Racing Club supporters around the World are celebrating the club winning an historic treble after the club secured the Superliga title with one game still to play. The club have not looked back since Diego Milito returned to the club he once played for to become the manager. Milito who won the title with Racing in 2014 as a player he is now a title winner as a manager. The Milito Years have started off better than expected with the club winning 5 trophies in 2 seasons under the man dubbed the prince by the Racing faithful. Milito himself was pleased with the double cup wins last season but this season Racing have been on fire and blown the opposition away with a change of style so what changed?
After last season came to an end the players went off on their sabatical Milito the manager was planning for season two, in reality Milito had been planning for season 2 and beyond long before the end of the season compiling lists of potential transfer targets that could come in to the club and fit in to Milito’s Philosophy, what is Milito’s Philosophy you might ask? Well after a chance meeting with El Loco (Marcelo Bielsa) which will be the topic of a future post (spoiler alert) Milito was convinced the way forward for Racing Club was to bring in a system based on Verticality following the following principles:
- Get the ball forward quickly without necessarily resorting to aimless long balls
- Retain possession only if the vertical pass is not on, and to open space for a vertical pass
- Commanding Mentality
- Agressive Pressing
- Technical Players to enable moving the ball forward in a controlled manner
- A Narrow structure . (This narrow concentration of players gives players building up from the back or deep in midfield a greater number of options directly ahead of them)
- Width and variation is created more by fullbacks / wing backs or an attacker peeling wide rather than traditional wingers. The ball is only played wide to switch the point of attack or to shift an opponent out of position and away from a team’s preferred vertical line of pass. Players who start wide at the top end of formations will increasingly float central and become vertical options.
- Use a front 3 made up of varying options dependent on roles by having more ways of playing by using different roles (versatility)
Milito the manager likes the Bielsa way but does not want to be a Bielsa clone “I am my own man and will take ideas from other managers and systems and incorporate them in to our play, it is of no doubt that Bielsa influences the way I think”.
I am using 3 different formations to create the framework for our style of play they are 2-3-2-3 / 3-4-3 / 3-4-1-2 within these frameworks I am using differing roles to create the Verticality I want us to play. Below is a typical pass map from one of our matches that we are playing with 3 forwards numbers 11,10 and 19. You can see how deep our central striker 19 drops in to the midfield strata which more often than not drags his marker or markers out of position opening up the space which we can exploit. In the past I have always built possession hungry tactics with the emphasis on dominating the ball Guardiola style but since managing in Argentina I have turned the tempo up and whilst we do dominate possession in most of our games it is now not the be all and end all of my system. Whilst Bielsa likes to have an extra man in defence depending on the oppositions striker configuration I look for the central advantage to give us more vertical build up options. We press aggressively starting with the front men who I give marking duties to which can change from game to game depending on the opposition. For example in the title deciding match against Boca Juniors I gave specific marking instructions to the whole team apart from our goalkeeper and 2 central defenders. We beat Boca 3-0 and limited them to one long range shot which I think is not bad against a team that was beating all before them. Watching games in detail is the way I do things now and I have to say it opens your mind up to whats going on. My attention to detail as improved ten fold and is improving me as a manager. I noticed people are having problems around the community with their teams penalty conversion rate so get your penalty taker improving his penalty taking during training, it really is that simple, Marcelo Meli is our penalty taker at the moment and as only missed 1 penalty all season that I put down to his time on the training ground. Some games can be won or lost by coming down to a micro moment of a penalty kick so to me its worth investing time on the training ground, this applies to many aspects of the game.
Facundo Quignon who plays in our system in either a BWM role or the Half Back role is our equivalent to a Quarter Back in the NFL. Quignon is a dream player to have in our side and can play in a more advanced role however I wanted a player of his quality to play a Quarter Back type role pinging vertical passes from deep and Quignon does it with style.
Marcelo Meli a natural BWM converted to play the Mezzala role is an absolute gem of a player. He sits in the half spaces and links the midfield and frontline and now our penalty taker deserves a mention after the season he as just had, developed a knack of arriving in the oppositions box at the right time.
The Second half of the season produced 11 wins and 1 draw including a title deciding 3-0 win against Boca Juniors. The new system of play produced a brand of football that was a joy to watch and without doubt the best I have created on FM. The sale of players Zaracho (25.5m), Rosales (£9m) and Walter (£18m) did not hold us back in fact we invested £11.5m in transfer listed forward Giovanni Simeone who came in to the club just as Lisandro Lopez picked up a long term injury and the son of Diego Simeone as not looked out of place with 15 assists and 14 goals in all competitions since his move in January. Our form in the league at the end of the season is 16 games undefeated with 15 wins and 1 draw and considering we only won the title by 3 points shows how good Boca have been with only us beating them. I am very pleased with the title win and the way we achieved our success.
We opened our Libertadores defence with a display of power in winning all 6 games in our group scoring 33 goals has we ran riot with our boys scoring for fun, Pablo Cuadra netted 9 times followed by Marcelo Meli 6 and Simeone scoring 5 times. We swept aside Atlético Nacional (5-1 and 4-0), The Strongest (5-1 and 8-0) and Universidad Católica (4-1 and 7-2). We now await the knockout round draw as we focus on defending our title.
We have moved early in the transfer market in bringing in 3 promising talents that fit our DNA with the first of a double swoop on Argentinos Juniors being 17 year old striker Gastón Verón who I see being a big star in Argentina in the coming years. The second of the Argentinos boys is 19 year old defensive midfielder Fausto Vera who will come straight in to the first team squad as Facundo Quignon’s understudy. Our third signing is central midfielder David Vallejo from San Lorenzo, Vallejo will also come in to the 1st team squad to continue his development. As I write this post I can confirm that we are looking to bring in both a central defender and a left wing back to fill a void after we part company with a number of players during the close season.
The Story So Far
2018-2019 Racing Club
Superliga Argentina Winners
Copa Libertadores Winners
Recopa Sudamericana Winners
Fifa World Club Cup Runners-Up
2017-2018 Racing Club
Copa Sudamericana Winners
Copa Argentina Winners
Superliga Argentina Runner-up
Super Copa Argentina Runner-up
I have been offered an interview to talk about the possibility of becoming the new manager of Juventus however I have declined the offer as I feel we are on the verge of something special at Racing Club. In one of my next few posts I will be looking at our youth development system and the players we have coming through La Academia. I would like to take this opportunity to wish an Happy New Year to you all, I hope you all have a good time bringing in the new year. So until next time adiós amigo’s.