The first three seasons were always going to be about getting results and possible back to back promotions and then establishing ourselves as a Premiership side. The early years are all about laying the foundations for what I’m trying to achieve and while it might not look like much, over time you’ll see how important this time actually is. Not from just a player perspective either but throughout the whole club, this includes identifying players, buying players, developing players, getting the right kind of staff and so on. At times it can look like we aren’t making progress and not much seems to have changed but it has, as you’ll see once we end up with the desired style I am creating.
After promotion from League One we found ourselves take to The Championship extremely well. We hit the ground running from the off and the league came down to a two-horse race between ourselves and Hull.
One of the reasons it went so well was due to the transfer window we had. I was able to attract quite a few very good players on free transfers, loans and by spending a tiny amount of money. The quality of players brought in though was the main reason we got promoted and it looked so easy.
As you can see there is some real quality there. Of all of those signings though Ian Davies, Kelechi Iheanacho and possibly Tyrone Mings are long time possibilities. Even though Kelechi is only a loan signing, he was one of the players I identified at the very start as a long-term prospect. By getting him on-loan, it means I can start shaping him how I want both in terms of player preferred moves and attribute development.
As you can see on the screenshot above, he has two of the player preferred moves that I mentioned in the long-term article I posted awhile back. On top of this, he’s had an excellent season and scored a fair amount of goals. I doubt I’ll be able to afford to buy him next season, so we will be exploring the loan option again and with a bit of luck, should be able to keep him here for another year.
Tyrone Mings above, was bought because he was far superior to my current left back options. Do I think he is a long-term option? I think he can be, for now at least. He’s probably not as attack minded as I’d have liked but there’s no reason he can’t work well with what we have in mind for the left hand side of the Invincible tactic. I guess, I see him more of a medium to long-term solution rather than an important player at the very end when we achieve what we want. He’s more ideal up until that point I’d say, which is still quite some time away.
In the last article I spoke about Ian Davies and how he might be able to fulfil the Vieira role eventually. His training is going well but he’s not developing how I’d like just yet.
He’s coming on leaps and bounds but his physicals aren’t improving as fast as I’d like. Or maybe I'm just being impatient, after all it’s been less than a year since I’ve had him at the club. But due to this uncertainty I have, I’ve not begun to teach him any player preferred moves just yet as there is no point if he can’t fulfill the role that’s required. By not teaching him PPM’s I might be able to use him elsewhere with some retraining maybe? Or just use him as a backup option. I’ll give it another year of development though to see how it goes.
That’s it on the transfer front really. I think things are about to get interesting though as a lot of clubs are circling around my team now and players have a lot of interest being shown in them, especially my front two. Both have been tracked by Swansea for quite some time, I even rejected bids earlier in the year for them. If the price is right now though I’d be willing to sell them as I could invest the money back into the side.
The one surprising thing here is the amount of assists down the left. My full backs got the majority of them but Woolford who was the playmaker on the left got less than last season. Which maybe was expected seeing as he isn’t the greatest player ever. In real life he’s the biggest waste of space I’ve ever seen put on a Blades shirt. And when you consider the dross we’ve had over the years that’s some achievement! On Football Manager though, he is half decent. I think this is probably his level but I thought he’d be more involved than he is. Then it hit me, that I might actually know why?
Remember Tyrone Mings? Well he has the dribbles with the ball often PPM, which on face value of the stats looks like it could be detracting from his game. It would make sense. This is actually an oversight on my part and is a mistake. See I do make mistakes!
The player stats don’t actually tell us much else. But what about the team ones, do they match what we saw last season.
I score most goals between 15-30 minutes. Which isn’t a coincidence considering I watch the first fifteen minutes of goals and make any changes I have to change during this time. Normally it’s just a drop deeper or push higher shout. But I’ve wrote about this extensively in the past, how watching the first fifteen minutes is probably the most vital time during the full ninety minutes. Games and won and lost during this time and I’m not talking about scoring goals. What I mean is, you can get a feel of the game and how it’s going. If the opposition has dangerous players or causing you issues then you can spot them and make the required changes. If you don’t watch these opening minutes, then how do you expect to spot issues or control such players? Chances are if you leave it later than this you’ll have done more harm than good.
The goal types are in line with the first season.
A definite bias towards the left which is what we want. The assist types though are still far too high on crosses. I think this isn’t helped by the left back who is dribbling with the ball too much. It’s something I really need to fix and look into though if this still happens when in the Premiership as I should start having the players needed then. I need more through balls, 19 is a decent number but ideally I’d like it to get higher.
It's All Change
Since the last update I did, everything has changed now. We brought in a large amount of new players and are playing some really good football. Using Sheffield United has it’s plus points, especially the chairman, who is a rich sugar daddy who provides cash to the club. On promotion to the Premiership he gave me £44 million to spend and then invested another £24 million for the January transfer window. This is also helped by the TV deals and prize money on offer, just for being involved in the Premiership from 2017 onward. I guess a good place to start is with the ins and outs.
It’s a large turnover of players and all the players signed, none of them with the exceptions or Romero and Kelechi are idea or long-term. Now I have to be realistic about the players I sign and I am fully aware that most signings at this stage are not long-term but the fact is, I need to strengthen the squad and stay competitive. All of this, while trying to build and create a specific style and brand of football. This means that in the short-term some sacrifices might have to be made until;
A - I have the finances to be able to bring in the players who fulfill the specific criteria I set out in the long-term article.
B - I have to identify long-term targets who could possibly someday fill the roles I need and have the required attribute set.
Realistically this takes time, even if I have endless amounts of money (which I actually don’t because the chairman has just decided he won’t be pumping money into the club as often due to our success #ouch) some of the roles I need to fill, the players I need, either don’t exist yet or I’ve not found them. I have scouts searching and I’ve been doing manual searches myself. But only a handful of players meet the criteria so far. This is why I always had the intention of it being long-term and aiming for younger players, so one day in the near future, I could potentially have a squad like I outlined at the very start of this project. If I signed older players than the chances are they’d be too old or on the decline when the squad was complete. However I’m trying to build something that allows me to have this squad while most are still peaking or in their prime. I’m not sure why, but I feel I need to mention this constantly because with a small minority of people, they seem to be missing this point and it’s a major point to be missing.
So back to the transfers, here is a little about why I signed the players I did and what I expect from them.
Todd Kane - He has the wrong kind of PPM’s needed for a start but he was a massive improvement on who I already had, John Brayford. Not ideal but a cheap improvement that adds depth.
Danny Wright - A newgen that my scouts identified. He’s a striker that I signed on a whim just for possible extra numbers in the future or to sell on for a profit. Either way he doesn’t fit any of the criteria for the roles I highlighted at the start of the project and he can’t really be developed how I like.
Marco Van Ginkel - I’ve bought him in the hope I can sell him for a profit next season. Although he is a physical type of player he lacks both creativity and tackling to fulfill the Vieira role. He is easily the best player at the club currently though, it’s just he doesn’t fit what I want. None the less, he was an invaluable player.
Jordan Darlington - He’s a left footed creative regen at 16 years of age. I don’t think I’ll be using him at all due to his footedness. However I bought him with the option of selling him on at a later date. But for now he’ll bolster my youth side who lack numbers.
Florian Thauvin - I did originally buy him to play in the Pires role but after buying, I decided against doing this. I instead used him for the Ljungberg role on the right of midfield. However I’m not sure how long I will keep him if I don’t play him on the left side, because he has the runs with ball often PPM and that’s something Ljungberg never did.
Matias Suarez - An ageing free agent and due to selling both the strikers I used in The Championship, was brought in just for extra bodies and wasn’t someone I was looking to use unless I had to.
Chad Lonsdale - Another youth to bolster the youth squad, nothing less or nothing more. He was bought by my Head of Youth Development.
Charalabos Stavrianos - My scouts told me about him on the back-end of last season. And after winning the Championship with games left to spare, the board gave me the Premiership budget for the next season (this current season) so I splashed the cash. At the time of buying him he had no PPM’s yet when he arrived he had the plays with back to goal PPM. I was gutted and spent the entire season trying to get him to unlearn it, which has been unsuccessful. Which is a shame as he could have filled the Kanu type of role. He still might yet, but I’ve not thought much about the backup players yet and if I’m going to use those that resemble the Invincibles or stick with just the main eleven.
That’s him. I had planned on him just being a rotational player with no resemblance of Bergkamp or Henry. Long-term though no real clue whether to keep him or move him on. Maybe he would be ideal for the Kanu type of role? It’s something I need to work out.
Maximiliano Romero - Now this player is very much long-term. He is the one I am moulding into the Bergkamp role. I do have an issue though but before we get onto that, I’ll post a screenshot of him.
This will sound crazy as it’s a great issue to have but he scored too many goals. It was more Bergkamp in 1997-98 season when he scored 22 goals in 40 appearances. He also grabbed 11 assists in the league that season. Based on those numbers and those alone, he would have nailed it. Sadly the season he had with the Invincibles he only scored 5 goals in 29 games and only got 7 assists in 28 league games. So based on that we are way out. It’s a good issue to have though but I might need to tone this down. I’ll not ramble on too much though as there is a full article dedicated to Romero vs Bergkamp.
Predrag Rajkovic - This keeper was also on my long-term radar but that might have changed now I’ve signed him. The reason being is he wanted £71k a week which I can afford but he also wanted match highest earner clause which I agreed to. Hopefully I can remove that at a later stage but for now, he is an awesome keeper and provides me with all the attributes I need.
He’s got all the required attributes. My only issue is the match highest earner clause I mentioned before. But in the short-term it was worth that because of his attributes and the fact he is the highest earner. As I progress though and bring more quality players in, I’m not sure if he’ll justify the wages those players will have. We will have to see.
Karol Linetty - I needed a defensive minded central midfielder and Karol fit that description. He has good attributes, is still 23-years-old and he was cheap. I don’t see him being at the club for more than two seasons though.
Marcel Halstenberg - Just a short-term measure and a direct replacement for Bob Harris who wasn't Championship standard let alone Premiership standard.
Jakob Abrahamsen - He was purchased by my Head of Youth Development and looks like he could have a bit of potential. I’m unsure if he matches the Arsenal fit at this time because he is still very young and raw. If he was to fit any type of role it would be the Gilberto role I’d presume as he lacks creativity for any of the others. I’m not even 100% he could do the Gilberto role though as I believe he is too small and can’t head the ball. So long-term he is a big no.
Andreas Pereira - He seemed like an ideal fit for the Pires role. He is right footed, very creative and was cheap. It was a no brainer for me.
He had no positional rating on the left when I for him but he’s currently been training it all season and as you can see on the position widget, he now does have a rating for it. I’ve also taught him he gets forward when possible PPM and I am in the middle of teaching him the tries killer balls often one. These will add to his game and enhance the style I want. Andreas is very much a long-term project.
Henrik Gulden - This player was bought to bulk up the squad and offer me numbers so I could rotate or cope with injuries and suspensions. I was very light down the left side. He hasn’t played much but I don’t see him being here at the club for more than two seasons.
Sebastian Dilling - Another young prospect picked up my Head of Youth Development. If he was a bit taller I’d have moulded him for the Gilberto role because he has great mental attributes for 17 years of age. He’s dubbed the new Christian Poulsen. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have much development in regards to his height, jumping and heading attributes. This is a long-term deal breaker. On the plus though, if I develop him I’m sure I can sell him for decent money in a few seasons time.
Kelechi Iheanacho - For those of you who follow me on Twitter you will have seen me raving about this guy for the past few weeks. I’ve had him on loan at the club for the best part of two and a half years. This has allowed me to begin to shape him how I want and teach him the PPM’s needed. So before buying him I had already had a head start.
He was one of the long-term targets that I always had in mind. So the price paid for him reflected this as does his wage. It might seem a bit steep for a few of you but it’s all about the context and the demand for the player. I needed him even if he isn’t the best player in the world because mid-term to long-term he is a solution for the Henry role until I can find someone different who fulfills the role better. But for now, he is definitely the player I needed and wanted the most.
That’s it on the transfer front and as you can see, some things are starting to take shape now, in terms of the players brought in who can enhance our style and offer us certain things. We are one step closer to playing the Invincible way but it’s still some time away.
I’ve had a fantastic first season in the Premiership and really overachieved.
We held our own all until the final months then we let a 7 point lead at the top slip away as my side collapsed. Which is expectable really as we are a newly promoted side who isn’t quite complete yet in terms of the players needed. I still have a fair few of the original squad left and they played a big part here. Most people would be over the moon with finishing second and scoring the amounts of goals I did. But I’m not...............