EUROPEAN JOURNEYMAN (TAKE 2) – PRE-SEASON, TRANSFERS AND THE TOTO CUP

Disaster struck one day into our tenure at Fahm, the board rejected my request for a coaching course! They also rejected requests to improve the training facilities and to improve the youth facilities. While the facilities one is what it is, the coaching course is a real problem early on. You need to get them as quick as possible in order to make your way up the ranks and with money not an issue the refusal has left me perplexed to say the least.

Transfers

It’s been a tricky one in terms of transfers, without moving anyone on we aren’t able to bring anybody in. The players I was looking to move on aren’t shifting, so it looks like it’s going to be a case of try and succeed with what we have and hope to build our rep with a successful campaign.

Before we start with matches, here is the tactic we’re going to use going into the season, nothing crazy, a very typical formation used by all, I wanted to steer away from the 4-2-3-1 initially but the players at our disposal it made no sense to not use it. The DLP (D) is pivotal to us keeping the ball and going to give Tarek Mare plenty of chance to develop and progress.

We actually joined a little late into pre-season, so we only took charge of one game, against semi-pro outfit Marmorek. A comfortable 2-1 win against a weaker side, dominated the ball and conceded a goal after Marmorek’s 0.23 xG.

Toto Cup

Interestingly, Israel starts with the group stage of the Toto Cup, the best way to explain it, it’s the Israeli version of the Betfred Cup from Scotland. For those unfamiliar, 4 groups of 4 face off in a group stage, with the winners of each group progressing to the semi-final (this is where it differs to Scotland). Another difference, this cup is just for our division, so nobody from the top Israeli league competes, it feels like a great opportunity for us to compete for some silverware early.

Our first competitive match came against Nes Ziona, a team predicted to be 13th in the league, just one place lower than our own prediction. The main man Levan Kutalia got our first match off to the dream start with a goal inside the 2nd minute, it’s the scrappiest goal and one I’m not sure how to explain, a combination of 3 different shots from the edge of the area somehow fell to Kutalia all on his own 6 yards out, and the striker greeted it with open arms and slotted home calmly.

A real fight for our first competitive match saw us run out 3-2 winners, a penalty in the first half put us 2-0 up and perhaps make us too comfortable. Goals either side of the break saw us pegged back to 2-2 before that man Kutalia scored again to give us the 3 points.

Our second match ends 1-1 with both goals coming inside the opening 5 minutes. Right-winger Ganon put us 1-0 up as he meets a cross at the back post to head home, very soon after a free kick swung in from the left was met with Kfar Kasem striker Espinoza at the back post to level things. A drab match to be honest, the biggest positive to take was the 62% possession again. Something I’m looking to implement in the side.

Our final game against Hapoel Kfar-Shalem is a must win, Shalem are top of the group, level on points with ourselves with one better goal difference, a win will see us finish top and progress to the semi-final. Our task was made tougher in this one as main man Kutalia had a knock in this one and meant he missed out.

It’s another draw for the Fahm, 2-2 on this occasion, a really even game with both teams having chances to win it. Another 60+ percent of the ball is pleasing. Turns out I don’t understand the rules of this cup and despite not qualifying in first, our second placed finish has earnt us a spot in another round. I think the database (despite just being the base version) is bugged as the round we are in is currently just blank with no name.

Whatever round it is, is played before the league starts, so we continue with the Toto Cup!

It’s our first loss as Fahm boss, a 2-1 defeat, a concerning performance, statically it was a tight affair with neither team perhaps deserving of the win. But watching on it was poor from us, not keeping the ball how we had in the other games.

Up next… The league begins

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