Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Tactics and formations only do so much, the players available to you, dictate how you'll set your team up. I was quite fond of the 4-3-1-2 Defensive Midfielder in FM13, but when I brought that tactic to FM16 (I couldn't abandon my team 30 seasons in for 15 and 16) , I got shellacked. Change of plan; I adopted the 4-2-3-1 and all was well in the world.
Tactics are personal preference, I favor a possession based game and prefer playing with one striker. I hoard midfielders also...but that's just an FM thing.

Tactic – 4-2-3-1 Wide

I generally do not change my formation before the match, unless I'm playing a significantly better team. Though, if better opposition plays a 4-3-2-1 with a defensive midfielder, rather than an advanced playmaker, I am more inclined to match their formation. If the better team has a man in front of the defense, it's almost foolish to try and take that head on from the start.

My Team instructions will generally look like the above image at the start of every game.

Against significantly weaker opposition, I'll choose Attacking mentality. Against similar strength opposition at home, I stick with Control, away from home I might adopt Standard before switching to Control. Against the top sides at home I keep the Control setting, away generally I set up on the counter, home or away, I limit Creative Freedom, selecting Be More Disciplined.

Team Shape
I always have Flexible for Southampton. I would like to select Fluid, but I think it allows almost too much creativity. If I were playing as a top side however, I would definitely select Fluid.

Team Instructions
-Retain Possession
-Shorter Passing
-Work Ball Into Box
-Exploit the Middle

Around the 60 minute mark is when I make changes. However, if a player is doing really poorly, a rating below 6.0, I'll sub him at halftime usually.

Opposition Instructions
Vary from team to team. The one constant is I ALWAYS (from FM13-17) close down the fullbacks. I'll close down anywhere from 4-6 players, depending on the strength of opposition.

General Play
Key to how my Southampton side play are the Fullbacks, always on Attack setting, set to getting further forward, and putting in crosses. The Deep Lying Playmaker is always in a Defensive role and whoever partners him is the Advanced Playmaker, in a supporting role. That being said, against top top sides, I play both midfielders as DLP with Defensive setting. Wingers aren't always wide men anymore, so usually the AMR and AML, are inside forwards, in the Support role, allowing room on the outside. The AMC is usually with the Attack setting and More Risky Passes as he's the main creative force. The Striker is always on Attack setting and I prefer Advanced Forwards, Complete Forwards, and Poachers. There are always only four players with an Attack role - both Fullbacks, the AMC (the attack setting can rotate between the AMR and AML, but generally it is the AMC), and the Striker.

1. Winning against superior opposition with 30 minutes to play
          Deciding when to switch to a Containment strategy is the toughest. I try and resist as long as possible, but around the 80-83 minute mark I select Be More Disciplined and Stick to Positions. I've been burned many times for switching to early.

2. Losing by 1, with 15 minutes to play
          Attack mode by now should have already been selected. It's around the 75 minute mark that I will throw caution into the wind and select Overload. I love Overload. Tempo is pushed to as high as it will go and Closing Down is at the highest setting. Opposition settings are crucial here, close down the midfielders in an attempt to get possession back. I've had quite a bit success in scoring late goals, but I've also been done on the counter, so it goes both ways. This also applies when drawing against a team you should be beating.

3. Playing with 10 men
          We've all been there with the straight red or the double yellow. It's never convenient, as often it is a defender who is sent off. You should have at least one CB and one FB on your bench, minimizing the chance you have to play someone out of position. Then, I take off the AMC and replace him with someone who can play the DM role.

Monday, November 21, 2016

January Ins and Outs

The January transfer window has finally open and closed and with so many players wanting to leave, transfer deadline was nervy. My policy on players who want to leave is be my guest. If you don't want to be here, I don't want you. Also, if anyone was wondering, I'm using a large database with 100,000+ players.

Everton lead the way in trying to unsettle and poach my players away. They currently want Ryan Bertrand, who I said could leave if they made a decent offer. They want Jordy Clasie, who told me he wanted the pay raise that came from that move. Last but not least, they want aging Steven Davis. The issue with Clasie and Davis is I can't sell half my midfield without proper reinforcements. Tottenham are interested in Nathan Redmond, as is Man City. Both Manchester clubs also want Virgil van Dijk, whose been my best and most consistent performer. I promised I would accept a bid if it came; fortunately for me it never did.

The Outs ($28.25M)

James Ward-Prowse (CM)
$18M - Chelsea

Once Chelsea were interested he wanted to leave. I offered him directly to Chelsea for $18M (his valuation was $16M) because as he was already unsettled, they would make an approach on deadline day and force my hand to sell for much much cheaper.

Oriol Romeu (DM)
$10.25M - West Brom

This transfer was arranged days after the Summer window closed. He's been on the bench most of the season as I don't have a purpose for someone whose primary position is defensive midfielder.

The Ins ($19.025M)

Jordan Williams (CD)
$550K - Huddersfield

I couldn't pass up his raw physical stats. Even if he doesn't break into first team, he'll have decent sell on value.

Fredrik Midtsjø (CM)
$3.8M - Rosenborg

Cheap and has more than decent stats. Great mental stats and he slotted perfectly into my midfield pairing as he can play the advanced playmaker role in support and deep lying playmaker in defense, with full competence. Scored on his debut, I already have a great affinity for him.

Leo Suarez (IFR)
$725K- Villarreal

I needed more depth on the right hand side of attack due to injury so I picked this lad up. I like his physical stats, but dribbling, flair, technique, and vision were what really caught my eye. Very cheap so even if it doesn't work out, no harm done.

Andre Horta (CM)
$11M - SL Benfica

From FM16, I remember picking him up (fantastic stats) because he was being wasted in the Benfica 'B' team. He was excellent, can become a world class player. I don't know how it happened, but he was transfer listed and I jumped at that. 15s and 16s all over the place and he has pace and acceleration, something that you just can't teach.

Sander Berge (CM)
$2.2M - Vålerenga

I love scouting Scandinavia in the hopes of finding cheap talent. It's there, you just have to look. For his age, his raw stats across the board were too good to pass up. Furthermore, he's a giant, providing me with height and strength. Part of the transfer deal was to loan him back until the end of the season, which is great, he'll get more playing time.

Veljko Birmancevic (CAM)
$750K - Partizan

Unfortunately, I've had to loan him out to Vallecano to try and get a work permit. Apparently in FM17, it's more difficult, I've been reading up on that. In future transfer windows, I probably will resist players who need that. Other than that, he looks like he good be a good one.

I made it through January without losing Van Dijk, Clasie, Bertrand, or Fonte (homesick), which was my biggest accomplishment second to bringing in Andre Horta. Horta also has a $63M release clause for teams in Champions League. As you can tell, I've brought in quite a few midfielders. This is in anticipation for Steven Davis retirement or being sold as he's getting on in age. I think Clasie will leave over the summer as well, so this way I'm prepared. My major purchase in the Summer will be at least two centerbacks as it seems I'll be without Fonte and Van Dijk come next season.

January Mega Post!

January starts right where we left off with matches coming thick and fast, thank goodness for squad depth and rotation. We welcome Hull to St. Mary's and that's who we needed to play after a run of three games without a win.

A match I can have no complaints about. An early goal from a penalty scored by Schaub, the neat littler player he is. For further vindication, new signing Fredrik Midtsjø smashed one in from 25 yards out, and Gerard Moreno sealed the deal in the 81st minute.

The FA Cup is back for the Third Round and we were drawn against Cambridge United, which pretty much guarantees us progression to the next round.

Very simple match that we won 5-0. The side I played was fairly strong, Fonte returning from a 3-match suspension for a straight red. Fortunately it was just a formality to move on to the next round.

The dreaded EFL Cup and it's ridiculous two leg semi-final. We were drawn against Manchester United and I have little to no interest in this competition. My priorities are top half league finish, FA Cup, and as far as we can go in the Europa League.

I found this game difficult in terms of control or counter settings. Never really was happy with my tactics but we still came away with a 1-1 draw. MUFC starting eleven was decent, but then Jose tossed on the kids in the second half. In opposition settings I had my players close down the kids always, as there first touch and composure is limited. We definitely deserved the late goal.

Oh, Alan Pardew. That dance you did will be burned forever in my brain. I have rotten luck against Pardew and Crystal Palace.

It started off so well, Gerard Moreno with another goal (8 in the league, 16 total!). Then the error by Forester happened; right through his hands and into the back of the net. Capitulation shortly followed and we never recovered.

A week later our attentions are directed at Arsenal, who are in first. Ozil and Sanchez are out, perhaps that is to my benefit.

Eh, not really. Moreno with a neat finish from a cross from Bertrand, they link up well. Then the eternal struggle I face; when to switch to containment. As a possession oriented team, choosing the right time to drop back and hold the lead can be really difficult. Over and over again, in FM, if you switch to early, you get punished. Clearly, I switched too early. I may have gotten away with a control setting, but it was nonstop pressure on our end. Disappointing draw as we were leading most of the game.

The second leg of the EFL semi-final, away to Old Trafford. I care about all games on FM, but as Southampton manager, I could have cared less about the final result of this game. There's a FA Cup match against Spurs right around the corner...

It was a fairly limp display, but the key was no one got hurt.

The FA Cup Fourth Round had us visiting White Hart Lane and in form Spurs. I played close to my strongest lineup, with new signing Leo Suarez coming in on the right hand side of attack. Spurs are still without Harry Kane, so that is to my benefit.

This qualifies as one of those immensely satisfying FM games. An early Moreno gaol (another!) and that calmed the nerves. Spurs started pushing men forward so I switched to counter settings to soak up the pressure. We possibly should have had a second, but this is a strong victory. Morale is high!

This was a January mega post as I am in the tail end of the semester at university. I'm on Thanksgiving Break and I hope to make a tactics post, where I'll detail what I use and why. Next however, I will make a post about my January Ins and Outs! I can also including scouting updates if folks are interested; even if I can't add them to my squad, I'm obsessed with scouting.

Thanks for those that are reading and feel free to get in touch via email or twitter!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

December Games pt.2

Pochettino has been suggesting we are overachieving in the league and I bristle at that. We'll show them. Spurs and Harry Kane make me nervous so I use two deep lying playmakers, Davis with a defensive role and Højbjerg as support, rather than one with the advanced playmaker support role.

Long may the overachieving continue. Gerard Moreno scored the first after being played in by a nice through ball from Tadic. The game turned then after Eric Dier's red card at the end of the first half for a nasty challenge. We were in cruise control in the second half, Moreno adding his second with a fine header. Post match, Pochettino called us ordinary but I shrug him off and congratulate the lads on a fine victory.

We now prepare for a visit from Stoke who are in 17th. I will use the opportunity to rotate and hope it doesn't backfire. I rotate the fullbacks and the wingers, but keep Moreno in as he is hot, six goals in five matches.

Backfired. Well, only sort of, but I should've known when they scored three minutes in. Moreno equalized, vindicating my keeping him in. Luck was not on our side, Stoke's winner was a Jordy Clasie own goal that trickled over the line. The stats say it all; we created loads of chances, bossed possession, yet came up short.

Before the next match, I am interrupted by Cedric, who wants to discuss fist team soccer. I oblige and promise to give him starts in upcoming matches. Dalot is currently only expecting to play cup games, so I can keep both players happy while rotating my squad. Normally I rule with an iron fist however, if someone wants to leave, be my guest. A second interruption, this time by the board, offering me a 2 year extension on my contact. I accept delightedly.

Christmas comes and goes and the Boxing Day match is against West Brom, who are in 10th.

We once again concede an early goal, which is becoming a pattern. Jay Rodriguez in the second half missed a sitter from a header six yards out. I change to overload setting after subbing out the entire front three, pushing for the equalizer. Even being reduced to ten men for a second yellow by Jonas Olsson didn't help. A second goal by Berahino in stoppage time sealed our second loss in a row.

'Sterile possession', as Arsene Wegner once said. Only three shots on target, the same as West Brom, but they made their shots count. We have to right the ship and finish 2016 strong against Middlesborough.

A bore draw after we started off with an early Charlie Austin goal. Negredo equalized with a stunner from outside the 18, despite instructions to close down at all times. I feel play has suffered since my benching of Ward-Prowse, but seeing as he'll be off in January I don't want to play him.

This concludes the December games and there are new signings in January and a few departures. James Ward-Prowse will be leaving for Chelsea. Man City have announced interest in Virgil Van Dijk, but I have no interest in selling. At least not until summer.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Summer Ins and Outs

The Southampton squad is pretty small already and bringing in reinforcements was a higher priority than moving people out. I mentioned Martin Valjent in a previous post. I snagged $8 million from Everton for Shane Long because I don't care how fast you are, if you're finishing is only 12 then you can't be my striker.

One thing I've notice is that as Southampton, many players are flat out not interested in joining the club. They will rue the day they said no. Rue!

The Ins ($41M)

Miguel Luis (CM)
$900K - Sporting B

A must sign for any save. At only 17, I let him develop in the u23 squad and play him in the cup games that don't matter.

Gerard Moreno (AF)
$14.5M - Espanyol

I needed to bring in an established striker to rotate with Charlie Austin and was satisfied with Moreno's stats. He got off to a slow start, but now he's banging them in.

Ante Coric (AP)
$17.25M - Dinamo

An obvious pickup because Southampton don't actually have a young schemer in this position. A sizable dip into the coffers, but worth it in either resell value or just a damn good player in a few years. I play him as much as possible.

Louis Schaub (AP)
$5.5M - SK Rapid Wien

Diogo Dalot (RB)
$850K - FCP B

My personal favorite this year. Costs almost nothing and is Premier league ready. Potential growth is really exciting and I try and play him as frequently as possible. Easily my right back as long as I can hold onto him,

Danny Loader (ST)
$725K - Reading

One for the future, his base stats were too good to pass up. Also he's English, and you can never have too many homegrown players.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

First December Games

The December month starts with an away game to Everton who are absolutely dreadful. They are mired in 20th place and have already replaced Koeman with the FA's choice Sam Allardyce.
Lineup with Sunderland in mind around the corner.

Of course, 3 minutes in and Lukaku has broken free in the six yard box and has a simple tap in. Everton's celebrations are quickly doused with a fine Charlie Austin header, the cross supplied from the wonderkid Diego Dalot (if you need a RB, pick him up, he's Premier league ready).

Now that it's back to 1-1, we are finally on the front foot. Six minutes before half, a cross supplied from Bertrand and Charlie Austin picks up his second goal, 11th of the season. Possession stats nearly identical, but we deserved this 3 points.
Post Match Analysis.

All things relating to David Moyes, the focus is now on Sunderland who are punching above their weight in 7th! This is not the first time I have encountered this kind of Moyes; in my FM16 save he went on to manage Barcelona and win many trophies. I am wary. Jose Fonte's straight red in a previous match led to a further two game ban by the authorities so I am without his services. One of my summer pickups, Martin Valjent, deputizes for him. In terms of cheap, mid-table talent, he's probably a solid pickup as he can also play LB.
$1.2 from Ternana in Serie B

Well that didn't quite go as planned. A putrid first half giving way to a decent second half, minus the fact we conceded. Again. In a master stroke, my substitute Gerard Moreno gave us the lead in the 69th minute.  We were pegged back 5 minutes later by my failure to change to a control setting after scoring. I cursed as we hit the post in the 89th minute, but the goal never really looked like coming. 
This Sunderland side is 7th...? Must be the Twilight Zone.

Up next is first place Tottenham. I will make a post highlighting some of my summer signings.

A New Dawn

In Football Manager 2013, I logged over 1000 hours as I couldn't bring myself to play 14 or 15, even though I purchased them. I dabbled in 16, but 17 really has me hooked. In previous incarnations, I always played as Manchester United, as they are my favorite team. However this time around, I couldn't bring myself to play as them, too many faults in the squad that I will let AI Jose deal with.

Thus enter Southampton, who have a generous transfer budget to start the season, a good spine, and exciting youth prospects. It is henceforth my mission to see what becomes of this save. As I start this blog, it is already December 2016 in the game. I will post a couple screenshots now of the squad and current results.

I am an avid fan of scouting and finding wonderkids, so I will also post screenshots of those that I find. Furthermore, I can't ever bring myself to sim any part of the game, so sometimes it is slow going. I always start as a suit and tie manager with the highest qualifications. 4-2-3-1 Wide is my preferred formation.

This has most definitely been inspired by The Set Piece's and Iain Macintosh's championship manager Everton save.
James Ward-Prowse has been tempted by Chelsea and will play no further part in my squad. 

Team instructions.

Current standings & competition progress.