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Ajax Ajax Ajax - First Team / Jong / U19s

Managing the 1st, U23, and U19 teams asking for advice along the way
Started on 27 June 2020 by JCSkala
Latest Reply on 29 June 2020 by ScottT
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I really wanted to try a method on Football Manager so I have made a lot of assumptions about a lot of things. If any assumption is wrong then please let me know as I’d love to learn more. I’ve tried to cover most aspects of the game but I will lean a lot more into tactics over other areas. FYI I have loaded a save with Brazil so I can start in November 2018 and retrain/familiarise all of my players with my requirements.

Main goals
Complete tactical flexibility - the ability to change my entire approach according to the opposition. E.G. using a low block against fast attackers or using a half back against high pressing teams.
Youth Orientation - This is quite a normal approach when managing Ajax but I will be managing all 3 aspects of the club (1st, Jong/U23s, U19s).
Unbeaten season - I would like to complete an entire season unbeaten within the first 3 years. Football is a low scoring game and to avoid defeat over 34 games isn’t simple. Hopefully, this should get easier as my team improves.
Unbeaten Jong Ajax - I will be managing the second team and aiming for an unbeaten season within 3 years. I currently aim to use my younger (U23) players for this team and balancing game time between the first team and here could be tricky.
Unbeaten Ajax U19s - This team is stacked with talent. I’m hoping to complete this challenge in 1 season to allow me to use the better players in the Jong team.
UEFA Youth League - The U19s are a great team and using my U19s in the latter stages of the competition should help me secure this.
UEFA Champions League - Pretty standard target, I’m aiming to complete this in 5 years. I’m not overly skilled on football manager where I'll win this in the first year so we’ll see what happens. If I like the way the team is playing I may extend it. I will probably be on DoF mode, renewing contracts and mainly playing the UCL.
Yes, an Ajax save is not the most original idea. But my main idea was to have a team completely reactive to the opposition. For instance, if we play AZ, I might decide to stop LB Wijndal by playing Mazraoui/Dest/Alvarez in a defensive RM role. To make this happen I essentially wanted each position to have ~3 options. These options are dependent on factors like invertedness, speed, attack/defence.

GK - Sweeper/Standard - Sweeper for using a high line and standard for a low line. This is better in theory at the moment because Onana plays both roles better than any other keeper. I have signed Russo from Sassuolo to play as a GK in a few years.



RB/RWB - Attacking/Defending/Inverted - Ajax are blessed with 3 good RBs from the start of the game. Dest is the attacking choice, with high crossing/pace (14/15) and weak marking/positioning (10/11). Veltman is the defensive choice as he has stats like 16 tackling and positioning and 5 crossing. Mazraoui has 15 off the ball with 15 first touch making him the inverted choice.

LB/LWB - Attacking/Defending/Inverted - This is a little harder as Tagliafico is fantastic as a defensive all rounder. His stats are extremely high. I’ve also brought in Katterbach as defensive cover (great potential) and I am retraining Promes as a LWB (then LB) to offer a pacey attacking, inverted option.



CB - BPD, Libero, Fast, Left/Right - Ajax have lots of BPDs. They also start with 4 left footers and 3 right footers who can at least partly play at CB. Everyone is comfortable on the ball and Blind and Alvarez can easily play Libero. Pace is an issue, with 2 CBs having 10 pace and 3 having 11 pace. Alvarez has a slightly better 13 and I will be training Tagliafico (14 pace) as a BPD/Libero so I can play a higher line when needed. Blind/Veltman would be the technical partnership, lacking pace forcing a lower defensive line. Also, Martinez and Alvarez have lots of potential here.



DM - DLP, Half Back, Ball Winner, Segundo Volante - Essentially, all the CMs at Ajax are DLPs. Simple enough transition. I’ve also trained Veltman as a BWM (tackling, positioning, aggression all 16-17) to counter any creative opposition AMCs. I also have Alvarez who can play as a Half Back if needed to help the build up against a high pressing team. I’m also looking at maybe using Tagliafico as a ball winner but I’m focusing on him being a BPD first. All of the players can play Segundo Volante just fine.

CM - DLP, B2B, Mezzala AP - DLPs are more than covered and I can play both Tadic and Ziyech as Mezzalas. Martinez and Alvarez (great carrilero) can play as CMs offering a much more defensive option. Pretty much the same situation as DM. Ihattaren, Van de Beek, Tadic, Ziyech can all play in an AP role.

LM/LW - Defensive, Wide, Inverted, Playmaker - I have 2 defensive options here, with Tagliafico a useful defensive winger. Another option is Daley Blind as a wide midfielder. His mental stats help him massively here. For a wide winger we could use Neres as he is left footed with great pace/dribbling. Promes is also more of a winger (but right footed) and Ziyech is more of an inverted winger (although left footed). I would usually play overlapping full back with inverted wingers and inverted wing backs with wide wingers. I could also choose to fully overload the centre/wings. We could also use Tadic or new signing Ihattaren as wide playmakers. As a curveball I am training Huntelaar as a Raumdueter because of his high poacher stats.



RM/RW - Defensive, Wide, Inverted, Playmaker - Pretty similar to LM/LW. Promes and Dest offer right-footed wide winger options with Neres and Ziyech offering left-footed inverted winger/inside forward options. Tadic and Ihattaren offer the wide/advanced playmaker options. Mazraoui can play as a defensive winger and Alvarez has great stats for a wide midfielder.



AM - Shadow Striker, Attacking Mid, Playmaker - I have 6 players i could play here with Promes and Neres being used as shadow strikers. Neres is being re-trained here and would couple well with a false 9. Ziyech and Ihattaren are suited to the AM role and Tadic/Van de Beek suit the AP role. I like the option to ‘double up’ on each role with shadow striker being a great contrast especially.



ST - False 9, Advanced Forward, Pressing Forward, Poacher - False 9s will be used a lot in my team and both being great options for the role. For advanced forwards, I have the shadow strikers Promes and Neres ready to run in behind an opposition. My curveball here is the use of pressing forwards. I have decided to retrain Van de Beek and De Jong as pressing forwards to hound down any less technical defenders. I think Van de Beek has great stats for this role. I also have Huntelaar who has amazing stats and will be used a lot as a poacher, especially from the bench.

It's something many go into saves wanting, tactical fluidity. But I haven't seen anyone so clear with the roles they want each position to play dependent on the team they will play so I am interested to follow. Also what is interesting is your intention to manage all three teams :O
This is a very intriguing idea and a story I look forward to watching develop. Good luck!
Tactics
4231 Asymmetric (mirrored)

A balanced formation that can utilise every type of role. Great in theory but I have a feeling this will be my least used formation. Not 100% why I think that. This will be my formation for the U23s and U19s though.


My 5221 is a narrow attacking formation that could be useful against 2 striker formations and to attack teams that are weaker centrally. This would also be a good formation for keeping the ball, but I hope to remain as reactionary as possible.


My 442 seems the blandest but allows for interesting pressing shapes. The versatility of players means I can play a lot of combinations. It’s easy to add in a destructive CM, play 2x false 9s for possession, or play pressing forwards to focus on ball retention. This formation is also flexible to change (i.e. 4411, 2DMs, etc.).

Defensive 442


Attacking Wing 442


Pre-season Position Training

This is a formation I created to ensure maximum efficiency when retraining in a new position. Wouldn’t be used in a match but the friendly results are not as ad as you’d expect.

Pre-Season Training

This will give my formations higher familiarity as well as keeping the finances rolling upward with big reputation teams to play in friendlies.

Jong

This team displays the possible team that could be played. I decided against this to maintain flexibility.


I decided to loan players into the Jong team. It allows me to use players that I haven’t used before and is a cost-efficient way to create a force in the division whilst keeping a full squad in the first team.

U19s

This team is bursting with talent.
Good to get a proper insight into things and the variation of systems used.
PSV Super Cup



Personnel Changes
Play Neres as an advanced forward against Schwaab (16 acceleration vs 9)
Play Alvarez CM to man-mark Thomas, a playmaker with 16 off the ball + other good stats
Play Van de Beek as a DLP for space against 4141 and to play more directly
Play Mazraoui as an IWB at RB as their left side has a defensive winger and a full back
Play Veltman and Blind CB to match with technical but slow Mitroglou

To Counter Vertical Tiki-Taka
Defending as compact as possible but pressing with the highest intensity
Play a high line against a slow but potent Mitroglou (helps compactness)
Stand-off with a low line of engagement against very technical CBs (helps compactness)
Play a narrow defence against defensive and inverted wingers as well as 4141 vertical tiki-taka (helps compactness)
Play more directly to make use of the Neres/Schwaab pace mismatch and high VTT line

Pressing Style
Have Tadic man-mark the DM to create a slightly asymmetric 4411 pressing shape
This will leave the No-Nonsense LCB to receive the ball
PSV's more threatening right side will be almost fully marked
When the press is triggered, any ball back to the GK will more likely be on his weaker left side (GK is Right-Only)


Result


Neres as an AF was the main difference in my eyes, constant threat, 2 goals 1 assist
Donny made 9 key passes in the game, 9.1 PoM
Nearly every change had a clear positive effect
I couldn't see a direct benefit from the IWB but hard to judge the true impact

I also made a video (too many images) that goes some way to explain my choices/results (12 mins)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmdldTLpft4

Advice/Suggestions
I’d love to know what you think… Is there anything I’ve done that you’d have done differently? Is there anything else that you look for when analysing the opposition?
Excellent result in the first competitive game and the changes you made were clearly beneficial. Good start!
Well, that's a cracking start!

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