SO IN my first article I explained how I’m attempting to reproduce a three-pronged attack we see at Barcelona in the present day (May, 2015). For me, it’s one of the most exciting attacks ever and will probably be harked back to as a classic strikeforce, like Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, Yorke and Cole and Bergkamp and Henry (feel free to add your favourites).
To get close to what they produce won’t be easy and I doubt can be done in a season or two but that suits me fine; I love a long challenge.
Since leaving you, I’ve picked a team to manage and searched for attackers who I can include in my front three. I love signing exciting attacking players so this was fun. I wanted to have some South American flavour in the mix for obvious reasons – all three Barca strikers are from that part of the world – so I had a think and a few players came to mind.
In addition, I searched in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay for the type of player I wanted. They had to be good at dribbling, have a fair amount of pace, flair would be nice and ambition (which you can now search for in scouting under ‘hidden attributes’) would be useful if they were going to reach anything like the ability of Neymar, Messi and Suarez.
I started off at Juventus but after signing a few players and setting up my tactics, I remembered how much fun I had managing Newcastle United on FM14. It’s probably my favourite recent career because of the quick success we achieved and the eye-catching first team squad I was able to assemble. It made me proud just looking at the line-up, which included luminaries, such as Dani Parejo, Rafinha (who I have on loan in this career) and Remi Cabella.
So I created a new career and took the reins at St James’ Park. Mike Ashley apparently plans to be at the club for a long time yet but in the first transfer window I oversaw, he gave me plenty of financial freedom. I sold Moussa Sissoko for £15m (rising to £18m) to Barcelona and I was given the funds to sign new players. So far, I’ve made £15m from sales and spent £26m on new signings.
I’m very happy with the deals I’ve been able to agree with Barcelona, of all clubs. I’ve three of their most talented youngsters on loan: Munir, Rafinha (a blast from the past) and Alex Grimaldo and am trying to get Adam Traore on loan too. Nicolas Nkoulou and Giannelli Imbula are young and very good players although Imbula still has some improving to do.
How good can he get?
In terms of the front three, ideally, I’d like one Argentine, one Brazilian and a Uruguayan – I’m a bit OCD like that. However, I think the players’ nationality is probably at the bottom of the list of what’s important.
Let me introduce you to the initial pretenders for the three thrones of the future best attack in the world:
Two goals on debut. Quick. Great dribbler. Vision. Work rate. Determination. Off the ball. Bit of a poacher? The new Suarez? Needs to work on strength.
Eighteen. Brazilian. Flair. Dribbling. Left footed? New Neymar? Scores in second game. Looked confident running at Stoke defence.
Quality player. Almost developed. Dribbling. Acceleration. Vision. Class act. Consistency an issue? Could fill the Messi role for a while until someone else develops.
Quality young-ish striker. Not really of the same ilk as any of the Barca three. Less talented, could be described as an out-and-out goalscorer. Useful but not sure he’ll fit in to this project in the long-term. Good plan B?
Not good enough for the style of play I’m looking to re-create. Managed him on FM14 and he was almost useless.
On loan from Barcelona and trained to play that way. He has similar strengths to Neymar, Messi and Suarez. Lots of flair, great first touch and technique.
Probably not made to play further up than an advanced playmaker ever would but he can be effective as an attacking midfielder. Good acceleration but doesn’t really have the same athletic strengths as the terrific trio. Let’s not forget though, to produce the attacking play Barcelona do, I’ll need skilful players all over the field. Rafinha, like Munir, has come through the Barcelona youth system so he’s comfortable playing in a technique and skilled dribbling-based system.
Another Barcelona youth. I won’t apologise for my lack of imagination here. There’s no better club at producing stars of the future and he will provide good competition for my current strikers and wingers if he wants to join on loan. Traore has a chance of one day wowing football stadiums like Messi, Suarez and Neymar do, I think he’s that good.
Neymar relies on his dribbling and his ability to create something out of nothing.
Messi, being the best player ever, has many strings to his bow, but arguably relies on his incredible technical ability and burst of speed over the first 10 metres.
The primary reason I love watching Suarez is the way he can dribble through the eye of a needle. He can nutmeg (or panna) a baby. His dribbling and close control is key to his effectiveness at creating chances for teammates and himself. As well as this, his tenacity is vital and he wouldn’t be the world class attacker he is without it. His will to win is as plain to see as in any footballer I know. Like Messi and Neymar, he has the ability to produce moments of magic, which are often the difference between winning and losing in the big games.
Whoever makes up my ‘new best attack in the world’ undoubtedly has a tough act to follow. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Barca attackers’ technical and creative skills. But, as well as their flair, we shouldn’t forget how impressive and important their mental attributes are for the level at which they play. Mental strength is often a point of weakness that causes a player to fail, preventing them developing in to a professional footballer or fulfilling their potential to become one of the best in the world (the sort of player I am looking for, only times three).
You can probably tell by the length of this post how excited I am about this new career. I’ve not had this much inspiration for an FM project for what feels like a long time so I hope we can go on a long and exciting adventure together.
Keep an eye on the blog and my twitter for future updates and please share this article.