X-Wing - Experimental Imperial Lists

As the new year approaches I am looking to get some more X-Wing matches in. Late last year I really started to get into the Star Wars miniatures gaming scene but I didn't manage to get in as many games as I personally would have liked, I want to change that this year. I know that there are a lot of "Meta" lists out there but since I am just starting out I would rather avoid these and try out a number of different ships and upgrade cards just to see how they work and what sort of play style I want to try out.

One of the first ships that I picked up, outside of the starter sets, was the TIE Phantom due to my childhood memories of the Rebel Assault 2 PC game where I was first introduced to it. Nothing seemed to be more fun that hitting my opponents with a lot of red dice before disappearing back into the shadows. I guess I was quite fortunate in terms of the "Phantom Nerf" which affected a number of other X-Wing players because I never used them in the previous ruleset and therefore did not have to adjust to a new play style. While they may no longer be everyone's favourite Imperial ship any more I still think that they have something to offer and I will hopefully be able to unlock something with them.

The Phantom Menace

Whisper (37 Points)

Echo (35 Points)

Wampa (14 Points)

Black Squadron Pilot (14 Points)

So this probably isn't the most points efficient list available on the internet, and personally I want to try and fit outmaneuver on the TIEs somewhere, but it is designed to play to the my style when I previously used my TIE Phantom. Namely, jump in and shoot before disappearing. While Fire Control System could prove useful for Target Locks as the game progresses I felt that 4 extra shots from the "regular" TIEs could prove more useful as my opponent will have to at least pay attention to the two other fighters rather than solely focusing on the Phantoms, although they probably still will.

Veteran Instincts is key for the Phantoms still as they need to cloak ASAP once in the combat phase and with all of the "Aces" now becoming available even PS 8 and 9 aren't exactly fast, so I have to hope that they can hold out against the early shots and that Wampa and Black Squadron can tidy up any mess that the Phantoms leave behind.

Next up is a list that will fit in a big Imperial ship that I picked up a number of months ago which I haven't managed to use in a battle yet. It's 12 hull points should give it some staying power and the turret makes it the Imperial's only 360 degree threat. To make the most of it you have to maximise it's damage output before it is blown out of the skies.

Imperial Power "6"

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (56 Points)

2x Omega Squadron Pilot (2x 22 points)

The key thing for the Rear Admiral here is Expose. On most ships this wouldn't prove too valuable but the Decimator has no agility to lose so you are basically paying 3 points for an extra attack dice every turn. Experimental Interface allows me to kick this in as soon as I activate focus or target lock and Rebel Captive may force opponents to think twice about hitting the Decimator as no one wants to stress their "Aces" for no tangible benefit, and you won't be taking down the Decimator in a single turn, maybe not even two if I am careful. The bonus to this build is that if I sit at range 3 with RAC he can still take the 1 bonus evade dice when someone fires at him. The Decimator can bcome a really expensive ship to run, even here at more than half my points it may be too much but it has the opportunity to be effective.

Alongside the Decimator are two of the new Force Awakens TIE Fighters with two upgrades that seem to be increasingly popular online. Juke and Comm Relay combine early on to allow you to, potentially, negate one of your opponents evade results. Just keep hold of the evade dice as long as possible!

Next time I will take a look at a few of my other "Imperial Power" lists and maybe take a look at some early test results...

Football Manager 2016 - Charlton - Season 1 - Second Half Review

So the first half of the season ended with me panicking a little and abandoning my 4-5-1/4-3-3 tactic for a 4-4-1-1, although the philosophy remained pretty much intact. Keep possession, press the other team when they have the ball and hit the target. We had begun to struggle with the last statement and I hoped that the switch to 4-4-1-1 would improve matters with the addition of a shadow striker to help out the wide men who had been providing us with most of the goals.

Now, one thing I have seen being discussed on Twitter and Facebook recently but haven't discussed here is teamtalks and communication. This was partly a conscious choice because I know some people feel that these aren't major parts of the game, but also because they can be pretty dull to talk about, at least for me. When it comes to the media and speaking to players, outside of matchday interactions, I always try to remain on the calm setting. I don't trust the media to represent my best interests and not twist my words for their own benefit so if I keep an even keel then there isn't much they can do right?

Staying calm when talking to your players is also useful as it can sometimes avoid escalating a situation. That is not to say that when a situation does escalate I continue to remain calm, I always progress towards assertive if a player is trying to force their way out or into the first team, I may not always get the result I want but it would set a bad precedent if I was to back down to player demands (although sometimes I would tell a player I will give them some game time if I intended to anyway just to avoid an argument).

Finally, on matchday I tend to go for the aggressive approach to motivate my players and this generally gets a positive result. If you aren't favourites for a game, or don't have a good chance of winning, then telling your team you expect to win may not be the best approach but I always have high expectations for my teams and I like to make sure that my players know it.

A few Football Managers ago I remember reading on a forum that one manager refused to praise his team at halftime unless they were 3-0 up, anything less and he would ask to see something else in the second half or tell them that it wasn't good enough. Since reading that post many years ago I have stuck to the same formula and I would advise everyone else to do the same. I always seem to get the response I am after with my team fired up for the second half. Whether you want to tell them they weren't good enough assertively or aggressively is your call but I would urge you to give it a go just to see if it gives your team that extra boost at the start of the first half.

So there you go, a quick 5 minute pep-talk on communication in Football Manager and hopefully there will be some tips in there that will help take your team to the next level, now on with the show!

January Tranfer Window

It was a pretty quiet window for Charlton in January 2016, we only had 4 arrivals and one of those was a youth player. Anthony Gerrard had been someone I had been watching for a month or two as an experienced backup CB but I had to make room for him in our budget before I could bring him in. To do this I sold off two malcontents.

First up was Alou Diarra. Alou had come into pre-season as one of my first choice CBs and if it had not been for an injury in the week before our first game I have no doubt it would have been a different story for the two of us. Unfortunately that injury put him out for a month and a half and by the time he had recovered Patrick Bauer and Naby Sarr had established themselves as the first choice CB pairing at Charlton. Usually you could expect an experienced player to accept a reduced role later in their career but maybe it was because I am an inexperienced manager, or Alou that has an extremely high opinion of himself, that Alou decided he was going to take me on about this.

The chat didn't go well and the majority of the dressing room turned against him with no chance of reconciliation. By the time December had rolled round I was using two youth players, Ezri Konsa and Elan Assiana, as my backup CBs and I knew that any long term injury to either Patrick or Naby could have dire consequences for our season. This is where Anthony Gerrard came into the equation, with his contract at Shrewsbury coming to an end in January I knew I had the perfect back up available to me and I was quickly able to find a taker for Alou that freed up the wages I needed and also got the headache out of the building.

The second malcontent that I had to deal with was Reza Ghoochannejhad. Reza had been out on loan in Kuwait last season and came back expecting a place in the first team. Unfortunately for him Tony Watt had proven himself as the perfect option for the Inside Forward role on the left wing and there was no way Johann Berg Gudmundsson was going to drop out of the team on the right wing, barring injury. Once again I had a sit down with the player and it became clear that there would be no middle ground for us to meet in so I looked for a team Reza could join. There was quite a bit of interest from the continent but most wanted to sign him when his contract was up at the end of the year and he wasn't interested in waiting that long. Thankfully PAOK came in with an offer for him and he was happy to leave.

This lead to me making possibly the best signing of the season on the final day of the transfer window. Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Make a note of that name everybody because I can see big things happening for him in the future. Jeff could play any of the attacking positions in my new formation, and the 4-3-3, but he quickly made the Shadow Striker role his own. In fact, he completely changed my view of the role as for most of his time with Charlton in 2016 he was more of a provider than a goalscorer. Although his goals/assist numbers were identical this did not take into account all of the key passes he contributed for other players.

I also added a further defender to my numbers just to make sure we had additional cover, this also allowed me to loan out my young CBs to get some first team experience of their own. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a young CB from Manchester United who has decent potential but a couple of early games where he struggled meant that I didn't quite have the faith in him to play a major role in defence for me and so he had to settle for 4th choice CB. Not that he complained once which I found very impressive for a young player out looking for first team games.

The rest of my transfers were youth players going out on loan to get some first team experience of their own. Nothing too major to report here, but they all made some sort of progress while out on loan and I expect that there will be a similar story next season.


As I changed tactics at the halfway point of the season I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the changes I have made. Looking now I have realised that the two Centre Back roles are not what I was using during the season. These should be just simple Central Defenders set on Defend. As you can see I have stuck to the single pivot defensive scheme (2x CD and DM on Defend and a FB on Support).

In midfield it is all change, despite the Box To Box midfielder being my best midfielder in the 4-3-3 he has disappeared in this tactic making way for the Shadow Striker in AM. The two Inside Forwards have changed to Wide Midfielders on Attack which means that they will still get forward in support of attacking play, but hopefully contribute some more to the defensive side of the game as well. The only constant in the tactic is the CM Attack. I found this to be a well balanced role for what I needed in the middle of the park. He would get the ball around the edge of the box in attack but get back and put in the tackles when we lost the ball.

Finally up front, the False Nine is still there to drop back and link midfield and attack. My intention was that the Shadow Striker would take advantage of the space created by the False Nine, instead the role turned into more of a provider role, linking play more than the False Nine on many occasions. This freed up my False Nine to actually start scoring some more goals which had been a problem with the role in the 4-3-3, although the two IFs had more than made up for it during the first half of the season.

I will be taking a closer look at some of the tactics I have used in a later post, I don't think it will be the "go to" tactical post for FM16 as I will still be making some amendments to it as my save progresses. Additionally I don't know nearly enough about the match engine or the roles in the game to claim to be a tactical expert just yet!


So onto the first set of results, and maybe my panicked move to a 4-4-1-1 was justified as it brought with it a month of positive results, although not another Manager of the Month curse. The highlight of the month for the fans and myself had to be the FA Cup 4th Round result against Fulham. Honestly, by the end of the season I think Fulham were happy to see the back of me as we turned them over each game and each result was as lopsided as the one before it.

However, playing against Fulham did allow me to pick up on one player who would become a major transfer target for me over the summer. Moussa Dembele. No, not the Belgian player from Spurs, this young teenager is French and a product of the PSG youth academy. I don't know what Fulham were doing wrong with him as he didn't seem to have that many great stats, but looking at his attributes I could see there was an awful lot of potential there!

Here is a quick look at the 4-4-1-1 tactic against Fulham. As you can see the False Nine is the most advanced player with the Shadow Striker falling in just behind him as the midfield/attackers link. Both wingers are now more reserved but offering a decent attacking threat with the ball.

Also offering a nice option on the right is the fullback, who is far more advanced than his left sided counterpart. I felt that this was key to point out as I have seen a number of tactics out there with two attacking fullbacks. If you are not compensating for this in Defensive Midfield then you will leave your two Centre Backs badly exposed.

Finally, there is a nice, high defensive line. The more I have played FM16 the more I have felt that a high defensive line is far more effective than a deeper defensive line. While I understand the benefits of a deeper defensive line for me they just don't seem to work, maybe it is the more attacking mentalities that I use but I think I will be sticking to higher defensive lines going forwards!

Anyway, January was a very good month for us as it allowed me to firmly establish us a favourites for promotion, stretching our lead at the top to the point where we would no longer relinquish our grip on it.


So February was not as successful as January and allowed the rest of the crowd to catch up on us a bit at the start of the month before we began to pull away at the top again.

The Manchester United result wasn't too much of a surprise in the FA Cup 5th Round, but I felt we held our own for the majority of the game. The first half finished 0-0, but United came out of the blocks fast and hit us with an early goal, but they didn't add the second until late in the game where I decided to push it and see if we could get an equaliser and a second big money tie up at Old Trafford, but it wasn't to be.

Looking at the only defeat of the month in the league the only thing I can think to say is that we should have won more of the tackles we tried to make. Honestly, we dominated this game from start to finish and the match facts support this. But we gave away some stupid set pieces around our area and we were punished for it. I'd like to think that if we played this game again we could have picked up more than 1 goal, but I laid down the law to the players after the game and I think the boot up the a** was just what they needed to finish off this season on a high.

March - Manager of the Month... Again

March started with another game against Fulham, and another resounding victory. Fulham fans must have hated me by this point, their season had not been going well and every time they faced my Charlton team must have just rubbed salt in the wounds. Maybe they could take some solace in the fact that every other team that faced us suffered some pretty tough results, with the exception of Middlesborough who held us to a single goal.

I have to admit I was glad to beat Middlesborough after they turned us over 3-2 in the first half of the season, and it was another emphatic performance from the boys in Red as we dominated practically every stat that counted. The fact that Middlesborough failed to register a single shot on target is something that I am very happy about. If my opponents are not hitting the target then they will not be winning!

April/May - Curse of the Manager of the Month Award?

Combining the last two months of the year hear, well there was only one game in May, and it was at this point that we finally tied up the title! We had the chance to do it against QPR but the occasion got to the players. Looking back the reason for this was probably the lack of experienced players in the side and knowing what I know now this is something I should have addressed over the summer. Thankfully it didn't cost us everything and we were able to get the result we needed against Derby seven days later.

With the result tied up I decided to run out some of the youngsters who I wanted to develop for the future so that they would get their first taste of first team action with Charlton. They didn't do too badly, picking up two wins and two drawers but I am glad that I didn't have to rely on them too much during the season in full.

I am also glad to report that the curse of the manager of the month award didn't hit me this time around, which has so often been the case. I think the players were so well established within my system this time that any adjustments made by the AI were inconsequential. That or the curse is just in my head and doesn't really exist which is probably the more likely of the two.

The two teams that joined me in the Premiership were Hull and Ipswich. This was probably a fair reflection of the whole season as it had been mainly Hull and Ipswich that had pressed me for first from start to finish. QPR did make a late burst for automatic promotion as Hull fell away slightly, but an injury to Charlie Austin before the playoffs meant that their main attacking threat was gone and they were no match for the "Tigers".

At the other end of the table, Fulham and Birmingham had looked like they were gone since pretty much January although they kept fighting until the bitter end. I was surprised to see Leeds join them as I thought Bolton would be the third team in the relegation zone, but the financially threatened club managed to survive while Leeds' instability at the boardroom level may have cost them.

End of Season Awards

I guess that it is somewhat unsurprising that I picked up the Manager of the Year award for the 2015/2016 season having taken a team that most thought would just about get a mid-table spot up as champions, but it is always nice to get recognition. I guess that there isn't much else to say about it, I am very happy with the 63% win ratio and it gives everyone something to build on for next year.

Perhaps more surprising is that Charlton only contributed 4 starters to the Championship Players' Team of the Year. I think there must have been some sort of bias in the voting as neither Chris Solly nor Jordan Cousins even made it among the substitutes and both were integral to our league winning team. That Sam Byram of Leeds was in the starting lineup is something of an upset, a -24 goal difference and 24 defeats and a defender makes it into the team?

Winning the Championship "Golden Boot" was our very own JBG from right wing, beating Abel Hernandez of Hull by one goal (it would have been sickening for him to win it with goals in the playoffs). Of course this doesn't recognise all of the other contributions JBG made to the team over the season, with 13 assists in the league and countless key passes JBG was the linchpin of our team and was very deserving of recognition from the league.

And to reiterate that point, JBG also picked up the Player of the Year award.

Awards at the club were somewhat less controversial, JBG picked up the Fans Player of the Season award with Jordan Cousins picking up the Young Player award, and second place in Player of the Season. Tony Watt was a surprising choice as goal of the season as Simon Makienok scored a great overhead kick and JBG had a great volley from outside the area early in the season, but Tony's goal was special, with a great run cutting Bristol City apart before calmly slotting past the keeper into the far corner.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide was considered signing of the season and I think this is a fair assessment as my signings were quite reserved in my first year at Charlton but Jeff was something special. He made our switch to 4-4-1-1 more dynamic, providing a number of key passes and assists before finishing the season by making a number of goalscoring contributions. There is no way I can sign him from Arsenal on a permanent deal as I just can't see them letting him go, but hopefully I will be able to loan him for my first season in the Premiership.

Well I guess that is it for our first season, I could go into more detail about the end of season reviews etc but I think it would get a tad boring and repetitive this year so I will leave it here.


Football Manager 2016 - Charlton - Season 1 - First Half Review

So, now that you have met everybody I think that it is time we get down to the good stuff! I won't be covering pre-season as I don't feel that there is much of interest that happens in terms of reporting back. We played some games, fine tuned some tactics and decided on a starting lineup for the first game.

Here we are, another new manager has walked through the doors of The Valley, the sixth (although one of the previous managers wasn't even in charge of one game) manager of Roland Duchatelet's reign as owner. If there isn't to be a number seven in the near future then we will need to hit the ground running, unfortunately the budget is pretty non-existent and what little I do have is spent recruiting new staff to help me with my task.

The CEO and I sit down to discuss the owner's vision for the club and we find some common ground, so at least I will be starting off on the right foot! The owner would like us to develop our own young players and bring in young players for the first team. I may bring in one or two older players to help the youngsters along but one of the appeals of the job is being able to develop the next generation of superstars. Unfortunately I am told that there just isn't the money to upgrade our youth facilities at this time so we will have to work with what we have. The CEO also tells me that the goal for the season is a very modest mid-table finish. I am happy to go along with this as it means that I should be able to over-achieve and prove to the board that I need to stay around longer than my one year contract.

My squad are a fairly determined bunch, but there are one or two with a lax attitude towards training, I will get them to pull their weight or they will be out of the door! Most seem pretty happy with the idea of a mid-table finish and I decide not to push it with them, no point upsetting your players on the first day. You can meet some of the key players here.


Tactically I decide to set us up to hit teams hard and fast. I based the tactic on the Germans at the 2014 World Cup, fast transition play up to the top 3 who look to get in behind the defence with midfielders making late runs and offering support outside the box.

I tend to keep my tactics balanced in terms of roles, ignoring the goalkeeper, I go for 3 defend roles, 3/4 support roles and 3/4 attack roles. In this case the two centre backs and defensive midfield are set to the defend roles, with the two fullbacks and support creating a single pivot. Up next we have a box to box midfielder on a support role. He will be making late runs into the box but also pulling his weight in defence, Jordan Cousins is the perfect player for this role in my opinion, relentless energy and enough technical ability to pull off any number of roles on the pitch.

Alongside him is a central midfielder with an attack role. He will be getting forward to help boost the numbers in the box, and keep the ball there, when we are attacking. I also hope that he will be able to harass any deep lying midfielders in defence. There are one or two players who could play this role for me, but no candidates that really jump off the page, with a lack of funding we will have to make do and see if we can develop any of the younger players to really make it their own.

Up front are my attacking three. Two inside forwards with attack duties who will look to cut inside more and exploit any space the false 9 creates by dropping deeper in his support role. I don't expect too many goals from the false 9 but the inside forwards should have an abundance of opportunities to score.

I am quite flexible during the game with my team instructions, changing the mentality from Counter to Control depending on the situation. I also change the team instructions throughout the game as well. As my centre backs are not the fastest in the world for particularly quick strikers I will have a deeper defensive line who don't play an offside trap, forcing strikers to play closer to my defensive midfielder, although my preference is to squeeze the play in the middle with a high defensive line and offside trap.

I like to make sure my team are set up as wide as possible to stretch the opposition and create the space needed for devastating counter attacks, I also set the passing to more direct and the tempo to higher for the fastest possible transition. If a team is sitting deeper against us then I switch to a control mentality with shorter passing. I have found that Football Manager 2016 is all about tweaking your tactic to make the most of your opponents weaknesses.

With this in mind I also switch between exploiting the flanks or exploiting the middle. If a team is particularly aggressive on the wings then it would be foolish to work through the middle when there is so much space for me to take advantage of outside then, just as they are moving across to cover that threat, I whip in an early cross to exploit the room they have just vacated.

If my opponent doesn't give me this opportunity on the wings, by making sure that they have enough players out wide, then I will exploit my extra players in the middle. But to prevent us getting bogged down here I will tell my players to look for the overlapping fullbacks, once again exploiting the space that my initial instruction has created. But the key thing to remember here is that you don't have to stick to one of these ideas for 90 minutes! Chop and change, keep your opponent off balance as the AI will adapt to what you are trying to do quickly. Slow down the tempo and have some more deliberate build up for 15 minutes and just as the AI starts to creep up to squeeze this sort of play switch to a fast, hard hitting direct style of football with their defence marooned up by the halfway line!

So, with the tactics covered it is time to look at the games, starting with August!


What a start to the season, Derby and Wolves managed to really cause us problems defending but no one else did, and just look at all those goals we have scored! Even my younger players got in on the act in the Capital one cup. Really I could not have asked for a better start to my Charlton Athletic career, and I received the dreaded manager of the month curse as my reward from the football league!

Taking a closer look at some of the games we can see if the tactic is working as I would like.

First up is the Derby game. There is some cause for concern here, I have only created one clear cut chance and less than half of my shots are on target, really you want to be aiming for at least 50% on target each game.

Additionally, Derby created 4 clear cut chances to my one! It looks like we pulled off a bit of a miracle here if I am being perfectly honest, but I also expected us to struggle. Derby are one of the big hitters in this division boasting attacking options such as Darren Bent and Tom Ince, whose contracts I could dream of affording right now. I tried to counter their threat by getting my defence to sit deeper and dropping the offside trap as I know this is something that Bent and Ince would likely exploit.

Unfortunately, sitting so deep seems to have created a number of opportunities for them to get shots away and on a better day I expect we would have lost this game.

Next we have the Nottingham Forest game. Another of the heavy hitters but this time we were more than a match for them. We just about reached the golden 50% on target mark but created 4 clear cut chances this time. We were also much better at passing this time, completing 100 more than against Derby, and nearly 100 more than Forest.

Tackling wise we were a bit all over the place, but thanks to our positioning we limited Forest to only two shots on target, less than 20% of their total shots! Results like this hopefully conclude that the tactic is working, but there is still work to do!

Finally we have the Wolves game, a more balanced affair, we created more clear cut chances but we were not hitting the target 50% of the time. Again, our passing numbers were impressive, as were the number of headers won but our average rating was not that much higher than our opponents which would suggest that something wasn't working.

I should have checked the prozone stats, but in all honesty I could not figure out where to find them! (I have corrected that now)

This was the heat map against Wolves. We are very narrow and I really should have been looking to exploit the middle a lot more, or asking the fullbacks to push forward a bit more to create the overlaps on the wing. It's also somewhat concerning to me that there are those green areas so close to the edge of my own box, sitting deeper is creating to much play near my own goal and I should have rectified this sooner.

I should also have changed my defensive midfielder to a different role I feel. At this moment in time I think he was a halfback but a simple DM would have been more effective.

Here we are without the ball, well the defensive players, far too deep for my liking especially "3" the DM. If only I had looked at this sooner then I could have changed things and avoided the pain that was to come. (foreshadowing!)

Oh well, I am a new manager on FM 2016, we can put it all down to the learning curve and I will improve as time goes on!

Let's move on to a quick look at the transfer window before we move into September.

Transfer Window

As I mentioned, we didn't have much of a budget to play with so all of my early transfer dealings are free agents. Most of them you have probably never heard of, this is due to the fact that they are all very young players, with the exception of Stefano Botta and Stephen Kelly who were brought in as experienced players to add depth to the first team.

Kelly will be my back up right back, allowing Tareiq Holmes-Dennis to go out on loan and get some first team football under his belt. Stefano Botta was a recommendation from one of my scouts and a great addition to my CM stable. Able to cover all of my CM roles he spent most of his time in the CM attack role.

With the other players Menzo and Lefevre are two young strikers who I decided to give a chance and see if I can develop their potential. I don't believe either will be near the first team this year but I will hopefully send them out on loan and see how they develop.

Cinquegrana is an Italian midfielder and looks to have all of the necessary attributes to start developing into a really good attack minded midfielder. I spent some time developing him in the Under-21 squad before sending him out on loan to get some experience of English football.

Finally there is Lionel M'pasi. A young French goalkeeper who spent most of the season on the bench for my Charlton team. I always find that goalkeepers are the hardest prospect to develop as I struggle to give them first team opportunities at my club, but if I loan them out then they aren't receiving the level of coaching that I have set up at the club. Pick your poison I guess, well he spent the season learning from my coaches and maybe next year I will send him out on loan to get some first team experience.

So that about wraps up my transfer dealings. Swansea came in for Ahearne-Grant but were unwilling to meet my valuation of him. I half expected to have to sit down and talk to him about staying at the club but surprisingly there was no knock at the door, I can only assume that our high league position convinced him to stick it out with us a bit longer.

September (Curse of the Manager of the Month award)

So the International window resulted in a short month in terms of games, but things were not as rosy as my first month in the job would have suggested. We went out of the cup to a lower division opponent, disappointing as I would have liked my younger players to get some more games in, and my first league defeat against Blackburn. Let's take a look at that to see if there is anything I can identify now that I should have changed back then.

So it would look like the "Counter" mentality really had an effect here. Half the shots of my opponents and 12% less possession. We were also out-passed by Blackburn which is very frustrating.

Perhaps the red card has something to do with it but we were already 2-0 down at that point. Annoyingly it doesn't look like Blackburn were playing that well either, with only a 7.12 average rating so it really came down to a bad performance from my Charlton side.

I set up with a deeper defensive line again due to the pace of Nathan Delfouneso up front for Blackburn, I wasn't as worried about Rhodes as I felt he would not be able to beat us for pace and would get stuck near the DM, but once again this left us defending far too deeply.

I mean, just look how far back we are! Gudmundsson, the Inside Forward on the right is in his own half, and although we are exploiting the right more this time I imagine that Blackburn were able to push up far more against us.

At least the defensive midfielder was able to push a bit further ahead of the centre backs this game, but he was the player that was eventually sent off.

I would also have expected Botta, as the attacking CM on the right side of midfield to be further ahead of Jordan Cousins who is a box to box midfielder so this is something that I could have changed. All in all, very frustrating.

Let's compare this to the resounding win over Huddersfield only a few days before this game.

The warning signs were there, only 33% of my shots were on target! That is an awful figure, and combine that with the missed tackles and I should have seen the problems a mile off.

I let the dominant result deceive me into thinking everything was OK. You cannot expect to win games if you are only hitting the target a third of the time. If we take a look at the heat map will it tell us a different story to the Blackburn heat map? From memory I was not worried about the Huddersfield team beating me for pace and so I was playing a higher defensive line with an offside trap...

Well there you have it, everyone is pushed up more, we are still spending most of our time in the middle of the park, with maybe a slight leaning to the right, and everything is more compressed in the middle.

Cousins is still slightly ahead of Botta which could mean that we don't have enough players in the attacking third when we have the ball. In fact, Cousins actually had more shots than Botta, not difficult when he didn't shoot at all!

In fact he didn't seem to contribute much at all, so is the CMa role redundant in this formation? There were no key passes, no shots and he isn't getting further forward than the Box to Box midfielder, I probably should have amended this role to something else where he had a better chance of affecting the game.

Finally I want to take a quick look at where my team were shooting from, just in case this would explain why there were so many shots that missed the target.

And the answer is not really... Almost every shot has come from within the 18 yard box, so I think I was right to be concerned with our inability to hit the target. At this stage I believe that I started the team on attacking training and attacking movement, just to see if we could boost the number of shots we were getting on target. I mean, you can't expect to win games if you are failing to hit the target when you are shooting from within your opponents penalty box!


Another month of varying results. A tremendous game at Fulham, followed by some rather disappointing results, with the exception of the win at Preston, but even this game should have been won by a bigger margin.

The Reading game once again saw us fail to hit the target 66% of the time in what seems to have become a trend with my Charlton team...

Overall you would say that we were the dominant team, everything seemed to be in our favour but we did not perform. The lack of shots on target really hurt us as I feel hitting the 50% mark probably would have seen us nick a draw at least which we would have deserved.

Again, the average rating for our opponents was not great, this time they didn't even break through the 7.00 barrier, but we just didn't perform to the level required to win the game and it cost us.

The heat map would seem to confirm this. The team isn't sitting too deep, we are working hard in the middle of the park and really should have taken something from the game. So where did it all go so horribly wrong?

Shooting... Too many shots from outside the box, too many off target. We created enough opportunities but we didn't take them and it cost us. Honestly I don't know what else to say, from what I can see everything was working as it should be but they just failed to take the opportunities that were presented to them.

Another month shortened by international fixtures, but it gave us the chance to regroup, and after a slow start to the month we turned it around heading into December! 

The attacking training finally paid off as we started to hit the target more often, and defensively we got back to keeping clean sheets. (FINALLY!)

I'm not going to go into all of the heat maps now as I am sure you have had enough of them by now, and you can probably predict the shape and positions of all my players based off of the results from previous months. The one thing that makes me very happy with this screenshot is that we are hitting the target more than 50% of the time again which is really important. I guess you could say that the red card for Birmingham helped us here, but it only came in the 86th minute with the result already decided, as we scored in the 7th and 54th minute!

And then we reverted to type against Ipswich. It is great that we won, don't get me wrong, but only just over 33% of our shots on target again???? Come on guys! The first half was a frustrating affair as we failed to take any chances, but a kick up the backside at halftime gave the team the drive they needed to get the result with 3 second half goals!

The final month of this post, and the last game of the month saw a change in tactics for Charlton Athletic. My assistant manager had been going on at me to change to a 4-4-1-1 for a number of months and I finally relented after a 3-2 defeat to Bristol City.

The result against Wolves was only a 1-0 victory but it saw a complete change in style. Rather than countering against my opponent we were now looking to dominate possession, unfortunately it doesn't seem to have improved our ability to hit the target with only 5 of 27 shots hitting the target!!!! Honestly, that is a pathetic conversion rate and it is no wonder that we only managed the single goal. At least we kept a clean sheet!

I will look into this tactic in more depth during the second half of the season once we really see the team get to grips with it.

I guess the only thing to do now is to show you the table at the halfway point in the season.

Top by goal difference! I will take that considering that we were predicted to be mid-table this season, although I have to admit that I am always aiming for promotion in my first season so we are just about achieving my goals this season.

Keep an eye out for the next update on my Charlton team that will appear in the near future as we push for promotion in the second half of the season.