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Leeds // The solution?

Welcome to the fourth update of my experience with Leeds United on FM16.

When I last left you we were 7 games into the Premier League season and top of our group in the Europa League, I’ve now finished that season off, so let’s review what happened.

First off, domestically. In the league we were surprisingly consistent throughout the campaign, despite the added interference of Thursday nights in Europe. We slightly exceeded our expectation of finishing 7th by going two better, ending the campaign just outside the Champions League spots in 5th. e2d7bc618fff896d7f1d6f9d8dad402a

In the FA and Capital One Cup’s we were disappointing, in fact when I showed you how we were doing in the league after 7 games in the last post, we were already out of the Capital One Cup. The FA Cup wasn’t much better either, we were knocked out in the fourth round at home to Wolves. Our performance in the domestic cups is something we’ll have to improve on going forward.

Now for Europe, we finished 2nd in a very tough group containing Zenit, Villarreal and Dinamo Zagreb, a brilliant achievement. 1ed55bec0e317b6f33a519eae341c931

In the 1st knockout round we got Roma, playing them at home first then away in Italy. Danny Ings, a new signing in January (I’ll get onto him later) gave us a big advantage when going to Italy as he scored in a 1-0 win at Elland Road in the first leg. The second leg was incredibly tough though. Juan Iturbe gave Roma the lead after 13 minutes, Mohamed Salah doubled their advantage after 35. At half time we were 2-1 down on aggregate but had a vital away goal, meaning if we scored and the score stayed the same we would go through. Straight after the break Mousa Dembele scores. 2-2 now on aggregate, all we had to do was hold on. But we couldn’t. Last seasons star loanee Juan Iturbe popped up again for Roma on 57 minutes and we couldn’t find a way back.

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There’s always Juan.

The European adventure was short but sweet, at least finishing 5th means we get another go at it though. Now to look at performances in the season as a whole.

 

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There will be a couple of new names in that squad report like Mane, YF Carrasco and Danny Ings, I’ll give you a look at them below.

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I don’t really want to talk about the performances of these three but I’ll say why they were brought in. Mane and YF Carrasco were brought in as they were available and we needed added quality in wide area to step in as Adomah and pritchard weren’t up to scratch to be honest. Ings was brought in to help Jay Rodriguez who was in quite inconsistent form in front of goal and I soon realised Steven Fletcher didn’t fit the squad and because of that didn’t perform good enough either.

Anyway on the squad report for the season as a whole, our Wing Backs Byram/Taylor/Davies/Flanagan performed brilliantly as well as our CB’s Murillo/Wimmer and ilori when needed. Our Midfielder’s stole the show with Delph/Cook/Dembele/Kranevitter/Shelvey all playing well consistently. Our attackers/wide players are generally further down the list of average ratings, concerningly (I’m not including mane or Carrasco in this). Honda/Sansone actually had okay seasons, they weren’t phenomenal as their cover was abysmal for the first 20 games or so until we got the reinforcements to come in at the January window and because the strikers weren’t really finishing their chances, Jay Rodriguez and Fletcher in particular.

The attackers needed to be involved in more goals and I set out to change that. I liked the idea of having an inside forward in the tactic but two seems too easy for opposition to defend against, so I tried out Honda in his favourite wide role as an advanced playmaker and it worked very well. I wanted to use Honda in this role moving forward and needed to find a tactic to fit him into. I remembered Cleon’s article on Sisportscentre.com on the art of possession football (Find it here) and how he used a right wide player as an AP. I referred to this article in the introduction post of this blog when I said i wanted my Leeds side to play possession football. I thought the tactic Cleon used looked perfect for my Leeds side especially with the roles he had on players that fit our squad perfectly. The only problem is that Jay Rodriguez doesn’t fit the False 9 role.

So in the summer I set out to strengthen the squad in depth and quality and more importantly find someone to replace Jay Rodriguez as our main striker as well as shipping him out.

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As you can see from this, we did exactly that. Jay Rodriguez was sold to Tottenham for £17.25M and we brought in Wissam Ben Yedder to replace him. 23f1e9364d519f4081af05e10f04cbed

Ben Yedder’s attributes and PPM’s fit the False 9 role fantastically, as you can see I’m currently in November and as I write this he has 6 goals in 11 games.

So that’s the False 9 role sorted, the other thing I wanted to do in this window was get rid of the deadwood and strengthen the first team squad with added quality and depth in important areas. The ins and outs went perfectly to plan. Let’s talk about the outs first, Rodriguez obviously went to Tottenham, Fletcher left for Forest as he declined and also didn’t fit in the False 9 role, this means Danny Ings is now backup/rotation behind Ben Yedder. Adomah left as he wasn’t up to the standard. Of the free transfers Karl Henry and Sol Bamba are the only notable names and them leaving did mean I’d have to bring in a either a DM or CM as well as a CB.

Which brings me onto the rest of the ins..

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Jason Denayer was a rotational player in the title winning Arsenal side. He wasn’t cheap at all, costing £23.5M quite an outrageous fee for a Centre Back but I am fully convinced he can blossom at this club. He has excellent physicals and is fine mentally to be honest but for him to become top class his main defensive attributes (Heading, Marking, Positioning, Jumping Reach) bar tackling need to go up to 16 at least then he’ll be solid.

Next is his fellow countryman..

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Fantastic attributes, versatile, determined personality and a FM favourite, what more could you want? Our midfield just gets better and better.

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Jack Butland is the last transfer in to note, a massive upgrade straight away on John Ruddy and he can grow with the club, our number 1 for a while hopefully.

The rest of the transfers in are youth players I’ve signed on a pre contract on Intake day that are being loaned out straight away or will be developing in our U21’s so I’ll talk about them when and if they get into the first team.

Now back to the tactic..

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This is what we’re using at the moment and what we should keep using going forward. I’ve already said it’s the same as what Cleon used with Swansea in his ‘The Art Of Possession Football Article’ but i want to talk about how it works and what I like about it. It’s intended for possession football and supports pressing, everyone other than the right back, the goalkeeper and the central defenders are on support duty, this ties well with keeping the ball and working as a team, hence the highly structured team shape too. Since it’s the main reason i turned to this tactic I want to show an example of how the Advanced Playmaker role works in this system. 2016-01-25_00001

Excuse my terrible editing job that was done on Microsoft Paint but as you can see here, Honda comes from wide into the centre as the team’s main creative link and as he does this he drags the left sided defenders away from their positions to close him down, this creates space for Byram the attacking full back on the right to race down the right flank in acres of space for Honda to find him or Honda will play it to the Roaming Playmaker (In this instance Lewis Cook #23) and he’ll switch the play to the right.

Right now we’re unbeaten in competitive football, sit 5th in the Premier League after 11 games, top of our Europa League group looking like favourites to top the group and we are in the Capital One Cup qtr final, hopefully we can get some silverware this season! d57e4b27d07edc3d0db698012ed90ae2

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I’ll probably be back when we’re around 2/3 of the way through the season. In the meantime if you have any questions comment them below or follow me on Twitter (LocomotionFM)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Leeds // Passports At The Ready

Welcome to the third update of my adventures with Leeds, we’ve finished season two and things are about to get interesting.

I left you on a bit of a cliff-hanger in the last update as to whether we’d get into Europe or not and as you can probably tell by the title of this post, we did it!

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We held our nerve at the end of the season, beating teams teams below us like we should (Excluding Crystal Palace who we got FM’d by) but couldn’t really beat the big teams, disappointingly losing 3-2 to Arsenal and 3-1 to Man United but drawing with City, Chelsea and Spurs, which I’ll happily take.

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Anyway, these results left us in 6th place, a brilliant position to finish in our first season back in the Premier League.

Our best performers were Charlie Taylor and Sam Byram, our wing backs that excel in our tactic. Next up where our three central midfielders Delph, Dembele and Lewis Cook. These three and our wing backs all had a 70% and above tackling completion ratio and a 75% and above pass completion ratio which is what made them our star players this season. Next up are our Inside Forwards Boga and Iturbe who managed to get 18 goals and 9 assists combined, very impressive considering Iturbe only joined in January. You’ll have to look quite far down the list to find Steven Fletcher our ‘Main Goalscorer’ who only managed 11 goals in 37 appearances, making me think whether to bring in a replacement in the summer or not.

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One area of our game that let us down this season was how much we were conceding from corners. Luckily after this season finished I found a fantastic defensive corner tactic from The FM Veteran. Which can be found by clicking This Link bhmne0d

Right then, that’s last season reviewed let’s look at what we did in the summer. Looking at the players we let go, there’s no real standout players as most of them were out of favour, so let’s get straight into the players we brought in. o7aqom9

Jay Rodriguez was our ‘Big Buy’ and someone i needed to bring in to get us a few more goals this season than Fletcher did last year. Pacey, great dribbling, good finisher. Everything I want really.nglchui

I bought Kevin Wimmer to improve our defence as he has excellent physical attributes, only his heading lets him down on his technical attributes but that can be improved by training. One massive con with this signing is he has the dreaded ‘Tries To Play Way Out Of Trouble’ PPM which I hope I can get one of my coaches to train out of him or i’ll have to sell him. qh04ock

Keisuke Honda was signed on a free. He has very well rounded attributes especially his physicals which are quite good for a 31 year old. He can play on the right as a Inside Forward and being left footed he fits that role perfectly. One big plus of this signing is that he boosts our revenue in Asia and his shirt sales basically pay his wages! ohnhp8d

We signed two very good regens in Colin Ferguson and Michael Hurd. The former is a striker I found on regen day from the Middlesbrough academy and snapped up for a compensation deal of £625K he has been dubbed the ‘New Michael Owen’ lets hope injuries aren’t a part of that comparison! The latter is a Defensive Midfielder that was found by my Director of Football who signed him from QPR for £425K.flcbsab

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The media have predicted that we’ll finish 7th in the league this season, which with added Europa League football could be quite a challenge. 4k27sjh

After 7 games we sit in 6th place having only lost 1 game which was on the opening day away against Everton.nxupcmj

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We currently sit top of our Europa League group after one game, the other teams in our group are Zenit, Villarreal and Dinamo Zagreb so we’re going to have to work hard to get through as it could be quite tight!9jbk9jp

Not much has changed with the tactic, but I am now experimenting with Complete Wing Backs instead of regular Wing Backs6nzmovg

So that brings me to the end of this update, I’ll be back soon with a mid-season/end of season update. If you have any questions then comment below or hit me up on Twitter (@LocomotionFM)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Leeds // Looking Good

Welcome to the second update of the Leeds save. You may be expecting a quick mid season update where I’d tell you how we are doing and where I think we’ll finish in the Championship in the first season, let me tell you now that is not what you’re getting. I was enjoying the save so much that I played through the first season and I’m now mid way into season two, A LOT has changed so lets get into it!

I realise I didn’t update you about transfers in the introduction, so here’s who we brought in. I set out to get wide players in like Traore/Aarons/McAleny and also added to the core of the team, bringing in Browning/Fulton/Henry/Carroll. Dwight Gayle was brought in to help Antenucci as Chris Wood didn’t fit in and wanted out in January, going to Bournemouth for £1.2m. 3c59db1711da6db64f3e41d90e4ba993

The start to season one was underwhelming to say the least, we only got one win in pre season and failed to win a single game in August, we couldn’t even beat Shrewsbury! This lead to some immediate tactical tweaks over the international break (Something I’ll go into more detail about later on) and when the break was over we recorded our first win of the season against Brentford which lead to an unbeaten run going from 12/09/15 to 21/11/15

Start of season 1

1st half of the season.

Looking to the second half of the season I was hoping for at least a top half finish due to how the first half panned out. In the January window I brought in Dwight Gayle up top to help out Antenucci who had only registered 7 goals in the first half of the campaign, As well as experienced Defensive Midfielder Karl Henry and Tom Carroll from Spurs to bulk up the midfield. The second half of the season was slightly more inconsistent for us, we were good against the teams around us, but struggled to see games out at times. We were poor against the top 2 teams in the league, QPR and Ipswich, which was to be expected.

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2nd half of the season.

At the end of the season we finished 5th. Getting into the play offs where we beat Burnley 2-1, securing promotion back to the Premier League!

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Domination.

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Final league Table.

This is obviously a massive achievement for the club, but the good news didn’t stop there. Massimo Cellino ended up selling the club to a consortium led by Ex-Brazilian Footballer and politician, Roberto Dinamite.

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New Owner, Roberto Dinamite.

In the summer I was given £20m and told that I should avoid relegation, something I had no problem with. The budget did mean that if i wanted good quality players then I’d have to look at who is transfer listed.

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As you can tell I stayed away from the foreign market and brought in players from England. The stand out deal is definitely the £9.75m return of Fabian Delph, a Leeds academy product. I brought in John Ruddy for added quality and experience in goal, Tyias Browning came in permanently in defence, Mings/Mattioni/Oviedo came in to add depth in our Full Back positions. Romeu, along with Delph came in to add quality to our midfield. Boga/Barker/Adomah were brought in as they fit in the inside forward roles that our tactic uses. Gayle and Fletcher came in to fill the gap left by Antenucci (Who’s contract ran out) and to be the goalscorers in our team.

I mentioned earlier that I had tweaked the tactic slightly, so here is how it looks now.c5bjhft

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Team Shape and Mentality have stayed the same but I have changed the team instructions ever so slightly, taking out ‘Roam from positions’ as doesn’t tend to fit with a highly structured team shape and adding in ‘Look for overlap’ which works well with the changes in our defence. In defence, the Full Backs have turned into Wing Backs to add an even better option in attack. Central Defenders are now on cover due to the fact the Wing Backs will be pushed up high. We now have an Inside Forward on attack on the left hand side, just to give us an attacking spark and someone to run at the opposition defence. The striker is now a Complete Forward on support this is due to the arrival of Steven Fletcher mainly and because the False 9 didn’t get us that many goals last season.

The first half of the season has went really well, we kicked the season off with a win by coming back from behind to win 2-1 at home to Villa, showing great character that is very much needed in the Premier League. What I like about our first half to this season is we’ve not lost to the teams around and below us in the league and have shown fight against the so-called ‘Big Teams’ drawing 2-2 with Man United, beating City 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Chelsea.

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1 st half of the season.

Before the January window came round the board had a meeting with me and gave me an extra £27m in the transfer kitty to spend when the window came round. My main goal was to bring in quality to the squad. Murillo came in for £4.3m and is already our best defender, a class above Sol Bamba, Tyias Browning and Liam Cooper who were playing there before him. Kranevitter and Dembele were transfer listed so I was able to get them both for under £9m, incredible bargain for two quality midfielders. Dodo came in on loan as a better back up option for Charlie Taylor at LWB. Tom Davidson was signed by my Director of Football and is very much a developmental youngster for the future. Juan Iturbe came in as he was loan listed and Adomah was injured leaving us with a lack of quality on the right hand side.

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A few of these players have been plugged into the first team early on and we’ve started the new year really well so far, losing only once to bitter rivals Man United.

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We now sit 7th in the league on a fantastic 47 points, a top half finish is just about secured, can we keep up the push for Europa League or even Champions League qualification?vtaxb7q

I hope you enjoyed this MEGA update on the Leeds save, next update with be end of season 2 review and a preview of season 3!

Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

🙂 (Hit me up on Twitter @locomotionFM)

 

 

LeedsUnited

FM16 // Introduction

Hello and welcome to LocomotionFM a Football Manager blog written by me, Jon.

This will be an introduction to the save I’ll be blogging, in which I will be managing Leeds United with the aim of taking them back to the summit of English and eventually European Football, so let’s get into it!

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So the board want me to finish Mid-Table but have only gave me £249K transfer budget to work with meaning the loan market is going to be our friend in this first window and looking at the squad, it looks fairly good in terms of quality with players like Sam Byram, Luke Murphy and Lewis Cook standing out, but Leeds lack depth on the wings with only Botaka and Dallas there as recognised wingers and I want to play with wingers so I’ll have to get looking for recruits. One thing that stands out for me in the team report is that we are the 9th best side in the league for passing, this gives me hope for my possession based tactic.

Speaking of my possession based tactic, here it is..

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orig tact

Inspired by a piece on sisportscentre.com about The Art Of Possession Football, the aim for this tactic is simple, keep the ball and have an attacking outlet. The mentality is on standard to start off with but this will change depending on who I’m playing and whether I’m home or away. the team shape is on highly structured as I want my team to keep it simple and work as a team. I haven’t put any specific instructions onto any players other than my keeper, I’ll show these below as they’re important for playing out of defence. I have both full backs on attack as it suits the players Leeds have in these positions, Charlie Taylor and Sam Byram specifically. The roaming playmaker role will be filled mainly by Lewis Cook who as his role states, will be the heartbeat of the team. The man occupying the False Nine role will be the experienced Italian forward, Mirco Antenucci.

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Quick note on Sam Byram: He had one year left on his current deal and I handed him a new deal until 2019.

In terms of staff I have brought in 2 new fitness coaches and an extra goalkeeping coach. These additions have boosted some of the areas of our coaching team to the best in the Championship which is fantastic. Having a good backroom team is an important part of FM that some people don’t pay too much attention to.

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Before

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After

That brings me to the end of the introduction to my blog and this Leeds United save, I’ll be back with a bigger update after I’ve played a big chunk of the season and update you with transfers, results, tactical changes etc.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions then comment below or hit me up on Twitter (@LocomotionFM)

🙂