With a constant stream of players coming in and a squad taking shape, pre-season would be the key time to sort out how Steam FC were going to play…
“Pass and move!”
“Keep the ball!”
Simple instructions yet ones so difficult for my hastily assembled squad to get to grips with.
Pre-season was always going to be about tactical understanding rather than any great set of results. I left the running of the team in friendlies to Charlie, preferring to sit myself in the stands and watch the play from afar to pick holes in my preferred system – a 4-2-3-1 with one specialised defensive midfielder protecting the back four. Ball retention and pressing were key especially heading into the Conference South where sides won’t be as well drilled physically.
It didn’t work.
A tour of China organised to try and entice foreign fans saw us open with two defeats. The first was a tame 1-0 loss to Jiangsu where we only had 40% possession before a more spirited 3-2 defeat to Fuli where we came from 2 down after 20 minutes to throw it away in the second half. Shane Ferguson scored both and was brilliantly direct on the left hand side which offered promise but defensively there were a couple of issues. The final game of the tour saw us demolish Liaoning 5-1 with Ferguson getting another brace and goals from Diouf, Mason and Wagstaff.
Our final game was another money trip abroad to France where we played out a good 0-0 draw against a Montpellier side that dominated us for most of the game. Spirit and solid defending gave me hope but we were pretty toothless up front at times and lacked creativity.
The more pressing concern however was the system. Most sides were playing either two or three orthodox central midfielders and we were being overrun by sides that should have been no match for us in China.
Still, we surely couldn’t be touched in the Conference South…
If you want to do this challenge yourself on Football Manager, the link to the Steam workshop is here.
The previous edition of Steam Powered is here.