Draft One

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Right let’s get started. 3-1-4-2 DM. In case you didn’t read the last update, I’ve joined the Community Formation Experiment over on the Sports Interactive tactical forum. The premise of this challenge/experiment is simple – formations don’t matter. In theory, base formation’s aren’t important. It’s the interpretation of those formations that makes the difference, and they can all be interpreted in many different ways, and in the end they all become unique. The challenge is to take whatever formation you draw, and turn it into a viable tactic.

I randomly drew 3-1-4-2 DM. That’s a back 3, a defensive midfielder, a midfield 4 and two strikers. An interesting formation with plenty of challenges, but definitely not one of the most challenging formations. There’s some horrible base formations in Football Manager if you take the time to look. All members of the experiment are also required to play as Sassuolo in Italy. This update will cover the first observation I did of the tactic I drew up as a first draft, and what positives and negatives I saw in the tactic’s first match against OGC Nice of Ligue 1 in France.

For reference, here is the tactic I’m kicking off with. If you have any questions about the tactic itself, please feel free to ask. Any details on why I chose certain roles are in the previous update.

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Changing Things Up

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48It’s time for something a little bit different. When I first broke through onto the FM Scene, I did so doing tactical pieces only. This can be seen in the early articles on this blog, such as the Central Winger articles, the Mjallby 4-1-2-3-0 and the defensive 4-1-2-2-1. As time has gone on, I’ve started to focus more on the story of my saves, and taking inspiration from other people across the FM Community. This is obviously something I’ll continue with, as it helps me immerse myself in the save I’m actually playing, but at times I feel like the focus I initially had on tactics has been lost.

It’s for this reason that I’ve signed myself up to the Community Formation Experiment over on the Sports Interactive forums (a forum I regularly lurk on, but rarely post). The premise of the experiment is simple. Everyone who enters is randomly allocated one of the standard formations within Football Manager, and your challenge is to create a viable tactic using only the formation you’re given. You can change roles, duties, team shape etc, but the formation itself must remain the same as the one you were given at the start.

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Exclusive Interview with Everton boss Aspey ahead of derby

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Exclusive Interview with Everton manager Jonathon Aspey ahead of this weekend’s first Merseyside Derby of the season.

Read more below:

11th place. That’s where Everton finished last season under now Belgium boss Roberto Martinez. Perhaps the very definition of underachievement. Fast forward 5 months, and a rejuvenated Toffees enter the first Merseyside Derby of the 2016/17 Premier League sitting 3rd in the table, ahead of their crosstown rivals. Replacing Martinez and his entertaining – but leaky – football was Jonathon Aspey, who has guided the club back up the table, to a position it hasn’t been in since the heyday of Martinez, and the days of David Moyes. Much of this has been done with the same squad as last season, save for a few key additions in important positions within Aspey’s system. It has been some turnaround of form, and one which the blues attending games at Goodison Park this season have relished.

With Everton fans – and the club as a whole – feeling new found confidence, I sat down to speak to Aspey ahead of this weekend’s derby, to try and find out more about the man, and how far he thinks Everton can really go this season.

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These Toffees Might Be Quite Good Actually…

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48So, I have played until the Merseyside Derby at the end of October, so it’s once again time to update you all on how things are going with the toffees.

The last update covered the month of September, where we defeated Middlesbrough at the Riverside, Chelsea at Goodison and West Brom at the Hawthorns. We also stumbled upon a new 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation – largely as a result of me promising Kevin Mirallas he’d be in the starting lineup when he decided to moan about being on the bench – that had helped us to those wins and brought some brilliant performances out of our central midfielders – and Mirallas. In fact, the only negative in the month was that we’d lost 1-0 to Southampton at Goodison Park. However, when you finish the month 3rd in the Premier League, you can’t complain. Of course, I’m not raising expectations just yet. Realistically, we had only faced Chelsea at that point who are really a top class side. There are many more to come.

This month we faced Swansea, Pep’s Man City and reigning champions Leicester in the league, and Crystal Palace in the League Cup. Have we managed to continue our good form? Has the 4-3-2-1 fallen to pieces? Can I list any more questions?

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Lovely, Sweet Toffees

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48So, I have very quickly reached the end of September in the Everton save – I am really enjoying this save – so it’s time to update you all once again on how things are going, and whether we’ve been able to keep up our good start.

In the last instalment of the Evertonia story, we went unbeaten through the month of August, comfortably defeating Stoke City, Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace in the Premier League on our way to 2nd in the table. The only thing even resembling a blip in the month was having to go to penalties to defeat Peterborough in the League Cup after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. We had also made a tactical switch, quickly ditching our 4-3-3 system we’d used in pre-season and moving to a narrow 4-3-1-2 formation, and continued our odd obsession with Italy by signing talented Croatian midfield playmaker Andrija Balic from Udinese for £11M.

So, have we managed to keep this up? Have we continued to be fighting at the top of the table, or like so often with Everton, has reality set in and pushed us back down into mid-table obscurity?

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Building Evertonia

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Well, I’ve reached the end of August 2016, so it’s update time in the Everton Project. Has the Everton curse bitten me as well, or have I managed to stabilise the wobbly ship Goodison?

In the first update of the save, I covered the early decisions I’d made, and the pre-season fixtures. I had signed entirely from Italy in order to strengthen the squad before the Premier League season, bringing in Daniele Baselli from Torino, Andrea Conti from Atalanta and Edoardo Goldaniga from Palermo, reducing the serious weaknesses the squad had when I joined. We’d also had a good pre-season, comfortably defeating all the teams we faced – including Werder Bremen – before being defeated by Man United in Wayne Rooney’s testimony. Congratulations Wayne. Traitor. I also felt that our system was developing with the team naturally fitting into a 4-3-3 structure, with Baselli controlling the midfield, allowing Barkley to get forward in a Lampard-esque fashion and support Lukaku upfront.

Has this optimism continued, or have things fallen to pieces, as they have with so many others attempting to take the Toffees back to glory?

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My Everton Project

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Well, I’m back, finally.

I apologise I’ve been inactive throughout the first couple of months of FM17. I’ve recently begun a training course in order to become a fully fledged History Teacher, and it has taken up so much of my time that I’ve been unable to play FM very often. However, I’m back now – thank you Christmas holidays – and I’ve got a new save to write about, the save that for some reason seems to be one of the more difficult saves you can take on in FM17. Many have tried and failed – and according to SI’s figures, many have been sacked – so it’s my turn to take on the challenge. As I’m sure you have guessed by the subtle title of this post, I’m taking on the Everton Project… and for the first time, you all get to see my lovely face in these updates – complete with odd ‘Scarface’ mark on ‘my’ left side, and weird face matching. It’s close enough.

These updates will be monthly, much like the Aston Villa updates (I’m beyond annoyed I never finished that season) on FM16. The main reason for this is I feel I can really delve into the story with monthly updates, and you as the reader get a better feel for the story and the ups and down of a season. If I just update every half-season, I often find myself forgetting the ‘downs’, and for me, that’s what makes the story. I’ve had so many comments that one of the best articles I’ve posted on this blog was the first Napoli update, where I basically outlined all the cock ups I’d made with the team, before laying out my plan to fix them.

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