FM15 Legends Interview: Jonathan Aspey of the Tactical Annals

Good afternoon folks, and welcome to another FM15 Legends Interview.  I first stumbled across this guy when I was reading and it is down to him that I now try and fit a central winger into every formation I try and come up with.  Enjoy!

Hey Jonathan, thanks for giving up some time to speak to me today. Straight up mate, tell my followers who you are….

First off, thanks for asking me to do this interview. My name is Jonathon Aspey, or Cheeky Deeky on the old The Dugout forum, and CDeeky on FM Now. I currently run The Tactical Annals, after writing on Strikerless previously. I’m 23 and I live in the North East.

I really enjoy your blog The Tactical Annals and have recently become fascinated with the 442 again as a result, but tell us when you started playing the game?

Wow, it’s been a long time. I’d go into one of my 4-4-2 rants, but it would take up far too much time. I think the first time I played Football Manager was in Year 7 when I was about 12. I think it was FM05. I wasn’t very good at the game then, and was largely clueless about tactics, so ended up playing 4-4-2 the entire time. From there I largely talked about management games with a friend of mine in Biology, but I eventually stopped playing due to games like Halo taking my attention.

What made you want to start writing about it?

The first time I wrote about FM was over on The Dugout, which I’d visited for a long time without signing up, reading Forza’s (@FMAnalysis) and @Shrewnaldo’s pieces in particular. I had an idea that I wanted to recreate David Silva’s role for Man City in Pellegrini’s 4-4-2, and wrote about that. It never really worked how I wanted it to, but for my first time writing, it got some decent attention which was nice. It was mainly to get my ideas out on ‘paper’ and start developing my thoughts. From there, I had some very nice people encourage me to start up a blog (particularly Guido), which I eventually did.

Where did you develop all your knowledge?

In terms of tactical knowledge, it’s mainly just from watching an awful lot of football. As a kid, I watched far more Italian football and English football, and tactics are king in Italy. My fascination with tactics really intensified when I went to Uni, and I’ll never forget watching the Barca/Real 5-0 in a pub with my mates. From there I just started reading everything, and Zonal Marking fascinated me when I eventually found it. I read so many football books as well, and Inverting The Pyramid was probably the first to have a big impact on me, as I love football history. In terms of FM knowledge, it’s just stuff I’ve developed from reading people’s stuff all these years, particularly Shrew and FMAnalysis. Their writing helped me get back into FM when I was at Uni.

What has your greatest save been to date?

My greatest ‘save’ was probably with Benfica on FM11, which covered my first year at Uni. I developed an absolutely amazing young squad, until my scumbag Chairman (you’d think I was still bitter about it) allowed them all to leave for very small fees. We were just about to really challenge in the CL as well. I bought Neymar and Afellay with the cash, but it just wasn’t the same. I always remember it fondly though. I never really last that long in saves on FM, as they’re usually tactical projects, but that save went about 4 or 5 seasons. My best season on FM was last year, when I took Mjallby (who were predicted 12th) to the Swedish League title, using a narrow 4-1-2-3-0 that I absolutely loved. I could never bring myself to carry the save on after that though, and it ended after one glorious season. My Sturm Graz save on this year’s version is getting pretty close though, and I’m enjoying it more and more as the seasons go on.

What has been your biggest FM failure so far?

My biggest FM failure has to be my FM13 save with Swansea. For anyone that doesn’t know, I consider myself a Swansea fan. Yes I’m from the North East, but I fell in love with Swansea the very first time I saw them under Rodgers and from then they’ve been my team, even after all the hipsters left to support Southampton. I managed them on FM13 and it was just an absolute car crash. I couldn’t get the tactics right, and in the end I had to quit the save altogether. I’ve got unfinished business managing Swansea, and it might be something I go back to this year.

Who are you managing in FM15, and why?

On FM15, I’m managing Sturm Graz. The main reason for this is I always like managing in more obscure leagues. I just get bored playing in England, so Austria’s perfect for me. I also used to love reading Shrew’s Austria and Rapid C&C’s, so I understand Austria fairly well. I played with Salzburg (yuck) last year, but I wanted more of a challenge this year, so Sturm seemed the logical choice with Rapid kinda…taken.

For you, what has been the best addition to FM15 and why?

For me, it’s probably one of the player roles like the Roaming Playmaker, which I love. I also like the match engine this year, which seems much improved compared to last year’s.

Equally, what has been the worst?

To me, the absolute worst addition this year is the tactics screen, which just looks horrific. Last year it was fine and there was no need to change it. It was the typical if it aint broke scenario. Of course the IWB addition is an utter joke, which is a real shame because it would be fascinating to add to some of my systems.

If you were in charge of SI for a day, what would you change and why?

I wouldn’t release the games until they were actually ready. Year after year on release day, we get a game that might have promise but isn’t quite ready. By the time you develop a tactic for the first version of the game, it gets patched and your once dominant tactic isn’t quite so dominant anymore. I know they have a certain point every year that they like to release the game, but I’d rather wait and end up with a version of the game that was 100% finished.

Jonathan, again, thanks for your time today. As I said at the start, I think The Tactical Annals is one of the must reads out there and I would urge anyone that isn’t already reading it to start now!

Thank you very much, I really do appreciate that. If anyone has any questions related to FM, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@JLAspey) or via The Tactical Annals.

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