Welcome, I have finally decided to do this mini-challenge and write about it, in a 2 or 3 part blog. I was thinking of doing this mini-series on my Christmas break, but as you all know the festive season get’s rather busy so here we are now giving it a go.
You may have seen other creators and Football Manager players try this challenge, it’s pretty simple but will be a huge task in getting the result I want. I have simulated the game to Christmas day, whoever is at the bottom of the English Premier League I will take control and try and save them from relegation to the Championship. This is a one time challenge, at the end of the season I will not be playing on with the save no matter of the outcome. I bet you’re all wondering what club is currently sitting at the bottom of the table and ready for me to try and save, let’s take a look.
Brighton, a team I feared of getting if I’m honest, but the board have released Chris Hughton of his duties and gave me a chance to save the club in a really horrid state of form right now. Take a look of a few standout stats from their season so far.
A quick glance above and you can really tell what I’m up against, one win all season is pathetic and our top goal scorer has only 4 goals. The next 2 fixtures are not filling me with hope along with a poor budget remaining for the January window. 7 points is the gap between me and a place out of the relegation zone, but with our awful form that seems a massive uphill task. Time to dig deeper into this team and tactic to see what we can change to try and save this season.
The squad isn’t huge and I don’t have the funds to really add much to it, Solly March has asked to leave and I have had bids of £5.75m, that will help. The morale since I had a team meeting welcoming myself has risen, but this squad is so low on confidence and needs major work. Anthony Knockaert is the only player with an average rating of over 7.0, I can see why they have only had 1 win. The first 2 fixtures under my management are Tottenham and Manchester United, a point from both of these would be a huge bonus for us. Chris Hughton did sign a striker from Spain in Florin Andone, a decent striker and someone I can hopefully get more out of.
Here are the transfers Chris Hughton did at the start of the season.
They haven’t really performed under him, but there is some good potential in there and I need to get them going from day one. Yves Bissouma I will be looking at controlling the centre of the park, I think he was a good signing and will be a major factor if we do manage to stay in the Premier League.
There is a big problem here for a number of reasons when I set up a new tactic I usually get pre-season to really look in depth at how it plays, this time I’m straight in against Manchester United and Tottenham. I have looked at past results and what tactics were used, all season they have tried a 4-4-1-1. I’m going to look at something completely different and hope they can take to it quickly if they do we will have a chance. I have gone through all stats from the past 5 games and we average around 30% of possession, that’s even against teams in the lower half of the table. We have hardly any chances on goal which is super worrying and something I need to address.
This is something I will try in my early days with the squad I have, I will of course tweak and tinker with it as I see it play out. I want to set us up so we are hard to break down and when we do win the ball back we do have the pace to counter teams, we need to utilise this as much as we can. I have decided to also be more direct with our passing we don’t have the quality or confidence to keep the ball and knock it around teams and break them down. We have two strikers in Glenn Murray and Florin Andone who are great in the air so our wingers will look to get crosses in. I have told the team to play for set pieces we have some good height in the squad to worry teams from corners and free kicks in attacking areas. You may have guessed a defensive mentality is the best way for us to set up, we need to be hard to break down we don’t score nowhere near enough goals to be defending poorly. We will see how this plays out but I’m sure I will need to tinker after the first 2 or 3 games of seeing it in action.
My back 3 will have a Liberio to drop off just for that extra cover especially when we go up against the bigger teams in the league. Lewis Dunk will be able to fit that role nicely, I’m hoping. Soon as we start defending better and stop conceding so many goals we can build on that but it really needs to be sooner rather than later. When playing the top teams I will possibly drop the 2 wing-backs to full backs and play with a back 5.
The midfield needs to be hard working for the team our 2 centre midfielders consists of a roaming playmaker to try and create some chances for the team, Chris Hughton didn’t really let one of his midfielders (RPM) have this role. The RPM will be sat next to a basic central midfielder playing on a defensive instruction but vs teams in and around us, we could potentially let him move further up the pitch. The inside forward on the right-hand side will be the inform Anthony Knockaert looking to be creative and cut inside and help the lone striker. The left-sided winger will look to get crosses in when he can to out striker. I want both sides to add some creativity to the tactic.
The lone striker will be an advance forward trying to lead the line and as well as score goals I want him to create and help bring in the inside forward. I really need him to be active and not letting the defenders get a second of spare time on the ball, Andone will more than likely be the player to do this over Glen Murray but we shall see. Both strikers add something different and I’m slowly thinking Murray may be able to cop in the bigger games.
Making a tactic like this and jumping straight in the deep end with it isn’t something I like doing, let’s hope it works out and we can get some points in January.
Before we get on to the players on the move I had to bring in my own assistant manager and I have done just that. I spent a while looking for someone who had been involved in English football, we welcome the legend, Dennis Bergkamp.
This stage in the season wasn’t many assistant managers available for a quick take and I wanted a free agent. Dennis also brings an attacking knowledge we really need so made sense in that regards also.
SOLD Bruno – £250k – Derby
SOLD Solly March – £5.75m – Fenerbahce
Bruno and March leaves which gave me some more funds but still wasn’t enough to make any major signings on a permanent deal. I did have a good look around and was thinking a loan or two would be the way forward for us. I wanted to bring in some premiership experience who I knew I could trust at this level. Chris Hughton had bought in players from all over and none of them had English league experience which I think was a mistake.
IN Erick Cabaco – Levante
Added another centre back to our ranks, we have let so many goals in this season and now I want to set up with 3 centre backs so another player in this position was vital. Erick will be a starter and hopefully comes in and adds some strength.
IN Vaclav Cerny – Ajax
The second and final season in this window comes from Ajax in Vaclav Cerny. Jose Izquierdo is our current left-sided midfielder but is unhappy so I needed a back up who could replace him if he wasn’t performing. I would be more than happy to give this guy a chance in the first team from day one, to be honest, it’s a position that does need improving.
We started off my reign against Tottenham and what a game it was with a top performance managing to gain a draw. We went ahead twice and it was the player I said would be a big factor in the remainder of the season. Only 37% possession but we knew that would be the case and only 7 shots to their 33. Seven shots is a lot for this team in 90 minutes. I wouldn’t say we were brilliant but it’s a step in the right direction. The tactic worked a treat I did place my 2 wingbacks to fullbacks for a back 5 like I mentioned before, but it worked a treat.
Something I really wanted to get a look at if this tactic would cause the opposition to shoot from long range, seems these early signs show that we were hard to break down. We did concede 2 but it is Tottenham.
One of our goals came from the direct approach that I wanted the players to achieve, the ball started deep in our half and within 3 passes the ball was in the back of the net.
Thank you for joining me guys on my challenge and I would love to hear from you on twitter if you think I can save Brighton from the drop?
Join me next time and see if we have managed to get out the drop zone, closer to safety.