SAF-Challenge: Episode 2

It’s December 4th 2017. After the first 4 weeks we experienced some ups and downs. The biggest challenge was to create a team capable of beating the teams at the bottom so we can escape a relegation battle. The schedule wasn’t very good to us, especially with 3 out of the 4 games againt top-half teams. But I think we did what we could and got enough points out of them. The training is getting better and players are developing nicely. We still need to work on the tactics. With the current tactic we are too vulnarable in the back and escpecially on the wings. A lot of our goals against were scored through crosses. Also we need to work on the defense of set pieces, which is also a sort of a week spot in our team.

Matches

As I said before, the schedule wasn’t very nice to us. Our first 4 games were against Arsenal, Huddersfield, Man City and Watford. Giving the fact 3 of the 4 opponents are in the top half of the league, I figured this would be a very hard start to my career at Brighton. My goal was to try to get at least 4 points out of the next 4 match.

Arsenal

My managerial debut was against Arsenal. A game I figured we would loose, so I told the squad to play the counter and wait fot the right opportunity. We started the game very well. Ok, we didn’t have a lot of the ball, but we played on the counter and the start was full of action. After just 7 minutes we reacted on a attack from Arsenal and it resulted in the first goal under my management. A beautiful played counter with Ulloa as the one making the final strike. 1-0 up against Arsenal, who would have thought that on my first game as manager. The game got even better 5 minutes later. A beautiful strike from Jurgen Locadia after a free kick made it 2-0. That was the moment I was hoping for. I told my players to calm down and concentrate and was waiting anxiously for the attacks Arsenal were creating. And many there were. Many shots were fired at our goal, but most of them went over the bar of out for a goal kick. Until the 40th minute. Lacazette finished a beautiful Arsenal move and made it 2-1 before half time. During the half-time break I said to my players to calm down and try to counter one more time. The second half was very one-sided. Arsenal were attacking and we were trying to keep our goal clean. Unfortunately Lacazette had a great second half and scored twice in the 59th and 83rd minute. Too bad, the first match was a loss. But what an exciting game it was.

Huddersfield

Our next opponent was Huddersfield Town. This match was very exciting in the first half where we got 2-0 up with goals from Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa. Both came from set pieces. The start of the second half secured the win for us. Huddersfields Dean Whitehead made a two-foot lunge on Glenn Murray and that resulted in a deserving red card in the 49th minute. Huddersfield must continue with 10 men. They changed to a very defending formation with 5 defenders in the back. It was very difficult to create anything with all those defenders and that was probably the reason why Huddersfield changed their formation again around the 75th minute to try to get a draw in the last 15 minutes. This opened it all up for us and we scored three more times. Two goals by Glenn Murray and another goal in injury time by Lewis Dunk.

Manchester City

This match was very one-sided. We had nothing to say in the game and were already 3-0 down after the first half. Goals came from Sergio Aguero (2x) and Fernandinho. In the second half Manchester City started fast and made the 4-0 after 3 minutes. After that goal they let us play a little bit which resulted in 2 goals in 3 minutes. Both goals were scored by Glenn Murray in the 51st and 53rd minute. I tried getting more goals, but Manchester City didn’t let us go and strangled the game. They made the 5-2 from a corner kick and that was the game. Too bad, but it was calculated.

Watford

Before the start of the game I told my players to go for a win. I changed the mentality to Control and started the game. Our luck wasn’t on our side in the first minutes. Gerard Deulofeu got the ball and dribbled towards our goal. He scored with a deflection after 3 minutes. I keeped playing more attacking and the game was switching back and forth. In the 36th minute we were 2-0 down because of a beautiful goal by Abdoulaye Doucoure. Just before half time we did something back. From a free kick Leonardo Ulloa headed the ball in the net. 2-1 at half time. I changed the tactics back to my original settings and told the players to go look for the counter. In the second half we gave Watford less chance to play there game. We were closing them down, passing short to eachother and created multiple chances. And after 3 minutes the first goal of the second half was there. Glenn Murray send the ball over the top, Jurgen Locadia picked it up and ran to the goalkeeper and scored on a 1-on-1. 2-2! With this result my goal of 4 points in 4 games was reached. But I wasn’t satisfied yet. I brought on Solly March so Pascal Gross could occupy another AMC slot. Nothing really happened until injury time. In the dying seconds of the game, Pascal Gross kicked the ball to the goal but the keeper saved it. Cornerkick. Cornerkick from the right side floats in, Solly March jumped up and headed the ball into the bottom right corner. 3-2! Our second win! Referee ended the game and a small party was going on.

Premier League

After these games the league table has changed. We are out of the relegation zone, but we need to keep winning games like the one against Watford to be safe from relegation in a few months.

What’s next

The schedule gives us another few matches which can be won. The next five opponents are Liverpool (4th), Newcastle United (20th), Leicester (7th), West Ham United (10th) and Stoke City (14th). The goal we will be setting is a staggering 6 points from those 5 matches. In the next episode you will see if we reached our goal.

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