Never Go Back #2: Stumbling upon potential brilliance

Last time out we returned to Osasuna for what was bound to be a heartbreak, heartwrenching experience of failure and anger. Unsurprisingly, we were wrong. It seems that the lessons of the first time have been heeded…

Don’t do radical change.

It’s kind of Football Manager rule numero uno (all this time in Spain has really improved my cultural awareness as you can see). If there’s a seed of brilliance within something then it quite obviously needs refined.

It’s perhaps my biggest regret of my first go around at Osasuna. That narrow, attacking 4-3-3 was a wonderfully entertaining thing but I became rather stuck in my ideals and we never progressed quite like I wanted. It ruined future FMs for me. I couldn’t get it to work like I had before. What was the problem?

Pragmatism.

It’s defined in philosophy as “an approach that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application”. Simply put, I didn’t have any form of pragmatism first time around. I never really considered my tactics practically and never realised it was too attacking and too easy to pick off. So, the obvious answer would be to sit back more right?

Wrong.

Too much pragmatism can ruin a save. Look at Salernitana. All I had to do was let the side loose just a little bit and we’d have been a good Serie A team. Instead I spent a good 85% of that save bored and angry in Serie B. Balance needs to be achieved. I need the Osasuna of old with some of that Salernitana pragmatism.

And I might just have stumbled upon it.

The Balance

The old narrow 4-3-3 is back baby! Well, not completely.

The most obvious difference is the defensive midfielder. In fact, that was really not even my idea. I saw Loki Doki use it to great effect on his journeyman and I thought I’d give it a bash. But while he used someone on a defend duty (usually a DLP), I opted to employ an idea from an old Cleon post where he attempted to create a possession based tactic and, in it, he utilised a DM on support because it steps up into midfield when in possession offering greater options and control. And lo and behold, it’s worked a treat so far.

The full back roles were causing issues. On the left I had a CWB on support which was great going forward but left us exposed defensively. The much more conservative WB-S ended up being just the right sort of balance we needed with a FB-S on the other side.

The strikers are more a combination of the skill-sets available to me. David Rodriguez has been insane as a DF-S with the Advanced Forward really just a way to rotate people in and out. The Trequartista role is there purely for Schiappacasse but he’s not scored for a little while. He’s not playing terribly ratings wise but his lack of goals is becoming a little worrying.

The question is though: where has this left us?

Chasing A Regional Television Network

At the start of December, it’s just a minuscule gap between us and the old television channel Granada with our recent surge in form firing us up into second. We haven’t lost in the league since September and, even though we’re out of the cup, performances are generally great. The four away games on the bounce were annoying though.

Our form even got me a manager of the month award which was nice:

Something about it being the players and that. That form did get me a new deal too:

The Veterans

It’s not all rosy in the Osasuna garden however. That XI you see above is generally the XI that start every game. I’m not a huge fan of many of my backups because 1. they’re old and 2. they’re not very good.

Case in point is the sad, sad story of the Flano’s. Both Javi and Miguel were great for me in FM16 for a year but they’re not great here and have both kicked up a fuss about a lack of game time. I gave them a bit of time which put Oier’s nose out of joint and, since he’s good, I went back on my word to Javi who is probably going to leave. Miguel fell apart so that’s one less thing to deal with. Their whole saga did give me the lovely option to “Ask Flano to speak to Flano”. Aye boys, have a word with yourself.

They’re not the only veterans having a wee moan or struggle. Backup keeper Manu Herrera has played one cup game and since Sergio is ten times better and 8000 years younger, I’ve preferred him so Manu is offski soon. Miguel de las Cuevas looked like a great player to have but he’s really not performed and I honestly wouldn’t mind just getting shot of him.

Plus, Rafael van der Vaart. Never have I seen a man collect so much money for doing so little football. Honestly, he’s spent 75% of his time injured and his five games have yielded an average rating of 6.53. He played in a World Cup final for Christ’s sake. How is he so awful and made of glass? Can’t say I’m surprised to be perfectly honest though. It was always going to happen.

My issue though is that I don’t really want to get rid of them all at once. The Flanos are team leaders. The others offer some much needed experience and tutoring opportunities for the talented youngsters I have. Plus, will the youngsters I replace them with be as useful? Can I find replacements that will be as good? With January approaching, it’s something for me to ponder…

Anyway, that about wraps up everything for this update. I don’t quite know when I’ll next come back as my FM time has been quite patchy in recent weeks. If you want to see more of this save as and when I play it, then head on over to FM Slack and join my channel, #longballfoot, where I’ll probably be bemoaning my tactic not working or Rafa van der Vaart pulling up lame again. You can also follow me on Twitter (@LongBallFoot) if you so desire.

Until next time, remember to be pragmatic but not too pragmatic…

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