Welcome to the latest from Florence where we are now in our 6th season of the save. You will notice that the header for this save consists of a few managers who all have managed either Ajax or Barcelona or both. Rinus Michels, Johan cruyff, Louis Van Gaal, Josep Guardiola, and Erik ten Hag are the men in question and the ones who I have grown up watching and studying closely whilst admiring their philosophy on how the game should be played.
Although I am an ageing FM player I am not quite old enough to have been able to watch the Rinus Michels era however due to my addiction to football in general I have over the years managed to accumulate a large collection of past matches on both video and dvd including a large amount of Ajax and FC Barcelona games from the Michels – Cruyff era. I have also managed to get every Dutch international game played through the totaalvoetbal era.
Alongside the video collection I have read endless material relating to the totaalvoetbal philosophy which relates back to the days of Jack Reynolds, Jimmy Hogan and through the era’s of the Austrian Wunderteam, the River Plate side dubbed La Máquina (The Machine), the Mighty Magyars of Hungary through to the totaalvoetbal years of Michels continuing to Cuyff and Van Gaal and then Guardiola before Erik ten Hag not forgetting the managers in between that filled the gaps none less so than Frank Rijkaard but it’s the 5 managers that are in the header that has inspired the way I like to see the game played and thats not forgetting Sacchi and Bielsa.
“4-5-1? Never. It was always 4-3-3 for me as a player and as manager, just like [Frank] Rijkaard at Barcelona. With 4-3-3, it’s much easier to make combinations going forward. With only one forward, who is he going to pass to? Who is he going to make combinations with? Football is about having the best offensive play possible. I always like to play offensive football and nobody will convince me otherwise”. Cruyff
You may wonder where all this is leading well after last season with La Viola I decided that I needed to change something tactically because whilst we were performing well we dropped valuable points along the way to securing 2nd place in Serie A and after losing 4 cup finals that’s one Europa League Final and three Coppa Italia Finals I felt we needed a change.
We already use a 4-3-3 formation or 4-1-4-1 and this will remain our starting shape on building the new system. A new system that embraces the legacy created by the Mister’s of Ajax and FC Barcelona, Welcome to The Velvet Revolution
The Velvet Revolution Formation 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3
Warning – If you have come here looking for a plug and play tactic that will bring you instant results you are most certainly in the wrong place however if you are looking for a tactic that forms a solid base to work with by moulding players into a system then this may be up your street.
So the Velvet Revolution is something born out of my love for the Ajax – FC Barcelona legacy and based on the Dutch 4-3-3 formation which you can call a 4-1-4-1 formation. From the early pioneers of the Ajax legacy up to the Erik ten Hag of today the legacy to play the Ajax way still remains.
The system I am using with La Viola is very much based and inspired by those who have gone before me. I have seen a fair few tactical reproductions in recent weeks on the Ajax of Erik ten Hag that has been interesting to see how different people interpret the system that has taken Ajax to the brink of the Champions League Final.
I am sticking to the base formation of 4-3-3 / 4-1-4-1 with the idea that I want us to control games against the big teams and small teams alike balancing risk and reward, now this is where my Italian influence comes in to play because I whilst I like to see good attacking play I also get a kick out of a clean sheet.
Mentality – Balanced
- Shorter Passing
- Play Out Of Defence
- Be More Expressive
- Focus Play Through The Middle
- Underlap Left
- Underlap Right
- Lower Tempo
- Very Narrow
- Goalkeeper Take Short Kicks
- Goalkeeper Distribute To Full Backs
- Counter When Possession Has Been Won
- Counter Press When Possession Has Been Lost
Out Of Possession
- Higher Defensive Line
- Higher Line Of Engagement
- Pressing Intensity Extremely Urgent
- Prevent Short Goalkeeper Distribution
- Sweeper Keeper – Defend – Distribute to full backs
- Wing Back Right – Attack – Default
- Wing Back Left – Support – Default
- Ball Playing Defender – Defend – Default
- Central Defender – Defend – Default
- Deep Lying Playmaker – Defend – Default
- Box to Box Midfielder – Support – Default
- Mezzala – Support – Default
- Inside Forward Right – Support – Default
- Inside Forward Left – Attack – Default
- Complete Forward – Support – Default
Assistant Manager against clubs with an higher reputation.
Below you can see a 4-month training schedule that I am using with the new tactical system that we are using.
The following match highlights are just a few short clips on key highlights that show both our good points and our vulnerability whilst we are implementing the new system.
Serie A 2023-2024
Internazionale 0-3 ACF Fiorentina
The opening goal scored in this game is the type of build up that I am trying to emulate from the Ajax of Erik ten Hag.
Champions League 2023-2024
FC Barcelona 0-2 ACF Fiorentina
Serie A 2023-2024
US Sassuolo 1-3 ACF Fiorentina
The Velvet Revolution V2 Tiki Taka
I use V2 of the Velvet Revolution to close games out when we are in a short winning position late on in games. The V2 version is a standard Tiki-Taka system that aims to keep possession of the ball. I have found this to be really useful in tandem with the V1 system.
Sweeper Keeper – Attack – Distribute to Centre Backs
Wing Back Right – Support – Default
Complete Wing Back Left – Support – Default
Ball Playing Defender – Defend – Default
Central Defender – Defend – Default
Deep Lying Playmaker – Defend – Default
Advanced Playmaker – Attack – Default
Mezzala – Support – Default
Inside Forward Right – Support – Default
Inside Forward Left – Support – Default
Deep Lying Forward – Support – Default
Assistant Manager against clubs with an higher reputation.
The Season So Far 2023-2024
We said goodbye to Manuel Locatelli who joined Paris Saint Germain for an initial £37m that could rise to £41.5m with add ons. Locatelli expressed his desire to join the French money men who will pay the midfielder £135k per week. Argentinian Forward Maximiliano Romero also departed on a season-long loan deal to Napoli. I felt that Romero needed some quality game time and Napoli wanted to take him. The Neopolitan club has an option to sign the Argentine for £33m.
We kicked the season off with a couple of 1-1 draws against Genoa and Empoli with Patrick Cutrone finding the net on both occasions. Good wins against Frosinone 4-0, Sampdoria 2-0 gave us confidence heading into our opening Champions League Group A fixture in Amsterdam against Erik ten Hag and his Ajax side. In an end to end game in Amsterdam, both teams gave it their all in a 2-2 draw with goals for us from Zekhnini and Diakhate to earn a point.
Matchday 5 of the Serie A calendar saw Cagliari visit Florence and the side from Sardinia put up a fight after going behind to an early Fabio Gentile goal that ended up being the only goal of the game. We then rounded the month of September off with a trip to Turin to face Brendan Rodgers….. Yes you read it correctly and his Juventus side who always give us a game and this time were no different with the Old Lady inflicting our first defeat of the season upon us with a 2-1 scoreline. Domenico Berardi got our consolation goal from the penalty spot late on.
We could not goit off to a better start to the month when we beat FC Barcelona in the Franchi 2-0 on Matchday 2 of the Champions League. Goals from Nicolo Barella and Benjamin Rollheiser secured all three points but it was the football on show from La Viola that made the victory in Florence all the more sweeter. Barca got Tiki-Takered under the Florence sky.
Wins in Serie A against Udinese and SPAL kept us in the early leading pack of teams aiming for the title. A 1-1 draw against Manchester City on a rainy night in England left us at the halfway stage in Group A with 5 points and little did we know at the time but it would be the first game of a 6 game run without a victory. We ended October losing 0-1 in Rome to league leaders Lazio.
We were glad to see the back of November which produced just 1 win along with 3 draws and 2 defeats. We kicked the month off with two back to back 0-0 draws against Atalanta and Chievo before a 1-2 defeat at home to Manchester City in the Champions League that makes it difficult to see us getting out of the group without winning our last two remaining matches against Ajax and FC Barcelona. Another draw our third consecutive 0-0 draw in Serie A this time against Pescara gets the Viola faithful question our tactics and my position at the club for the first time since taking over. After 5 years at the club, this is the first time that I have started to think will the board stand by me whilst I implement the new system. A 3-1 win against Sassuolo eases the pressure but a 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the Franchi just about ends our Champions League campaign.
If November was a disappointment then December is probably the best one that I have experienced during this save and the reason why is the football that La Viola has produced is the best we have played in the five and a half years of my time in Florence. The month started with a 2-0 win against FC Barcelona that if nothing else completed a resounding double over one of the best sides in the World that although without Messi they have a midfield three of Neves, Felix and a certain Frenkie de Jong. The victory is not good enough to take us forward in the Champions League but we do finish third and qualify for the Europa League knockouts a competition that we managed to reach the final of last season.
Abdou Diakhate was the hero on Matchday 14 with a stunning strike just after the half-hour mark against Roma in Florence that gave us a 1-0 win. It’s amazing how fickle the fans are only two games ago they had started to question our football and now they are wax lyrical. A well earned 1-1 draw in the San Siro against Milan with a Benjamin Rollheiser goal. A 2-0 win against Benevento in the Italian Cup 1st round saw both Fabio Gentile and Luca Mancini get on the scoresheet.
A wonderful display by Rafik Zekhnini saw the inside forward grab two goals in a quality team performance that took us to a 3-0 win in Milan against Internazionale that sends a message out to the rest of Serie A. We are dominating games as I wanted us too. A 0-0 draw in Turin against Torino in the penultimate game of the year set us up for a showdown against the league leaders Napoli in Florence to end the year. A Saturday afternoon kick off against the Neopolitans saw us dominate the Southern side with our new found belief none less so than Diakhate who scored both goals in a 2-0 win that confirms us as a true title contender.
Serie A Table December 2023
Average Possession 61%
Least Conceded 11
Clean Sheets 13
Pass Completion 88%
Individual Pass Completion 92%
Florence And The Goal Machine: The Story So Far
2022-2023 Serie A 2nd Place / Europa League Runners Up / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2021-2022 Serie A 2nd Place / Supercoppa Italia Winners / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2020-2021 Serie A 1st Place / (Manager Of The Year)
2019-2020 Serie A 5th Place / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2018-2019 Serie A 3rd Place / (Manager Of The Year)
Thanks for reading and I hope you return to see if the The Velvet Revolution continues to evolve and who knows we may even add a bit of silver to the trophy cabinet.