I’m feeling good about this season. We’ve reached the winter break, just a little before the halfway point in the league, and things are going pretty well. We’re embroiled in a very interesting title challenge and surpassed all my expectations in the Champions League despite a sticky start.
More importantly than that, though, is that the team feels like it’s performing really well. I feel like I have options all over the park and there aren’t many players who I feel have let me down on a regular basis, indeed I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some.
Normally I would wait until the end of the season and do a big update then but Thomas Levin (worth a follow on twitter by the way) suggested that I provide a little bit of information on my scouting techniques. I guess that I am more thorough than a lot of FM-ers… well “thorough” is the polite way of putting it. Others might describe it as indecisive, un-necessarily picky and borderline anal.
This was the case but the scouting section has become so big (waffle) that I’ve decided to issue it as a standalone article. Therefore this update will simply be that – an update on the fortunes of Feralpi Salò. I hope you still find it interesting.
So as I alluded to above, things have been going very well so far this season. Still using the strikerless tactic, although the latest evolution of the set-up has veered away from the counter attacking roots, we’ve put in some quite simply fantastic performances to give ourselves a great chance in what looks like becoming a fraught title race:
Despite losing the fewest games, we’ve been haunted by a series of 1-1 draws as you can see from our fixture list:
Looking at the fixtures, the draws aren’t really doing us much harm. Taking points (and preventing rivals from taking all 3) away to Milan and Atalanta is a legitimate goal whilst we were robbed in the opening day draw with Juve at home. The draws at Empoli and Udinese were less acceptable although there were slightly mitigating factors.
Both games, as well as the loss at Nocerina, came immediately before or after a Champions League group game. Our squad is bigger than it used to be but there is still a marked difference between first choice and reserve in some positions. As I prioritised the continental competition, our league form took a slight hit.
However, I would say it was worth it. We completely battered CSKA home and away, I really cannot overstate just how bad they were. Dortmund were also slightly disappointing (or pleasing really, I didn’t want them to be much better). We snatched a classic counter attacking win at the Signal Iduna then got “FM’d” in the return game.
Lyon, however, absolutely destroyed us in France. We barely got a sniff of the ball as they dominated possession and chances, 2-0 flattered us. And whilst we got our revenge back in Salò with an even more dominating performance than was inflicted on us, the game was a complete dead rubber with Lyon already guaranteed top spot. With the French side putting out their reserves and youth, it’s difficult to judge whether we were good or they were just awful.
Nevertheless, we completed what looks like an impressive group stage and is certainly progression from our 3rd place last season. It looks like being a small progression though as we were drawn against Man City and almost certain defeat in the next round.
Progress, though. Solid progress and, as I said above, the squad really feels strong this season.
The defence, as you can see from our goals against column, continues to impress whilst we are looking more and more dangerous going forward. Much of this is down to the form of record signing Emiliano Prest:
The Argentine is responding well to his positional retraining, now competent at AML – a completely new position for him. At times, he’s been nearly unplayable although his crossing completion, at just 9%, is worryingly low. 5 goals and 9 assists is a very decent return for a new signing.
More signings where that came from would do very nicely… although I’ve started to look at the long term signings more than any ready-made players as I’m trying to start a legacy of developing youth at the club. I anticipate the majority of these youth players being Italian but I couldn’t resist picking up this little gem for a bargain £1.4m:
So yes, I know he is a striker! However, he will be getting retrained to perform the right-inside-forward role, whilst I will be working on his pace in training and having him tutored by the Scot I mentioned in the last update. Neil Hay is the perfect tutor for young Beloufa as he should transfer at least part of his “professional” personality to maximise the chances of the latter meeting his potential; whilst also hopefully transferring his two PPM’s – “gets forward whenever possible” and “arrives late in the opponent’s area”. The latter is particularly useful as you cannot teach it through training.
Beloufa was the only transfer I made in January though and I expect him to be representative of my future transfer policy. I have decided not to go out and simply buy up a series of youngsters, I will wait for my scouts to unearth the real gems. I’ll continue my usual manual scouting trips (details in the soon-to-be-posted scouting “guide”) but I really want to maintain a largely domestic focus, sprinkled with 4 or 5 foreign players brought into the club so young that they also qualify as “homegrown” for continental competition purposes.
And that, really, is that. Just a short update. It was intended to be a pre-cursor to the scouting article and I didn’t want to waste all I had written when I decided to split that out. Hopefully this post still serves some sort of purpose… I’m not sure it does!
Anyway, thanks again for reading and I look forward to any comments you may have.
Incidentally, if you haven’t already then it’s well worth taking a look at this new FM blog – The Coffeehouse – Debating FM. It’s brand new and written by Eds, who penned the fantastic inverse wingback article you can find on this blog.