It’s always a bit nervy when you start a new save, will I like the club, its players, the league system? Will I do well or will I fail massively. It’s more of a risk when you write a post about a league and team you know little to nothing about and hope that it all goes well.
My first season with Wisla is over and I’ve really enjoyed it. There have been high and low points, but on the whole, it has been very enjoyable.
For those of you who don’t know about the Ekstraklasa, it’s a 16 team league where you play each team twice and then it splits into a Championship Group and Relegation Group. You play each team in your group once.
One of the things I got told on more than one occasion after my last post was that Poland had a league split and was I ok with that? I had no idea if I was ok with it as I don’t recall ever playing in a league that had split, but it was fine. It’s actually quite good to come up against the better teams in the league at the end of the season.
The team that finishes first qualifies for the Champions League and then second and third places go into the Europa League. At this point, I’m not sure what stage teams enter either competition. It’s likely to change if teams to well/poorly in Europe.
Poland also has the Polish Cup competition and a Super Cup which is contested between the winner of the Polish Cup and the Ektraklasa.
Nobody will be surprised by this, if you’re new, read old posts and you’ll get why I play 4141. I actually started off playing a 4411 which went quite well. We played a counter attacking style and I was quite happy with it, but at some point during the season I was unhappy with our play and switched back to 4141. I prefer to play with a defensive midfielder and I felt I missed that in the team, despite things going quite well for us in the league. My setup has changed as the season has gone on and players have come and gone from the team.
As the season is now over, this is what I finished up with. I’m not settled on this for our system long term though. I’m just working with what I’ve got at present and this seems to do us well. Defensively we were strong but we lack attacking impetus. It’s all quite laboured and we’ve relied heavily on our defence being very tight.
I’ll revisit this setup as seasons go on, but I thought I’d put out what I’m using right now.
When I took over Wisla, we were pencilled in for a 9th place finish in the season preview. The board expected a top half finish and I was actually quite happy with that. Low expectations meant that the pressure to deliver silverware or any sort of success was shifted onto someone else’s shoulders. I just wanted us to be solid and not take a beating off of any teams. Anything above that 9th place preview spot was progress for us.
We ended up having a pretty solid season, way above our expected position and well above my expectations. I’m probably being quite hard on the team as I thought we weren’t that great, but we only scored four fewer goals than league champions Pogon Szczecin. As I said above, it was our defensive displays that really helped us. As you can see, we had the best defensive record in the league, only conceding 24 times. We kept 20 clean sheets.
We were knocked out of the cup in the third round by eventual winners Jagellonia. I wasn’t too bothered about that, but next year I’ll be hoping to put a bit more effort into the cup competition as I feel that it’s a realistic opportunity to pick up a trophy.
I was reasonably happy with my squad, although I definitely need to spend a lot of time recruiting players this summer. Goals were shared around the team although we weren’t as clinical as we could have been.
Rafal Pietrzak was one of the stars of the season from left back. He scored a couple of cracking free kicks and was a bit of a nuisance down the left. 7 assists made him our most creative player. Marko Kolar finished as top scorer on 11, but I need my striker to be scoring double that amount next year.
I can’t complain at a third place finish, especially with our squad and budget. Europa League money, if I make the group stage, will be very welcome indeed. There’s lots of room for improvement however.
Strengths and Weaknesses
A real strength for us this year, other than our defensive displays, was our ability to cause chaos from a set piece. We scored 9 goals from corners, 3 from direct free kicks and 4 from indirect free kicks. There were probably a few more goals that came about after a set piece situation and we also scored a couple of goals as a result of long throw-ins. I’m not usually all that bothered about scoring from set pieces, but this was good to see. It could be a concern if that tails off next season as set pieces accounted for almost a third of all of our goals scored in the league.
Looking at the shooting charts is where we can see our problems. The third lowest shots on target percentage at 39% with a 10% conversion rate meant that we were getting chances, but they weren’t very good chances. I try not to over analyse players too much as anyone can miss the net, but we’ll need to get more shots on target next year. 39% isn’t terrible but the team at the top of that table had 48% of shots on target.
The squad has some weaknesses that I’ll be trying to address which will hopefully help with some of these issues.
I haven’t bothered to mention the players I signed this year as I don’t have a solid transfer policy. As my funds are quite low, I have more of a scattergun approach to transfers. It’s hard being picky when you have no money to sign anyone. The transfer budget doesn’t exist and the wage budget has a similar outlook.
In my first post I stated that players can leave assuming we get the right amount of money for them. I sold a 17 year old defender this season for €1m plus a 50% future fee as I needed to balance the books.
We also needed players in certain positions so I signed Greek midfielder Stavros Tsoukalas on a free transfer. He has done well for us and I think clubs might come in for him this summer. Any money we get for him will be good business. I also signed two players on loan, Gennaro Ruggiero from Palermo and Mats Köhlert from Hamburg. Köhlert started well but faded towards the back end of the season. Rather annoyingly, Ruggiero kept disappearing for Italian U21 duty.
I’ll be hunting down a couple of midfielders who can control games this summer. I really don’t have anyone in the side that can grab a game by the scruff of the neck and carry us forward. It won’t be simple to find that type of player so I’ll likely be scouring the loan market again. I also need a pacy winger and someone who can tuck the ball into the back of the net consistently. I’m ok defensively but another centre back might be required if funds allow it.
The aim is to keep moving forward with the team. A third place finish will mean I’ll need to set standards a bit higher next year. That doesn’t mean trying to finish higher in the league, but I’ll expect better performances all around. Top five and a good run in the cup will be an acceptable season for us.
Thanks for reading. Fingers crossed this isn’t my two post allowance for FM19 all used up!