Erwin van Dijk has settled in well to football management. In the first few months managing Eastbourne, van Dijk has begun to develop his own style of management. For so long during the latter part of his playing career, van Dijk studied his former manager Waisale Sivivatu and truly believed that his method was THE method to achieve success. Yet his first few months of real management has taught him that there is not one single method to achieve success.
Waisale Sivivatu was a hands-off manager. The Fijian would leave training to his assistant, ignore the press and generally only make tactical adjustments when the team was on a losing streak. Sivivatu would have excellent relationships with his players and staff and the team atmosphere was always a welcoming one to any new member of the club. Van Dijk learned almost immediately that this method would not work with part-timers Eastbourne.
Now 12th in the table after 21 games, midway through his first season, van Dijk has developed a method of winning games. It’s fair to say that his Eastbourne team are neither overperforming or underachieving, yet some in local media are lauding van Dijk for his tactical nous. This was epitomised in Eastbourne’s recent victory at home to Billericay.
1-0 down at half-time at Priory Lane, Eastbourne’s home ground, meant that the seaside club would slip down to 17th in the table, far closer to the relegation zone than they’d like. It was time for van Dijk to be the manager that his idol Sivivatu rarely was – it was time for some half-time analysis.
Half Time Analysis
You may have read in my ‘plans for FM19‘ post that I am going to have less time for blogging and playing FM this year. As such, I’ve decided to take more care with each game I play. For previous saves I generally rushed through seasons, especially if my team were the dominant team. Once I had a tactic that worked I would leave everything else to my assistant and plough through matches. This year will be different.
I’ve taken an approach of analysing teams I am about to play through the opposition reports and making small pre-match adjustments only if necessary. Half-time is where I spend time analysing the game so far and working out what I need to do to improve in the 2nd half. The match against Billericay is a prime example and I will run through the changes I made below.
Billericay are a good side, they boast players like ex-Tottenham stars Jamie O’Hara and Steven Caulker, Championship journeyman Leon Best and ex-Man Utd goalkeeper Paul Rachubka. Our best player is ex-Brighton winger Dean Cox. To be losing 1-0 at half-time was certainly not unexpected, but of course at half-time things had to change in order to get something out of the game, Billericay were dominant in the first half.
One of the things I now do at half-time in every match is look for opportunities to improve or exploit the opponent in the second half. Against Billericay, I checked the analysis tab and saw that my players were playing far deeper than their counterparts. As such, I changed the tactical setting for when my team lost possession from regroup to counter-press.
This really helped unsettle Billericay in the second half.
You can see how further forward my players were when out of possession. This put Billericay players under pressure that they did not have in the first half. As a result, Billericay defenders were unable to find as many forward passes as shown by the below GIF.
Incredibly, in the second half the Billericay left-back managed only 1 successful forward pass, emphasising how good our pressing was.
You can see from the GIF above that the Billericay central midfielders were restricted in the second half, largely due to our pressing. In the first half, the 2 central midfielders often sprayed out passes to the right side of the pitch, both to an advancing fullback and to their right-sided winger. In the second half, the number of passes towards the right side of the pitch was reduced significantly.
An added factor behind our pressing improvement was the substitution made at half-time. I replaced young central midfielder Carl Harban with like-for-like replacement Romeo Akinola. This was due to Akinola’s greater defensive, physical and speed attributes.
Another change I made at half-time was to increase the number of crosses we put into the box. A lot of our goals this season have come from crosses and as such I wanted to make the most of any opportunities we had in the wider areas.
Both of our goals in the second half came from crosses, one direct from a corner and another from a deep cross by Dean Cox.
Analysing the teams performance at half-time led to me making changes that influenced our performance in the second half. As a result, we fought back and came from behind to win 2-1 and maintain our position in mid-table.
This is how I plan to play FM this year, I enjoy it more when I play like this as I feel I have more control over the result but I do consequently play at a slower pace.
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Thanks for reading the latest post in my career with Erwin van Dijk. The next post in the series will detail Eastbourne’s first season under van Dijk, can the Dutchman lead his side to a top half finish?
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