Nosebleed football

An international break afterthought (and the fact that I want a distraction from reality after Sunday's calamity) , here's the follow-up to my first season as Spurs head coach over in the realm of make-believe which I can guarantee you - will never let you down.

This is exclusively for the ones addicted, like me, to the electronic DMT that is Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2014. It's fiction. I guess for those that don't dabble in the grand opus of all computer games this might serve to get your head in gear for that other fictitious ritual we all have no way of avoiding, the chase for a Champions League spot.

For the chronicles of season one, click here.

 

2014/15

Exceptions high after sailing to the title in the season before when the other top tier sides found themselves incapable of consistent form.

Main summer transfer business:

In
Robert Lewandowski - Free
Javier Pastore - £35M (structured payments - was an outcast at PSG and listed)
Ravel Morrison - £1.1M (English, nutcase, sent out on loan)
Gabriel Barbosa - £2.5M (Young kid, building for the future, striker from Santos)
James Ward-Prowse - £18 (structured, sent out on loan, wonderkid)

Out
Defoe, Livermore, Smith, Adebayor, Assou-Ekotto, Falque, Chadli, Honda (signed on a free last season sold for massive profit...Levyed).

The Premier League

Not too shabby a start to the season winning the Community Shield 2-0 against Man Utd. Three successive league wins on the bounce against 'weak' sides, the football looking as bright and bullish as the previous season. Then it goes wrong.

Lose 2-0 away to Chelsea. The fans are devastated. Win in the CL during the week, then lose 2-0 at home to CRYSTAL PALACE to a 92nd minute goal. Destroyed them statistically, couldn't stick the ball away. Fans double devastated.

Form then starts to dip.

Two wins in seven, the rest of them draws (in all comps), but four of them are in the league. Form does pick up again, but lose to the scum away and Southampton at home followed by Chelsea sticking the double on us with yet another WHL defeat. Home form this season, awful in comparison to last season fortress.

It's super tight at the top with 6 teams involved and I'm starting to lag, losing to City away, hurtful.

Form picks up in Feb with 11 straight wins in all comps. Coming alive.

It's now looking like every league game is a must win to claim a CL spot.

With five games left, I lose to Newcastle away and then Utd (top of the lot) dick me 4-0 at OT.

I go into the final game of the season having to beat Woolwich and hope Chelsea lose at home to Soton. A defeat at the Lane to the scum means I finish 5th. Woolwich, on GF can't finish above me, so celebrations in the stands no matter what.

Smashed them.

6-3. An absolute belting classic of a match. Chelsea win their game and consolidate 4th and a Champions League spot. Don't fret. Hold onto ya hat.

Utd are champions on 77 points, City on 74 then Liverpool on 71. Chelsea with 70 and grand olde Spurs on 69. Woolwich below me on 64.

Now freeze this moment and return to it with much irony later.

Nosebleed football.

Nosebleed football.

Realistic match-engine.

Realistic match-engine.

Ah, 5th spot. How I know you so well.

Ah, 5th spot. How I know you so well.

Playing Gengen pressing. 10th place in work rate? Must be a reporting bug.

Playing Gengen pressing. 10th place in work rate? Must be a reporting bug.

Europe

Over in the CL, my form was a lot different, a lot more consistent than the league. I had make changes to my tactics - not to the structure of the formation, but player responsibilities had to be adapted as I found I was losing way too much possession in the middle even though in my first season I was averaging up to 60% in games. Add to it the fact that Soldado (top scorer last season) was suffering from rotten form and Lewandowski hardly on fire - it was a struggle to get goals early on in the season. At least it started out that way...

The tactical changes involved mixing it from having two traditional wingers to having Lamela as an inside forward and Pastore as a defensive winger (to come into the middle to hassle and win the ball back). This was a master-stroke that took effect gradually over 15-20 games.

In the middle of the park, both player roles were set to 'ball winning midfielders' - meaning they constantly worked to press and win the ball then lay it off into offensive areas or pass to the flanks or Eriksen in the advanced playmaker number 10 role. Defensively also tinkered with having one 'stopper' and one 'cover' so that one pushed further up to pressure the opposing sides most forward player and the other covered back just in case. It isn't yet perfect, especially with the high line.

But these changes were instrumental in getting the side back into contention.

Qualified out of the group stages of the CL beating Benfica, Napoli and Young Boys.

Beat Juventus 5-2 away then somehow managed to lose 3-0 at home, but got through on the away goals. I blamed the expectancy of the crowd making the players nervous. I like to keep things true to life.

Then faced Barcelona in the QF. This game was the epitome of the tactical changes I had made to rejuvenated the team. Played them off the park in terms of possession and shots on goal. Actually believed at this point the CL was winnable. 3-1 at the Lane. 2-1 defeat at the Camp.

Semi-final against Bayern. 2-2 away in the first leg. 1-1 in the second leg. Win on away goals.

Now brace yourselves. In the other semi-final Woolwich beat Dortmund. OMG, ALL NLD FINAL. THIS COULD BE HEAVEN OR THIS COULD BE HELL.

So after beating the scum 6-3 in the league, the next game was the CL Final. Now claw back that irony from the end of the Prem review early in this article and you have Chelsea waiting, hoping we lose so they can hold onto 4th spot and claim CL qualification. That's the sort of thing that's happened before in another strange bizzaro alternate universe.

From the Olympiastadion, Berlin

Capoue 3rd min Spurs 1 Woolwich 0
Pastore 9th min Spurs 2 Woolwich 0
Lewandowski 50th min Spurs 3 Woolwich 0
Griezmann 57th min Spurs 3 Woolwich 1
Griezmann 61st min Spurs 3 Woolwich 2
Lewandowski 68th min Spurs 4 Woolwich 2

Epic.

Boom!

Boom!

Proper battle too. Eight Spurs players on yellow cards + five gooners.

Chelsea into the Europa. 'ave it.

To add the celebrations, won the FA Cup again this time beating Forest 3-1 in the final. Had beaten Liverpool in the semi-final (4-1) taking revenge on them for knocking me out of the Capital Cup at the semi-final stage.

End of season, it gets even better....Wenger retires. But Laudrup takes over. Half a sad face it is then. Or have a smiling face if you prefer.

2 seasons. 5 trophies. No leaning out of a car window.

2 seasons. 5 trophies. No leaning out of a car window.

Player stats

Lewandowski only managed 8 goals in 31 league games but notched 26 overall in 38 games - was superb and sublime in the CL.

Soldado also with 8 goals in the league, 15 overall - I'm wondering if Lewandowski's arrival and the fact I rotated impacted both players initially. Both of them picked up form towards middle to end of season.

Dream team.

Dream team.

It was all about the Argentines and the Dane.

Pastore with 9 goals in 35 league games, 15 overall with 10 assists. Lamela killing it with 16 goals in 35 league games and 22 overall with 13 assists.

Eriksen again the main man with 28 assists. Named FWA Footballer of the Year for the second season running. Lamela picking up the PFA Player of the Year award, also for the second successive time.

Onwards to season 3. Reclaiming the League title the priority.