So fellas our first Premier League season is over and I am pleased to say we have achieved two things, namely we stayed up and finished a creditable 15th, despite the 20th prediction, but best of all we beat Man City not once, but twice 🙂Firstly, let’s deal with that best bit – beating City.
From the start of the save in the planning stages this has been my number one goal as in my alternate history they are my most massive rival, constantly winding us up over the years with their success and bitterness and even preventing us from relocating to a new ground at a place called ‘Old Trafford’ in the scorching hot summer of 1976. Not to mention the massive fight our first team had with theirs at the Hacienda in the mid 90s after our lads asked New Order to play ‘Blue Monday’ when they’d been knocked out of the FA cup (read the full details here: Heathens resurrected special: an alternate history part 2 – 1971 to 1999).
I am absolutely ecstatic to say that in both our debut Premier League fixtures against them we won 0-3 away and 4-3 at home (which inexplicably turned into 3-2 due to a bloody crash dump, see below). What is more, we did it against all the odds vs a City team worth 579mil containing Varane, De Bruyne, Icardi, Goretska, Sterling, Stones and Ederson among others. Newton Heath 1878 on the other hand are worth 103mil and 30 mil of that is on my two star loanees, Jamie Soule and Ryan Cassidy. We were also right at the other end of the table as you would expect.
To put it short, we went, we saw and we bloody conquered them right in their own council house back yard which ranks right up there as one of my favourite moments in all my years of playing CM and FM. Here are the stats from that first 3 nil game:
As you can see it wasn’t a walkover as City came at us from the word go. Saying that, I was surprised the shot rate wasn’t higher, as we got battered with 29 shots on target in the previous game against league leaders Leicester. Our success though was I believe based on four things, namely our positioning, our determination to win second balls and our headers won (78% to their 42%) all wrapped around a well tested tactic that I believe allows every player to play to the best of their ability. This is a variant of the 442 I wrote about in Heathens resurrected #12: Newton Heath 1878, a Goddamn Premier League team which is basically an offset asymmetric 442 with a DLP set to the side – you can check out the link for more details but this is the one I used against City, which is more conventional:As you can see, it says ‘442 home’ and this is because I have just been using the same one and changing slight things depending on the opposition pre-game as many of us do and not really bothering with the ‘away’ version. It’s nothing special at first glance but the beauty is in the PIs, as they are all tailored to what I want them to do. The CDs for example are on short passing and the FBs are on sit narrow and tackle harder, to name just a couple though there are many more for each position.
As for the 4-3 home win, unfortunately the only evidence I have are the tweets I sent out as the bloody PC rebooted as soon as I went to the home screen a minute after the game! I played again and still got a 3-2 win but it didn’t feel the same. Here’s the proof of the 4-3 anyway from the live tweets:Just in case you’re wondering who Titi is, more about him later.
So with that moment of magnificence aside here is how the rest of the campaign went, with a reasonable start in the first half of the season protecting us from a shocking run-in towards the end right until that last City game just before the death (and I am ashamed to say that those 7 losses before then is my worst streak in the save that didn’t even have anything to do with injuries, we were just basically shit).In hindsight, I feel we suffered from being promoted a season too early and my bunch of Championship level faithfuls couldn’t hack it at the sharp end of a long season. Basically, I’d stuck with three quarters of them and it showed. In the end though this is how it finished with a reasonable 43 points easily guaranteeing safety:I’m a bit behind with the blogs so excuse me if I don’t go through all the transfers I brought in, though most were future prospects anyway and some don’t join us for a couple of years. Here’s two highlights though, the wonderfully named Titi, who cost me 170k and who scored in both City games .... and Francisco Anderson, who’s attribs are dipping as he’s just coming back from injury:Other than that though, it was slim pickings for that first Premier League season.
This season (Premier League season 2)
So I’m just out of pre-season and with the planning sheets and mind-maps out again I came up with these second Prem season objectives. That said, my planning this time has been absolutely shit due to family stuff which if you follow me on twitter you will know all about.
- Don’t get sacked again (always the first)
- Finish higher than 15th
- Get to the next round of both cups
- Beat City again (once or twice)
- Get to a cup final
- Qualify for Europe (I can dream can’t I?)
To do that I’m going to do these things:
- Sign or promote current (not potential) Premier level players
- Get some experience in the team (i.e. players over 27-28)
- Keep promoting youth
- Move out prospects who won’t get first team gametime on fee paying loans if possible
Early doors this has gone quite well, with our biggest ever 3 signings in my now old 34 year old Utd pal Alexis Sanchez, the still improving Eddie Nketiah and the incredible (for my team) 30 year old Peruvian wing back Miguel Trauco:
Sanchez of course is on the wane but he’ll be good for a year at a ridiculous 275k, tapped up from Liverpool who were initially asking 1.6m :), Nketiah has room to grow and enough said about Trauco, who is by far our best ever signing.
That said, all these tick the boxes of being prem level and experienced, so onwards and upwards. I’m a bit wary of how the tactic will work as both Trauco and Sanchez give us massive strength on the left opposite our unimproved (ie Championship level) right side, but I’ve tried to make the right more defensive to counter the effect and it seems to be working okay so far with wins in all our pre season games and a 2-2 draw in our first home game to West Ham.
In other news, the board randomly decided to expand the ground again through necessity and it meant we have moved to Bolton for the duration of the renovation (I’ve showed you the full screen so you can see how everything else is coming along). A nice consequence is that we have leapt from our previous 12,500 capacity to 27k. What is more we filled every seat in that first West Ham game which shows we have the fans behind us all the way 🙂On that note I shall leave it for now. I’ll try and blog sooner next time now that all the family crap has died down.
See you soon – up the Heathens and don’t forget to cheer for Titi 🙂