May the Fürth Be With You – V
Part V – Fürth things first
At the beginning of November 2020 (in-game), we did a tactical overhaul and went into unchartered territory for this author by deploying a slightly unorthodox asymmetric tactic after years of stuttering through various versions of CM and FM with traditional formations like your standard 4-4-2 / 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 set-ups.
Fast forward to February 2021 (skipping that pesky German winter break) and this is what the Kleeblätter faithful are waking up to following the 500km journey home from Osnabruck after overturning a 6th minute lead to win 3-1 away from home.
Now I am as shocked as you are. First and foremost I have never been a master tactician, not one for downloading tactics and I am still figuring out what exactly it is about this new formation that has this Greuther Fürth playing quality football for the first time in 10 years since they were last promoted to the Bundesliga. As discussed in my last post – the motivation behind this tactic was simply to start putting our opponents under more pressure as we consider ourselves to be the better team in most of our fixtures, moving away from a balanced conservative possession-style strategy to a slightly more positive aggressive mentality. We also wanted to create more space by driving better off-the ball movement and focusing more on the specific roles each player plays and how they compliment each other e.g. having a marauding LWB overlapping an Inverted Winger, using a Half-Back to cover this attacking role and deploying an Inside Forward to get more bodies in the final third when on the offensive. Whether it’s the tactic or a combination of all of the above, it has certainly been effective as by the end of February we find ourselves in 2nd place after 25 games – suddenly Irish Manager MaddFM finds his German rapidly improving with the addition of the word “Beförderung” (promotion) to his vocabulary i.e. back of a beer-mat down at the Irish Cottage bar in Fürth city centre. Are we actually going to ascend to the Bundesliga at the second time of asking?
Just when I’m starting to think I must be the greatest Football Manager football manager ever (🤔), reality kicks in as we get slapped in the face by a complete managerial blunder by yours truly. One of the big successes of this formation has been George Bello at Left Wing Back, who by switching him to Attack and instructing him to overlap David Raum at Inverted Winger picked up a goal, 3 assists, 2 Man of the Match awards and a 7.5 average rating during this run. Having signed him on loan from Atlanta with a €4.5 million permanent option (and fully intending to activate that should we get promoted), we discover that even though we had agreed to sign him on loan until the end of the season – due to some weird MLS rule the loan could only run until January seemingly as his loan cannot finish after their transfer window closes – can someone explain this?
SHIT! Not only does his loan contract come to an end, we are unable to renew it due to the same transfer window rule meaning we are suddenly without arguably our best player heading into the most important 9 games the club have ever faced…we have no money to spend and minimal wage budget to sign a replacement with the same ability, so with little or no options we have no choice but to take a very brief trip down memory lane as we re-sign last season’s left-back who also was on loan and had considered signing permanently for his €2.1m optional fee – welcome back Mathias Olivera, please let him fit into this new tactic 🙏🙏.
From Finland to…Bosnia?
Throwback to last season when we had wishful thinking of getting an Irish Newgen due to our entire Youth and Recruitment staff being Irish, and instead we ended up with our best youth prospect being none other than Finnish because you know, why wouldn’t he.
Despite several attempts to get an affiliate club in Ireland including Chairman Niall Quinn even allowing us to approach Shamrock Rovers directly (though Quinners couldn’t agree a deal #negotiator), we remain hopeful that we might yet get an Irish wonderkid through the ranks this time around especially now that our Head of Youth Recruitment and former Ireland World Cup star Alan McLoughlin is in the big leagues.
Instead of an Irish wonderkid we end up with Bosnian twins (not the Eastern European twins one would usually hope for) – not only that, they aren’t really any good either therefore this year’s hopes lie in German newgen Daniel Lange who with those eyebrows resembles a young Jack Nicholson…this writer gets the feeling our best chance of an Irish Newgen in Fürth will only ever happen about 9 months from the moment we get promoted 😆.
Back to business – 9 games to secure promotion. If things stay as they are we would be promoted automatically in second place; finish third and we face a playoff against whoever finishes 18th in the Bundesliga; finish first…don’t jinx it.
The next few weeks go well…very well….
Not only are we winning games but the clubs around us start to lose theirs and take points from each other. Normally at this point you start to ask yourself – surely this is too good to be true? I’ve often spotted creators talking about mad long unbeaten runs but having managed the likes of Newcastle, Southend, Tenerife and Blackburn in my past few saves, unbeaten runs like this have been few and far between (writer’s note: yeah, blame the club). I’ve heard of the perfect week, is there such a thing as the perfect end of season run in?
April was a month of mixed fortunes for the Fürth lads themselves. A couple of posts back I spoke in depth about the Shadow Striker role when we specifically went shopping for someone to occupy this position, with Alex Blesa ticking all our boxes especially seeing as we couldn’t afford anyone else at the time. After renewing his loan for another season the lad has turned out to be a shrewd piece of business and has been awesome in the SS role, picking up 7 goals and 7 assists so far to date. What I like most about this kid is that he has a knack for arriving in the box just at the right time, and also seems to come up trumps in big games when it matters – April is no different and thanks to him our run continues, leaving our title hopes and our destiny very much in our own hands.
One player who doesn’t have a perfect week is Ryan Porteous. Our star Centre-Back has a roller coaster few days in which he manages to get himself sent off, fined, injures one of our own players for 9 months by basically breaking his back (after they only joined on loan in January) and finally tops it off by by kicking up a fuss because we reject a transfer offer for him…am I in an episode of Dream Team?
Needless to say we tell Monchengladbach exactly where they can put their €3 million – WE ARE ON THE VERGE OF WINNING THE LEAGUE RYAN GET OVER IT #vicecaptainmyarse
4 Games left, 4 points clear…Come Fürth
It goes without saying that 3 of our last 4 games are against teams in the Top 5 – if Football Manager did end of league run-ins…you know the drill. After beating Sandhausen, we face off against 5th place Heidenheim, 4th place Augsburg and 3rd place Arminia Bielefeld in what will be the three defining games of our season. We are still in a state of shock not only because of this ridiculous run but also at the thought of facing the likes of Bayern, Dortmund and RBL with a current overall bank balance of just €4 million and a squad largely built on loan signings at present. There’s no time to think about that however – it’s time to nut up or shut up and see if we can lead the Kleeblätter back to the bright lights of the Bundesliga.
Champions!!! Our insane unbeaten run continues as we win all three games to lift the Bundesliga 2 trophy, shamefully this FM blogger’s first piece of silverware in the whole of FM20 so far but more importantly Greuther Fürth’s first return back to the big time since 2012. Despite not rocking the goal-scorer charts (Branimir Hrgota ends up third top scorer in the league with 14 goals), we keep the best defensive record in the league with free agent Kieran O’Hara keeping the most clean sheets and somehow this beautifully horrible asymmetric tactic has turned our season around to help us clinch the title. I’m not one to get carried away especially when the prize money for winning the league is only €4m more than what we received last season for finishing 5th, however we will savour the moment before even thinking about the fact that we will most likely be straight back down next season!
Thanks for reading, see you in the Bundesliga 👌.