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.



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