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Everton FC – The Real Post-Moyes Era

This is my first story on these forums so I hope you guys will enjoy it. I’ve read quite a few of the stories already posted on here and thoroughly enjoyed most of them so I’ve decided to write one of my own and share it with the FM community.
Started on 10 January 2014 by Tremenator
Latest Reply on 6 February 2014 by baronia
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Tremenator's avatar Group Tremenator
8 yearsEdited
I will leave screenshots where I feel they are needed and also provide some tips and advice about some of the decisions I make and why they help my particular style of management. You are welcome to copy them into your own tactics but they may not suit other management styles. Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

Team Managed: Everton FC

Reason: Boyhood team and the logical choice for my first story.

Introduction
Before I begin I just want to state that I am very pedantic about managing my team so the day one stuff that you tend to do when you first take over a club goes to extreme lengths for me because I completely reorganise the club structure from top to bottom. If some of you find this stuff boring it may be better to jump ahead a little bit.

Day 1
So my game started and I got the usual messages saying I has replaced Roberto Martinez as manager of Everton and would need to win the fans over because I’m unproven (my past experience is set to Sunday League Footballer). I didn’t feel bad about replacing Martinez because back in the summer I never wanted him to get the job (although he is doing a very good job at winning me over at the moment), either way Martinez was out and I was in. I was given a one year contract worth £30,000 a week and was invited to meet with the chairmen and assistant manager to have a little chat.

First thing I did was attend the meeting with the chairman, Bill Kenwright. I answered positively to the majority of his questions (I’m in charge of my boyhood club after all so of course I’m happy) and wanted him to send me all the information he had (I already knew the stuff of course but it makes me seem keen to learn about the club). He gave me the goal for the season which was to achieve a respectable position in the top half of the table. I agreed with his target even though I believe we can do better but let’s not put any unnecessary pressure on myself yet. I was also given the following two goals that I would be assessed on:
- Sign young players for the first team
- Use the clubs youth system to develop young players

I asked to meet with him again to discuss these because I want to add another goal – Play possession football (you’ll see why in a bit) which he agreed to and was given a transfer budget of £8.0M and a reasonable wage budget which I did not adjust. The meeting with chairman was finished and I decided to meet with my assistant manager straight afterwards.
Welcome to the board.

That is one of the most impressive first posts I have ever seen. If you can add a bit of formatting, some screenshots and perhaps split it up into 3-4 posts, all to make it a bit easier on the eye for the reader, you will get a lot of reads.
Damn , that was a long introduction :P
Based on Northwood's feedback I've split the long introduction into separate sections and included screenshots as well. The text just needs a bit of editing before posting so hopefully I'll get the new version up tomorrow.

I've also finished my pre-season now and made a few signings so I'll be telling you about how all that went on as well.
Good luck! Looks like you've had a right clearout of all the deadwood staff - just got to get down to signing new players now!
Meeting the assistant manager, Graeme Jones was pretty much a waste of time because a lot of the conversation was based around the backroom team. Since I would be replacing a lot of the backroom staff in the near future I didn’t pay attention to most of these messages and ended the meeting. Meetings over and done with it was time to start managing the actual team.

I placed an advert out for every backroom staff position I could, even if there was somebody employed already in the current role. I reviewed every staff member at the club and if their stats were not up to scratch (at least a rating of 16 in the supposed specialist area plus good ratings in other key areas) they were offered mutual termination (as opposed to directly terminating their contract to save money).
*It works better to offer mutual termination first and once they’ve left the club then place the advert out.

All existing scouting assignments were cancelled. I assigned new tasks to my existing scouts that avoided the sack. I assigned Martin Waldron to scout the next opposition (essential for match preparation training and tactics) and any other scouts left were sent to scout a region where they had plenty of knowledge (at this point all I had was UK and Ireland) to locate talented youngsters (being no older than 19 and having potential ability of greater than 3.5 stars). Hopefully some of the applicants for my scouting positions have some knowledge from other countries so I can look elsewhere for talented youth players.

TIP: Don’t read too much into the Potential Ability rating when looking at a youngster. By all means use it as a rough guide but judge more on how the player performs in a certain position within a certain formation and try combinations. You never know how they’ll perform until you see them play. I learned this lesson in FM2010 when playing as Everton I had no strikers fit for the start of the first season. I searched the markets but couldn’t find a player in my price range. Out of options I gave 20 year old James Vaughan the chance to play despite only having 2.0 current ability and 2.5 potential. He was amazing and managed to bag 16 goals that year and played a major role in winning the league even keeping some of the more senior strikers out when they regained fitness. Don’t pay too much attention to potential ability ratings from scouts and coaches, after all you are the manager so you decide but base it on how he plays in matches.

I went into the settings and assigned control of every task available to myself except match preparation and match control for the under 18 and under 21 squads. This is so that I can handle contract negotiations with the youth squad and more importantly I control the incoming youth players that the Head of Youth Recruitment would normally bring in.

I also got the opportunity to meet with the players who seemed very positive about my appointment (strangely enough but oh well at least I’ve got the dressing room behind me if not the fans yet). Captain Phil Jagielka welcomed me to the club and asked what my ambitions were for the coming season. Although I agreed with the board that a safe top-half finish should be the target I told the players that with some hard work we can qualify for the Euro Cup which went down well with most of the squad. Nikica Jelavic was a bit apprehensive about the target but I reassured him it was definitely achievable which seemed to win him around to the idea. At the conclusion of the meeting all of the players reacted well to the talks especially Tony Hibbert. The only player who reacted negatively was Arouna Kone probably because I’d replaced Roberto Martinez who he was looking forward to linking up with again.

Pre-Season Training
I set my training up so that all squads would focus on fitness training for the first 3 weeks (last week of June and first two of July) of pre-season, after that the training will be focussed on tactics so the players can use the remaining weeks of pre-season to learn the formation I will play and any instructions for the team and individual positions (I will discuss this later). I set the training load to very heavy which it will remain on until a week before the season starts when I will set it to average for the duration of the season. The training focus will set to Tactics only for the duration of the season and the latter half of pre-season so my players are fully familiar with my formation systems and instructions. To maximise the benefit to the players, each coach was only training in one area only (usually their specialist area). Any unfilled roles would be assigned when new coaches were hired. While I was setting the training I took time to go through each player in the squad and give them a specific individual role to work on. This would be an area that I deem vital to their position.

Pre-Season Fixtures
I’ve now got the right training setup to get the squad ready for the season ahead next I need to arrange suitable friendly matches to get the players some match time. I cancelled all existing friendly matches and decided to arrange my own mainly because I need to play certain levels of opposition at certain times to fall in line with the training schedule. I always look at pre-season in two parts, the first part being Fitness phase where the squad have returned from their holidays and need to train hard to get fit again. I like to have games against weak opposition at this point because the players are working hard in training so you don’t want them to play a big team yet because they’ll just be burned out and likely to pick up injuries. This phase usually lasts from when the players return from their holidays (or when the game starts if in the first season) for about 3 weeks. By this point the players have trained hard on their fitness and had a few easy run outs against weak opposition. Phase two is the Tactics Preperation phase and usually this is the point the training schedule changes to focus on tactics only. The training will not be physically as intense so you can play against some stronger teams to allow the players to get some serious match practise in with less risk of injury. Ideally by this point I have an idea of who will start the first competitive game and should be playing the majority of that eleven for the last few pre-season games so they can become familiar with the formation setup. Between 5-8 pre-season fixtures is usually enough to get my where I want to be for the opening day of the season. I tend to play every Saturday and Wednesday in pre-season to keep a consistent routine going with the last match being played approximately 7-14 days before the first competitive game.

This is my pre-season fixture list:

Date: Sat 13th July
Opposition: Marine
Venue: Away
Away to a local non-league team first so the guys can have a run-out without too much risk. Will probably only play a small handful of the senior squad here as I want to use this game to have a look at some of my youth squad and see if they can gel with some senior players. Players I know will be in my starting 11 in the first game probably will not see any action here.

Date: Wed 17th July
Opposition: Bootle
Venue: Away
Another away game to a local team. Will give the young guys another chance here and perhaps give some appearances to some of the fringe players of the senior squad though I will be using the opening two mainly to see if any of the young players look like they can make the step up.

Date: Sat 20th July
Opposition: Hearts
Venue: Away
A step up in class so it’s likely a few more senior players will get some match time now. Backup players not guaranteed to start the first game may play from the off here. May also give some the first team starters a brief run out in the second half. Any youngsters that impressed in the first two games may get a chance against stronger opposition.

Date: Wed 24th July
Opposition: Rangers
Venue: Away
Will probably look to play a balance of first team players and fringe players from the senior squad. Two players battling for a position in the line-up for the first game will both get a chance to impress here.

Date: Sat 27th July
Opposition: Kilmarnock
Venue: Away
Any first team squad who didn’t play the last match will get a chance here along with some youngsters who have impressed in pre-season. This is really the last chance to make a case for being in the first eleven on day one.

Date: Wed 31st July
Opposition: Celtic
Venue: Away
An away game against a club of similar stature to your own is ideal for training. It allows players to play the system you intend to use in the coming season against opposition of the required level to teams in your league. Therefore the match squad should really be the eleven I intend to start the first competitive game.

Date: Sat 3rd August
Opposition: Real Madrid
Venue: Home
I always like to finish against a strong European team at home because it allows the players to be really tested before the season starts and it also gives you a little bit of income revenue and the fans the opportunity to see you in action before the season starts. I’m thrilled I managed to get Real Madrid to play against me and will be treating this game as a competitive match. The perfect end to pre-season.

Date: Tue 6th August
Opposition: Southport
Venue: Away
This game I’m sort of stuck with because Southport are one of my feeder clubs so I was unable to cancel the match. By now my preparations should be done so it’s likely that the youth players and any trial players I have at the club will play this game. The senior squad are very unlikely to feature.

As you can see the opening fixtures are all winnable games so the players need to become familiar and comfortable with the formation and tactics quite quickly otherwise the fans and the board will be on my back if I do not pick up points early on from these games.



Formation & Tactics
My main formation will be a flat 4-5-1 which I know seems very boring and uninventive but I’ve integrated some tactics into my system which I found on one of the other threads on this forum and I’m quite pleased with my setup as I have a good balance with a solid defensive and enough creative players in the midfield to work the ball forward and create some scoring opportunities. I will set the squad mentality to Control when playing against opposition which I expect to beat and Counter when playing tougher opposition both setups will have a fluid mentality to counter the negative setup giving the players more freedom to create chances. Specific team instructions will be to complete short passes and retain possession while working the ball into the box and shooting less often so players are more likely to get into the box rather than shooting from distance which this formation tends to make them do.. This is the formation with each position and the role assigned.

4-5-1

GK – Goalkeeper – Defend
DR – Fullback – Support
DC – Central Defender - Defend
DC – Central Defender – Defend
DL – Fullback – Support
MR – Winger – Attack
MCR – Ball Winning Midfielder – Defend
MC – Advanced Playmaker – Attack
MCL – Box To Box Midfielder – Support
ML – Winger – Attack
SC – False 9 - Support

When defending there will be two lines to penetrate with the Ball Winning Midfielder dropping deep to form a back line of 5 making it very difficult for the opposition to pass their way through. The wings will be covered by the full backs and the wingers dropping deep preventing the cut back and I have all of my centre backs doing individual training on heading and aerial ability to deal with incoming crosses and long balls. Hopefully it should be a tight defence to breach.

When in possession the striker in the false 9 role drops deep to hold the ball whilst the wingers, the playmaker and the box to box midfielder get forward to support. Since my primary choices to play on the wings aren’t known for their crosses they will try to cut inside and use the players in the centre of the park or wait for the full backs to overlap as they are good at crossing. The lone striker will be supported in attack by the playmaker who will be creative and can hopefully force a chance.

Tremenator's avatar Group Tremenator
8 yearsEdited
The Senior Squad

Goalkeepers
Tim Howard (GK) – He looks like the best option to be first choice but the wrong side of 30 so he’ll do for a couple of years but will need a long term replacement. Probably play him as first choice but Robles will get a chance to prove himself

Joel Robles (GK) – Seems like an ideal backup for Howard. He’s young and has a lot of potential but if his real life performances are anything to go by then I wouldn’t rely completely on him as the long term future goalkeeper. Will be given game time in the first season so I can assess if he can develop into a long term number 1.

Everton have a few goalkeepers in the youth squads and as I like to have 3 keepers in contention there is a chance for one of them to get a chance in the senior squad. Mason Springthorpe seems to be the best of the bunch at that level so maybe doing pre-season training with the first team and playing in a few of the friendlies will identify if he’s worth spending some time developing. I may also look at bringing in an experienced keeper for a year or two in case Springthorpe fails to step up.

Defenders
Seamus Coleman (DR/WBR/MR) – Solid defending ratings and as a bonus Coleman is strong going forward so he seems like an ideal choice to play fullback as he will be required to support the right winger when we are attacking. He’s young and under a long term contract so it seems like the right fullback position is covered for a while. Encourage him to shoot less often or put him on individual training to improve his long shots. Coleman will be first choice at right full back barring injury.

Tony Hibbert (DR) – Getting on a bit now and has fallen behind Coleman in terms of his stats. Let’s not dismiss him totally though. Hibbert still has reasonable defending stats and is capable of playing at both right full back and centre back. He’s not great going forward but he’ll be a useful backup for Coleman and can be used if I have a crisis at centre back. I’ll probably keep him around for the first season and let him go when his contract expires.

John Stones (DRC) – A young defender with amazing potential. Stones has good stats for his age and his excellent potential make him one for the future. Capable of playing at centre back or his more favoured right full back at the worst he’ll be a useful utility player if he doesn’t develop as his potential suggests. Since he is not quite at the level to challenge for a first team place yet but still has room to develop I think sending Stones out on loan for a year to play first team football will do him good.

Phil Jagielka (DC) – The club captain and strongest central defender in the team. As he has a high leadership rating I think he’ll remain club captain and will ideally have him mentor one of the younger players. Jags is the best centre back in the squad with good solid stats so will realistically barring injury be leading the team out for the first match. He’ll be turning 31 at the start of the first season so he still has a few years left although I may look develop one of the youth players or failing that sign a good young defender to eventually replace him in about 3 to 4 seasons time.

John Heitinga (SW/DC) – Heitinga has just passed 30 years of age but still has respectable defending stats. His strongest position is at centre back but he can also cover at right back, play as a holding midfielder or even push further forward into a central midfield role. The fact he can cover multiple positions makes him useful to have around although he is on huge wages so if he is not playing regularly then I may have to move him on or get him to agree a new contract with a lower wages. He’s out of contract after the first season so his performances really need to count.

Sylvain Distin (DC) – Distin is still a very good defender despite turning 36 in the coming season. He has almost identical stats to Heitinga so it could be a straight fight between the two to see who will partner Jagielka at the back. Although he makes fewer mistakes than Heitinga he lacks the ability to cover multiple positions as he is only able to play centre back or cover at left back in an emergency. As with Heitinga, Distin is also on a high salary and out of contract after the first season. Looking at the clubs wage bill and finances combined with the goals set to me by the board about developing and signing youth it seems that whichever of Distin and Heitinga does not perform best will probably not be offered a new contract beyond the first season.

Antolin Alcaraz (DC) – Joined the club this summer from Wigan and starts the season with an injury keeping him until early September so it seems unlikely I will be able to shift him straight away. At 31 Alcaraz is also the wrong side of 30 and given that he is not as good as either Jagielka, Distin or Heitinga and cannot cover other positions it seems that he will not be part of my plans for the coming season. However given that I have told the squad and the media that everyone will get to show what they can do. I may play him in the U21 squad once he is training again and monitor his performances. If he performs well there may be a chance to play in the senior squad if I am hit with injuries but if this fails then he is more than likely to be offloaded next summer.

Shane Duffy (DC) – A young centre back with a good foundation of skills. Duffy has been mentioned for a few years now as someone to watch but he has of yet failed to deliver on this potential. Now at 21 years old Duffy needs to make an impression this season really or it may be time for him to move on. As he can only play at centre back and given there are four senior players ahead of him for this position it seems Duffy’s playing time may be limited this year. Like with John Stones I think I will probably loan Duffy out for the first year to a team where he will play regularly and where I can monitor his progress. Until he goes out on loan there will be opportunities to play in pre-season games with an established partner at the back so I can see if there is any potential partnerships to be formed.

Leighton Baines (DL/WBL/ML) – Baines is undoubtedly one of the best full backs in the world and if fit would walk into most sides. His abilities with set pieces make him a threat in attack as well as defence. His favoured position is left back but he is capable of playing on the left of midfield as well and has a great crossing stat so having push forward when attacking to whip balls into the box is always a tactic to consider. He has a lot of interest from other clubs at the start of the season and he is fully aware of that fact. I may try to sign him down to a new contract ASAP to fend off interest but looking at the depth of cover behind him and given he’s turning 29 in December it would not be the end of the world if I had to part with him for a nice sum of money. However given the choice I’d rather keep him or course as he is still my number one player in this position.

Bryan Oviedo (DL/WBL/ML) – A young fullback with some promising potential. Prefers to play at left full back but can also play on the left of midfield, Oviedo looks like ideal cover for Baines and may be good enough to take over from him in the future. At 23 he really needs to be playing to build on his current ability but there doesn’t seem to be a spot in my first eleven and he seems too old to be loaned out. Given my squad will need to become familiar with my new formation it would not be wise to rotate players regularly so I’m stuck with what to do with Oviedo at the minute. Newcastle are sniffing around him so I may let him go for the sake of his own career if the fee is right.

There is not much to comment on in the youth squads as far as defenders are concerned but Luke Garbutt is a player who I have took the time to develop in previous FM games and the reward paid off after a few seasons. Given he is a natural left back but can also play on the left of midfield, it seems his chances are limited with Baines and Oviedo ahead of him but I am determined to once again try and develop him into a very good player. He will be given playing time in pre-season with the senior squad and then I will look into the possibility of a loan move for him. At 20 years old there’s still time for Garbutt and he is a good example of why I don’t pay too much attention to the potential ability rating. With the right training and development he can become a top player.

Midfielders
Gareth Barry (DL/DM/MCL) – Barry is the strongest defensively minded midfielder in the squad so he seems like the ideal candidate to play in the ball winning midfielder role because of his strong tackling and work rate stats. Those are the good points. The bad ones are that he’s 32 years old, he’s earning the highest wages at the club by far and he’s not even our player. Barry is on a season long loan from Manchester City although his contract with them is up after the first season so he will more than likely become a free agent the following year when he will be 33. Despite being the strongest player in his position, his wages are a problem and given that he is only a loan player I may have to look at bringing somebody in to play in this role. There are a few talented youngsters who can play this position but I don’t think they are in a position to play a full season yet which leaves me with only one option to look externally.

Darron Gibson (DM/MCR) – My biggest problem with Gibson will be keeping him fit as he is susceptible to injuries. Looking at his stats he is quite capable of playing as the ball winning midfielder but he would be more suited to the box to box midfielder role because he possesses a good long range shot and would be handy supporting the attack. His tackling stats are good but so are Barry and McCarthy’s so I think Gibson would be better off darting between the boxes instead of limiting him to just tackling. He can also play on the right of midfield in an emergency.

James McCarthy (DM/MCR/AMC) – James McCarthy is capable of doing a wide range of roles and therefore will be a very useful member of the squad. At 23 there’s room to grow so my task is going to be finding his strongest position. He can play in defensive midfield roles but his stats are not as strong as Gareth Barry’s. He can also play in an advanced role but the abilities of Ross Barkley and his amazing potential to become one of the best in the world means McCarthy will not get much time in that role either. That leaves the box to box midfielder role where he would be strong due to his good passing and acceleration abilities. His creativity will need some work but with the right training he will develop into the work horse of the team doing most of the running supporting both attack and defence. It looks like he will be in direct competition with Darron Gibson for a starting place so I will need to monitor both in training and their performances in pre-season games to see who will get the push and who will need to settle for a place on the bench. McCarthy can also play on the right of midfield but given that I will need wingers for my formation and McCarthy will want to cut infield, this position will not be an option.

Leon Osman (MCR/AMC) – Osman is 32 now and his abilities are being surpassed by other, younger players. That’s not to say he isn’t a good player and I have no place for him. Osman still has a good attacking sense and can play central or right midfield or can push further forward into an attacking role. Another player who can fill in at multiple positions will be handy as the season draws to a close and players need a rest. He will be a natural backup to Ross Barkley as the attacking playmaker but also has a strong case to be the box to box midfielder. Given his age I don’t see him being able to dart between both boxes for a full 90 minutes but as every player will get a chance to prove themselves I will use pre-season to see if Osman can cope in the role. At the worst he’ll have a place on the bench.

Ross Barkley (AMC/MC) – This guy is something special. At 20 years old he has the potential to become one of the best players in the world. He can play as the playmaker or a bit deeper but given his average defending skills and the competition for the role he would be best suited to a more advanced role supporting the front man. I will place him on individual training to improve his long range shooting to give myself that option if the front man is struggling to get a shot off. Although he has amazing potential and his current abilities make him good enough for a starting place already it’s important to remember his age. He will need to be rested from time to time as the last thing I want is for him to get a string of injuries because he is exhausted.

There are a handful of talented youngsters in the youth squads for midfield positions in particular Ryan Ledson and George Green. Both of whom have high potential ability therefore I will be giving both players opportunities to play in pre-season games with the senior squad. I would like both of these guys to eventually become first team regulars so I will spend a lot of time and effort in their development. At 16 both are still too young to see the benefit of a loan move to play regularly. I would rather have both in my youth team at least for the first season playing there and making the occasional appearance in the Capital One and FA Cups. If they develop well over the first season then a loan move may be wise for the second year to play first team games. John Ludstrom is another player with good potential although not as much as Ledson and Green but he will also get the same opportunities.

Wingers/Wide Midfielders
Steven Pienaar MRL/AMRLC – At 31 years old Pienaar may not have the pace anymore but his ability to create chances and knock the ball past defenders still make a strong contender for the first 11. Capable of playing down either wing he can switch flanks in the middle of game and keep the opposition on their feet. As Pienaar likes to cut infield rather than cross the ball an overlapping fullback with a good crossing ability is ideal for Pienaar to give him a backup in case cannot dribble it infield. With Baines and Pienaar down the left flank I think I have one of the strongest left sides in the league. Barring injury or another player performing exceptionally well in pre-season, Pienaar will be a given to start at left wing against Norwich.

Steven Naismith (AMRLC/ST) – He doesn’t particularly stand out in any one area but Naismith can fill in a number of positions and will run himself into the ground for his team. He is naturally a forward but is just as strong down the right hand side. He can play on the left and also in the playmaker role so he is extremely useful to have on the bench as a utility player. However I am open to the idea of starting Naismith if he performs well in pre-season and training. At worst he’ll make the bench for the first game.

Gerard Deulofeu (AMRL/ST) – He’s a hot prospect from Barcelona’s youth system so he’s got to be good right? I have this thing when managing team on FM about refusing to play loan players unless they are significantly better than what I have already because I’m helping other teams that’s my competition develop their players. Deulofeu can play on either flank preferably in a more advanced role which my formation doesn’t support but is can play wide midfield on the right hand side so I may look to give him a chance there. He can also play up top but given the competition for places already he would need to really impress me to be considered for there. As of yet I’m not sure where is his best position is so I will experiment in pre-season and see if I can learn more about him. Given that I’ve only got him on a season long loan with very little chance of keeping him after that and like Ross Barkley he needs to be given regular rests to prevent injury I just cannot consider him as a first team regular but he will get match time perhaps in cup games or off the bench in league games to prove me wrong. If he does prove me wrong then he will get more game time.

Magaye Gueye (AML) – A young French winger who seems to have been forgotten by most Everton fans this year. He came with a lot of potential and has so far failed to deliver on that. After a few uneventful loan spells and the fact he has put a lot of weight on his real Everton career seems to be in jeopardy. In my Everton squad he starts with an injury lay off lasting a few months but given he can only play wide left in an advanced role and not the left of midfield where I need him to I just don’t see him fitting into my plans. He can play as a striker but has little chance of that given who is ahead of him in that position. He will get some game time in the under 21s when he recovers from injury and I will attempt to train him in a new position that suits my formation however if I do not see any progress by the time the January transfer window comes around then it may be time to move him on.

Matthew Kennedy, Conor McAleny and Chris Long from the youth squad look like they could develop into talented players so I will promote them into the senior squad for pre-season to have a closer look at them before making a decision whether to invest in their development. Kennedy can play down either wing where as McAleny and Long can both play down the left wing but also potentially up front.

Forwards
Nikica Jelavic (ST) – In real life Roberto Martinez really frustrates me with the way he uses Jalavic. He is a top player but barely comes off the bench even when we need a goal. By the time I get round to posting this he may have moved on but that will not happen here. I see Jelavic as a top player in my squad and he is definitely going head to head with Lukaku for the starting role against Norwich. I’ve decided to set his individual training to long shots because playing a 4-5-1 there will be times when he is isolated and marked by defenders. Training his long range shots will allow him to come deeper to receive the ball and have a long range shot if nothing else is on. The false 9 role will be instructed to shoot less often but I will not be able to stop them all the time so it makes sense to improve this stat in case he does shoot. Given Lukaku is on loan and Jelavic is my player my initial thoughts have Jelavic down to start but I will see how pre-season pans out before making a final decision.

Romelu Lukaku (ST) – A young striker on loan from Chelsea who has hit the ground running in his real Everton career. In my squad he has very strong stats and seems ideally suited to the role of false 9 that I need. I’ll put him on individual training to improve his long range shooting for the same reasons as Jelavic. The responses in training and the pre-season performances will determine which of Jelavic or Lukaku starts the first game. The one that misses out is assured of a place of the bench though.

Arouna Kone (AMRL/ST) – Signed this summer for 6M from relegated Wigan. At first glance he doesn’t have the same ability as Jelavic or Lukaku so he immediately sits behind them in the initial order however he is capable of playing in advanced winger roles on both the left and right which makes him more versatile even though both advanced winger roles will be unused by my primary formation. If I can retrain him into another position preferably a deeper winger role then he will be useful to have as a squad player. However given his negative reaction to my initial talk with the team he’s already on the back foot and will need to really buck up in training and put in some good performances in pre-season if he wants to be considered, otherwise I may offload him after a season and recoup some of the transfer money spent.

Kevin Mirallas (MR/AMRLC/ST) – The reason I have him listed with the strikers is because that is his natural and favoured position. Either way Mirallas is an exceptional player and can easily do a job playing up top or in either advanced winger role. He can also play a deeper winger role on the right which is where I am considering putting him initially. He lacks the ability to cross the ball so will look to bring the ball in when approaching the opposition area so he will need individual training to improve his dribbling but he is creative and very skilful. He is a bit susceptible to injury so I will have to manage that closely but unless something drastic happens he will be in the squad to play Norwich on the right wing.

Apostolos Vellios (ST) – He has reasonable ability for his age but given he can only play up front his chances are going to be limited. At 21 he’s in a similar position to Shane Duffy by having lots of potential and not really delivering on it. He’s good in the air which is an advantage when playing up front alone but what he really needs at this point in his career is game time so I will probably attempt to send him on loan to a team where he can hopefully score 15 or so goals a season. At the moment he isn’t really part of my first team plans but he will get some match time in pre-season before hopefully securing a loan move. As he is out of contract after the first season if his loan is successful I may offer him a new deal but if he refuses to go out on loan (which he did in real life) or doesn’t deliver then he may have to find a new club for the second season.

There isn’t much talent at first glance in the youth squad for strikers so I may have to look externally for some talented young strikers to sign and place into the youth squad. I will monitor the fixtures over the course of the season though to see if anybody is shining out despite their potential ability not being that high.

Looking at my squad at first glance and considering the formation and tactics I’m going to be using in the coming season my predicted first team line-up for the opening game against Norwich would be

GK – T.Howard
DR – S.Coleman
DC – P.Jagielka
DC – S.Distin/J.Heitinga
DL – L.Baines
MR – K.Mirallas/S.Naismith
MCR – G.Barry
MC – R.Barkley/L.Osman
MCL – J.McCarthy/D.Gibson
ML – S.Pienaar/G.Deulofeu
ST – N.Jelavic/R.Lukaku

As you can see I have some positions where I know who I want to play there but others where I cannot decide who to pick. The undecided positions will be finalised through pre-season as I will be assessing how each player performs in matches but also their attitude in training and how well they adapt to the formation.

Having gone through the squad I have assessed the team and identified the following areas where I need to recruit.

GK – A reasonable backup/3rd choice required on a short term basis. Potential young long term replacement needed.
DR – Adequate cover.
DC – Adequate cover initially although some young players with high potential for the future are needed.
DL – Adequate cover.
MR – Adequate cover initially although the youth players identified will need to be monitored closely as cover may be needed if they don’t develop enough.
MC – Holding player to win the ball needed urgently as Barry’s wages are a problem. Long term looks secure with top youth players in this position.
ML – Adequate cover initially although apart from Pienaar all other players are not natural to this position. Need a long term replacement youth player to develop in this position.
ST – Adequate cover initially although a young prospect for the future is needed if current players don’t deliver.

This is my day 1 preparations finished at last.
After all of the chaos from day 1 I had very little to do over the next few weeks apart from check advert responses and approach to hire the right people and players.

I received a number of loan offers for my promising defender John Stones, some of which were from Premier League clubs expecting to fight relegation. The offer I expected though was from Huddersfield Town after they promised to play him as a first team regular and in his favoured right back position. He accepted terms and the deal was finalised. I will monitor his performances over the next year and see how he does.

The only other transfer news is Newcastle making an offer for Oviedo.



Considering their offer was below his value I rejected it without making a counter offer. I am willing to let Oviedo go for the right price but a much bigger offer is needed to reach that price.

No much else to comment on over the next few days so roll on the first pre-season game and the first chance to see my team in action.



Marine 0-2 Everton
First match of pre-season and you could really tell that fact based on the performance. For those of you who know the English football tier system, Marine are in the 7th tier and have in recent years struggled to stay in that division. I was hoping this game would be an easy run out and a comfortable win but it was obvious the players were struggling to adapt to the new formation. Still they have about 5 weeks and 7 more friendlies to get everything sorted before the Norwich game so hopefully things will pick up fairly quickly. I played the majority of the youngsters in this game with only Heitinga, Hibbert, McCarthy, Deulofeu and Naismith starting the game from the senior squad. Kone made a late appearance off the bench but I was using this game to mainly see what youngsters looked promising enough to spend time developing and I have to say that the jury is still out on most. The deadlock wasn’t broken until around the hour mark when Gerard Deulofeu scored a wonderful solo goal by dribbling the ball through the defence and tucking a neatly placed shot into the corner of the net. The game was made safe with about 15 minutes to go when Apostolos Vellios scored a fantastic lob from outside of the area that dipped over the keeper and landed off the post into the far corner of the goal. Vellios played 80 minutes as the lone front man before being replaced by Kone.


Over the next 4 days there was no major events to comment on really so I headed into the second pre-season game hoping for a much better performance from my players.



Bootle 0-4 Everton
Bootle are even lower down the pyramid than Marine so I was expecting a comfortable win with very little effort. As with the Marine game I mainly played youngsters but as before there were also a few senior players in the starting eleven and it was one of those senior players Arouna Kone that opened the scoring inside the first 15 minutes when being one on one with the keeper he fired the ball past the advancing goalkeeper and into the net. The lead was doubled just after the half hour mark when Darron Gibson fired in a rebound after the Bootle defence failed to clear a corner kick. The game was made safe 5 minutes before half time when again from a set piece the Bootle defence struggled to clear the ball which was eventually turned into their own net by the unfortunate centre back (player generated just for this match). The second 45 was a much quieter affair with my boys apparently happy to just play out the rest of the game with no major incidents. There was time for Steven Naismith to add a fourth 5 minutes from time though as he headed in a well-placed cross at the back post. All in all a much better performance than the first game and it visibly showed that the team were a little more comfortable playing the 4-5-1 system. However the games from here on are much trickier so let’s hope the team can cope with stronger opposition using this formation.
Everton head to Scotland for a Pre-Season Tour

Following two local games I took the squad north of the border to continue pre-season. The players fitness levels were getting better but I wasn't convinced about how they were adapting to the tactics so I adjusted training schedules to focus more on learning the tactics as the fitness would take care of itself now through playing matches. The first stop on the tour was Tynecastle to play Hearts...



Hearts 2-2 Everton
The first in a four game tour of Scotland against financially struggling Hearts. The match squad now contained the majority of the senior squad albeit the ones that started this game where not in my initial plans to start the first league game unless they put in a blinding performance to push themselves into my plans. Compared to my first two fixtures this game was a fast paced, end to end affair with both teams having a number of good chances. After some early pressure I took the league on the quarter hour when Romelu Lukaku stabbed home a close range finish after being played in by Osman. Hearts pulled level before half time when an excellent finish by Dave Jardine from a very acute angle. The second half was more of the same with each team taking turns to create an attack. This was incredibly frustrating as my defence has been solid in the first two games and the attack needed a bit of work and now the complete opposite was happening. With about 20 or so minutes to go I introduced some of the big boys from the bench in an attempt to win the game and I thought my tactical thinking had paid off when with less than a minute of normal time remaining a deep cross from Steven Pienaar found Steven Naismith at the back post to head home into the gaping net to put us 2-1 up. Unfortunately though my defence which had looked shaky all day could not hang on and in stoppage time Danny Wilson headed home from a corner to secure a late but deserved draw for Hearts. This game was a step up in opposition and my team have shown today they are still some way off being ready so it looks like it will be back to the drawing board for the next game.

First Signings
I'd been looking at bringing some players in since day 1 and finally I had my first new recruit. I had identified the need to get another defensive midfielder as cover/replacement for Barry as he's only on loan and I managed to get a former Valencia, Juventus and PSG workhorse to do the job.



Mohammed Sissoko was a free agent so I only needed to get him to agree personal terms. He agreed a three year deal on just 10K a week which I thought was a bargain. He's desperately short of fitness so I'll get him on his own training to get his fitness up before giving him some match time.



This kid was brought to my attention by my scouts. He'd just been released from Chelsea and had 4.5/5 potential ability and was a free agent. I beat a number of other clubs including arsenal to win his signature and placed him in my youth squad and got him on a development programme to improve his acceleration and stamina. I'm expecting big things from this kid.

With my transfer business for these two players concluded it was time for the next match of pre-season against former Scottish champions Rangers.



Rangers 0-1 Everton
I arrived at Ibrox looking to get back to winning ways and for the first time in pre-season there were starts for Howard, Jagielka, Baines, Mirallas and Jelavic who had just returned to training following injury. The match itself was a dyer stop start affair largely in part to the aggressive style utilised by Rangers (21 fouls to 6 in this game with several bookings for both sides). As a result there were not many goal scoring opportunities as both teams were reduced to shooting from long range. The game reached the break goalless and although my first choice defence looked like they had the game under control, my attacking players were again struggling to make an impact. I swapped Jelavic for Lukaku at half time as the Croatian international was still short of fitness after his injury lay off. The second half was pretty much the same as the first. A tight scrappy affair but on 53 minutes a mistake by the Rangers defence allowed Lukaku the opportunity the go 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper and the on loan Belgian slotted the ball home in the far corner for his second goal in as many games. Rangers tried to push for the equaliser but their own aggressive playing style ended up breaking up their own attacks as their players would give away fouls. As such they were never able to force a meaningful opportunity and I was able to comfortably see out the rest of the game and record a win against the former Scottish champions.
The pre-season tour continued with a trip to Rugby Park next on the agenda. A few members of the squad had a few niggling injuries from the last game so I made some team selection decisions based on that. On the morning of the game Newcastle decided to insult me again.



This offer was lower than their original despite me telling them a substantial increase from their previous offer was needed. The offer was rejected without being looked at and I now will not be doing future business with Newcastle for a while. That aside I had another game to focus on.



Kilmarnock 1-0 Everton
After the hard fought win over Rangers and another big game against Celtic less than a week later I decided to change the entire starting eleven and give the team that had to settle for a draw against Hearts a chance to redeem themselves. The game was dull as both teams pretty much cancelled each other out. There were only 3 shots on target in the entire match as the Kilmarnock defence more than held their own against my offensive. The game had a goalless draw written all over it but in my over eagerness to push for a winner I left myself open to a counter attack which is exactly what happened with under a quarter of an hour to go. From defending a corner their goalkeeper hit a long ball up field to the lone front man who did a good job of holding up the ball from my defenders. Pascali sprinted through the centre of the field completely losing his marker Sissoko who will have done himself no favours with this performance. Pascali received the killer ball from the striker and fired the ball past Joel to give Kilmarnock the lead. Despite me throwing some big guns on from the bench and setting a really aggressive attacking formation I could not force an equaliser and ended up slipping to my first defeat in pre-season.

This was a setback and more worryingly several players underperformed including newcomer Sissoko so he needs a big performance in the next game or I may need to dip into the market again to find additional cover. As it was the second eleven that played in this game I decided against making drastic changes and left the tactics as they are for the next game against Celtic which would be played by my first choice eleven.



Celtic 0-0 Everton
After a defeat in the last game I was looking for a good response in this game. Celtic at home are a very strong side to beat so I gave them the respect they deserved by putting out my strongest eleven. With the exception of Jelavic (who was a bit jaded after the last two games because he missed 3 weeks of training so had to settle for a place on the bench) the team that started this game was the team I initially pencilled in to start against Norwich back on day 1. The game itself was dull and very uneventful with defences coming out on top at both ends of the pitch. Apart from both sides hitting the woodwork once each there was nothing else of note to report. 3 shots on target in the entire game and all of those were from outside of the penalty area. I’m happy that my defence is coping well with the formation but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the attackers struggling to make an impact in games. After this match I adjusted my training schedule. The team are now training on Team Cohesion only but now the intensity is down to Average from Very High as the fitness levels of the players should now be pretty close to where they need to be.

I said Sissoko needed a performance in this game, instead he picked up a knock in the match and will now miss the rest of pre-season facing up to a month out. I've not been convinced by him so far so I will have to recruit another defensive player as additional cover perhaps a loan signing or a permanent deal if the right one is available.

I was approached after this game by Leighton Baines who asked for a private chat regarding his situation. He was aware bigger clubs were interested in him and he expressed a desire to move on. I told him I did not want him to leave as the club could achieve bigger things with him here. Calling me out on this he asked what my intentions were to which I responded that we could qualify for the Euro Cup this season. This was enough to convince him to stick around for the coming season but if we failed to qualify for at least the Euro Cup he would hand in a transfer request. Given that he will be 29 at the end of the coming season I was happy to accept this and so we left in agreement. If we qualified for the Euro Cup he would sign a new contract.

The tour of Scotland was over and we headed back to Merseyside to face the finale of pre-season and a home game against European giants Real Madrid. It was the last chance for players to make an impression and the eleven that took the field in this game was the same eleven I intended to start against Norwich in just over a weeks time.



Everton 2-4 Real Madrid
From the moment they agreed to play me I’d been looking forward to this match for the whole of pre-season. I picked my strongest possible eleven to start, the eleven I planned to start against Norwich and wished them luck before they went out to face the nine times European champions. The early stages of the game were uneventful with both teams playing contained football with nothing more than a few long ranged shots to report. Madrid were the team to pick up the tempo and it was them who grabbed the first goal through Ronaldo (come on, would it be anyone else?). I thought I’d be preparing for a hammering after that but Everton responded very well and grabbed the equaliser less than a minute later as Ross Barkley cut through the defence and squared the ball to Jelavic to fired it first time past Casillas to make the game 1-1. This seemed to stun Madrid as after that it was me who had wave after wave of attacking play and on 38 minutes I was in dreamland as a corner from Baines was headed home by Gareth Barry to give me the lead. Despite a couple of more chances before the break I could not grab a third goal and went in at half time 2-1 up to my absolute amazement. Sadly any dreams I had of an unlikely victory were snatched away in the second half as Madrid came out much more focussed and determined. I guess Carlo Ancelotti gave them a stern talking to at half time. I never got a look in after the break as Madrid had almost all of the possession and pushed my team into a very deep position. It was when rather than if the equaliser would come and I managed to last until the 58th minute before Pepe headed in a Ronaldo corner to make it 2-2. Madrid went in front just after the hour as a free kick from Isco was only blocked by Howard allowing Sergio Ramos the easiest of tap ins. The game was made safe with 20 minutes to go as Moratta curled a beauty from the edge of the area into the top corner giving Howard no chance. Madrid seemed contempt with this score it seemed as they never really pushed on for more goals but retained possession to prevent me from trying to make a comeback. The game finished 4-2 to Madrid but I felt I had to go easy on my players after they more than held their own against the most successful team in European club history but in the end the quality of the Spanish team showed and they deservedly won the game. I’m pleased Madrid played their strongest team and I think this could be a regular thing in pre-season if I can get them to agree to it. Regardless this was the final match of any meaning in pre-season as the game against Southport is just to fulfil a contractual obligation. I now have a fairly good idea who will be in my plans and who will not.

Pre-Season Wrapped Up With a New Signing
Despite losing to Madrid I was quite happy we gave them a good battle. My defence tired toward the end but I'm confident they understand the system. the holding players are doing the business as well but the attacking midfielders are just not settling into this system. I've realised the team is just not strong enough going forward with this formation so I have decided to take a bit of a risk by adjusting the formation with no preparation. I've pushed the two wingers and the advanced playmaker forward changing the flat 4-5-1 I have been using to a more fluid 4-2-3-1 formation. Considering my first few games are kind I will use the league games to assess the changes made. I've also managed to secure another signing to play the holding midfield role.



At a price of £3.5m I think I've landed a bargain here. Essien is comfortable in a number of roles and has a commanding presence on the pitch. At 30 years old he's not got age on his side but I'm sure he can still offer a lot for the next 2 or 3 seasons. He's not fit as Chelsea decided against playing him so throwing straight into the side doesn't seem wise. I may have to give him a couple of Under 21 games to get his fitness up first. Before that though I have one more formality to deal with.



Southport 1-1 Everton
I allowed my youth squad to play this game along with any senior players who weren’t part of my first team plans (Kone, Gueye, Hibbert, Alcaraz). In what was a very even game I took the lead inside 20 minutes when young centre back Jonjoe Kenny slotted home a poorly cleared corner. The lead lasted until just before half time when a Southport break away allowed Osawe to slot home an equaliser past Springthorpe. The second half was uneventful and in the end both sides seemed content to take the draw.

Pre-season over and done with it's time to get serious. The next game is the first league game of the season as I welcome Norwich City to Goodison Park.
Tremenator's avatar Group Tremenator
8 yearsEdited
The Opening Day of the Season...And a Spanner In the Works
At last we arrived. After a very in depth pre-season, my Everton team were finally going to get their league campaign underway. I was playing Sunday lunchtime with the game being moved for television coverage so that's a welcome 875k in the bank.

The Saturday before the game saw the draw for the 2nd round of the Capital One Cup. Everton received a home draw against Bury from League 2 with the game being played in 10 days time.

I thought the signing of Michael Essien would be a boost for the whole team but one player in particular was quite upset by the arrival of the new star. James McCarthy felt that there was now too much competition for a place in central midfield and as a result he became unsettled. Despite me telling him in a private chat he had nothing to worry about and that if he continues to train hard there will be a place for him in the team he threw a tantrum and couldn't accept my promise. It's a shame really because even after the arrival of Essien I still had McCarthy pencilled in to start against Norwich ahead of Gibson but because of his little outburst and his subsequent drop in morale I've had no choice but to replace him in the match squad. Essien is not yet fit enough so he's not made the match squad at all. Injuries to Sissoko, Alcaraz and Naismith keep them out of this game. The starting line up to face Norwich is as follows:

GK - T.Howard
DR - S.Coleman
DC - P.Jagielka (c)
DC - S.Distin
DL - L.Baines
MCR - G.Barry
MCL - D.Gibson
AMR - K.Mirallas
AMC - R.Barkley
AML - S.Pienaar
ST - N.Jelavic

Subs
J.Robles
J.Heitinga
B.Oviedo
J.McCarthy
L.Osman
G.Deulofeu
R.Lukaku



Everton 3-1 Norwich City (Premier League)
After nearly eight long weeks of training and preparation we finally arrived at the first game. I was confident I could get a good result so I set my team a little bit more attacking than I have been using in pre-season by pushing the wingers and the playmaker into a more forward position. It was Norwich who took the initiative to begin with having a few half chances but nothing that was too much trouble for Howard in goal. My first real chance came on 18 minutes when Barkley zipped through the defence taking the trailing defenders with him. He played a neat pass towards the back post area where Pienaar was completely unmarked and able to fire the ball past Ruddy to put us a goal to the good. This goal seemed to take the sting out of Norwich as they offered little going forward for the remainder of the half. We had a few chances to double the lead but nobody was able to convert and we reached the break with the score at 1-0. The second half brought more of the same with chance after chance going begging for us. It wasn’t until the hour mark when a corner from Baines was half cleared by the defence but the ball fell to Pienaar again and his powerful shot (which was on target) clipped a defender and flew into the net to make the game more comfortable. I’m a little annoyed this went down as an own goal as the initial shot from Pienaar was on target looking at the replays on the 3D pitch. The win was confirmed about 15 minutes from time when substitute Lukaku chased a long ball, outrunning the defenders and fired the ball under Ruddy to make the score 3-0. Norwich for their efforts did get a consolation goal late on through Elmander but we were able to close out the game despite having fewer shots on target to start the new season with a win.
Everton Scorers - Steven Pienaar, Ryan Bennet (OG), Romelu Lukaku
Norwich Scorers - Johan Elmander
Man of the Match – Ross Barkley

A nice win to start the season so it appears that my slight adjustment to the formation is exactly what the team needed. A good solid display all round and a positive result to build on. I have a week to wait until my next game away to Swansea which has again been moved for television coverage to the Sunday lunchtime slot. SkySports must like me.
You have some quality and detailed updates. Keep up the good work and win the Premier League!
Some very very detailed stuff here, keep it up! Just a tip, when saving an image, save it as a .png file - it stops the image from becoming pixelated and blurry :)

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