Sunday, 12 March 2017

Picking up from Pep - Bumpy Start (FM17)

In the last episode we completed pre-season and prepared for the first game of the season, this is the continuation. 

Man City vs Everton (Result)

What a way to start a season! (Although only for the neutral) We fall into the same trap the Pep squad fell in to that led to his downfall, clearly an immediate impact wasn’t possible. So much for a management bump on results right?

It’s a tough game from the get go – Bruma’s pace on the wing decimates us three times in quick succession and it seemed like there was no way back. We quickly swap things around so Azpilicueta moves to the left to show some experience and counter the threat, it’s to no avail though.  The goals fly in thick and fast and I think, “what have I gotten myself into here?”

My trusted Inter players struggle to settle in to the team, despite playing the same system. Darder does ok but I expect bigger things, Sule doesn’t contribute in the slightest and seems massively out of place – a new main defender is desperately needed. Sule will settle as a decent back up, and although it’s only one game, he doesn’t seem suited to be a every game player.

After ten minutes we’re struggling and a good result seems out of the question, but Coutinho rifles in a shot to give us a glimmer of hope. It settles us down massively as we start to get some rhythm. An Isco penalty gives us even more hope and confidence is at a high now, Sane gets in on the action immediately after to compound the feeling. We’ve done it, we levelled it up! It’s an unbelievable game of football and gets crazier. The feeling doesn’t last long though and Everton grab a fourth before half time.

Things calm for about twenty minutes and when Lewandowski grabs his two goals, I can’t take any more stress. It’s the maddest thing I’ve seen on FM for a long time. I beg we hold on and get a win in our first game, showing a lot of heart along the way.

It’s not to be though, Everton grab another goal, in a carbon copy of the first. It’s a low cross from the wing across goal which leads to a tap in at the back post. It’s not a solid performance from Bertini but he’s still young, and the defenders have given him nothing to work with.

The final whistle goes and the madness ends. I’m happy that we didn’t lose, and considering the first ten minutes that’s a big surprise. There is still plenty of work to be done to get this squad back to it’s best. To the transfer market…

Transfer Business

After the outrageous first game we look to reinforce the squad further. We send out some feelers to clubs with players we want and one deal we do get done is a new No.1. I still have faith that Bertini will be a great purchase in the long run, but it’s too much pressure on the lad. Jack Butland is available for a decent £25M and has plenty of experience. Yes he comes direct from Liverpool but he’ll do us a good job. 

He signs but Bertini keeps his place in the team for the next game against Middlesbrough. Can we get our first win?

Middlesbrough vs Man City

That’s a resounding “no” right there then. Sule once again has an absolute shocker. The need for a full time centre back has reached critical levels now. He’s at fault for both goals being either out of position or not tracking his man. The famed attack also fails to do anything as the top stars flop. We’re outclassed by Boro who were solid throughout. We really didn’t play well, but full credit to them. Their whole line up played their parts – compared to our players it was night and day.

With no more business happening before the next game, we make some personnel changes as we look for our first win. The middle of the park is swapped out as we opt for Gundogan and Tielemans preferred to Darder and Isco. Butland comes in for his first game too, meaning Bertini is relegated to the bench.

Man City vs Sunderland

We see my first win in charge and it’s a dominant display. Sure, Sunderland aren’t much competition but we restrict them to little of the ball and a rare shot. Gundogan and Tielemans worked well together and helped us control the game. The goals weren’t the best, being quite fortunate, we didn’t put away our better chances but it’s a step in the right direction. 

They’re still areas of the squad that need improving and despite a bump in performance, Sule isn’t the man to take us forward. Butland showed his quality though, which is encouraging. There isn’t much time to get business done now either, with money still being hard to come by, there’s a lot of work to be done.

In the next episode we’ll be finishing the transfer window and covering a lot of games, you’ll get to read it here on Man on the Post.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Football Manager 17 - Picking up from Pep.

After 1703 days in charge, Pep Guardiola’s Man City reign is over. In four and a half seasons ruling half of Manchester, he oversees several runner-up campaigns in the Premier League and two cup wins but never achieves massive success. With Man City dropping down the league, the board grew impatient and on 28th of Feb 2021, Pep is relieved of his position and I am named as the favourite.

The Man City job comes along at an interesting time in my career. In the same period that Pep struggled to hit big success at City, I take Inter to 3 consecutive domestic doubles and a Europa League win in the first season. I interview for the City post and as things look positive I start to seriously consider it. The media reiterate that there would be a lot of money to play with, something that is hard to come by at Inter, unless I keep selling my star players. I also consider what else I can achieve at Inter as Champions League success seems unrealistic without major investment. I ask City to wait until the end of the season so we can complete the fourth domestic double – which they oblige.  
We win the league and cup for the fourth year running and I leave Inter a day after the cup final to start my journey at City, beginning to pick up the pieces from Pep.

Man City finish 6th in the league and looking at the squad it is easy to see why. Pep seemed like a FIFA player going mad on career mode buying top players from all of their rivals. Players like Coutinho, Firminho and Lewandowski joined the already impressive roster of attackers like De Bruyne, Sane and Sterling. There’s even more quality in the squad with stars such as Saul and Joao Mario. Creating a balanced squad is going to be a challenge.
As amazing as the attack seemed, the defence hadn’t had as much attention. John Stones and Otemendi were the last remaining players at the club from present day Man City. As good as Stones can be – he’s definitely not good enough to carry the defence in difficult games. The great attack could only take the team so far, the lack of defensive reinforcements showed where Pep might have gone wrong.
First port of call was to find out what the budget was and where I needed to improve. Immediately the defence was a primary target, as well as a dominant central midfielder. I was quite keen on going back to Inter and grabbing some trusted players but I know that would come at a cost.
I was salivating on what budget I was getting, when I joined it said £6M and I was certain that would improve when expectations were set – I was sadly disappointed.
With only a small amount of money to spend I knew I would have to sell to buy, and that would include a lot of work and tough choices. Big bids come in for Firminho, Saul and De Bruyne. We hold off on selling De Bruyne as we see him as an integral part of the squad. Firminho doesn’t impress in the first couple of friendlies and as I’m designing the tactics, he doesn’t fit as well as others. We take the opportunity to cash in and get some money to improve other areas of the squad. Saul leaves for a big £40M to Dortmund and we manage to fob off Kondogbia (who I also fobbed off at Inter too, probably hated the fact I joined) for a decent fee.
Moving to the premier league presents a lot of new issues and questions. I rock up with no current league knowledge, only that United have been dominant, and try to implement the same system that did me well at Inter. The issue with that is that the players don’t all fit in the system. Despite some rocky performances in pre-season and a couple of small tweaks, we stick with it. I’ve made a rod for my own back though, as I end up needing to do a lot of business.
The problem areas in the squad is the defence and goalkeeper. Usual number one Geronimo Rulli is a target for Juve and has his head turned. With other deals on going, we decide to sell. The second-choice goalkeeper is nowhere near the calibre we need him to be, so we must look elsewhere.
In comes Fabrizio Bertini, an Inter youth product who had a fairly successful loan spell in the Premier League the previous season. He’s highly rated with a lot of potential and has some experience in the Premier League. He doesn’t immediately seem like a No.1 which is a concern, and we pay for the potential.
Stat wise, he’s a decent player at 20 years old and if I’m a success at Man City he’ll be a long serving player, starting in the cups but eventually becoming the No.1

In other transfer business, Cesar Azpilicueta becomes available for around £3M and having previously been a target while at Inter, we snap him up, allowing us room to get rid of Clyne, making a small profit on the position in the process.
Letting Saul and Kondogbia go means I need a trustworthy midfielder to fit into the team. After looking around a little, we go back to Inter again and go after Sergi Darder. He’s a great central midfielder who can play both deep lying playmaker and does a serviceable job in the box to box role.

He costs a bomb equalling £38M, but I know I can rely on him to do a job. He’s got a good few years ahead of him too which should equal the cost out.
We visit Inter again for a cheap centre back to go alongside John Stones, substituting for the outgoing Otemendi.
Niklas Sule has been in my squads since I started at Inter and has proven in the past that given a run in the team, he’s a great option. Costing £17.5M it’s a relatively cheap option in the grand scheme of defenders around the world.

The only other business we do before the start of the season is Joao Mario leaving the club for a cool £20M. For all of the Inter players I bring into the club, I certainly don’t like keeping ones around that have been around prior to my arrival.
With all of the business done and pre-season over, it’s time to start the season with what we’ve got.
Man City vs Everton (First Game of the Season)

All of our new signings slip in to the team straight away. Without a true No.1 around, Bertini starts and it’s a big test. Sule comes in to and is there to cover when Azpilicueta pushes forward. Coutinho starts on the left as an Attacking Playmaker and Lewandowski is a Complete Forward set for Attack. We’re attack focused and with such a massive gap in the Everton midfield, we should be able to split them open if we play to the tempo that I want.

It’s my first Premier League game and in all honesty, I’m bricking it. This is a different test and I’ve left a domination Inter Milan team to try and restore Man City to glory – and it all starts here.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Klopps summer clearout

Liverpool reach the end of yet another season which promised much, delivered some hope and certainly pulled on the heartstrings, yet they finish it empty handed. Two finals played and two defeats mean that there is no European football to offer the likes of Mario Goetze as a sweetener to leave his European powerhouse, yet I’m still hugely optimistic for next season. This is entirely down to having Jurgen Klopp as manager. Like a man who realises his girlfriend is far too stunningly attractive and lives in fear of losing her to a flash car owner with a tattooed arm sleeve and tight fitting shirt, its hard not to think that Klopp will not be wooed by a footballing giant at some point. His rebuilding of the squad this summer will be pivotal therefore when it comes to potential success for next season. Predicting who will come into the club is almost impossible. Online gossip columns seem to have a chuck a load of names and clubs in the air and see what lands approach, so it is far easier to see who’s services history’s greatest German could dispose of:-

Simon Mingolet
Has become a byword in the Premier League for iffy goalkeepers. Eleven clean sheets places him sixth overall amongst his peers and it must be said that it can’t be easy playing behind that defence. Yet the Belgian never seems that convincing and his problems appear to be as much mental as physical. I think he’ll be given another season by Klopp as rebuilding work takes place elsewhere. Having said that, never trust a first team goalkeeper who chooses not to wear the number one

Adam Bogdan
You have to feel for the Hungarian, it all started so well as he saved three penalties in a League Cup shootout against Carlisle United. However that was as good as it got for the keeper signed last summer. He dropped a corner at Watford straight at the feet of a grateful Nathan Ake and conceded directly from a corner against Exeter City live on national TV in the FA Cup. It may be best for him as much as anyone if he is quietly let go

Jose Enrique
Out of contract this summer and his chances have been severely hampered these last couple of years by the arrival of Alberto Moreno. He’ll be lucky to be at Anfield next season and will probably go in the summer

Kolo Toure
Another one out of contract in the summer and along with Daniel Sturridge was probably the only Liverpool player to walk off the pitch after the Europa League final feeling a degree of pride. Enormously experienced and if the 35 year old decides to call an end to his playing career, hopefully he can be kept in a coaching capacity

Christian Benteke
If ever a price tag hung around a player’s neck like a millstone it was the £32.5m one that dangled off of the unfortunate Belgian. A pitiful nine goals in 29 appearances following his transfer from Aston Villa last summer, he has rarely inspired confidence in those either playing with or watching him as testified by a 44% shot accuracy. His nadir came in an FA Cup defeat at West Ham where he missed several easy chances which had he been in form for Aston Villa would have been gobbled up. Despite a link to the afore mentioned West Ham, it wont be easy to offload the Belgian. Liverpool, wont want to lose face in taking too much of a financial loss on a transfer coupled with Benteke’s own considerable wages mean that finding a buyer wont be easy. Unless you have just been given a free stadium that is.

Alberto Moreno
Has been unfairly scapegoated following his role in Seville’s equalising goal in the Europa League, but in all honesty his performances have been haphazard this season. However with a lack of real alternatives, the Spaniard may well have a stay of execution

Jordan Ibe
Personally I hope that this doesn’t happen. It’s always good to see young players come through for your team and Ibe is no different. The only sign of tension came early on in Klopp’s reign when walking off the pitch at the end of a Premier League fixture at Spurs; the hands on German appeared to give Ibe rather more than a playful slap. When questioned about it later Klopp’s response was “Well maybe he’s never been given one before”, followed by a trademark giant grin

Martin Skrtel
I think this move will probably happen next season, though there is a case for it to happen sooner. I like Skrtel a lot, though there is only so far being a mad shaven headed Slovakian who likes a tussle with Diego Costa will get you. If it wasn’t for the departure of Toure, the suspension of Mamadou Sakho and the inconsistency of Dejan Lovren, its feasible Skrtel could have gone this summer though I think he will stay.

Mario Balotelli
It’s easy to forget that he’s still a Liverpool player. Sent to AC Milan by Brendan Rodgers last summer for a year’s loan, it’s hard to see where Balotelli’s attitude fits in with Klopp’s Geggenpressing philosophy. The Italian has been linked with a permanent move back to Italy as well as a moneybags transfer to China

Lazar Markovic
Has spent the season on loan at Turkish club Fenerbache where his time was curtailed in February by a hamstring injury. I was surprised to see him go out on loan last season as I feel that he has a lot to offer, though Liverpool do have a lot of attacking options currently and Klopp will surely be looking to add to them. I hope he stays as I think that he could be a player that surprises and impresses the manager

So there we are. These are the players I think who will be most vulnerable to moves this summer and some it seems have reached their logical conclusion with their Liverpool careers, others though still have an awful lot to offer. If it was me and given the choice between leaving and staying to be given playful slaps by Jugen Klopp every day, I wouldn’t be packing my bag just yet

Friday, 8 January 2016

Man on the Wire

Chris and Mark return with this weeks Extra Time podcast and they are joined by 1st time guest and hopefully regular participant Alex.

Its a jam packed bumper episode as we are struggling for sunday show at the min so sit back and enjoy 70 mins of the best football chat available in this part of the internet.


Until next week always remember to have your man on the post 


Watford 5 a side

This week it was Premier League high flyers Watfords turn for the MOTP 5 a side treatment, Here's what we decided

Of course if you disagree with our choice then please don't hesitate to let us know on Twitter @Manonthepost or in the comments section below