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Darren – FM 2011 Newcastles mixed Nov-Dec 10/11

Hi guys, welcome back to my FM 2011 Newcastle story. During my last post you saw a weird start to the say. My side beat the likes of Everton, Machester City and Fulham away, yet we struggled against Bolton and Stoke. I am hoping this inconsistent form has sorted itself out, but there is only one way to find out. Lets see how my mission to turn the mighty Toon into a European dominating side is doing.

November results

With the leafs falling and Autumn firmly set in the air, this is the month for grinding out games. It is also the month that offers me four games that could be worth six points a piece. With fixtures against my relegation rivals, West Brom, West Ham, Blackpool and Blackburn, every game will count for double. I also end the month away at Anfield, yet another chance for my players to prove they have top half credentials.

West Bromwich Albion vs Newcastle (Premier League)

With West Brom floating just above the relegation zone, this was an ideal time to sort out my form against lesser teams away from home. Keeping faith in my 4-5-1 with a counter strategy may be pushing it, but I know it will work better soon. I wanted to take advantage of a direct passing game and therefore used Andy Carroll as the lone advanced striker. The game was very tight but probably decided by a refereeing decision.

After losing Jara early on to a red card, West Bromwich Albion really struggled to make an impact. They got forward and took some shots but never managed to create a clear cut chance. The difference in this game was Jonas, the Argentines pace and dribbling was always a threat. He also managed a very powerful finish in the first half to score the decisive goal.

Newcastle vs West Ham (Premier League)

West Ham are doing fairly well so far, very similar to myself. The Hammers are mid table, a good run will see them in the top half, but a bad one could see them in the bottom three. With the home advantage I fully expected to do one over on this London side. I also felt it was the right time to try and move Kevin Nolan forward in my 4-5-1. A few people have mentioned trying this including GS Fan. So here you go, a chance to see how it works in my side.

As you can see the result does not bode well for my attempted 4-4-1-1 formation. Just like in FM10, whenever I use an attacking midfielder, no matter who he is, the player always under performs. Now I’m sure this works for many of you but unfortunately it doesn’t work with my playing style. Thankfully Ben Arfa got us out of jail in the second half with a great equaliser. The 1-1 draw was not a total disaster, but I was hoping for much more.

Blackpool vs Newcastle (Premier League)

Now this game was a great opportunity to pick up some momentum. Blackpool find themselves in a lot of trouble already, scrapping at the bottom and struggling to find some form. After listening to my assistants advice, I decided to use a 4-4-2 with two wingers pushed forward. This maybe a little risky away from home, but I desperately wanted the three points. Below is the video highlights from this game, a very tight affair but we got there in the end.

I was starting to regret my out of character attacking formation when Harewood opened the scoring. However, Enrique’s finish from a corner turned the match back in the Toons favour. Then, Artem Ben Arfa came up trumps again to win us the game after a goalkeeping clanger. Unfortunate for Blackpool, but my boys deserved the good fortune. My only gripe? Why aren’t the strikers scoring? I can’t put my finger on it yet, but hopefully they’ll find the net soon enough.

Newcastle vs Blackburn (Premier League)

After a tough day out in Blackpool, my side needed to show their class at home against Blackburn. A side that are struggling so far this season and find themselves in the bottom half. I decided to revert back to my 4-5-1 formation as Blackburn are a tough side to beat. Last thing I needed was to concede another early goal.

This game panned out exactly as I thought. Blackburn didn’t manage much possession, or create many chances, but they were very tough to break down. Ben Arfa, yet again, came to our rescue as my strikers goal drought continued. With this aside, I was still happy to gain the three points. At the end of the day I need to establish Newcastle in the top flight again. Then we can look at playing better and scoring more goals. My nerves will just have to last until then :)

Liverpool vs Newcastle (Premier League)

To end November, I had a very tough game away from home to Liverpool. With both sides residing within the top six, this was going to be an interesting tie. My 4-5-1 formation was in use again along side a counter strategy. I needed to keep Gerrard and Torres quiet, but avoiding a thrashing was my main goal.

This was a very rough match, a lot of bad tackles and silly challenges lead to loads of bookings. Liverpool may have played the better football, but in watching the game it was quite even. My Argentine centre back, Coloccini, was just sensational. I don’t think he missed a header or tackle all game. The clean sheet and 0-0 draw was definitely down to his heroics.

A very successful November I think. We won three and drew two, this was great considering I wanted to get ten points. My side may not be winning by large margins, but the nature of my tactics is to get the result, not play attractive football. This crude way of managing has served many bosses through the years and I find it the most successful. There is no point in winning three games 3-0, then losing two because I’m trying to win every game with ease. I may as well settle for the tight margins that seem to gain me more points. Like I said, I’ll be attempting some more attacking ways in the seasons to come. Anyway, on to December.

December results

With the snow threatening to fall and the Premier League starting to take shape. Newcastle United find themselves in the top seven. Very unfamiliar territory, and a difficult month could transfer them to more familiar ground. Birmingham, Manchester Utd, Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham, will all be eager to beat the Toon Army. However, the magpies are buoyant after a great November and unbeaten run. I am only expecting six points from these five games, but we’ll see what happens.

Birmingham vs Newcastle (Premier League)

After a great first season in the Premier League, Birmingham are starting to feel the strain. The Blues find themselves in the bottom three with little to shout about. This is another great opportunity for me to establish Newcastle’s top half position, against a wounded team. I decided to use my attacking 4-4-2, the same one that helped me beat Blackpool away from home. I have prepared the match highlights of this game for you, so lets see what happened.

Another great result away from home and a good solid performance. Ben Arfa showed his class during the first goal with a great cross to Andy Carroll. I was happy to see the striker score, but disappointed with the decision to call it an own goal, then we got a little lucky with the second goal. A jonas shot was deflected into the top corner, ow well, it doesn’t matter how they go on. I was very happy with this result and not too bothered by my opponents late goal. Steven Taylor was a rock at the back and my man of the match.

Newcastle vs Manchester United (Premier League)

With Man Utd enjoying their football so far, this game will be very tough. The red side of Manchester are in top spot and scoring goals for fun. However, my boys have only conceded one goal in the last three games. Reverting back to my 4-5-1 and a counter strategy seemed sensible for this game. It is sure to be a long 90 minutes but you never know in football.

This game turned out to be much closer than I thought. My defence and midfield played exceptionally well, stopping United’s attacks from the source. In the end either side could have won, but a draw was the right result. Andy Carroll, where are your goals? Im definitely missing a clinical striker, this is something that needs looking at next season.

Newcastle vs Sunderland (Premier League grudge match)

The biggest game of the season for any fan has to be this one. Both sides are in the top half and trying to keep up the good form. With Sunderland fielding two very fast strikers in Bent and Gyan, I had to counter this. Therefore I opted for a 4-5-1 with deep defensive line. Hopefully we dominate the middle of the pitch and this helps us control the game. I have uploaded the match highlights for this massive Derby. If you can hear some screaming in the background, its me. :) :)

After going 1-0 down, I was starting to worry about the fans reaction. Then Jordan Henderson made a very rash challenge and paid the price. With Sunderland down to ten men, I was ready to dominate. Tiote’s strike has to be a contender for goal of the season, I was jumping up and down at that point. Then Ben Arfa came up trumps again and finished the game off. I was hoping for a more convincing scoreline, but 2-1 is still three points against my rivals.

I still had two games left in the month, but they were both very uneventful so we won’t go into detail. I lost to Chelsea and Tottenham away from home 1-0. This may have been a bad way to end the month, but on the whole, I was happy with my results considering the opponents.

League table and squad stats

A great November and decent December have left Newcastle very close to the golden 40 points. This is considered by many, as the points tally you need to avoid relegation. We’re more than halfway through the season and find ourselves in 8th place with 32 points…this is very promising and I think mid-table should be the key target now. Tottenham have fallen off the pace a little and this has left the door open for the usual top four of Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. I think both the title and relegation battle will go to the wire this season. I’m just glad Newcastle should be out of the way.

After some good performances, it seems to be my more defensive players taking the plaudits. From my attacking players, Barton, Joans and Ben Arfa are leading the line. Without Ben Arfa’s goals we would be in a spot of bother I think. Where as Enyeama’s rating of 6.99 doesn’t do justice to his great form.

January and February fixtures

At a glance these two months don’t look too tough. However, I have to avoid complacency as these sides are all good on their day and will make us pay. The middle order will be the most difficult, Everton away, Man City at home and Aston Villa away could put a dint in my form. However, I fully expect a minimum of 11 points and that should leave us 100% safe from relegation.

Well that is it for today’s update guys, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll be back soon to see how the rest of winter goes. In the meantime, enter your email address in the top right sidebar. This will help you receive all my posts to your email address, that way you won’t miss a thing. Please feel free to ask any questions below and I look forward to reading your comments as always.

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kevin
kevin
11 years ago

Hi Darren
Too bad the london clubs spoiled what was otherwise a decent set of results during The Fall season of your campaign.Ben Afra appaers to be the main contributor to you success right now. hopefully the strikers will get more into the action in the new year.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  kevin

Hey Kevin, I always seem to struggle in London, then again Newcastle in general do bar the Arsenal game this year. I am delighted with Ben Arfas contribution but he’s only on loan and I need to raise £5mill to keep him. This could dampen the season a little but we’ll see what happens.

Arjuna
11 years ago

Hey Darren,
You have done fantastically in these couple of tough months!! You should be mid-table come the end of the season
Arjuna

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Arjuna

Thanks Arjuna, despite the last two games I was happy with our results. Hopefully mid-table will be a realistic target now.

Sears
11 years ago

Hey Darren,
there were two good months. You defiantly picked up some vital points from those team around and below you. I’m sure you can stay in the top ten come the end of the season. Good luck..

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sears

Thanks Sears, the aim was to gain the points against teams in and around us, as these will count for more. Hopefully this will be a good platform to build from.

Johnny Karp
11 years ago

That goal from Tioté was absolutely stunning, great stuff! You have built a solid team there, holding both Liverpool and Man United to goalless draws is not an easy task. Great job so far, I think that you will move further up the table in the second half of the season. Good luck!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

Thanks Johnny, the Tiote goal really was special, especially coming in the big derby! I was expecting to lose to both Utd and Liverpool, so those two points were a great bonus. Hopefully with an easier fixture list the next two months will see me climb up the table. Thanks for the comment.

warren
11 years ago

Hi Darren

You have had a good start to the season and you seemed to be ahead of the target that you set at the start of the season. Its a shame that the strikers aren’t scoring goals but the good things is is that your winning games and thats all that matters. Ben Arfa has been a brilliant player for you its just a shame we never got to see him in real life.

Good luck for the rest of the season.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  warren

Thanks Warren, hopefully the strikers will score soon, but I think I may look into loaning someone come January. Ben Arfa has been immense and he was doing so well in real life too…thanks a lot De Jong for taking away one of our best signings. Thanks for the good wishes Warren]

ps I guess we both predicted right for the Fulham game, seriously, the Toon need to get moving at home because we won’t keep winning away.

Mike505
Mike505
11 years ago

Hi mate. how is your young argentine striker playing as you have not mentioned him. a prolific striker is needed. any money to spend in january?

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Mike505

Hey Mike505, your right I haven’t really mentioned Araujo. He had one amazing game but has failed to impress since then. I think his composure and finishing are letting him down. Everytime he has a half chance, I just know he will fluff it up. Hopefully he will improve with time, but so far I can’t get a good level of performance from him. Im currently looking into numerous loan options as my funds are gone. Hopefully Ill find a great young striker, Macheda is my main target so far. Thanks for the comment.

Lye
Lye
11 years ago

Hi Darren,

You have a good November and it’s tough to play Chelsea and Tottenham they have a strong squad. I am keeping my fingers cross for a play-off spot. You are not far behind. Playing a lone striker is a challenge to me. I hope you can sort it out with Andy Carroll. Hope to see him start scoring. Good luck.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Lye

Thanks Lye, I think the lads handled our tough fixtures fairly well. The next few months could set us up for a high finish but the form needs to improve just a bit more. Hopefully Carroll will start performing better soon, but Ill be getting a new striker on loan just in case.

Mike505
Mike505
11 years ago

im looking at conor wickham at the moment for my newcastle game but i am umming and arring. i want kadlec but cant raise the funds.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Mike505

Hey Mike505, Wickham would be a great buy. Unfortionately he wouldn’t have the instant impact Kadlec would but when your restricted by budgets, its best to build for the future in my opinion.

Boris
Boris
11 years ago

Hi.
It looks like you will defantly avoid the drop, you just need to sort out the strikers and hope key players like Ben Afra don’t get injured.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Boris

Hey Boris, thanks for the comment…relegation won’t be a problem now so mid-table should be my next target. Your definitely right about avoiding injuries. A few key stars been sidelined would damage my form majorly. Lets hope that doesnt happen and the strikers chip in a bit more.

Calin
11 years ago

Some really great results you had in these past months and from what I saw in the highlights, the team plays a really solid football game! For example the goal of Tiote was simply brilliant!

So… maybe a push to see Europe next year? :)

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Calin

Thanks Calin, we are playing some good football but not on a consistent basis. Its hard to know what sort of a performance Ill get every week :) Europe would be amazing but a season too soon I think.

Ana Garcia
Ana Garcia
11 years ago

Good results so far,

Agree that Ben Arfa is your star hopefully you can make his loan permanent how are the finanaces at Newcastle?

Mid table seems a good target and hopefully you can continue on and build on this decent month for your team, good luck!!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Ana Garcia

Hey Ana, the finances aren’t great…we have £400K budget which will go on a loan signing in January. Hopefully the board will offer a decent budget next season but Ben Arfas agreed price wont be valid that late. Ill just concentrate on the season and worry about Ben Arfa next season I think. Thanks for the comment.

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
11 years ago

Hi Darren, that was a good couple of months, despite the defeats at the end of December. Your side are very solid and look capable of a top 6 finish if you go on a good run. Good luck!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Laxeyman

Thanks Laxeyman, the lads handled the tough fixtures quite well. Im not sure if we are ready for the top six yet, but I agree that a great run would put us around there.

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

Hey Darren,

I’d say that’s all very decent! Especially coming away with something from both the Liverpool and Man Utd games. :)

Ben Arfa is a cracking player! He is young too. I would personally look to sell someone like Alan Smith in Januray and raise funds to keep Ben Arfa come the end of the season. You can definitely build a team around a guy like Ben Arfa.

As for the 4-4-1-1….. I’m sorry that didn’t work out so good for your team. Maybe they need a bit more practice at it ;)
I usually deploy Carroll as a target man, preffering to feed him to his head. He usually does a good job of getting it on net, creating a rebound or getting a bad clearence attempt from the opposition defence or bringing it down for Nolan.

Very exciting season so far. Stay positive because it’s looking promising.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Thanks GS Fan, like Ive said already, the lads handled a tough fixture list well. I’ve been trying to offload a few unwanted players for a while to raise funds, but I can’t get decent offers for them. Hopefully I’ll find a way of signing Ben Arfa as he’s my key player!!

Its a shame the 4-4-1-1 didn’t work with my squad, I’m still trying it every now and then so we’ll see if the players react well to it at some point. Iam using Carroll in the same way you have mentioned but for some reason its just not working…we’ll just see if something comes of it in easy games. Btw I mentioned I was trying to find a way of offering an area for you and other readers to share your tips and stories, well Ive done it. Read the post for it here and get registered mate, that way I can read your stories as well. http://allthatisfootballmanager.com/2010/11/allthatisfootballmanagers-new-forum/ I really want to hear more about your tactics and games mate, so head to the forum and get sharing, I check it every day.

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

I will definitely start using the forum to share my FM adventures. Thank you for getting that up and running for us! I’m looking forward to using it and reading other managers’ stories as well.

By the way, I just wanted to say that Tiote’s goal is just downright sick!! WOWWWW!!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Good to here GS Fan, if you need any help dont hesitate to ask on one of my posts, cant wait to see your story in the forum. Tiote’s goal was special :) my mouth just dropped to the floor!

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

I was going to post my Newcastle story last night, but I ran into a problem with posting screenshots. To be honest, I have never really posted a screenshot in a forum before.

When I clicked on the image icon all I got was two html markers, so I’m not sure as to what I should be doing next. Any assistance would be appreciated.

On a brighter note I was able upload goals to youtube from my first league game against Sunderland, yes you read that right! Sunderland! I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so as soon as I can get screenshots up I will make my post :)

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Hi GS Fan, the Sunderland game sounds like one to watch so we’d better get you going in the forum ASAP :) I have made a short tutorial on how to add images. The only thing to note that I haven’t mentioned is you can’t resize the images when their on the forum. Therefore I would recommend cutting the image in your screenshot software so it only shows the information required. If the image is too big, it will seem very small and difficult to see. Anyway follow the link below and give it ago. You’ll see what I mean when you have done it. http://allthatisfootballmanager.com/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=3.0 Any problems just let me know mate. Can’t wait to see your story.

junior
junior
11 years ago

hey darren how are u??i really like ur site and one thing i wanna say is that i really like the way u guyz take teams(in fm10 on ur old blog)and just build them..ive playing fm since 2007 and i find it quite frustrating at times..hehe..
i wanna work hard and become like u,sears,warren taking teams and juuuust making them incredible..goodluck with this one!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  junior

Hey Junior, I’m great thanks mate and even better after reading your comment. Blogging about FM takes up a lot of time, even more so since moving to my own hosted site and it can get a little too much sometimes. However, reading comments like yours reminds me of why I do it. Its great to know you are following the stories and enjoying them, but especially that you are inspired to play longer games and build a great team. I used to get very frustrated I think until the 09 edition, finishing in the top four was like winning the league to me. Then I started playing the game more and made a big effort to learn all the hints and tips, now I’m just hooked. Don’t worry mate you’ll get there very soon it just takes time, me and the writers are here to help as well so any questions are welcome. That is what I am here for mate. Thanks for the kind words Junior :)

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

Thanks Darren!!

I live on the other side of the World in Toronto, Canada. So, when I get home from work tonight I’ll give it a go.

I had already cropped my screenshots, so they are ready to go, now it’s just a matter of getting them up on the site.

A side question.
Have you tried uploading game highlights as opposed to just individual goals? When I tried to upload game highlights the upload progress bar would almost go all the way to the end, sit there, then I would get a check your internet connection error message, every time! Because of this I only uploaded Newcastle goals, let’s just say that the game was a high scoring affair.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Hey GS Fan, as I said let me know if you have problems but it should be simple enough when you see the tutorial. With regards to game highlights, I had the same problem on the demo, but for some reason it works fine on the full version. Maybe check your in game preferences and the YouTube resolution, if that is too high your computer may struggle. Or your PC may just struggle with it in general. Im looking forward to your story mate, the Sunderland game sounds like a great match.

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