It’s been a while since my last blog post, and what I have for you today is something a bit different to what I have previously done. It may not be for everyone, and to some people what I am about to discuss may seem very obvious, hopefully however, this will be of interest to many and it’ll help them in their own saves.
So what do I mean by ‘FM Psychology: Aiming High’? I found during a save on FM13 with Zagłębie Lubin that setting goals for my team (10 points from the next 5 games etc.) proved very effective and helped me to win the Polish League despite lacking the personnel or finances that the likes of Legia Warsaw & Lech Poznan had.
By placing this pressure upon myself, I subsequently had a greater focus and drive to achieve the targets which I had set. For example, say I had 7 points from 4 matches and in the 5th game I was facing Lech Poznan, a superior team. Previously I may have accepted a draw, or even a defeat, because after all, no-one expected me to get 3 points. However, because of the set goal, I expected to bag the points. Therefore during the game I would watch with a more intense focus than I perhaps normally would, looking for anything which could give me the edge and help me achieve my target.
I am a big believer that the more you put into Football Manager, the more you get out of it. You have to really immerse yourself and treat it as though it’s a real football match. Having the target encouraged me to put more into games, and while this may not always work as you can’t control everything, it will give you a far better chance than if you just sit back and hope you scrape a win.
Basically, the premise behind the idea of this post is that setting seemingly astronomic targets can help provide you with a greater focus and help achieve said targets. Hopefully this is making some sort of sense. And if it isn’t, when I proceed to apply it to my current game things should become clearer.
applying the theory
Clearly for this to work you require a decent base to proceed from. Having a 2-6-2 , all out attack tactic is unlikely to lead a mid table team to the title. So when I was considering this idea I looked to arguably the biggest over achievers in recent football history; Club Atlético de Madrid 2013/14, La Liga Winners and Champions League Finalists.
In an attempt to copy their phenomenal results, the first step was to re-create the tactics they used so successfully, in Football Manager. And this excellent analysis of Atlético was a God send. The results of my recreation will be shown later in the post.
The team I chose as the guinea pig was my local team, Norwich City. I am currently about to start my 3rd season with them, and this is the season I am going to go all out and try to impersonate Atletico. But briefly let me just explain what has happened during the first 2 seasons in East Anglia.
With the strongest squad in the Championship it was expected of me earn promotion, and so I used the season to develop my Atlético tactic set.
We were predicted to win the league, and an incredible start saw us make it to the end of October undefeated. However, the Atleti-inspired tactic I was using was rather cautious and more suited to the Premier League (as shown by a 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup, and taking Chelsea to a replay). The overly cautious nature in the league cost us quite a few points, especially against smaller teams which didn’t come at us. However, promotion was secured and the we could finally test ourselves in the PL.
We made massive changes to our squad for out first PL season, mainly financed by the sale of Nathan Redmond for £20 million. He was incredible in the Championship (18 goals, 8 assists in 32 apps) but his low work rate didn’t completely suit the Atleti style we were looking for.
(By the way, not all the signings where made in the Summer, some were made in January.)
I set myself a target of 45 points after 30 games, and then try to make it to 50. However, we didn’t quite make it and got 49 points, along with an above average 8th position. Considering the money we spent I was targeting a minimum of top 12/11.
Some might think this is very good result for a promoted team, but as I said above, considering the money I spent it’s not as impressive as on first glance. It could have been a lot better, however, as we went on a horrific run at the end of the season which saw us win 1, draw 4 and lose 4. A number of our draws and losses through the season should have really been wins.
Setting the aims
The 8th placed finish of last year means we made it into the Europa League because of cup winners etc. At first I thought this was going to be a massive nuisance as I wanted to focus solely on the PL. However, I have had a rethink and thought to myself; Atletico competed brilliantly on 2 fronts (3 including a semi-final appearance in the Copa Del Rey), and as I am trying to replicate them so should I!
It’s highly unlikely we could do win the league like Atleti did, but the targets for this year are going to be pretty adventurous.
- Premier League: Top 5 finish
- FA Cup, or, League Cup: Semi Finals
- Europa League: Semi Finals
I am wary of going for a top 4 finish considering the massive points difference between 5th & 4th last year. However, these are minimum targets and exceeding them would be terrific.
Tactics & team
After all this waffle about creating Atlético’s tactics here they are, with the likely first choice XI’s for the season:
The basic principles for all the formations are:
- Direct, fast play
- Domination/overloading of the centre
- High intensity
The 4-4-2 has become much more aggressive since the days in the Championship when we played with two CM-D. It is now used in home matches and against weaker teams to dominate them.The 4-1-4-1 is used away from home and against stronger teams, and the 4-4-1-1 is not used as much, mainly just to exploit certain teams who struggle when facing it.
The team instructions are identical for all the formations, as the style doesn’t really change just the shape. I’m always looking to evolve these however, and so changes are inevitable through the season. I also vary the defensive line according to the opposition, usually pressing even higher to minimise space in midfield.
Depending on how this season goes, I may do an analysis of the tactic set but lets wait and see.
Finally, this is the squad & transfers heading into the first game (minor signings still to be made as back up):
Well, I’m pretty sure this is my longest post on the blog and to be honest I am not 100% about it. Therefore feedback is even more welcome than usual! The second part to this post, reporting the season, will come as soon as I have finished it, which will hopefully be as soon as possible.
As always thanks for reading, and hopefully I will have something very impressive to bring you next time ⚽️