Welcome to my first post in what will be a new style of how I am going to both play and blog about FM in the future. I have found FM17 a challenge to keep interested in any of the saves that I have started so I have tried to look at why this has happened and without boring you with the details I have put a few things in place to address this and the first thing that I am doing is taking more control over all the squads at the club which will slow the game down for me. Ajax the club do not need any introduction they are one of the most popular teams to takeover on any FM release for obvious reasons with their history of youth development and the Total Football philosophy. During the save I will be attempting to get as close to a total football tactic as possible with the influence of Cruyff’s diamond. It’s always interesting to see how people interpret the Cruyff diamond in to their tactics. I have seen many variations and always find it fascinating. What I plan to do is start off with a system of play and try to evolve it over time and also create variations of it. At this point I must stress that I am not looking to create a super tactic that you just plug in and win every game you play. I make tactics to suit my club and players so if you are looking for a plug and play this is most definitely not the place to be looking. My idea is to have as much control over the squads as possible this will help me develop both the tactics and players at the club and with watching all the squads games this will slow the pace of the save. I have taken full control of both the 1st team and Jong Ajax squads. The Jong Ajax squad will be my development squad were I will be I will be concentrating on posting updates on each squad equally as the season unfolds aiming to cover each game week with information on how the tactics are developing, and how the players are developing within the system.
I have started with this set up has my base tactic, has you can see its not an orthodox formation but like Cruyff I feel this set up covers a lot of space. Both Ajax and FC Barcelona have become synonymous with the 3 P’s, Positioning, Possession and Pressure. These 3 attributes are what I have built this system around. Don’t get me wrong their are positives and negatives to the system but I feel the positives outway the negatives. The system is far from complete but so far the football being produced is exactly what I want to achieve with dynamic movement and crisp passing. I have been especially pleased with the Half Back role, I wanted to replicate Guardiola’s movement from Cruyff’s Barcelona 3-4-3 system were by Guardiola played in a small area and mainly held his position in the centre circle providing an outlet if we need to come backwards to start a move again. Building play from the back, the Half Back stays withdrawn centrally, and the creative players generally occupy the half-spaces, the dangerous areas at the width of the penalty area. I have also loaded up an exact mirror of this formation which I can switch to in game to change the dynamic of the attacking phase to exploit any opportunities I see in game or to cover the opposite wing if we are being exposed by someone on a particular flank. Cruyff’s inspired diamond is clear to see in our pass map below. The team instructions so far are very simple with the mentality set on Standard (Balance) and team shape set to flexible as this gives me more influence on individual player mentality when assigning roles., the flexible shape also gives us more layered positioning and when in possession gives us more ball retention and opportunities for passing moves. Below you can see the team instructions like I said are kept to a minimum which offers me more influence to each individual player by setting the player instructions. I am still very much tweaking player instructions so I have not posted them here because I think it’s better for anyone who wants to try this system out to give their own instructions to players which gives people chance to influence your own style. I don’t see the point in downloading tactics to try and plug and play because there is a good chance that it won’t work for your club plus for me anyway there is no better feeling than creating your own tactic and evolving it at your club. This is very much the first stage in trying to get as close as possible to me creating a modern day Totaal Voetbal tactic. I will go in to more detail on a regular basis on how the tactic is evolving. One tip that I always stand by is that when building a tactic take the time to watch your games in detail because this is the only way you will find your strength and weakness within a system. I am a believer that you can create solid tactics by taking the time to see what works for you and experimenting with player instructions, I see far too many times people saying that this role doesn’t work with this role and so on but that is not always the case and you can go against the grain believe me because I have done it time after time but you need to put the time in developing your system. Another bug bare of mine is when somebody uses somebody else’s system and can’t get it to work then calls it shit, yes you can download a tactic and it works but really were is the fun in that. I also use opposition instructions I have close down set on the following positions : Goalkeeper, Right and Left Full Back and Wing Backs, Right and Left Wide Midfielders and Wide Attacking Midfielders. For training I am using Fitness and Tactics in pre season then I switch to Balanced and Tactics until tactic is fluid and then once tactic is fluid I go for Balanced and Defensive Positioning. If we go on a bad run I then change the team training a little to see if I can shake the team up again. For Individual training I try to train attributes connected with the players role in the team or train a new trait. I will sometimes retrain a player a new role depending if I think it’s going to be beneficial in the long run. I am looking at training a couple of players the Libero role because long term I want to try and get as close as possible to the Ajax Totaal Voetbal philosophy has I can.
Ajax 1st Team Squad
Jong Ajax Squad
Ajax U19 Squad
We produced two good performances in the Champions League qualifier against Young Boys to set up a playoff game against Monaco to get in to the group stage.
We got our League campaign underway with a trip to PEC Zwolle, I rested a few players after our Champions League qualifier against Young Boys and was pleased with the performance beating our hosts 5-1. An eye catching performance from Armin Younes who played in the attacking midfield role replacing the rested Ziyech. Younes grabbed 2 goals but it was his link up play that stood out. The whole side put in a top performance but if I had to pick a weakness out it would be that we got caught out a couple of times with the long ball that turned our defence. On the whole a good start with plenty of positives.
Man Of The Match
My first ever game taking charge of a side in the Jupiler League pitted us against FC Emmen ended in a 2-2 draw thanks to substitute Richairo Zivkovic injury time penalty. Just a day before the game I recalled Zivkovic from his loan spell so I could spend some time developing him at the club. This turned out to be a very even game which we were heading for defeat until and injury time penalty from super sub Zivkovic. Overall the players were not used to the system and it was one of those games that I learnt more about the system than in pre season. What is clear to see is that this group of players are a very talented group and I am enjoying taking charge of them.
Man Of The Match
Well that brings my first post to a close I am already writing my next post so it should not be long before a follow up is live on the blog, I am going to look at the player instructions that I have gone with in the next post along with how the tactic is performing on the pitch.