03|01 PRESEASON: AVOIDING SECOND SEASON SYNDROME

seasonThree.episodeOne | Preseason

We survived relegation against all odds. But we only just survived.

With a paltry €6m to spend on reinforcements, my scouting team were working overtime to try come up with some hidden gems that we very much need going into the new season.

We have strengthened in almost all places needed, bringing in defenders, midfielders and a striker.

TRANSFER BUSINESS

We brought in two defenders to try to increase the quality at the back. It’s hard because of a lack of money, combined with the seemingly impossible task of convincing anyone to come play for us. We had bids in for many players, but most seemed to want double to drop down to our level if they were to come play for us. Something we were not prepared to do.

Ionut Nedelcearu

Ionut will become a first-team regular for us and will add some much-needed height and strength at the back. He has some good traits for the way I like my defenders to play, too. We managed to sign him for €2m from Dinamo Bucharest. He is still young so has a bit of room to develop further.

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Reece James

Don’t say anything, but Reece was our fourth option at left back. After my Director of Football failed with the first three names on the list, he finally managed to get the deal fir Reece over the line. We signed him on loan, as he is not good enough as a long-term signing. The left-back position is still one where we are weak and in fact, I will be trying to strengthen both full-back positions at season end.

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Medo

Again, Medo was not our first choice, but he is still an improvement over anything we currently have. He is also older than the sort of player I want to be signing, but he has good experience and will make a good tutor for some of the younger players as he has two traits I love in midfielders (he will in the central midfield as a Ball Winning Midfielder) ‘comes deep to get ball’, and ‘arrives late in opponents area’.

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Angel Gomes

There’s a theme developing here, but again, Angel wasn’t our first choice. After the likes of Ravel Morrison tried to extort us for €70k per week wages before signing for fellow relegation strugglers Benevento for a third of the wage, we were left picking scraps. Angel will come in on loan and offer a backup option. He has plenty of skill, so I’m hoping he can add a level of unpredictability to our play.

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Pietro Iemmello

Finally, we signed Pietro to help share the burden put on Ceravolo’s shoulders. After Guiseppi Rossi injured himself again, this time for 11 months, we activated an injury release clause I insisted he has. So Pietro will add some competition up front.

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A NEW TACTICAL APPROACH

Another season, and more tinkering. Having a squad built for Serie B who are favourites for relegation doesn’t inspire much in me tactically. Last season we played defensive football, which worked against some teams, and by some, I mean 11 who we managed to pick up wins against. However, defensive football was a little dull. I would like to give the fans something to cheer about. We might concede more goals, but I would like us to score more.

The target: 15 wins. 60 goals.

Ambitious, I know. And probably unachievable. But it’s a target I want us to strive for and with this in mind, I’ve bumped our mentality up from Defensive to Standard. To create more overloads out wide, I have swapped our shape from Structured to Fluid. To give you an idea of what this will do to the mentalities of the players, you can view the below.

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What the above highlights is the shift in the increased mentality of the defensive players and reduced mentality of the attacking players as you move from a Structured to Fluid shape. This is how you create horizontal compactness.

What this will also do is drive the wing-backs further up the pitch to support the wingers in attacking transitions.

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I also have two variations of the base system: One where the wing-backs are on a support duty; this will see them adopt the same mentality as the wingers while offering us more defensive stability as their risk-taking will be reduced, and a final one where we stagger the mentalities of the wingers and full-backs, so one attack and one support for each of the four roles.

I also want us to utilise the opponents inclination to attack us by using a Sweeper Keeper to launch long balls forward (when appropriate) to initiate counter attacks. Using a Poacher and Attacking Midfielder these will be our main source of goals.

I have also shifted to using Wingers from Inside Forwards. We weren’t good enough technically to play through the middle of teams, who often would have the better of us and shut us out easily, so the idea is to Moyes it, get out wide and cross it.

THE PRESEASON RESULTS

Preseason is always a bit of a formality. I try to play lots of easy games to build morale, build match fitness and to gain familiarity with our match tactics.

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No real challenge here. But going into the season we start with games against Fiorentina and Atalanta. It won’t be easy. It’ll be another fight against relegation, but I feel with this new system we should give ourselves more opportunities to play a better brand of football and exploit the vulnerabilities of teams attacking us.

It’ll be one hell of a ride, that’s for sure.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

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