DCU|FM Challenge, Part XII - Aftermath & Autopsy

So what went wrong?

Not terribly much if you consider my expectations going in. I made a bunch of pre-season changes and expected that it would take awhile for them to bed in. I fully expected to suffer the first third of the season, start to play well through the summer, get clothes-lined by the Champions' League congestion, and make a decent playoff run.

Mission accomplished?

It took us a while to get going, but we did better than I expected early on. When it all came together in the late summer, I was shocked at how well we were playing. The defense suddenly tightened up, we couldn't stop scoring, and the wins just kept coming, regardless of the opposition. My expectations were raised, perhaps fatally.

We peaked too soon and hit the roadblock at precisely the wrong time. If that stretch of five games in twelve days comes a little earlier, then I think we have time to recover before the playoffs. Unfortunately, I think that stretch stole the form from a couple of key players. That, combined with being too dependent on a streaky lone striker, hurt us in the post-season.

Our best team?

Over the last stretch Sosa was starting to settle and displaced Szetela, and Habarugira only came into his own in the late summer, with Wallace being the left back for most of the season. The supporters' best XI was as listed above, but with Wallace at left back. They picked Boswell as their player of the year, and I'd be tempted to agree, though Camara, Simms, Vavá, and Rogers would be strong rivals in my mind.

For those interested, the tactics I used were basically my adaptation of a Dutch-style 4-3-3 with a few tweaks. I started with the basic 4-2-3-1 Deep provided by the game, tweaked the passing to be more direct and the pressing to be higher. I used the "rigid" philosophy as I didn't want players wandering aimlessly about. We were more the clockwork Ajax of the 90's than free-flowing total footballers of the 70's, letting the ball, rather than individual flair, do the damage.

The defenders and goalkeepers were generally on their default orders, though one or both of my centerbacks were designated "ball-playing" types when I expected to control possession and my opponents to sit deep. The holding pair were also usually on default orders, though sometimes I gave Szetela "deep-lying playmaker" orders and Simms an "anchor man" role if the opposition featured a deadly playmaker. The wingers were given "winger" orders to keep them on the touchline and pressuring fullbacks, save for when were were counterattacking, when they became "defensive wingers". The middle two attackers were usually on their defaults, allowing them to interchange, the striker often dropping deep as the attacking mid rushed into space.

In-game, I usually started by telling the guys to maintain possession and work the ball into the box. At home, we generally took an attacking strategy if we were favored. If were were heavily favored, I went with control, and if the odds were even or in the opponent's favor, I played standard until I got a feel for how the game was progressing. On the road, we started standard if slightly favored or on even odds. If we were underdogs, I went with the counter, and if were were heavy favorites, I usually attacked from the start to try and rock them back before settling into the counter.

Our corner routines were nothing special, just one center back on the keeper, the other attacking the near post, the striker attacking far post, and the defensive holding mid attacking from deep. The fullbacks and the supporting holding mid stayed back, while the two attacking mids who weren't taking corners (one of them usually was) were lurking outside the box looking for scraps.

In the final reckoning, our leaders were:

Appearances: Boswell, Rogers, and Camara all appeared in 38 matches, though Boswell started all but two of his to rack up the most minutes played.

Goals: Camara had 23 in all competitions, Vavá 9, Moreno 9, Boswell 7, Rogers 5, and Quaranta 5. All others had below 5, though Pontius gets a shout for his 4.

Assists: Rogers led the way in assists with 12, while Vavá racked up 9 in a half-season, Quaranta and Camara both chipped in with 9 as well, and Habarugira, despite only making 21 appearances, mostly as a defender, laid on 6.

Man of the Match: Camara took home MotM honors 7 times, while Boswell won 4, and Quaranta 3.

Passing Accuracy: Simms connected on 84% of his passes (and no, they weren't all backwards or lateral, he did have three assists).

Tackles: Simms led the way at 2.45, with Sosa at 2.33 the only close competition.

Dribbles: Rogers strolled with 4.35, with Quaranta at 3.50 and Pontius at 3.20 in distant second and third.

Shots on Target: Camara led the way at 53%, though Boswell and (shocker!) Fred were close seconds at 52%.

Yellow Cards: Namoff led the dubious way with 6, while Szetela amassed 5, and Simms and Quaranta both had 4. (We finished third in the fair play standings behind Dallas and the Crew.)

Red Cards: Sosa and Olsen each had one. That's it.

Average Rating: Boswell led the way at 7.26, Vavá a close second at 7.23, and the surprising Habarugira third on 7.16.


I'm disappointed that the only thing we have to show for the season is the Supporters' Shield, even if I didn't expect it when I started this journey. We got about as far as I would have expected in the playoffs, though it feels disappointing to have had such a dominating season, only to go home before the big dance, sort of like Columbus did this past year. On the positive side, the only expectations Payne set for me were qualification for the quarterfinals of the Champions' League, and we achieved that. He expected a mid-table finish in the league as well, and I certainly delivered more. Of course, he then tried to lowball me by extending my current contract at the same dollar figure. I, naturally, laughed in his face and demanded a raise. When he regretfully said he couldn't, I rejected the offer. I'm still locked up through 2010, and I do plan to continue this game, so we'll see if he can find some change in the sofa or petition Uncle Will or something.

Perhaps I'll post less-extensive updates as it goes, and we'll see what the next year brings for my DC United. Also, stay tuned next week as one of your own takes up the burden of the DCU|FM Challenge here on FBF...

Vamos (Virtual) United!


Think I'm making a mess of this? Grab a copy of Football Manager 2010and have a go yourself. Then write it up and post it to your own blog or send me a copy and I might post it here on FBF...

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  1. I don't know if you were following Run of Play's FM2010 saga with Pro Vercelli, but I followed it from start to finish and enjoyed every installment. Similarly, I really like what's going on here--especially the kind of insight it provides about your 'ideal' United. Personally, I don't have the patience to deal with all the intricate nuts and bolts, so I'm no good at FM2010 myself, but I really enjoy seeing how others do it.

    Keep it coming, please!

    Also: what's the transfer budget look like? And how many draft picks do you have? Time for some new blood?

  2. To be honest, while the formation is pretty close to what I'd like to play as a manager, getting the talent to play things as short and quick as I'd like would really be a struggle given my lack of a transfer budget and the salary cap. Of course, I guess realism would make my "ideal United" similarly distinct from my "ideal team."

    I'm currently in pre-season 2010 with my United. We had one pick each in the second, third, and fourth rounds (I traded away the first rounder a while back), and while the third and fourth rounder probably won't amount to much, the second rounder (a South African 19-year-old who can play on both sides of defense) might have a future.

    I traded Fred away to Chicago for Nyarko (understudy for Camara), and am trying to wring out a deal for more attacking depth on the flanks. The problem I'm running into is too many international players, so I'm hoping somebody will make me a trade offer so I can get a couple more. If not, the waiver wire looms.

    I don't know how extensive my updates will be going forward, since the point of the post series was really to try my hand at the 2009 schedule, but I'll probably post an addendum from time to time...

  3. A very enjoyable read - thanks for doing this. And while I'm interested to see how your success continues next season with this squad, I think I'd be even more interested in seeing how you would manage the 2010 DC United roster (maybe with just a few minor changes?). A season-long weekly feature would definitely be appointment reading, at least for me.

    I've got a couple other conclusions that DCU can relate to, in terms of our actual needs:
    1. An attacking left winger (Rogers in your case, but maybe Castillo can fill the same role in real life)
    2. A talented veteran central defender to pair with Jakovic (Boswell in your case)
    3. A central attacking midfielder (Vava was excellent)
    4. A streaky striker to replace Emilio (well I'd rather he not be as streaky as Camara...)
    5. With Claudio Lopez currently in contract negotiations with the Wizards, maybe we could actually trade for him!

  4. Primarily, I was looking for:

    (1) speed and technical ability in attack (Rogers, Vava, Camara, Lopez...not that the latter did much damage for me)

    (2) reliable presences at the back (Boswell and the sudamericanos in net)

    (3) strength and nastiness in the center of midfield (Sosa)

    The real-life FO is starting to put similar pieces together, which gives me some hope.

    As for a 2010 edition of the Challenge, I'd be completely up for it if somebody (SI or otherwise) made a patch to add the Union to the league (they're in the game, just not the league) and update player movement/status.

    For example, if I started with the current patch, Olsen would be retiring at the end of 2009 and Camara would have started the game with Sheffield United rather than being available on a free transfer.

    I could make the changes myself using the wonderful new editor, but frankly, I'm not at a point in my life where I'd spend the requisite 5-6 hours doing so. SI may issue another patch after the winter transfer window, but that probably won't account for much of the MLS player movement that's bound to happen in February/March.

    Still, if the updates were available at the start of the season...