Well it’s been a mixed bag of results to baptise my career in Mexico. And after 10 games we quite are quite literally the definition of inconsistent. Here is our form from day one: DWLWLDWLWD. No back to back losses, draws or wins. I can honestly say I think this is a first for me and my FM career. We currently sit in 6th position on 15 points, just 5 above 13th place.
In the 3rd game of the season against Necaxa we got well and truly FM’d. 18 shots, 10 on target and an xG of 1.50 vs 2 shots, 1 on target and an xG of 0.09 somehow saw us lose the game 1 – 0. After this the players were hammered on chance conversion in training which had an impact as we won the subsequent game against Pumas 3 – 1 with Adebayor scoring his 3rd of the season. We then lost to FC Juarez who again had only one shot on target. This time you could argue it wasn’t as bad as the Necaxa result as they also had 11 shots but it was clear to me our Goalkeeper wasn’t good enough. With the league regulations of having a maximum of 10 I made the decision at the start of the season to not register our non Mexican born but slightly better goalkeeper in order to facilitate the use of non Mexican born Hurtado. This proved to be a mistake.
Having a look over the data there are some alarming things that have now come to light. To begin with, out attacking efficiency scatter graph tells us our shooting so far this season is wasteful. So our shooting thus far has been of very low quality and very wasteful which without looking at team instructions you’d think we are instructing the lads to shoot on sight. This is not the case, however it may be worth working the ball into the box going forward to improve this side of our game. This data is interesting however as we currently sit top of the xG table but we’re being told our chance creation is of poor quality. Our tempo is quite high so it may be worth slowing that down ever so slightly also.
Our passing has also been very poor. Fewer, inaccurate passing is what the scatter graph tells us. We pass less than the average team and we complete less passes than the average team. Again this may be due to our tempo of play and we will bring this down going forward. As we play without wingers it might also be worth playing short passes as the players should don’t often have to spray the ball out wide to find a player in space.
Adebayor started the season well with 3 goals in 3 games. He hasn’t scored then and is very inconsistent. A player clearly in decline which should be no surprise as his move to Pachuca is clearly a swan song for him but as things stand he won’t be going out in a blaze of glory. Nicolas Ibanez has only managed 2 goals in 6 appearances and is a player who takes up a non Mexican born slot in the registration, as does Adebayor, which leads me to think if they doubt improve under a new system they may have to be dropped in order for new faces to come in. Ibanez z can be sent back to his parent club but Adebayor may kick up a fuss, and as luck would have it his contract has been automatically extended after playing ten league games this season.
We’re thin on the ground for centre backs, and we’ve had to remove Gustavo Cabral from the registration form in order to Restore Oscar Ustari in goal as Carlos Monero is simply not good enough. Therefore we will go forward with a 4 at the back instead of 3 and set up with a 4 3 1 2 formation, keeping the shadow striker behind two strikers and utilising the Carillero role in the midfield.
Our first game with the new system and it has had an immediate impact. A 3 nil win at home to Atletico San Luiz in a comprehensive display. Adebayor popped up with a hat trick and seemed to have more chances once we instructed the lads to pass into space. Good runs were being made into the box with the player in possession not finding that pass, one to keep our eye on going forward.
So after 14 games, we have finally managed to win 2 games back to back! In any other league this would be lower half of the table form but here in Mexico a run of inconsistent results sees us in 4th position. Now the top 4 in the league automatically qualify for the quarter final as opposed to the preliminary round so it’s on us to finish in the top 4, we have 2 games of the opening stage to cement that position, however Toluca are 5th with a game in hand and just one point behind.
Since the change in system our front two are now firing the goals in. Adebayor has notched 6 in his last 5 and Ibanez has popped up with 3 in 5. Everything seems to be clicking a bit more now we’ve slowed it all down but we still have an issue at CB. Miguel Herrera has struggled all season and has an average rating of just 6.86 whereas everyone else in the starting 11 is above the 7 mark.
Furthermore, after looking at the passing data and seeing our passing over the course of the season was woeful we have seen vast improvements. We certainly don’t put an emphasis on possession but we managing to keep the ball and more importantly complete a higher amount of passes and play the game on our terms. Some very pleasing pass maps are now popping up in the data hub.
Despite looking good on the pitch, we have a little financial trouble in regard to our scouting budget. Our scouting package was initially covering North America at £45k a month but we’ve now been told we can’t afford that and can only afford to cover the first division at a cost of £4.5k a month. Something we absolutely have to improve!
With Toluca wining their game in hand that pushed us down to 5th position. We then lost to Club America in a very harsh defeat which put our top 4 hopes clean out of the window. A final day win against Monterrey saw us finish in 5th, qualifying for the preliminary round. We will play Necaxa who are a far inferior side to us, however no game is played on paper. Looking at the teams in this preliminary round you could well put forward an argument that we are the stronger side going into this. so here we go, knockout football in the middle of the season to qualify for the North American Champions League and / or be crowned champions of Mexico.
The Play Offs
So here we go. 17 games down, a preliminary round to get to the quarter final lies ahead. A match we’re favourites for but no match has ever been won on paper. Now we’re out to get revenge on Necaxa as they’re the ones who absolutely shit housed us earlier in the season with a 1 nil win and only 1 shot on target out of 2. From the quarter final onwards the games are 2 legged affairs. Now if the game finishes as a draw on aggregate, the higher seeded team go through. This is where finishing 5th is a big disadvantage as we could well be on the wrong end of the seeding advantage.
A comprehensive display sees us fly into the quarter final. We were in complete control of this game from the first whilst only allowing 1 shot on target and this time it didn’t go up. Nicolas Ibanez is staking his claim to make his loan move permanent and the game was rounded off perfectly by utility man Jesus Trinade powering in an absolute screamer from 30 yards. Since we changed the system we are a lot more cohesive on the pitch and we could well go deep in these knock out stages.
The draw for the quarter final has matched us up against a strong Monterrey side. On the last day of the season we managed to beat them 1 – 0 but it’s pretty clear this game could go either way.
A nil nil doesn’t tell the whole story here. We had a lot of chances in this game and on another day could have ran out 3 nil winners. Onto the second leg away from home. Disappointed we couldn’t make home advantage count here.
As mentioned previously, the higher seeded team go through if the tie finishes as a draw. This has well and truly come to bite us. With just one shot on target over 2 legs, Monterray have advanced to the semi final on the higher seed rule. It’s a huge shame as over both legs we were by far the better side, but we couldn’t make our good play count for anything. But with this new system firing on all cylinders, we could well be in for a successful closing stage of the league.