Union Berlin Winter break 1.1 – Für die Fans

Union Berlin is almost a hipster choice of a team to manage with, I imagine few taking up the reigns however I’m sure anyone associated with Union would not like to be called hispter, their fans are incredible. Crazy but incredible and that is where my title comes from “Für die Fans” means For the Fans as you may expect.

This doesn’t mean that I care what “Fabrice” thinks of my management despite picking up 5 wins from 6 games on the new Social Feed tab but it does mean that I will do the best I can for this special club and there are long term ambitious plans.

What are those plans? A three year plan is in place to reach the Bundesliga, Union have never played in Bundesliga so it’s a wrong I want to right and if we were stuck in this division for too long I’m sure any followers of this may get bored.

The club is expected to finish 11th by the media but the board expects a top half finish, the league format is 18 teams playing each other home and away so I need to defy the media to achieve the aims of the board, great. Let’s check our odds to be promoted, 300-1.

We’d be given a £400k transfer budget and £10k p/w spare in the wage budget, okay this may be a tough gig.

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Union Three year plan

First season – Achieve a top half finish

Second season – Challenge for the top 3 spots

Third season – Get promoted to the Bundesliga

If we can accelerate this three year plan then fantastic but I have found that the league is incredibly competitive and others in the league have bigger financial power and better players so it won’t be easy. So pre-season, how did we get on?

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We did quite well but I rarely feel that pre season results have much actual influence on the competitive season, remember Spurs under Juande Ramos? The 1-0 loss to SKU Amstetten was poor, we had more of the game but were made to rue a host of clear cut chances not being taken, the 4-2 victory over Real Valladolid was the best result as it was against competition I feel is on a par with some of the teams in our division. Hosiner with a hatrick was also pleasing.

Squad

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I’ll be doing a full squad review at the end of the season so I’ll keep this short, you’ll notice the squad is so big however our wages are well under control it’s just a case of getting a lot of players off the books which can be more difficult than it should be.

So far the stars of the team are Eroll Zejnullahu our AP (a) who has 1 goal and 8 assists to his name and our centre back partnership Toni Leistner and Fabian Schonheim with 7.24 and 7.21 avg rating respecitvely, both have been rocks at the back. In the end of season post I will delve into the squad in far more detail.

Tactical set up

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I’ve went with a fairly standard 4-3-3, it’s what I’m comfortable with but over time we may well see the tactic evolving and may look something completely different but for now I’m happy enough with it, I have two wing backs albeit the right wing back is being played as a complete wing back with two inside forwards who can offer an alternative attacking threat.

The defence play a high line which is risky and we are set to press aggressively which is why I have a sweeper keeper to mop things up, in general this happens but I’ve seen some terrible goalkeeping errors that seem like bugs.

The three in the middle work well in terms of the BBM pushing on and getting on the end of things and breaking lines, releasing the AP to an attack role has yielded much more assists than when at support, however I would like a few more goals from that role. Finally the DLP (D) sits deeper to protect the back 4 but is important in starting to build the passing play for attacks, we have this in none other than Felix Kroos, the younger brother of Toni Kroos.

Transfers

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You’ll look at this and think he’s received £7 million for a player in the second division of the Bundesliga and not spent anything why? Well our reputation isn’t great to attract, we received just 55% of transfer sales (I asked to increase before accepting offer, they didn’t budge) and the offer was £2.2 million up front with a further £4.8 million over the next 2 years but I managed to get in a 30% sell on clause.

Wolfsburg bid for him at £2.5 million, I then asked for £8 million up front then they came back with £2.8 million so I sent them a £7 million up front and 30% sell on clause as a negotiation. I press continue and get dealt with this below.

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In the job less than a week and our best player is sold without any such consultation, thanks a lot you bastards. I am essentially handed £1.8 million from this sale, no seriously.

In any case below are the players we brought in, some have been used more than others. Matthew Kennedy is a lad I know of when he broke through in my own country Scotland with Kilmarnock but I liked the look of him for a loan deal and we needed a new left wide man – 5 goals and 4 assists have proved it to be a wise move. Mossmer, Helmke and Kalmar haven’t really featured to any degree and maybe I’m not giving them chances but the first team are doing well right now.

Hodzic is a smart striker and I believe a good loanee signing from Dinamo Zagreb and has stepped up recently since Hosiner has picked up a long term injury.

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Contract

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This magician signs on with Union with an extended contract and a pay rise to thank him for his performances, a few of his attributes I want to improve but he could potentially play a part for us if we get promoted that’s how highly I rate him.

DFB Pokal

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I didn’t care about the competition and the board expected me to reach the second round, we did that by beating FSV Frankfurt 2-0 away with a solid performance without being exciting – Hodzic and Zejnullahu getting the goals before we faced Lotte, a team from the division below us and with us selecting a rotated squad they beat us on penalties. We were grim throghout the tie and were defeated on a sudden death shootout, both teams scored just 2 times out of 5 initial penalties.

2. Bundesliga

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We got the league season underway and in a game we probably just edged, we lost a goal to Greuther Furth in the 92nd minute with just 2 minutes added on with our pressing game or lack of a cohesive press failing and we allowed their striker Sebastian Freis to waltz through our defence to slot it home.

Next up our rivals Dynamo Dresden at home, just what we need but we won 1-0 through a well placed finish by our right wide man Steven Skrzybski but it was a back heel assist from Eroll Zejnullahu that lit up this game. Following this result we lost away to Bochum and Stuttgart both games that was always going to be tough but the draw to SV Sandhausen at home really irked me and after 5 games we had just 4 points and had lost 3 out of 3 away games. Worrying.

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A two week break would then give us time to reflect and I made a couple of tweaks and after 3 wins on the bounce I could have been forgiven for thinking this was the turning point, it wasn’t. We faced St Pauli at home and smashed them 5-2, this was an even game in terms of shots but we created the better chances and had 61% of the ball and were incredibly 4-0 up at half time. A hatrick from Hosiner and 2 assists from Eroll Zejnullahu were the standout facts of this big win.

We then won our first away game of the season against Karlsruher SC through a double from loanee Matthew Kennedy who scored one with his head from a corner and scored the winner in the 79th minute with a 25 yard howitzer. Another 2-1 win followed when we defeated Kaiserslautern at home through goals on the 47th and 55th minute via Steven Skrzybski and Philip Hosiner respectively.

Then the shit hit the fan and we picked up just 1 point from the next 4 games, the defeats to Hannover and Eintracht Braunschweig were reluctantly to be expected but I would have expected either 4 or 6 points from the games against Dusseldorf and Wurzburg.

Against Dusseldorf we played out a very boring game and neither side deserved to win it but we did get a goal through BBM Stephan Furstner, the Wurzburg game was one of my worst in charge as we had just one shot on target in 90 minutes in front of our great support. Incredibly it was in our 2 tougher games where we could and should have picked up something, Hannover were probably just the better side but we had 15 shots maybe not of the best quality however and against Eintracht we had 63% of the ball and 13 shots to 5 against and managed to lose 0-1.

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Before we faced FC Erzgebirge we were sitting 16th and just 1 point off of 17th, however at this stage between 3rd and 12th there was just 3 points seperating all of those teams. Super competitive.

We went away and came away with 3 points, shocked? I was, but we deserved it and I was looking at this run of fixtures with a bit of positivity as it seemed to be a nice run of games until Dynamo but we weren’t exactly performing ourselves.

A draw against Heidenheim was a disgrace and we didn’t do enough to comfortably deserve the win, I always feel you need to win your home games especially against this quality of opposition. I then tweaked the tactics to a higher defensive line instead of slightly higher and it seemed to help us gain control of games better, we then won 4 league games in a row.

The key win here was the 3-2 win over Nurnberg who were in and around us at the time and we actually went 3-0 up at one stage so I went mad at full time. 3 goals in these 4 games from Hodzic who was deputising for the injured Hosiner was crucial. We would lose 1-0 away to Dynamo Dresden and on the basis of play it may have just been fair, our away form is a concern but we jumped from 16th to 7th in this improved spell.

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Our recent improved form has seen us go from mid table/relegation side to a top half side who could challenge for a playoff spot, how do you think we will fare in the second half of the season?

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 As always any likes/comments under this blog will be appreciated and if you want to discuss something get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19 or comment on the blog and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

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Rangers team guide for FM 2017

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Rangers are finally back in the top flight in Scottish football and despite their poor start to the season, they have big expectations and on Football Manager 2017 this is no different. Well maybe even higher demands with the board expectations that you reach the Semi final of the Scottish cup, get to the final of the League cup and win the top flight. Tough ask but it is achievable.

Rangers Football Club have a rich history to be proud of winning 54 top flight league titles, Scottish cup 33 times and the League cup 27 times and can lay claim to be the most successful club in terms of domestic success, however they are back after a four year absence having been demoted down to the third division in 2012 due to major financial issues. The club were formed in 1872 and their home ground is Ibrox with a seated capacity of 50,817 and have “great youth facilities” and “excellent training facilities” so there are some solid foundations in place but there is still a rebuild to get on with.

Budgets/Expectations

When you take over you are given a £1.2 million transfer budget and £227k per week wage budget which leaves you with £24k p/w spare, there is very little room to maneuver and with the board expectations being a bit over the top, it’s a tough challenge in the first season.

You also receive 80% of any transfer sales however this may be boosted to 95% if you ask the board nicely but I wouldn’t recommend saying you’ll win the Scottish cup/League cup to boost the budget as it’s a very small increase and heaps pressure on an already difficult debut season.

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Squad

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Goalkeepers – An important position and one Wes Foderingham is clearly the best you have and can be relied upon to save you on countless occasions, Gilks is an able back up however once again Robby McCrorie is highly rated and if you don’t wish to send him on loan you may want to install him as number 2.

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Full backs – Lee Wallace and James Tavernier should be your left and right backs respectively, personally I play Tavernier as a complete wing back and has all the stats for it however he’s harshly marked with positioning of just 7 and vision of 1 weirdly.. This vision stat doesn’t deter him making countless assists though.

Lee Wallace is the more rounded defender but won’t get to the byline as much as Tavernier but even so is your captain and is the only natural left back in your first 11, so you may wish to bring in a back up here or promote Scott Gray from the under 20s who shows some promise. Lee Hodson is an able back up for Tavernier on the right.

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Centre backs – Danny Wilson is your star man and can be your chosen centre back for a few years to come, good stats in all the main areas without being outstanding anywhere. Your choice is now who do you play beside him, Rob Kiernan is decent and performs well but nothing special, Clint Hill is 37 and with pace of 5 I wouldn’t play a high defensive line if you select him. Senderos is on a mammoth £16k p/w contract and is also very slow but apart from that has decent stats.

If none of those three suit you, you may wish to look to the transfer market I ended up signing Jack Baldwin from Peterborough in January on a cut price £350k deal but had been unsettling him for 6 months before.

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Deep Lying midfielder – Jordan Rossiter is a god, my advice would be to start him in this role – he can be a ball winning midfielder, a regista or deep lying playmaker so is very flexible too and could be your deep lying midfielder for many years to come. The big issue you have to deal with is Joey Barton, do you keep hold of him or as is expected in real life to bin him? You can offer him our for around £200k and should get some interest in the summer window or you can try and get the best out of him.

Matt Crooks looks really average on the game so not sure if he will ever reach much despite a 3.5 star potential rating but 16 year old Jack Thomson from your under 20s could be one for the future with between 4 and 5 star potential and I’d advise sending him out on loan if possible.

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Centre midfield – Jason Holt starts injured for 2 to 3 months which is a blow as he has 18 off the ball and 17 vision so I’d promote Liam Burt and either send him on loan or play him as a rotation type player as he’s already showing promise at 17 years of age, Halliday is very poorly judged by SI which is a shame and never featured much for me however Josh Windass despite being judged poorly by stats in my opinion had a great season as a Box to Box midfielder.

Niko could be a good player in certain types of games but I prefer a younger team if I’m honest, however Harry Forrester was more effective for me as an inside forward so that could be an option. I decided to sign Stevie Mallan from St Mirren for £300k and he’s now worth £1.7 million for me so that’s an option.

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Wide men – Barrie Mckay is your best wide player and one of your best talents, I urge you to sign him to a long term contract as I forgot to and has been eyeing a bigger club ever since and although he’s performed very well, his morale has stuck at very poor for the full season and with his contract ending in 2018 I’m a bit concerned. I prefer Waghorn as the central striker but he’s an option and seems to be slightly improved from last year, Joe Dodoo had a great season for me as an inside forward on the right hand side so he’s very able.

Michael O’Halloran is a speed merchant but much like in real life I was never able to get much of an end product and in the summer I’m in the process of looking to move him on. You are well equipped wide in the first season but if you wanted to improve it Sam Nicholson can be signed for around £500k from Hearts.

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Striker – Martyn Waghorn was the striker I went with and he did well notching 18 goals in an injury plagued season, being honest Miller didn’t do much but his stats aren’t too bad given his age of 36. Joe Garner didn’t suit my style of passing, intricate football so I loaned him out in January but if you play a different way he’d be a handful as an Advanced Forward.

You may get offered Matthew Knox, a 16 year old from Livingston with potential of between 4 and 5 stars, he can be signed for between £50k-100k but Celtic and Aberdeen are generally interested in him too. Ryan Hardie starts on loan but I think his god like performances have been toned down a bit this year which is understandable but he still has some good stats and potential.

Long term target – In the second season if you do well you can get a budget of between £3 and £8 million before any transfer sales dependent on how you perform in first season and Zach Clough is an achievable signing for £2-3 million and could turn out to be a star.

Tactics

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This is the tactic I went with and I managed success with this with some tweaking to get to this stage, you may wish to play 4-2-3-1 or even 4-4-2 though but the squad seems set up for 4-3-3 on FM.

Conclusion

Rangers are an interesting team to manage and there are certainly challenges in your first season you’ll need to address but winning the title is very achievable despite Celtic financial power and better squad, there is no europe to contend with so that’s another positive as you can focus on the league.

Long term however you’ll want to make a mark in europe, can you be the one to win the clubs first Champions League/European cup? It won’t be easy and will likely take a few seasons but it is possible, scouting will need to be top notch and sorting out the staffing/scouting issues should be one of your first aims.

Look even I won the treble in my first season and I can’t claim to be one of the better FM players.

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If you found this useful or just want to discuss your own Rangers save on the Beta, leave a comment or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19

My plans for Football Manager 2017

As Football Manager 2017 approaches and a few of the bloggers I like in the community are unveiling their plans for the new version, I felt I would do the same. I’m fairly new to the community and only really started blogging on this version, however I have had some great interaction with many bloggers who I respect and the #WeAreTheCommunity definitely helped in terms of smaller bloggers gaining more recognition.

I had two series in Parma and Rangers, in the Parma series I received some excellent comments even from a die hard Parma supporter which I felt was rewarding as he wished me to keep going with it, sadly that save was corrupted (auto save is now always in play). With Parma I was playing on a database inlcuding Serie D etc and we had made it to Serie B so it was pretty gutting to lose it.

I then went to Rangers in Scotland and also the team I support, I probably undertook this too quickly after the Parma failure and after a couple of seasons I had lost interest in the save and also in FM slightly at this point in time.

An aim for the blog going forward will be to be more consistent in uploading and to have a long series on the new version, I deliberated a bit about who to manage but my decision has been made for a while now. I enjoyed an offline save with Leeds so was tempted with them or Coventry – two English clubs in disarray especially off field.

However more and more recently I have been enjoying German football more, the culture that has been maintained there and the way the football supporters are treated in comparison to British football and especially supporters of my own football club is worlds apart where the Offensive Behaviour at Football act in Scotland criminalises football supporters.

I then watched a few documentaries on German football clubs St Pauli and Union Berlin and felt the latter clubs history was so interesting and the basis of defending fans and the fan culture to appeal very much to me – so Union Berlin will be the team I will blog about and I am aiming for this to be a long blog/save in terms of 10-15 seasons hopefully.

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Union currently play in 2. Bundesliga, the tier below the Bundesliga (I’m sure that was clearly obvious) and they have never played in the “Bundesliga” however interestingly did appear in the old Uefa cup in 2001-2002 season after reaching the German cup final being defeated by Schalke.

Union have went through some financial troubles especially in the 90s and early 2000s despite being run well now, after winning their division in both 1993 and 1994 each time they were denied a license to play in the 2. Bundesliga due to their financial problems. The club also had another close brush with financial failure in 1997. A club who has had financial issues in the past is always something I find interesting to make the club stable financially as there is that duty to make it viable and secure going forward for future generations.

In May 2004, the supporters raised enough money to secure the club’s license for fourth-division football through a campaign called ‘Bleed for Union’ supporters went to blood banks, in Germany you get paid for doing so and they then transferred the money to the club.

Then in 2008 the club stadium “Stadion An der Alten Försterei” only had 3 sides, no roof, they had to renovate to stay there so the supporters came together to help – 2,500 supporters put in 140,000 working hours both with know how and those who just wanted to help. Stadion An der Alten Försterei holds 22,012 people with just 3,617 seats with the rest terracing creating a fantastic atmosphere. Based in Berlin, there may be potential for stadium expansion or a new much larger stadium if we have continued elevated success due to scope of the city.

In 2012 the German DFB tried to introduce new regulation which included banning of pyrotechnics, stringent banning orders, removal of standing terraces (top 36 clubs voted on this) and Union were the only club to vote against it as they wanted to speak to their members (12,000 strong) first and didn’t want to treat their supporters as criminals aka British football.

All in all this makes this football club very special and my aims for the series will be to create strong foundations so the club never hits any problems financially again, to be promoted to the Bundesliga within a couple of seasons and then long term, the aim will be to see if we can break the dominant force of German football and dismantle Bayern Munich – although this is easier said than done.

I also feel I often forego homegrown players in favour of cheaper foreigners and this slightly goes against Union principles so will be aiming to have a strong German basis throughout the squad.

A key aspect of doing this will be the incredible prize money gifted in German football and a fair distribution of money unlike in Spain where Barcelona and Real Madrid have such unfair control. In 2. Bundesliga for winning the league you get £8 million and £51 million for winning the Bundesliga, £28 million for a respectable 8th placed finish.

On a lasting note when the full version of Football Manager 2017 is released early November my blog of Union will be likely split into either two or three blog updates per season, a focus on the tactical identity I wish to implement, style of manager I wish to be and I also aim to be as consistent as possible with my content.

Rangers Revolution -Tactical frustration

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Well it’s been around three weeks since the last update, life has got in the way a bit but we have finished season three as we look to claim back to back top flight titles and title number 56, we also had a first chance at europe so let’s get into it.

In terms of our transfer budget I’m starting to get annoyed with the budgets, £3 million for our first assault on europe when the team needs new additions to add depth and quality is really poor.

Transfers

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We go into season 2017/2018 with a very average budget and you can see that we didn’t receive any fees apart from for Matt Crooks to Partick for £20k and that we sent out many of our youngsters on loan to further develop.

Fraser Aird was let go on a free, the kid has no technical ability and that is a major issue for how we play the game. Rob Kiernan was also let go on a free which may be a surprise to some but Wilson and Meekings were proving to be a solid defensive partnership.

The additions from Accrington in Josh Windass and Crooks were simply not good enough, in terms of Josh I am excited about his potential irl but in game they are both not good enough, both went out on loan last season and I felt it was best to move them on.

Due to the transfer budget we had to delve into the loan market again, Oliver and Alex Pritchard were very exciting loan deals in midfield and we secured the loan services of Man Utd defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson who provided centre back cover and could play left or right back so gave us flexibility.

Sone Aluko loan was a deadline loan signing and it was desperate, very unlike me and it proved as he was a flop – we terminated the loan early and I’ll hold my hands up here I made a mistake and he tried to cause problems within my squad threatening a mutiny after not getting enough games.

Henrik Gulden is a scandinavian left winger with 3 star potential who would provide cover for Mikkel Duelund, he has a bit of potential but may sell him on soon and we signed Andre Osmunddalen a keeper with 4.5 star potential and I had to snap him up. Yes, we’re scouting scandinavia heavily.

Roberto Barroso didn’t perform for us during our loan spell but he should have a big future, I was in a transfer war with Benfica to sign him permanently from Argentinian side Colon but the striker rejected our offer.

The other signings were all teenagers with between 4 and 5 star potential for very low fees and we are heavily involved in promoting and developing youth.

Finally and this was one I wasn’t sure about due to his age, Ezequiel Lavezzi was available on a free and at £15k p/w was too much to turn down, he has decreased in certain stats due to his age but at 33 could still give us something and would bring big experience.

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Scottish Premiership

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So we’re winners of the Ladbrokes Premiership again however Celtic gave us much more problems in Paul Lambert’s first full season in charge but to give some context they spent £19.3 million, in the same time we spent £2.3 million however they managed to recoup £13 million back.

They signed some decent talent with Sven Bender, Michael Carrick and Kalinic on permanent deals with Marcus Rashford and Joe Gomez coming in on loan however despite winning their first 9 games we were too strong in the end.

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I felt in the past I’ve droned on a bit too much here so I will just detail key results and let you see the results for yourself, the start to the season was strong and despite drawing with St Mirren we went into the first old firm game in strong form however in our first big test we were outdone, if I’m honest we created the better chances with more of the ball but Celtic were clinical.

After that we responded with an excellent streak of ten wins in a row however we weren’t getting the rewards for our play and at times just not creating enough, it took me until the last game of the season before I have settled on a new tactic, Ryan Hardie however was in great form in this period scoring 9 times.

Celtic then beat us again.. it’s getting a bit pathetic at this stage but we have no answers to them and we create virtually nothing against them, Old Firm managers are judged on success but if you can’t win these games then you won’t last long.

We again pick up from the defeat to good form smashing Aberdeen 4-1 at home, which is always nice and at this stage we are scoring freely however after the Dundee draw which was undeserved we really struggle and my attempts in switching tactics don’t work and it frustrates me.

We controlled possession in most games but our press was leaving too many gaps at the back, we lost our talisman in Ryan Hardie and were struggling to create chances with constant changes and tweaks to tactical system we just couldn’t sort it out.

As you can see we draw with Celtic two more times so never beat them in 4 attempts in the league, I’m sorry for supporters reading this.. We were lucky that Celtic also flopped at the end of the season and that our work until January was fairly solid.

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Champions League

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Scotland co-efficient is utterly dismal and a long term aim of this is to improve the rating of the league, however we faced three ties to just qualify for the group stages and we faced Red Bull Salzburg I’ve had easier ties before but we come through with back to back 2-0 wins in games we surprisingly dominate.

Mladost are a poor Montenegran side and on aggregate we win 4-0 having rested player in the second leg and we are then drawn with Partizan, a decent side but we avoid bigger sides so I’ll take it, we win 1-0 both home and away to secure group stages with an 86th minute away goal from Hardie and a home leg volley from sensation Mikkel Duelund.

After all that work, what sort of group are we handed?

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We lose the first 4 games before smashing Tottenham 4-2 at a packed Ibrox with a sensational quadruple from false nine Hardie and then are denied a famous win over Real Madrid at the Bernebaue with Gareth Bale smashing one in from 30 yards, it’s a tough first european test but we have much work to do.

League Cup

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Yes! We beat Celtic at last 4-2 on penalties in the League Cup final with Stuart Bannigan scoring the winning penalty, we got over this hoodoo we had and going forward I want to get to a dominant stage where we consistently get the better of our fierce rivals.

As you can see a very short run as always, where we struggled against Killie before want-away striker Jason Cummings scored on the break in extra time then convincing wins over Motherwell and Hibs 2-0 and 4-0 respectively secured our final slot and that’s three League Cup victories in a row.

Scottish Cup

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Again we are treble winners, this makes history as although Rangers have the most trebles at 7, no side has ever won back to back trebles.

I always thought if we beat Celtic we could win it and we were too strong in a 1-0 victory with Alex Pritchard as he controls the ball in the box excellently following a short corner before placing the shot into the top corner, again tactically we had issues but in these games getting the win is everything.

The final stats.. We battered Motherwell, trialled our new tactic and it worked big time going to a more of a 4-2-3-1 than I have previously ever employed.

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New Tactical set up

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I wanted a tactical set up that dominated teams with a strong press playing higher up compressing the play however recent tactics I was using were not creating nearly enough chances and we were stalling.

I like playing a short passing style and want my players to be expressive and give them more freedom however I don’t want them to take chances too early and wanted my defensive shape to be much stronger.

So we brought the two wing back to a flat 4 and changed the left wing back to a full back on support whilst keeping the right back role as a complete wing back as I feel that I want marauding runs from a wing back and we are stronger on the right.

The AP is very important in terms of linking play from wide men and the false nine dropping deep causes so much hassle for the opposition and often the inside forward on the left side gets a lot of chances possibly due to this.

Youth Report

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Our youth intake as usual was poor which I hope to improve after the board approved my request for better youth recruitment and I hope to get an agreement to improve our youth facilities however we signed Gavin Gray from Hamilton for £200k and he is a 4.5 star prospect, exciting future?

Ross Muirhead went on loan to Airdrie and played 20 times scoring 4 times at only 16, I like sending young guys out on loan but understand other people like to keep them, how do you develop youth?

Stephen Japp has not made the strides I had hoped for however a few of the 20s prospects from the start of the game have played quite a lot for me, if you’re good enough you’re old enough is a motto I like, in football obviously.

Ross Lyon is developing very well and made 22 starts and 6 sub appearances last season and is currently valued at £2.5 million, he gained 11 man of the match awards in that time and had an average rating of 8.29.

Robby McCrorie has made the number 1 spot his own and at just 20 years old he could be our number 1 for a long time, he has a potential of 4.5 stars and is always improving, 58 appearances and only conceded 40 goals which is good considering the batterings we got in Europe.

Ross McCrorie made 30 appearances last season with an average rating of 7.94 with 9 man of the match awards, he is a 4 star potential player and is attracting interest from the English Premiership but we want to keep hold of him.

Finally Liam Burt spent the year on loan to fellow Premiership side Dundee and made 15 appearances with an average rating of 7.07 and I have rejected loan deals for next seasons as want him to play at times for us and fulfil the potential of his 4.5 stars.

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Top Performers

It may be strange but the player with the best average rating was Ross Lyon and I won’t include him in my top 3 but the others contributed more to the season, however Ross had a fantastic season for a very young player.

Mikkel Duelund – This kid is becoming one of my favourites of this version, can play wide left, right, number 10 or in centre midfield but the ability to get past the opposition and either put in a good ball or finish is brilliant. 20 goals and 10 assists in 50 games is a a very good return from someone only 20 and developing.

Ryan Hardie – Goals, goals, goals this is what he is all about and getting 30 goals from 41 appearances is a good return and would have been more apart from an injury for a few months near the end of the season.

Alex Pritchard – We will miss Alex when he goes back to Spurs and will need to replace him with real quality, he took the right inside forward position and created 25 assists and scored 8 times in 40 starts but we can’t afford him and Spurs won’t deal with another loan for him.

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Conclusion

In conclusion it has been another good season for Rangers and the club continues to develop, another domestic treble made history however the difference in class in europe was clear despite the group being very difficult.

The first couple of seasons in europe are difficult due to the poor country co-efficient and the dismal club co-efficient meaning we will be 4th seeds for a while and the new rules for seeding make it harder but we will go again.

It was a great year financially, no longer with any debt having paid it off we were able to secure a £19 million profit, maybe we’ll get to see some of that in our transfer kitty?

Our average age continues to be the lowest in the league at 23 and we have improved our coaching and scouting team with Keke Duran replacing Frank McParland and Kirstjaan Speakman replacing Craig Mulholland – both upgrades.

Oh, as a teaser of the quality we are going for next year I have secured this genius from Atleti.. Angel Correa may be one of the biggest bargain signings we make and he will slot in the AP role but will join us in January 2019 for some reason. £2.5 million and £18k p/w is mental for him.

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Thank you all for reading and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss anything feel free to leave a comment on here or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19.

Rangers Revolution – Going for 55

After winning the Scottish Championship last year by a comfortable 24 points, we were promoted to the Ladbrokes Premiership and went up as 2nd favourites to win the title, fair? I think so however our odds to win it were 10-1 showing how big favourites Celtic were to get 6 in a row, my personal aim was to win it at the first time of asking and felt we could do this if we were backed financially.

We were given £2 million however were boosted by having £40k p/w spare which was boosted to £75k p/w spare when the deadwood were released/moved on, in all honesty it isn’t a great budget and loans will need to play a part again.

Transfers

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I moved on a substantial amount of players, mostly on frees as you can see, however I managed to get £300k for Martyn Waghorn from Bolton and £1.5 million from Aston Villa. I was pleased with both deals due to better players coming in marginalising their playing time, other notable players released were Harry Forrester, Halliday for £98k to Partick Thistle and Dean Shiels.

This allowed us to be flexible in enticing players in with a better wage budget, youngsters Japp, Donaldson and Gordon came in as you may remember and go into my under 20 side. We then secured loan deals for exciting midfielder Joao Teixeira and Chelsea wide man Lucas Piazon with the former outstanding and the latter not playing much.

We still had Harry Winks for another year along with inside forward sensation Mikkel Duelund who both had agreed 2 season loan deals last season and both would go on to have big seasons for me, I secured a deal for Duelund in January and he signed for £1.9 million on a 3 and a half year contract.

Crooks and Windass were pre arranged deals from Accrington and FM doesn’t rate them highly so I sent both of them out on loan to Leyton Orient and Coventry respectively, we did however manage to sign two solid central midfielders in Yasser Kasim from Swindon and Stuart Bannigan from Partick Thistle who are rated as 4 star midfielders.

Stephen Kingsley came in for £200k from Swansea to provide cover at both left back as we lacked this and he can also play centre back so his flexibility helps along with being a young Scottish lad and our last signing was Josh Meekings from Inverness, no I didn’t sign him due to his handball v Celtic in the 2014/2015 Scottish cup semi.. he is a 4 star centre back on the game and alongside Wilson I will have a good base there.

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Scottish Premiership

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As you can see we won the league title at the first attempt with an 11 point gap between Celtic who had a torrid season and actually sacked Ronny Deila mid season and appointed Paul Lambert who massively improved them, we scored the most, conceded the least and were worthy champions.

We won the league in the game before the split and then went on to pick up 1 win in 5 games as the players seemed to go in to holiday mode and to be fair, I’ll take some blame I was using more of our 20s players and tweaking things tactically however 88 points in our first season is decent.

We started the season off in great form and won our first three games without conceding, 2-0 vs Dundee, 3-0 vs Partick Thistle and 2-0 vs Hearts was our perfect start before we dropped 2 points at home to Aberdeen in a game we probably done just enough to win.

Our next big game came against Celtic at Ibrox and we won 3-2 with the winner coming from loanee Teixeira in the 92nd minute, get in!

We then win our next 6 games to make it 8 league wins in a row and we are flying however we only keep two clean sheets in this time, slightly worrying but we move on. We then suffer back to back draws to Dundee and Hearts 0-0 and 1-1 respectively however have garnered a bit of a gap to not have to worry too much.

As I have mentioned Celtic are in meltdown at this stage and our main challengers are Aberdeen, however we beat Aberdeen 3-1 away in a big victory with both our centre backs dominant, Wilson grabs a double and Meekings scores the other.

Hardie and Teixeira then score in a 2-1 away victory over Celtic and this is getting embarrassing now for them now, our first loss of the season comes against Motherwell we lose 3-1 and I slaughter the lads at full time, which comes out in the press the next day.

We then win 6 of our next 7 games including a 4-0 win over St Johnstone, 3-1 over Ross County and 4-1 over Dundee and we are on fire, during this period Jason Holt is becoming the assist king on form and Duelund and Hardie are scoring a lot of goals, lovely.

At the end of January we dispatch Aberdeen 1-0 to end any hopes they have of challenging with Ryan Hardie scoring a 81st minute penalty in front of a delighted home support, before we batter Celtic but only manage 2 goals in a 2-0 victory Texeira scoring the goals.

We then go through an average spell where we beat Dundee United who are heading for the drop much like in real life 3-0 with Hardie getting another double before drawing 0-0 with Motherwell, beating Inverness 2-0 and Ross County 2-1.

We win the title in a poor fashion throwing away a 2 goal lead against St Johnstone to draw 2-2 but secure title 55, the press first question is about how many points we have thrown away this season, we’ve just won the league title first time of asking and stopped Celtic winning 6 in a row and they ask this?

I’m certain the players minds then go to holiday mode as we win just one time in our last 5 games after the title is secured as you can see below, with the first and only defeat in 5 games this season to Celtic which I was raging about.

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League Cup

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The board didn’t care about the League Cup however it was a chance to defend our trophy and we’re in this game to win trophies so I wanted to go as far as possible, we started in the first round and progressed past Elgin easily before almost crashing out to Livingston in a shocking game that went to penalties where we converted all 5 and Livi missed 2.

That one goal lost to Livi in extra time would turn out to be the only goal we lost in the competition as we beat Hamilton 1-0, Aberdeen 2-0 at Ibrox (Silence of the Sheep) in the quarter finals with Ryan Hardie and Danny Wilson getting the goals in a strong first half display. Both of these players repeated this in the semi final with both getting a goal as we dominated Partick at Hampden.

Inverness came out and attacked us and this allowed us to exploit them and truth be told this was a battering, 4 excellent goals scored from Ryan Hardie, James Tavernier and a double from that signing sensation Mikkel Duelund saw us run out 4-0 winners.

Scottish Cup

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Early comfortable 3-0 wins over Dumbarton and Queen of the South saw us reach the quarter final stage against fellow Premiership side Dundee and at home they caused us all sorts of problems, we took the lead from Duelund before Greg Stewart scored an incredible 25 yard effort and we hung in to get to 90 minutes. However in the away leg I tweaked a few things tactically and it worked with us running out 5-0 winners with Teixeira, Wilson, Bannigan all scoring whilst inside forward Duelund scored another double.

This lead to another big game against Aberdeen who for much of the season were our closest challengers but had fallen away during the business end of the season and we beat them 1-0 with the goal coming in the first minute from an Alex Iwobi header and this set up a Scottish cup final versus Celtic, win and we are treble winners.. we played awful but so did Celtic, so much so that there were only 15 shots in the whole game 7 to Celtic and 8 to us.

However we managed to take the lead from a Yasser Kasim with a free kick from just outside of the box which was smashed into the top corner before the treble and Scottish Cup was secured from a Ryan Hardie header from a Jason Holt cross which was headered across the box by Alex Iwobi and Hardie only had to cushion his header into an empty net. Scott Brown got his standard sending off against us on the 85th minute.

Change to tactical set up

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I wasn’t too happy with my old system as I wasn’t creating enough chances so I made some tweaks and have finally come to a system I feel works well for us, we play some beautiful football, keep the ball really well and the advanced playmaker pushed higher up means he can create a lot more, while on the right hand side the AP-S drifts further in with some nice link up play with the F9, RPM and AP-A and allows the CWB to push on and get to the byline.

I also want my full backs to be attacking however I read a blog by the impressive FM Analysis and found something I didn’t know but really should have, that where you place players tactically is where they will be positioned defensively but their roles will decide what they do/where they go in game when we have the ball – go check him out if you haven’t already – twitter – @FMAnalysis and the article is in this link below.

https://thedugoutfm.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/tactical-analysis-the-defence/.

The ball winning midfielder positioned more deep is key as I tried to have him alongisde the roaming playmaker and we left too many gaps between midfield and defence and he is winning almost every loose ball in the dm position and I had trialled the central midfielder as a deep lying playmaker but found that I missed an obvious drive so changing to a RPM really helped with that.

Youth round up

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Again our own youth intake was quite poor, so I moved for the next best in Scottish football and came across Adam Mitchell from Hibs who I felt had a good base of skills for what you want in a centre back and at just 16 felt he had some potential, he has anywhere from 3.5 start potential to 4.5 star so is one to watch.

The other signing I made was Ross Muirhead from Dumbarton, I was able to get him on a free and all I need to do is play a friendly with them so a good deal however he develops, 14 finishing, good physicals and 18 for determination are all decent for a 16 year old.

I also want to discuss what we are doing with our young talents, Stephen Japp is progressing well and has been tutored by Yasser Kasim – at 18 years old he may go out on loan next season, Jamie Barjonas is still in our 20s but has been loaned out to Championship side Ross County, his potential is between 4 and 5 stars but his stats aren’t showing that for me.

Liam Burt is currently in my first team squad and often gets on as a sub however I think a loan deal would be more beneficial, his first touch is 16, passing 11 and vision and work rate 16 so has talent with a current ability of 2 stars and potential of 3.5-4.5 stars he’s one to watch.

Ryan Hardie is obviously someone we are well aware of so I won’t delve deep with him but he’s my starting false nine and has 49 goals in two seasons, the McCrorie brothers are very highly rated so much that Robby has now dispatched Wes Foderingham as my number one keeper – a current ability of 2 stars and potential of between 4 and 5 stars.

Ross McCrorie is a fantastic young player with flexibility to play centre back or right back, he made 18 appearances this season and executed an average of 7.62 with a potential of 3.5-4.5 stars he’s another one to watch.

Finally Ross Lyon has come into my first team squad and played on several occasions due to injuries/suspensions and has always played very well, he played 8 times last season and had an average rating of 7.66, he also has 2 stars current ability with potential to grow in to between 3.5 and 4.5 stars, so the future could be bright.

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Top Performers

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James Tavernier produced an incredible season, one of the best average ratings I have ever seen on Football Manager 8.69 what a god! Along with this average rating he also produced 5 goals, 14 assists and 20 man of the match awards, at complete wing back he is fantastic and moving him back to a 4 has made sure he isn’t out of position too much.

Jason Holt averaged 7.88 scoring 5 goals and the added freedom pushing him higher up allowed him to assist 17 times and his value has soared to £3.9 million.

Mikkel Duelund scored 19 times and gained an average rating of 7.64 as he proved his worth at inside forward and repaid me for making his deal permanent.

Finally Ryan Hardie scored 24 goals and created 12 assists in 41 starts and 7 sub appearances and made himself the dominant striker, he’s only 20 years old so expect him to keep progressing however Cummings was poor and mentioned that he’s annoyed s may move him on.

Notable mentiones go to Harry Winks who was a big driving force from the middle of the park,  young Scot Ross McCrorie and Alex Iwobi.

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Conclusion

A few things to round this off are that I signed a new deal until May 2020 which I’m delighted with, we made a profit this year of £2.7 million and increased our season ticket holders to 37,500.

We had the youngest average age of any side in the top flight of 23 and although the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Stoke attempted to lure Robby McCrorie we held on to him rejecting £6 million bids albeit this included many future fees.

I have managed to get the board to increase how many coaches we can have from 10 to 16 so we will see some additions and also increased our junior coaching budget and improved youth recruitment so hopefully we can produce a few stars.

We go into the third season with hopes of defending our honours and we finally have a crack at europe, we will face three rounds to qualify for the group stages of the Champions league, can we do it?

Thank you all for reading and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss anything feel free to leave a comment on here or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19.

Rangers Revolution -Success and failure

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So an unbeaten season at the halfway stage of our first season, could we keep this up? Well, no we couldn’t but we’ll go through that competition by competition later. In the last update we had played 23 league games and had amassed 57 points giving us a comfortable 10 point gap over surprising second placed Raith Rovers, we only had 13 games left so this would all be about continuing our good form and we had the small matter of going for a potential quadruple with a League cup final against Hearts to come, Challenge cup final versus Hibernian and a fifth round Scottish cup tie against Hibernian again.

Ladbroke Championship table

Ladbrokes Championship_ Overview Stages-2

As you can see we did continue our strong form, winning 10 games, drawing 2 and losing one time in our last 13 games to see us win the league title by 24 points and a goal difference 40 goals better than second placed Raith, dominant.

With how strong we were, I was concerned at the last 4 games only picking up 1 win in 4 games but we bounced back sort of, with wins over Alloa and Queen of the South 3-0 and 3-1 respectively with Ryan Hardie scoring a brace against Alloa and following it up with an incredible solo goal against Queen of the South.

Next up was a tough run with us again picking up just 1 win in 3 games, we beat Raith 1-0 in a big result at the top of the table through a Barrie Mckay strike and held on despite Jordan Mcghee being sent off on the 51st minute, either side of this result we drew 0-0 on both occasions to St Mirren and Hibs.

The Hibs fixture was one where we dominated the game but couldn’t find the back of the net, we had 24 shots to their 9, 9 on target to their 2, 6 half chances to their 2 and 57% of the possession so it was a really frustrating game but against St Mirren we only mustered 7 shots in 90 minutes, awful stuff.

We then won 7 games in a row which sealed the league title and in this period we just battered teams in terms of control of games and creating chances, we started this period of dominance off with a 3-0 win over Morton with Hardie and Duelund excelling and getting on the scoresheet, we make amends against Falkirk with a 2-1 win before beating Queen of the South, Raith Rovers and Dumbarton 3-0, 3-1 and 2-0 respectively – Ryan Hardie scores 4 goals in this 3 game period and is starting to make the false nine role his own.

We end the season with an incredible 6-1 away win over Livingston with Gedion Zelalem hitting a brace and both of them being screamers, Hardie and Duelund again scoring, followed by a comfortable 2-0 win over Alloa at Ibrox before it comes to the last game of the season, away to St Mirren who were in form, if we avoid defeat here an unbeaten season is complete.

As FM does best, it screws you over sometimes and this was a perfect example, we lost 2-0 to St Mirren despite going being the much better side, we had a poor start when SImon Murray broke our high line and finished well, then Danny Wilson scored a calamity own goal on 14 minutes and despite hitting 31 shots and 2 clear cut chances and 7 half chances we couldn’t reply.

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Scottish cup

When we left this on the last update we had surprisingly struggled to progress against Turrif United but over 2 legs we managed to and faced Hibernian in the fifth round tie (last 16). It is important to note that winning the Scottish cup is the only way to secure European competition for next season.

Well, what can I say we had as you can see 17 shots to their 3, 60% of the ball possession but come away with a 0-1 defeat and we’re out of the competition early with the board not happy with the Scottish cup run as they expected the semi final at least

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League cup

We faced Hearts who although finished 35, yes 35 points behind Celtic in the top flight were their nearest challengers and finished in 2nd place so the league cup final would be a decent test but I’ll be honest we’re Rangers and everything about this club demands and expects success so I went in confident.

My confidence was well placed as we ran out 2-0 winners in a relatively comfortable victory with a brace coming from Ryan Hardie in the 69th and 89th minute.

Ryan Gauld was fouled just inside the box by Zanatta and Hardie stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards, the second goal however was a thing of beauty, a corner we were attacking was defended well and headed out, Waghorn picked the ball up around 30 yards from goal and spread it wide right to corner taker Duelund, who took his man on and played a delightful cross to Hardie inside 6 yard box who headed the ball back to the opposite top corner.

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Challenge cup

So as I mentioned in the past update we faced Hibernian in the final of the Challenge cup, we had little pressure as the board didn’t care but by getting to the final I knew the fans would expect another trophy so we went with our strongest team with giving Robby McCrorie a start as sweeper keeper as he does in cup competitions.

We started the game the much better team and duly took the lead on the 26th minute through Barrie Mckay, we defended a corner well and Mckay started the move on the 18 yard box, a smart through ball to Hardie who occupied the left wing he held on to the ball allowing for players to get forward, a switch to the centre of the pitch around 30 yards out and first time pass to Mckay who was on the left hand side of the box breaking the offside trap perfectly, he cut inside and finished well, 1-0!

We then lost a goal to James Keatings using his pace to cause us some damage on the 49th minute, not a great start to the second half and despite us going for the second goal we couldn’t get it however I told the boys to go for it in extra time and to keep doing what they were doing and it worked.

Mikkel Duelund pressed high and won the ball from Gunnarsson on the half way line with every Hibs players up for a free kick we had a 3 on 1 advantage could we play this right? Yes we could, Duelund played in Hardie who went 1 0n 1 with the keeper but very smartly he had the vision to see Gauld had a made a delightful run to his right and a simple 5 yard pass meant Gauld rolled it into the empty net.

Challenge cup winners at the fourth time of asking and yet the fans exuberance was kept in check within the stands, incredible stuff..

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Youth signings

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There was literally no decent prospect from our intake so I signed deals for a few between 2 and 2.5 stars potential however this was mostly due to assistant recommendation and to give the youth team more squad depth, so I went out and looked to bring in a few of the better young talents from other Scottish sides.

Stephen Japp is the best talent I signed and he joins from Hibernian at 16 years of age, my assistant feels he could become a key player for the first team if he reaches his potential and is a 4 star potential talent, with passing at 15, first touch and pace at 12 I thought it was too good to pass up on him for £30k initial fee with a further £20k over the next 12 months.

Robbie Gordon is a ball winning midfielder and signs from Livi who are renowned for a good youth system for £16k, he has tackling of 13 and positioning of 11 and while reports only put him at between a 2 and 3 star potential talent, I think this is a solid signing.

Like Robbie Gordon, Allan Donaldson is a 2-3 star potential player however some of his stats as a keeper stood out for me, 14 reflexes and 15 for rushing out which is key for a sweeper keeper and communication of 12 he seems to have a solid base.

Top performers

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In James Tavernier we had a great complete wing back on our right side, 14 assists, 10 man of the match awards and an average rating of 8.39 is simply phenomenal, I have and continue to make efforts to improve his positioning as this is something that lets him down defensively.

Our number 10 Jason Holt had a good season with an average rating of 8.06, that alone is very impressive although I would like him to get amongst the goals/assists a bit more for his role he did contribute 4 goals, 8 assists and 7 man of the match awards.

Ryan Hardie is a product of our youth system so it’s always something I like to do in promoting from within and hopefully this is something I can do more as we move on and improve within the game, he returned 25 goals in 30 starts, 7 assists and an average rating of 7.83

Our loan signing Ryan Gauld was a top signing, he gave us a bit of a creative spark and opened up games where the opposition were trying to shut games out, it’s a shame Sporting aren’t willing to sell and that we aren’t currently in a strong financial position to sign him permanently however an average rating of 8.06, 6 goals and 7 assists within 25 starts shows how valuable he has been.

Finances

We recorded a £1.94 million loss for the season, it may sound bad however we’re just in the black in terms of balance and we paid £4.17 million of the £5 million Mike Ashley loan which is incorporated into the game, by the start of the new season we will be debt free and in a positive balance due to season ticket sales which I’d hope would both increase in price and see more supporters buy season tickets.

Overview

So all in all, this was a successful first season securing three trophies although the poor efforts in the Scottish cup has cost us european football next season which will be gutting however it does allow us to focus on securing our 55th top flight league title and stop Celtic domestic dominance.

We used the loan market well due to our finances however must be smart in recruiting for a tougher league but we still retain Harry Winks and Mikkel Duelund for a further season.I was also rewarded with a contract for a further season to see how I would progress with the team in the top flight.

I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.

 

Rangers Revolution – Unbeaten start!

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In the previous post I went through an introduction of what this series will contain, so let’s get to business. Before I get into too much detail, I will explain what our board expected of us. Promotion via winning the league title was a must and this would be our main aim to get the club back where they belong, semi final finishes were requested in both the League cup and Scottish cup and they didn’t care about the Challenge cup.

For anyone not sure, the Challenge cup is a cup competition involving all teams not in the top flight and embarrassingly it is a trophy Rangers have not won in the previous three seasons, so although the board didn’t care it was a trophy I wanted to win to put things right.

Transfers

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As I mentioned the board were only willing to give me £500k for a transfer budget and £8k p/w spare to spend on wages and with my philosophy of working with young talented players this left me with decisions to make. We were in my opinion light up front which I expect most Rangers fans irl would agree with so I brought in Jason Cummings from Hibs for a very reasonable £250k and he started the season in incredible form scoring 10 goals in 11 starts however a poor run of form from there and then a broken foot (long term injury) stalled him from having a fantastic season.

So with the finances not quite being there but wanting additional midfield talents I went for Harry Winks and Jordan Rossiter on loans from Tottenham and Liverpool respectively – the loan deal for Rossiter was essentially to replicate our signing irl however Liverpool want a ridiculous amount to sell and he became our main deep lying playmaker in defensive midfield.

Harry Winks came in to give competition in the centre midfield with him often rotating with fellow loanee Gedion Zelalem and he had a very good season. 14 passing and 13 technique attributes and a 3.5 star player with ability to reach 4.5 stars showed the use of our explotation of the loan market.

I also scouted Scandinavia due to the lucrative bargains that can be found and although my scout is awful he did find me a classy 18 year old winger Mikkel Duelund who signed on a two season loan deal, we don’t pay any fee or any wages during this time so it is basically a free player however he does have a £1.5 million release clause so something we can maybe do there. He has a 3.5 star current ability but could be a 5 star potential player and has 15 for dribbling and 14 for technique.

Ryan Gauld came in on loan as soon as I was alerted that he was available on a loan, he has been called the Scottish Messi in the past while that may be a bit far he is the most exciting Scottish talent about. Again we were able to secure his services until the end of the season without paying any fee or wages to Sporting – A current ability of 4 stars and potential to reach 5 stars potential, first touch of 14, vision and technqiue at 16 he would be perfect as my advanced playmaker.

On the last day of the window I also secured the loan services (again, yes) of former Hearts defender Jordan Mcghee until the end of the season, he was brought in for a number of reasons, cost, flexibility to play across the back line if required and would add competition at centre back for Kiernan who was making some mistakes.With heading of 12, marking 13 and positioning he was already a solid centre back for this level.

On the outgoing front, we let Nicky Law go for £40k as he wasn’t useful to us and I wanted him off the wage bill, Polish keeper Macej Gostomski left for similar reasons and the fact that young wonderkid Robby McCrorie being moved to number 2 there is no room for him and at £4k p/w I needed rid.

Tactical set up

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For the past 2 FM releases I have favoured a 2-3-2-3 tiki taka system based on Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Barcelona, it was the best football I have ever seen and was mesmerised by that great Barca side and attempting to re-create this in FM is always great to watch as the team plays beautiful football. A small admission here would be I have attempted my own systems trying to emulate however twitter handle – @Passion4FM tactic and analysis is so good that I have just copied his tactic which is available here – http://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-barcelona-tiki-taka-tactics-emulating-pep-guardiolas-positional-play/.

We obviously play a high line and at times we have been caught out this season due to the high defensive block, it condenses play very well but long balls over the top are a slight issue with the current centre backs not being the fastest and it is something I will want to improve on long term to bring in a fast centre back to partner Danny Wilson, I think as he has been the much better performer compared to Kiernan.

We regularly get over 600 attempted passes per game, usually double the opponents with possession regularly in the mid to high 60% showing how dominant we are and usually do create 3 or more clear cut chances per game and around 16-25 shots per game while often restricting the opponents to few chances, only not successful when teams attempt to launch balls over the top to a fast striker.

Ladbrokes Championship

Ladbrokes Championship_ Overview Stages-4

As you can see we were dominant in the first half of the league season and had notched 49 goals in 23 games, conceding just 8 goals and had an unbeaten record to this point, failing to record wins on six occasions where we settled for draws. We started the season with three consecutive wins starting with a comfortable 3-1 win over St Mirren to mirror what happened irl.

Then we thrashed a poor Alloa side 5-0 with Waghorn getting a hatrick and Cummings getting on the scoresheet although we did lose the talented Barrie Mckay for four months due to a damaged achilles tendon, we followed this with a big 1-0 win over Hibs who I expected to be our closest challengers – maybe not.

Next followed a poor spell where we picked up just 1 win in 3 games, the draw to Queen of the South was a joke as we battered their goal with 25 shots but couldn’t get the second goal, a strong 2-1 win over Raith at Ibrox was vital as they were top at this stage with a double from Michael O’Halloran scoring in the 87th minute to win the game after we lost a goal after 25 seconds.

A 0-0 draw to Livingston despite us having 16-4 shots in our favour followed however we then clicked and went on to win 5 league games in a row scoring 14 times and losing just one goal with the 4-1 away win over Morton being our best display as we were starting to dominate more and controlled it with a Waghorn double,Cummings and O’Halloran with the goals.

A trip to Easter road in October resulted in a poor 0-0 draw, we had the slightly better of the game but I couldn’t complain too much, however as we do we bounced back in style with 7 league games consecutively won conceding just twice in this period and scoring 20 goals. We hit Alloa for 5 again in a solid 5-0 win and a 3-0 victory over Hibernian at Ibrox gave us the revenge we wished for with goals coming from classy inside forward Mikkel Duelund and double from Ryan Hardie who was starting to become prolific in the absence of striker Jason Cummings.

From the free flowing football the next 4 games were anything but and was our worst spell of the season, we drew 3 games out of four and the win was only a unconvincing 1-0 win over struggling Morton, Livi were becoming a bogey team despite being average and not scoring against Dumbarton was worrying to say the least despite controlling the game.

League cup

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Well, this is a stunning run isn’t it? It can’t get much better than defeating Aberdeen, Dundee United and our biggest rival Celtic in the run to the final can it..

Starting the competition against Elgin we comfortably dispatched them however we then came against our strongest league challengers Raith Rovers who we were able to defeat 3-1 thanks to goals from Cummings, Waghorn and Duelund.

The tie against Aberdeen was surely one for the neutral with Aberdeen taking an unjust lead in the 58th minute through Cammy Smith we battled away and I made tactical tweaks going overload and throwing 3 up front with a shadow striker behind and it paid off in injury time as a corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble before it went in via an Aberdeen player attempted block. We started the brighter in extra time and duly took the lead through Cummings however Cammy Smith scored again.

Not to  be outdone straight from kick off we went up the pitch and a great switch from Cummings to Billy King and the volley whistled into the back of the net, we’re on track for the win until Nial McGinn scores from the dreaded back post cross goal. We are victorious 6-5 on penalties despite missing three penalties, what a game.

We then beat Dundee United in extra time through a goal for inside forward Mikkel Duelund in the 105th minute in a deserved win before the big game against Celtic, personally I thought this was a step too far for us however we were the better team in general and the big talking point was a straight red card for Scott Brown for a disgusting lunge on Ryan Gauld, who gets up and scores a minute later with a clinical strike from 15 yards out to send us to the final and send the support wild.

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Scottish cup

We have only played one team due to the Scottish cup starting so late however this resulted in a tie versus Turrif United, aye who? Well, we couldn’t beat them at Ibrox and were about to crash out before Hardie took it upon himself to run through their whole team before smashing one into the top corner to secure a 2-2 draw, we beat them 2-0 away but not too convincing overall, we will play Hibernian in the next round.

Challenge cup

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Four wins, four clean sheets and in all honesty there isn’t much to talk about as we have done what I would have expected against this calibre of opposition, without being disrespectful. We face Hibernian in the final, let’s hope for football in general whoever wins this that the “exuberance” is kept to a minimum..

Going into Second half of season

Going into the second half of the season, my aims are to increase our lead at the top of the table, try and keep our unbeaten season going as long as possible and clinching a quadruple is a possibility this season. The only way I can get european football next season would be by winning the Scottish cup so that is an aim also but we have a long way to go in that competition.

I’m going to aim for roughly an update every week to 10 days and the updates will be split into half season and full season updates.

I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.