Ciao. So I’m about eight playing hours into FM18 and I am slowly, but surely, getting my feet under the table at la rondinelle. Whether I’ll be at the table long enough to get as far as dessert is another matter.
The early days of a new version are probably very similar for most people. What do I like? What don’t I like? What can I carry over that used to work? What no longer works? And tactics, bloody tactics.
Tactics, bloody tactics
Let’s talk about that first of all. I’ve always said that the third save is normally the favourite save for me, unless I have completely lucked out and got a playing style that (a) works and (b) I enjoy watching early on. In FM17 the old ArgSt transferred beautifully and I got straight down to it Athletic Club Bilbao B. FM16, well it was a bit of a struggle until I found something that came even close to what I wanted. However, in both years I thoroughly enjoyed my third saves as I had a playing style which was what I wanted.
I’ll hold my hands up, I am struggling already and we have our first competitive game next, in the Coppa Italia.
We started preseason looking at a 4141, and we didn’t seem to have the players for it. When I started messing about with three central strikers, we started to look like an attacking threat but the midfield still isn’t quite right. I’ve found myself lured into the chat around the mezalla and the carrilero when what I should really be doing is sticking to my original beliefs of them being a little bit fancy for my tastes.
That realisation pretty much undoes the last four friendly matches which have had mixed results – I head into our first competitive match pondering whether I can keep the attacking side of the three central strikers and find a better balance behind them. We shall see.
Things I will be carrying forward from FM17
– Bollocking the team at every available opportunity: This worked without fail for me in FM17. Half time, regardless, aggressively tell them they are shit. Eventually they came to respect me. Only tell them well done if we have won, no matter who we have played.
– Bollock the bad trainers, praise the good: It takes a bit of time, but each month I will go through every player in the squad and have a chat with them about their training performance. Anything less than two arrows pointing in the right direction, tell them are not doing enough. Two arrows and more heading the right way? Well done lads.
– Get rid of anyone that moans: If anyone wants to leave, they are free to go regardless of who they are. They will be straight on the list, but I’ll still pick them.
– Training: Fitness/low and individual training plans. Nothing I have seen has made me consider changing this approach.
Things that I probably won’t be bothering with
– Prematch team talks: I found it really difficult to get anything positive out of a prematch team talk on FM17, so I will avoid them again. If the opposition have beaten us before, I’ll throw in an aggressive “get revenge” but other than that there will be silence.
– Tactical briefings: Tried one, didn’t like it. The players already thing I am an idiot, and nothing positive came out of the tactical briefing so I will be skipping them.
Everything else I still need to explore, as I’ve only been focusing on trying to find something on the pitch that excites me.
We clearly have a decent setup at Brescia, and the expectations are low with the media expecting us to finish 15th and the board wanting us to be mid-table. Once I settle on a style of play I can start to decide which players will be the ones to focus on and develop. We have a completely mixed bag as it stands, which is actually useful whilst I try and decide what we do.
Other things I have noticed so far.
– I detest the new camera angles. Who signed off getting rid of the one behind the corner? Sure, the data analyst idea is great in theory – but when you spend most of the match squinting to see where the ball is, it kinda kills it.
– I’m not massively taken on the new matchday experience – I didn’t see much wrong with the last one, and I think the same goes for the tactics screen as well.
There’s so much I need to do once I know I am happy with the tactical approach – we have two very strong Academy squads so I need to start working closely with the brighter prospects. I need to build out the scouting department, I haven’t even looked yet. And, as I always do, I need to get stuck into the finances to check we are not killing ourselves.
My early thoughts are that I am not blown away, yet. But, I have no doubt that a few early wins and a few other tweaks from SI will improve my feelings.
As for Hagi, Pirlo, Baggio et al, I will get to that side of things as soon as I can!