Part 6 – tasting success

Welcome back to part 6 of my attempt to bring European glory back to Bucharest. We are at the end of season 3 and all I can say is we have been on an incredible ride this year, I have been itching to share it but unfortunately time has not been on my side.

Liga 1

So filling in from the last post, we had just entered the winter break unbeaten and sitting comfortably at the top of the league. We continued the fantastic form and maintained our unbeaten run throughout the campaign. Finishing a massive 18 points above our closest rivals. 7 of our 8 draws came before the winter break so our form during the closing stages of the season I was incredibly proud of. winning all of our domestic games apart from 1 draw away to Viitorul. Once again we were clear favourites to win the title but I can honestly say the improvement and the fashion the boys went about winning it has really given me the delight and the enthusiasm to keep pushing with this career, driving to eventually win the champions League with Steaua and improving the quality and reputation of Romanian football.

season 3 - table

To add to this success, we also won the Super Cup, League Cup and the Romanian Cup, claiming a famous quadruple. The previous two seasons we have won 3 out of 4, which has been a delight but now we have won the 4 I cannot be any more proud.

season 3 - quad

After claiming this domestic achievement I was branded with the success of entering the Romanian Hall of Fame as the most decorated manager in Romanian history. After being filled with honour and an overall sense of euphoria I realised that the Hall of Fame was missing something. Actually I can’t take that credit, @FMPressure actually pointed this out to me. Emerich Jenei the man in charge of Steaua the night they lifted the champions League, the whole purpose of this save, to emulate his success, was not in the Hall of Fame. Slightly strange but I will always see myself as second best until we are crowned European Champions.

season 3 - HOF

Champions League

As I mentioned in part 5 we had qualified from our tough Champions League group and mad it to the knock out stages of the competition. This was a massive improvement on last year as we couldn’t even manage a win, let alone qualify.

We were drawn against the reigning champions, Liverpool, thanks again FM for this you really are trying to make this difficult. Considering that sides like Sevilla and Kiev had also qualified, I felt like we deserved an easier opponent, but that was not to be.

We won the first leg at home 1-0 with a 44th minute goal from the sensation Paul-Jose M’Poku. He has turned out to be an absolute bargain, signing for us on a free transfer, and getting 16 goals and 18 assists in his first season. We arrived at Anfield with a slender lead, but a lead never the less. We were completely under the cosh as lost the game, but an early away goal from our super striker Henriquez in the 3rd minute meant we finished the game 2-1 but progressed  to the quarter finals on away goals.

The quarter finals saw us peg up against Atletico Madrid, this was also a tough opponent but getting to this stage I knew it was always going to be tough. We lost the first leg in Madrid but we grabbed an away goal once again, this time from the penalty spot. Atletico won the game 2-1 but after the majic of the last round I knew the away goal could well go in our favour. The 2nd leg on our home turf can only be described as the best performance our side has ever put in since my time at the club. We destroyed Atletico 3-0 and I could have been much more as we pummelled Oblak’s goal. Against all odd we had progressed to the semi finals.

season 3 - atletico

The final 4 of the Champions League, I never though we could reach this dizzy height only 3 years into this career, but here we are and our opposition in our way was PSG. Oil rich, mega money spending PSG. Once again we grabbed an away goal n the first leg in another 2-1 defeat, surely the away goals can’t go in our favour again can they? The 2nd leg we went for it and after the display against Atletico I knew the lads had it in them to over turn the one goal deficit. We took an early lead though Henriquez again on 14 minutes. Henriquez actually finished the season on 42 goals, a figure that a striker has never reached under my management, not since the Tsigalko days of CM01-02. M’Poku then sent the crowd into raptures with a goal on 56 minutes, meaning we were 3-2 up and PSG weren’t showing any real signs of getting back into it.That was until the 80 minute, when PSG decided to actually turn up and threw everything at me. The officials called for 2 minutes of added time and we had managed to withstand their barrage. This was until Bernardo Silva wriggled through and scored in the 93rd minute, 1 bloody minute over what the officials had called for. How unjust was that, meaning we would now have to go to extra time. Steaua heart were broken when Yoshinori Muto scored again for PSG in the 98th minute. We managed to score again to make it 4-4 on aggregate but it was too late, PSG had out done us on away goals, something that had helped us through the previous two rounds had now hindered us in the semi’s. Steaua’s hearts were well and truly shattered, but I was so incredibly proud of the lads for their efforts, it has only helped us and improved our reputation in Europe.

season 3 - psg

Now the players are on a well deserved break and I am looking to improve the squad during the summer break. I have my eye on a few young regens that I have noticed around Romania and other parts of Europe. I also have a couple of youngsters that I will be giving more first team opportunities to in the up coming season.

Once again I would like to thank you all for reading and supporting this blog. I am truly humbled by all the support.

Stay tuned for part 7 where I might think about branding a new set of kits for Steaua.

Twitter: @marcbowen17

Tifo: @mbowen17

Tifo Group: +limitedfullback

 

 

Bringing the glory back to Bucharest – part 5

Welcome to part 5 of my Steaua save and thank you again for taking the time out to read this blog. We have reached the winter break in our 3rd season so it’s time to update you all with our progress. I would like to thank everyone who has supported this blog, I truly am humbled with all the kind words and support members of the community have provided and genuinely shocked with all the views we have had so far. The blog isn’t a month old and we’ve had nearly 300 views. Once again thank you all, now sit back and enjoy the latest update.

We start this chapter with our transfer activity, there have been quite a few names leave and a fair few arrive at the club. I mentioned in a previous post that last years European campaign didn’t go well at all. My main focus during the summer transfer window was to strengthen the squad with some real quality.

season 3 - transfers

As you can see we have spent all of our transfer budget and brought in a number of players, improving our squad and promising youngsters. El Kaddouri, Borges and M’Poku were a steal on a free transfer simply to add experience and quality to the side, influencing others and providing competition for places.

season 3 - giannetti.png

My first signing was Lautaro Giannetti, a Argentinian centre back with huge potential, I really like the look of him and hope he will be a leading star for years to come. If not the potential resale could be massive for us.  His pace, strength and aerial abilities have become invaluable for us, providing real quality at the back partnering Wilson.

season 3 - angelo.png

The next man has been a revelation in front of goal, scoring an incredible 30 in 32, Henriquez has completely enhanced our attacking line. We are now converting much more chances in comparison to last year. £3.4m an absolute bargain in my eyes. Once again a leading star or potential resale, as teams will pay the odds for a goal scorer.

season 3 - dan.png

season 3 - tudor.png

The next two players are ones I can see potential in and will be blending them into the first team as of next season. Andrea Dan I signed from Pamimal on a pre contract, he has great determination and is an athletic work horse. I’m homing he can develop into a to fullback. I currently have my right back Rapa as a mentor for him.  Adrian Tudor came through my youth intake last year, he stood out to me then and since has gone out on loan to ACS Poli, a Liga 1 side and has played over 20 times for them. This has increased his stats massively, I have never seen such a quick increase. Those mental stats are blowing my mind, he is going to be a real quality player. I’m just hoping I can hold onto him before a super club comes sniffing.

Now before I talk about how we have done so far this season I want to discuss my tactics. As mentioned in my last chapter, I wan’t too happy with my tactic as we were losing and drawing too many games.I reduced the tempo and introduced the anchor man but something still wasn’t right. I got some advice from members of the community, one in which was @nightmareofstu who advised me to try a more structured mentality in order to ensure my anchor man didn’t drift forward. I was a little unsure but tried it anyway and we picked up a 1-0 away to Benfica. Now I admit, we scraped that but it was a massive improvement on last season, a first win in the Champions League group. We won our next league match but not convincingly at all  and just about got away with a victory, 3-1 sounds more convincing than it actually felt like.

season 3 - fixtures - pre tactic

I then stumbled across a very interesting article that posted on his strikerless.com. It was a post written by , an evolution of the 4-4-2-0. Readers of this blog know that I have been trying to tinker and have success with a 4-4-2 since the start of the save. Steaua won the Champions League with a 4-4-2 and i wanted to emulate with a similar shape. Above are the fixtures and results of my old tactic, below are the results from when I started using the 4-4-2. The first game a 4-0 win in the cup against Delta Dobrogea, not very testing but a decent win, the real test would be Man Utd at home. We managed a 2-1 win with Angelo Henriquez scoring both against his old club. Since then, we have never looked back.

season 3 - fixtures - post tactic.png

We are unbeaten in the Liga 1, into the semi finals of both domestic cup competitions and best of all we have qualified from our Champions League group with 12 points. Our only defeats so far this season were in Europe and once we had already qualified to the next stage. Stage 1 of career complete. We have enhanced our reputation massively by reaching the knockout stage. I am not expecting to go much further but if we can keep on progressing like this each year in Europe then we can bring the glory back to Bucharest.

I am buzzing about this save right now and cannot wait to continue and update you all in part 6.

Once again thank you all for reading and supporting this blog.

Twitter:@marcbowen17

Tifo:mbowen17

Tifo group:+limitedfullback

Bringing the glory back to Bucharest – part 4

So we have reached the end of the 2nd season with Steaua and this post is going to be a reflection on where we are and how we are going to push forward to head towards European success.

We finished up last time at the winter break and we had made  a few signings to strengthen the first team. After the last post was released we made one more signing. I felt that we were in need of a real gutsy ball winning midfielder and we splashed the cash, breaking our transfer record, £3 million for Stefan Ilsanker. An Austrian midfielder with very good mental attributes, he really stood out for me and blew every other ball winning midfielder we had out off the water.

season 2 - ilsanker

The Liga 1 went very well, once again we were crowned champions and ended up 3 points less than last years campaign. We also won the Romanian Cup and the Super Cup, but were eliminated from the League cup early on. my error for playing a young side, but the board had no interest in that competition. Aside from that we have emulated last season by winning 3 out of 4 trophies, not bad for my 2nd season with the club. It pains me to say buy I am now ranked the 8th successful manager in Romania of all time.

season 2 - final fixtures

 

Now although we have had a great season once again, I am a little disappointed that we lost and drew more games than last year, eve though we had a stronger side. Were we getting too complacent or was my tactics not up to scratch? I seem to be making a few tweaks to the tactics every few months, but after analysing the games where we came up short, I noticed a bit of a trend. I have mentioned before that we play an aggressive counter pressing, which I really enjoy watching and want my side to emulate this.

season 2 - regista

The first thing I noticed was our holding midfielder, I used was a Regista, the idea was for him to pick the ball up from deep and be the transition between defence and attack. The problem I found was he is supportive, so often he was sitting in between the 2 CM’s rather than holding just in front of the CB’s. This was defeating the object of the position, as he should be protecting the central defenders. The way I decided to tackle this was to change this role to an Anchor Man. He would hold his position much deeper, fizzing out attacks and simply playing the ball forward for a more creative player to start an attack.

The second and biggest change I have made is the tempo to which we play and defend. My idea was to have our tempo set to very  high, thinking that we would constantly hassle the opposition into making a mistake or winning the ball high up the pitch. This also made all of our football played at an extremely high pace, a pace in which we were unable to handle. We made far to many mistakes and gave the ball away cheaply, causing our opposition to counter attack us far too often. Mostly we were punished because of this. So I have lowered the tempo to counter this issue, so the lads can attack effectively with composure, making sure they make the correct decisions and not give away cheap possession.

Now I still feel that tactically we could do better but I am struggling  to see what needs to be tweaked. Here are my team instructions, I feel that we need a fresh pair of eyes upon them. I know that  I must be missing something, but cannot put my finger on what it is.

season 2 - rinstructions

If anyone wants to offer some advice or have anything they would like to add regarding my tactics then please comment or message me on Twitter or Tifo.

Stay tuned for part 5 coming soon.

Twitter:@marcbowen17

Tifo:mbowen17