Welcome to the latest post following Diego Milito’s Managerial Journey that as started with his boyhood club Racing Club de Avellaneda. On taking the reigns Milito was given the task of turning around a Copa Sudamericana 2nd round 1st leg 1-2 deficit against Colo-Colo of Chile in his first competitive game in management, however Racing would play a friendly against another Chilean side Universidad de Chile before the Copa game which would allow Milito the opportunity to have a look at the players before the big game. Before we look at the new Racing boss and his start in management I want to spend a little time on how I have chosen to play FM18.
Now what is very noticeable in and around the FM Community is that there seems to be more people struggling at their chosen club with a good few being sacked which I dont recall on any new release in recent years. With this in mind I decided that I would take a more methodical approach playing the game this year and I must say I am enjoying it more than I have in recent years and I don’ know if it’ coincidence but I am having a lot of success on the pitch. So what am I doing that seems to be working so well.
- Game Time : I made a conscious decision to only play the game on non working days which not only keeps my enthusiasm high for the game but it also allows me time to enjoy my life outside of FM.
- Game Speed : I am in no rush to plough through season after season so I am taking my time and watching games comprehensively.
- Squad Dynamics : Does this make a difference?, who knows but I have decided to invest time in the feature and manage the club / players how I would in real life. It seems to be working and currently I have a very happy ship, does this transmit to pitch? My results are very good and it feels good so I will continue on this path.
- Medical Centre: I do like this feature and use it to rotate my squad however if my man in form is at risk of an injury would I not pick him for the big game at the weekend? Of course I would pick him but I know the risks after all it is called football manager and you have to make a decision.
- Scouting Meeting : Yes I get involved and I like the feature.
- Scouting : I love scouting and looking for that diamond to polish, I set the parameters to what I am looking for and control the scouting from top to bottom. I spend time myself scouring the globe for players.
- Player Development : Another area were I am heavily investing. I had an Internazionale save in the past were I developed a system of player development that was a success so I am adopting that very method to develop players at La Academia.
- Training : I have been more hands on with training throughout the club tailoring individual training has I see fit for the long term future of the club.
- Player Recruitment : I will look to fill any void in our squad with a player from our own development however I am not closing the door to bringing players in if I feel the club can benefit from the recruitment.
Overall I am enjoying the FM18 experience so here is a brief update to life in Argentina.
The Milito Effect
I decided to use this formation going in to our first game with a control mentality and flexible shape and kept the player instructions to a minimum to see how things panned out, you can see we have attacking roles down the right side which we may suffer a counter however I set our Winger to mark the opposition full back or wing back and it seems to work nicely. The side are playing some really eye catching football and never know when they are beaten, they have excellent work rate through out the squad and this is showing in our gameplay.
Nicolas Oroz joined Chinese Super League club Henan Jiayne for £1.2m, Whilst 22 year old Paraguayan forward Walter González (Walter) for 950k from Olimpia. I have decided to bring Walter to the club to bolster our attacking department with the heavy schedule, Walter could prove to be Lisandro Lopez’s long term replacement who is versatile enough to play from the left hand side and not just up top.
El Príncipe had the chance to have a close look at the group of players with a warm up game against Universidad de Chile and went in to the game with a mix of first team and reserve team players with the 2nd leg of the Copa Sudamericana 7 days away. Racing got off to a flier when advanced playmaker Diego González scored a power driver in the 1st minute., the outstanding Santiago Rosales but us 2 up on the stroke of half time. I was very pleased with what I was seeing in the first period. Two quick fire goals after the break from Martinez and Melli put the game to bed and we ran out 4-1 winners and gave a good run out to 22 players. The week ahead was all about preparing for the 2nd leg of our Copa Sudamericana game with Colo-Colo who had a 2-1 lead over us. We had no major injury worries so I picked the side that I thought could get us back in to the tie (see above line up) and they pulled off a polished performance with a goal in each half courtesy of Rosales and Martinez giving us a 2-0 victory that set up a difficult game against Brazilian club Corinthians with the first leg in Brazil. The match itself is was one of the best games I have watched on any FM release with both teams giving their all, Corinthians went 1-0 up in the first half on 36 minutes to lead at the break after an end to end 45 minutes. I could not fault the teams effort but told them I was not happy to motivate them to go again in the 2nd half which mirrored the first but after bringing on Lopez with 20 minutes to play he rewarded us with a late equaliser in the 85th minute which looked like earning us a well deserved draw but a lack of concentration in the Brazilians defence allowed inside forward Ibarguen to win the game for us in the 87th minute crowning a superb performance giving us a slight advantage going in to the second leg.
The build up to the 2nd leg against Corinthians some 3 weeks later had been good with us gaining a winning mentality with 2 wins and a draw in the Superliga and Copa Argentina in the lead up to clash. I had been able to rest players by rotating them and we looked in good shape ahead of the match. We had worked on our defensive positioning in training and come Matchday we were ready for a war. I was nervous about the game ahead because I saw what the boys from Brazil could do in the 1st leg but my nerves were eased when Lisandro Lopez put us in front after just 3 minutes meaning Corinthians had to come out and look for a goal. I changed our mentality from control to counter in the hope that we would get men behind the ball and catch them on the break and we did just after half time with when winger Santiago Rosales put us 2-0 up on the night and 4-1 on aggregate, the boys were playing some great football and killed the game off in the 83rd minute when the inform Lisandro Lopez netted his 2nd of the night making it 3-0 and 5-1 on aggregate to send us in to the last 8. I saw something special in this team over both legs and feel confident about our season ahead has we await the Quarter-final draw.
Now the draw for the 8 paired us with Ecuadorian club Fuerza Amarilla and with no disrespect to the Ecuadorian club we were happy with the draw because we fancied our chances but to be fair they made us work for our 3-1 win at home in the first leg of the tie with Diego Gonzalez and Federico Vismarra 2 getting our goals. The 2nd leg in Ecuador was very much a one sided affair with us winning 6-0 that included a 24 minute hat-trick from Lisandro Lopez who scored 5 of our goals before Marcelo Meli added a 6th giving us a 9-1 aggregate win that sets up a mouth-watering Semi Final against Fluminense.
Now I don’t know what is but I seem to have a tradition of winning the domestic trophy in my first season at a club and the Copa Argentina is no exception has Milito guided La Academia to the Final and to be crowned winners giving Milito his first bit of silverware in his debut season in management. I always look at winning the cup because success breads success. I also like to give the so called squad players a game along with any up and coming youth team players to help with their identity. It was however Lisandro Lopez and Lautaro Martinez who flourished with them both getting amongst the goals, Lopez scored 7 and Martinez netted 5 during the competition. Winning in the Final was a good feeling and I am pleased with the 3-0 win against CA Sarmiento but it was the Quarter-final Derby against Independiente that was most rewarding with coming back from a goal down scored in the 49th minute by Diego Rodriguez which was equaised just 1 minute later thanks to Andres Ibarguen in a game were we had to dig deep after being reduced to 9 men after a feisty battle to hold out for a 1-1 draw sending the game to penalties were we held our nerve to win 5-4. On the way to winning the Copa we defeated Union de Santa Fe, Juv. Unida Universartario,Tigre and Santamarina.
We kicked the season off with a comfortable 3-1 win at home to Velez Sarsfield with goals from Lopez 2 and Martinez. Notable performances from Matiás Zaracho and Marcelo Meli. Next up we played Unión de Sante Fe and I decided to rest a few players due to the upcoming Copa Sudamericana game against Corinthians and I think this upset the momentum of our performances and had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw which saw Uruguayan Rodrigo Amaral score late on. An away day at Tigre followed and a brace for new signing Walter Gonzalez (Walter) gave us a good 2-0 win.
Another away day followed this time to in form Lanus who proved to be a difficult opponent but thanks to goals in each half courtesy of Vismarra and Zaracho we came away with a good point with a 2-2 draw. Now when I say good point Zaracho scored our 2nd goal in injury time. Whilst on the subject of Zaracho I have been playing the winger centrally in an Advanced Playmaker role covering for Diego González and I must say he has come in and looked quality in that role so he his training the position and adding versatility to his game.
The heavy schedule means squad rotation is a must and we suffered a little in our next game with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Talleres CBa. Back to winning ways next with a resounding performance in defeating Belgrano in their own back yard 3-0 with goals from the ever dependable Lopez 2 and Martinez.
Our biggest test to date was next has we entertained league leaders Boca Juniors in a packed El Cilindro. I decided that we would start the game with a control mentality and analyse our performance before switching mentality. It was the right desicion has we took the game to Boca and got our reward in the 35th minute with a goal from Santiago Rosales, just a minute later I was forced in to a change when inside forward Andrés Ibargüen limped off. I decided to move Lisandro Lopez to the left inside forward position and bring on Lautaro Martinez to lead the line, and after being on the pitch for just 2 minutes Martinez put us 2-0 up. With a 2 goal lead at the break I decided to change our mentality to counter as after all these years of FM experience I expected Boca to go for broke and I didn’t want them to get a foothold in the game. The desicion worked a treat and we soaked up any Boca pressure and closed the game down to take all 3 points and give me my most satisfying victory to date.
Newells Old Boys would be the next visitors to Avellaneda and too their credit made a game of it with us narrowly winning 1-0 with an 81st minute goal from Martinez who is now getting the attention of the European Clubs who I think will come sniffing in January. The win extends our unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 matches under Milito who has sparked new life in to the club.
The Story So Far
So has you can see we have got off to a good start on all fronts and with the weekend ahead season 1 in Argentina will be nearing an end so my next post will be an update on how we have faired come the end of the season. I have enjoyed us winning the Copa Argentina and hope to add more silverware to the cabinet come the end of the season. We have also got the youth intake to look forward too. A big thank you to anyone who has taken the time to check this post out, until next time goodbye.