Wandering to Titles – Formation Change & Clean Sheets (February) Episode 21

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Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.

Season 2, Episode 21

I’m so glad we got the January winter window out of the way. With a couple of our players holding release clauses in their contracts and another couple on the cusp of becoming world-class, I dread to look every time I opened my emails.

Thankfully no bids came in. No players were disgruntled, and we continued as if there were no window.

We see the return of the Champions League this month with our tie versus Valencia. I’m so eager to get back into the swing of things after a month and a half break from the competition.

But first, Brentford away in the FA Cup.

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Brentford vs Wolves
2/2/2021 FA Cup 4th Round Replay

Despite rotating last time out against Brentford, I will do the same again today. We should have enough quality in our squad to see this game out.

It was again a disjointed performance, but as expected. Van de Beek scored the only goal of the game in a game which didn’t offer too many chances.

Another Championship team awaits us in the next round, Birmingham City. We’re on course to meet the requirement from our board for getting to the 6th round.

Bournemouth (7th) vs Wolves (5th)
6/2/2021 Premier League

In-form striker, Cutrone, is still on the treatment table with a twisted ankle. Bournemouth are a well drilled team, so we cannot be to hasty in our attacking approach.

A bore draw against a Bournemouth side who are also fighting for a European spot. Due to the form of Jimenez and the injury to Cutrone, I decided to drop a striker back to an AMC role to help us dominate in the middle of the park a little more.

While we didn’t come away with a win, we didn’t offer Bournemouth too much in front of our goal either. I will experiment with this again in the future.

Wolves (5th) vs West Ham (14th)
20/2/2021 Premier League

West Ham are in poor form in general, but they did just destroy Watford 5-0 in their last outing.

I will be utilizing 2 AMC’s again this game as I thought we played well last game despite not scoring.

And it paid off wonderfully. Both AMC’s (Fernandes and Horta) were involved in assists and goals. A perfect display from them both. This definitely gives me something to think about going forward.

We move 4 points again of Spurs who are in 6th.

Valencia vs Wolves
24/2/2021 Champions League 1st Knockout Round

We finally return to the Champions League after a month off between the group stages and the knockout rounds.

We travel to Spain to face an in-form Valencia side who are 3rd in La Liga. It’s imperative that we are at our best. Away goals will count for so much here.

Tonali will sit this one out as he is suspended after getting sent off against Dortmund.

Well what a performance. We had an early injury blow to Jota as he had to come off after 2 minutes with a pulled calf muscle (out for 3 weeks). But not so long later, substitute Jimenez was back in with the goals after previously going 11 hours of football without a goal, thanks to a penalty – just what he needed.

We controlled the game fantastically, and we go into the 2nd leg in a very very strong position.

Wolves (5th) vs Norwich (12th)
27/2/2021 Premier League

We end the month with a home tie against Norwich. They are on a little resurgence after winning 2 games on the bounce. But I go into this match confidently, and expect the boys to perform. The morale in the camp is high.

Long time transfer target Ben Godfrey will be on the opposing end.

Another victory today and this new slight change in formation appears to be working nicely. The added body in midfield allows us to dominate in the centre more while our wing-backs play an attacking duty, forcing an issue down the sides.

Fernandes has been a lot more involved with someone next to him. For the time being, I will continue to utilize this tactic. Jota may even drop down to a shadow striker – it’s an option.

We were very close to having a full month of clean sheets, but somehow Patricio put it past his own goal line.

Month Overview

We’ve had a fantastic month. The slight formation change made us look very comfortable at times. While we didn’t play any of the big boys in the league, Valencia was a true test for the new formation, and I’m so pleased it worked – especially as it was away from home.

The results in the league give us a little breathing room between us and Spurs. And now 10 points ahead of Everton in 7th. It would take something pretty drastic for us to mess this up.

I hope our fans are getting used to us being in Europe as that’s where I intend to stay.

Happy Camp

Our consistent performances have led us to have a very happy camp.

The vast majority of the players seem to be on board with me and that in itself helps generate positive results.

March Fixtures

We’re into March next, getting close to the business end of the season.

A local derby awaits us in the next match as we take on Birmingham. Always imperative we get a result in games like that.

I always have a tough time against Man United, so hopefully our futures can turn around this time.

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