Howay the Lads !
– The Entertainers
I believe in the way we play football, and throughout this save I’ve never really deviated from my sometimes stubborn concepts on how the beautiful game should not only look, but also feel.
Other managers, coaches and players must be clever in their attempts to contain our high-energy approach to the game; I’ll never purposefully send my players out to merely nullify another manager’s strategy.
In previous iterations of Football Manager I’ve tended to perhaps overthink my tactical arrangement and instructions depending on specific opposition.
Managers and their particular philosophies seem to be uber fashionable in modern football and I’m no different when it comes to my particular outlook.
I have a defined way in which I like my teams to play and it’s a case of cherry picking the right players who can carry out the roles required to make the tactic function as intended.
Football clubs are always striving to improve their respective squads as the transfer windows roll past, but I’ve currently hit a sweet spot in relation to the squad of players I currently have at my disposal. At least two players of comparable quality in every position which offers real scope for the systematic rotation I feel is critical for future success, both domestically and in European competition.
In my opinion football has evolved exponentially over the past decade and my vision of the game has in turn made its own evolution.
I want my central defenders to be comfortable on the ball; able to carry the football out from the back – breaking the first two lines in the process and creating a numerical overload in midfield.
My wing-backs are instructed to push high up the pitch to accompany our attack play, but also being advanced enough to intercept/counter any opposition advances.
The inside forwards will mainly tuck inside – allowing the wing-backs to create the width in our system.
By coming inside it gives the opposition defence a problem…
Who do they pick-up ?
Who to follow ?
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is our main attacking midfielder and in my opinion, one of the best around.
6ft 3” tall and built like a tank; opposition players find it tough to deal with him. He’s also deadly from long-range – meaning he will need to be shut-down which in turn draws defenders out of position.
And if the opposition rearguard aren’t busy or confused enough – they must also contend with El Buffalo – Alfredo Morelos.
The bustling forward is a complete handful for any defence; pulling defenders out of formation – creating space for others to exploit.
It’s a sound strategy, and one I’ve taken time and care to perfect.
Succession planning will be key though as It’ll be tough to replace certain vital cogs in our well oiled football machine.
[I didn’t include my magnificent central midfielders – mainly because I don’t feel they’re as integral in getting the tactic to function at 100%.]
The Entertainers: Were Newcastle United the best side never to win the Premier League?
At the time of writing we’ve further reinforced the midfield engine room with the acquisition of Harry Winks from Tottenham Hotspur.
£29 million is a vast sum of money, but when it comes to player profiling, Winks ticks almost every box for my Newcastle United; English, twenty-five years old and mature in his development.
Newcastle now have a blueprint for success.
One of the key aspects of our strategy has been to hoover-up British talent within the Premier League. Granted we currently have some of the most exciting young players in world football but signing talent from home shores is paramount. I want my side to have a strong British identity; so, for every David Neres we have a David Brooks; Ismaïla Sarr flights for the inside forward (left) slot with Callum Hudson-Odoi for example.
It has been a painstaking labour of love but it’s the approach I wanted with this save. Perhaps the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling or John Stones are momentarily out of our reach, however, that’s not prevented us from agreeing deals for the next best thing.
I feel like we’ve discussed the affection I have for my players at great length now over the course of this blog series, with a high volume of superlatives continually being fired in their direction.
Therefor, now seems like the perfect time to take a peek at the terrific work they’ve been doing on the field of play – and boy, it’s been something to behold.
After carefully and methodically curating the players and staff for our subsequent assault on the Premier League title – I feel somewhat assured that this could indeed be our year. We approach this campaign as UEFA Europa League champions; something I won’t dwell on as we have our sights firmly fixed on bigger and better things – although it was a nice marker to gauge our progression to date.
This season, we are back mixing it with Europe’s elite in UEFA’s Champions League.
Some of you will be mature [old] enough to remember Faustino Asprilla’s sensational hat-trick against Barcelona back in 1997.
Faustino Asprilla v Barcelona UEFA Champions League 1997
It’s fantastic to have these nights back on Tyneside.
The synergy that can be created between the club and it’s fans is something special in this part of the world.
We managed to earn a second-place finish in what was an exciting group of forward thinking, modern clubs. The next phase conjures up some nice narrative as we’ve been drawn against Dutch giants, PSV Eindhoven – who were of course managed by Newcastle United legend Sir Bobby Robson.
Sir Bobby Robson – PSV Eindhoven 1990-1992
Premier League 2021/22
This vibrant young side have produced a number of epic results in our journey to this point, but there is one that will remain fresh in the memory, not merely because it was the last match we played but, because it mirrors that mammoth result back in October 1996.
20 October 1996
Newcastle United 5 – 0 Manchester United
8 January 2022
Newcastle United 5 – 0 Manchester United
Now let’s hope that the title race doesn’t end in a similar fashion…
What can I say about this performance?
Something is brewing in the North-East and it isn’t Newcastle Brown Ale.
Winter is here, but we do not fear it…
My immediate feelings regarding future player movement into the club would see us attempt a move for Nathan Ampadou on a permanent basis.
I’ve been more than impressed with the young Welshman whilst on loan from Chelsea this season; equally adept at filling in at centre-back or in the segundo volante role when required.
Chelsea’s failure to promote youth from within has been used to our advantage throughout the save – with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Nathan Ampadou being allowed to ply their trade away from Stamford Bridge. Oliver Skipp of Tottenham Hotspur is also high on my wishlist, but my initial advances were shunned with the North London side looking for around £70 million apparently.
I tend to be somewhat impulsive when it comes to writing about my Football Manager escapades – and I suppose this blog entry is no different.
There will always be periods throughout the year when all I seem to think about is playing my save and writing down the aspects that excite me as I journey through.
It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many more Newcastle United focused pieces I’ll do but, what I will say is; It’ll be a sad day when this particular career grinds to an abrupt end.
‘Abrupt’ is perhaps the wrong way of putting it, as I’m sure I mentioned before – I’m not so much into the game when it becomes overpopulated by newgens.
Winning the Premier League would be great but if we don’t manage, it won’t detract from what has been one of my favourite save games to date.