As I immerse myself deeper into the intricacies of Football Manager 2024, this Wolves: The Renaissance save offers a canvas for tactical experimentation and strategic refinement.

In this mid-season analysis of the 2024/25 campaign, I embark on a journey of tactical exploration and player evaluation, driven by the relentless pursuit of success, playing with a ‘Projection’ style of attacking football.

With each adjustment to our approach, from defensive solidity to attacking ingenuity, I unravel the complex tapestry of football tactics, seeking the optimal formula for victory. Join me as we dissect match data, scrutinise player performances, and navigate the winding path towards footballing excellence.

Once again we find ourselves significantly performing above our expected points position (8th), by securing an additional 10 points. Again, we have our defensive to thank, rather than our attacking ability. We find ourselves ranked 2nd in the Premier League with regards to goals conceded (15), one more than leaders Manchester City.

Our only defeat has come on the road to West Ham, whilst all draws have come against sides in the top-half of he table, with the exception of Ipswich.

Drawing a comparison against the mid-point from last season, we are currently 5 points worse off, having drawn seven more times, although last year we had already suffered four defeats, compared to just one this campaign. With regards to our form at both ends of the pitch we have scored two less goals this season, and have also conceded one less.

The above findings will lead me to explore the changes which I made at the back end of last season, opting to play a more attacking mentality, which I will cover in the next section of the update.

  • a comprehensive list of our results, and goal scorers can be viewed here.

I have had a few requests from within the Football Manager community to share the tactic which I have been documenting in my Wolves: The Renaissance save. For those of you that aren’t as submerged in the save as I am, above is the baseline ‘balanced’ mentality tactic, along with the ‘attacking’ mentality variation, used for first half of the 2024/25 campaign.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER AT MOLINEUX

In a night etched with brilliance at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton Wanderers scripted a fairy tale by dismantling Real Madrid with a resounding 4-1 victory. Against the backdrop of the iconic venue, Wolves delivered a performance that transcended expectations and captivated the footballing world.

Closing the game with only 39% possession, Wolves demonstrated unwavering resolve and tactical prowess, showing just how effective this brand of attacking football can be. Wolves completed 64 final third passes, compared to Ream Madrid’s 102, yet somehow had more shots on target, a greater xG, and more clear cut chances.

As the final whistle echoed through the stadium, Molineux erupted in euphoria, as fans rejoiced in the glory of a historic triumph. It was more than just a football match; it was a night to remember, a celebration of resilience, skill, and the indomitable spirit of Wolverhampton Wanderers. A night which could shape the future of how attacking football is played across the globe.

HEADLINE ANALYSIS

This section will be used to explore if our change in mentality has helped Wolves to align more closely to the ‘Projection’ attacking style. I have taken data from the season one mid-point to compare with the season two mid-point, which will enable me to make an informed decision on what mentality to lock-in, before applying another variable to our game model.

The above is a selection of visualisations which have been cherry picked from the ‘team Performance’ section of the Data Hub. Whilst there are a few marginal changes, the outputs are fairly similar.

  • Defensive efficiency – opponents are taking more shots with attacking, but have a similar conversion rate.
  • Attacking efficiency – we are taking more shots with an attacking mentality and have a better conversion rate.
  • Defensive actions – 13% in opponents half (balanced), 14% with attacking.
  • Possession gained – 19% in opponents half (balanced), 21% with attacking.
  • Passes attempted – 16% in the final third for both.
  • Possession lost – 37% in the final third for both.

I wanted to take my analysis one stage further, comparing some statistics from within the team detailed tab within the game.

  • Interestingly we hold the same percentage of possession under each mentality (52%)
  • The balanced mentality is leading to an increase in shot quality, with the balanced mentality averaging 0.126 xG per shot, compared to 0.123 per shot (attacking).
  • We are completing 4.8% more passes using an attacking mentality, likely to be associated with the increased tempo which this mentality brings.
  • We have conceding 1.54 more xG across the 19 games playing with an attacking mentality.
  • Most importantly we are making less final third passes playing balanced, and allowing the opponent to have more final third passes.

For me, the last point makes the most noise, we are actually moving away from a ‘projection’ attacking style. This paired with the fact that we have both created more expected goals, and conceded less playing balanced, confirms that I will need to revert back to the base ‘balanced’ tactic and make further changes.

Deep down, I know that our biggest Achilles heel with regards to achieving our goal is our team fluidity, having the players progress up the field as a collective is leading to more passing lanes, helping us to complete more passes in the attacking third. However, I have a soft spot for this pack like mentality, and will strive to achieve a ‘projection’ attacking brand with a fluid team, at minimum.

For the final part of season two, I will make one simple change to our team instruction, to play with a low block line of engagement. The lower line of engagement instructs players to wait until the opposition come towards them before engaging them in a pressing game, by decreasing our line of engagement I am theoretically enabling our opponent to progress the ball further up the pitch without pressure. This hopefully will result in them increasing their volume of passes in our final third.

I will also change our wide centre-back from a support duty, to defend. This will mean that the trio of defenders will have a defensive mentality, with the role still offering support in wide areas at times. However, less likely to overlap or underlap, again reducing a body in the final third.

For those of you who have been following along with this thread/save, I am keen for you to throw a few of your suggestions my way, what would you do to help achieve the Holy Grail, and more importantly, why?

PLAYER ANALYSIS

In this section, I have opted to document how the tactical changes have impacted the outputs at player level. This will hopefully provide us all with an understanding of how changes to roles, team instructions, and player instructions, have on outputs within the match engine.

João Gomes was switched from a ball winning midfielder to a more static role in that of the anchor. A role which doesn’t venture too far from its position, rather than one which aims to win the ball back higher up the pitch. This is clearly visible in the change in expected assists metric, as the anchor role comes with hard coded player instructions of hold position, take fewer risks, and dribble less.

Interestingly, the Brazilian is more effective defensively playing in a role which is on a defend duty, with him winning more possession, winning a greater volume of tackles, and headers.

Rayan Aït-Nouri – despite no changes to the Algerian’s role/player instructions, you can see from the below that his outputs were impacted. This stems from the above changes to João Gomes, as the Brazilian moved from a support role, to a more static one, offering less support to Rayan as play progressed.

This is reflected on wing back progressing more passes, and conducting more dribbles, as the player has taken a greater responsibility to advance play. Interestingly, without a close supporting player centrally, Rayan has taken more shots, accumulating a higher xG, and scored more goals.

Finally, looking into the outputs of Nélson Semedo who had the player instruction of cross from deeper added. The Portuguese wing-back’s expected assists have exploded, along with him winning more tackles, likely to be due to staying a little deeper at times.

It is also worth noting that bringing Saša Kalajdžić back into the team after his loan in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, has been another variant to this data. At 6’7, and possessing a jumping reach attribute of 18, and heading 16, certainly has added a new dynamic to our attack.

RECRUITMENT

I am enjoying the data driven recruitment approach to this save, in my opinion this approach, especially if exporting data manually, will lead to you finding a greater breadth, and depth of player, in your Football Manager saves. Leading you a little of the beaten track, and away from the frequent names which I am certain the AI regurgitates.

Anyhow, todays subject is Craig Dawson, as an experienced member of the squad, with only a further one-year left on his contract (an additional year if 20 games are played), it is time to bring in a player who will be happy to initially share playing time with the veteran for what could well be his final year as a Wolves player.

Exploring Craig’s pizza chart from this current season, you can see that whilst playing a key role in our defensive trio, the 33 year old isn’t exactly racking up any outstanding outputs. He is winning the majority of his aerial duels (75%), has a good pass completion (93%), and is effective at not losing the ball.

Continuing the norm, the numbers are punched into the system, and we sit and watch our scouted players list deteriorate.

The outputs with high recommendation values threw out a good mix of names. However, there were only a few players within this list that would be keen to sign without a starting role. Oh, and we were priced out of a move for the highest rated defender Alessandro Buongiorno, of Torino.

Two really caught my eye, Oumar Solet,, and Adamo Nagalo. With both players good in the air, and tackle.

Given I have already signed Nagalo, in my previous save with Ajax, I was always going o lean towards the Frenchman. Oumar Solet, also has delivered more progressive passes and has a higher blocks per 90 metric. This paired with the fact that the Austrian Bundesliga holds a higher reputation than the Danish Superliga, means that Oumar should make a more fluid transition to the Premier League.

Along with Solet, there are two more players who have signed contracts with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Madi Monamay – the 19 year old was signed and immediately loaned out to Championship side QPR. He is an exciting young prospect who isn’t too far from first team level. Therefore, the challenge of playing in such a fiercely competitive league will be great for his development.

Pedro Malheiro – with Matt Doherty going into his final year of his Wolves contract, we needed to think of a contingency plan. Along came Pedro, the 24 year old’s contract was expiring with Boavista, making him an attractive option, adding another Portuguese player to the ranks at the club.

Thanks for taking the time to read todays update, if you’ve opt to download the tactics, please keep me posted on their effectiveness within your save, I am always keen to see how others find my work, and what sides you have trialled them with.

The next update will be the 2024/25 season review, which I will start to work on now, and should hopefully be with you all very soon.

Author

  • SteinkelssonFM

    SteinkelssonFM is a distinguished tactician in the Football Manager community, celebrated for bridging the virtual and real football worlds through meticulous analysis. His knack for recreating iconic real-world tactics in-game, like Mário Zagallo’s 1970 Seleção strategy, offers a nostalgic yet innovative gameplay experience. An active blogger on Medium and WordPress, SteinkelssonFM shares his football philosophies and FM adventures, enriching the community with guides on youth development and tactical masterclasses. His contributions extend to the official Football Manager website, affirming his position as a reliable mentor for aspiring virtual football managers. Through his content, SteinkelssonFM continues to blend historical football charm with modern-day FM gameplay.

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