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I had wanted, originally, to write match by match updates, providing screenshots and match stats as I have done before. However, once the season started, I found myself absolutely glued to the games – watching the first ten minutes as a full game and then dipping in and out of comprehensive highlights, note taking and analysing as I went. With that, I’d end the game – assess the impact of my team talks, making more notes and then spend the time between matches working on morale, positive interactions with the team and creating a training schedule to boost tactical familiarity and player attributes, closely monitoring and taking notes of development, happiness and unhappiness. By the time I clicked out the game, I’d played eight games and didn’t fancy going back to collect the minutia I’d need to update in that style. Therefore, I’ll start with this:

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Svante is pretty much spot on. We sit fourth in the league for average possession this season, at 55%. This is way more than I’m used to in my sides over the previous years in FM but I’m feeling that this sense of control in our build up is so necessary as we look to dominate in places and areas where we really shouldn’t. Our shape is developing, some minor tweaks – such as the SK moving to SK(a) from SK(s) to provide us opportunities for a fourth centre back as you can see from the previous screenshot, are more ways in which we can dominate. Likewise, I’d noted a potential gap in the build up, and that was from the runs made deeper by the AF(a). A simple change to a DLF(s) meant that I was able to create more third man runs, such as this one from Navik, which was – unfortunately – just offside. In this attack, Mattsson receives the ball in a slightly deeper position allowing both midfielders – remembering that only one is on an attack duty – to break through. My most recent change was switching the roles of the wide men – using an IW(a) on the right hand side and an IF(a) on the left. With a striker on support, I felt that it was important to pin full backs back with attacking wide men but, given our preference, due to roles, to build up more down the right, I wanted an option where a switch in play could create an overload on the left hand side. The PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE though was this goal from Libero Haliti, who just decided to go break forward with the ball, take everyone on and finish with aplomb. 

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Importantly, for me, was the development of areas that we struggled in last year, namely our defence. WIth Rapp, Deen Haruna and Haliti brought in to sure things up centrally, I wanted to see improvements. The image above charts them. I am pleased to see growths in our first phase of transition – meaning that both the tactical change and the recruitment of more technical defenders in Rapp and Haliti has allowed us to be even better at building. We’re safer and progress the ball more after winning it more. The most important metric though is the improvement in our header success rate, with us now all but nullifying the threat from crosses and corners this year – conceding no goals from either area. Obviously, there is still scope to improve that here and I’m still conscious that we are clearing not building from the back, but it’s beginning to fall into place. Once again, this leads into the ‘well how is it going?’ question.

Quite well…

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Despite us crashing out of the cup against a team that’d normally be a strong opponent (3-0-0 record in the league against them), we’ve turned in a pretty strong start to the season and sit just about where I’d want us. 10 goals from exactly 12.0xG isn’t great nor is out 9% conversion rate, leaving us in fourteenth in the league for that measure. However, our defensive record has significantly improved with us looking a lot stronger at the back. There is another underlying issue though – against Elfsborg, we conceded after going 1-0 up, with their goal in the seventieth minute – a soft penalty. Against Kalmar, a defensive mix up allowed them to score in the eighty-fifth minute. Against Hammarby, we were overran and their winner came in the 90+3 minute and, lastly, against Djurgardens, we conceded in the eighty-third minute.  We’ve been behind once this season, and that was for just ten minutes against AIK, but we aren’t able to see the game out – maybe through poor conversion skills – or to stop being overpowered by bigger teams chasing the games late on. My use of converted full backs Ceesay and Kalley as wide midfielders in a 4-1-4-1 shape when trying to see the game out seems to be inviting pressure, rather than allowing us to shut up shop.

I fully expect the likes of Elfsborg, as reigning champions, Djurgardens and AIK to come good as the middle third of the season takes shape but I’m showing and feeling that constant development – just a little bit better here and there, every single day and every single game. One player who is particularly embodying that mantra is Oscar Johansson, who, at sixteen, is already pushing to be a regular starter within my midfield trio. In my search to continue to get better, I’m looking for a striker. Ideally, I want someone who can both link play and get in behind (Lofberg, for example, favours the latter) and, therefore, someone who is on the taller side. With a focus looking at strikers over 6’0″ tall, I must say that the results are limited and I really need to be clever in how I proceed. We are projecting to end the season €700k in the red, so adding another €200k for a bigger scouting package feels wrong but I will need some other sources of inspiration; a simple search of strikers not playing Sweden returns only 942 hits, with nearly 20% of them having played less than 90 minutes of first team football this season.

I feel laser focused on what I want to achieve here and, with the holiday season approaching, can’t think of a better way to spend my time when not with family and friends..

Author

  • Daniel Gear

    Dan Gear is a vibrant member of the Football Manager (FM) community, renowned for his engaging content and insightful tutorials. He illuminates complex FM concepts on "View From The Touchline" and shares engaging narratives through his unique European Journeyman save reveals. Dan's collaborative spirit shines in partnerships with fellow creators like FM Stag, unraveling new FM features. He's a co-host of the engaging "Grass N Gear" podcast, making the FM experience more enjoyable for many. With a blend of humor, expertise, and a knack for community engagement, Dan Gear's contributions significantly enrich the Football Manager community, making him a cherished figure among enthusiasts.

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