2011 First Phase
Given no changes in monetary incentive unless I declared that we would win the league, I responded with what I personally expected out of the team this season - a midtable finish. Given the strength of our finish last season, and the fact that our team only got stronger in the offseason, I won't be too happy if we don't finish in the top 8 during both phases of league play.
Here is an illustration of the changes I mentioned earlier. From a formation standpoint, it's not dramatically more different than the standard 442 that I run. I've simply pushed up one of my central midfielders into an attacking midfielder role. Looking under the hood, however, there are a few more wrinkles.
My sole central defender is now set to a defensive mindset, which is different from the more supporting role he played as a ball winning midfielder. The new AMC position still plays the deep lying playmaker role just as he did in the 442, he is just pushed further up the pitch. After watching a few games, I thought the AMC did a good enough job of linking our back line and front line, so I now have both of my forwards set as poachers. Previously, one was set as a poacher and the other was set as an advanced playmaker.
I have also been playing even the strongest sides on the 'counter attack' team setting. Even with just one additional player playing futher up the pitch (MC -> AMC), we seem to transition into attacks that much smoother while not allowing too much more to the opposing attack. I played things too close to the vest early on, playing mainly on the 'defensive' team setting as I looked to just grind down games and hope for a goal coming on a counterattack.
I'm planning on sticking with this formation for the time being, although I'm thinking of the following ideas:
1. Dropping my central midfielder back into a true defensive midfielder position and role, achieving a wide 442 diamond. I'm not too keen on this option because it doesn't have a trigger man at MC, which I've grown accustomed to.
2. Doing the same as above, except squeezing in my side midfielders in as central mids, achieving a narrow 442 diamond. This seems like a pretty good option by placing the majority of my players in the center of the pitch, which seems ideal for all of the narrow pitches we play on.
3. Going with a traditional Brazilian 442 box. This would seem to be the best option since we play on narrow pitches all the time.
Nothing major here, once again. The incoming loans were from linked parent clubs, and the players are essentially free backups.