A Football Manager Story: Would anyone like to score?

Francis Bompard

In the fourth part of our Football Manager 13 adventure with Tottenham Hotspur we look at the months of October and November and we finally start to get an inkling of how the league will shake out.

I didn't have many options in terms of what activities I could do yesterday. It was either pack up my apartment, like a responsible adult, or play Football Manager. I, clearly, chose the latter and that's why you're getting another installment of this series so quickly. To recap, when we left off last time, my team was at the top of the league and we were getting ready to face some tougher opposition in October.

Previous FM Story Posts: Introduction Summer Transfers Getting Going

The run that my Spurs team went on during the month of October was certainly something to behold. For the first four matches of the month, we didn't concede a single goal. In fact, we had only allowed 4 goals all season, three in the league up through end of October. Clearly my strategy of high pressure, man-marking was working and many teams seemed unable to break us down. The problem was, through 9 Premier League games my team had only scored 14 goals. Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson were leading the scoring charts and the man who I had been hoping would lead the goal-scoring charge for me, Emmanuel Adebayor, had yet to score in any competition.

Our Carling Cup fourth round match, however, was something entirely different. We were thrown up against a West Ham side that we had been fortunate to beat early in the season, this time though, we were at Upton Park and I was playing a bit of a rotated side. The Hammers went ahead in the 7th minute on a mistake by Brad Friedel. However, we were handed a lifeline when Guy Demel got sent off in the 10th minute. Gylfi Sigurdsson made the man advantage count three minutes later, leveling the game from outside the box.

Unfortunately, our momentum didn't last long. Sandro was sent off 10 minutes after the goal and with parity restored West Ham took advantage to score twice more before the half. Fortunately, Andros Townsend grabbed a second for Spurs and we went into the dressing rooms only down a goal. I tried to get the team motivated, but it did little good as Matt Jarvis scored 10 minutes into the half to give West Ham four goals. Steven Caulker grabbed a consolation for us, but we crashed out of the cup with a 4-3 loss.

In all honesty, I wasn't to upset by the loss. I'd been using the Carling Cup to play do some squad rotation and not having to play those matches wasn't really going to affect things to much. What I was worried about was Sandro's red card. He was automatically suspended for one match, but he was later handed a further two match ban. Now I was facing three matches without one of the main cogs in my league best defense for the entire month of November.

I was still struggling with injuries to some key players. Aaron Lennon was finally nearing a return to full fitness, but Kyle Walker injured his ankle and Mousa Dembele went down for 6 weeks with a back injury. The loss of Dembele meant even more playing time for Adryan, who I use as an advanced playmaker beside Jake Livermore in midfield. The only other incident that bears mentioning from the month of October is that fullback David Santon won Goal of the month with a long dribbling run and finish in our 2-0 victory over Queen's Park Rangers.

November began with an easy victory over West Brom, which we followed up with yet another Europa League victory. I haven't said much about the Europa League because it hasn't been horribly interesting. No one is scoring against us and we're winning most games with ease. After a victory over Swansea that finally saw Adebayor break his duck in the league (he'd scored in the previous Europa League fixture), we went out and demolished Steaua by three goals. That match led us to afternoon clash with Manchester City, who were on top of the table on goal differential.

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As you can see, due to injuries I've got a much less than full-strength lineup. Knowing that, I set the team up to counter-attack, relying on the pace of Bale and the recent brilliance of Sigurdsson and Adebayor. For much of the first half we absorbed attack after attack. City managed 10 shots on target in the match, and Hugo Lloris was equal to almost all of them. Only a Joleon Lescott header from a corner in the 44' managed to beat the French international. With City scoring right before the half, we were going to be forced to chase the game. Adebayor had been ineffective and I hauled him off for Jermain Defoe. The change didn't matter though as it was Bale creating the chance for us to equalize when he was brought down in the area by Lescott in stoppage time. Much to my chagrin Scott Parker stepped up to take the penalty. As I watched through my fingers the midfielder blasted the ball just inside the left upright and we were miraculously level.

The point was certainly more than we deserved, but I wasn't going to complain. We had been thoroughly dominated by City, but fortunately our defense is so formidable that even a team as good as Manchester City have problems breaking through, even against what was not my best squad. This certainly gave me and the rest of the lads a lot of confidence heading into the busy month of December.

League Table

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At the end of November, Spurs are still unbeaten in the League, and yet we're only fifth in the table. Somehow, I guess while I was playing my Europa League matches, everyone else was playing midweek league matches. As a result three matches in hand over the rest of the top four and four matches on some other teams. The league is pretty competitive though, as only two points separate first place from sixth. If we manage to win our games in hand we could certainly start to put some distance between ourselves and the field.

Fixtures and Result:

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Tottenham Hotspur Player Stats

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The standout thus far this season has been Younes Kaboul. He's been man of the match four times for Spurs thus far and has an average rating of 7.69 for the season. I've been using Kaboul as a central defender with a defend role, beside Jan Vertonghen, who's playing as a ball-playing defender. The combination seems to be excelling, especially given how well our defense is doing.

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Next Fixtures

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December is going to be a busy month for Spurs. Fortunately there's only one trip to the continent involved, but London derbies with Chelsea and Arsenal loom. A Boxing Day fixture with Aston Villa will highlight the holiday season and a visit to Carrow Road will be the last match of 2012. For the month ahead my goal is to tweak the tactic some so that I can get Emmanuel Adebayor on the scoresheet more. If not I may have to consider purchasing a first team striker in January, though I'd rather spend my money on a young defensive midfielder and a true passing advanced playmaker.

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