Newcastle United – 6.

Howay the Lads !

– Wing-backs


Gōtoku Sakai



Luke Ayling



Key to Tactical Success

When laying out my plans at the beginning of this particular journey – I knew exactly the brand of football this Newcastle United side would adopt but, to reach the sweet spot with regards to how each position and role functions in the tactic of choice, you’re required to have the appropriate personnel in order to carry out said tactic.

I therefor knew that to play a high-pressing attack minded system – wing-backs would be key in building a successful team in my image.

That was the first area of the side that’d see then owner – Mike Ashley reach reluctantly for the cheque book after what felt like hours of rigorous checks and re-checks – we made our move.

– Vertical Football


Defending is a matter of how much space I have to defend.

– Johan Cruyff

Sakai and Ayling remain first choice in their respective positions and have been exemplary in continually fulfilling the requirements for a growing Newcastle United.

In our self-styled Gallowgatepressing [gegenpressing] system, both players are key in triggering the press/counter-press in wide areas of the pitch.

Both are equipped with the standout attributes that are needed in this system.


Workrate – How much physical effort a player puts into his actions during a match.

Teamwork – Players with high teamwork will play better as a unit.

Determination – How much a player tries to succeed in his actions during a match.

Anticipation – Higher anticipation enables a player to react more quickly to events.

Stamina – How well a player can retain condition while exerting effort during a match.

Gōtoku Sakai is in command of an important trait, and one that I will find extremely difficult to replace when the day comes that he sadly needs to be displaced permanently in the side.

This particular trait allows us to rapidly shift from defensive transitions to attacking situations; in our case David Neres or Juan Cuadrado being the diagonal outlet for Sakai when switching flanks.

Sakai trait.png

Only recently [January 2021] have we deviated from utilizing twin wing-backs.

Nicolás Tagliafico arriving from Ajax to provide an alternative option and added solidity on the left side when called upon.

Supermac II


Admittedly I’ve never taken a shine to regens, newgens or indeed whatever moniker they’re prescribed these days. I mostly use Football Manager to build football teams molded in my image – acquiring players I’ve become aware of or have taken delight in watching in real-world football.

My current job allows me the time to listen to all the footballing material one can stomach in a working week – and after my wife and son head off to bed – I’ll most likely watch some football to accompany my aural helping during the day. [if there’s nothing better to do – obviously] I guess I enjoy testing my knowledge of players, tactics etc. in the gaming environment [Doubt I’ll ever be managing at the highest level in reality] and having the most realistic experience provides maximum satisfaction. Perhaps I’ll extract tiny pearls of inspiration from a particular manager’s philosophy or sign a player I’ve watched whom I feel can fit perfectly into the high-pressing system(s) I take most pleasure in watching at the moment.

– En vogue football

That said – I’m also obsessed with history; football history to be precise.

So, when Football Manager conjures-up narrative that has more than a clear nod to history – there’s not much better when playing this game we adore.

Aye – I did have my earlier gripe regarding spewgens but, this is exception to my rule.

– Enter Matthew Macdonald.

Name sounds familiar?

Newcastle United Top Scorers

1 Alan Shearer 1996–2006 404 206
2 Jackie Milburn 1943-1957 397 200
3 Len White 1953–1962 269 153
4 Hughie Gallacher 1925–1930 174 143
5 Malcolm Macdonald 1971–1976 228 121

Matthew Macdonald




That’s right – Football Manager has provided some Quentin Tarantino -esque narrative here.

A local Geordie lad who only happens to share names with former Newcastle United icon – Malcolm Supermac Macdonald.

Mega bonus that he’s looking like a pressing forward and, at the tender age of 17 years-old he’s already contributed this season – scoring a vital last minute winner in a scintillating 4-3 away win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

– P.S. – I love you FM.


The Football Manager writing bug is back and in full flow.

I really enjoy the simple pleasure of relaxing in a comfortable seat near the lounge window which offers a complete panoramic view of the German countryside in front of me; accompanied by my trusty notepad and pencil. Oh, and don’t forget a tasty bottle of Hefeweizen beer.

Until next time…




Yes – that is indeed Malcolm Macdonald’s face I’ve added to newgen – Matthew Macdonald.

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