Okay it’s a bit further than the middle of the season, but that wouldn’t work with the title would it. We’ve actually played 22 out of 34 games. After having a look at the structure of the league, it’s not like any other I’ve personally managed in before. So, before the review and the look at where we are and how Quick have been getting on, I’m going to do my best to explain the league structure.
The league system is a weird one down in the 4th tier of Holland. The league is split into 3 stages, after 11 games the team top qualifies for the play-offs, then after 22 games the team top (unless it’s the same team) qualify for the play-offs also. Same again for 33 games. Hopefully the graphic helps with the understanding. This should explain why I have played 22 games rather than around 17/18 for this mid-season review.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Like before I’m not going to go through every single game. Instead, I’m going to focus on our general league campaign thus far and show what’s gone well and what hasn’t. Here is every game since we left off!
The first game since my last post, was OFC, title favourites and with this being the 11th game was the first chance for a team to guarantee a play-off spot, with our 2-2 draw, which I was pleased with as we played well, had more of the ball and probably should have won the game having led twice. This draw guaranteed OFC a play-off spot, which soon saw them drop off in form, but more on that later.
After OFC, we went on our best run and honestly one of the best months I’ve ever experienced on Football Manager, 5 wins from 5, 18 goals scored and 4 conceded, 3 of which came in the same game. We played some exceptional football throughout, particular mention to our left IW Emre Bigli, who in this run scored 6 goals in the first 3 games in March, chipping in with 2 assists in that time too. After going a goal down to JOS, we scored 5 in the second half, capped brilliantly by a hat-trick by Farel Cairo, who was on the score sheet in the following game against bottom of the league OSS ’20. After this amazing run of form in November we found ourselves top of the league! Something I really didn’t expect in our first season.
I wanted to bring particular attention to a goal scored by IWB Van Hese, in our 4-3 win against Unitas. IWB is an interesting position if you haven’t used it before and is often over-looked. Once we hit this purple patch it was clear to see just how the IWB works in a possession-based system. With our possession highest in the league, with over 2000 passes complete more than the rest of the league. Van Hese *number 4 in the picture* not only started a move but finished it from the edge of the box. (Just as a side note, it looks like the ball from 16 came from a corner but he did in fact just keep it in from going out). This goal perfectly illustrates how effective the IWB role can be when you are a dominate side.
We were soon hit with a reality check by ADO ’20, perhaps complacency was a factor as we had been turning over teams constantly. The performance itself wasn’t a poor one, which gave me some satisfaction, we still had over 60% of the ball and managed a much higher xG, a lack of finishing costing us in this one. We had 2 games before the winter break, a 2-2 draw against EVV and thankfully a resounding 4-0 win over Dongen, after the 1-0 defeat and a draw I was worried the morale was going to plummet and we hit a slump.
Winter Break – When the summer transfer window closed it became suddenly easier to sign players, although all players came in on free transfers, it seemed that the game had decided teams wouldn’t make offers for them outside the window. Going into the winter break and January I was nervous my top of the league team were about to get picked apart, immediately day one, 2 starting players were offered contracts.
After keeping hold of the players that had bids, the following to games were extremely disappointing, back to back 1-1 draws meant going into the 22nd game (a game that guaranteed a play-off spot at the end of the season) was between ourselves and UNA in second. Tied for points with a slightly worse goal difference.
Heartbreak. We lost 2-1 in one of the worst performances of the season. The opponent managed to score twice from 0.40 xG while we managed to create chances and throw everything at it but ultimately comer up short.
We miss out on the second play-off spot after being top since match day 14 we lose top spot on the final game of the second stage to miss out. Our first (likely of many) bottle jobs with the Quick boys.
While we’ve overperformed on our 8th placed media prediction and find ourselves in a title race, losing that spot on the 22nd game was demoralising beyond belief, something that looking back on makes me happy that I’ve connected so quickly, pardon the pun, with this team.
With just 12 games left of the season and Quick finding themselves in a title race, the end of season has the potential to be as exciting as ever!
Up next – The end of season run in and review! Will we bottle the play-off push or challenge for the title?