First of all, another apology. I know it has been a long time since my last update and I hope that no-one has been waiting expectantly. I am currently in the process of moving house which, added to the usual work and family commitments, is consuming an awful lot of my time and effort.
Added to that, I have been writing for a couple of other projects. The first, also FM-related, could be worth your attention – the ‘Clear Cut Chance‘ styles itself as an FM Magazine for thinkers. So if you fit into that bracket, please sign up for email alerts or follow on Twitter.
Secondly, I started writing about real-life football matters at an excellent site called Think Football. The site is well worth a look and, so long as you avoid those attributed to ‘Shrew Naldo’, you should find some interesting reading.
So please do not expect any regular activity on this blog for the coming months. Instead, I’m afraid there will only be intermittent blogs as and when I find the time and wifi access. I’m afraid that the blog might be a little ‘on hiatus’ for the next 2-3 months but it certainly will not be dying off completely. I enjoy the writing too much. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those times when circumstances dicate!
In the meantime, here’s a brief rundown of my time in Brazil and a few other matters.
Essentially, I found Brazil to be incredibly boring. I arrived at Flamengo with the club in 17th and around 18 games to save them from an inexorable slide into the relegation spots. This was never going to be a difficult task with some incredibly talent players in my starting squad including ‘real’ players such as Rafinha, Wallace and Adryan.
The latter, in particular, is an absolutely fantastic player and my early spell at the club concentrated on producing a solid defence and then giving the ball to Adryan to produce the goals. It worked.
Which is no great surprise when you see what a talented player he is and how well suited he is to an advanced playmaker role.
This was what my first tactic ended up as with a flat 3 in midfield looking to control possession – the wider two holding deep positions and allowing the central midfielder, Adryan, to wander forward and do the damage.
In the first 4 or 5 games, to ensure that we broke our losing streak, I kept the fullbacks deep in a very conservative back 4. It worked well as we conceded just 3 goals in my first 8 games, remaining unbeaten and improving our morale exponentially.
From there, I gradually allowed a little more creative freedom from the inside forwards and wingbacks until we had a more balanced tactic and were knocking in goals on a regular basis.
With a solid league finish assured, I then concentrated all our efforts on the Copa do Brasil where victories over Corinthians, Palmeiras and Santos left us in a 2-legged final against Atlético Mineiro.
After a dominating home performance resulted in only a single goal victory, the away leg was almost the complete opposite – a shambolic performance where we took one of a handful of chances we created. Losing 2-1 in the return game, we won on away goals – and unexpectedly qualified for the following season’s Copa Libertadores.
Despite an uncharacteristic spending spree of £19.25m, I still maintained my record of transfer profits as we sold some utterly unnecessary players for a total of £20m and didn’t add a penny to the wage bill of £500kpw.
I’m sure, by now, you are aware of why I buy most players but let’s look at 2 of my signings – at opposite ends of the financial scale and with different reasons for interest.
Müller was my biggest expense at £12.5m, more than anything I spent at ADO and, I think, my 3rd most expensive signing on FM13 – behind only Graziosi and Yildiz in my Feralpi game.
He was worth it, though, as the defensive solidity that he and centre-back partner Gabriel offered me allowed the wingbacks, Chelsea-bound Wallace and £9m signing Nenê, to push on and provide outstanding attacking width. He was also comfortable enough on the ball (14 passing, 14 composure) to help us play it out from the back whilst his combination of speed and aerial ability, not to mention the fact he’s 6’6″, set him apart from the other options at my disposal.
And then, at the other end of the scale, there’s Zidane. Initially, his name caught my eye and then I decided that he would provide a little bit of challenge and enjoyment through the desperately dull State Championships in Brazil.
You see, Zidane is pants. Utter and complete garbage.
But that’s what 11 goals in 11 starts will get you. When even a player with the complete ineptitude of Zidane can score a goal-a-game, you know that a competition has descended into farce.
It was at that point that I knew coming to Brazil was a mistake. I just wasn’t enjoying it. Even the Libertadores was a joke. Drawn in a group of Argentinos (ARG), Cristal (PER) and Olimpia (PAR), we scored 28 goals in 6 games to finish top. It was only the prospect of winning this competition that kept me interested in the game, though.
Victories over Universidad de Chile, Fluminense and Sâo Paulo meant only Boca Juniors stood between us and continental glory at the first time of asking. Unfortunately, we buggered it up in the first leg in Argentina. Playing on the break we were trying to see out a respectable 2-1 defeat, complete with away goal, when Boca scored a third in the 95 minute. This proved to be a killer as they simply say back and soaked up pressure for a goalless draw in the return leg.
Nevertheless, a Copa do Brasil and Campeonato Carioca ‘title’ aren’t a bad return for a year in South America.
To keep it interesting, I have been trying to recreate an old favourite of mine – the flat 4-3-3 in the shape of a tactic I called ‘The Pink Panther’. This was one of the first tactics which I felt confident enough to release during my time on the Dugout and you can find the thread here if you are interested in reading more.
Incidentally, this was for FM10 and 11 and so was well before the impression that a flat 4-3-3 was a ‘bugged tactic’.
With the ever-improving Jan van den Berg pulling the strings from the crucial trequartista role, we’ve been playing some superb football and banging in goals left, right and centre – 5 against Den Bosch, 6 against Vitesse, 5 against Panathanaikos, 4 against PSV and 4 other games where we’ve scored 4 or more.
I’ve been quite enjoying being ‘back’ at ADO and there are still a number of excellent youth players that I want to develop. Not to mention the fact that I get to watch football like this:
However, I’m sorely tempted into starting yet another game. I’m afraid it’s that time of the year when I’ve had my ‘main’ saves and I’m now scrambling about playing odds and sods here and there looking for something fun.
Also, with the new football seasons starting, my desire to play with the clubs that I support has returned. With both Aberdeen and Rapid Wien playing in leagues that I find incredibly dull on FM, though, I need to find something a little different. I’ve been tempted by this European superleague on the official SI forums. With Rapid starting in the 8th tier or Aberdeen in the 10th then there’d certainly be a massive challenge.
However, I do tend to find that superleagues quickly lose their novelty value and then I’m back where I started…
I’ve also been tempted to return to my Feralpi save, whilst Athletic Bilbao have offered me a job in my ADO save. I’m sure that this procrastination is a fairly typical situation for many FM-ers at this time of year. I’m afraid that when it is combined with my house move and likely lack of internet access for some weeks that it will lead to a lack of blog posts.
Please be patient, though, as I will write something from time-to-time and, so long as we find a new house in time, I’ll be back to posting regularly for FM14. For now, thanks again for reading and hopefully I’ll have some more interesting material for you soon!!