11|01 PRESEASON: IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP, AND STEP UP!

seasonEleven.episodeOne | Preseason

Welcome to the next instalment of my journey with Parma Calcio. As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!

If you’re new to the series, day one starts here!

Now, onto the update.


It’s easy to get complacent when you start winning. That will not happen here. This is going to be quite a long post, so grab a cuppa and settle down.

TACTICAL FOCUS

For those who have read most of my tactical posts, I tend to favour three midfielders, whether that is a 4-1-2-3 or a 4-2-3-1 I always like to control the middle of the pitch.

Having read @fm_samo‘s great post on his simplistic 4-4-2 I decided to go back to a formation that had served me so well for the early part of my Football Manager days. I love the simplicity of the 4-4-2 and the pairs and combinations it creates all over the pitch, so I created my take on it and have been refining it over the last couple of seasons to a point where it has won us two leagues at a canter and almost won us a Champions League.

If you want to read a more detailed analysis of the tactic, you can have a look at this post.

The TL;DR version is that we defend with two deep banks of four. We harass the opposition when the enter our half, pressing all over the pitch to win the ball back, and when we do we launch direct passes to get to the goal as quick as possible. It is a system that worked wonders if you read last season’s success story.

There are two variations, a standard version with a lower tempo and more emphasis on a more patient build-up, and then there’s a slightly more direct version, with the aim of getting the ball up the field quickly to catch teams who might sit with a high line and press us more.

To ensure we have the players available at the club to fit this system, I’ve reshuffled the backroom team. Said goodbye to some long-serving staff, but there’s no time for sentiment here, we have to be looking for every percentage gain we can get.

BACKROOM TEAM FOCUS

Having seen @FridayNightFM talking about how he has managed to get the best backroom team assembled in Spain in this post, it made me take a look at my own team to see where we can improve. I was shocked at where we were. Having spent so much money on improving the facilities to become state of the art, what I had neglected was my own team.

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My backroom team is not the worst by any means, however, it could still be better. When it comes to training, we should be better all around.

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Immediately I can see that we need to improve fitness, ball control, defending, and attacking coaching and we could really do with another goalkeeping coach so I launched my coach calculator and went to work.

I said goodbye to Charlie Oatway, my Assistant Manager of six years, and brought in Luis García from SD Huesca. Luis is a five-star ball control coach, which is one area where we were lacking. I hired Martín Mackey from Newell’s as a fitness coach, also a five-star coach.

Paul Verhaegh came in from Wolfsburg as a defensive coach and goalkeeping coaches Vincenzo Sicignano and Maarten Stekelenburg joined us from Fiorentina and Monaco respectively. For now, these changes will put us up there with some of the best coaching staff in world football. Along with our facilities, Parma Calcio is ready to take the next step.

Backroom team

The changes put us in a better position. When the new training facilities are completed in a couple of months time, not only will we have state of the art facilities, we will also have the best backroom team in the league.

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Coaching team

These changes have allowed us to get a better level of training across the first team. These changes have not been cheap, but they are worth it. Hopefully, with the new facilities, we can see more of our players reaching their potential.

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The aim now is to improve the coaching within the youth teams to help them reach their potential quicker. It is more important for those players under 18 to have better training facilities and coaches as this is where you can get every advantage in helping them reach their full potential.

They’re not bad, but could be a lot better.

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We also have a 4.5-star world reputation, and if we continue to have similar success to the past couple of seasons, there’s no reason we cannot become one of the best teams on the planet.

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Season 11 begins now!

TRANSFER BUSINESS

After the season we’ve had, there was little need to enter the market. We could do with more depth in attack and defence, so we set about addressing those areas.

We also had more players wanting out, so in-line with my belief that we’re bigger than any player at the club, we negotiated the exit of a few.

OUT | Dalibor Komes | €88m (potential €96m) to Manchester City

Dalibor had asked to leave a few times over the last couple of seasons but no bid had ever come in for him. However, this summer managerless Manchester City put €100m on the table and I couldn’t really say no. He’s probably been my best player in the early days, but has been poor in the recent season so was happy to remove €200k p/w from the wages and bank enough to cover the cost of the stadium build alone.

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IN | Giuseppe Capodieci | Free Transfer from Chelsea

When Giuseppe refused a new deal at Chelsea we pounced to see if he would be interested in coming to Parma. We have a good reputation in Europe and he was happy to return to Italy. He will make an excellent addition to our defence.

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IN | Craig Mackay | €15m from Celtic

It wouldn’t be an Oliver Jensen save without a Scottish player coming in an playing for us. Craig was someone we had identified a couple of seasons ago as someone to watch out for. When other clubs began to make bids for him, I asked the board to see if they could do a deal to bring him to Parma. They didn’t let me down. Definitely one for the future, but he will help cover for Andrejic in the 10 role when he needs a rest.

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IN | Cristian Borrelli | €5m from Lanus

Already playing at his potential, but Cristian will offer some cover out on the left wing. Salami has been struggling for form and Konté cannot do it all himself. This was a bargain transfer and one that made sense. He has bags of pace and acceleration with an abundance of strength and agility. Few defences will be able to handle him.

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Hopefully, with these signings, we should have more cover to cope with the demands of a season competing for every trophy available.

THE PRESEASON RESULTS

With the 4-4-2 systems working like a dream, we didn’t have any objectives this pre-season other than match fitness.

We had a long summer off with no continental football, so I packed in a lot of games to get the players up to full match sharpness ahead of the kick-off against Atalanta on 21 August.

We took two tours again, to China and to the U.S. followed by some domestic home matches.

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The results are not important, although it is nice to won every game. But we should be expected to win them all with the strong squad we have. Now the real fun begins, starting with the Supercoppa Final against Juventus for the final friendly of the summer.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

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