S01|E01: Lifting The Latics

Season One|Episode One

Welcome back to my journey with Oldham Athletic. In the previous post we outlined a brief history of the club as well as aims of the save with our 5 year plan to reach the Premier League. 

This post will be focusing on a summer transfer update, backroom staff additions, tactical thoughts for the coming season in League Two and a results overview for Pre-Season and August.

Summer Transfer Update

With a £0 transfer kitty, only £1,500 left in the wage budget and a few gaping holes in the team; I found it extremely difficult to source the calibre of player needed to fill the squad and close the weaknesses within the team. Oldham already had there quota of six loans filled before the start of the save with no option to be able to terminate any of these; the loan market was out of the question. This left us with searching for free transfers only. The main weaknesses in the squad was with the back-line. We needed backup players across the board for Centre Back, Right Back and Left Back; as well as zero Right Wingers at the club in any capacity and low depth at Defensive Midfield. With this in mind I decided to keep with the majority of the existing squad and only send out a few fringe players out on loan with none leaving on a permanent basis.

Signing One: Maxime Borges. Defender (Centre)/ D/WB (R)

I bought in Frenchman Maxime Borges to fill two roles with one signing as he is equally adept at playing both Centre Back and Right Back. The ex-Nice youth player is primary a Centre Back and this is the role he has played mostly. Originally brought in as a backup for both positions he has seamlessly slotting into the back-line; making the spot his own. As shown in the season stats panel on the above graphic, Borges achieved Player of the Match in his club league debut and has been ever-present in the side since.

Signing Two: Kris Owens. Defender (Left)/ WB (L)

Kris Owens – recently released by Liverpool before signing with Bristol Rovers IRL – was brought is an a hot prospect on low wages that can all play backup Left Back where needed. Tipped to play a pivotal role within the squad, at 19 years old Owens still has plenty of years to develop his talent. Owens will generally be third in the Left Back pecking order however our current best LB Rob Hunt is very injury prone so he may see more game time that initially anticipated. Owens is yet to make his debut for the club as he only join on transfer deadline day with extremely low fitness. He is currently resting and I can’t wait to see what he can do on the field.

Backroom Staff Additions

I spent roughly thirty seconds to decide I disliked every member of the current backroom staff setup before I ripped up their contracts and started afresh. Now, given one of my original aims was to bring financial stability to the club this – in hindsight – was probably not the best idea. However, I felt it was necessary to do this to be able to achieve our long-term aims of the save.

With the clubs’ ‘decent’ reputation, we were able to attract some quality additions to the staffing setup. At this point we have the best scouting team within the entire league, the best physiotherapy department and the second best sports scientists. Where we really struggled was with the coaching staff. I found it near on impossible to find staff that were interested in joining the club and were of the required quality I would have liked. The coaching staff additions I decided upon are still a huge upgrade to the originals however is still seriously lacking with us being between second and eight of the best teams in each coaching category. 

I’m not too worried about the coaching setup at this point as most are on 12 month contracts which means will be able to chop and change where needed at the end of the season. Also; if we do reach our aim of winning promotion to League One at the end of the first year we should be in a good position to be able to attract much better staff.

Tactical Thoughts

With the announcement of the Revamped Tactics Module for Football Manager 2019, I knew this edition was going to be one of the best iterations of the series so far. My fascination with the tactical side of the game started all the way back in 2002 with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s 3-4-2-1 formation with Brazil at that years’ World Cup. Watching and analysing the front three of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo who produced some of the most scintillating football of all time. More on the team can be read in this Zonal Marking article.

Following on from this, I found most of my time spent within FM was inside the tactical and analytical screens as I attempted to recreate – to a varying degree of success – some of the more famous formations of generations past including Rinus Michels’ 4-3-3 Total Football, Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 Treble Winning 4-4-2, Helenio Herrera Catenaccio plus many more. 

As you may have noticed from the above, I mentioned that we have no Right Wingers at the club and I also did not acquire any in the transfer window. My priority was to ensure that my back-line was solid and so I overlooked the Right Winger position for this reason. With this in mind, I decided that we were going to adopt an asymmetrical shaped formation for the coming season. My current ideas are still in the early stages so I’m not going to go into too much details surrounding them.

4-1-2-3 DM Asymmetrical AM (L) – Custom Gegenpress Style

The first formation I came up with is most likely going to be our main tactic for the first season. We have taken up a Gegenpress style as the squad seem to be relatively strong in the fitness and quickness attributes and are generally good runners. Most likely looking to play fairly narrow with the Left Winger tucking in and the two wings backs marauding forwards.

4-1-2-3 DM Asymmetrical AM (L) – Custom Direct Counter

The second formation is a Direct Counter Attack style tactic which will be adopted when in we are expected to lose heavily or if we need to dig deep for a goal. The aim as with a normal Counter Attack will be to defend deep and attack quick. Again, the players’ natural fitness and quickness will be useful for this style. This is the formation I have adopted mostly so far due to the calibre of competition faced at the start of the season and as such will be most likely be used in conjunction with the Gegenpress to achieve results.

 4-2-2-1-1 DM AM Narrow Custom Low Block

Ahh, the customary ‘Shithouse’, ‘Low Block’, ‘Park The Bus’ – whichever you like to call it – tactic. Used to stifle the opposition and grind out a result, this tactic will be for those games where we are in a winning position but need to hold on and when we are expecting an absolute drubbing. Either way, we have it ready for when needed and it’s unlikely to be changed or tweaked too much.

Pre-Season & August Overview

I wasn’t particularly impressed with our Pre-Season form and results as we laboured to three wins and three losses over the six game period against differing calibre of opposition. We seemed to lose games we should have won and won games we should have lost. Peculiar. However, moving into August at the start of the League Two season our training and dynamics kicked in and we powered on to a five win and one draw run in the league as well as beating Ipswich on penalties in the League Cup 1st Round before narrowly losing to Wolves in 2nd Round after the absolutely dominated the game. The ‘Shithouse’ 4-2-2-1-1 made an appearance for the first time in the Wolves game and seemed to work a treat – although we lost.

We have enjoyed good success throughout August and I hope we can continue the form over the course of the season as we aim for that first promotion of the save. The team have gelled well and the limited changes to the team have seemed to have helped our dynamics as they are more familiar with each other. This also resulted in Gevaro Nepomuceno and Dan Gardner finishing first and second respectively in the August Player of the Month Award whereas I could only manage a measly third in the Manager of the Month category.

The next post is going to be dedicated to our training, going as in depth as possible into how I have set this up, why I have do it this way and my expectations for the training program. – After I have read @Cleon81’s training article for the gazillionth time.

If you; yourself are struggling with the new training aspects of FM19 then I cannot recommend highly enough how much you should read the article. It can be found here: FOOTBALL MANAGER TRAINING MODULE – HOW IT FUNCTIONS.

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