After recruiting new members of staff and on the whole improving each staff member within the club, choosing three tactics and bring in a selection of players on loan, it’s time for the football to commence.
The first game that happens in all Football Manager save is the standard fixture against the U23s. The pre-season fixture for this first season was already selected for me. Throughout the month of July, my young Coventry team played against Romford, Shrewsbury, AFC Telford and Billericay. Before even going into a breakdown of how the results went, the major things that concerned me throughout pre-season was the lack of the final finish. Whilst my team may have scored a total of 14 goals during pre-season, the goals were fairly simple chances that I would expect anyone to put away. The team seems afraid to go for goal when a risky opportunity was there. Whilst I can accept that as the early stage of pre-season. Towards the end when I’m seeing exactly the same, it’s a concern for the upcoming season. But, something I took into consideration when thinking about the tactical instructions used in the team’s tactics.
Below you can see how the results went during pre-season. With no defeats, it looks like a solid pre-season. However, I am always cautious to get excited after pre-season. The team’s that I have played (no offence to them), my Coventry team should be beating.
The first pre-season friendly after playing the U23s was a close encounter with Romford, this is the game is have chosen to some small analysis on to give you an insight on how I approach the tactical side of the game. Early on in this game, I thought that I would need a drastic shakeup as Romford took the lead inside the first two minutes of the game. Even when my team managed to score, Romford did not give up. It finally took an 83rd-minute penalty by veteran Michael Doyle to clinch the victory.
Now, my usual style of play is based around high pressing, possession and fluidity in the final third, Playing League 2, I know that I won’t have the type of players with the quality to play in that style. With that in mind, the team’s tactics instruction were to play in a mixed passing style thus giving them the freedom the play long when if necessary. It should be noted that it was this game that made me decide on the tactical approach without wingers due to the lack of depth in the wide areas.
I went with the standard 4-2-3-1 with a Wide Target Man (WTM) on the right. Playing a WTM turned out to be a weakness as it left a massive hole behind leaving the two CMs exposed forcing them wide which then left gaps in the central areas that Romford exploited very well to get their goals.
The top image shows the mixed passing style. What stands out is the lack of passing when the ball gets into the danger area, the penalty box. Knowing that I didn’t have the team to play the fluid football that I prefer, I wanted the team to cross the ball into box more. But, the crossing ability of the team left me abandoning that plan in the next game where I went with one of the narrow formations.
A Good Start
After my mixed feelings throughout pre-season, the season started with the opening fixture against Notts County ending in a 2-1 victory, a good start to the League 2 season. The same could not be said for the League Cup first round fixture against Derby which ended in a 0-2 defeat. I looked on the positive side and focused more on the League 2 fixtures. That focus helped and up until the end of September my team remained in and around the automatic promotion spaces, picking up 26 points out of 30 in the first ten league games.
It all went downhill
After a good start to the season, the first ten games seemed promising and the predicted promotion looked likely. After September, as the title of this section suggests, it all went downhill.
Between October and December, my team picked up a dismal total of 6 points in the league. The EFL Trophy was going okay, but, to be honest, that trophy is not going to help this club with promotion. Without a doubt, the obvious dip in form was concerning. After four league defeats, I changed the tactics in terms of the approach, went more defensive and played on the counter with direct football (a style of football that I have a strong dislike for). Even with those changes, the results didn’t come. I could see that playing more defensive was inviting the pressure, but when playing more attacking the team didn’t react to get back into defensive positions.
It took until the 1-2 defeat to Crawley for the board to act. They set the target of getting 12 points from the next five games. A nice 3-0 victory in the EFL Trophy against Crewe, I hoped would see the player’s confidence increase.
As it turns out, that wasn’t to be, the next two league games against Morecambe and Cheltenham ended in 2-3 and 0-1 defeats. Those two games sealed my fate and I was sacked by Coventry City.
The managerial Journey continues, but where next?
How long will it take me to find a new job, will I move abroad, will I stay in England? Find out in the next post.