RCD Espanyol 3.2

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Hello and welcome back to the RCD Espanyol save. We last updated approaching January at the season half way point and we were doing pretty amazing. To check out the update click HERE. Can we keep up the momentum or will it slip away from our grasps.

Lets start by looking at some our our young prospects coming through and how they are developing.

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Firstly I’ll start with the latest gem to come through our youth system, Fernando Yanez. He arrived on intake day and just wow. Passing that high at his age. Wow, I cannot wait for him to start getting game time and maturing as a player. He could be a perfect playmaker. I am really excited about this guy.

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Next up are four players that have come in though the ranks over the last 2 years. Padilla and Embela in year 1, whilst Ramos and Serrano came in year two. they are all developing nicely as you can see. I have high hopes for all of them.

Antoni Ramos_ Overview Profile.png

Still only 17, Ramos is developing nicely as a Shadow Striker,the next few years will be pivotal for him as I could start to look to introduce him into the first team, all depending on his progress. If he continues with this projection then I will have no choice but to include him.

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Pepe has spent the season out on loan getting first team football with Albacete. This has aided his development and he is looking all round like a decent player. Still only 17 there is more to come from him I’m sure.

Hector Embela_ Overview Profile.png

Embela is very similar to Ramos ability wise and in addition the next few years of development will be vital for him. A year older than Ramos I am keen for him to get a few games under his belt at a higher level. My plans for him are to be loaned out next season to hopefully a Segunda side to get first team football.

Next up is Padilla, my new regen man crush. At 18 he has developed so well that my staff believe he is on par with many DM’s in La Liga. He definitely has potential so I put faith in him and promoted him to the first team. Acting as back up to David Lopez, Padilla played 29 games over the course of the season. This absolutely has helped with his dramatic development. Just look, wow! Only 18 as well!

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The last two are Luis Lopez and Pol Lozano just to show you all that these are two hot prospects available at the start of the game. They have developed well and am hoping to see more. Lopez is now vital to the team and have visions of him becoming a future captain.

Luis Lopez_ Overview Profile.png

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Moving on now to the rest of the campaign. Firstly I will pick a few results that really impressed me.

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Both these results in the overall season were just a tip of the ice berg. We managed to secure our first ever La Liga title with 4 games to spare. History made by the second team in Barcelona, little old Espanyol. Now we are on the map and making a name for ourselves. We want to be just as big as Barca, if not bigger and all with the brand of Strikerless football.

Here is the league table

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I am chuffed to bits with the season, the fact we went so long unbeaten is amazing. It had to happen at some point so to only lose 3 games and draw 6 all year is top draw stuff. 26 games unbeaten, what an achievement. Finishing 9 point ahead of Real Madrid and 17 above Barcelona, just blows my mind. Overachievers, maybe, but we have made a name for ourselves now and need to continue this seasons high standards.

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The Copa del Rey went pretty swimmingly also. after lifting the trophy last year, I wanted to at least get to the semi final this year.

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That stunning 4-0 win came in the first leg of the semi final. Feeling confident surely I couldn’t mess up a 4-0 lead could I? Well almost. In true FM fashion we lost the 2nd leg 4-0 but by some fluke won the game on penalties. Meaning we reach the final for the 2nd year in a row. Only this time, Real Madrid stand in our way.

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Real Madrid were no match for us and Hakim Ziyech blasted in the winner, reclaiming our title and celebrating a fantastic double.

But wait, we have one more competition. Surely we could do the treble could we?

Unfortunately not, but we had a bloody good run. Now I say a good run, the away goal rule was very much in our favour.

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To be honest, I was happy just to get to the 2nd round, I knew it would be tough to get past Chelsea, but I wanted an improvement on last year. Sneaking our way right through to the final was exceptional but bloody jammy. I suppose we couldn’t expect to beat Real Madrid in a final again could we? No FM won’t allow that. To be honest, it’s probably fair, in context with the run we had. Bayern should have beaten us and so should have Utd, only Cristiano Ronaldo could stop us. So not the perfect ending but one I am still very much proud of. Our reputation after this incredible year would have shot up.

So that finishes this post, I hope you have enjoyed the ride. Stay tuned for the next post where we discuss plans and the start to season 4. Can we push for the title again, who knows.

Before I sign off I want to discuss a little something that has recently taken the community by storm. My friend @FM_Samo has created Football Manager Slack. A private FM chat room full of members of the FM community. The site has a main FM channel with creators having their own channels to promote their content. For more information and to get involved follow this link https://twitter.com/FM_Samo/status where Samo will gladly invite you to join the craze. Over 80 members have joined in less than 2 days. It is an awesome way to keep up to date with your favourite FM content and finding out more. There is a channel for the #wearethecommunity as well as Strikerlessthe higher tempo pressFM Grasshopper and many more. You can chat with the content creators and even have discussions on tactics, transfer and general tips. It’s a must if you love FM.

Please like, follow and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment, send me a DM or join my FM Slack channel #limitedfullback.

Don’t forget to check out social media:

Twitter: @marcbowen17

Football Manager Slack Channel#limitedfullback.

 

 

 

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RCD Espanyol -3.1

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Welcome back to my RCD Espanyol save, if you missed our end of season 2 round up then check it out HERE. This post we enter into season 3, we discuss our transfer dealings and our start to the new campaign.

Before we go any further I am pleased to announce that after a poor performance in World Cup 2018, Alan Pardew (I know right) was sacked as England manager. Now international management isn’t something that I wanted to get into again after having a stint with Italy in FM16. It is very boring and very repetitive. However, when the FA approached me, it made me think twice about the whole thing. You see I never even applied for it, so it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they decided to offer me a contact. So with that I decided to give it a go, see if I can better that goofball Pardew. Since taking the job I have also been approached by Holland to lead there ship after a poor International League run, I politely declined their offer, but it was nice to know they wanted me.

Moving swiftly onto our transfer dealings and only a few players joined this summer but we lost a high number again. Mainly getting rid of a bit of dead wood and freshening up the squad.

Once again we are in positive financial position with our bank balance sitting at £83m. A few players such as Vazquez (£1.5m), Leon (£3.2m), Jordan(£925k), Ivan (£775k) and Jota (£6.25m)were shipped out to make room for some of the new faces. I also let veterans Reyes and Jurado go out on loan, freeing up some wages. Our big sale that I didn’t anticipate was Pezzella (£9m), this was on deadline day and rather than just blow the money on some random CB, I went with our youth and promoted Manuel Nogues from the U19’s.

Our in comings though were very pleasing. Santiago Ascacibar (£3.8m), Jonny (£10m) and transfer listed Angel Correa (£2.8m). I have some nice memories of Correa from last years FM where I signed him for Mainz, again quite cheap, then sold him to Bayern for around £40m, so if I can repeat this scenario then I will be very happy indeed. Aside from that he is also a very good player and would be a great option to rotate wit Dolberg and Ziyech.

Jonny comes in as a decent versatile defender, my idea with him is he will be my long term replacement for the aging Javi Lopez. he is still young and can comfortably play across the back line. Costing a big £10m from Celta, he is one I hope to get many years from and could become incredibly valuable to the side.

So lets have a look into how the season has started. Pre season was pretty steady, blending in some of the new signings. We should have beaten NYRB as we hammered them, but as it usually happens in FM they have 1 shot at goal but yet manage to draw the game. An own goal from a blunder from the keeper, to be fair, it’s my first blunder I’ve seen in this version. I know a few others have seen so many more.

pre-season

Our league started so much better than last season. We were more clinical, more determined and seemed to be much more sharper. We started with the Supercopa against Champions Barcelona, we picked up a cracking 2-0 at home but were under the cosh at the Nou Camp and suffered a 3-1 defeat. However, due to the away goal rule, we clinched the Supercopa and finally got one over on our arch rivals.

To say that gave us a boost is an understatement. The victory itself has propelled us to an all time Espanyol unbeaten record stretching to 26 games without a loss in all competitions. The record still stands and I am hoping it will continue into the 2nd half of the season, it will be a tough ask but the lads are showing me something special right now.

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As you can see from our run of results above, we sit proudly at the top of the league at the turn of the new year. 4 points clear ahead of Barca with an almost identical goals for/against record. Thing could very much go to the wire and make for a very exciting end to the season.

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Our defense of the Copa del Rey has started well beating Granada comfortably over both legs. Next up is Betis and I would like to think we can progress beyond them into the quarter finals. My aim this year is to reach the semis anything beyond that will be a bonus.

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So after finishing 3rd last year, we get an automatic group stage spot in the CL. Let’s take a look at our group. Once again we are seeded 4th, so potentially a tough group awaits. Some how Zenit, Basel and Sporting are all seeded higher than us but I am very confident with those opponents.

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We finished the group top once again and have shown the rest of the competition that we mean business. Our last 16 knockout round is drawn against Chelsea, so that shall be fun. Hopefully due to our run and high morale, we can give them a bloody good go.

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In other news, the board have agreed to improve the clubs youth facilities so our continued plan to develop should be enhanced.

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We round things off with a few end of year awards. In the bellow screenshot you can see that 3 of the 4 candidates for European Golden Boy award belong the Espanyol. Roca, Dolberg and Ascacibar. So I would like to think that one of them could win.

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The winner went to none other than Kasper Dolberg, he finished last season in some great form and has continued that into this season. Take a look at his goal/appearance record over the calendar year, that’s in a strikerless system too. Bloody chuffed with that.

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His AMC partner in crime Ziyech also picked up an award for Broadcasters African Footballer of the Year. Not heard of that on before but hey ho. another great record for the calendar year, averaging a goal every other game.

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So that ends this post, tune in for the next post where we look at our developing youngster, the new intake of players and our end of season review. Let’s hope we can continue this cracking run we are on.

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RCD Espanyol – 2.3

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Welcome back to the latest update of my RCD Espanyol save. Following my latest appearance on the DLP, I discussed in a @TheDeepLyingPod exclusive the outcomes if this season. But before we dive into that, I want to update you on our youth players from last year, the newest intake and some of the prospects from that intake.

Let’s start with last year’s players.

Alejandro Bernabeau

Still regarded very highly by my HOYD, assistant and my chief scout. I unfortunately am struggling as am yet to see much of an improvement. Even a touch of tutoring from Jose Antonio Reyes didn’t work out well. I am hoping that another season of training with our facilities and games in the youth team will see a bigger improvement, if not then he will be shipped out on loan in a hope of playing a higher standard of football.

Alejandro Bernabeu_ Overview Profile.png

Hector Embela

A young striker who seemed to be improving in all areas across the board. Being trained as a shadow striker he is starting to show he is capable of adapting to what comes his way. The staff are also singing his praises on a very regular basis.

Hector Embela_ Overview Profile.png

Miguel Padilla

Miguel is someone that I really like the look of. He has improved dramatically well in the last year l, his personality and determination has shown he wants to achieve his potential. I want to start giving him opportunities in the first team squad next year, as David Lopez’s understudy. I have high hopes for this chap.

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Jordi Lopez

Another one who is being flanked as a potential star. He has been improving at a steady rate, I would like to see more so I may promote him to the B team or loan him out for a higher level of football. The only thing that puts me off the B team is he might not get the game time, unless I take over there also, hmm maybe?

Jordi Lopez_ Overview Profile.png

Pol Lozano

His performances in the B tram last year and constantly being praised by staff game me no choice but to promote him to the main squad. The idea would be to give him substitute appearances and a few starts whilst being tutored by Lucas Silva. Due to the amount of games in the CL and league, he actually got more game time than I first thought and he did not let me down. You can see he is developing into a very decent playmaker and is still only 18.

pol-lozano_-overview-profile

Luis Lopez

Luis has become a favorite of mine and his development has been fantastic. His has kept Pazzella out of the side and forced me to take notice. I highly recommend this chap if you want a young CB who can develop. He may very well become an all time great at this club if we can keep hold of him.

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Now let’s look at this year’s intake

Not the best intake day ever, but a few that could develop into decent players. The rest may turn out average or may well surprise me. rcd-espanyol-youth-candidates_-squad-players

Manuel Nogues

A decent defender already and with a. Bit of polishing up, he could be close to a Luis Lopez type of CB. If that happens then I could have a very tasty home grown CB pairing. 

Manuel Nogues_ Overview Profile.png

Antoni Ramos

Another  striker who a want to develop into a shadow striker. He is a similar mold to Embela but with better finishing and composure. I a aiming to get him tutored by Dolberg after the season ends.

Antoni Ramos_ Overview Profile.png

Pepe Sorano

Pepe looks a similar mold to Marc Roca, a man who has started to embed in my heart. Not a world beater, no fantastic attributes but overall very sturdy , goes under the radar but give his all. Marc will be a perfectly suited tutor for Pepe and he could well see him venture into the first team within a few years.

pepe-serrano_-overview-profile

 

Now let’s get into the run to the end of the season. If any of you missed my @TheDeepLyingPod exclusive, if so then I suggest you go listen, I declared our final league position. If you remember we had a shaky start in the league but our CL efforts were spectacular. We ended up turning things around and finished up in 3rd place. A quite brilliant achievement for us after a big turnaround player wise and a new tactical switch. I am immensely proud of the players but one I owe many thanks. In January we picked up a unhappy transfer listed Hakim Ziyech, he linked up beautifully with Dolberg in the final third and I believe he helped guide us to a CL place again.

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As you can see our games since the midway point have been very pleasing. Only losing to both Madrid sides over the course of those 23 games. We actually had the lowest amount of loses over the course of the season itself. It was the amount of draws that cost us. Just think we’re we could of come if we converted some of those draws. Never mind it’s still a progression on last year and I am extremely happy.
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We crashed out to the hands of Arsenal in the CL. I never expected to even get out if the group let alone reach the knockout round. We gave them a go but they shown us their strength over the two legs.

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Our first silverware coming in the Copa del Rey thanks to a brace from Dolberg. Hopefully this has given the lads a taste of success and we can build upon this into years to come. Bellow are a number of our awards due to our success this season.

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The board announced that we install under soil heating at the cost of £2m. To be honest I am quite surprised that we didn’t have it to begin with, the stadium itself is still relatively new so to not have it was a shock. Marc Bowen_  Inbox-7.png

So that brings us to the end of this post, sorry for all the images, got a little print screen happy. Next post we will discuss our plans for next season and how we start coming into the new campaign.

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Don’t forget to check out social media:

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RCD Espanyol – 2.2

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Welcome back to the mid season update with RCD Espanyol. In the last post we discuss our tactical vision for the up coming season and pointed out its flaws. We start off the campaign with a very tough CL qualifier against the Rossoneri.

August

A quite varied month to be honest, with mixed emotions. Definitely one of those moments where you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall. An incredible 2-2 draw in the San Siro thanks to debutant Dolberg and Jurado, earning us 2 vital away goals and the upper hand in the return leg. Only to be brought straight back down to earth with a home defeat to Las Palmas, bloody Las Palmas are swiftly becoming a bogey team. We didn’t really create much going forward and looked pretty cagey at the back, not something I expected after the togetherness of 3 days before. The only thing I could take from the game was Lasse Schone scored his first goal for the club.

Now there is extreme pressure on us to get a result against AC Milan, the fans are obviously disappointed from the last viewing they had at home. Not the best start as Carlos Bacca, put the visitors in front after 10 minutes, oh dear, dream over. Emotions changing again as we went from behind to 2-1 up after the break, thanks to Marc Roca and Leo Baptistao. The lads show their resilience and keep out the determined Milan and we walk away 2-1 winners on the night. Champions League group stages here we come!

Once again we come crashing back down after a trip to the Bernabéu. We got our asses handed to us, a ‘Real’ demoralising 3-0 defeat. Like I said earlier, a very mixed bag of emotions to the start of this season. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

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September

So after making it past Milan, the groups were drawn. Espanyol were unseeded so potentially we could face a very tough group. So I sat there, watching the draw unfold and seeing top team after top team being drawn. Then finally it was over, Group H our destination and 3 tough oppositions. Liverpool, Shakhtar and Porto. Not impossible but definitely a hard task to make it through. Perhaps 3rd place is the best I can hope for, actually I’d be happy just to get a win. We are all just in awe of the whole spectacle.

So back to the league and after 2 disappointing defeats, we were in need of getting some points on the board. In our way stood Valencia where we could only manage a 1-1 draw, Schone though scored his second goal of the campaign. Maybe this tactical switch was a bit premature? No I have seen some decent things so far, I need to stick with it and let the new faces adjust to the system. More on this to follow…

Perseverance was key in this moment of doubt and so the European dream continued. An excellent performance at Anfield saw us leave Liverpool with a 1-0 win thanks to Sambueza. We controlled the match superbly and didn’t give Liverpool the slightest look at goal. The one thing I decided to change was my approach when facing stronger sides. Some thing I will go into more detail later. We got that first win in the CL, 3 points on the board, maybe 3rd place is an option after all?

Back to La Liga and we managed our first win in the league with a 1-0 win over newly promoted Alcorcon. Not the most spectacular win, as we created so much but couldn’t finish them off. But ultimately a win is a win and we thank Ruben Duarte. Next follow back to back 2-2 draws away at Celta and Bilbao respectively. Goals from Schone and Jota grabbing his first at Celta, followed by a brace from Dolberg in Bilbao.

Back to the CL and our first home tie against Shakhtar. We continued our form in Europe with another 1-0 win thanks to an own goal, we will take them any way they come.That’s 6 points from 6 and two clean sheets, the story of the underdog.

Our final match in September was at home to newly promoted Huesca and this time we took our chances well. Probably our best performance so far in the league and run away 3-0 winners, with goals coming from Dolberg again, Roca and Jota. A much better month, an unbeaten month in fact. Sitting top of group H with two wins from two and 9 points from 15 in the league, a much better turn around following our opening two defeats.

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October

Another decent month for us picking up 1 win, 2 draws and a defeat in the league. now this still leaves us floating around 12th place but only a few points separate us and 7th, so I’m not panicking. The defeat came to the hands of our arch rivals Barcelona and once again the beat us 2-1 (the same result and scoreline 3 times in a row), Jota did manage to score again, him arriving on a free is making these performances feel even better. A cracking 3-0 win against Granada, thanks to Ruben Duarte, Dolberg and Jota and both draws came against Alaves and Atletico, the latter I am happy with as they are the current champions of Spain, but we should have beaten Alaves. We couldn’t hit a barn door in that game. Schone once again scoring, getting the vital goal against Atletico.

Our European adventure continues though and its another 1-0 win thanks to Sambueza, at home against Porto. 9 points from 9, when I was barely expecting 3 from 18. We could be in with a chance of qualifying now, no don’t anything, we might jinx it. But with results going our way, we are one win away from the next round.

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November

So we hit November and we approach Portugal knowing that a win will see us through to the last 16. Unfortunately we conceded our first goal in the group stages but it came with 3 points and 3 goals thanks to Schone, Roca and Jota. 3-1 winners in Portugal and qualification to the last 16, Espanyol into the last 16, an unreal moment.

Another unbeaten month in the league saw us pick up a 3-1 win at home to Deportivo and a hatrick from Sambueza, the little beaut. Unfortunately draws away to Levante and Sevilla respectively, Schone with the goal again, another gem on a free transfer. Another poor shooting accuracy day for us at Levante, if we could have turned some of these blanks into wins the end of the season could be a whole lot different. Let’s hope it doesn’t come back to sting us. We are currently sitting in 9th place, overall I am content with this as my pre season expectation stated.

As we had already qualified to the last 16, yes I know I keep banging on about it, a put a weakened side out against Liverpool as we had nothing to lose. We played very well but it was only due to a late goal from Coutinho that saw us off. Our unbeaten CL run was over after a 2-1 defeat. Sambueza did get the equaliser but it wasn’t enough on the day.

Copa del Rey time and the aim this year is for a decent run to the quarter finals, first up in our way, Hercules. I fielded the same side that faced Liverpool and the boys did not disappoint, they ran out 2-0 winners and put us in a great position going into the 2nd leg. A brace from Sambueza again, showing me why he wants a starting place.

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December

Another cracking month winning 4 out of 4 in the league, taking our unbeaten run to 9 games. Back to back 2-0 wins to high flying Malaga and Villarreal, goals from Dolberg and Lucas Silva firstly and then Jota and Roca. A 2-1 win over Sociedad thanks to Rodri and Sambueza, then a 1-0 win over Betis with the winner from Lucas Silva. Beautiful that should see us rise up the table.

Between that saw us play our final CL group game away to Shakhtar. Nothing special here other than a 0-0 draw saw the final standing look like this:

 

Our 2nd leg of the Copa del Rey was a 1-0 win putting us through to the next round, thanks to Jose Antonio Reyes. An almost perfect month, Things are starting to look much better now and some of the football we are producing is lovely to watch.

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So at the mid way stage, this is how the league shapes up. After a poor and inconsistent start we have start to get the results. Performances have been much better and I am optimistic going forward. We are only 5 points behind 3rd place so that ever so nice CL isn’t too far away. Avoiding those poor draws and we may well get there.

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Team setup adjustments

I mentioned earlier that against stronger opposition I adjusted my setup. I wanted to keep the ball against better sides, not letting them have the ball means they can’t do anything with it. Well that’s my idea anyway.

We still play with an Attacking mentality, but instead of being direct, we aim to keep hold of the ball in an attempt to stop the opposition from playing. The defensive line drops back to normal, we retain possession, play at a lower pace and try to exploit the middle. The look for the overlap is also removed as I want to play as narrow as possible here and stifle the opposition in the centre of the pitch.

An example of our passing and movement:

 

So that it where we will leave things for this post, thank you all for reading. Next post will return for a youth update.

Please like, follow and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.

Don’t forget to check out social media:

Twitter: @marcbowen17