Sylvan has traversed his way through his first preseason as a real life (virtual) football manager and finds himself still in a job, which is great for the longevity of this save if nothing else! So how did we do?
A pretty decent set of results for the rookie all things considered. There are two results I feel are worth pointing out, just in case you aren’t too familiar with the basement tiers of European football (and boy are you missing out if so!). Firstly, the 2-1 victory over Lierse was pretty satisfying as they’re from the division above and we handled ourselves well against them in general which is hopefully a good sign for the upcoming season. On the other end of the spectrum the 3-2 loss to Lienden (a Dutch amateur team) was slightly less enjoyable, Lienden went 2-0 up after 5 minutes and things started to look a bit bleak. Luckily the lads decided to actually take part in the final 85 minutes and pulled level just after half time only for the dutch team to add a 3rd from a corner take the win. But overall, other than those first 5 minutes which were truly woeful, the performance wasn’t THAT bad and we can head into the competitive games with our heads held high.
Now we’ve had a bit of time to work with the squad we present you with the two tactics we have switched between through the preseason.
Having literally never attempted a strikerless system on FM before what better place than the Beligan Third Division B to try it out for the first time? Sylvan’s background in the scientific method came in handy and we experimented with 45 minutes of each style in our preseason games to hopefully get the most reliable understanding of how the two tactics compare against the same opposition. We’ll avoid going too deep into the methodology so that those of you who have made it this far don’t start to regret that decision, but it involved a lot of clipboards, white coats and all that lark. Both tactics seemed to be performing pretty equally after 5 preseason games,and both formations yielding 3-1 scorelines after their respective 5 halves of football. Eventually we opted for the conservative approach and settled on the 4-2-3-1, for now.
We’ve so far opted not to add any instructions (other than the ask the keeper to distribute to the full backs) and tried to hold back on using a lot of the more specialised player roles for the benefit of simplicity. As you can see above, the players still haven’t quite got their heads around things tactically but I guess that’s one of the drawbacks of them being part timers, not to mention it being a pain in the arse to achieve any level of match fitness. But later into the season we’ll come back to these two systems and analyse any tweaks we may have made along the way.
I have a feeling this post could be on the longer side so for now we’ll just introduce you to a couple of players who should be important for us this year.
Mathyssen seems to Boom’s most talented player, the 26 year old Belgian looks to have the ability to play as both a provider and scorer which allows us a bit of flexibility in how we play. He also boasts good work rate, teamwork and determination attributes which are general attributes I enjoy in players, especially in terms of the tactical systems it may allow us to consider. Dirk didn’t have the greatest of preseason ratings but was often only playing 45 minutes each game so we wont read too much into that. Another slight concern with him was that he doesn’t want to be ‘distracted by the responsibility of tutoring’, I’ll remember that when it comes to handing out the armband Dirk lad.
Oh Jeroen, Jeroen, Jeroen! You may or may not have noticed from the preseason results that this was coming. Despite being all too eager to take Mathyssen’s poor preseason form with a pinch of salt we’re more than happy to jump on the Mertens hype train after a pretty impressive scoring record so far. His attributes explain his preseason pretty aptly, most of the time you’ll find him using that pace to dash in at the back post and use his pretty impressive finishing stat (especially for a part timer) to slot home anything that falls in front of him. Now lets see some more of this when the competitive games come around! Starting to get the hang of this motivational speaking lark).
Going into the year we felt we could probably take a crack at this season without having to make any additions to the squad, but we finally cracked and decided we needed some cover for left back Nick Van Der Westerlaken (who I’ve recently learned is also an electrician, the more you know) as nobody else on the books is even semi-competent there. So off goes our Chief Scout Eddy Laevaert to have a look at a few loan listed options, we’ll just label content of his reports as underwhelming.
Cheers Ed, you must have worked really hard on that. This left us with little choice other than to trust his judgement and approach the player he rated highest. Enter Timo Cauwenberg of second league Geel, we agree with his club to pay 50% of his weekly wages (£90) and he joins us for the rest of the season and Sylvan’s first deal goes down without a hitch.
You did good this time Laevaert! Shortly after this we get the opportunity to adjust (lower) squad bonuses for the cup and after a quick budget adjustment we manage to cover Timo’s £90p/w and also free up an extra £80 to contemplate another cautious dip into the transfer market. We would ideally like to pick up someone who can compete for a spot at both defensive and central midfield positions, but Eddy’s opinion of those available for loan isn’t particularly glowing so we head into uncharted territory, the free agents. The extent of our knowledge of these players is pretty much their age, height, weight (who exactly is in charge keeping track of unemployed footballers body weight?) and footedness. At least the loan listed ones had a transfer value as a means of screening potential targets! Luckily/unluckily for us there appear to only be 4 players who fit our Out of Contract, Can play centre midfield, Can play defensive midfield Venn diagram and only one of those is under 30, so no pressure or anything kid but Scout Eddy is coming for you. He returns with another ‘report’ but he’s 1 for 1 on signings so we take his word for it and offer Nathan Stranart a deal. He turns his nose up at the idea of an actual contract and instead would prefer a pay as you play non-contract deal, but we work things out and welcome a second new face to Gemeentelijk Parkstadion A (which isn’t a mouthful at all).
For some reason the board decides to hold a press conference to unveil Stranart and Robert Kelly from Eurosport is the only person in attendance, and he already dislikes Sylvan which seems pretty rude. Intimidated by his snappy dressing and flowing golden locks by any chance Robert? Annoyed that your boss has sent you abroad to provide fluff pieces for Eurosport.co.uk about that weird English guy managing in the Belgian third tier? Anyway, we can’t dwell on this too long, because that’s exactly what Robert Kelly would want us to do and we have a league to go win!
Rupel Boom’s first Competitive game of the season comes in the 3rd round of the Belgian Cup versus non-league Diest (don’t ask where the first two rounds went, I don’t know, FM doesn’t even know, just move past it already). The squad still aren’t fully match fit but hopefully that will be a problem for everyone else too so we’re not we’re trying not to worry about that. Rupel are 1-6 favourites away from home and manage a pretty comfortable 5-1 victory to start Sylvan’s career with a win and set up a 4th round tie next week with second tier side Union SG. In a shocking turn of events the cup victory also leads to WS Bruxelles (second tier team) making a bid of 3.7k (rising to 4.7k after 50 appearances) for one of the previous games scorers Yannick Put. This leaves us with a bit of a decision on our hands, the thought process for which I’ll run you through now.
- The strikerless system we toyed with in preseason didn’t seem inferior to the 4231 alternative.
- While he is our best striker he’s not an exceptional talent.
- Receiving a mild cash injection in any form at this level can’t be a bad thing.
- He just scored the 3rd goal of Sylvan’s managerial career, and as the first of which was an own goal he’s technically number 2. IF SYLVAN PAULSSON IS THE MOON, YANNICK PUT IS OUR BUZZ ALDRIN! (Kind of?)
- It is only two days before the start of the league season which wouldn’t give us much time to adjust our plans.
- 7k doesn’t really assist the club financially or give me the room to significantly strengthen the current squad (3.7k is about £70p/w, and I’m also only receiving 40% of transfer fees).
So for now, Yannick remains, but the club will start looking at what is on the market and send Eddy to line up some potential replacements if the interest doesn’t go away.
We shall return with another update after we’ve got 4 or 5 league games under our belt, hopefully with a decent cup run to boast about, when we can start to have a clearer idea of the task ahead of us. Also, since the last post I’ve been informed that people of Boom speak Dutch so we’ll proceed with GAAN BOOM to sign off! GAAN BOOM chaps, GAAN BOOM!