A purposely much shorter post this time as I wanted to get myself to the end of the season to reflect further and look at building for the future.
Full match reports can be found by clicking on each of the thumbnails, above.
Brage have been in poor form and we really should have won a lot more comfortably than we did – scoring just once from a total of 2.57xG. Against their 4-4-2, our 3-box-3 in transition really gave us space to create things: particularly for Abundance Salaou at ‘bottom corner’ and Paya Pichkah at the top. This shape is now becoming the staple, with amendments made off the back of it. Essentially, unless an opponent has four central players, we’ll always look to create this box in the middle and, unless their attack has less than two players (maybe a striker and winger, striker and attacking mid or two strikers), we’ll always build with a false full back in a three. I’m still yet to find the right setup with the two wide attackers and the striker, but that’ll come. Skodve presented a very different tactical battle. Another 4-4-2 but a team really strong from set pieces and a team with a clear focus on how to score their goals. Match prep was set up to look at how they transition and I particularly was interested in stopping the ball getting to their right-hand side – where their flank players have amassed 10G/A this season between them. We pulled the win off quite emphatically, restricting them to very little down their right-hand side, only allowing Engstrom to score after a pretty shocking defensive mix up allowed him in at the far post. We move to nine without defeat in the league!
FC Eskilstuna visited next and we dispatched them fairly easily with goals from Durmaz and the returning Erik Andersson, who is beginning his transition to full back – but more on those plans later on! A visit to Örebro followed, where, for the first time in what felt like a while, what I touched did not turn to gold. We looked a little leggy and our 1.45xG probably exaggerates the hold we had on the game. Still – it’s been a while since we’ve given away a lead so that, clearly, is the focus – as, once again, our play with the ball continues to develop. Göteborgs Atlet- & Idrottssällskap (GAIS to you and me) found that out as we demolished them. Not a game I’d identified as one we’d be standing a chance in, with them chasing promotion to the top flight, and, in fairness, a game that didn’t have a 5-0 scoreline written on it. That being said, we were utterly clinical going forward as our attacking four just clicked. Helsingborg played out an entertaining draw whilst we completed dominated Vasteras to finish the season in fifth place, as we record eight wins and four draws in my twelve-game tenure.
Honestly, I am shocked at the turnaround in fortunes and the ease in which I was able to bring in my own style of play and completely change the ethos of the club with – literally – the squad that was performing so badly before. Granted, as a team relegated last season, the expectations are that the squad is good and there are quality players within it but, when you look through our metrics, you’ll see things that have just shifted, hugely and – honestly – not all of that blame can be placed on my predecessor.
In our twelve league games, we’ve gone from an xPos of 8th to 1st, plundering nearly 20xG – with twenty-six goals – and conceding just 10xGa, with eight goals being allowed. Despite my playing style not being possession orientated, we’ve shot up the rankings and are also now the best passers, in terms of pass completion. Whilst we’re shooting less on target now, we’re creating way more chances and converting a few more of those that do end up on target. It is, however, the stats that come around where passes have been made that, to me, are the most interesting: we have seen a complete change of fortunes when looking at how many passes we complete in opponents boxes and how many they complete in ours but, when paired with our OPPDA – which has now slipped to bottom (most passes completed by the opposition per each of our actions) – you’ll see that the style has just clicked.
In Abundance Salaou and Paya Pichkah, I’ve got the most well-rounded double pivot in the league and will miss the former greatly when he returns from his loan spell but I do have creativity in front of them in Navik, who, given our financial peril, I’ll face a battle to keep next season. That feels like one of the smallest troubles I’ll have next season and I will be looking to replace the below player, who’ll all be leaving me, as will the four loaned players: Durmaz, Peprah Oppeng, Svanberg and Salaou.
With a debt that currently sits at just €50k following a €705k payment for our league win, you can see we’re not in a position to be able to spend freely, on either transfer fees or wages (and, actually sit in a negative budget for both). With a saving of just over €5k p/w with the ending of these contracts, there may be a small amount of wiggle room but, as I said before, I’m at the mercy of the DoF in terms of any new faces we bring in.
That being said, there are several players that I am going to do my best to keep and build the squad around:
Full profiles can be seen by clicking the thumbnails.
Forsberg may not be the best in the air or the most rounded defender but has been pretty solid for me as the third centre back in our build up play. He’ll be partnered on the other side by Andersson, who, given the fact he was injured and that allowed Pichkah to impress, needs to move place to get into the team. I think he’s the most suited of the two to become the creative inverted wing back on the left hand side. This allows Paya free roam as the Volante, as he will hopefully increase on his six goal contributions next season.
These attacking midfielders are fairly well set actually. Bengtsson has come back from a 16 month layoff from torn ligaments to become a decent little player. He has the tendency to disappear in games and needs to improve on his eight contributions next year but, when next to Navik, I think he’ll have the chances given to him. A big injury this season himself, Ludvig is just coming back to fitness but looked a really, really good player for us in the short time he was available. Another one coming back from a long term injury is Burman, who looks to be the best option currently at the club to play wide on the right. I don’t think he’s good enough to usurp Navik but, technically at least, he’s too good to leave out!
I’m excited but somewhat nervous to see what the off-season brings!
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