Thursday, 31 January 2013

Capturing 6th line in the table

Hi everybody,

Welcome to back to Nottingham Forest story in which I try to become a new Brian Clough. A frontier of the 3rd season’s half is passed, and I am happy to share with you good news. Forest is at the sixth line in the table as you see!

Premier League

It’s interesting the 6th line was captured almost 10 fixtures ago. So now my target is to hold the position during following months.

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Matches

I deliberately divided all latest matches into two series calling them Awesome November and Painful December. I know you’re starting to understand the sense of the words is explained by results produced by Forest.

Awesome November

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Grabbing 4 wins and 1 draw in row is merely fantastic result for a club that has a season target of mid-table finish. Of course the best one was against Aston Villa when my boys managed to score 5 goals. However, I already reported at FM Crowd about the game and want you to pay attention to another match.

Clearly tactical win over Newcastle

Tactics

It was my first victory at St. James’ Park. And I am glad my tactical approach helped to beat more strong team in the away match. I can tell you step-by-step in details:

  1. I analysed the squad and saw that Newcastle wingers and wing backs make a lot of crosses and assists.
  2. It turned out Newcastle plays a good old 4-4-2.
  3. I started checking an opposition report prepared by my scouting team.
  4. Report->Goals gave me the following information that confirmed amount of goals scored via flanking attack:

Goals in team report

5. Then I understood I should use my classic 4-4-2 tactics this time to block their activity on flanks.

6. Moreover, it’s necessary to play more defensively on flanks. This is why I selected Henri Lansbury and Chris Cohen as MR and ML respectively. Other wide midfielders are better in attack than these two but worse in defence.

That’s all. I won the match with 2:1 score that doesn’t depict a serious advantage my team had. Nottingham Forest left Newcastle without efficient flanks and made them hit many long shots. This is what you may onwards on the screen shot:

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My players were amazing, particularly Cohen and Lansbury whom I trusted places in the starting line-up.

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Painful December

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I was so excited after November games and felt we can easily fight for Europa League place this season. But it was a fallacy. A sudden injury of Mattia Destro and tough opponents like Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea brought me back from heaven. The distance to the 5th position after December matches seems almost completely insurmountable.

There were 3 matches my team should win against:

  • Southampton
  • Sunderland
  • Leicester

If the loss to Sunderland managed by Gerard Houllier is can be justified by injuries and fatigue of key players (Destro, Lascelles, Milosevic), then sudden shame caused by Leicester doesn’t endure any explanations.

The loss to Leicester, weakest PL team

The most painful is defeat by Leicester having the weakest Premier League squad. I wasn’t so good tactically as usually, additionally Forest players didn’t manage to score at least once…

Loss

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Players and their performances

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Alexander Milosevic - wanted by Blackburn.

Mikkel Diskerud – wanted by Blackburn and Tottenham.

Mattia Destro – wanted by Dortmund.

Ademilson is still on his way to blend into the squad. I believe it’s admissibly if I would even give him the whole season for adaptation. The Brazilian talent is worth of any discounts.

There are no any problems with other Forest footballers. I am still happy with all my defenders including new ones: Neil Eardley and Yaroslav Rakitskyi. Jermaine Defoe can’t stop scoring goals and has better stats than Mattia Destro for a while (who is also impressive).

Mikkel Diskerud’s star has finally begun to shine. Remember I was hesitating regarding him after season 2 because of low number of assists and key passes. At the moment Mikkel is the best Forest player by these two values:

Stats

Super-prospective young giant Mitchell Hewitt

Mitchell Hewitt

Mitchell Hewitt came up to forefront during the reported period. He was showing a miraculous growth during trainings and I decided to put him into the first eleven for several matches. Hewitt amazed me with great performance in all matches apart from the last one when he managed to score the own goal. He lacks speed and experience but generally he looks like a future world star of football! Pay attention to Hewitt’s height and weight and you’d understand why I called him a giant :-)

Frankly speaking, I have the most prospective squad in the Premier League now. My youngsters compete for monthly awards since the very season beginning. Most often winner is Jamaal Lascelles. But Mitchell Hewitt, Will Hughes, and Ole Kristian Selnaes are really exciting Forest talents as well.

Young Player Award

Finances and player sales

Player sales

The most attentive of you could notice Forest squad missing two players: Greg Halford and Mathieu Dossevi. They both were sold. I felt I have too many players in the squad and decided to release some wage budget putting a couple of not really needed guys on a transfer list.

I won’t miss Dossevi. He didn’t play at least 10 matches for my club. I got him for free as you may remember and now the French left Forest for $7M. A good piece of business!

Unfortunately, Greg Halford was even more unnecessary than Dossevi. This player has been in a starting line up for two season until signature of Neil Eardley. Now Greg is obviously too old and slow at Premier League level. Moreover, he had quite high wage of nearly $28K.

You may compare my Forest balance and wage budget before and after these transfers.

Before player sales

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After player sales

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Future matches and plans

Next matches

As I wrote I want to hold the 6th line. The hottest competitor is Liverpool having two spare matches. The next two months seem quite convenient for me because:

  • there are many home matches;
  • we play with Liverpool at home;
  • we have 2 more or less easy away matches against Q.P.R. and Norwich.
  • Man City doesn’t scare me while they use narrow 4-2-3-1 which is easily opposed by my counter-attacking tactics.

Arsenal pulled my team out of League Cup but there’s still a FA Cup where I may try my luck.

I don’t know whether I will buy new players in winter but I certainly going to fight for some very attractive footballers whose contracts end in summer. Signing on free is almost always profitable. Though there are many players on my shortlist who are under surveillance. So I may buy one of them in case of listing on transfer.

Winter transfer also depend much on my ability to keep all wanted players off leaving Forest. Hope club board will not make any decision I dislike…

Excited to blog for you,

Vitaliy Mokosiy

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Author: Vitaliy Mokosiy

Playing Football Manager since 1996. Blogging about it since 2007.