Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm. Gre-No-Li. These three Swedish footballers are known mainly to two groups. Swedish and AC Milan football fans. This attacking trio was the main reason why Sweden won the Olympic tournament in London in 1948. They were also the reason why AC Milan fans like to remember the 1950’s. And one of them, Gunnar Gren, spent part of his playing and coaching career with GAIS. My FM21 team.
As I mentioned they led Sweden to Olympic gold at the 1948 Olympic tournament in London. They were born on consecutive Octobers in the early 1920s and they formed one of the most successful front lines in world football.
A short time after this success, Gunnar Nordahl moved to AC Milan. Gren and Liedholm joined him in the 1949/1950 season after Nordahl convinced the Milan club board to ‘give’ him his Swedish friends.
The trio’s most noted achievement at the club level came the following season when Milan won the scudetto. Liedholm and Nordahl also won the title in 1955, while Liedholm won two more titles in 1957 and 1959 after both Gren and Nordahl moved away. Gunnar Nordahl was the overall top-scorer in five of six Serie A seasons between 1949 and 1955.
When Milan beat Sampdoria in the debut match of Liedholm and Gren, one journalist at the game was so impressed by the displays of these two that he compared the pair to Michelangelo and da Vinci.
Pelé ended the dream
But not everything was great. The Swedish FA refused to let play professionals for the national team at that time. They missed the World Cup 1950 because of it.
The World Cup 1958 was played in Sweden and the FA decided to make the change. It was the last chance for these two of these three players to win the biggest trophy of all. Liedholm and Gren were 35 and 37 respectively during the tournament and they were called-up to the squad. It was too late for Nordahl as he had already retired.
Sweden progressed to the final with Gren scored in the 3-1 semi-final win against West Germany. It was symbolic as the semi-final was held in Gothenburg, the Gren’s hometown.
This tournament didn’t have a good end for Sweden. The World Cup 1958 is remembered mainly because 17 years old Pele who scored twice in the final as Brazil won 5-2.
What does this have to do with FM save?
We are calling ourselves managers and all these three great players decided to stay in football after their playing careers. They all moved to the dugout and became managers.
Nordahl was a play-manager of AS Roma before he was a manager of many Swedish clubs during the 60s and 70s.
Nils Liedholm was an assistant coach in Milan before he became the manager. He also managed Fiorentina, Verona, AS Roma or AC Milan again twice.
Gunnar Gren was the oldest one from the trio and this started with him. He managed AC Milan but when he came back to his homeland he was a player-coach of GAIS. And thanks to his great performances for IFK Göteborg back in the 1940s, he has a statue before the Gamla Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg.
Sweden is a logical step to me also thanks to this. Some rare footage from 1975 of these former players and coaches below.
Who was who?
The old truth says everyone wants to score goals. But someone also has to create them. Despite the Gre-No-Li is labelled as attacking trio, they were not all strikers.
Both Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm were more creators and both of them liked to play deeper. Liedholm was known because of his elegance of the pitch, his great vision and is labelled as one of the best footballing brains of his day. His passing was a vital part of Milan’s success.
He was also known due to his likeness of fitness. Instead of drinking and smoking, what were the famous hobbies of footballers these days, he rather went to the gym and he tried other sports (mainly athletics disciplines) to boost his fitness.
Gren was also the creator. But he was also that “small, unpleasant and intrusive” striker you don’t want to play against because he is almost everywhere.
If these two are more creators/playmaker types, Gunnar Nordahl was a typical finisher. The 185cm tall striker made 257 appearances for AC Milan and scored 210 goals. Nordahl is labelled as “a great goalscorer everywhere he played”.
I decided to try to use what I know about these three players in the game and in my FM21 save. I will use two strikers and one playmaker. The playmaker will operate in a CM role (probably). It will be a DLP(S) at the beginning and it will be changed to RPM when I will be able to find or develop the best-suited player for this role.
It’s because I like to use three central midfielders within my formations and it doesn’t matter if it was the 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. I’ve used 3-4-1-2 during my save in Mexico but the AM player was not as prolific as you would expect. The changes were made in FM21 to the AM role but I prefer the midfield trio.
Let’s start with the easiest role. Gunnar Nordahl was a typical goalscorer. The striker who benefits from the creativity of other players.
Fast, strong and clinical forward.
That means this player will play as an Advanced Forward as the one in the striker’s partnership.
AF/Nordahl search filter & view
I have to find the right players for this and that means I created the search filter for these three roles. Some of them were customised.
As I really want to find the scorer, not the creator, I removed the Passing attribute from the ticked key attributes for this role. And I also lowered the Technique attribute by two points down in comparison with other attributes.
I’m using the “-/+” buttons to lower the attribute’s value to find some players. The more important thing for me is also “Interested in” transfer ticked as 1) I want only players who are interested to join and 2) I know I have some chance to sign them.
I thought about the second striker’s role and I thought about to use DLF(S) but as I said above, the second striker should be also aggressive and very intrusive. And the more I thought about it, the more I was sure it has to be Pressing Forward role.
And as I fell in love with the Pressing Forward with the defend & attack duty during the end of the FM20 cycle, I will start with this role. I will use the PF(S) role with Move Into Channels individual instruction as this instruction vital for a DLF player.
PF(S)/Gren search filter & view
Same as with the role above I made the search filter & custom view for this role within the player search screen.
I kept the key attributes for the Pressing Forward role in the filter and added also Finishing, Technique and Flair attributes but they are lowered as they are more important for the DLF role. In the end, it almost made the filter for the Complete Forward role…
This role will be really demanding in terms of the time I will spend searching the right player I think. Mainly because I will have to make some compromise on what I will want from this player. More Pressing Forward or more Deep Lying Forward? Who knows…
The last role is the role regarding the most playmaking skills. It will be very hard to find the right new Nils Liedholm.
There will be a great emphasis on mental attributes like Decisions, Flair and Vision. Passing and Technique of course too. I’m not sure if I will be able to find/develop playmaker with very strong physical attributes to reflect the Lieodholm’s hobby with fitness.
It will be more CM player at the beginning rather than a typical AM (number 10). The one thing is sure, the new Il Barone will play as DLP(S) at the beginning. Mainly because of the lack of midfielders overall, not only lack of players suited for the RPM role.
DLP(S)/Liedholm search filter & view
This search filter is a simple one. I just picked the required attributes for the DLP(S) role and added the Dribbling and Flair attributes with lowered value.
This filter will be edited when we will be some time into the save and I will change the DLP(S) role to RPM as I already mentioned.
Key & Preferable attributes
There is also one more thing I like to do and how I adjusted the searching filter. I divided the required attributes for the position/role by Key & Preferable – green and blue lines highlights of the game (or your own colours, it depends what you like to use as you can change it).
The Key ones have the highest value, the preferable attributes have lowered value, usually by two points. In the example of DLP(S) when I added also Flair and Dribbling role, both these are lowered more.
I usually revisit all the attributes and their values, some of them are higher or lower just because of my thinking. It allowed me to find, for example, Sebastian Remme Berge. The Norwegian midfielder who can be a great DLP(S).
Or Albanian midfielder Astrit Ajdarevic who is a free agent… or Ingvald Halgunset. Or this and this and this and this player(s)…
What have I available now?
I’m still at the beginning of the save. The first transfer window is closed too and with the limited young players in the squad, it’s more or less about the improvisation.
The more I’m playing the Football Manager, the less I trust the assistant manager opinion and star rating in the game. I rather judge and select all the players on my own.
That was also the main reason why I selected Julius Lindberg as my main Advanced Forward despite his main position/role is on the left side of the pitch and he is not the best-rated striker in the squad by my assistant. But 7 goals in 8(1) appearances is a fantastic outcome. And I would say it proves I was right.
There are two players for each of these roles I have/had available during the first months of the save.
I’m really looking forward to using filters and views I wrote about above to find the best available players. But also develop my own players to these roles within the 3-5-2 formation.
Maybe I will make some changes in the future but this is my current plan. And I’m enjoying it.
Thansk for reading as always. And enjoy your own saves.
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