On the half hour mark I told my centre backs to specifically mark Petrolul’s strikers, one each.
It was either that or drop deeper and, being one goal down, I thought sitting back was the last thing I should do.
- a big blow hit us on 33 minutes. Ruben Pardo, our best deep lying midfielder, was in poor shape so I subbed him for Esteban Granero
As soon as we equalise Petrolul centre back, Geraldo, smashes the ball up field for Dumitru to chase.
Carlos Martinez reaches the ball first but Dumitru is determined and robs my right back.
Dumitru squares the ball to teammate, Vechiu, who makes no mistake this time to score while my defenders have all ignored Vechiu’s threat and pushed up. Long ball – defensive mistake – close range shot = goal. It was that easy.
Although a defensive error played a big part in this goal it showed how effective long balls can be on FM15.
- On 42 minutes I decide enough’s enough, I’ll fight fire with fire, and I go from short passing to more direct passing
- I took a tired Aggiretxe off at half time replacing him with Alfred Finnbogasson
- On 48 minutes I ask Gonzalo Castro to play as an AM(C), the same with Xavi Prieto, as neither are impacting the game
Moving Prieto and Castro seems to work as the two start to combine within a couple of minutes and we look a lot more threatening in front of goal.
Cabral’s (signed for £1.9m from Sunderland and always impressed me on FM14) tackling has been brilliant.
The longer the match goes on (55 minutes) I start to think we don’t have enough strength in depth. We don’t have enough attacking players who can offer something different.
- Prieto looks a stylish player. He’s made some classy touches, you can tell he’s been around
On 65 minutes it doesn’t look good. Still 2-1 down.
- I’ve reverted to shorter passing & work ball in to box seeing as our passing has improved
- On 68 minutes I push both my full backs to wing back positions (slightly hit and hope now)
At full time it’s 2-2 and half of the lads look exhausted and I’m starting to realise we went in to the game in poor physical shape.
We were undone by two goals by a fake player which is always annoying.
- It was a mistake to play Gaztanaga in central defence but Inigo Martinez and Mikel Gonzalez were injured
- Positives from the game were Castro showed me he can create and score but his finishing could be better and Canales played one or two lovely through balls – I know he’ll be good for me, this is only the first game I’ve managed. Esteban Granero was decent when he came on. I might re-consider selling him
- Cabral’s tackling was good but his positioning and marking were suspect at times
- Jeronimo Rulli had a decent game in net for us on his debut and couldn’t do anything about their goals
I learned a lot from watching this single match. I want us to progress as far in the Europa League as possible and we were favourites before the game so to struggle for a draw is disappointing.
It’s worrying we only made one clear cut chance while Petrolul and their many over the top balls created four. As I alluded to before, though, once we have our best two central defenders back we’ll be more solid.
We were also missing our best player, Carlos Vela, who will be first choice up front and can also play wide.
I think I made a mistake playing a defensive midfielder in this match. We gave Petrolul’s Pablo De Lucas too much time to spray passes around and over us. I was too cautious, not brave enough.
It highlights a role I could use though. De Lucas was playing what I guess you’d call the Pirlo role but I could never get that working in FM14 so it’s exciting. It looks like it might be possible now. I’m not sure if deep lying playmaker (support) could be the role to use.
I feel I need a better right back after Martinez’s poor show.
We have a 22-year-old called Joseba Zaldua who looks promising so I’ll give him a game soon.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. Follow me on twitter @fmscrapbook.