If football is the beautiful game, does that make Football Manager the beast? Looking at our progress so far in this save, beautiful is certainly not the first word that comes to mind – “Looks good on a night out” is probably a more accurate representation of how we have performed here at Greuther Fürth. Allow me to illustrate.
In my last post we had picked up one win in our first 10 games as we kicked off Season 5 at the Kleeblätter leaving us languishing in the relegation zone, memories of back to back 8th place finishes in the Bundesliga were quickly being forgotten as we tried to come up with a way to resurrect our season before it has even begun.
Our biggest issue is that we just aren’t scoring goals (surprise surprise). We have never been prolific in terms of our lone striker scoring bags of goal each season, and where we lack goals in the striker department we have always been able to compensate through our Shadow Striker and Inside Forward roles.
Having persisted in this manner for 4.5 seasons, it has become clear we can’t continue like this. Without having a Striker that can score 20+ goals a season, there’s no way we can kick on towards European football and/or ever compete with the likes of Bayern, RBL and Dormund in the Bundesliga (writer’s note: we are still miles behind them, striker or no striker). For the past 4 seasons, we have largely rotated the Advanced Forward role between two striker options and while collectively it has wielded decent results i.e. their combined performances resulting in a reasonable haul for the lone striker role, at an individual level we haven’t gotten the best out of these players by rotating which is clear if we have a quick reflection on our strikers for the past 4 years:
The question is what are we going to do about it. We don’t really have the finances available to replace the strikers we have, nor do we have space in our wage budget to look at the loan market. Even if we did, I still have faith that the players we have do have that goal scoring ability that we need however we aren’t leveraging it in the tactic being played (even though we have had seen brief improvements at times – it’s your tactics mate). At this point, the only way to try and eradicate/remedy this issue is to settle on a first-choice Striker and move away from constantly rotating between the two – the question is, who do we put our faith in as first choice and who will have to settle for the bench going forward?
On paper it’s Bilic all the way however his age, lack of goals, lack of experience and his strength (or lackthereof) have put me off from giving him a consistent run in the first team. Sargent more suitably fits the bill as a lone striker, however he is no stranger to goal droughts having had several of them so far in this save..it’s a difficult one, however at just 20 years old I feel Bilic has the potential to be a top quality striker so from this point on we will put all our eggs in the Bilic basket, making him our first choice striker and putting a lot more effort into his individual training and development as follows:
Strength training is a must if he is to operate as a lone striker, at least getting him above double figures
Player Traits – I have noticed that Bilic often struggles in 1 v 1 situations, so we will address this by putting him on an individual training routine to develop traits such as “Tries to round keeper where possible” and “Tries to Place shots” in the hope it will improve his goal return.
Our next game went a little better, no goals from Bilic but a first goal for his newly signed Croation team mate Marko Djira aka Ed Gamble (cheers Andrew) who we went to a lot of effort to sign in my last post:
As the song goes, things can only get better – thankfully they did, despite another blip against Augsburg, Bilic started to enjoy life as our first choice striker scoring 7 goals in our next 10 games. The German winter break also seemed to work in our favour as we returned to win 5 games on the bounce and this good run dragged us from 17th after 10 games to 7th after 20:
The fans down at the Irish Cottage Pub in Fürth City Centre are jubilant – talks of European football are back on the Guinness soaked table and as we enter March and are getting ready for our annual youth intake and our 5th attempt at developing an Irish newgen here in South Germany, surely things are finally working in our favour and everything is coming up Millhouse for us…right?
This game is aging me – we play shit, we play great, we play shit and we play great. Two points from six games drops us back to 12th position and yet again we have another barren run on our hands. Maybe that’s just football? If that isn’t, then this certainly is:
I keep talking about Irish newgens and it may seem ridiculous and unimportant on the grand scheme of things, however I am determined to find out if it’s possible to dictate the nationality of your youth intake in any way and if so, what contributes towards it. As mentioned previously, we have already filled our backroom team with Irish staff including the HoYD, Scouting and U18 Management team as well as developing an affiliation with Shamrock Rovers from the Irish league – we have also repeatedly tried to establish a second affiliation with Sligo Rovers who have the best youth facilities from the remaining Irish clubs, however it seems Chairman Niall Quinn’s negotiation skills are not where they need to be:
Will we be any luckier this time around? You already know the answer..
I’m starting to think we will never make it happen but there’s nothing more stubborn than an Irish Football Manager blogger – WE SHALL ENDURE. On the plus side, Marvin Brack looks to be the best newgen we have produced in this series so perhaps things are looking up in the Greuther Fürth youth academy.
To add insult to injury, not only did Hertha Berlin steal one of our youth candidates, they also proceed to beat us 5-1 just as we decided to fire up a live stream for our last 7 games of the season (Twitch.tv/MaddFM if you’re into that kind of thing :D). Suddenly we are in despair and morale is at rock bottom, what more can this season/save throw at us?!
This season has had more runs than the Kleeblätter fans after a night out in the Irish pub – while streaming live Luca Connell decides to find an oustanding run of form as we win 5 games on the trot, while Noel Bilic scores his 12th goal of the season to finish as our top scorer, bodes well for next season! With 1 game remaining, we sit in 8th position just 1 point clear of Stuttgart – a win against bottom of the league BMG in our final game would seal 8th place for a 3rd consecutive season, with Stuttgart the only thing in our way as they face 3rd placed Leverkusen. Surely the odds are in our favour?
Brace yourselves – within 10 minutes Stuttgart were leading and we were a goal down courtesy of a BMG penalty, which put us in 9th place as things stood. By half time we were level and Stuttgart were 2-1 down, putting us back in 8th position. We then went 2-1 down straight from the second half kick-off, and Stuttgart’s equaliser on 66 mins pushed us back down to 9th for another 13 minutes until Noel Bilic scored his 13th league goal, and with 10 minutes to go it looked like we had sealed 8th place for the third year in a row – that positive thinking lasted just 6 minutes when Stuttgart scored a winner to condemn us to a 9th place finish for the season. If that isn’t a Football Manager last game of the season I don’t know what is!!
9th place it is – not great but not terrible, and definitely better than the predicted 16th place finish from the media at the start of the season! The most positive outcome aside from the €56m prize money has been the improvement from Noel Bilic after we decided to put more faith and focus in him as our first choice striker – not only does he develop the “Rounds Keeper” trait as planned, we see a huge improvement in his development by the end of the season, and he looks like he could be a formidable force for us up front next year as we enter our sixth season at the helm of Greuther Fürth. Onwards and upwards!
Thanks for reading, see you next week for Season 6 – be sure to hit the Follow button below so you don’t miss out 👌.