Evading the press and breaking the lines

One of the first two things I try and observe during a game are, where is the opposition’s defensive line, and secondly, how high up the pitch are they prepared to press.

Generally during the save teams have played with a relatively high defensive line against me, as Anzhi remains one of the lesser sides in the division, leaving plenty of space in behind for me to exploit.

I play a flat 4141 and, when I think about how I would want any side I managed to actually defend, this is the shape I imagine. In possession, however, the shape is very different due to the roles and duties selected, especially the midfield four. My left-midfielder(a) is instructed to cut inside with the ball and dribble more, as well as get further forward by default. I’ve added get further forward to my box to box midfielder while my mezzala(a) and winger(s) are vanilla. All four of these roles will attack space in front of them fairly aggressively. Having a standard defensive midfielder behind them offers me great security should we lose the ball in advanced areas. Continue reading “Evading the press and breaking the lines”


Something in the pipeline – the conclusion to Season 3

Ruslan always enjoyed his trips to Western Ukraine, he had been there many times before as a child, and during his adolescence. This trip was different though, he knew his actions would probably set in motion a series of events that he could neither fully predict, nor halt, once initiated. He was, however, sure this was the right thing to do for Russia, for his family, and for himself. He took a deep breath, and slowly disconnected the valve on the pipeline in front of him. Continue reading “Something in the pipeline – the conclusion to Season 3”

First half of season three – United Republic of Russia & Ukraine

It’s New Year’s Eve, a cold wind was blowing from the north but Ruslan had a warm feeling in his belly. The UN Security Council had just recognised the legitimacy of the United Republic of Russia & Ukraine, his friends Mike According and Ángel Bastardo are safe and have sought refuge in Colombia following the collapse of the Republic of La Plata. Continue reading “First half of season three – United Republic of Russia & Ukraine”

Bastardo at War: Russia

Ruslan Chepiga recently met Ángel Bastardo, who wished to make use of Ruslan’s rather unique skill set. In the end, Ruslan had to enlist the help of Mike According to keep the general safe. You can read all about it on FM Grasshopper’s blog. Please check it out.bastardo


Match in Focus 2 – Anzhi v Krasnodar

Welcome to my second Match in Focus. A little aside from my main blog posts where I describe one important, or notable, match from my save.

Date: 8.00pm 15th March 2020 Attendance: 12,068

Squad building is an integral part of any successful FM save and for me it is my favourite part of the game by far. Very often I see managers setting out attributes they want for each position and aim for two players per position. This is sensible, however, I like to take this a little step further when planning ahead. Instead of having two similar players for each position I prefer to have two, sometimes three, different types of player per position. By doing this it is possible to completely change how your team plays whilst remaining within a tactical framework that is largely unchanged. Continue reading “Match in Focus 2 – Anzhi v Krasnodar”

My Review of Season 2 – Long Runs the Fox

Planning for season two was well underway when the bombshell came. Star left-back and player of the season Evengy Gapon, along with goalkeeper Alexandr Budakov wanted out, both wanted to leave for Rostov. Neither believed Ruslan could take the club further,  while he found their lack of faith disturbing,  Ruslan also knew this was a battle he could not win, but he was confident he would win the war. “The fox runs long my friends”, he muttered under his breath, as he smiled and waved them off.

Ruslan recognised the club needed cash and needed it fast. The two million raised from these two sales would help the club immensely in the short-term. Eleven players, mainly youngsters, had already been released to reduce the clubs swollen wage bill. Replacements would be difficult to source, the transfer embargo had only recently been lifted and consequently relatively little scouting had been done.

Agents (aka scouts in FM parlance) were dispatched across Eastern Europe to find willing recruits to the cause.

Continue reading “My Review of Season 2 – Long Runs the Fox”

Match in Focus 1 – Zenit v Anzhi

Welcome to the first “match in focus”. These will be a small aside to each blog post in which I will discuss, in more detail, one particular match. In these posts, I will give an overview of the match, along with my reasoning behind any key decisions I took, both before, and during the game.

Date: 6.00pm 4th August 2018 Attendance: 44, 912

Before many games, especially early in a save, I like to scroll through some opposition players. This serves two purposes, firstly I get to thoroughly evaluate the opposition looking for strengths and weaknesses and secondly, it allows me to better benchmark my own side. It is important to know what is out there.

My initial assessment highlighted Claudio Marchisio as Zenit’s best player. As it was so early in the season I was unsure what role he would play against me, but I was prepared to adjust things to nullify him if required.

Zenit lined up in a 5-1-2-2 formation quite different from the 4-2-3-1 my scouts had suggested they would. Marchisio was in the DM slot presumably as some sort of playmaker. I was content for him to have the ball in deep positions as we would be defending deep and compact ourselves. I was hopeful this would limit his ability to easily find space to pass into.

We would line up in a 4-1-4-1, at this point I was still using the direct counter attack pre-set as a base for my team instructions. I had no player instructions as I tend to develop them once I am more familiar with my players and I adjust according to patterns I see repeated during games. I used an extra central defender in the DM slot and Kulik was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker. My plan was to sit deep and narrow, allowing Zenit to cross the ball into our box, where I would have two giants heading the ball away. My hope was for Kulik to then pick up any loose balls and immediately release my winger on attack Savichev. I was without three of my preferred back four, both full backs and a central defender. Leaving me with the substandard Kerimov at right back, and I opted to use a winger as a wing back on attack on the left hoping to push Zenit’s wing backs towards their own goal. Continue reading “Match in Focus 1 – Zenit v Anzhi”