely be signed on historical statistics rather than actual performances for the club.
I have, however, swooped for an actual signing based on performances at this level.
Abdoulaye Cisse (click the image to see a screenshot of his profile) was relegated with Tuzaspor but, statistically, has performed well. Primarily deployed as a right back with a handful of appearances as a DM, he’s shown that he’s safe in possession, keeping the ball better than 92% of defenders at this level with over 500 minutes. Defensively, he’s been strong, too, but that is likely because he’s been doing a lot of it! At 28, he’s in the peak of his career and will provide me a really strong option at right back who can help me progress the ball forward.
I also have my eyes on Melih Demir – click the image for a full profile – who is a man I first highlighted a season ago:
On 28/10/2022 at 20:14, _Ben_ said:
The xG table has this double header down as the best two teams in the league playing off against each other. Truth be told, the squad that they have amassed is quality, including Melih Demir, the highest valued player in the division at just 16, who has made a phenomenal start to his career.
He’s still at Bursaspor, who have failed to win promotion, again, and I’m hoping I can convince him to join once his deal expires. He’s had two amazing seasons, 2022-23 and 2023-24, where he scored at over one goal in three in the third tier. He’s the kind of player that could absolutely take us to the next level, and, given some interest in Kemal Rezgar and Ilker Karakas, I could well have a new and improved front line, if I can get him to agree to coming. That is a big IF right now..
July is going to be a fun one!
There seems to be lots of agents that want to tout their African players to me, with a hope of getting them into Europe but we just don’t have the stats, given that most of the leagues aren’t modelled, let alone loaded in the game. However, I am happy to trawl through youth leagues in the bigger countries once a scout has recommended me a player at a German youth side, for example. The key is that they must come off the back of something – whether that’s in senior football, youth football or I’ve been able to attend a few games myself or send a scout there.
I have to admit to bringing one player on trial though through knowledge in another gameworld. To those who followed Swiss Army Knife, you’ll know what I mean…
Five new faces into the club, really strengthening the side and also in-fitting with the policy of young players, prioritising markets (or at least nationalities in this case) where Gencler have had success in the past. The ‘Transfers In’ page is slightly deceiving, given that it looks like we’ve recruited from Man City, Arsenal and Atalanta, when we’ve merely taken their cast-offs in a hope that we can develop them to either benefit our first team or our bank balance.
I don’t think I’ve quite covered all of the areas that I wanted/needed but I’m certainly more aware that the perfect window does not exist, especially not for teams of our stature with our financial restrictions. Initially, I had said that I needed the following:
- Goalkeeper cover.
- Centre back cover.
- Right back.
- Defensive midfield cover.
- Right wing.
- Left wing.
From that list, I have centre back cover, aright back and a winger but I have strongly strengthened the forward line significantly, too, thanks to some good prior knowledge and, basically, by a bit of luck!
All thumbnails are clickable for a full profile.
Genuinely, the signing of Melih could take us from mid table to promotion chasers or promotion chasers to title chasers, depending on how we start the season. He obviously had an affiliation to Bursaspor in the tier below us and that was what was holding him back from signing a pre-contract but, once he was a free agent, the deal was simple and quick to conclude. I’ve probably got the hottest young talent in the country outside of the top flight and a record breaker, for both Bursaspor and the 2.Liga, making his debut at just 15 years and 362 days old before going on to become vice-captain at just sixteen. He’s also the top of three Gencler players tipped to win the 1.Lig Top Young Player. In terms of my style of play, he’s perfect: quick, good off the ball and great technique – with me just working now to stop him being quite so one-footed and develop his ability to finish chances. Sodje looks to be the perfect foil for Meilh, bringing some power in as a replacement for the more technical ability of his striking team mate. I was impressed with his attributes along with the stats that he recorded for Man City’s youth side. Sidibe, similarly, impressed me with the ability to run at defenders and contribute and, with attributes looking good for this level, I plumped for him too. Ogungbo, like Sidibe, gathered impressive stats on loan and the scout report about his pace was correct, which means he was the perfect candidate for the third centre back role whilst Cisse’s ability was covered in the previous post.
I have also been able to capitalise on some interest, allowing me to complete the signings of Melih and Sodje as well as bolster (by bolster, I mean actually reduce the overdraft!) with a couple of sales, too.
Whilst I’ve lost two thirds of my strike force, I feel that I’ve strengthened the forward line and that the squad depth is actually in a good place right now. All three strikers are under twenty-three, which is always a worry in terms of experience – mainly at experience of getting out of goal droughts – but their quality is there and I hope that, combining good development and training with good performances will be extremely beneficial to their outputs.
I’ve played four of the seven pre-season friendlies that I’ve arranged for this period, working really hard to get fitness and familiarity with the tactical style, which has had a few small alterations. It makes a right mess of the Heat Map but I’ve instructed all of the midfielders to swap positions with each other (ML and MR and two MCs) in order to fully maximise the confusion part of the threat that our counter attacking style creates. I can then pair that with the side change – where the Mez/CM combo as well as the positional overload can switch during the game, depending on the opposition areas to exploit and who I have available.
I’ve split my pre-season view into four areas of the pitch to make some early comments on the players.
It’s clear that Ubeyd is number one and that the other two are of much lower quality, simply due to the number of goals they’ve conceded compared to my first choice. They’re also less secure in their distribution, even if we Duhan managed a key pass in his short time in goal. They’re all training well so I see no need to alter the coaches (not that I’d immediately bow to player pressure for this kind of thing anyway) or the training schedules that they’re on.
With Oguz Ceylan missing most of pre-season, I’ve had to dig into the depths of this 27-man squad in order to find some replacements – with fifteen year old Resut Yildrim getting a few minutes, too, along with Ufuk Ozdemir, who played a bit at left back last season. Cisse already looks a steal as he’s laid on two assists and has created over three open play key passes per90 in his two hundred and twenty-five minutes to date. Mert and Metehan look solid at the back again, as does Gokhan ahead of them.
Oleksander Belyaev has impressed this summer after being on the fringes of our squad last season but there’s been some more great form from Cem, who seems to have usurped Serkan, who has moaned at me moaning at him for poor training! Out wide, we’re a bit more short on quality but the players I’ve been rotating: Sidibe, Yusuf and Safa have all performed well.
Melih and Sodje have taken to Gencler superbly and have contributed lots between them, albeit against somewhat weaker teams than those we’ll face this season in the league. Melih is clearly more complete but Sodje has shown that he’s a superb finisher and will run and run against tired legs at the end of games. I do feel a little for Omercan, who’ll get less minutes this year probably but the focus does need to shift, somewhat, towards the team on the pitch as opposed to the team on the pitch in a few years!
There’s a handful of friendlies left in August as we then kick off our league campaign at Pendikspor. I’m not sure exactly what to expect but I know we’re starting in a better place than we left off…