dirkgently1066 Posted October 18, 2020 Share Posted October 18, 2020 How We Got Here I've had a strange relationship with FM down the years. As anyone who has read my earlier threads will know, I have played the series since the very first Championship Manager back in 1992 and yet, save for the occasional burst of excitement, have consistently failed to achieve any real success. Not through poor play. Well, not as such. In fact, despite the hours I have spent in-game, it is more down to no play. Instead I fell into a trap of perfectionism where I would constantly strive to achieve an undefinable, unachievable goal. It was never enough to win. I had to win well, I had to play well, I had to score the most, Steven Gerrard would have to get the best ratings, Robbie Fowler would have to get the most goals, Nii Lamptey would have to have stamina above 10, and on and on it went. Finally with FM14, I hit the jackpot. Stepping away from Liverpool, I embarked on one of my greatest FM saves, taking Sutton United from the Conference South all the way to the Premier League. It was immense and taught me more about FM than any other save. I had no plans to pick up another version but then, having skipped 15 and 16, I went back in with 17. I thought I could carry my FM14 lessons over but alas, my attempts to start a Liverpool save ended, as they so often did, in failure. Attempts to recreate my Sutton experience proved somewhat more fruitful as I took Eastbourne up a division but I soon found myself anxious over the thought of squad building and, almost inevitably, rage quit. For FM18, all my worst traits came to the fore. I chopped and changed between Liverpool and Eastbourne save games. Funnily enough, I did actually win the league with Liverpool before going on a mighty unbeaten run but I eventually tired of my style of play and so started again. And so began a lockdown full of FM restarts. Over and over and over and over... I though about buying FM19 but couldn't face learning anything new, another of my inherent gaming fears. FM20 was similarly off the table. I was doomed to FM18 perfectionist restart territory forever more... A Gift From the Gaming Gods And then, out of the blue, I was lucky enough to be given a Steam code for FM20. It took me a couple of days to even risk booting it up, and then only after spending hours trawling through various sites for the best logos and kits. Even here, my anxiety came to the fore; is this the right kit design? Are these logos right? Have I got all the right player names. Eventually I began my save but again, an anxiety persisted. I was Liverpool. I had to get it right. But more than that, for the first time in my FM life, real life Liverpool had already won the league. I was behind the curve. If I didn't win the league in the first season, I was already worse than real life. I would have failed. I would therefore be a failure.That would mean an immediate restart. After a tense first season though, we did it. We were champions, by just 3 points. We added the Super Cup and Club World Cup too, ensuring parity with Klopp. We had done it. I had done it. And then something strange happened; we did it again. Only this time we walked the league, hitting 104 points and going unbeaten in the league. With 116 scored and just 14 conceded, our goal difference of 102 was more than any other team even scored. Further league success followed in 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026, together with a slew of FA Cups, League Cups and Champions Leagues, the 2023 season seeing us once again undefeated, this time racking up 106 points from 34 wins and 4 draws. I started to dream and set myself higher targets; winning all trophies in a season; going undefeated in all comps; winning every game. 2024 and 2025 by contrast though saw our form dip sharply as, for the first time, I was forced to reshape the first team. We lost 4 and 5 times respectively, at one point falling 10 points behind the leaders, only to roar back and win. Had the magic worn off? Hammer Time Finding myself, for the second season running, 10 points off the lead, I decided to go big and signed Kyllian Mbappe to join in January 2025. Whilst I struggled to find his best role in that half season, his 15 goals in 23 games helped us win the league again. Keen to get the best out of him though, as well as fellow defence-spanker Erling Haaland, I decided it was time to be bold. My Klopp-inspired 433 formation had served me well but now that a number of the current real world team had moved on, I felt free to try something of my own. Given that I had two of the best strikers on the game, I thought I would try for two up top. A bog standard 442 was ruled out based on previous experience. Looking at the rest of my team, Curtis Jones could work well as an inverted winger from the left with Harvey Elliott well placed to perform a similar role from the right. Jude Bellingham's versatility allows him to be played pretty much anywhere so I paired him as a box to box midfielder with a supporting playmaker. With Alexander-Arnold in the squad, wing backs are a must and so a 424 was looking like a possibility. Still though, this was a big change, especially for me. Usually at this point a fear of failure would kick in, preventing me from even trying anything different. I discussed it with my brother, himself a life-long FM fanatic, although somewhat more relaxed in his approach than I. He cautioned me against it, rightly pointing out that if it failed, I would rage quit with serious regret. Taking inspiration from @GR3NDALand his exploits in the Liverpool team thread, I decided to go for it. Not the best timing perhaps as the season started with the revamped Club World Cup but a record 14-0 thumping of world renowned Highlands Park gave me confidence. Subsequently being eliminated 1-0 by Real Madrid was decidedly less impressive but I had seen enough to warrant continuing. The league season soon provided vindication as I bashed up Man United 3-6 on their own patch. But reality bit as I stumbled in winnable games, first at Villa, then Leeds as we ultimately lost 5 games that season. The thing is though, it was bloody brilliant. Aside from the League Cup, and the aforementioned Club World Cup, we swept the board, winning the League, FA Cup and Champions League. We scored a mighty 124 league goals, Haaland helping himself to 39 on the way to a frankly ridiculous 56 in all competitions. Sure, there had been bumps along the way. I was never convinced about us defensively, although to be fair that may be down to an ageing Alisson and Van Dijk as much as anything. But despite my doubts, we were once again a winning machine. And more to the point, it was my machine. This was no longer Klopp's team or Klopp's tactic. Sure, I kept his Gegenpressing ethos but everything else was mine. Chasing That Perch So what did I do next season? Reverted back to 433 of course! Until I found myself 0-1 down at home to Arsenal and struggling for chances, a half time switch to 424 seeing us run out 3-1 winners. Still I tinkered, trying a 4132, before ultimately coming to the conclusion that, despite some kinks to iron out, 424 was delivering the goods. And that is where I think I will stay, tactically. At least for now. Tweaks continue as I play around with some roles and duties but the basic shape seems to work and creates some really fun football. Attention then turns to some of my other common anxieties, such as squad building, replacing ageing players and having the confidence to buy and sell. But we'll get to that next time. 4 Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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