5.4. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Contents: Cause & Effect – Chance Creation vs Chance Conversion in Football Manager; (and there’s also a humdinger of a debut for a new arrival 🔥🔥)
🎵 Suggested Tune 🎵 : Tubthumping (I get knocked down) – Chumbawumba Acoustic Cover
After enjoying back-to-back runners-up finishes in La Liga in our last two seasons at CD Tenerife, things haven’t been so rosy on the island for Los Chicharreros as they continue their quest to dethrone Barcelona and the two Madrids from the summit of Spanish football. At the end of my last post, we were sitting in third place in La Liga after 20 games however we are already 11 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid. As a result we moved quickly in the January transfer window despite having no available cash to spend, bringing in two loan signings in the form of Olivier Batista Meier (FC Bayern) and Matt Smith (Man City) who both join the club until the end of the season. The bad news is that we are still without our star striker and record signing Fabio Silva who is currently out for 2-3 months with a broken leg – safe to say we are facing an uphill battle in our quest to win La Liga for the first time in the club’s history ⛰️.
We handed OBM (it’s just easier) his debut against Getafe at Home in our first game in February, naturally expecting to win but equally apprehensive due to our persistent lack of goals since Silva picked up that injury back in November. As we are strong favourites and have just come off the back of playing 9 games in 4 weeks during January, we go with a slightly rotated first X1 however we stick with our Control-Possession based 4-4-1-1 tactic which we discussed in detail back in Season 3 if you wish to explore it further. Young summer signing Screve Kitoko starts alongside Semedo in Central Defence, while there are also starts for Rodrygo on the left and Carles Alena moves forward in to the Shadow Striker position behind Adam Idah up top in the lone Striker role.
If it was a day to make a name for themselves then they certainly took their chance; Adam Idah opened the scoring on 26 minutes after a clever ball through from Carles Alena, and our lead was doubled on 34 mins when Alena picked up his second assist playing in Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney for his first ever goal for the club. Half time instructions with a 2-0 lead at Home are rarely over-complicated, where the players are advised not to get complacent and retain their two goal advantage – this must have hit home with OBM more so than anyone else, as during the second half he decides to do this…twice 🔥🔥:
This cracking start to the month is followed up with a 1-0 home win over Lyon which sadly isn’t enough to keep us in the Champions League as we fail to qualify and therefore make the familiar transition from CL to Europa League football for the third consecutive season. This also coincides with what can only be described as a clear lack of firepower for the next few weeks – back to back league draws and an easy win over Leganes are followed by a 2-0 defeat at Barcelona and then we struggle to pick up 2 wins from our next 4 league games – we can clearly see a pattern emerging as a lack of goals means that we continue to hover around 3rd/4th position and the league title is rapidly vanishing out of sight as Athletico continue to dominate at the top of the table. The only positive came in the form of a 4-1 hammering of Hertha BSC which sees us progress to the Europa League Quarter Final – interestingly only 1 leg needed due to the World Cup being on during Christmas as confirmed in the SI forums!
Cause & Effect – Chance Creation vs Chance Conversion
It was at this point I began to dive deeper into our current form and apparent lack of goals and execution in the absence our main Striker. I felt that we were still creating as many chances and overall playing as well as we have previously in any other season, however ultimately we just aren’t scoring enough and it was time to investigate as to where things are going wrong and what could be done to make amends…are our Strikers simply not good enough?
To analyse this I looked back on 7 games that we played in October (when Fabio Silva was fit) versus the 7 games we played during February – the focus of this analysis was to review the quality and frequency of chances created versus our overall conversion and output, and safe to say it is clear that our final product took a substantial hit in the second half of the season as we observe a significant decrease in goals and chances converted:
If we look closely – we can clearly see that we experienced a major drop in terms of Goals Scored, Shots on Target and Clear Cut Chances on average per game – so much so that we have been scoring one less goal per game with two less shots and 1 less clear cut chance in each fixture.
We didn’t have a huge change in the number of points earned overall, but there is a clear decrease in our quality in terms of our finishing and final ball. This led me to then review our training as previously we have been very focused on Possession, Passing and Chance Creation however I now know that I need to put a much greater emphasis on the final third, both in terms of Team Training where I have now added more Shooting and Chance Conversion modules to our Weekly Schedule, as well as on an Individual basis where I have instructed our stronger Attacking coaches to focus heavily on tactical and technical coaching, with the likes of Adam Idah and Dejan Joveljic being put on Individual regimes to improve their own Final Third and Shooting ability.
Will this work? Only time will tell – having been guilty of ( 1 ) being too focused on possession, passing and ball distribution and ( 2 ) being far too over-reliant on star striker Fabio Silva, I am hopeful that the increased focus on Attacking in the Final Third and Chance Conversion will directly enhance our productivity and overall output in terms of goals and goal-scoring opportunities.
If it doesn’t work? Well, there is always this to bring a sigh of relief to the island of Tenerife as we approach the end of March 2023….
Thanks for reading!! Thoughts and feedback are always appreciated as are likes and retweets, please be sure to hit the Follow button below and check out my Twitter page for more blog updates and FM content! My next post will reveal whether we were able to get back to goalscoring form and hopefully make a push for the title with Fabio Silva due to return in April – watch this space!! Cheers, MaddFM.