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I wanted to start off the season with a tactical thought, inspired from some X browsing. The tweet, below, really made me think about the progression effectiveness of my squad, considering that we are now a team that does maintain possession a lot more than my pure counter attacking sides of the past. To create this metric, I have used a total of progressive passes per 90 and dribbles per 90 divided by possession lost per 90. This is not entirely accurate with how it is calculated in real life as I cannot measure progressive dribbles and include a dribble that, in game, may have not gone forwards at all. I do not know what the percentiles are compared with in the tweet, but, given that the Allsvenskan is now inside the top fifteen European leagues, I have decided to include them all, in order to get a broader picture. The author completed this for most teams but I felt that it was interesting to use the caption that talked about a low score – indicating that the player is in a lower percentile for successful ball progressions because I have three very different groupings within my team and you can see that Man City, from the right image, have almost two complete outliers, also.

KDB is an elite creator and I know that I have nobody that even can be compared to him but he is so high risk with the ball and his total outputs are going to be massively skewed by the times he loses the ball, trying to make that incisive pass. I feel that I have this really clearly demonstrated here: more risk = less ball progression. It is so clear that the three lowest ranked players – Brusberg, Noor Ouma and Okkels – are the three players within the squad who utilise the Attacking duty for their role (I am also aware that Okkels and Brusberg are the most advanced and, therefore, further progression is ‘harder’ too). Behind them, the three players on a Support duty – Soderberg, Ayari and Paulo Vitor – make up the three next places, with my Defend duties being the safest. They make up their numbers not through dribbles but through progressive passses and fewer balls lost, given the fact that I have, at minimum, four players ahead of them with at least one usually un-marked.

I just thought that it, to me, felt like a really clear way to demonstrate risk through role choice. An interesting bit of comparative work would be to change Noor Ouma from a CM(a) to a Mez(s), for example, utilising some player instructions to get him breaking into the box the same amount but, overall, playing with ‘less risk’ in his game. Likewise, if I reach a point whereby I want to slow progression down, a Lib(d) would surely increase Paulo Vitor’s ‘safety’ whilst still allowing me to create attacking structures, just from a safer perspective. Our overall approach is already Positive so then I, again, wonder what extent this would be changed should it drop down to Balanced, for example.

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With those thoughts also come a couple of ideas for different methods of build up – which is, essentially, what the end goal is here: achieve multiple effective methods of transitioning between defence and attack, giving ourselves the best opportunities to score, whilst not over committing players and becoming exposed defensively. The two newest ideas are a 2323 build up that utilises IWB(s) and DM(s) – but my issue here is that both full backs are naturally not great at build up play and both converted wingers are also not of that type. The narrow 343 box build up – with IWB(s), HB(d) and CAR(s) – alleviates one of the inverted wing backs and I can, probably, make that work but I was a little disappointed at how wide the double Carrilero middle went, hoping to create more of a trapeze rather than a very narrow box.

The aim is for me to now be able to spot these opportunities, mid game, where a slight change can help unlock a defence!

I have been busy in the transfer market, too, raising €7m in player sales: Baidoo went to Kortrijk for €1.2m, Riasco moved to Antwerp for €4m, Lahdo went to second tier Schalke for €1.5m, Karlsson moved to Famalicao for €190k and Berndtsson went to Kasimpasa for €115k. Additionally, several loan deals were procured to allow my youngsters to develop; particularly interestingly are the three, Wegermo, Persson and Boukama-Kaya, who all moved to second tier German side Osnabruck, a level actually on a par with our top tier. They all played a big part in Skovde’s promotion as to the top flight last year and I’m excited to see how they do. All of the other deals were made once I had decided that I was able to improve the player. In the images below, the departing player is on the right with their replacement on the left:

Full profiles can be seen by clicking on thumbnails of both incoming and outgoing transfers, below.

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First in was Isak Mulugeta, a man with the strangest trio of nationalities I’ve ever seen! At €1.4m, potentially rising to €1.7m from title rivals Djurgardens, he represents a fairly bit outlay, even if that is offset by Baidoo’s sale. I felt that having a more creative player in the middle of the park would enable us to unlock more defences and create more chances, and that is just what Isak brings. Whilst, statistically, he’s not performed amazingly well for the title chasers, he’s demonstrated, both here attribute-wise and in-game, that he’s far better on the ball than his replacement, who utilised his engine more often. As someone on the fringes of the Djurgardens squad, starting only four times last year and still only being twenty-one, he’s certainly a player who came ‘now’ to avoid the ‘later’ additional costs and, with interest from Ajax at the same time, probable lack of interest from moving further afield.

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After an unsettled start to the transfer window with widespread interest in Brusberg, I felt reluctant to let Riasco leave. But, a new contract for last season’s top scorer meant that I felt confident cashing in on the Venezuelan, who came in to the club for nothing. There was significant interest from the top clubs outside the big five leagues and it was Antwerp that offered the most, so I allowed him to leave. My shortlist for a replacement was quite vast but, in the end, I opted for a risky move – of a player who fits inside the recruitment policies of partially Swedish and returning from a spell abroad. The big ‘issue’ here is that Pontus Dahbo cannot, currently, operate as a striker. Much like Brusberg before him, my plan for the Trequartista role is to use a more creative, tehnical midfielder to link play. Knowing that he has a great first touch and is pretty nippy, as well as a liking for one-twos and killer balls makes me feel that he could be ideal in that role, should he retrain well. At 22, Napoli made a loss on him, selling him for €200k less than the €1.7m they purchased him for in 2025. Despite being on the fringes of the Napoli squad, I was able to watch U20 games that he was able to feature in (the rule is no more than five over-20 players, so he featured when the fixture wasn’t used for rehabilitation purposes) and look back at his 2025 season with Hacken, where he fully broke into the first team, playing twenty times.

I realise that this goes very much again the fluidity grain that I’m trying to build and puts all my eggs into one type of striker basket but it certainly worked last summer with Brusberg and I hope it’ll work again!

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At a cost of €1.5m, Kai Ekroth brings Champions League experience and a two-footed option, who can operate a similar job on both flank. Karlsson, the outgoing full back was never deemed to be defensively secure for me – although the stat padding from easier appearances would suggest otherwise. I had identified both IFB(d) roles as needing an upgrade and I think that Ekroth could do that, as he is taller, more physical and stronger defensively. The most eye catching part of his build though is the fact that he’s comfortable with both feet and is able to play competently on both sides of the defence. This provides me with a huge opportunity to rest the likes of Jeng, Mbacke and Paulo Vitor as the season goes on.

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The FC Nordsjælland academy has been producing some amazing Swedish players, with TahaPetterssonSoderqvist and Strobeck all on my radar. However, it was Holmstrom who I went for in the end, as an upgrade on the physically-reliant Berndtsson in the centre back role, initially providing support for Eriksson, my summer arrival from Norrkoping. Despite the comfort of being able to play further forward, Daniel – in my eyes – does not yet possess the quality to do so and I will rely on the fact that he’s an aerial and defensive upgrade on Kasper. He’s had a bit of exposure to the first team in Denmark but, of all my incomings, in the furthest away from being ready to step up and was considered on ability for a man of his age and suitability for the role I want to use him in. At €1.2m, I hope he won’t let me down!

All in all, €5.5m has us as the biggest spenders but we are still active in continental competition – thus receiving income – and have secured, at least, a playoff spot in the Champions League next year. What is more, I am now feeling more confident in the versatility in my team, as seen by the Venn diagrams, below:

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Each area can – pretty easily – be split into three main positions or types with further analysis able to be conducted for those that, for example are: Right Back and Inverted Wing Back (D) or Right Back and Wing Back (S). I have the most versatility within the defensive areas, but most of that comes with the additions of Okkels and Bernhardsson, who can only play as really attacking wing backs. I really like that both IFB(d) options – Mbacke and Jeng are converted centre backs but I can then use Ekroth as a more progressive and risk taking passer without losing that presence. In midfield, I feel like I could be a little short, but the signing of Mulugeta will help in the creator role as Brusberg and Dahbo are, hopefully, going to be used elsewhere. Noor Ouma is really strong but that still only leaves me with three players for the two roles (including Ayari) as Ilunga and Soderberg occupy the deeper role unless we are facing tough opposition. Up top, again, I could break it down into roles: Kallander is more a creator, despite playing in the IW(s) role and could easily be an AP(s) out wide, whereas Okkels and Bernhardsson are very much inverted wingers, with focus on direct dribbling. After selling Lahdo and not replacing him directly, I’m hoping that there is enough cover – especially with JBK, Al-Ruwaili and Bashiru being out on loan, although all have joined central European clubs and, as such, will be back in July.

We’ve got a Svenska Cup competition to focus on as well as a Conference League double header with Famalicao on the horizon. The plan is to bed in the squad through friendlies and see if we are in a good enough position before the window shuts!

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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