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A nice little bit of playing time means it’s time for a bit of an update…

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Our Svenska Cupen run was of similar length to last year as we faced off against two second tier teams – one of whom was promoted with us – and AIK, again, but, importantly, this time, we were also top tier. The starting game against a Varnamo team that beat us in the penultimate game of the league season was a strong message to our non-believers, before I created the perfectbuild up – a 4-2-5, as seen below, with Johansson actually involved in the backline. With AIK dropping points against Varnamo, I was able to seize the advantage. Analysing AIK’s squad, I saw a left hand side weakness in both assists and goals and looked to get in behind their very advanced wing backs, whilst still remaining tight and compact myself. The game was fairly even, actually, as we showed promise and less backs to the walls defending that saw us draw 1-1 in this fixture last season. Hammarby, however, were a step too far – just like Malmo the year before. No shame though for us and we looked ready for the season ahead.

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One last signing before the window as Carlos rejoins on loan from Djurgårdens. His Swedish career started with us some eight years ago and he brings great experience to the team as well as strong outcomes from nearly 1,500 minutes last season in this division. Whilst still not the left footer I actually crave, his ability on the ball and lack of a really weak foot mean that he’ll probably play there. At 31, he’s not long, long term, but offers a sensible short-term option and comes with a €75k optional fee that, finances aside, I may look to take up if he does the job well. However, early signs are that he’ll have to adapt quickly as he failed to lead a very disorganised defence across the first few appearances.

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 vs AIK | vs Varnamo | vs Norrkoping | vs Hammarby | vs Örgryte | vs Brommapojkarna | vs Mjallby | vs Malmo | vs Elfsborg | vs Kalmar FF |

The first ten fixtures as a top flight manager are done and we’ve got ourselves into a position that, I think, means we could be good enough to stay in this league for next season. We have cemented ourselves nicely into the middle of the pack and, given our financial structure and decreased reputation, I don’t foresee much movement from there – certainly not in the short term. There are some things that, from these games, I’ve really enjoyed and built upon, such as our our two-paced build up against Norrkoping, working the ball slowly around at the back before unleashing a quick and direct counter, demonstrating exactly the type of build up I want. However, it also uncovered the defensive frailties of a VOL(a). I presumed it was part of the role but I’d added close down more, by accident. Yaya has been a little more stable since but that can’t be said of our defensive shapeagainst Mjallby, whereby we aren’t quite as compact as I want us to be. I think that my pressing style is slowly evolving though – finding more traps and triggers rather than just standing off and defending in a kind of disengaged style. Interestingly, a slightly different build up, with Kusu as a HB(d), allowing for a 3-2-5/3-3-4 shape against two forwards felt positive. It’s a shape I used in the first season and it’s one that I think I’ll need to revisit as our positional shift doesn’t seem to happen quick enough and last for long enough in the defensive phase to keep control of two strikers. I think that the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far this season is the squad quality – for example, against Elfsborg. Every single player is considered better than mine and that’s just something I have to deal with!

However, this is something that I feel I need to not just accept:

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We’re joint bottom in goals conceded from corners and lose thirty-four aerial battles per game. I have little context for the last stat but that is nearly 200% of AIK’s amount, which, when you’re at a level where you do need to sweat the small stuff, matters to me. Looking at the aerial ability for my defenders continues to paint a worrying picture as does the graphic below, that shows we are just not strong enough in the air to stop the other teams dominating.

There’s a lot to do but I must say that I am still absolutely loving this

 

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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