Hi all. We're back for season 2! Sorry for the long delay but I was busy running tests on primary outlets and attackers and trying my hand at some basic FMM analytics. I will be referring to xG in my posts so I'd suggest getting familiar with the concept. Plus it's a fun way to compare things across different seasons and formations.
As a way of an introduction, I thought I'd run some quick xG stats from season 1. Most of the first season was unimpressive in a few versions of a narrow formation - in 32 games played, our xG was 41.8 (1.31 per game) and we scored 46 goals. In the 17 games (most at the end of the season) where we played an attacking 4222, our xG was 38.31 (2.25 per game) and we scored 36 goals! So clearly, my tactics are set for the upcoming season...right?.....
But first, let's touch on the transfers a bit. The transfer budget was generous at $1.6 million. And with the entire team signed to long term contracts, I had only a few needs to address:
BWM - I needed a rock in the midfield with high tackle, so I ended up buying one, a bloke named Dani Santigosa. But he has NO green role traits as BWM, and 3 greens as DLP but he was the best I found so it is what it is. I usually play him as a DLP to keep him positionally sound.
CD - I struck out here as I didn't want to overpay. (A mistake perhaps?)
A versatile W/AP and/or WB. I ended up getting a decent AP who can't play on the right side (so much for versatility) but it was better than spending 600k on a prospect WB.
GK - I really wanted to upgrade my GK but there were few targets on the market and I couldn't get anyone worth starting. As you'll see, this is going to be an ongoing issue.
Lastly, I bought Javi Llor (last year's star loanee who faded late in the season) from his old club which got relegated. He continues to be inconsistent but his stats are great! I bought him for 250k and he's worth $1.1mil already so if nothing else, I'll sell him for a profit next year.
Pre-season was a bit rough as we were forced to play two games in three days a week before the season started. Combined with the off-season conditioning drops, it took us about 6 games to get the whole team to match-ready fitness. However, those first 6 games went pretty well anyway...
But it was not as easy as it looks for our dots. We needed a lot of luck in some of the matches.
These matches were becoming the norm. Not a good sign.
Back To The Tactic, part 2
Last season my defense was stifling but, this season, we're already giving up goals like a mid-table team. Is 4222 really the future? I wasn't so sure. With upcoming league matches against 1st and 3rd teams, I decided to tweak the formation slightly to 4321 by dropping the TM and adding a DLP.
I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to lose the midfield. It is a tactic that worked well for us in the playoffs last season. But would it work here?...
...err, no. We conceded as many goals in these two matches as in the previous six! Both were away fixtures, but still. Whatever hope I had for us of winning instant promotion again went out of the window. Our defense is just not good enough to be mentioned in the same sentence as the La Liga.
Sandwiched between these two matches, we had a home match against an 18th placed team which was the perfect opportunity to try this tactic by @kts365, especially on the heels of his success with FC United. My result was, uh, not quite that good.
We were lucky not to lose.
Is this the end already?
After that tactical adventure, I am starting to seriously consider riding my standard attacking 4222 to a mid-table finish. This may sound like I'm giving up a bit, and maybe I am, but let's be real. I need time to improve the squad so it doesn't get embarrassed in the First Division. I'm ok being an Everton for a year. Gotta walk before I run and all that.
We're tied for 2nd in goals scored and 10th in goals conceded. We're generating 1.54 xG per game (a drop of nearly a whole expected goal from last season in this formation) while allowing 1.73 xG per game. Even in wins, we would often get outplayed.
Overall though, it's not too bad but the team (especially defense and GK) need to be improved significantly before we can take the next step. As the club gains reputation, we'll be able to attract a couple stars. I hope.
Since I'm not worried about getting demoted, I decide to focus on the Spanish Cup. We field strongest teams possible in both matches (both against fellow Second Division teams) and narrowly win both matches at home. This earned us a date with Vigo from the First Division. It's time to get our first Giant Killing scalp!
I wanted to make a quick note about training unhappiness. I've ranted about it in another thread but let's just say I think it's stupid.
This offseason, this nonsensical "feature" claimed our star TM from last season, Pedro Merida, as well as one of our best midfielders. Merida's stats are still ok-ish but the midfielder, Ivi, refuses to do anything and I'm out of training schedule slots to make an individual one just for him. His stats suck now so he's been offered for sale and I expect him to depart in January.