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[FM20] All That's Left is to Find Out the Colour of the Hair Dryer

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So as late as last night I indicated I had no interest in getting the latest version, or had the money spare to do so. However much has changed in the intervening period. The temptation of being involved in the joint thread, the fact I got paid more than I expected and the fact that my illness has returned. My body is at this moment sleeker than Cristiano Ronaldo, but mine is sweat not whatever oil the poser uses. Currently my shirt is on, however if my temperature continues to rise then I cannot promise this will remain the case.

So feeling under the weather, temptation, extra funds! WOO HOO IT'S FM20 TIME. I'm also more than a little disillusioned with my round the world save in FM19 where I can't seem to get out of Zimbabwe!

I have always been fascinated by the challenge forum, reading through the threads for ideas and inspiration, and I figured it was time to dip my toes in the water, so he we go, Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge begins


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The full rules of the challenge can be found here though the basics are to attempt to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson's managerial achievements in England within the same time scale he did.

That means I have 27 years to win these:


Premier League (13)
FA Cup (5)
League Cup (4)
Community Shield (10)
UEFA Champions League (2)
UEFA Europa League (1) (Replaces the Cup Winners Cup) **

UEFA Super Cup (1)
FIFA Club World Cup (2) (One Replaces Intercontinental Cup)


To start the challenge you have to holiday to 6th of November and take control of the team 2nd bottom in the table. That is the date Ferguson joined and the position Man Utd were in at the point he became their manager. The date is now November the 6th, and I am just recovering from a fantastic fireworks and bonfire display, to wake up and find that I have replaced Brendan Rogers as manager of struggling Leicester City.



We have just 5 points and a woeful -14 goal difference! My 1st game in charge is going to be in 3 days against Sheffield Utd in 17th spot, a relegation 6 pointer already! 

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Being new to FM20 as well as this challenge I've had a closer look at both, which brought me to one of the new screens 


There is nothing in there I disagree with an certainly a lot that works in my favour. The challenge details how I have to always have at least one academy product in the match day squad, and how I should look to develop players at the club rather than just bring them in. Being at a club that wants to use the youth system is a bonus. The top half finish for this season is realistically where I want to be, however I am not being judged on those terms, as I was brought in to battle bravely against relegation. The from there the progression is clear, work slowly upwards from "best of the rest" which is outside of the top 6, to qualifying for the Europa League.



This is the squad I have whittled down to do it, with a transfer budget of only £2M and no room in the wage budget at all I doubt I will be doing any business in January. It is lacking in a few players I would like to use, Ben Chillwell has ruptured his cruciate ligament and will be out for likely the rest of this season. Likewise Kelechi Iheanacho is sidelined for up to 4 months for a damaged achilles. Adrien Silva and Andy King are both out on loan and will look to be recalled if possible. I have no place for Jamie Vardy, who with a 4 month injury with a fractured skull keeping him out of my hair, before we even mention the fact that my formation doesn't accommodate him, so he is up for sale.


Kieran Dewsbury-Hall is the academy prospect who is closest to coming through into the 1st team and helps me fulfil the challenge rule without me feeling that I'm wasting a subs bench spot just to sit someone there. 


With that colour away kit, it's going to have to be a pink hair dryer! 



1st game and tactics to follow! 

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As I have followed more @ManUtd1 threads about hope, obsession and Zlatan the Lion and the Golden Fountain, than I care to be honest even with myself about. It is no wonder that along the way, one of his obsessions, about playing striker less football has peeked my interest. You can take a look at his latest thread Here, there is plenty of fun and frolicking, plus you can see him using the tactics I've stolen!


PM HAAIENBEK is detailed in glorious detail here, but in all fairness I was sold once I discovered I could replicate a sharks mouth with a magic box! Once again I feel lucky that the synergy of the tactic I wanted to play, the challenge I wanted to try, and the random team setting up this challenge gives you look to be promising. I look forward to seeing what mayhem James Maddison and Youri Tielemans can create from inside the magic box. 


One thing I didn't enjoy so much, at least the time it took, was to re download all the badges, portraits, and kits that I took for granted having done it ages ago for FM19. That was until I saw the badge collection I fell upon by chance at FM SCOUT turned out to give a rather awesome interpretation of the Foxes badge. This challenge is the 1st time I've taken over a team mid season, our form is crap, we've won one game all year to this point and that's against the only team below us in the league: Newcastle. 


Statistically an even game, they threatened, mainly as my wingbacks were caught up field and the narrower defending centre backs held their ground within the width of the penalty area it allowed the opposition wide players the opportunity to cross or more often shoot. The positive of this was that the majority of those shots are from tight angles and longer ranges.


At the other end of the pitch we had no problems creating chances, and scored with 50% of our shots on target. The magic box rotated to allow space for each of it's members. With Maddison often moving out to the left to create a passing option before one of the other box players moved beyond him as the highest player on the pitch. When all 4 players stayed central the Sheffield Utd defence had no answer, we overloaded their ability to pick everyone up without completely abandoning their shape and we were able to thread the ball through the holes their indecision created. Its early days, and I know it's only against 17th in the league but it definitely ticked the box for "play entertaining football" and having scored only 7 goals in the previous 11 league games, its a big step in the right direction. 6 days till the next game against West Ham, who are also struggling 2 points away in 16th place




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We round off the month of November with my 2nd and 3rd games in charge, up 1st are the Hammers at home, yet another lower quarter of the table scrap, but after that we go away to the Ethiad to play current league leaders Man City. Now I don't think there is ever a good time to play City, however your 3rd game in charge when your players still can't find their arse from their elbow tactically. 


Maybe because of our 0-4 win over Sheffield Utd away we were given better odds, I still think it's going to be closer than they suggest.


I'm putting the lack of possession down to our less than fluid understanding of the tactic. We get vertical penetration, but we also seem to just lump it forward and turn the ball over, hopefully this improves in time.


Two wins on the bounce, 6 goals scored, zero conceded, this is looking good! Though officially no chickens will be counted with the City game up next. Speaking of that game I don't have the kit and odds screenshot as I was too interested in hiding behind the sofa!



This was a more frustrating game than I expected it to be, we were good value for our lead (though not in terms of possession!) until they equalised. We should have had a penalty of our own inside the 1st minute but VAR concluded the challenge was outside the box. Yet the resulting free kick spot was very dubious! When they scored on 72 minutes I felt we had given it a good go and could be proud of the result, 4-1 seems very harsh. We just seemed to grind to a complete stop from the 70th minute on wards. The squad needs reinforcements, there can be no doubt, be that players coming back from injury or me going out and getting more position appropriate players for this formation we will have to see.


1st things 1st we are out of the relegation zone, we were up to 15th before the loss to City, there is only one direction we need to be concentrating in moving in!


Bournemouth, Southampton and Burnley could be tough, though I have growing confidence we could get some points in the games against teams around us.

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Been a while since I had the strength to look at this having battled bravely against man flu! Let's put that Man City result behind us and move forward into December, it's a cliche but those are not the sort of games where our season is going to be decided, at (hopefully) not for a few seasons yet! Will apologise that due to my illness and the stop start nature of my play time over the past couple of weeks, I am missing screenshots left right and centre! Only hope this improves as my health does.


1st up Palace at home, LOVE that Eagle badge. I am always  nervous when I am the favourite


Poor, both teams were poor, hopefully this is just us bedding in the tactic, as other than 5 minutes either side of halftime you could have slept through the game and not missed anything



Burnley next and missing screenshots all round


This game was over as a contest after 6 minutes when Tarkowski decided 2 feet were better than one, and that the ball mysteriously jumped up around Maddison's kneecaps. Burnley never looked like scoring, however for long periods of the game neither did we! 2 positive results, especially the Burnley win, those were points I was not expecting, slowly hoping to creep away from the danger zone as job one.


Not a fan of conceding 1st and having to come back into games, we did it against Palace, and again here against Brighton.


Seem to be walking a fine line, we either can play forward moving attacking football, and not keep the ball, or we change to shorter passing play and keep the ball but do nothing really with it. However 2 wins on the bounce!


Love how they have been described as woeful! Though still not happy with us being favourites. Interestingly, when we are shown in black we play in pink, and vice versa.


Another come from behind win, and my word that was late! It is somewhat refreshing to smash in a 30 yard worldie with almost the last kick of the game to win a match rather than see it snatched away from you.


Back to not being the favourite, expecting a result here! Although they are 8th in the league so that might be wishful thinking


Wow! 2 goals in the 1st half and we were sitting pretty, we got a 3rd after halftime and I thought that was game over. Then it turned into a punch drunk boxing match, back and forth for another 5 goals, till we came away battered and bloody but with 3 points.


Just the run we needed to get us out of the danger zone.



Amused how we go from inconsistent to excellent just because that Man City loss has been pushed off the end of the tracker, I am far from convinced about our form yet.


At least it's not a come from behind win! However another game where we were poorer than I would have liked, but still we climb on wards and upwards





1st signing, to sit in the RPM slot in front of the defence and behind the attacking midfielders.


Top prospect in the centre of midfield seems promising, but I should not expect too much!


Into January, we have difficult games against Chelsea, Arsenal and a quick turn around vs Bournemouth. Also with the board wanting us to hit the 5th round of the FA Cup, the Bristol City game is not a given either.

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So January is here, and I might have failed the challenge before I've even really got going! But I will leave that to the judges in the challenge thread, and will get to that here further down the post. First off we need to get through the month and keep up the good work we started last month. First game is a tough one at home to Chelsea, I don't expect to get anything out of this game at all.



We were poor, outplayed and yet somehow came away with a win. The goal was comical, seems as though both teams had decided half time was coming and were just killing it off until then. We played a ball over the top into the right channel that Perez never had a hope of getting onto. Rudiger sweeps it up and lays it short to Emerson just outside the area on the left. Perez goes to close him down and for some reason he dallies on the ball. Perez steals it and puts it into the box on the penalty spot for Maddison to sweep home. Poor build up play, even poorer defending and we sneak into halftime ahead. We create little of note in the 2nd half and they batter us to no avail. Bristol City away in the FA Cup next, if we are this poor I do not fancy our chances.




Didn't really want a replay, but then when you don't play well enough to beat a team exactly one league below you then that is what you are going to get. We play them again in just over a weeks time, meaning the already difficult Arsenal game gets even more congested. Newcastle in the league next and this should have 3 points written all over it, Newcastle are destined for the championship having only picked up 5 points up to this point in the season.



I was beginning to get worried that it would be one of those days where we did everything required to win except score. I have a tendency to pick players to play their old clubs, and Perez came good for me eventually. Much needed 3 points, yet I still don't have confidence that we are taking games over and dominating. As if to reinforce this thought we have our FA Cup 3rd round replay up next. Bristol City again



Urgh... less said about that the better, a scruffy 2nd ball swept in from an uncleared corner saw us through to play Everton at the end of the month. We play like that against Arsenal and we are going to get spanked!





Is it possible to have only 37% possession and be the better team? There are a couple of comparisons to draw here with the Chelsea game, we didn't see the ball that often, and our 1st goal came from an opposition defensive error. Just like the Chelsea game a hopeful (more than accurate) through ball was played behind their defence from the right. Praet is willing but he isn't going to beat the Arsenal keeper to the ball, heck he isn't even going to get close, their keeper can take a touch and clear with time to spare. Just like that he takes possession, he takes a touch, then he takes another and Praet is on him, slipping the ball from him and charging into the penalty area, even then he kept my heart in my mouth as he seemed intent to walk the ball into the open net. Then like the Chelsea game we created very little, we were pinned in and had to weather numerous Arsenal chances. The majority of their chances came from wide areas at tight angles which either lashed the side netting or Schmeichel managed to push wide for a corner. Then on 90 minutes as we were being really put to the sword, we break down the left with Praet again, he gets into the area and shoots from an acute angle, Leno manages to parry it and push it away but only in the direction of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. 

A special moment, when I read the challenge and saw I had to include an academy product in every match day squad I grumbled, it's not like I have a golden generation of youth prospects to build a dynasty around (not yet anyway!) But to see the player you've picked as the best of the current crop come good and start realising potential yeah that was pretty cool. Might be a youth only save in my future! Final league game of the month was Bournemouth, I'm not sure I could cope with another ding dong battle similar to the previous meeting.



Better, after a none event of a 1st half, I was concerned as in the previous fixture we were 2 goals to the good by then. We took over in the 2nd half however, Fuchs with a header at the back post following a cross from the other wing back. Then on 67 minutes something I was very pleased to see, an effective counter attack. Diaz (who I have on loan till the end of the season from Real Madrid) picked up the ball and drove out of our half from a Bournemouth corner. What usually happens is our player will run forward until they are boxed out or challenged by superior defensive numbers. That looked the case here until at the last second Diaz back heeled the ball to an on coming Maddison. Now what usually happens is the 2nd player will continue to drive forward completely ignoring any support and either shoot through packed defenders or from a ridiculous angle. Not this time, Maddison did surge forward, pulling defenders towards him, before playing a return through ball for Diaz to run onto. Run onto it he did and slotted smoothly past the keeper into the bottom right corner. Round out the month now with our 4th round FA Cup tie against Everton.




Poor game, they were very very wasteful, and other than our VAR awarded penalty we didn't really threaten. The last 20 minutes were very painful as they threw the proverbial  kitchen sink at us in an attempt to rescue the tie.



A full 12 places higher than where we were when I took over in November, I never expected to be in the hunt for European football when I took over with us 19th. I still feel that this run of games has been more about luck than anything else. The 90+6 minute winner away to Villa, the opposition errors against Chelsea and Arsenal, the 6th minute sending off for Burnley. 


4 games in February, the Man Utd game the stand out tough fixture, the rest of them I think there should be some points to pick up. I realise I started this post talking about transfers and failing the challenge, I will add that in it's own post after this one, as this has gone on enough already!




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So here is issue, the challenge clearly states that I can only make a maximum of 11 signings in any one season, and only 8 of those signings can play in the 1st team that year, also I can do no business with my biggest rival (which in Leicester's case is Nottingham Forest) As that is the way Sir Alex did it, thus it is the way I must do it. Now, because the majority of the transfers this season happened before I joined I have gone over the season total with my signings in January. I'm waiting to hear whether its the club that can only make 11 signings or me as a manager. Will keep my fingers crossed!


This transfer took all January to complete, mainly because I was looking at Mustafi first, however Holding is less money, younger and a better Libero. We spent the early part of January arguing between my 10 million offer and there 11.5 million asking price. However in the end I wanted him so paid their price. He allows me to start phasing out players like Chiekhou Kouyate and Hamza Choudhury who don't really have a place in the squad other than to stand in as a poor central defender.



Brought in on loan from Real Madrid as Ayoze Perez went down with a 2 month long injury. The only negative about him is having to pay every penny of his 105k a week wages.



Brought in from Man Utd as a cheap sub to play pretty much anywhere down the spine of the team.



This loan took almost all January as well, as I wanted to have an optional fee for purchase at the end of the loan put in but Chelsea just wouldn't have it. So in the end I took him anyway, will maybe try to re loan him next season depending what our youth intake central midfield prospect looks like. The midfield is definitely where the squad needs work. I've got 14 players able to play in the 5 central midfield positions that make up the starting lineup. However half of them just don't fit the mould at all and will be hopefully culled before next season.

Speaking of player culling I had a player revolt on my hands in early December through to January. Schmeichel was the architect, he was unhappy when I shipped out Wes Morgan (though the signing of Rob Holding seems to have chilled his beans). However, more widespread was the feeling that we were short of quality at the striker position. Ehm, fellas have you looked at the way we lineup to play? I managed to appease them (for now) by saying I let the likes of Jamie Vardy go to give younger players at the club a chance to shine. I would be interested to hear if @ManUtd1 (my strikerless inspiration) has had to deal with anything similar? I mean do you keep strikers in the squad and on the wage bill just to shut the players up? Or are your players too busy drinking asparagus to complain? 




Least something is going right! Though I am not sure that just sitting in 7th place in the league automatically makes us "best of the rest". Plus I will readily admit I have no clue who Danny Ward is!

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7 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

Speaking of player culling I had a player revolt on my hands in early December through to January. Schmeichel was the architect, he was unhappy when I shipped out Wes Morgan (though the signing of Rob Holding seems to have chilled his beans). However, more widespread was the feeling that we were short of quality at the striker position. Ehm, fellas have you looked at the way we lineup to play? I managed to appease them (for now) by saying I let the likes of Jamie Vardy go to give younger players at the club a chance to shine. I would be interested to hear if @ManUtd1 (my strikerless inspiration) has had to deal with anything similar? I mean do you keep strikers in the squad and on the wage bill just to shut the players up? Or are your players too busy drinking asparagus to complain? 

Couple thoughts here.

I do NOT keep someone in the squad, just to shut players up. 

I'll retrain strikers -- in the past, that was easier when I had 3 in the AM strata...right now, with just the one, it's a bit dicier.  

I also do squad building very carefully when I first arrive at a club -- the 1st XI is for senior/older players, or players on a high wage.  If you're over the age of 25 and/or on a high wage, you have to be in the 1st XI...if you aren't, I'm selling you unless you are a very special player and I'm in a league where salary isn't a concern.  (I love cutting the **** out of my wage budget, with players that I don't need.)

In terms of players kicking up a fuss... I typically assume that it will pass as long as we start/keep winning.  That's the ticket.  If we're losing, that's a one-way ticket to getting the sack.

As an aside, I find the "give youth a chance to develop" option in those discussions to be a trap.  I find the safest one option to be the "he didn't fit into my tactical plans" one, but even that isn't foolproof.

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@ManUtd1 thanks for the input, one last thing, with your strikerless shark maw tactics did you ever struggle for possession? As I am routinely seeing possession stats in the high 30s low 40s.

On a positive note I have been cleared of any wrong doing in the transfer market as I cannot be held responsible for what the club did before I took over! Phew! 

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1 hour ago, Mandy42 said:

@ManUtd1 thanks for the input, one last thing, with your strikerless shark maw tactics did you ever struggle for possession? As I am routinely seeing possession stats in the high 30s low 40s.

On a positive note I have been cleared of any wrong doing in the transfer market as I cannot be held responsible for what the club did before I took over! Phew! 

I struggle with the phrase "struggle for possession."


Kidding aside, it wasn't at all uncommon to see possession statistics in the high 30s and low 40s. Especially against "bigger" sides. 

But it also wasn't uncommon in those matches to see the opposition with far fewer shots on goal and chances created. 

Possession for the sake of possession gets you nowhere. It has to be possession with purpose, which is hard to do in the ME.

The sharkmouth setup also prioritized verticality, so we weren't looking at possession at all. 

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Really beginning to enjoy this save, feels wonderfully unpredictable and interesting. I would stand by the statement that we aren't playing particularly well. However when looking at the schedule to take the screenshots for these updates I realised we were undefeated in 12 games across all competitions coming into this month. Our last defeat was the rather inflated 1-4 thumping away at the Etihad, that was in November, we are about to step into February.


On top of that, last month was perfect, 5 wins from 5 in the league, 9 goals scored and non conceded. Can we keep it going?




Again, we didn't play well, but I see what @ManUtd1 means, we did more with 41% possession than they did with longer on the ball. 6 wins in a row, and Ricardo Pereira's last goal for the club, but more on that later.





We were lucky against Chelsea and Arsenal to get breakthroughs from mistakes and then grind out the results, there was no luck here, we were second best. Appears there is a big jump from best of the rest to top 6!





Again we did more with less, considerably less, but that said we were poor. Maybe it was a hangover from the beating Man Utd gave us, either way for long periods we looked like we would be coming away with nothing. Then wonderfully frustratingly in injury time we create our 1st piece of quality play. 4 one touch passes and a sweeping finish sees us snatch all 3 points at the death.




There was no snatching of anything here, just as poor as the previous game without the last minute heroics. 


Holding steady at a B, which when you have gone from 19th to knocking on the doors of European qualification is slightly insulting. Though I guess until we qualify for Europe it doesn't count


So, Ricardo Pereira, he said he would need significant convincing in order to stay, which probably meant more money, this impression was confirmed by the above reaction to the completed transfer. Good luck to him, I hope his family will be very happy. Yes he chipped in with the odd goal and a couple of assists, and the fact he was a natural in almost any position down the right, which suited his role as a forward thinking wing back. However most games he would develop a complacent mentality early on in the game. Anxious, frustrated and some of the other negative mentalities I have some time for, but not complacent, that mindset gets you subbed (unless we are many many goals to the good against Local Pub Team). That mixed with his desire to go, and the money on offer and I won't lose much sleep over this deal. I did somehow manage to lose the league table screenshot! Which means all that is left is to look forward to next month.


With the requirement of 5th round FA Cup football confirmed I am open minded about the Spurs game. The other 3 however are very winnable games and hopefully will stop us sliding backwards down the table.

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We start this month with the FA Cup, at home to Spurs, my assistant's recommended team for the game is our U18 line up! Sorry but I respect the competition too much for that.



Wow! I am not even unhappy that we scored in the 1st minute of extra time, rather than the 1st minute of added time, as it meant we played another 30 nail biting minutes! We were always in it, even being a goal down I thought we were showing enough to get back in the game, The astute of you will have noticed from the last post that we won this game, as Hull are on the fixture list, and Hull aren't currently in the Premier League, so yes our Quarter Final opponent for the FA Cup is Hull away. Back to the league!




Just like there was a hangover following the Man Utd loss, there was a hangover following that FA Cup win. Rotation and tired legs conspired to create a dull game which in different circumstances would feel like 2 points lost.




This would have been 2 points lost if we hadn't produced a moment of quality in the last 10 minutes. A cleared corner, and our Libero of all people Caglar Soyuncu (so glad he scored against Spurs and his name is right there on the screenshot!) plays a sand wedge of a cross from the left corner of the box to the penalty spot. There are only 2 players in the area, one being their goalkeeper, the other Youri Tielemans who juts his neck forward and cushions the ball into the side netting to send me jumping off the sofa



This felt like a poor showing, I brought Brahim Diaz on loan as a rotation option because Kelechi Iheanacho started the season injured, and Ayoze Perez was injured during the season. This game suggests that was a decent piece of business as this isn't the 1st time Iheanacho has been completely ineffectual for the 1st 45 minutes of a game.



Another ding dong affair, just like the last round. Iheanacho survived his usual halftime culling (though I am not sure why) and rewarded me with a great run to the near post to head home an Albrighton cross. However when Milinkovic responded with a near post header of his own with only 15 minutes left, I began to fear. Much like the Spurs game I felt we had enough in us to come through, however unlike that game I felt Hull possessed enough for them to win the day as well. I was suitably jubilant when a side footed placed strike from Youri (his 10th of the season) slid in at the far post past the despairing fingers of the Hull keeper.



Not so jubilant....



Managed to not lose it this month.


Officially avoided relegation! Yay!


Really don't see us getting much out of either Manchester club, which is a shame, as the 1st milestone of the challenge is to win the FA Cup within 4 years.


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Next to last month of the campaign, sitting 7th, same points as Chelsea above us in 6th, though our goal difference is shocking and they have a game in hand. Plus, we play Man City next, so best not get too giddy! 





I expected to get spanked, I hoped to fight valiantly for some of the game and then eventually capitulate (much like the reverse fixture) Instead, we played intelligent, effective football and they were just insane. To go 1-0 up within the 1st five minutes was a dream true, and was the blueprint for how the rest of the game unfolded. They had kept the ball since kickoff and were slowly building pressure until they managed a shot on target which Schmeichel saved easily. He rolls the ball out to Rob Holding, who has drifted into space vertically, while the other two centre backs split wide to allow distribution. Holding takes one touch and employing his Libero skills delivers a pinpoint long through ball in behind the high Man City defensive line. When I say high, if it was a woman's skirt, you'd be asking if it was really a belt... Maddison latches onto the pass, takes one touch to bring him into the area, waits for Ederson to commit himself before sliding it calmly past him into the bottom corner! 

Have you ever inadvertently startled or disturbed a wild animal (anything from a bee hive to a peacock, you don't mess with a disturbed peacock!) Well that was the reaction to going a goal behind. We didn't touch the ball in the Man City half for the remainder of the 1st half. They hit the post, bar, every legal part of my goalkeeper and each defender, I think they even hit a kitchen sink one of our supporters heroically flung onto the pitch. After all that it was almost sad to concede a penalty for a shove on Aguero which he converted himself. We survived the last 10 or so minutes of the half, which is a bonus as we shipped 3 goals at the Etihad in the 10 minutes after they scored their 1st.

I told the team I was pleased with the performance and sent them out for the 2nd half, I ummed and ahhed for a moment or two before I demanded more right from kick off, give the lads a bit of a shove to start the half on the front foot. Well, we did but not in the traditional way. Man City had 3 corners from the start of the second half to the point we scored, from the 3rd Youri gets hold of the ball and slides it to Maddison on the right touch line just inside our half. He comes back towards our goal and looks like he is going to play it backwards before looping a through ball behind the retreating Man City defence for Perez to chase. He is bracketed by defenders and Ederson rushes out for the ball, but getting there first Perez dispatches it 1st time to reclaim our lead. 

The wild animal response is weaker in the 2nd half, the 40 minutes of continuous pressure they created in the 1st half has taken it out of them, they still keep the ball, and we still don't get out of our half, yet there is no clinical end product and as the clock ticks on I dangerously begin to believe. Into the last 10 minutes and a Schmeichel save sees him throw it out to our left wing back out on the touchline near the halfway line. He plays the ball back to Maddison who delivers a long through ball (you get the idea) Youri is onto this one, there must be 10 yards between him and the nearest defender, he takes a touch to improve his angle and finds the bottom corner to put the game beyond doubt. 

3 goals, each consisting of a long ball over a high defence coming from an opposition attack, with at most 4 outfield touches.... Giddy doesn't even cut it!




There was a 9 day international break between the Man City game and this one. The rest definitely helped, from a passing, maintaining possession and just looking good, this is the best I've seen us play as a unit. That said I'd take the Man City performance over this one any time. Am beginning to come round to the fact that Chelsea wouldn't give me a price for Billy Gilmour as he hasn't set the world alight like I hoped. Next up is the FA Cup Semi against Man Utd, keep my fingers crossed for more Manchester magic.




I take back what I said about the sad Aguero penalty! As that's exactly what happened in the 1st minute here. Perez gets across Maguire trying to latch onto a Maddison cross from the left, but he is pushed in the back under the ball and we have a gilt edged chance to stamp our authority on the game. Maddison sends the leading Golden Glove contender De Gea the wrong way and we are one up! Everyone knows that scoring too early is a curse! Or at the very least it's dangerous. Man Utd upped the tempo and came at us, unlike the Man City game where we waved goodbye to the ball for the whole half, we saw it in flashes, it was more back and forth. However there was much more back from them than there was forth from us. For some reason this made me more nervous than I had been during the Man City game, which seems stupid. When the other team create chance after chance and you see nothing of your team it suggests sooner or later they are going to stick one in. Trading chances with Man Utd I felt that my players were out of position and providing more room for the likes of Rashford and Lingard to move into. This wasn't the case and we made it to halftime still ahead.

The 2nd half was much more Utd's than ours, Rashford took a stranglehold of the left wing and danced merrily forward whenever he liked. We scrambled the ball away time and time again, until finally he picked out Jesse Lingard for a free header at the back post. I felt that was it, we had given it a good go, but the momentum was all with Utd and we were on the verge of being swept aside. Strangely the game slowed down, as if Utd had been chasing that goal for so long they now needed a breather having finally got it. The time ran down and I was preparing for extra time (namely my 4th substitution choice) when we have the ball in the Utd half for the 1st time in ages. But calm down its only Kouyate and he's playing it back into our half to a centre back, who in turn plays it back to the keeper. They play it around between themselves and we work it forward, backward, sideways, there is little urgency either in our progress our really in Utd's attempts to win the ball back. After a few minutes of possession the ball is once again at Kouyate's feet, except he is now facing goal 10 yards outside their box with 4 of our players making runs forward. The Utd defence is caught between closing the ball down and maintaining a high line to place our runners offside, they shuffle sideways to cut off possible passing lanes creating an alley which Kouyate bursts into. Before they can close him down he is in the box and sending De Gea the wrong way to put us in the final!




Back in the league we kept the pressure on the teams above us by not slipping on the banana skin that was 17th placed Sheffield Utd. The scoreline is a little flattering, other than a dazzling 10 minutes in which we could have scored a lot more than the 2 we did, we were very flat. I say we are maintaining pressure, we are basically matching results, we need one of the teams above us to drop points as we are never going to restore parity between our goal differences.




Poor, that is the game which cost us the glimmer of a top 6 finish. So annoyed with that game that once again I forgot the league table!



Least I am consistent! 


Last 3 games of the season (will reveal my FA Cup Final opponent in the next post! Everton are 9th, the other two are above us in the top 6, I don't rate our chances of breaking into the top 6.




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Thus it comes down to this, it's been a roller coaster 6 months, I've never started a save unemployed and not knowing what team I was going to manage before. Going from 19th and clawing our way up the table to sit 7th in the final month with an outside chance at the top 6 seems like a momentous achievement all of it's own. The FA Cup final appearance is just the icing on top! All that said, this is just the beginning of the journey, whether or not I secure an early challenge milestone by lifting the FA Cup, the squad needs a major overhaul (or as major as I can make it within the rules of the challenge). However, before I get too ahead of myself, my FA Cup final opponent is:


Wasn't aware it was our 5th attempt at winning it for the 1st time. Up 1st however are our last 3 league games.




Happy enough with the result, as much as the stats show it to be an evenish game, it didn't feel like it. Liverpool were just more fluid, more deadly, and coming from someone who uses a tactic called "sharkmaw" that says something. Amazingly, we are still in contention for 6th having drawn our last two games. Arsenal lost to Spurs leaving them 3 games without a win, we sit two points behind them hoping to pounce on one last slip up. We have Everton next, our "easiest" remaining fixture.




1st time all season we have dominated both statistically and on the score sheet. Arsenal won, however Chelsea lost to Man City which drags them back into contention as well. Going into the final day the table looks like this



A win from us and a defeat for either London club and we finish in the top 6, anything else and it is as we are. We play Spurs






Well we did our part! 3 goals from 4 shots on target, this shark is ruthless! Again, almost half of the possession compared with our opponent but sensible use of the ball in the final 3rd made the difference. Maddison cutting back the ball for Perez's goal rather than wasting a shot from a tight angle. For the 2nd, the signature low number of touches, defender plays it forward, wingback gets onto the ball and commits defenders as they drive to the byline, cuts it back to a central area, Youri hits a pile driver that nearly takes the roof off the net. Danny Rose scores a drive of his own on a cleverly worked overlap with Son down the left, right on the stroke of halftime to sour the mood slightly. Just before the hour, we break up a Spurs attack, get the ball forward quickly and a smooth finish sees us restore our cushion. It doesn't last 10 minutes though, as Spurs have a throw in on the right, Eriksen receives it and looks to pull some strings and work the ball into the box. The ball comes in, is it a cross or a shot? Kane is lurking near the penalty spot. Schmeichel is caught in two minds whether to come out for the ball or be prepared to save a header from Kane, he does neither and the ball curls in from Eriksen. It's a softish goal and our heads drop slightly, Spurs are on the charge and we do what we have done for the majority of the season, we soak up pressure in order to see out the game.

In other news Arsenal and Chelsea both won, which means other than it being a thrilling end to a thrilling Premier League campaign, there was nothing riding on us getting a result in the last game.


Final table, we managed to fight our way out of the relegation zone, but the shocking defensive performances before I took over left a negative goal difference that dragged like an anchor. Very happy though with the 1st season, we had only won 1 game before we took over, and we only lost two after I was in charge. Which is why this is rather frustrating:


I feel my performances are better than a B! Hopefully come the full end of season roundup I will get a more deserving grade.



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The league campaign is over, I still don't believe that finishing 7th automatically proves you are the best of the rest! But oh well, 2 years ahead of schedule is fine with me. Just the Cup Final left now.



We started like a rocket, such a good start that you knew not taking any of the myriad of chances we created at 1-0 up might come back to bite us. On 39 minutes it did, a powerful header got them right back in the game, our 30 minutes of dominance wiped out. I demanded more, wanting to see a reaction before halftime and I got one, this time our smooth passing and attacking intend ending with the ball in the back of the net. The 2nd half was a whirlwind of end to end football, though while their chances were saved or blazed over the bar, we converted a towering header from a corner, and a sweeping finish from a low cross right at the death to put the result beyond doubt!


Cherry on top


Hoping I can turn those transfer profits into facility improvements.


As if this is anything to go by, they are sorely needed!

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End of season review time



Not so sure about the team of the year, not convinced Johnny Evans was more effective as a Libero than Rob Holding. Ndidi was definitely not as good a play maker as Pedro Chirivella, nor as solid as Kouyate. Maddison played more games as a shadow striker, but to be fair I am still not certain which his best position is out of the two, feel that Dennis Praet's form deserved him being there. Slightly more concerning is that looking at that starting 11 I can see 3 names that definitely won't be there next season, and a few more that I could quite easily be convinced to offload.






No arguments that Youri was our player of the season, I just thought with Maddison's performances the vote might have been a bit closer. Chirivella is the signing of the season because he is my only signing of the season? I am slightly confused by this club vision feature:


They are delighted we have achieved an objective, but the caption says objective failed, but then of course it's failed as it's not for 5 years time!


This makes more sense, playing attacking and entertaining football is doable, bring through players from the youth system synergises with the challenge details. Working within the wage budget is just sensible, as I suppose is long term contracts for first team players. Finishing in the top half and making it through to the 2nd knockout round of the Europa League also makes sense, it allows me the leeway to focus on the continental competition. 


Didn't expect to see that much transfer money available, nor do I feel I want to spend that much!


Though it would appear the club doesn't want to spend it on anything else, which is strange seeing as they want youth prospects developing!



Managed to get some upgrades on scouting packages and wage budgets but am annoyed at the lack of vision to eh well implement the clubs vision. I am also annoyed at the following:


Ben Chilwell came back from 6 months out injured to play a cameo 2nd half in the FA Cup final, I have no idea why he is going to the European Championships! 




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June and July are my favourite months of the football year when it comes to FM. That at 1st seems absurd when there is little to no football played in those months. It is however the time that may come to most define the rest of the year, it is the time you bring people in and kick them out! The challenge allows me to sign 11 players per season, though only 8 of those can make starts for the 1st team, also I must continue to have at least one academy product in every match day squad. With those criteria in mind, lets look at my 1st summer transfer window in charge. Oh and I am allowed to do no business with my arch rival Forest.



Players out 1st, Layton and Sam were players that just weren't good enough to stay in the squad, there is a whole youth intake of these but they are needed to keep us playing in the U18 league. Evans, King, Slimani and Kouyate were all too old to stay, Marc Albrighton is the only player over 30 who remains, and he will probably go next year. Slimani also went because it was unlikely he would be given a new work permit, and to complete his hat trick, he didn't fit our system. Choudhury, Mendy, Ghezzal, Ndidi, Iheanacho and Kapustka all didn't fit into the system, or were basically earning too much money for not enough quality, either way the spring clean is complete and we can look to invest in our future.


Might seem strange to start with a player who isn't signed for our team, but he almost was. I was literally rocking in my chair waiting for him to put pen to paper until Man Utd came in and offered him more money. I had even allowed him to consider our club as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, which came with an 87 million buyout clause in his contract. However he stepped right past us, oh well. Then Utd had the cheek to try come in and take Youri away from us, he wanted to go as well! I asked why, he said more money, so I offered to give him more and he said no. Like a petulant child I said no in return, he is unhappy, but still my player.

With the holes in the squad left by my culling I had identified at least 2 new central defenders, 2 attacking midfielders, a holding more defensive midfield player, a left or right wingback, and any decent youth prospects I could pick up on the cheap.



He's played for us before, at least I didn't pay Pogba money to bring him home



Signed from Real Madrid, the press say he is prone to injury, we will see.



Left wing back, as Ben Chillwell is once more injured after England duty, he will share the work load.



He was going to partner the man who went to Manchester in midfield, but I am still happy I got him even if I didn't get a 2nd stand out attacking midfielder.






These 4 fall into the future category, with the last one going straight back to Leeds for a season long loan.


My new academy budget seems to have the U23 manager trying to poach young talent from other teams, luckily I negotiate contracts, so if I don't like them I just cancel them, this chap though I liked enough to give a chance.


So thats 9 of my 11 signings, at a total of 72 million, which means we've made a profit of 23 mil over the window and slashed the wage budget by 600k a week.


This was at the end of the season



This was during the transfer window... needless to say I am unhappy!



Kieran Dewsbury-Hall was the only academy prospect I had that I felt was good enough to warrant a match day spot. However this season he is joined by these 3 stooges:






Finally, our expectations for the coming year, and our pre season to get us in fighting shape for the long campaign.




Amusingly the Udinese game is an Andy King testimonial game, hope he can get a flight back from Al-Shabab!


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Pre season begins! That glorious time when anything is possible, all your dreams could come true, or you could die in a fire! I am happy with the changes I have made to the squad, only 2 players remain over 30, over half a million has been carved out of the wage budget, I believe we are better than we were last year on paper, however you don't win anything on paper. 




Happy to not concede and happy to give everyone who was available 45 minutes, not looking for anything other than building fitness and learning the formation





1st glimpse of how dangerous we can be with the increase in quality we have within the shark maw, it's come earlier than I expected I thought we would still need time to get fit and gel together.





The players didn't want to play with an attacking mentality because the opposition were too strong. They didn't seem like it come match day! Slightly annoyed we shipped a goal at the end. Mount scored 1 and set up 2, at this rate someone will stump up his minimum release money in January!





Bit more under the gun in terms of possession this game, but glad to see we still can make more of it than the opposition. Luke Thomas, Academy wingback looked good bagging 2 goals!




1st missed screenshot of the season! Bit surprised to see a red card for what looked like a nothing challenge in a friendly, also surprised we didn't make more of it.



Hopefully when some competitive games start coming around my score might go up!


Not best of the rest as far as the bookies are concerned!


So I made a promise to Rob Holding that I would strengthen the squad, apparently Mason Mount wasn't enough hence we made one more acquisition on deadline day :



Though apparently he still isn't satisfied!



Not the nicest start to a campaign I have ever had!




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Pre season over, real work starts now, 1st up is the Community Shield, it's a trophy, which means I would like to win it, however I don't feel we are ready to go toe to toe with a team we finished last season almost 30 points behind.



Frustrating.... Were we outplayed? Definitely, however did they create anything clear cut? No they didn't, which with them having 71% possession they deserve to be shot. Sterling's opener was a swept home volley from a poor defensive header by Rob Holding (who will be a recurring presence in this update). The 2nd was a timid Aguero shot that Schmeichel had saved all the way until it took a deflection off Chirivella and dribbled into the net. We created nothing in the 1st half, and I mean literally nothing, no shots never mind on target ones. At halftime I informed the players they had been unlucky, changed the formation to PM Haaientand my latest "borrowed" tactic from @ManUtd1 it is akin to what you might get when you breed a shark with a wolf pack.

It certainly dragged us back into the game, we didn't concede another attempt on target and we actually created some moments of quality which could have taken us to penalties. However it wasn't to be, and on reflection is probably a fair result of where the two sides stand. Oh well, it's not like it's a real trophy! It's a glorified friendly when all is said and done, onto the league we go.





On paper our "easiest" fixture of the month, and we looked good, very dangerous, very fluid, however we couldn't get past their keeper. The penalty was a push in the area, not some soft Aguero against us or FA Cup Semi final push on Perez. This was a hardcore, sprawled out on the floor like a starfish push. With all 3 of Maddison, Tielemans and Mount on the pitch I honestly had no idea who was going to take it. I was slightly concerned we didn't take more of our chances but with the clock winding down we looked comfortable. Until Rob Holding receives the ball from Schmeichel and proceeds to find Troy Deeney rather than anyone else, Troy buries the gift in the top right corner and all our production is for nothing. Next up, oh great Man City away.




Against Watford I reverted back to the shark maw tactic we had employed last season, though with how poorly we did with it in the Community Shield I decided to start the Shark pack from the start, it was also a nice reminder that we actually beat Man City last season 3-1 so not all hope had been extinguished. 10 minutes in however and most of that hope had gone again. Nicolas Otamendi with a header from a corner, and Aguero with another fluke goal made it seem like this was going to be exactly the same as the game at Wembley. Aguero's "goal" was a clearance that hit him and bounced in for crying out loud! I was once more prepared to not see the ball until halftime, when surprisingly we had a corner. It pinged around the box until of all people Rob Holding smashed home a fierce drive to pull one back. I didn't hold out much hope, my thought process was "at least we scored this time." Pep seemed to have learned (both at Wembley) and in this game, from what happened last season, our through balls which proved so devastating before were now being called back for offside.

We clung on only a goal down but they just seemed so dangerous, Sterling on one side and their new signing Ousmane Dembele on the other were a truly terrifying prospect. We defend as narrow as possible, relying on blocks to stop crosses coming into the box, or 3 capable defenders to clear danger. However neither Sterling or Dembele had any intention of crossing, they marauded into space and either took on the token player that was out there to stop them, or cut inside to shoot. Such was our fate on 29 minutes when Dembele found the top corner to put us 2 goals down. We hardly had time to recover before Kevin De Bruyne curled in a peach of a free kick and it was 4-1 to them, "at least we scored this time" was beginning to feel a bit weak.

Straight from the kick off they swarmed forward looking to press the ball back and add insult to injury, however for the 1st time since last season we managed to connect with a ball over the top. Maddison surged onto the ball and passed it into the net to provide us with a measure of respectability. 5 Minutes later when a Man City attack broke down and Neves found Youri over the top with the same end result the hope was very much back! 4-3 at halftime and we were on the ascendancy.

The 2nd half of the Community Shield Man City weren't in the game, they produced nothing, this wasn't the case in this game, they smashed into us again and again, we held firm and when Ayoze Perez (on for a tiring Maddison) broke free to score our 3rd break away goal it was Man City's turn for their heads to drop. There were 21 minutes left, could we get a winner? 

In short no, we looked the most likely to score, though a draw and coming back from 4-1 down is more than I could possibly have hoped for! 


Up next Arsenal, who sit 18th yet to win a game in the league, and who rearranged our match due to them playing in the Europa League Qualifying round in mid week. The Shark pack can smell blood in the water.




Stayed with the new tactic and might find myself employing it against the bigger teams down the stretch. This game could prove a cautionary tale for us later in the season. Arsenal might have beaten Molde 0-5 away from home, but they had nothing left for us only 3 days later. If we are to go deep into the Europa League without it damaging our league form then we need to bare that in mind. Chelsea round out the 1st month of competitive fixtures.



As much as I moaned about the hard start to the campaign, this was perhaps the best time to play Chelsea, who have thrown off the restriction of their transfer ban with some gusto. They have signed Ferland Mendy, James Rodriguez, Kingsley Coman, Lautaro Martinez and Mauro Icardi. Oh and they apparently have enough cash left to go in for Mbappe! So yes, playing them later in the year when all those players have had a chance to gel into the team will be a truly terrifying prospect. However, only 3 games into the season, we were the better team. They provided the occasional scare, such as when James Rodriguez broke away from our corner, went the length of the pitch to only be denied by the post. On 77 minutes he redeemed himself by heading in from a corner. I felt we were letting points like we had against Watford and told the players so by demanding more from them in the closing stages. Not long after we broke from a Chelsea corner, Ben Chilwell charging down the left touchline looking as though he was letting Reece James run him down a blind alley. Suddenly he stops and plays a looping through ball that bounced level with the penalty spot. Youri is there to side foot it past Kepa, who I have no idea why he didn't just come and claim it, but he didn't and we deservedly retake the lead!

That was all the league action out of the way, which meant with 4 games played the table looked like this:


We never dropped below 10th, and finish the month in our "best of the rest" spot 7th, hopefully that puts my grade up! That might be the league done with, but there were other competitions about to get under way. We had the Carabao Cup and Europa League draws to look forward to


Last pairing out of the hat, good draw for us though.


I don't quite understand how we were a 3rd seed but made it straight into the group draw, where as Arsenal who finished above us were a 1st seed, because they lost their Champions League qualifying game? Either way. I have hope of getting out of the group, Sporting will probably be our hardest opponent.

In other news


Which still seemed not to be enough for Rob Holding, he says I have failed to keep my promise and wants to leave to go play for a manager he can trust. I have no intention of letting him go. I am willing to put his below average performances to date down to his mood, he better book his ideas up soon.


On paper this month looks easier than our 1st month. However, nothing is ever won on paper, and it wouldn't be the 1st time I had a team who could punch above their weight but not see off smaller teams.


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5 hours ago, JaytheGreat said:

That's a great summer transfer window, along side some great wins to start off the season.

Thanks Jay, looking forward to see what the squad can do going forward

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Transfer business done, competitive fixtures underway, draw made for the 1st two cup competitions of the season, how does that mean my rating is shaping up?


B- Is a step in the right direction, I guess getting a C- for transfers is the polite way of saying "why on earth did you splurge all the money in one go!" Hopefully this month we can build on the good start we had in August. 1st Up is the Blades who just hung on to avoid relegation last season.



Urgh... That was a game we could easily have slipped up in. Bit of a added spice the penalty was won by Nuno Tavares our back up left wingback who was playing against his former club. Yet another positive from starting players against their prior employer! 1st European home game of my tenure next, we play Rijeka. I had a long, long think about this game, Rijeka are widely considered the weaker team in the group, do I play a weakened team? Or do I make sure to get off to a winning start so we don't have to chase hard for points against the stronger teams.



Wow! 26 attempts, 13 on target putting us at a very acceptable 50%. Then 8 out of those 13 attempts finding the net at a wonderful 62% conversion of attempts on target. Yes the opposition were weak but I am still excited about the outcome of playing Maddison, Youri and Mount together from the start. It's also very pleasing to see such a distribution of goals through the team. 3 from the front row of the shark maw, 1 from the back row, 2 from central defenders and 2 from a wingback. Tougher tests like ahead against Copenhagen and Sporting but couldn't have asked for a more perfect start. Back to the league and West Brom next.




Even more Urgh than the Sheffield game, we could quite easily have lost this game. Not the sort of result we are looking for against a newly promoted team, even if they have started well and sit in the top half. Carabao cup against Birmingham next.


I was nervous following the West Brom result, seeing them flying high at the top of the Championship does not make me feel any easier.



This was definitely a 2nd team selection, Iverson in goal, academy products Harvey Barnes and Josh Knight joined Dewsbury-Hall in the starting line up. With Conor Tee sitting on the bench. A simple near post header from a corner settled my nerves. Perez gave us some breathing room with a breakaway goal, and Nuno put the game out of reach with a thunderous header at the back post, getting a run on the defender to head down into the bottom corner. Dwight Gayle picked Benkovic's pocket from a goalkeeper roll out to give them a consolation but we progress to the 4th round. 


Premier League opponents in the next round, and it comes at the back end of an already tricky run of fixtures, we will have to see. West Ham round out the month.




A win is a win, before we scored it seemed to be only a matter of time until we did, after it never seemed as though we would concede. Johnny Evans who we sold to them before the start of the season came closest late on with a volley wide from a free kick, but he was offside anyway and it wouldn't have counted. West Ham languish bottom of the league with only a single point. At the end of the month the table looks like this:


We occupy the spot we finished the season in last year, Chelsea and Arsenal are struggling, Bournemouth (who we beat out of 7th spot last season) have kicked on from last season, West Brom are the only newly promoted team not in the bottom 3.


Next month looks busy! Copenhagen beat Sporting in game 1 so not losing to them would keep us in control of the group and our goal difference will do the rest. Both Bournemouth games last season were epics and it looks like it won't be any different this year with how both teams have started. Liverpool away is a free hit, and the Carabao Cup game is completely dependant on the rest of the month. If we have a good month then the 2nd team will get a run out, if we have struggled then we might be looking for a win just to boost morale.


This is quite interesting, and when I first saw it I was wondering why I was only rated a B when we hadn't lost in 17 league games. However games we were probably expected to win, Burnley, Palace, West Ham, Norwich, and the latest West Brom, we have drawn. To balance out those dropped points, we have picked up 14 out of a possible 18 points against top 6 teams during this run.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Those of you who read along at home, you know who you are you sexy beasts! You will be well aware that I'm a sucker for a @ManUtd1 tactic, (and by sucker I mean I merciless let him do all the work and then steal the latest finished version and profit immensely). His latest strikerless masterpiece (or crazy way of lining 11 people up on a football pitch) is The Shark Hammer. 1stly, who doesn't like a hammer in the shape of a shark, and 2ndly, somewhere within that article is a reference to "turning it up to 11" who on earth thinks that isn't a fun thing to do!

Copenhagen away in the Europa League group stage might not be the best place to switch to THE HAMMER, but my new personal motto is "If your scared to turn it up to 11, you will never make it to 10" (disclaimer that I had no personal motto before I started typing this post). Probably unsurprisingly, as it is an adaptation of the previous tactics I have already stolen, my players seem fairly confident in being able to play that way on the pitch. As the article indicates that "this tactic is not for the faint hearted" I take a closer look at the player instructions. Only 2 players on the pitch DO NOT have the instruction "take more risks" those are both wing backs, who are spending far too much time trying to "get further forward" that they don't have time to think about risks. The default mentality is very attacking, I might be standing on the sideline with a nervous twitch to my eye, but I'm pretty sure this is going to be fun.

94 minutes later I think the health warning of not for the faint hearted needs some additions: Not for the faint hearted, may cause dizziness, nausea and inappropriate erections.



Moving swiftly away from the fact that the penalty looked a lot like a dive, we were fantastic. The 20 attempts to only 9 on target is slightly harsh due to the fact that the majority of the attempts would have been on target if Copenhagen didn't block the majority of them. What had me amazing (and inappropriately erect) was just how productive we were with so little of the ball. Which had me do something crazy, almost as crazy as steal a tactic the creator decided to call "Grapefruit Shark Hammer" I did some maths....

The game was 94 minutes long, which meant 1% of the game was 56.4 seconds long. Assuming that the ball was in play for the full game (which I know is impossible but I don't know of a way to find out how much time the ball was active within the game engine), then Copenhagen had the ball for a few seconds over 62 minutes. We on the other hand had the ball for  a smidgen under 32 minutes. Within their time of possession Copenhagen had an attempt at goal every 8 minutes and 51 seconds, where as within our time of possession we had an attempt on goal every 1 minute and 36 seconds. Using his earlier tactics I questioned @ManUtd1 how he dealt with "struggling for possession", now I no longer question the need to keep the ball, unless I end up managing a team which wishes to play possession football.


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Back to the league now, playing Southampton who languish in 14th having lost their last 3 games in a row, once again we are away. But if the hammer is good enough for our closest rival in the Europa League, then it is good enough for Southampton away



Our game was the last to kick off on Sunday, every team above us had played and results went in our favour:


Bournemouth who sit directly above us in 6th were held


Saturday saw Liverpool do what Liverpool have been doing all season so far. High flying Wolves in 3rd at the start of the day lost and were leapfrogged by Tottenham.


Sunday before we kicked off saw Struggling Chelsea hold 2nd place Man City to a draw, while Arsenal, also not currently in the top 6 beat Man Utd who dropped to 6th after this defeat.


A win would see us climb to 4th, equal on points to 2nd place just with a much less impressive goal difference. A simple Danny Ings cross from the right and a Nathan Redmond tap in at the back post did not put me in the best of moods on 28 minutes. I instantly demanded more, and for all the talk of a boxed front 4, and direct vertical play, we got back on level terms 8 minutes later from a long throw in to the mixer from the left, where Filip Benkovic rose to head it into the onion bag off the finger tips of the on rushing goal keeper. I still demanded more, not happy we were only drawing, and we made it to halftime looking a bit better. I tell the lads I am disappointed, I am also not happy that Ruben Neves is going to need to come off. In all fairness the lad broke his arm in the league game last week, but having spent over 70 million on him, the cost of a couple of thousand for a specialist arm brace is a no brainer. Rating wise he was our best player in the 1st half, but his condition means he needs to come off. 2nd half we pinball the ball around their box for a couple of minutes before Ayoze Perez volleys us in front on 58 minutes. I'm not messing around now, in Denmark I waited till we were 2 goals up before I switched to our most pragmatic tactic (which amusingly still has a very attacking mentality). The creator described it as "parking the tank" and I felt optimistic about seeing out the game.

90 minutes come and the strangest 3 minutes of my FM career comes to pass. 1stly, Ben Chillwell's condition drops below 50% but it doesn't indicate he is injured, then we have a throw in on the right, which we dally over before throwing it in illegally. The ball clearly doesn't bounce in play the 1st time, before it trickles down the sideline before coming back into play just before it hits the corner flag and bounces out for a throw in. There isn't a Leicester play anywhere near it and I wonder if we were giving the ball back due to our playing going off for treatment. It clearly went out for a throw in but a goal kick is given. Southampton quickly work the ball down our left, where Chillwell is only coming back onto the pitch after the Southampton player is into our half of the pitch. Our defenders shuffle across and we deflect a cross out for a throw in, except a corner is given. From the resulting corner Renato Tapia heads in at the near post to bring them level.



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Oof, painful result at the end there. 

You could consider converting your BPDs to CDs (also on a cover mentality) for PM Haaienhamer. That keeps things a little tighter at the back, because they'll be slightly less... Insane.

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1 hour ago, ManUtd1 said:

Oof, painful result at the end there. 

You could consider converting your BPDs to CDs (also on a cover mentality) for PM Haaienhamer. That keeps things a little tighter at the back, because they'll be slightly less... Insane.

pfffft insane


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You know me by now, there is always frustration, however, there is more frustration this month than EVER before. Your in for a treat :P 

4 points out of 6 using the Hammer so far, not a bad start, annoying to be behind, comeback, then be pegged back, but that's the game. Up next is Bournemouth, who we played in 2 amazingly entertaining games last season and won both of them


As this image proves, it also proves that Ruben Neves is injured, however, the only doubt is whether he will play the whole game!



Well... it was entertaining, however these comeback, pegged back results are my 1st point of frustration. Having to demand more when we go behind to get an instant reaction.... why can't we just be positive and put the ball in the net without conceding 1st. Also, against Southampton, to draw from a header by a centre back from a corner, that is fine. To concede from a kick off, what was basically a Sunday league straight ball played in behind our defence, come of lads show some pride! We missed yet another opportunity to climb into the top 6 and solidify our position, and with unbeaten Liverpool our final league game this month I think our chances have gone. Sporting at home in the  Europa next.



I will admit to a slight focus on the league, I spent all of last season climbing the table from 19th to get to 7th, now that I have the chance to be 3rd or 4th the urge to push on is huge. Plus with a positive +10 goal difference in the Europa dropping some points wasn't exactly the end of the world. So this was a 2nd team performance, and unfortunately they aren't good enough. Will need to get something away to Sporting now, and hope we can repeat the results against the other two teams in the group. Liverpool away next, I haven't lost back to back games since I took over, but I do feel our 19 game unbeaten streak in the league is going to end today.



Wow, an unbeaten team did fall today, but it wasn't us! Liverpool might be top, but now only us and Man City are unbeaten this season, and we go to 20 games unbeaten in the Premier League. This just shows the difference in quality between our starting 11 and 2nd team, yes we rode our luck, and relied heavily on the woodwork to stop us from being bowled over, but we had a bite at the other end which wasn't there in the Sporting game. Amusingly, I guess 1 way of ensuring you don't get pegged back having made a come back is to score with pretty much the last kick of the game!


He's just a douche! I'm never going to pretend that any goal scored in Fergie time is not anything other than valid. His team look good though, slick moving the ball around, they worked it well for their goal. We seem to struggle to defend balls across the box, when they get behind one wing back and a centre back goes out to close down, if they manage to work the ball across to the opposite side of the box then a back post header or a tap in from a low cross seems to be how we concede most of our goals. We showed them we could anything they could, with a looping header from just inside the area from Chillwell putting us back in the game. Rob Holding's dramatic smashed volley from halfway inside the box as we recycled the ball from a corner was glorious. I was more than happy with a point at that stage, and thought as we worked the ball around on the edge of their area that the whistle was going to go any second. It was, but only after we took the lead!


So we made it into the top 6 by the end of the month. I just need to keep focused on the fact that the board want top half, so we are 8 points and 4 places higher than they want us to be. 3rd competition of the month sees us against Norwich in the Carabao



*grumble* Another 2nd team performance, and an ok one, but only after we went 3 goals down. 4 academy players in the starting 11 and another on the bench, two of them made the score sheet, and we were knocking on the door for a 3rd in the last 13 minutes, we yet again left it too late. This game epitomised this months frustration, it isn't that we played overly badly in any game (other than maybe the Sporting game) it's that we are losing out due to the same things game after game. Our crosses get blocked, and when they do the rebound allows the other team to spring a counter attack. When the opponents crosses are blocked they fall to another player in a better position. The majority of our shots on target are love tap almost back passes that my grandma could save blindfolded, the opposition are all spectacular boomers that have to be acrobatically saved. I could only laugh when in the 2nd half against Bournemouth, Pedro Chirivella had the space and time to shoot from outside the box and almost hit the corner flag, he had just replaced Ruben Neves on the hour. Ruben, with long shots, composure and technique all 16 couldn't find a sniff of such an opening!


The month in full looks like this, and leaves me with thinking how we go from




I need to be realistic, we rebounded well last season, but we need to just make sure we stay in the top half, keep the board happy and hit expectations in all competitions, not over exceed in one at the determent of the others. This probably means rotating the squad so that it's not a best 11 and then a 2nd team. Bring some of the 2nd team players into the 1st team and keep us competitive in every game. I also have to get the joint save I just finished my turn in out of my mind, mainly the fact that the replay speed was turned up to close to max, 1st game back with my Leicester team... "why are my players so slow!"


Tottenham sit 3rd, we want revenge on Sporting and Norwich, but then Wolves sit 5th so we don't want to give them any points. REALISTIC! Though the 2nd month in a row with 4 away games could see us up against it.


We don't want a 2nd loss in a row to Sporting



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Looking at my steam library I have FM 12, 16,19 and 20, can't say I've been the most avid of players until I found this forum, and my gaming time has definitely picked up. This last week though is the 1st time (probably not ever) in a long time, that I've felt disillusioned with the game.

Maybe it is as simple as coming out of the joint save where I won a treble and felt like I had the weight of the other players expectations on my shoulders, which added a certain spice to the game.

Maybe it's the match engine, before I bought the game I did browse some steam reviews that suggested that the game was an exercise in futility, that you making changes to mentality and formation, personnel etc and it makes no difference. I can't say I agree with these statements, however I have over these last games got the feeling that the results are already decided, that we play so badly in one half only for me scream and shout at half time for us to play better in the 2nd but have too big a mountain to climb.

Maybe I'm just a sore loser, or stress in my job and what is happening out in the real world is affecting my experience within the game. We all play computer games for a bit of escapism and some down time, when that escapism mirrors the frustration we are feeling in day to day life I guess it could get, well frustrating :P

Anyway, rant over, thank you for reading, onto this months action, Spurs away to start the month. Though firstly:





Fulham and Forest are in the bottom 3, so those are huge results against teams around us. Liverpool struggle to get past Norwich, they needed penalties in the Carabao in mid week as well, us beating them has shaken them up! Southampton beat Man Utd, I don't feel as bad as I did at only drawing with them. So, we play Spurs in 3rd, with a huge chance to push further up the table.



In one regard it is more points dropped due to us not being able to keep a clean sheet, something which is frustrating with us not scoring many goals at the other end. However, only managing 1 shot on target the whole game means we don't deserve to win in my book. Kane is on fire in the league, and it felt like the pressure was building all 2nd half. It just seems that teams are doing more with the ball against us, previously they might have a lot of possession but not get anywhere, now they are creating chances. Sporting away in the Europa next.



Another game like the Norwich Carabao Cup game, we were woeful in the 1st half, but I give them an aggressive going over in the dressing room and we come out and smash it in the 2nd half. We get a goal back straight away and I think we might be on to something. Our heads don't drop when they score again, however every one of our chances is a one on one with the keeper, played over the top and beating the offside trap. The 4 on target that don't go in are love tap back passes, and the 4 that are off target almost hit the corner flag, it is getting to the point where I don't get interested or excited when we have a highlight because I don't feel anything is going to come of it. Norwich at home next, 



Other than the fact we took all 3 points, and that one of the academy prospects scored, the less said about this game the better, we should have been out of sight, but again, all our attempts on target my grandma could save.



Massive game, us 6th, them 5th, a little more like it, the now standard weak shooting saw us not score anymore. This was offset by a decent defensive performance, their 20 total attempts were very wayward and I never felt overly threatened. Speaking of massive games, Rijeka away in the Europa now becomes a must with game after back to back poor results against Sporting.



Job done, a brace from another academy player, and the wonderful Nuno Tavares (more on him later) seals the win. Brighton at home in the league next.



I flung my keyboard across the room at this. Probably sounds stupid, but there was a question in the press conference, "it was a long time ago but the last time you played Brighton they beat you." As soon as I saw that I knew we were going to lose. They sit 15th, we played well except we can't hit the broad side of a barn door, not with any power anyway. Other than the goals we have scored I can't think of a difficult save we've forced a keeper into. Our unbeaten run in the league comes to an end at 23 games.


Having gotten very, very annoyed at our inability to convert more chances, I went looking at goals scored, 1stly I checked the schedule page for our results, we haven't won a single premier league game by more than a 1 goal advantage, most of them being 1-0. Out of 8 league games in which the other team scores, we have won 2, drawn 5 and lost 1. As I said, amusingly, Nuno Taveres the left wing back, is our most productive goal scorer, he has 9 shots, 8 of them on target and scored 3 goals. Which means 72% of his shots are on target and 38% of his on target shots end in goals.

The 4 sharkmaw players have 123 shots between them, 69 on target (KINKY!) , that's roughly 57% of the shots on target. those 69 shots have provided 21 goals. Meaning 30% of shots on target equal goals. Take out the 4 penalties the sharkmaw players have converted and it falls to 65 shots on target and 17 goals, dropping to 26% conversion rate. Obviously this is just an average across the 4, Mason Mount is the most frustrating, removing the penalty he has 20 shots on target, and 3 goals, that's a 15% conversion rate and he has the highest finishing in the squad!


Despite my paranoia that the game is out to get me we sit in a solid 5th still over performing, just over performing in any way that is comfortable to watch!


Few banana skins to avoid, and two top 6 games to play. I honestly have no idea what to expect week in week out.


The Copenhagen game at home, if we win or draw we are into the next round, it's that simple.



Oh yeah and I got a 2 year bump on my contract, and a 35k a week pay rise!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can only apologise, the times we find ourselves in coupled with me having to work more shifts at the hospital in order to help cover staff shortages, I found myself playing the game for the sake of playing it, rather than diligently recording it for this thread. Hence some of the following updates might be slightly lacking.


It's that time of year again, it's not the worst intake preview I have ever seen, watch this space! 7 games this month, trying to bounce back from the awful performance against Brighton.


The clinical beast that is Nuno Tavares strikes again! We respond well enough. The old enemy next, the one team I am never ever allowed to do business with in this challenge Nottingham Forest


There's only one Nuno Tavares! Which is a shame, because if there wasn't I might score more goals! Also a shame is the fact Forest look doomed to go straight back down, hopefully they will yo-yo a bit to give us some spicy ties. Speaking of a spicy tie (and no not that time you spilled vindaloo on your 2nd best work tie and it stank for ages) Next up is Copenhagen at home in the Europa League. In a winner takes all battle to the death (or at least qualification)


We were poor, not convinced it was the most stonewall penalty, but we march on drawing Bayer Leverkusen in the 1st knock out round. Man Utd in the league next, not sure what to expect.


This was the Europa game without the penalty, neither team created much quality though I think I'm the happier manager at the end of 90 minutes. Fulham, Burnley and Liverpool all in the league, round out the month.


Boring Boring Leicester! Not that I care one iota (well a cushion would be nice once in a while) However if you had offered me 8x 1-0 wins instead of a single 8-0 win over Rijeka I would have taken it.


 The most frustrating part of this was the fact our goal was amazing, a real piece of quality which for some reason we failed to create anymore of. Last month we hadn't lost since February, now we have a defeat in back to back months.


I feared the worst here, Liverpool up early, they had a Salah goal disallowed for offside still within 12 minutes of the start. I felt we were going to get blown away. We hung on until halftime, conceded again and I didn't see us coming back. However we did! very happy with a point which keeps us in our best of the rest spot (3rd this season) With Man City and Liverpool waging a war between themselves many many points above us.


Tottenham have a game in hand to come back above us, but this performance didn't do them any favours.


The wheels are officially off in Bournemouth, couple of months ago we were vying for top 6 spots together, they have slumped to 11th. We have 5 games in January (I can't link the schedule as I've already played some of them!) 

Stoke in the FA Cup

Southampton, Burnley and Man City at home in the league

Bournemouth away. 



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It's January, the Christmas lights have come down (if the players don't improve I don't know I will ever get them out again!) A dreary drive to Stoke in the FA Cup 3rd round is not the stuff the dreams of a new start in the New year are made of, but that is where we are.


****'s And that is both for there players and ours! Another not convincing penalty saves us, we get just what we wanted, another game! Southampton in the league next


That is better, though to concede with the last kick of the game when we didn't look like conceding for the previous 91 minutes cheesed me off slightly. Interestingly, before the game, having played Southampton twice under my reign before now and drawn both times, I was asked if they were a bogey team. After beating them, I was asked what I thought about continuing our unbeaten run! Next up sees the return of Stoke, at home this time.


After a cagey 1st half, which saw them deploy a 7 man back line at times it took a Filip Benkovic header from a corner to see us on our way. We were the only team who turned up to win, and another goal from a corner sealed it. 


Not the best of draws, but it is what it is.


However after our replay, every result went our way. All the London clubs mulling around the top 6 dropped points, Man City tightened their grip on the title. We still sit 3rd. Bournemouth in the league next.


**** bits! What I get for saying the wheels were off in the previous post. We looked more like we were playing dodge ball than football, couldn't pass, tackle or anything. Rubbish



Plus other results all went against us and in the space of 90 minutes we dropped from 3rd to 6th. Up next Burnley, the team who beat us last month


For the 2nd (scoring week) in a row, a Filip Benkovic header from a corner saw us on our way. They created none of the problems they had at Turf Moor and other than come later than my nerves would have liked the other two goals were really just icing on the cake. Kamal Sowah scored his 1st goal on his 1st team debut, having been kicking around the U23 team, as he was on loan last season, but more on him later in this post. Chelsea in the FA Cup next


Other than the fact this game kept us in the hat for the next round, it was boring as anything! We finish the month with unbeaten Man City in the league, joy.



WOW! After the Chelsea game I expected us to get steamrolled. As it turned out I was on the verge of being steaming with anger that we let the win slip with so little time left. With all their quality, it took a near post header from a corner to bring them level. Mason Mount decided today was the day he would find the net, he probably wont score now with his next 50 shots! After the game I recieved a phone call from a very drunk Frenchman, I think it was Thierry Henry, he offered me a brand new Renault in exchange for a signed Mason Mount shirt. Then just proceeded to scream VA VA VOOM down the phone at me until I hung up.


That means the table at the end of Jan looks like this we were 4th until the last game of the month saw this:


Oh well, it's tight, but with a game in hand against Chelsea and Arsenal we could open up a gap to help us secure a top 6 finish.



Expectation is a Quarter Final birth in both cup competitions, while a top half finish is still the league goal. 


So, after starting to drop points and struggle in recent months (in comparison to being unbeaten in 23 league games), I went and had a look at what changes I could make to the lineup and tactics to try turn our fortunes around. 1st of all I inspected the performances of our current record transfer signing Ruben Neves, and to say I was underwhelmed was an understatement. Then I looked a little closer and came to the conclusion it wasn't necessarily his fault. A lot of our chances involving shark maw players are balls played through over a high defensive line, or counters. When the team isn't playing a high line, the ball almost always ends up out wide and either a cross comes in or the wingback shoots. Now not all my wide players can be as amazeballs as Nuno Tavares and the number of chances wasted from wingbacks is frustrating. To try combat this I informed the players to focus play through the middle, and while my wingbacks saw a little less of the ball, and the ball they did see they received in more space.

However, the middle of the park was very very squashed and Neves was competing for the ball and spot on the pitch with whichever Libero was romping forward. Thus I switched him further up the pitch into one of the Mezzala roles, and he is having a bigger impact on games. This is where 


comes in. He has some playmaking ability, and fancies himself as a winger, thus he likes to roam around, he plays the simple stuff, that was all Neves was doing back there in that position, well enough. In a previous post I indicated my concern that there was only one Nuno Taveres, now, someone from my scouting team must read this thread because they came up with this gentleman.


With words like "Wonderkid" and "Sign no matter what the price", I was interested. However Napoli and Valencia were both in advanced talks, the had both offered 15.6M. I offered 16, and received an instant reply, they wanted 20 for coming in late. I offered 18.5, they wanted 18.5 and a 50% sell on, it seemed steep but I wanted him and had a hand tied behind my back. Due to the transfer restrictions in place within the challenge (only signing 11 players and playing 8 in any given season). I had to delay signing this fella until the end of the season, I think that was why my price was so high. 


He wanted a sell on clause, but a high enough weekly wage saw that get quashed, so he's the 1st guy in the door next year.




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It's February, and everything is still to play for, well not the league title, Man City are smashing it like they have since the start of the save and only Liverpool could catch them, but EVERYTHING ELSE is still to play for. This is good, as the club has an expectation that I reach the Quarter Final of both cup competitions, which with a 4th round replay against Chelsea our 1st game of the month, is not going to be easy.


I feared the worst when Azpilicueta swept home a poorly cleared corner but we rallied, Mason Mount coming up big against his former club. What a game in the other replay!


We are through to the next round! Great, against a team that has beaten us once already this year. West Ham in the league next let the yo-yoing around the top 6 commence


Going 1 down against a struggling Hammers side sitting in 16th did nothing for my mood, but we once again bounced back. I unleashed the shark hammer in the 2nd half vs their 10 men which saw 2 goals disallowed for fractional offside

A weeks gap then Watford away in the league. 

I've done something a little different this save, I've recorded some of the results of the top 6 (with it being so close) in an attempt to milk it @andychar style, and add overall depth to the reporting of the save.

Lemme know if you have a preference (same goes for any changes I make or suggestions you have for things you would like to see)


Before we played, a massive result in the title race, Liverpool pulling points back, if they win their 2 games in hand they can close to within 4 points.

Man Utd keep themselves ahead of us regardless of our result due to their superior goal difference.


I'm not a fan of Troy Deeney at the best of times, I feel he's a glorified thug, so to see him score to take the lead and then again once we had worked so hard to get back into the tie. Rather frustrating

A dominant 2nd half display however saw us maintain momentum in the chase for European football next season. Speaking of European football, it's the Europa League next.


This is all the evidence I need to not be moving Ruben Neves back to the Regista role anytime soon. 

Certainly didn't expect this scoreline, not with everything leading up to the game indicating we were very well matched.

Interestingly their players were reacting as "Uninterested" as early as the 1st goal going in, might be some dynamics problems going on there.

Think I will send a 2nd 11 to Germany, but before that it's rock bottom Fulham in the league


Liverpool once again kept the title race competitive while doing us a huge  favour in taking points off Spurs.

Though with us playing on a Sunday thanks to the Europa League:



I always hated back to back games against the same club, and I certainly do now! It's all tightening back up again 


Kamal Sowah is a massive part of our turn around in form, though falling behind against the bottom club had me worried, I don't want comeback wins to be the norm.

Especially with other teams around us winning. Off to Germany we  go.


We gave a good account of ourselves and more importantly with the work done in the 1st leg are through to the next round.


Another close draw, but with the likes of Real Madrid and Inter in the hat I will take it. 

Finish the month with a massive European 6 pointer away to Man Utd

Which is played on a Sunday, so other games go 1st!


Man City drop points again!

But a Harry Kane hat trick keeps the pressure on us


Crazy game!

Those who went for their halftime prawn sandwich will have missed a lot of the action.

Very even, we gave as good as we got, it took a Wan-Bissaka worldie to put us away in the end.

Which means the table looks like this


10 games to go and realistically our highest possible finish is 3rd, 

I don't see Liverpool catching City, but I also don't see them dropping enough points with their games in hand, for us to pull them back in.

Unless we collapse we will finish in the top 6, it is just a question of what flavour of European football we play next season


March looks like that

1 more game away from meeting expectations in both cup competitions

Some very winnable league games in there as well



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Hopefully we can continue to March on in all 3 competitions through March, Europa League 2nd knock out round 1st


It wasn't as resounding as the previous rounds home tie, but it gives us a good platform to take to Italy. 

Rivals Forest in the league next, who are still stuck in the relegation places.

Though we play Sunday so all this happened before we kicked off




Crazy Wolves result!

Brighton doing us a big favour

While City drop more points as Liverpool close ground


Nuno does it again, it is going to be interesting who is and who isn't in the squad next season

I'm looking at you Chillwell

To Italy we go, one foot in the Quarters already


Brilliant  game

Sowah again on the score sheet, his winger tendencies making him the only player to score from playing as the Regista position on such a regular basis

The way they came out in the 1st half I was concerned at half time but we saw the tie out to progress and meet competition expectations


We stay in Italy for another tough game against Roma

Next another FA Cup against Brighton


One of Liverpool's game in hand had to be the Merseyside derby!


Another nervy 2nd half but we progress


"Easiest" draw left in the competition.

Great chance to book us a place at Wembley 

This game shifts the Wolves league game back a month, only Everton in the league now.


It gives us a buffer over the teams chasing behind, but Man Utd look uncatchable at the moment.


Especially when we drop points!

International break at the end of the month means no more league games, thus the table is like this.


When I said we would have to collapse to drop out of the top 6 we are only our game in hand away from being dragged back into that scrap

7th is Europa Conference League, which technically is still Europe

However having been on course to get into the Champions League to fall short in the run in would be a bitter pill to swallow.

But before we get ahead of ourselves. FA Cup Quarter Final time


Not a contest, despite the additional time added.

The draw hasn't been made yet!


Got to love an Unknown fixture in there

8 games in total!

I don't see us being in every competition by the end of April


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April, the month where dreams are destroyed, or survive till the final month of the season. Norwich in the league is 1st up.


Linked our result with everyone else's because we were poor.

Only standout feature of our game, the fact we won without registering a shot on target!

Liverpool give the title back to Man City

Man Utd and Tottenham dropping points gives us hope of a finish as high as 3rd

Europa League next


Midweek game for Arsenal before we play Roma at home

They go above us to 3rd on goal difference

But we have a game in hand.


1st time in the knockout rounds we have conceded an away goal

We didn't play at our best but are still only 1 goal away from the Semi Final

Strangely we don't have a league game sandwiched between our European games




Arsenal move 3 points clear in 3rd with a better goal difference, but we have 2 games in hand

West Ham get an unlikely win which might just keep them in the Premier League

Liverpool drag the league out another week.


We go out of the Europa, we were 2nd best on the night and over the 2 legs.

We play Liverpool in the Semi Final of the FA Cup, I was rocking back in my chair fingers crossed for Aston Villa

But no.


Out of 2 competitions in 3 days, 2nd best in both games


However every cloud, Arsenal drop points meaning we are 3 points behind them with 3 games in hand

Spurs go above us, we drop to 5th, but we have 2 games in hand over them as well.

3 league games to finish this crowded month, Brighton has been moved to not clash with the Europa games.


Chelsea drop points! 

Our destiny is in our own hands with our games in hand.


Back above Spurs into 4th, level on points with Arsenal in 3rd with 2 games in hand.





Results on the 24th don't go our way with Spurs keeping the pressure on

Man Utd see red at home and become catchable if we can find a few wins.

The Spurs game is rearranged due to them progressing in Europe.


Brighton surely end Liverpool's slim title challenge with the last game of the month


We've been as high as 3rd and as low as 6th

Winning our games in hand and we can be in the Champions League next season

Though I would feel safer with the points on the board


This was apparently a "good" group of players, I think we need to synchronise our definitions


3 winnable games, and 2 massive games against the London teams fighting for top 6 finishes.




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Final 5 league games to determine what European competition we will be playing in next season

It is mathematically possible I could collapse and drop out of Europe all together


Top result is MASSIVE for us

Chelsea jump above Tottenham to 6th one point behind us, but have played 3 more games than we have


Really felt we were going to blow the momentum of the earlier result

Scrappy, crap game but I don't care

Rob Holding scores the winning goal against his old club for the 2nd time this season.

We move a point above Arsenal to 4th with 2 games in hand

Level on points with Man Utd in 3rd (but their goal difference is awesome)


Another late goal that is huge!

Anything but a loss would see us go 3rd if only until Utd play



Spurs come through for us and with that 


We play Champions League football next season

Now it is whether we finish 3rd or 4th.


Not our best, but good enough

36 games played we are 3 points clear of Utd in 3rd

But their goal difference!


Game 37

We got Super Marioed while Utd move above us on goal difference

It goes to the final week!


We get the job done away in Sheffield


Utd come through away to clinch 3rd spot


In the last month the London clubs swapped spots after every game.

I had no idea they could take so many points off each other, which made the gap between us and 4th more comfortable than it felt.



Ahead of schedule! I hope they remember this if and when we have a bad year

Also we are in the top 6 now, that surely is no longer "best of the rest"?

Season review to follow




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2020-21 Season Review

Don't know if I've said it on this thread, but I'm sure I've said it before, this is my favourite time of year. Hopefully after a successful season, now is the time to kick on, build and prepare for the new campaign. I like to do a lot of my work in the summer, build the machine and then spend the season seeing how my creation has developed. Some tinkering in January and through loans is possible, however in my 1st full season under the transfer restrictions of this challenge, I kinda shot my load in the summer transfer window. But! Getting ahead of myself, we need to celebrate the fabulous season we just had, before I give in to the itch to build for the next.




Not all managers had a good a season as I did. 7th and 5th respectively were not enough to keep them in a job.

Sticking with the rest of the league


Ben Chilwell made the team of the year


Youri won the Young Player award, but wasn't good enough to go into the team of the year?

As for our own squad


Youri scooped our player of the year, favourite goal (he was top league scorer) and best young player

At 73m I am glad Ruben is the signing of the year





All time best 11

Mason Mount makes the all time 11 but not the team of the season?

The shark maw 4 are in their with Ruben Neves in the deeper position he 1st started in

Tavares sees out Chillwell on the left, but Chillwell appears in the league team of the year?

Johnny Evans in the starting 11 and Wilfred Ndidi on the bench are the only players not at the club in the all time team.


Moving away from players to finances


This was more than a little disconcerting

Only 1 team in the league made a profit on transfer business last season

Chelsea are off the bottom in 20th with a whopping 122m deficit. Probably a factor in why Lampard was sacked

While making a loss isn't sustainable year after year, sitting 7th, while Man Utd are 16th (yet we finished level on points with them in the league) is a great achievement

Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea need to hope the money they invested means they can bounce back quickly, as the Europa league and Conference League will not support that continued level of spending.


The club still seem happy for us to finish in the top half for the foreseeable future. Nice to see our success hasn't instantly ramped up expectation.

"Develop the best youth system in the country" is music to my ears, and hopefully can be the beginning of laying foundations for us to become a year round contender

It also can't hurt with the academy graduates in the match day squad requirement of the challenge.

It might negatively impact on our finances though, as we made a loss this season, and facility upgrades don't come cheap.

Hopefully unexpected Champions League football will pull in some much needed cash.


Think I have said on someone else's thread that "56m for mid table is good money"

I will be taking a close look at the squads, and the crop of loan players returning.

I want to strengthen some areas, however I will be looking to bring in young players for the future to gel with the players coming through our youth system (as it improves)



When we were struggling mid season I looked at attempts to shots on target to goals mainly for the Shark Maw players but over the squad in general. All 4 main Maw players made it to double figures. Neves who only moved forward in the 2nd half of the season shows great promise scoring 7 goals since his advancement. Dennis Praet is very likely to be replaced to make room for the crop of young midfielders returning from loan. I spent a lot of money on the midfield this season and although they all go through barren patches and I would like more from each of them, I do not feel I need to desperately replace any of them. Perez is the oldest at 27, and they all have 2 full years on their contracts at least. Sticking with midfielders, Harvey Barnes and Kieran Dewsbury-Hall have the benefit of being younger, cheaper and academy products and will continue to be back up, rotation options. 

Ben Chilwell and Nuno Tavares being 6th and 7th on goals scored respectively, indicates how much space is generated out wide even when we focus play through the middle. Nuno is edging his way closer to being the starter as his goals came in half the appearances Chillwell made, and Chillwell seems much more prone to injury. Mark Albrighton will be going, despite his new assists record, he is the wrong side of 30, and for a midfielder playing at wingback he isn't providing enough compared to the other flank while still being less competent defensively. Tomas Tavares the agreed transfer will slot straight in, while James Justin will likely continue to deputise.

I think I will keep Schmeichel another year, though I might be in the market for a younger better keeper as a back up, as neither Iverson or Johansson strike me as long term prospects.

Defenders, it is telling that the team of the year is the 3 central defenders I played the majority of my 1st season with, and that the all time 11 still holds two players I sold almost a year ago. Jesus Vallejo had a good first season and will stay. Josh Knight was never anything but a backup and he went at the back end of January. Cedric Kipre is an ok back up, but will be moved on if I can find better players in the summer.

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2021 Pre Preseason

Attempting to bring some structure to the updates, hence headings! Lets see how long it lasts before I forget one.

Firstly, some things in this post happened before June.... oops


Liverpool missed out on the league but landed the FA Cup


Real beat our conquerors Roma in the Europa League final


Maddison came close to being the player of the competition


Though he did make the team of the competition.


I can't remember the previous seasons wages to turnover, but we are more or less bang on average.



We have received a decent jump up the European rankings, and are into the top 7 clubs in the England


I have adjusted the scouting budget, with our youth focus I have gone for a higher youth package relative to the senior player package.


Think it is the highest it has been since I took over, amusingly the board are happy with a mid table finish, however are concerned about three losses against clubs bigger than us.

Transfer business and squad review up next


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2021 Transfers and Squad Review


The one at the bottom is the most frustrating, I left it to the DoF and he went and got rid of a player worth over 20m for a free!


So spending 10x the amount I received in transfers this window is sub optimal. Plus wages have gone up as well! 

However the board seem happy with everyone I have brought in. Plus some of the deals were just too good to be true.

Now the Squad. (I culled everyone at the club with under 2 star current ability or potential ability)




Kasper will be our starting keeper, though even the backroom staff feel he might be past it. He's the oldest player in the squad and our current captain.


Our 1st new signing Kieran Polley, 5.25m from Reading, he will see some action this season in cups etc. He has already tripled in value since joining.


Was our backup keeper last season, will play in the reserve teams to stay match fit in case Kasper gets injured.


Will play in the reserves 


Will play in the reserves due to the cull.


Wing Backs



The one and only Nuno, impressed me enough to probably get the nod as the starter this year.


Will be a very good rotation option, however Bournemouth are interested in him, willing to pay big money as well, except he isn't interested. Negatives are he gets injured frequently, however he is an academy player.


Likely to play in the reserves unless Chilwell leaves. Also an academy player


Will play in the reserves due to the cull


Our 2nd Tavares at wing back, just this time on the right. Last seasons postponed transfer. We paid 18.5m for him, he hasn't even kicked a ball yet and is worth 24.5. He will go straight into the starting lineup


James Justin will be our backup on the right, though he can also play on the left which is a bonus.


Dennis will play in the reserves


A will Vontae


Central Defenders


Jesus joined last season and will likely be 1st choice Libero due to him holding the best passing out of all of our centre backs


Caglar is our best out and out defender and will be a rock for us again at the back this year


Is a toss up between Benkovic and Holding for the 3rd starting centre back slot


However the go to selection till now has been Holding, Benkovic, and Caglar, those 3 have the best chemistry on the pitch together


Diaz joins us for 6.5m and I am very happy with him, my scouts thought I would have to pay 9m. He is straight away our oldest centre back at 26, and has already tripled in value just by joining.


Another 19 year old wonderkid. 22m has been considered steep by the media, but I've read career updates with people spending 65m on a wingback, so I think it's good business.


Central Midfield (The only position left in the squad)


There are 17 of these! so I am putting them up in the order they loaded. The trick will be to give everyone the playtime they require through the 3 squads. Oli will play in the reserves.


Will likely play in the Regista role at the base of the midfield allowing Neves to move forward and be more involved in games.


Is the one Shark Maw player from last season I was the most unsure about. He's the oldest, and didn't perform as well as I would hope


Was bought last season and spent last year back on loan at Leeds. 


Another Tavares, will likely play in the reserves but could make a few cameos into the 1st team. Was signed last season


Was a 90% rated superb signing by the scouts, they reckoned he could cost me 38m but my 1st bid of 18m was accepted.


Last seasons young player of the year, noticed on a lot of these screenshots I am covering up stats! His passing is 16


Has the most potential out of all the academy midfielders, hence why he is still here


another last season signing and another season likely to be spent in the reserves


Not progressed as much as I had hoped, but is an academy player so stays for now.


Decent academy player who caught my attention with some fantastic reserve performances, looking for more of the same this season.


A last season purchase who went out on loan, will see what he accomplishes in the reserves this year


Is staying due to his fantastic 1st team performances in the Regista role last season, only player to bring in goals consistently from that position


Last seasons 2nd biggest signing, not performed as well as I would like, and his potential has dropped from 4 starts to 3.5. However age is on his side


Last seasons and current club record signing, Neves really kicked on when moved up the pitch, hoping for more of the same this year.


A DoF signing on a free, I let it slide due to his potential


Potentially the signing of the season, picked up on a free (1.2m signing fee) as his contract ran out at Real Madrid while he was out on loan. Even if he gets sold on it seems very unlikely I won't make a profit.


So there we go, that is the squad for the 2021-22 campaign. Looking forward to getting underway!


And this is how it starts

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2021 July Preseason

If the end of the last season and build up to the transfer window is my favourite time of year, then once I have made all my transfer moves and settled down to play the preseason friendlies it quickly becomes my least favourite time of year. This might have something to do with one of my 1st ever FM19 Chelsea saves where Gianfranco Zola pranked me into informing me I should sit in the stands for the friendlies in the 1st season, thus by the time the 2nd season came around I took full charge of all friendlies (even organising them). In protest he booked his own friendlies and we were faced with a preseason that spanned about 15 games. Anyway, more related to saves in general, I do play all my preseason friendlies and my main aim is squad rotation, get everyone into the green as far as match fitness and physical condition, ready for the season to come. Which is frustrating because, you've spent since the end of last season planning and (hopefully) building your machine, and instead of testing it, you are deploying various watered down versions of your machine in order to get all the working pieces in order. On top of this, on some level I accept that the results don't matter, because this isn't the full potential of the machine and my team talks are all about fitness and performance, however on a much simpler level, I hate losing. But before we get into the friendly results, here's to the one piece of the machine that got away.


Because there is a limit in this challenge to the number of permanent signings you can make in a season (11) of which only (8) can make a start in the same season they are signed (because that's the way Sir Alex did it). And because in my 1st season I shot my load in the 1st transfer window, my scout team have basically been employing their voyeuristic tendencies since last August compiling me a list of players I should go and get. So this summer it was a rather simple task of going to the shortlist and filtering by the positions I had identified that I needed to strengthen. Alvarez was an 86% recommendation and more importantly the only defender on the entire list who was a natural at playing Libero, (must admit to a little bit of excited wee coming out at that point). What was not so exciting, was the contract negotiation. His agent left it up to me to make the opening offer, I went with the top of the estimates my team had put together as I wanted this guy. However they were nowhere near what his agent wanted. In fact what his agent wanted I couldn't give because the club wouldn't let me go that high (and I really didn't want to go that high) I offered as close as I could, but we went straight to 2 strikes and your out, and he stormed off.... The above screenshot is the agent coming back to tell me he is happy to start talking again. Ehm, I've already signed two centre backs, one of which is a 19 year old wonder kid who I will groom into being the Libero I deserve! With that I slammed the phone down and we went off to America for our preseason training camp (it didn't feel right selecting China....)


It seems somewhat fitting that the signing I put off from last season, my 1st foray into the wonder kid market in this save, should score our 1st goal of the season. I must admit before it went in, and before we scored again straight after I was wondering what on earth I had done. We were rather limp for the 1st 30 minutes, and while yes we played some attractive stuff and it was our 1st preseason friendly, 7 of the starting 11 had decent relationships with each other last season and we are playing in Sacramento for crying out loud! But it came together and we got out alive, with a decent 1st run out.


We might have been overawed by the stadium name, but once again we didn't play like a team who finished 4th in the "best league in the world" against a team from a country who believe football is played with your hands.

However 2 goals from wing backs in 2 games was hopefully a sign of things to come.

Luke Thomas is on here because Ben Chilwell became injured within 3 minutes of coming on in the 1st game. I went as far as putting him on the transfer list, (but his agent warned me he wouldn't be happy)

Hence I didn't hit confirm, however I don't see him staying.



This was the 1st game where things felt like they were starting to come together, I had made a tactical tweak (which I will share at the bottom of the post) but also in general compared to last season we are a completely different side.

At the moment the 1st choice 11 start the game, then rotation occurs throughout the 2nd half, which is probably why only 25% of the goals so far have come in the 2nd half.



This was the game I felt would really be the marker of where we were at this point of the season. I didn't expect this result, or the dominant performance that came with it. 

Especially not against a full strength Dortmund team with Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Brunn Larsen and Axel Witsel.

Also that's at least one wing back scoring in each game so far and 5 of 11 goals coming from that position.



Did wonder if this game was going to be a cautionary tale of things to come, once more we dominated but were unable to find a breakthrough.

We hit the woodwork 4 times.

Forced numerous brilliant saves but just could not find a way through until late on.

Wing back goals are now 6 from 13.

Unfortunately there was one fatality during the Villarreal game


Chris Davies sadly no longer is employed by Leicester City, I've employed a blind man instead.


With that the league season is all set to start


Not worried about not having a player on this list, the fact we don't play with recognised strikers and the youth and rotation we have available.

Hopefully the goals will be spread out nicely.


Also not worried about this list, as we only have 5 players over the age of 25 in the squad.


At 1st glance this one scared me, for a couple of reasons.

1stly for all the young talent we have we are not on the list (however Youri wasn't on the list last season and he scooped the award)

2ndly Chelsea scare the crap out of me. They have added Jadon Sancho to an attacking lineup that already included:

Lautaro Martinez

Christian Pulisic

Mauro Icardi and Kingsley Coman.

Then defensively they have added

Jonathan Tah and Alex Grimaldo.

(oh and Senol Gunes as manager)



In response, I added this guy as our U18 Manager, seen as Dennis Bergkamp left to go coach at Arsenal.

Good times


These are the odds for the coming season, seen as the board want a top half finish I am happy to be expected to finish in the "best of the rest" position.


That is our starting month of fixtures

Comparing it to the odds above we couldn't have asked for a much "easier" start. 

With Southampton our toughest opening month opponent.



So I mentioned a tactical tweak, it's nothing amazingly spectacular. Instead of having two shadow strikers and two Mezzala's in the boxed front four, I have switched one of the shadow strikers to an advanced playmaker. This is a generic change as pretty much any of the players who can play the shadow striker role can also play the AP role. However the main protagonist of this change is Martin Odegaard. He has finishing of 5.... His Vision, Passing, Technique, First touch are all 16, he has Flair of 18, I contemplated and might experiment with him being an Enganche, however it's description states it's a rather static position and feels like a waste of his 16 Work Rate. Plus none of the other front line Shark Maw players do so well in the Enganche role. 

I made the change because, although playing HAMMER TIME football and turning it up to 11 are both the principles the club want us to play and what seems like a fun way to play the game, I wasn't enamoured with the Hammer when I 1st employed it last season. Maybe I thought it would be simple to employ because it was the same basic shape as the tactic I had been rocking to that point, or maybe I just didn't have the players in the correct position to make it work. We leaked a lot of goals, and we created very cookie cut, one dimensional chances, mainly with a single break through player being very isolated, that player not always being the best equipped to convert the chance on goal. Hence I wanted a pivot, or technically gifted player able to hold the ball up if required, however I didn't want them in a role which would see them potentially wasting a chunk of the chances created because they didn't possess strong finishing skills.

I'm not sure if it is this change, or the new influx of players, or both, but we seem so much more balanced. I know it is early days, but we have bossed possession in every game so far, both wing backs are equally capable of delivering the ball into the box and being a goal threat (unlike last season.) More than that, I don't know if the AI factors in that the two Tavares wing backs are both the same nationality and have played together in the Portuguese youth set up together for many years. Whatever the reason, they seem able to find each other wherever they are on the pitch.

We don't just aimlessly cross or shot now, I've never seen so many pull back crosses or balls laid back from inside the area rather than wasting an opportunity, and in general, while we still move the ball vertically and as incisively as before when we need to, in general we keep it much better than we did. This is probably due to the fact the average passing ability of the 10 outfield players in the above screenshot is 14.7


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2021 August

Halfway through preseason I was on the verge of diving deeper than I ever had into a save, I was close, so close, to taking charge of the U23s as well, so I could control my young players playing time. However, I caved to their demands (and the suggestions of my backroom staff) that they should go out on loan. Thus our current U23 team is there for players recovering from injury, and random homeless people recovering from being alcoholics. I have however taken over all player individual training, though the majority of them are keen to tell me the training I have them on is not a source of weakness. We shall see.


We didn't lose anyone I didn't want to cull in the transfer window, but Holy CRAPPOLA... that Man Utd spending.

We did send a fair few people out on loan, hopefully this guy has taken one for the entire crop of players


Broken collarbone on his 1st day of his loan experience...

He is "happy" with it... sadistic sod.

Right, lets get into the season, like last season I will be putting up more than just my results, so you can see the league developing.

I will focus on the "big 6" clubs, and any club that is currently sitting in the 7 European places.

As always if you want to see anything specific, or just want to mock me, let me know as I get lonely!



Brighton had the honour of hosting the 1st game of the season

Not the powerhouse start I expected from that Chelsea team.


Opening weekend saw no real surprises, Norwich thumped newly promoted Newcastle.

And Dybala at Liverpool put one foot in the golden boot with 5 goals against Palace


The Champions didn't start well in the early Sunday game either


SIGH we couldn't find a breakthrough against newly promoted Villa

I didn't want to shout at the team on the 1st day so I tried tell them they were the better team (which they had been)

But they didn't like that, so they produced next to nothing in the 2nd half

Suddenly preseason feels a long way in the past.


Big games in the 2nd weekend of the season.

Manchester derby sees City record their 1st win of the campaign

Chelsea record the kind of result I was expecting them to get most weeks.

Aston Villa and Norwich lift into the top 6 


Better, much better, however 2 goals from set pieces isn't exactly the way I want to go about things 

Though at this stage points are points.


6 in 2 games for Dybala


Arsenal didn't take long to drop points


They must have heard me the next game week!


Another big game in the early weeks of the season

Advantage Liverpool in the title race (though I feel Chelsea will be their competition this season not City)


2 and a half hours later Chelsea do the same


Utd win, and Newcastle get their 2nd draw in a row against a big London club.



We haven't conceded in 7 games now which is good.

However the flowing attacking football that marked preseason is gone.

Norwich had won both their opening games and sat above us in the table, never going to moan about not losing to a team above us

However, it's Norwich, we should be beating them.

Final league games now before the international break.


The Canary hasn't sang yet!


Chelsea maybe wishing they had saved one of their 5 goals from last week to help them take all 3 points at Old Trafford


No surprises in the late games.


We conceded our 1st goal, with Burnley's only possession in the 1st half.

3 defenders scoring, which has them scoring 5 of our 6 goals so far this season.


Tottenham don't slip up against West Brom like they did against Newcastle

Wolves beat Everton to nudge us out of 6th spot.


7th at the end of the 1st month

Big plus compared to previous seasons, our goal difference is a lot healthier than it has been.


We are in Group A (for awesome) in the Champions League.

The board want us to be "competitive" which means it is really a free hit this season

Can see us getting through to the Europa League, not sure we will qualify from the group though.



Bristol Rovers from League 1 in the Carabao cup gives me a chance to play the youngsters.


It's ok, I am yet to receive an A




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2021 September

It's early days in the league, and despite dropping points in what looked like easy games on paper, we are still only 4 points off the top in 7th spot. 

We also start European and domestic cup competitions this month.


I was beginning to get annoyed, until I brought Jesus on in the 64th minute

He scored a beauty of a curling shot (not bad for a central defender)


Which put us on 6 matches unbeaten stretching back to the last game of the previous season.



Brighton did for Man City and the the wheels seem to be coming off at the defending champions

Seems London clubs need to score 3 goals....


Liverpool put Norwich in their place


100th game, which just happens to be my 1st Champions League game.


Slightly frustrated that they had 4 attempts, 3 on target and scored 2 of them.

They are supposedly the weaker team in the group. 

Might be uphill from here.


Not going to argue if the big teams keep taking points off each other


Don't think I will be showing many more Norwich results if they keep this form up


Liverpool haven't not won yet this season.


Man City turn it around after last weeks loss to Brighton, but they have a lot of ground to make up already


The late goal was frustrating to concede, but it is only our 2nd of the season.

Decent display after settling the nerves early.


2nd team played, and played well, though was a little nervy with how long it took to break the deadlock


Not really who I was hoping for

West Ham is our last league game of the month

Then its Lyon in the Champions League



Liverpool make it 8 from 8

Arsenal drop points against bottom of the table West Brom


Spurs also can't get a break through against promoted Villa


Their goalkeeper kept this respectable, we had over 30 shots

Over half on target.

Not bad for a lineup with half an eye on the Champions League.




Wolves sneak into the European places with this win


Norwich are dropping fast.


If i was slightly annoyed by the Anderlecht result I am fuming with this one

Well and truly FMED


My 1st Champions League home game

My 1st player sending off


It's not gone, but with back to back games against Madrid next it doesn't look great.


Maintain the 4 points off top spot

Already 8 points above the boards expected minimum

5 points above the book makers


Toughest month yet on paper

Three top 7 ties (above 2 competitions)

and the Madrid game.


Still not and A


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7 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

As always if you want to see anything specific, or just want to mock me, let me know as I get lonely!

I like the snapshot of the 'Big 6' every gameweek, although if you end up in a situation like last season where things are changing every day in the league, a little snapshot of the table would be handy as I was struggling to keep track!

I'm also still not convinced by the badge styling, although I do like some of the European club interpretations.

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18 hours ago, BML said:

I like the snapshot of the 'Big 6' every gameweek, although if you end up in a situation like last season where things are changing every day in the league, a little snapshot of the table would be handy as I was struggling to keep track!

I'm also still not convinced by the badge styling, although I do like some of the European club interpretations.

thanks for the reply, will try to keep the game week updates more understandable

I like the different badge styling, at least enough to not go looking for another set to download! 

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2021 October

We start the month with probably our biggest test yet on paper, Arsenal at home.


We never looked like losing, a long throw header and then a header from a corner (which we won from a long throw)



Chelsea stay ahead of us with an emphatic win

Everton next after the international break


A win is a win, but not always, this was painful to watch, especially after we had no problems for 90 minutes against a much better Arsenal side

After a fast start the players just switched off, silly mistakes allowing Everton back into the game.


Not happy to concede the same number of goals we have let in all season in one game.


Liverpool stay perfect, allowing us to climb above Chelsea into 2nd.


Burnley had a bad afternoon against Spurs!

Real Madrid at home in the Champions League next. I don't expect much.



Nothing short of fuming, distinctly get the feeling the AI is sending me the not so subtle message that we don't belong in the Champions League. We outplayed Anderlecht in the 1st game and somehow stumbled to a 2-2 draw. We smashed Lyon in the 2nd game but couldn't score, then had a player sent off for a straight red and 2 minutes later they scored with their only shot on target the whole game. Now the Madrid game, which I have openly indicated I didn't think we would get anything, but there's no need to take the ****. Once again we smashed them over the 90 minutes, I play with extended highlights on, and they had a total of 5 the entire game, their 5 goals. The 1st two I have no problem with, they broke incisively from clearing our attacks, we play a high defensive line and they had the quality to punish us. They play a high defensive line, and Maddison's goals were both through balls which exploited that. The press conference before the match had been all about Eden Hazard, and as soon as he scored the 1st one (the 3rd highlight for them) , when the next highlight came on you knew they were going to score, and when it was him again, it felt inevitable he was going to get a hat trick. The match engine shouldn't be like that, I don't like losing, but the fact it feels you can predict the outcome of a highlight before it has played halfway through, is what makes it frustrating and unenjoyable, not the fact you lost the game. We have 3 Champions League games left this campaign, and I will be playing the kids in them, take them as seriously as the AI is.


This cheered me up after the Champions League bull****

The guy who broke his collarbone....

Bournemouth in the league next


sigh... To play so well against Arsenal at the start of the month

To play well enough to win in this game

but come away with nothing.

Getting sick of it.


Liverpool still perfect, and although we sit 2nd there is no hope of us going any higher.


City are regaining their consistency but the Champions don't have a hope without a Liverpool collapse.


Chelsea smash Tottenham to go back above us.

We play them next in the Carabao Cup


It took me until half time to realise Chelsea had fielded a weakened cup team

We on the other hand went full strength as our expectation is to reach the Quarter Final


Didn't we play Rovers in the earlier round?


Martin Odegaard is quickly becoming the 1st name on the team sheet.

Switched him to advanced playmaker (attack) and any chances he gets himself seem to be tap ins that he can't miss.

Where as he created the assists for both the other goals.

Still feels like I had to flog the players more than I should to beat a Wolves side who sit 16th on current form.


However with this result happening at the same time as we played Wolves, I was beginning to accept a 2-2 draw.


1st points dropped by Liverpool this season


Tottenham have come unstuck the last two weeks!


Utd also drop points in the last game of the month


The title is still in our own hands, if we beat Liverpool home and away (not likely)

Not that I am expecting to mount a title challenge, I have until my 8th season to win the league (as that is how long it took Sir Alex to do it)

More importantly is the 9 point gap back to 7th and the 11 point gap back to 10th which is the minimum requirement for the board.


I'm taking this as 1/3rd of a manager of the month award, don't care what Jurgen says.


Yep still not an A

Getting fed up with the board saying "not happy we can't retain possession" as a negative for the matches....

Then demand we play possession football if it's such a big deal for you


Two games for the kids / reserves in the Champions League

Two big games against 1st and 3rd in the league!


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2021 November

Champions League

One of the downsides of putting in more detail and adding more screenshots is that doing a monthly update means a lot of pictures to sort through, make sure they go in the right place, etc. I am all for detail and really do like that my humble little thread has so many views, however taking longer to do updates because of the number of pictures to format, compared with how long it takes to play the actual game, is not optimal. So in an effort to streamline the process (and shamelessly increase my post count) I will move to posting by game week, so the detail remains, but each post contains less screenshots! Everyone's a winner (baby) that's a fact!

Champions League against Real Madrid, in the Bernabeu, ready for another frustrating result.

However, before that


D! for results on the pitch, we are 2nd in the league and on course to meet expectations in the 3 competitions we are in.

D for D***head, from whoever compiled this report.



Now that is what I am talking about! 

We rode our luck ALOT and probably didn't deserve to get anything out of the game

But I don't care, it makes up for the rubbish I endured up to this point.

Amusingly Neves wouldn't have been on the pitch if Ramos hadn't of cropped Youri at the end of the 1st half.


Lyon, unbeaten up to this point suffer a late turn around against bottom club Anderlecht.


Puts everything in play with 2 games to go!

Edited by Mandy42
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2021 November

Premier League Gameweek 12

We play Chelsea away, I doubt this time they will play a weakened team like they did in the Carabao

But before that, Saturday's results look like this


Relegation zone Newcastle have had draws against top 6 teams

But not the mighty pool


Tottenham are in danger of slipping out of the top 6 with 3 losses on the bounce


City go 2nd through virtue of playing a day before us.


I would have been overjoyed with a draw!

Once again we rode our luck

And once again a ball in to the box from the right saw Neves get on the end of it to give us the win!


Brighton have claimed some top 6 scalps in this save!


1st third of the season completed and we look good for a top 4 finish like last year

I don't see anyone catching Liverpool though.

Edited by Mandy42
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2021 November

Premier League Gameweek 13

Unlucky for some? Probably when you are playing the current unbeaten league leaders

However 1st, slightly annoying Man Utd played their 12th game in week 13......

Sure this wont be the last time 


Bouncing between 7th and 6th is not what they expected as a return from their 190M spent in the transfer market!


Arsenal make it 4 losses in a row for Spurs


Newcastle take more points off a top 6 team

And Brighton come from behind to lift themselves into the top 7 (hence why their result is shown!)


Jurgen had some nice things to say about us, I almost feel bad for breaking into his house and lopping 33.3% off his manager of the month award



In the last few games we have ridden our luck, in this game we gave as good as we got, and both sides received a bit of luck.

Our penalty was given by VAR in one of those inside or outside of the box decisions, it looked outside, it was given as inside.

Liverpool struck back with Robertson hitting a beautiful effort from the left corner of the box which had Schmeichel beaten all ends up

It hit the post, Salah was on hand to tap it into an empty net, however he looked exceptionally offside, but the goal stood.

Once more coming into the final 10 minutes I would have taken a draw, I don't want the pressure of challenging for the title.

Not that I am complaining we won, it cements our position in the top 4, however only 2 points behind Liverpool now it feels we should try mount a challenge.


I think i'm going back to his house to destroy the remainder of his award!


Man City stop us from developing a small gap to 3rd


We are 12 points above slipping out of the European football places

16 points above the board expectation

Brighton are finding some consistency instead of just beating a big team once every blue moon

Spurs could be sacking their 2nd manager in as many seasons.

Newcastle deserve more, having picked up 5 of their 8 points in draws against top 6 teams.


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2021 November

Champions League Group A 

Game 5

All of the last rounds hard work against Real Madrid could be undone if we didn't get a result against Anderlecht at home this week.

We sit 3rd, above them by virtue of a better goal difference.

A loss and any European football after Christmas would be out of our hands

A draw and we would be out of the running for qualifying from the group but could still drop into the Europa if we matched or bettered Anderlecht's result in week 6

A win would secure Europa League football in the new year and leave us with a chance of qualifying from the group.


Yet again a frustrating 1st half in which we were the far superior team yet failed to break the deadlock

Hannes Wolf had a goal correctly ruled out for offside.

He then somehow managed to hit the angle of post and bar, seeing his effort bounce along the goal line before being cleared away.

All this from a peach of a cross from none other than Martin Odegaard 

Just like the 1st game, at half time I told the players I was happy with the performance, and they took it badly

I feared a repeat of the 1st game where a negative team talk saw the team switch off in the 2nd half

Thankfully we pressed on, we went from Hammer mode to Tank mode once we were 2-0 up to see out the game.


Madrid took revenge on Lyon


We play Lyon in our last game, which is now winner takes all.

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2021 November

Premier League Gameweek 14

Last game of the month sees us away to 19th placed Crystal Palace.

It is deemed as an "easy win" for us (which means we will struggle!)


Liverpool go home in the 2nd half, Everton don't even notice

Brighton keep themselves inside the European places


Tottenham remember what it feels like to win for the first time in over a month.


There are countless steam comments on the majority of FM editions that bemoan the feeling that any changes you make inside the game engine don't matter. I have fallen into that mind set once or twice myself, it is therefore only fair that I hold my hands up and shine light on the occasions when my changes have made a huge impact and carried the game in our favour. After a sluggish, frustrating 1st half against Palace I was looking to ring the changes just after the hour mark. Now, I have various triggers for making a sub, low physical condition is top priority, followed by negative mental state, and finally individual player rating for that match. I am trying to get away from player bias, or real life expectation, IE keeping a player on the pitch due to their name alone. Which is what happened in this match, my midfield change came down to a choice between James Maddison and Ruben Neves, Neves cost me 73M and has better attributes than Maddison, however Maddison was performing just slightly better. Maddison stays on, and 2 minutes after the substitution, cracks a curling free kick against the bottom of the post, which an on rushing Nuno Tavares gleefully taps in.

Then as Palace try push for an equaliser, Youri clears from a corner which looks like a simple punt down field, however Mason Mount (on for an under performing Hannes Wolf) charges the clearance down and surges down the left wing. At this point I am not expecting much to come of the chance, as the only person in the centre for him to cross it to is Martin Odegaard, whose finishing isn't his strong suit. Centre the ball he does, and Martin pushes towards the edge of the box, he rides a crunching challenge, sets himself over the ball and then slides in a wide open Maddison with an angled forward pass. Maddison converts the chance easily and we go home happy.


I think Man City are angry!

On to Sunday


Chelsea lose ground thanks to ex player Baba Rahman.

Arsenal leapfrog them, with an ex Chelsea player scoring for Wolves


After our perfect month, the top 3 have closed up.

A seperate group are competing from 4th down to 8th.

With Bournemouth and Wolves chasing to get onto the back of this group.

After fast starts, Norwich and Villa have faded.

West Ham who survived by the skin of their teeth last season look unlikely to do so again this year.


We draw a Premier League team in the FA Cup


8 games in December, both Manchester clubs away is going to be a test.

Brighton, Spurs and Bournemouth are all top half sides.

Bristol City give us a great chance to progress into the Semi Final of the Carabao

Beat Lyon in the Champions League and we qualify, lose and we go into the Europa.


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