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