Ok, so we return to Turin, and after storming high so far in the Serie A, we finally conclude our first season in Italy. I’m actually playing ahead of myself which is unusual for me, so this will be an extra long post.
March saw a horrible run of games; a home tie against Inter, two back to back away games, first with Roma, then AC Milan, followed up with back at home against Sassuolo.
Inter were first up, which amazingly we put in a real solid performance, Zaza got us off to a great start with a goal on 20 minutes, we were looking good creating many chances. Icardi pulled one back for Inter on 64 minutes, but it was our capitano Belotti who got the winner for us on 76 minutes and ensured an impressive 2-1 victory.
Roma on the other hand completely embarrassed us. I mentioned in the last post how sides that use wingers always get the advantage over us if the exploit the wide areas with them and their fullbacks (remember this for later reference). The score was 5-2, and basically we couldn’t cope, but at the same time showed we can be offensively effective also. Like I highlighted last time, I am accepting this is our tactical weakness.
We then drew another blank, against Milan though so really I cannot complain. They also use a 433, so it isn’t ever time we face this system we get shafted (again, remember this).
We then took on Sassuolo, where we changed our form and hammered them 4-1, a double from Falque, and goals from Izzo and Miete gave us a impressive win. however, Falque claims his intention for a bigger contract, he wanted over 80k a week, I didn’t think he was worth it so tried to negotiate but his agent was a twat. 2 weeks later he kicks off again that I haven’t given him a new one; I told him bluntly that I offered one, it’s not my fault you turned it down. Yea, well, lets just say that didn’t go well, he wanted out. Yay!
April saw our form continue ,with wins over Empoli, Cagliari, Parma and Lazio. The title race was getting interesting, we are never going to win it, but to be including in this was an honour.
Just before the SPAL game we had the big one; the coppa italia final against Milan.
We were confident following our recent form, and the recent 0-0 draw with them in the league. We started well and even though things were fairly even early on, we managed to take the advantage before the break; Miete struck home on 40 minutes. We continued to play well, but as the game progressed Milan became more aggressive. I opted for a more defensive mentality to try and hold out for this victory.
84 minutes in, Suso strikes home. Gutted. I removed our wasting time shout and went back to a balanced mentality to try and get back on the upper hand. That’s when Paqueta finished us off in the 89th minute. They broke our hearts.
We then drew with SPAL 0-0.
The cup final heartbreak hit us hard, we didn’t win in May at all, suffering a demoralising 6-2 defeat at home to Atalanta and their pesky wingers (see, told you, but wait there is more). Then we drew the derby with Juve 1-1, and another 1-1 draw with Frosinone, followed by another defeat, this time to Genoa 2-0.
What a complete bottle job, although I can’t really complain, we definitely were overachieving for the season anyway, Milan just brought us back down to reality. Here is the final Serie A table.
Stagione II (season 2)
We will have a quick look at our transfers but I wont dwell on them too much. The main thing was that I wanted to change my tactics slightly, in order to get the best out of my players.
Tactically I dropped the Treq from the AM strata to form a midfield three, which I opted for a Mezzala. I also change both my striker roles, a DLF(s) to a Pressing Forward; Also a AF to a Complete Forward.
I was fairly happy with my signings boosting my squad, plus we had a number of players returning from loan, will it be enough to cope with the addition of European football? Let’s see.
The first three months went reasonably well, but I could see some familiar problems occurring. Wingers, Wingers, Wingers! However, We picked up form from November onwards up until the new year.
The turn of the year was our problem, and our form was terribly inconsistent. We picked up only 6 wins in the league from January to the end of the season. Although we managed to get to the semi finals of the Europa League, where Bournemouth knock us out, Falque are old player, scored past us.
We finished in a disappointing 9th place, where I was optimistic that we could repeat our endeavours of season 1 and finish in the top 6.
Due to our terrible form at the end of the season, the board pulled me aside to explain myself following a poor season. I explained that with our European adventure we have still done reasonably well but they weren’t convinced. I pleaded and they said they will give me one more chance; to get 11 points from our opening 5 games of the new campaign
However, our main man Belotti was unhappy that we didn’t get European football and wanted to leave; I had already promised him to stay last season, I had to let him go. I thought a change around the place might just be what we need, raise some cash and start fresh.
So, a fresh start in Torino, aiming to rectify the issues and repay the faith given to me by the board. I opted to completely change things, why not, things had gone terribly towards the end of last season, I had to do something. I opted for a 4231, with very little team instructions.
We got off to two very impressive wins, 5-0 against Cittadella, ok the opposition are not much to be encouraged about but it’s about raising form and confidence. We then started the Serie A against Atalanta, who if you remember just a few months ago, they hammered us 6-2 at home. We came out and showed them the steel and quality we have in an impressive 4-1 victory; that’s 3 of 11 points achieved.
Next up, Palermo, and this is where the wheels started to come off. We lost 2-1 in a game where we created plenty but just couldn’t finish. But that isn’t good enough in this situation, we need points. That means we need to win our remaining three games; next up Juve away.
So that’s where it ended at the hands of Juventus, our fierce rivals. FM played the card and my time was up. What a narrative.
So where did it all go wrong and what did I learn from it?
Reflecting back on this time, I feel there were a number of flaws on my part. Firstly, my inner Arsene Wenger came out and my willingness not to change things even when things weren’t right was just sloppy and armature on my part. I accepted that the wide areas where our week point but rather than really looking at how we could change things, analyse them properly and come up with a plan B, I just played ignorant to it and thought it would all be OK. Arrogance, stubbornness and incompetence. I was just simply trying to get through games and time as quickly as possible; this is something I haven’t done in years. As a FM player, I have matured as a player and understand so much more now than I did back then. However, my recent absence from the FM scene and the game has clearly got to me and I am pretty disappointed in myself for not taking the game as seriously as I should. From this moment forward I will be taking more time and effort into the finer details of the game, including watching more detail in game and analysing opponents and our own performances.
I’ve had a number of saves on FM19 that I’ve played and just gone through the motions, winning titles effortlessly in Holland and Ecuador. This made me complacent and sloppy, missing the important things and thinking that this version of FM was easy. I neglected the importance of properly observing the match engine for flaws, weaknesses and areas of exploitation from our point of view and the opponents. Lesson learned.
So what next for Bowen? Time to head to the job centre. This save was initially about one club in Italy, now I will open it up across Europe. this may develop into a journeyman save.
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