FM19 | Sacchi’s 4-4-2 | União | Part 4

This is my fourth season in charge at União da Madeira, taking them from Portuguese Third Tier up to the Primeira Liga in my first two seasons. After a respectable lower mid-table finish last season, I was looking to make improvements and finish in the top half this time around. If you haven’t already, you can read previous editions by following the links below.

This time around I decided to switch up my tactics. Taking inspiration from Thomas Paine’s excellent piece on Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan side, I decided to take a punt on a fluid 4-4-2. Seeing how well he had done with a less fancied side over in Italy, I attempted to replicate his success over in Portugal. I was not disappointed.



Serie A saga: A busy summer at Lazio


In my last post I gave an overview of the Lazio squad and which players I would like to retain, dispose of and keep for the medium term. Rebuilding this great club would take time, patience and no small amount of financing. Their last Serie A win was in the 1999-2000 season under Sven-Goran Eriksson, although they won the Coppa Italia in 2012-13 under the guidance of Vladimir Petkovic, beating fierce city rivals Roma 1-0 in the final.

In this post I will:

  • Provide an overview of our summer transfer activity
  • Review the tactical systems for the new season
  • Discuss season objectives

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Rebuilding with Lazio


I took over at Lazio with the club in a perilous position of 16th in the standings. The club was in an average shape off the field, with a balance of £10m in the red, and the squad required extensive rebuilding.

In this post I will look at:

  • How I evaluate a club after taking over
  • An overhaul of  the backroom staff
  • Full evaluation of the playing squad
  • Results through to the end of the season
  • Planning for next season

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Season update: A sad farewell to Trieste, and a hello to…

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In my previous post, I outlined how we achieved a very respectable 12th place in our second season in Serie A. The consequence is that we have another season to accumulate finance to develop all aspects of the club.

The Board agreed to improve both the training and youth facilities, which underpins my strategy of developing youth players and improving senior players to sell for large profits. This had already borne fruit last season when we sold Cedric Teuchert for £7.5m and Max Christiansen for £2.7m.

Until the club is established in European competitions, selling to buy for a profit would have to remain a core strategy.

In this post I will look at:

  • Youth development progress to date
  • Summer transfer activity
  • Performance in my third season
  • A change of club

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A difficult second season in Serie A?


In my previous post I reviewed our first season in Serie A, in which we managed to survive by finishing in a respectable 16th place, despite the odds being against us.

My aim for the “difficult second season” was to have a more comfortable campaign, by using the increased funds to bring in better players. Our transfer business was included in that post, with a number of defensive reinforcements arriving, supported by some excellent loan signings in midfield and attack.

In the post I will look at:

  • A summary of the second season in Serie A
  • Brief match review of a home game against Napoli
  • Club reinforcements
  • Managerial approaches
  • Assessment of summer signings

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Serie A: Survival or slaughter?

In my previous post I wrote an analysis of Trieste’s first five games in Serie A, and how we had got off to a very disappointing start and lost each encounter. I looked at a couple of matches in-depth and saw some worrying patterns that led us to struggle in matches, and made some restorative attempts to tighten up and concede less opportunities.

In this post I will look at:

  • Progress of the full Serie A campaign
  • A quick overview of club finances
  • Adding a philosophy
  • Upgrading our backroom staff
  • Scouting improvements to give better quality to targets
  • Summer recruitment


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The Big Names Not In Russia


The World Cup has just begun and there’s some great players who got on the plane to Russia, such as Harry Kane (England), Thomas Muller (Germany), Fred (Brazil) and many more, however, there are a number of big name players who didn’t catch a plane to Russia for this year’s World Cup. They might not have gone because their nation didn’t qualify or they just didn’t get picked in the World Cup squad… but here we go…

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Sky high costs: How Sky’s dominance of football increases ticket prices.


A few of you may remember my article from back in February, regarding ticket prices. If you’ve not read it, Here’s  a link to the article. Now this article is a sort of follow-up to that and it’s about Sky screwing over loyal fans out of going to matches.

So many fans this season have had plans ruined because of Sky changing the match days at the last minute, such examples include Everton vs Newcastle and Sunderland vs Fulham, another example was Manchester United vs Brighton this season, it was changed to a 7:45 kick off which meant hundreds of Brighton fans couldn’t go!

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Milan’s Summer Spending – What it means for Serie A.

Milan were taken over by Chinese investors in April which made a lot of football fans ask questions about whether these investors would invest heavily into the club, to make them one of Europe’s powerhouses once again.Well this summer has proven that Milan’s owners had exactly this in mind. With the early captures of: Mateo Mussachio (£15m), Franck Kessie (Loan, £6.8m) and 2014 World Cup star Ricardo Rodriguez (£15m.) Many Milan fans were very hopeful that they were investing more players to replace the dead weight and older players such as Ignacio Abate and Ricardo Montilivo.
However, I don’t think even they were expecting the transfers that were about to be made by the Rossoneri.

Firstly Milan had reached an agreement for long term target, Hakan Calhanoglu. The free kick specialist signed for £19m from Bayer Leverkusen after not having played for 4 months after being banned for breachng FIFA transfer regulations over his move to Hamburger SV.
Milan’s early signings (left to right: Franck Kessie, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ricardo Rodriguez & Mateo Mussachio)

Then, Gianluigi Donnarumma, a breakout star of the 16/17 season was supposedly declining a new contract after his agent, Mino Railoa, was creating problems for Milan and the money that was being demanded. This was sorted out relatively quickly after donnarumma had returned from the U21 European Championships. Alongside this deal Milan signed Gianluigi’s older brother, Antonio, from Greek side Asteras for £1m.

Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma signed a new contract after a wage dispute.

Following this heavy rumours started circuling that Milan had reached an agreement with Juventus and Italy center back Leonardo Bonucci. Milan fans on social media couldn’t and some even wouldn’t believe it. One of the best center backs in the world was on the verge of signing. Bonucci returned to training with Juventus however the next day he had’t reported in for training and videos quickly surfaced of him arriving at Milan’s training ground. In the end the deal went through for a reported £40m which in the current market is a bargain.
Leonardo Bonucci joining from Juventus after winng 6 Scudetti in a row.

Finally the day of this article, Milan have secured the signing of Lucas Biglia from Lazio who was a key part in Lazio’s cup run this season. But the bigger news is that they have supposedly agreed personal terms with highly rated young talent Andrea Belotti of Torino. Milan originally had a bid of £45m + Niang & Paletta rejected however, a new bid of £60m + Niang & Paletta was supposedly put forward with no news of Torino either rejecting or accepting. The signing of Andrea Belotti could prove key in Milan’s hopeful return to the Champions League with goals being something that has lacked for them for a very long time.
Andre Belotti scored 28 goals in all competitions last season and finished third best scorer in Serie A with 26.

What does all this spending mean for Milan’s rivals? To start lets look at Juventus, now looking to win a 7th league title in a row, they must surely be concerened about the amount of money Milan have spent especially compared to themselves who have only secured the signings of Douglas Costa and Rodrigo Bantancur this window.
As for the teams behind Juve like Napoli, Roma, Inter and Atalanta; these clubs now know that Milan are targeting a return to the champions league which means this season they’re really going to have to battle hard to keep up the standard that Milan’s new faces should be bringing in, especially as these clubs usually source players from various smaller leagues throughout Europe and Italy and also gamble on outcasts from other clubs.

Overall I think this Serie A season will be the most competitive season for some time but the real question is…Will Milan’s summer spending be enough to stop Juventus?