La Libération de Caen #2: Keep it real, FM

You know that moment when you’ve planned a night out with the boys but the beta comes out 24 hrs before? When you then come home from being on the piss after not even firing her up yet, never mind played a single game? Then, when FM is ‘setting up the team database’ and you realise that your main save team SMCaen are in the 2nd half of a live game vs Orleans and already 1 nil up so you think fuck it I’ll put a quid on and watch it on bet365?

No, well let me introduce you to my new number 10 and his moment of wonder as I did exactly that, with my finger on the gyazo capture button faster than me nana’s lips around half a stout. What a goal and what an introduction to the FMheathen family, take a bow Jessy Pi 🙂

Strangely though, in a very FM way, he doesn’t feature at all on the first screen that greets me when I walk into the SM Caen boardroom on my first day. In fact it’s almost as if he doesn’t exist ..

To be fair to SI though I remind myself that this is very much the team at the season start rather than now in November and resolve to delve deeper once in the game proper. I also remind myself that IRL Caen decided to sell half their backroom staff (and team come to that) in the summer so the FM version could well be a little different. All well and good though and all part of the fun.

1) 5 years? Oh go on then ..

When it comes to the new (goddamn excellent, has to be said) five year plan feature, my initial thoughts whilst planning the save in La Libération de Caen #1: Establishing a Beachhead were thus (the short version, for the bigger one see the blog itself):

  1. YEAR ONE:
    Survive relegation, do better than IRL team
  2. YEAR TWO:
    Playoff/Promotion from Ligue 2
    Ligue 1 Survival
    Top six
    Top four
  6. YEARS 6-10:
    Win the league if not already
    Doubles, trebles, anything with an ‘..les’ at the end
    (eventually) Win the Champions League

That said, it was nice to see that in-game the board pretty much agreed with every target so hey ho, very pleased with the prep so far:

Also loving the new ‘club vision’ monitoring screen which feels like a giant leap forward over the board screen from previous editions. This is going to serve as a great measure for every long term FM save this year.

2) Squad: IRL vs FM

There’s a danger I think in over-preparation for a save and I am definitely guilty of this with this one, having watched the highlights of every one of Caen’s pretty average and occasionally dire first 13 games this season, apart from the last two which they won against weak teams.

The result of this has been that I go into the save with the very real danger of being WAY too influenced by what is happening with the real club and thus need to start with a clean sheet to prevent making the same mistakes that the current manager is making. To illustrate the point, here is the team from their last game, which they won 2-1 – on a side note this is also the game where Jessy scored THAT corner goal above:

IRL team: SM Caen 2 : 1 Orleans 1st Nov 19

As you can see, even if you don’t subscribe to the ‘full green’ position indicators (I don’t half of the time – if a player does a job then who cares?) then FM is at the least expressing some alarm, which may be one reason why, apart from the last two games, they’re doing pretty shit in real life.

However, giving their current manager the benefit of the doubt, the four wing positions are only red because they’re wrong sided, which fits the narrow in-cutting tactic he seems to be favouring, with those wings pressuring the centre and choosing dribbles over crosses. For example, here’s Caleb Zady Sery, a most excellent 19yr old prospect, doing just that in the last but one game:

Happily for me, this fits perfectly with the inverted winger role being also now available in the AM strata so happy days, will be nice to see if I can emulate this play with him in the game with either this or a straight IF (let’s face it do we know the difference yet?).

Perhaps the oddest choice here though is him playing our friend Jessie in that AMC position because everywhere, both in the real world and in the game he is a DM, with attribs to prove it. With that in mind, think all I can do is to see how it pans out (though he will definitely be taking corners) 🙂

In summary then, while I do find making links with the real life team appealing, I will try to limit it to nicking a few ideas but not allow it to dominate the save.

3) Tactics

This conveniently leads then to the creation of a tactic which I have now decided is only going to be partly influenced by just three real life occurrences, as follows:

  1. Player positions: suck it and see, maybe Jessy is a no 10 but doesn’t know it? (I seriously doubt it though)
  2. Emulating (some of) a narrow play style: Not a lover normally as I prefer a more asymmetric tactic with a wide player on one side and say an IF on the other but we will DEFINITELY be trying Zady in the moved up IW role
  3. Real life performance: If real life is anything to go by then I need to make a path to goal as Caen have low GA (16 in 13 games) but also low GF (12, less than one a game) leaving them 15th in the league on just 14 pts, so that will definitely be a focus.

With this thrown into the mix and given we’ve not even kicked a ball yet I started with this:

This hopefully will give us a little security at the back with the two deeper players and also a nice counter via the SV and WBs, whom I have now driven even more by adding the overlap instruction. It also plays to the current player’s strengths. Then again as we all know it’s nothing without testing so I decided it was friendly time ..

3) The proof of the (French) pudding

First off, I arranged a cheeky weekend cup brilliantly entitled the ‘Squad Test Cup’ (go figure) to start off with, though as you can see it didn’t quite go to plan, with us bottling a 2 nil 10 minute lead against Young Boys to lose 2 nil:

But who gives a toss about the score? It’s only the first friendly and there were some positives:

  1. Jessy Pi played well as the Segundo Volante, even though he missed a pen, the bellend
  2. The IW worked exactly the same as IRL! Ok, it wasn’t Zady, who was away on international duty but it worked so wahey 🙂

I then tweaked it a little in the next game, paying attention to marking up as three of their goals came from wide areas. We struggled to score but the result was much better, with higher possession and passing rate and less shots for the opposition. Doesn’t mean much at this stage but in the right direction I think.

I decided it would also be interesting to recreate the last two fixtures which Caen won – I know the comparison is not set in stone but thought it would be an interesting exercise anyway:

In real life the first result was 4-2 to Caen and we almost matched it, with Zady’s return again showing that the IW worked well as he took a lovely header from the edge of the box after cutting into space from a wide position..

As previously mentioned IRL in the second game against Orleans the score was 2-1 and it was just a single goal in this game too ..

So what did I learn from this? That FM was pretty much accurate after all and that when it comes to the better teams we are probably going to get royally smashed, because that has also happened with a similar team and tactic IRL.

4) Onwards and upwards

So where too now? Well first off the friendlies showed me we were lacking a decent winger to run opposite Zady and also an experienced centre half, a decent striker and perhaps even a keeper for when we come up against some better opposition.

With that in mind I managed to bag the first one in the shape of the boy Leandrinho with whom I had a lot of success with at Napoli in FM18. I particularly liked the fact that he can play as a natural IW as well and his flair caught the eye immediately in his two trial games, where he steamed forward and scored a beaut from outside the box:

I was also extremely pleased to sign Loic Puyo on a free for that wide wing position. As well as being an experienced all rounder he also smashed it in his three trial games, getting an assist per game and averaging 7.3. As an added bonus he’s tasty at free kicks for this level as well:

Cracking on then with some minor tweaking we finished here at the end of this first session and have to say that I am ver pleased, particularly as we have only let two goals in in the last 7 games (btw, we had 36 shots, 14 SoT, 72% possession and 91% pass completion in that last game and still couldn’t bloody score!):

As for the other actions, it’s just been the usual admin stuff like staff upgrades but tbh there wasn’t anything to write home about so I won’t bore you with all that now.

5) And finally ..

Soooooo, after spending the last day writing all this while playing I realised I hadn’t even had a proper look at the new development centre – which is annoying because looking at the youth team is one of the first things I normally do. What I saw pleased me a lot, and I mean a lot. Check out this beautiful image, which is perfectly setup for this new feature oh yeah baby 🙂

Methinks it’s going to be a goooooood few years here in Normandy 🙂

Now here’s hoping it doesn’t go tits up before I see them develop and thanks for reading.

Daz aka @FMheathen

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