I would like to invite you all on a world-spanning, time-bending journey. It is a side project of mine, ran parallel to my main Dynamo Kyiv save. Also, as it is likely to be the last save I start on FM 2019, it must be one of epic proportions and ambition. Being a huge fan of Italian calcio, I find much of my tactical inspiration in Italy while I enjoy watching English football. England is where the beautiful game began and I find the Premier League to be the most competitive league, especially on Football Manager. In the game I use it as a testing ground for many tactical styles, from Tiki Taka to Gegenpress. I tried Spanish patient approach with Arsenal and Man City before, and could not resist to give Gegenpressing a try this year with Liverpool (albeit briefly as it just felt like cheat mode). In the 1st part in a planned multi-part article I intend to unite my two loves to tell this story. I begin the tale in England in the 70s, before moving to 80s Italy. It is bound to be a curious hodgepodge of styles and ideas, for as we all know, some of the best cuisine is fusion cuisine. Welcome aboard!Continue reading
After Cardiff’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea, Neil Warnock blasted the match officials’ for their dismal performance, with numerous decisions going against Cardiff – which could be the difference between survival and relegation for The Bluebirds. Continue reading
Recently I wrote an article showing how to start a new save well, if you missed it you can check it out here. With a strong start in the league, I decided to continue my Brentford save and see where we ended up. After an expected finish of mid table, we won the league, finishing with 88 points.
After the success I’d had, I decided to give it a go in the Premier League, and see if plucky little Brentford could mix it with the big boys. Here is my guide to adjusting to Promotion in FM19.
Continuing with my series highlighting specialist roles in Football Manager, I now turn to a role that I often find misunderstood and misused. As enigmatic as the man who inspired it, the role of Raumdeuter will always be linked with the name of Thomas Muller. Every position has its ideal player, whether it is Pirlo the Regista, Roberto Baggio the Trequartista, or Beckenbauer the Libero, to the point where no modern player can truly call any role his own. None except Thomas Muller. Word “Raumdeuter” translates from German as “space investigator” and it is what Muller called himself when asked to describe his idiosyncratic style of play. Just as left foot is key to Messi’s game, Muller thrives on the half space. I will be deconstructing what makes this role so unique and how it can be used to break down even the greatest defences. Also I will show how you can mould your player into a Raumdeuter to rival even Muller. I will tie all this into a tactic that takes advantage of my own variation of Deep Raumdeuter – MitteRaumdeuter.
It seems like Sarri’s days at Chelsea are running extremely thin, so who are the possible replacements for the Italian for Chelsea? I run through five candidates who could possibly replace him….
With the race for the golden boot tighter than ever, I decided to crunch some numbers to see who is the best goalscorer in the Premier League. In this post I’ll outline the stats I used, who is best in each category of my analysis and then try to predict what the final goals tally will look like. I took the 13 top scoring players in the PL this season as the sample. First let’s look at a number of stats comparing players performance this season to last.
Every great story needs a great story teller. The Premier League has the greatest stories. But in the United States, where the league’s popularity has grown leaps and bounds, we have the greatest storyteller from your side of the pond: an announcer by the name of Arlo White.
The Homegrown rule. It’s something that often does the rounds in football chat and forums across the land. When people talk about how “England are never a force at international level” or “Young players just aren’t given a chance these days”, invariably the Homegrown rule is often called into question. And with seemingly good reason, especially in the Premier League.
Whilst it’s fantastic for all clubs concerned that the Premier League is such a huge financial cash cow, with clubs pocketing in excess of £130m per year just for competing in the Premier League, not to mention all the admittedly top-tier talent brought over from foreign shores, the question always comes back to whether England is doing enough to develop its own World Class talent. Whilst recently the England youth sides have had an incredible amount of success, such as winning the Under 20 World Cup, in times gone by the England teams suffered some damaging losses and have had to fight to get back their reputation of a good footballing nation.
Whilst some of this can be attributed to clubs not giving enough game time to younger players when they can buy a ready-made foreign replacement, in this writer’s opinion it can be mostly attributed to past failings by the Football Association, such as failing to provide adequate funding for grass-roots level football, and ultimately, the incredibly vague nature of the Premier League’s Homegrown Rule, which states:
“Each Premier League team can only register 25 players over the age of 21 for that season’s first-team matches. Of those 25 players, no more than 17 can be non-Home Grown Players. In other words, if you want the full complement of 25 over-21 players, you must have at least 8 Home Grown Players. Note that this rule ONLY applies to Premier League matches, not fixtures in other competitions.”
A bit vague right? When you delve a little deeper into it, the rules state that:
“A Home Grown Player, as defined by the Premier League, is a player who: (a) is 21 or older on January 1 of the year in which that season begins; and (b) spent three years between the ages of 16 and 21 with a team in the English football League system.”
So not only does the Homegrown Rule sound very vague in its initial description, but it actually does nothing to promote the growth and development of young British players. This in turn leads to sub standard international performances and intense media scrutiny for the “underperforming” players. The other issue with this rule is that there is no obligation to even PLAY your Homegrown players! As long as they form part of your 25 man squad, that’s all that matters. It’s no wonder then that so much pressure is put on any emerging young talent in England, as the perception will be that they must be a top quality talent, and sadly this pressure is often what causes players to not fulfil that potential.
One example of this is former Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson. Hailed as something of a prodigy when he broke through to the City first team in 2006, he seemingly had the world at his feet. But just a few years later, and after several incidents, Manchester City paid up the remaining time on his £25k a week contract and Johnson retired from football, having stated that he had spent time in the Priory Clinic for mental health issues and now wanted to be left alone to live the rest of his life.
Whilst it was never specifically noted that the pressures of life as a rising star in the Premier League were to blame for his issues, it was almost certainly a factor. Had the pressures of his rising stock not been so great, perhaps he would still be playing now, but sadly this is not the case. And for me personally, there can be no doubt that the relaxed and vague nature of the Homegrown rule contributed to this. If there was a clearer route to regular first team football, as well as with the right support from health professionals, then more young players would get the opportunity to shine.
Whilst the Homegrown rule does apply to all of Europe’s major leagues, clubs in countries like Spain, Germany and Italy all spend a lot of time and money developing and cultivating their young talent, as well as providing them with all the necessary support that they require in order to prepare them for the pressures that come along with playing top flight football. Due to the intense nature of the Premier League, from the outside looking in, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
Over in Scandinavia, the Swedish Allsvenskan league has possibly the best Homegrown rule. Each matchday squad in the league must have at least nine Swedish players, which means that at worst five players in each team will get game time if all three substitutes are used. This has led to Swedish players earning big moves to other teams and means that they can potentially develop into World Class players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent 3 years at Malmo before earning a move to Ajax, current Sweden Captain Andreas Granqvist plays for Helsingborgs, whilst players like Pontus Jansson, Victor Lindelof and Kristoffer Nordfeldt all ply their trade in the UK for Leeds, Manchester United and Swansea respectively. All of them started their careers in the Swedish Leagues, though Lindelof started lower down in Division 1 Norra, but still earned a big move to Benfica regardless.
This is the sort of system that would yield more effective results, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t happen here in England. German teams must name at least twelve German players in their squad of twenty-five, which is effectively half, and its easy to see the results this has had on their international successes, prior to this year at least. Whilst in Spain and Italy as previously mentioned, there appears to be more game time given to young players to aid their development.
At the 2017 Under 21 European Championships, Germany, Spain and Italy’s Under 21 teams all played more top-flight minutes for their clubs than England players did as the images below will show.
If the Premier League were to introduce a rule similar to the Swedish Allsvenskan, then young players could potentially gain more top-flight game time and thus develop at a much quicker pace than they currently do. The much discussed “6+5 rule” is another option, but this was abandoned in 2010.
Ultimately, there won’t be any changes to the rule anytime soon or possibly even ever. But it is the opinion of this writer that for the England team to prosper and become a successful and feared footballing nation again, our young players need to be given the opportunity to get more game time. Whether that is with a rule change in the Premier League, or from moving abroad, both the FA and the Premier League must act to safeguard the future of English footballers.
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Whilst we are currently going into complete meltdown with a heatwave and the fact football’s coming home, what better way to celebrate than a detailed analysis of each Premier League team and who they need for the coming season? (Beware controversial signings ahead..)
The Premier League and The FA officially announced on the 8th June that from the 19-20 season that the Premier League would have a two winter break starting in February 2020.
The winter break will only apply to the Premier League, and the league won’t completely shut down like other European leagues