This is my first ever story on FM-Base and I hope it's one that people will enjoy reading. I have taken up the reigns at Queens Park Rangers. So sorry Mark, I'm afraid you're out and I'm in, you're just not capable of what I hope to achieve. Now I am writing this story retrospectively, having already completed my first season with the side. My aim is to take take QPR onto world domination, so move over Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs...there's a new side in London and your going to the wayside!
At first glance, it is clear that QPR have a squad more than capable of doing well in the Premier League. Players with the quality of Julio Cesar, Esteban Granero, Djibril Cisse, Stephane Mbia shouldn't be playing for a side threatened by relegation. But, as seen in real life, spending lots of money on supposedly good players is not going to guarantee you success (as well as my dabble with QPR on the FM13 demo where after half a season I was resting in 16th position, but we won't mention that). Normally when joining a club on FM the first thing I look to do is to go through the squad and stream line it as much as possible getting rid of anybody not worthy of the shirt and I was very tempted to do this with QPR, particularly as a lot (well all) are earning a disgusting amount of money for their ability! But, taking into consideration that the squad already lacks chemistry and harmony, I avoided doing this. Coupled with the fact that as 90% of the squad is a recent signing they are less likely to the able to shift. So, my job was to come in and forge this bunch of prima donnas into a team, building up team chemistry and harmony, create a system that utilises their strengths and hides their weaknesses. But, I did make use of loans and free transfers to add to the squad without committing to players long term. Here's a look at my first season transfers:
So back to the task in hand, turning these moneybags into a team. My first thought was, well where do they spend most of their time together? Well that's obvious, on the training ground. So from day one the training emphasis was on team cohesion with high intensity, if you're earning 60k a week I'm going to make you work for it! I also set the match training focus to teamwork and as much match training as possible. Chemistry and cohesion is all well and good if you're doing it in drills and practices, but its in match play where it counts.
Next I needed to look at the squad and develop a system that looks to utilise our strengths. In previous FM's I haven't had to do too much to create a tactic that would dominate all irrespective of whether you put a few square pegs in round holes. I used an adapted version of Zero Sea's Ghost Tactic on FM11 and 12 and could win anything with anyone, given time. FM13, as I'd seen from other people's experiences on here and from my own experience on the demo, is a completely different ball game. My FM12 tactics failed miserably. Now it was time to go in more depth that ever before on FM, deeply analysing the squad's capabilities. A challenge I was looking forward to, being a football coach in real life. It had to be a system that was dynamic and fluid, having players in between the 'lines', was balanced in terms of defence/attack and possession/counter. Now, I'm a man of principle and I like to play 'good' football. So playing a long ball game was out of the question. It also had to be something that could be played in different 'modes' i.e. a a version that was more defensive and looked to counter, and a version that was more attacking, monopolising possession. It took me a while and was tweaked throughout the friendlies and the first part of the season, but here's what I came up with:
I call it the 4-2-3-1 Possession/Counter Balance. I have manipulated a lot of the individual settings on it as well. With a back four and two DMs it aims to be solid defensively. With the central 4, it is almost impossible to penetrate through the middle, unless you were to hit it long over the top, but with a D-line that doesn't push too far and two quick CBs, that is difficult. The D R/L stick with their man when defending, trying to stop him putting the cross in, but if it does, there should be 4 players looking to deal with the danger in the middle. Though, it is difficult to get rid of the cross threat altogether! When defending, the front 4 look to win the ball high up the pitch. When the ball is won, the first instinct is to hit the other team on the counter attack. This is done by either getting the ball straight to one of the tri-threat or to the AMC playmaker who will then look to play through to the tri-threat. The tri-threat consists of two typical inside forwards, who drive the ball towards goal by cutting inside and look to score or thread the ball to the ST, who stays forwards at all times and acts as a poacher and a run onto ball target man.
If the counter is not an option, then this is when the possession attack kicks in. The wing backs provide the width and will support the attack and the centre backs sit at the half way line. the DMR acting as a deep lying playmaker will sit just in front of them with the job of always providing a backward pass option to retain possession, with the DML given the licence to bomb forward and depending on where the ball is can be found anywhere between the half way line and the edge of the penalty box. The AMC typically will move the corners of the penalty box about 5/10 yards deep from it, and will check in deeper into the midfield to retain possession where necessary. The IF's look to exploit the space between the FB and the CBs with the poacher working the penalty area, never dropping deep and being a pain in the arse for the centre backs. All the while, the aim is to work a gap to put through the IF's and poacher and this is done through a short passing game at a high tempo and relatively narrow width.
Here's a look at the season and how it went:
As you can see, an amazing first season with QPR . Winning the Premier League by 8 points is an outstanding achievement and one I'm very proud of. I managed to do what I set out to do and turn these prima donnas into a team, a very good one. I had set my targets realistically as top half of the table for sure, with an outside chance of getting into Europe, but never dreamed of winning the league! Gave a great showing in the cups as well, winning the Capital One Cup and getting to the semi's of the FA Cup, so a double-winning season!
Big mentions have to go out to Stephane Mbia, he was a rock at the back, solid and dependable. Adel Taraabt's season of success came of somewhat a surprise as I thought he'd be difficult to tame. But, re-trained as an AML inside forward, he rose from the fringes when Hoilett got a serious injury, getting amongst the goals and assists and rightfully receiving the Premier League young player of the season. Esteban Granero was key to unlocking opposition defences, notching 20 assists in the premier league, the most by far by any player. Julio Cesar was exceptional at times, proving what a quality keeper. And of course, Djibril Cisse brought in the goals, despite his off days. He grabbed 22 in the premier league, one behind top scorer Shane Long. Another surprise was SWP, who performed well during a injury crisis and actually kept his place, though whether he merits £65k a week is uncertain. Across the squad, ratings were solid and I was pleased with the overall performance. But, Zamora, Park, Ferdinand and Young were all below par and will not have a place at the club next year.
This concludes the first part of my story. My next update will be once I have played a fair few games in the 2nd season and will include all my transfers, results and changes in philosophy and strategy in my attempt to repeat my great achievement in the first season. I hope you have enjoyed the read, and I will keep you updated!