Welcome back to the next instalment in my Mainz career. We are that point again, the winter break, so a perfect time to update how we have been doing. In FSV Mainz 05 – 2.1 we covered the transfer deals of the summer and the tactical issues we were facing, especially in the RW position.
So at the start of the season the club was buzzing from the arrival of Leroy Sane but things didn’t start off the way I had hoped for. Before we approached our first game, Sane picked up an injury in training forcing him to the sidelines for 3 months. To make matters worse our wonderkid striker Jacob Lukasik picks a 2 month injury forcing him to also miss the start of the season. Now people will always tell you that things always come in 3’s, well in this case those people were absolutely correct. Mario Gotze forced off in our first competive game with a torn groin muscle, putting him on the shelf for 3 months. Just as FM likes to stick 2 fingers up every once and a while our opening Bundesliga match is against champions and German powerhouse FC Bayern.
So my front 3 all injured for effectively the first quarter of the campaign, this means a start for my youngster Yilmaz. I also promoted another youth Petrik Bade who plays on the right side of midfield to act as rotation with Yilmaz. Zoltan Imrik will also get to play on the left leaving an opening up top for new signing, American Michael Hawkins.
Now considering the injury problems hindering the start of our season, my faith in the youngsters actually work very well for me. Apart from the inevitable defeat to Bayern, we went on a great run, unbeaten in 10 games. The remain 6 games finished with 2 win, 2 draws and 2 defeats, 1 I accepted against Dortmund but I rested quite a few players against Dresden as they were sat bottom of the table with only 8 points. In typical FM fashion, they beat us and not only beat us, they kicked us off the park. Livid at the full time whistle was an understatement. But considering this blip, we found ourselves in 4th place only 5 points behind Hoffenheim at the top, you read right, Hoffenheim. Overall a promising start for the carnival club and I am hoping that now the front 3 are all back, they can slowly start forming an effective attacking trio and push us onto bigger and better things.
The DFB-Pokal was a very short lived affair, which due to our entry into the Europa League i’m not overly fussed about. We smashed Altludersdorf 4-0 but then were drawn once again against giants Bayern. We put up a fight and my young guns impressed me by taking the game to extra time following a 1-1 draw. We came undone to an extra time goal making the final score 2-1.
Our Europa campaign saw us have to go through 2 qualifying rounds just to get to the group stage. First up was Zurich which we dismantled 5-1 over the 2 legs and secondly Belorussian side Shakhter Soligorsk which we dismantled 8-0 on aggregate. I felt a little bad for them only because in CM 01-02 they had a player called Sergei Nikiforenko, a player who would become an icon in almost every save I had on that game. What a player. Sorry, back to the Europa League, our group saw us draw a relatively easy group with the likes of Qarabag Agdam, which we beat 5-1 and 3-1, Krasnodar, which we also beat 3-0 and 2-0. Our only touch opponent was Sporting (POR) which we also picked up points against beating them 2-0 at home and a stunning 3-3 draw in Lisbon. We qualified top o the group and await the mighty Torino in the next round.
Now over a number of posts I have discussed my tactics and how I want the side to play. I have also discussed the issues I was having, especially on the RW. After some analysis in my opening few games I looked at the movement of the midfield and the front 3.
I decided that my CM(a) wasn’t joining the attacking movements as well as I would like, he also seemed to be treading on my DLP(s) toes quite often. So I pushed him up as a AM(s), where from his position he joins in the attacks nicely supporting the AF from deep. I also changed my RW to an IF(a), matching the opposite flank. As we a playing fairly wide this still offers us width and with both FB’s on support duty, we have the option to overlap if needed. The goal threat that this has now created has made us more clinical in the final third. No longer do we miss the target aimlessly, instead we create lots of decent chances and most importantly we take a large number of them.
Instructions wise, I have taken the early cross tab off as now we focusing on cutting inside and the work ball into box option fits in very well here. I have also asked the lads to play at a slightly slower tempo, I want it to be pretty quick still but just for them to have a little patience and though before charging forward. The last extra instruction is to be a little more expressive. Due to us having Gotze and Sane, I may as well use their expressive talent to good use. This gives them all much more creative freedom and encourages them to move more fluidly in our pressing system. They tweaks should hopefully now be the last as our performances have really improved and some of the football we are playing is great to watch.
Just to round up with Italy, we won the Confederations cup so that’s 2 international competitions wins for me.
We have also qualified top for the World Cup in the summer. We suffered 1 defeat in the process and I can only called it one of those bloody FM situations where you do everything but win.
Join me again for the next instalment for the end of season review.
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