Tag Archives: Everton

1st Quarter of Everton Season Complete in FM16

I figured the quarter-point of the Premiere League season was as good a point as any to put up an update post on my latest Everton season in FM16.

My season overall has gone reasonably well as the below shot of the table would indicate: (notice where current league leader Leicester sits)

BPL Standings
Standings through 10 games of the BPL 2015/2016 Season

I have been going through a ton of injuries so far, and will most likely need to drop training intensity as I’m consistently having to cycle through players, so I haven’t really settled on my top 11 yet.  I’m got a couple key positions to decide on as I know both Coleman and Mirallas would bring in some nice fees, but without the right people to back fill I can’t really cash in on them.

I did end up making a couple more moves that while not making a huge windfall of profits, the reduction of salary and transfer fees made sense for these moves since the players were never going to find the pitch.  Now that my wingers are getting back to reasonable health and was able to bring some young players, both Kone and McGeady became expendable.  Both of these were high wage players that were just not going to see the pitch, so I figured to get stronger I needed to reduce the team.  The addition of Hjulsager was one of those scouting whims that I took a flyer on since he was cheap and incredibly versatile.  You’ll see that I did loan him out, but included the recall option such that if I get into trouble I can bring him back into the squad.

Final Transfers
Final Transfers for 2015/2016 season

As for the results themselves, I feel like we’re finally starting to get on a bit of a roll.  I lost 3 out of the first 5 matches to start the season, but now have a 5 game un-beaten streak going which includes wins at both Arsenal and Southhampton.  Following the Manchester City game, that West Brom result was very painful but I think I was pushing too hard to get a big away win to right the ship as opposed to playing a more controlled effort.  The Capitol One Cup game was a nice way to shake things up a bit and get some other players a run.  It also was a chance to play some decent football as the scoreline really doesn’t tell the whole story of that game in which I dominated.

But from the onset of the season, I looked at the back to back away games at Chelsea followed by a trip to Arsenal as a good test for the team.  Chelsea proceeded to blow my doors off to start the game, and I feared we’d be blown out.  However, the boys rallied and came back to within 1 goal with loads of pressure to finish the game.  A draw really wouldn’t have been out of the question and probably the fairer result.  But that trip to the Emirates might have been the turning point as my defense held solid and I was able to get that winning goal on a counter.  It also wasn’t a totally lopsided effort, while I was out shot and out possessed, I still put 4 shots on target to Arsenal’s 6.

1st Quarter Results
Results through the first quarter of the 2015/2016 season.

Hopefully by the start of the next window, I’ll have a better feel for where my top 11 is and what players can be let go.  I have roughly 23 million in loan buyout clauses that I’d really like to make happen but will have to move players out most likely to do it.  I’ve been lucky so far in that at this point in the Everton season, I don’t have anyone standing out as performing horribly as well as a decent goal distribution as you’ll see from the stats below:

Stats_Top_1
1st Quarter Stats, top half of team
Stats_Bottom_1
1st Quarter Stats, bottom half of team

For the most part, I feel good about how the team is playing but my starting trio on defense of Jagielka, Stones, and Galloway are clearly under-performing and I’ll be curious how it changes when Baines gets back healthy.  My midfield and attackers are providing pretty decent play and I’m finding quite a few options.  Come January I will have a good problem to solve as I’ll have some nice selling options as opposed to needing to bring someone in.

As for the next quarter of my Everton season, which will conveniently take me to the start of the winter transfer period, there’s a pretty decent mix of challenging games and what should be easier games for me to rotate some players in.  Away fixtures with Man. United and Tottenham along with the Merseyside Darby against Liverpool will all be challenging but I also have both tilts against Leicester which could also prove very dangerous.  The other thing that should be in my favor is a lack of match congestion, so I should be able to get a better feel for my top 11.

Upcoming 2nd Quarter
Upcoming 2nd Quarter of the 2015 /2016 Season

One aspect I’m starting to dive a bit deeper into this season are the analysis tools FM16 provides and I’m going to talk about those in my next post as I try to implement some of the things I’ve learned in this next set of fixtures.

New FM16 Season With Everton

After a couple of games since the launch of Football Manager 16 (FM16), although not quite as much as I’ve played in previous versions of Football Manager, I’m started up a new save with my favorite team Everton.  Sadly some of my tactics that worked well in FM15 are not working so well this year, so I’m going back to some trusted oldies but goodies.  So far I’m only 2 games into the actual season, but for anyone who’s played this game before can attest to, the hard work starts well before that opening kickoff.

That first “day” I take over the reigns of a new club takes forever as there’s just so much to do.  Luckily you do have a couple of days before the players arrive to prioritize things a bit but it all happens pretty quick.  I usually want to get my staff figured out that first day, or at least my initial coaching targets and people let go.  Trimming the staff is usually pretty easy, and since it counts against your transfer budget can be quite handy.  I usually try to stick to less than what the board recommends such that I can bring in someone else if something changes.  Here’s a couple of shots of not only my staff movements but how I have things broken up for training:

Transfers Coaches
Coaches I’ve removed and who I’ve brought in.
coaches training
Coaches Scheduling

I’ll probably do some more work on my scouting staff to try and widen my scouting net, but for now I’m ok.

As for tactics and transfers, I usually lump these together as without the right players, it doesn’t matter what tactic you run.  This initial season I’m basically running with 2 flavors of a 4-5-1, one with the Defensive Midfielder, and the other with an Attacking Midfielder.  Hopefully its pretty obvious how I’ll split those :)  So with that in mind, I knew I needed to make some changes as well as the changes I like to make.  I’m a big fan of bringing in youth so I usually figure out what older players are ready to make their way out.  There still is time left in the opening window, but I only have 2 bites on people to move out with Naismith and Barry finding the exits, and both fit the mold of moving out the older to bring in some better youth.  Oviedo was a random incoming request that while not as high as I’d like, he’s never been a player I’ve featured or worked with so I figured I might as well get rid of him now.  I do have a few others transfer listed so hopefully towards the end of the window I’ll get some bites.  Here’s who else I’d love to move on from:

  • Aaron Lennon
  • Arouna Kone
  • Steven Pienarr (starts season hurt)
  • Derron Gibson  (starts season hurt)
  • Aiden McGeady  (starts season hurt)

It will probably be toughest to move Gibson this window but all three who start hurt will be hard to get healthy in time to ship out as most teams don’t want damaged goods.

In looking over the team, I found 3 areas I wanted to build:

  • Defensive depth
  • more midfield options
  • Finding someone else (preferably 2) to fill in if Lukaku gets hurt, which he already has been.

Here’s who all I brought in this season with some on loan which I’ll come back to that: (some I did find through the folks over at FM Stories Site, so their profiles will be linked)

Transfers

Player Transfers

Defensive Tactic
Defensive 4-3-3 with a Defensive Midfielder
Offensive Tactic
More offensive tactic – 4-5-1.

 

  • Defense
    • Balanta – Central/Left Defender – FM legend for how strong and cheap he is
    • Alex Meret –  Goalie – long term replacement for Howard
    • Borja San Emeterio – DL/DR – flexible outside back mainly for backup since I start the season with Baines not only hurt but not getting any younger
    • Rick Karsdorp – ridiculously flexible, can play almost anywhere on the pitch.  I picked him up when Coleman went down for an extended period.
  • Midfield – these are all central middies, and most can play at least 2 if not all 3 of the central positions
    • John Hou Saeter – cheap option with good upside.  I’ve had him in numerous games.
    • Andre Dozzell – An unknown to me that one of my scouts dug up, seemed cheap enough and worth a shot.
    • Lucas Romero – Another famous name for FM’ers out there, and I was shocked that not only was he cheap but he’s actually sign with me.
    • Andres Cubas – loads of upside, and reasonable loan.
  • Wingers/Strikers
    • Carlos – He’ll primarily be used as a Left winger, but probably as a backup striker too.
    • Jonathan Calleri – he’s going to fill in as a backup Striker but also chip in on the right wing as needed, especially while I’m dealing with early injuries.

So this was the first year I’ve tried loans, so we’ll see how it works out.  But for each of the loans, I was able to work out a more reasonable buy-back fee and one that should be attainable next season, or at least that’s the hope.  But the 3 on loan are only a total of 23 million in next years budget, so I should be able to do that even without selling anyone.  And depending on how this window closes and certainly January, I might have enough to pull the trigger sooner.

As for my results so far, I’m pretty pleased.  I always try to get in a lot of pre-season games and usually play then away as that seems to generate not only more money but better merchandise sales.  Both of my actual games were very close, and while I was able to pull out the victory at Swansea, a late Aguero goal sealed that game up for Cityy.  But they were both fair results, although I was hoping I could hold off City for at least a draw.

Results so far
Results so far

My goals for this season are ambitious in that I want to finish in the Top 4 to get that Champions League spot, although I only told the Board top half.  I’m just not sure that with this team and having to bring in a lot of your, I’ll be able to handle any big injuries that will happen.

It should be a fun year and I’ll have some updates sprinkled in before another big post in between the 2016 and 2017 season.

Everton’s Poor League Cup Semifinal

Before I get into the actual Everton game yesterday, I at least wanted to mention how I watched the game.  Not too long ago, I ended up dropping down from the top tier with DirectTV and as such lost BeIN which not only has the rights to La Liga (Real Madrid and Barcelona, etc.) but the League Cup.  I wasn’t planning on watching the game but figured I’d poke around and see if there was an option (outside of going to a bar) and remembered FuBo.tv from the World Soccer Talk Podcast and figured I’d give it a shot.  The sub costs $9.99/month here in the States (I have no clue about other countries and what’s available there) and covers quite a bit of European soccer, pretty much everything not tied to Fox or NBC.  It also offers a free 24 hour trial, which is what I used to watch the game.  Pretty good quality, mildly entertaining embedded chat, and overall a good experience and one I’d recommend if you’re interested in those other leagues.  I haven’t looked too much more into it, but it is something that was quite intriguing to me that will warrant some more investigation.

As for the game itself, it was very typical of where Everton has been all year.  So much promise and then the ship starts to spring a leak and never recovers.  The opening goal should have been enough to seal the deal as that gave Everton a 2 goal cushion, and it was a significant goal for both sides.  Barkely showed off his talent and flair with a slick turn and was able to bury that shot from distance.  However, if I were a City fan I’d be rather upset that no one closed him down given his lethality from long range.  Barkely certainly took advantage of the soft defending and made them pay, but City playing a weaker side to rest for other competitions had a hand in it too.  After that though, it was all downhill for Everton as they just couldn’t do anything to release the pressure City were applying to them.

Let’s talk about those City goals a bit.  That Fernandinho goal did take a wicked deflection to leave Robles helpless, but the non-existent back tracking by anyone in midfield was what gave him the room to get that shot off.  They just let him wander down the field and set up in an easy spot to let go a dangerous shot.  A barrage of opportunities then followed with a couple of posts included for good measure.  Sure, Everton looked dangerous at times on the counter but all too often were a pass short and then left exposed in the back.  While the De Bruyne goal clearly crossed the touch line (although the official was partially blocked by the net and on the other side of the field) I don’t think it would’ve made any difference if that goal was disallowed.  Why it is such a fight to get technology that’s been proven elsewhere for a LONG time now I will never understand, but that’s a whole other topic.  Everton wasn’t showing any sort of competent or structured defense and City inevitably would have found a way to at the very least tie the aggregate score.  As for the Aguerro goal that sealed Everton’s fate, there was the hint of offsides but I think too close to call and I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with is John Stones getting caught on the wrong side of the most dangerous man on the pitch.  That just can’t happen at that point of the game.

As for Martinez, I’m not sure what to do there.  I know he’s done a great job in getting this team to play exciting soccer and he’s attracted some great talent.  But he really needs to figure out how to close some games out or this will be his last year at Everton, if he even makes it that far.  I also don’t think he did himself any favors by ripping the referees.  Sure, they missed a call but there was still LOTS of time left in that game for other things to happen.  Even if you could both City goals as “bad” goals there’s still over 15 minutes left to do something.  I didn’t have any problem with the gripes after the Chelsea game as that call did actually cost them the game (last touch of the game for a goal) but that did not happen in this case.  It is very rare that a single call “costs” teams a game, and this clearly was not one of those games.

Finally, I did want to mention the Robles/DeBruyne scuffle that happened late in the game.  I will admit that even after the first couple of replays I couldn’t see what happened to DeBruyne and assumed he had flopped (ala Diego Costa) and didn’t have any problem with Robles trying to get him up.  However, it became evident that he really was hurt (reasonably seriously) as it was just one of those not too much contact causing the knee to go in directions it isn’t supposed to.  I was impressed that not only did Robles make a point to see him off the pitch and talk to him while he was on the stretcher but also went to Twitter to express his apologies about his behavior.

Luckily Everton has an FA Cup tie over the weekend that shouldn’t put up the challenge anyone in the Premiere league would, but at this rate who knows what will happen.  Some sort of turnaround (which I still think could happen) will be needed if they’re to get to any sort of credibility at years end with a hope of keeping this young core around.

What has happened to Everton?

I thought today was as good a time as any to put some thoughts out there about my favorite soccer team, Everton.  And yes, I know I’m using the wrong term but when following both American and world football, it is easier and less confusing to call one football and the other soccer, so that’s what I do.  The timing works out well as this is sort of mid-season and in the heart of the January transfer window, not to mention a crucial semi-final match today against Manchester City.

I had pretty high expectations coming into the year with the addition of Deulofeu and the ability to keep a hold of the strong youth talent this team has.  And for the most part, the youth has performed reasonably well.  Lukaku is among the league leaders in goals.  Deulofeu seems to be serving up delicious crosses every time he touches the ball.  Barkley has had his ups and downs but is still electric.  Stones has been solid for the most part, although he’s had some rough games like any youngster will.  Even Brendan Galloway performed well in his replacement role while Baines recovered from his ankle injury.

The issue, or at least one of them, has been the performance of the veteran leaders.  Now some of this is certainly due to injuries (although every team gets them) but clearly the loss of Baines and Jagielka has hurt the team.  And even when they’re in the lineup, the loss of time has put them further behind the rest of the team.  Barry has not been the same pillar of strength he was, and lets just move on from talking about Howard.  It is no surprise that with Baines, Jagielka, and Howard all struggling that the Toffees are sporting a horrific defensive record and are especially awful late in games.  That trio of leadership and confidence used to ripple through the team, and without it we’re starting to see things crumble.

Another huge hole in this team is the midfield which has been pretty lackluster this season.  I’m not entirely sure what has happened to McCarthy this season, but he just doesn’t seem to be having as much impact as he has in the past.  Of late, our best midfielder (outside of Barkley) has been Besic, which shocks me as I had more or less written him off as a red-card waiting to happen extra body and not a contributing player.  Sadly I’m not sure there’s a real easy fix for this problem out there.  I don’t think Ryan Ledson is ready to step in, but at this point I’m also not sure there’s all that much to lose in trying him out.

The last piece of the puzzle that many are jumping on is the coaching, feeling that Martinez has run out of ideas.  I’m not ready to jump to that conclusion quite yet, but there certainly are some warning signs.  I feel it is always hard to really know what portion of poor play (in any sport) is due to the coaching and what blame should be laid on the players.  Usually, it is somewhere in the middle, however there are some things that are red flags for coaches.  When the same things keep happening over and over again, that’s not just poor luck or bad play, the coaching staff is not doing something right.  And in Everton’s case, not protecting leads is becoming a routine event.  I’m not going to claim to know all the stats, but I’m willing to bet they’re near the top of goals conceded in the last 10 minutes of the game, and actually probably pretty close to the top of those scored during that time too.  So while they’re great at late dramatics, it seems like they forget about defense once that happens.  Sure there have been some unfortunate calls (Chelsea) but to even allow that to happen time and time again is just bad coaching.

While this is a rather pessimistic look at the team, I still have hope for a productive season finishing in the top half of the table.  I highly doubt they’ll push high enough for Europe and I’m not sure they have the team depth to be able to handle it if they did qualify.  If they can get some more stability in the back, fix their late game disasters, and then bring in a couple young guys during these next 2 windows they could be right back ready to make a strong run next year.  As an avid Football Manager player, I do have ideas for how to fix Everton, but that’s for another post.  And who knows, they might be able to hold off Manchester City and get a shot to win some hardware this year!