Festive greetings and all that jazz. Now that is out of the way, let’s get down to the actually interesting stuff! Going into our first season in the fourth tier, I wouldn’t have had as at 2500/1. The media thought we were going to finish bottom, by a distance if you believed the odds supplied by the bookmakers. Luckily, we did not believe in predictions…
Today will be a fairly standard review guys, no real theme other than telling you all about how bloody well we did. I won’t keep you in suspense. If I had put £10 on us winning the title I would have been £25,000 better off. Considering my weekly wage and Obilic is a mere £15, that would have gone down very well indeed. We won the title by a stunning twelve points.
Records tumbled. Young Goran Simovic became the club’s leading scorer of all time, his 14 strikes taking him to a total of 68 for me in the six seasons he has been with us. We scored the second most goals the division has ever seen. We won the most points. We won the division by the greatest margin. We conceded the fewest, fifteen. Igor Bajic set a new club record average rating, 8.08. We set a new club record attendance (well, since I got here with 1,171 coming to watch one of the games) and a league average attendance record. The squad needed slightly more rotation than last season, but even with that in mind we had a solid spine that could be relied upon week in, week out.
Although he didn’t top any tables, Vukovic grew into a man this season. He started in a central midfield position when Bajic was out for a few weeks and was brilliant, so good that I had to keep him in the side. He ended up taking over from the veteran Savic in the holding role, a position I usually prefer an older head to play. He excelled there, it was the right decision.
Luto was his usual excellent self, getting another 12 goals and 12 assists. He is consistent season after season, not blinking at every step up he has to make in level. Erde was the surprise. Our highest earner on £130 a week was poor, very poor and led to me signing a new left midfielder in January. I will be releasing him over the summer if he does not accept a huge pay cut.
Right back is an area I might strengthen, I think Jovic might have reached his level as his average rating slipped below 7.00 for the first time. All the other defenders kept it way over 7.00 so he did stand out as our weakest link. I am monitoring a right back, as you can see below.
Other recruitment, I am going to keep faith with most of the squad to be honest. I have some quality kids coming through so a couple of those may find themselves in and around the squad next season. I will have a mass clear-out of players that are highly unlikely to make the grade, or have just been making up the numbers in the reserves this season.
A few people have been asking about the tactic, #TheSerbianSwarm – (I have finally found the # on my keyboard, only taken a month!). Have a look at how I have set it up below.
The theory is a mix of things I have picked up over the years. In the real world I have always loved my full backs to bomb on, for me they are the most important players on the pitch. However, as much as I hate to say it, Rafa Benitez did pretty well at Liverpool with full backs that didn’t really contribute a great deal to the attacking phases. My guys are set as defenders, but what they end up becoming is a decent out ball each time, allowing us then to shift the ball over to the other side. The DM/D does not have to drop too deep then, so he can maraud between the defensive and midfield lines, very much like a regista even though he is set up as a DM/D. The four lads in front of him are given license to make runs forward, all four are set to attack. As we are strikerless, it is vital these guys take responsibility for getting into goal scoring areas and overload the opposition’s defensive zones. Very often in a move I see our two central midfielders higher up the pitch than Simovic, our attacking midfielder. Clever movement and timing of the runs makes it very difficult to mark. However, if I was setting a team up to play against us, I would just set the defensive line deeper, we struggle against that. Posting the team instructions has made me think that against a defensive line we should try and exploit the flanks – I will try that next season. If anyone is struggling for a tactic on FM16, this is by far the most successful I have used. Three promotions in three seasons since I fired it up, and each time we have been predicted a finish no higher than mid-table, this season bottom (did I mention 2500-1?!)
Before I wrap this up, I just want to touch on something that covers club culture and training, two things that are very important when you are trying to progress up the leagues.
I have been very keen to keep pushing my coaches, and myself, through coaching courses. This has greatly improved the player development. We were a fourth tier side this season and we had two of us on Pro Licenses with one other, Kostic, soon to complete his. One other thing I am proud of is that we have welcome back our former right back, Kanj, to be our fitness coach. I am a fan of bringing former players back to a club on the backroom team, it’s a bit of the Boot Room mentality that I used to love at Anfield.
I’m rambling now. We did it, we beat the odds and we are now just two promotions from the top flight. It has been a hard seven seasons, but it has just started to feel like we are getting somewhere! I wonder if we will be celebrating another promotion next time round….
As usual guys, if anyone has any questions feel free to ask me on here or on @www.thehighertempopress.comcomeontheoviedo