The previous season ended with all my competitors managerless, most significantly Manchester United.Press speculated that I would be offered the United hot seat, I'd reject anyway, but I was curious about the contract they would offer me.I refrained from declining or showing interest towards the job.No offer came though.It went to Steve Bruce, who surprisingly always takes over at United in FM11 and FM12.Arsenal hired Ruud Gullit and Manchester City's hotseat was now filled by Louis Van Gaal.Liverpool acquired the services of Marcelo Biesla ( me neither ) for the post of Head Coach. Andre Villas Boas continued his climb up the PL, from Blackburn to Bolton and now at Spurs. All my players are either on vacation or representing their national teams at the World Cup.
Still, it's my favourite time of the game, the transfer window.I don't use the help of any scouting software, just whatever my team of scouts suggest.I have a chief scout Piet De Visser.I run every potential signing by him, getting his report before I buy any player.Also,I've got the end of season training reports to analyse. Ashley Cole, Mikel , Bosingwa all left on free transfer after failing to negotiate their bloated wages.Mikel was immediately picked up by Wolfsburg. Gourcuff was declining as a player, he'd been touted as my replacement for Lampard but had failed to impress.4 goals and 17 assists in 58games is hardly what'd you'd expect from a 25m signing.Lampard is still in fine form but his stamina is a major issue.I've only been using Gourcuff in rotation and felt he needed regular starts in the PL so I placed him on the loan list.Wolves offered me 6.5m to take him on loan and another 19.5m should they choose to want to make the move permanent (HA!). Mceachran has also failed to step into the shoes of Lampard, leaving me no choice but to venture into the market.I decided to break the bank on 25 year old Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel.It took 30m from my transfer kitty but it filled a gaping hole in my team.With Bosingwa gone, I was looking for a young attacking right back and I found just that in 16 year old Ricardo Chiarini from Roma.Ten million seems a lot for a 16year old but his current ability was already 4stars.I also spent 4m on speed merchant Hallam Hope, 20 year old striker from Rochdale.Right winger Jordan Graham was picked up from Aston Villa reserves for a million.
Although, I did win the PL last season I wasn't happy with the number of goals we'd conceded last season.I decided to introduce a new system of 4-1-2-3 with De Jong/Romeu preferred as an Anchor Man, dictating the tempo.Extra emphasis on passing, almost a Barcelona type tactic.I had a pass complete rate of almost 75% last season, I wanted to bring that up to around the 95% mark.I hired two defence coaches and put my defenders on an extensive high intensity training schedule.Pre season friendlies are usually arranged by the Assistant Coach, and since I've bought a whole bunch of hot prospects from lesser clubs with the condition to arrange friendlies with them, I end up with friendlies every 3 days.I'd have players returning from the World Cup and that sort of schedule wouldn't suit them and I didn't want to risk any injuries.I decided to handle arranging friendlies myself, spaced a week apart.In preseason I always start with 11 players for the first 45 with one formation and a completely different 11 in the next 45 in another formation.
Vitesse vs Chelsea FC
First, a trip to feeder club Vitesse.I start of with my 4-1-2-3 tactic.It took 22minutes for the new star signing Axel Witsel to find the net.Cavani's one on one effort saved by the keeper and Axel Witsel pounced on the rebound with an open goal in front of him.Lavezzi's through ball released Cavani who would beat the keeper on this occasion, to make it 2-0 just before halftime.Eleven subs at halftime , same formation retained to help everyone on the squad to familiarize themselves with the new tactic. Douglas Costa was bossing the left wing with multiple crosses into the box, which Sturridge and Emre Can failed to convert.He would findJosh in injury time through a corner at the near post, easy tap in.
Final score : Vitesse 0 : 3 Chelsea FC
CSKA Moscow vs Chelsea FC
Next, a trip across Europe to Russia to face CSKA Moscow.Spain had won just won the World Cup, and Torres the Golden Boot.Torres goes straight into the line up, heading the attack along side, player of the tournament Mata on the left and Cavani on the right.Hot prospect Emre Can, Axel Witsel and De Jong make up the midfield with Chalobah and Luiz partnering in defence.3rd choice keeper Matej Delac gets a start.Good possession in the first 25 mins, leads to a stunner for Emre Can from 30 yards out.Torres continued his fine form to score off a Luiz long ball.Chelsea lead by 2 at halftime.Again, 11 substitutions, Costa on the left,Sturridge on the right and Lukaku in the middle. All three of them find the net one after the other, and I'm pleased with the form of my fowards.
Final Score : CSKA Moscow 0 : 5 Chelsea FC
Crewe vs. Chelsea FC
Before I embark on my tour of the USA, I thought I'd return to England to prepare for the tour. Crewe had given me 3 bright prospects over the past seasons and I had a friendly arranged in gratitude.Also to hopefully discover another aspiring youngster, so win-win.I also wanted to showcase my youngsters, throwing new signings Hallam Hope and Jordan Graham into the fray, supported by Kakuta on the right,Lucas Piazon McEachran and Romeu in Midfield with Chalobah, Nathan Ake, Michael Ruddick and Sime Vrsaljko in defence in front of Courtois.The speed of Graham and Hope was too much for the Crewe defence to handle.Graham was causing havoc on the left wing, and it wouldn't take long before he cut in from the left to score.He'd go on to assist Hallam Hope who ran around the keeper to double the lead.I almost didn't want to sub them out at halftime but I did.Replacing them withJuan Mata and Swede Under-19 striker Marko Mitrovic.The left winger - centre forward partnership continued as both went on to score.Another clean sheet despite playing 8 different defenders and 2 goal keepers. Off to America !!
Final Score : Crewe 0 : 4 Chelsea FC
Sporting Kansas City vs Chelsea FC
Woohoo.America! Chelsea fans in America had marked this tour down on their calenders the moment it was announced and Chelsea FC wasn't going to dissappoint.A thorough spanking ensued as Torres found the net twice before the break.Cavani hit the post as Torres pounced on the rebound for his hat-trick, only to have it saved by the keeper, allowing Cavani to tap in the third.Whole team changed for the second half, although the domination wouldn't stop.Lukaku made himself free to head home a Lavezzi cross.A Frank Lampard corner, led to a scramble in the penalty area,the ball falling to 16yr old right back Ricardo Chiarini, who made it 5 with a finish from a tight angle.Chants of Carefree are heard from the stands at full time.
Final Score : Sporting Kansas City 0 : 5 Chelsea FC
New England vs. Chelsea FC
My 4-1-2-3 tactic seems to be working fine, so far, and I would help to have a back up tactic as well.So I'd revert back to the 4-2-2-2 formation that help me win the double last season.Torres and Sturridge up front with Lavezzi in a deep right winger role, Costa playing behind the strikers as I constantly shuffle the defenders combination.The players seemed to have forgotten this tactic over the break cause it ended 0-0 at halftime.Maybe a brand new line up at halftime would change our fortunes against a so far well organized New England defence.The Cavani-Torres partnership would pick up where they left off last season.They would both assisted each other, either side of a Axel Witsel screamer.The pass completion rate for this game was only 69% , slightly dissappointing as previous matches the completion rate was showing signs of improvement.
Final Score : New England 0 : 3 Chelsea FC
San Jose vs. Chelsea FC
I decided to retweak my 4-1-2-3 and rename it as tiki-taka.So obviously, would mean maintaining possession through more direct passing, and getting the ball into channels.I also decided to start the game with an approach to contain and then counter on the break.In preparation to games in which I have to defend a first leg lead.I start Hallam Hope up front with Costa and Nathan Dyer on either side.Hope's impressive pre-season continue as he was quick to net a brace on the counter.In the second half a Cahill throughball would allowCavani to cut in and score.Mata would score off a direct free kick, curling into the goal from the left.
Final Score : San Jose 0 : 4 Chelsea FC
Udinese vs. Chelsea FC
The American Tour was a success and a prior commitment had us travelling to Italy to face Udinese for our final pre-season game before the Community Shield.My hopes of finishing the pre-season without conceding were dashed when an Udinese corner , curled off the post and went in off 16yr old Chelsea left back Jan Hasek, to give Udinese the lead.The hair dryer treatment at halftime inspired a second half hattrick from Daniel Sturridge.A nice comeback in the final game of the pre-season.Next stop Wembley.
Final Score : Udinese 1 : 3 Chelsea FC
Having won both the FA Cup and Premier League, my opponent would be the team that finished 2nd.Manchester United finished level on points with Arsenal but had a better goal difference.Steve Bruce would lead United to their first match and I was going to make him feel the heat.I reverted to my 4-2-2-2 for this curtain raiser charity match.Steve Bruce's tenure couldn't have had a worse start as Cavani scored in the second minute.Lavezzi would scoretwice , followed by a Douglas Costa free kick that would get deflected into the net.It was 4-0 at halftime and it stayed that way, as I lifted the community shield for consecutive seasons.
Final Score : Manchester United 0 : 4 Chelsea
A delightful pre-season concluded with 34 goals in 8 games and only one conceded,albeit an own goal.Possesion is around the 65% mark and pass completion is at 88% .The midfielders are controlling the game, the strikers are creating and converting their chances and the defence has kept clean sheets.The team is raring to go for the start of the Premier League season.
Start of the new season in my next article.