...insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated
Back when I introduced Casado at the start of Season 8 there was no guarantee that this experiment would work - to turn a Brazilian central midfielder into a capable Ball Playing Defender (BPD). I was keen to ensure the 'experiment' wording was left in the title, I was under no illusions as to how hard it would be AND that things might not go to plan. Today's blog charts out the progress I have made in one season (Season 8: 2022/23): the successes and the failures.
One of the major successes, and something I was confident on, was Casado's ease at understanding the Central Defensive role. Within 3 months he was Awkward but by around 6 months Casado was an Accomplished Centre Back:
The reason for my confidence is twofold, (1) I am stubborn - I would play Casado out of position on a regular basis - something you can see above: 22 starts at CB (81% of Casado's playing time was at the back as a BPD). (2) Secondly, and perhaps more crucially, Casado has the right Professional mentality to make this work. Professional players in FM will (within reason) not complain about the intensity of their training. Whether it's positional change, additional focus or a new PPM...they simply get on with it.
Glimpses Of Magic
Over the period of 12 months, Casado has shown glimpses of technical prowess in our attack. He has only made one direct assist, but he has shown good composure and passing ability in many 2nd or 3rd assists - what we'd expect from a BPD. An example is shown below, from a Champions League home win against FC Twente:
The frustrations I have when I watch the above GIF is that the occurrences are few and far between. I know for sure that Casado would have a more positive influence on our attack if he was played in a more advanced strata - whether it be DM, MC or AMC.
A Debut Disguise
Casado had a pretty memorable debut, not only was he part of a team that conceded 3 goals yet still won...he also scored a beauty (GCZ's 5th goal in a 5-3 victory):
The game was frantic, Casado played on the left side of a back three along with Davide Traverso (Regen) and Homegrown Noah Loosli. Both his partners had the Strength, Jumping and Heading ability to compensate for Casado's light frame. So I was expecting Casado to come out and play from the back. From what we see below, his passing and ball playing influences are marginally better than his peers:
We can see above that Casado is slightly more advanced and generally plays more riskier balls than his two partners but what comes with this experiment is Casado's sloppiness at the back:
Tackles won: 1
Tackles lost: 1
Aerial challenges won: 1
Aerial challenges lost: 1
Aerial challenges missed: 2
The above is pretty shocking and it was clear the my back-line was compensating massively for carrying a rather inactive ball player. My thinking was that I had to wait it out and see if Casado improved whilst his Positional Suitability/Awareness increased. Unfortunately the signs don't look too good, GCZ have only kept 7 clean sheets in the 21 League Games that Casado played as my BPD.
The Plateau Of Training
Worryingly Casado hasn't made progress in training. None of this BPD stats have grown (with the exception of heading from 10.4 to 10.6). There's various reasons why his stats may have plateaued, perhaps its because he is too busy learning the CB role...or that he is reaching the limit of his potential ability. Whatever the case, I am not making him a better footballer...something which really irks me.
Now this whole experiment probably highlights that I am not as good as an FMer as I probably thought I was - or at least too cocky after 7 straight league titles. I tried to implement a brand new 3-4-1-2 system at the same time as accommodating Casado as a BPD. Sometimes too many changes can be your downfall. With this in mind, I have reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 after our European exit to Monaco. But I have tweaked almost every aspect of the Team Instructions and now find that the Attacking mentality in a high tempo suits us more. Over the last few months I've managed to recover Season 8:
We've recorded our highest ever points total in the league (101). We've also become more solid at the back: 9 clean sheets in those 16 games. The main casualty? You guessed it, the BPD. Beloved Casado.
However, it's not all doom and gloom, Casado has still finished his 1st season in Europe with a good Average Rating and a Domestic Double to write home about. But I am back where I was a year ago in this save, deciding what to do with him:
For now, the BPD experiment is on hold - I am content that in one season I turned a Brazilian import into an accomplished Centre Back, but it hasn't been without its problems. I am approaching the last two seasons at GCZ and I want to do everything possible to advance in Europe. I am hopeful that Casado will play a huge part of that success, but just in a different way than first conceptualised.
As always, thanks for reading.