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Advantageous

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About Advantageous

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Biography

  • Biography
    A connoisseur of the FM Online scene and long term member of the PGC - a series of network games established in 2009.

    You can view our website at this address: www.the-pgc.webs.com

    We regularly update our SI thread which you can find here: https://community.sigames.com/topic/422784-pgc-back-to-our-roots/

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team
    Wolves

Currently Managing

  • Currently Managing
    Cambridge United

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  1. Last Season Our first season in the Premier League was a success and this was mainly down to the transfer window going into the campaign. We finished 8th overall, but were knocking on the door of the top 6 for parts of the season. What with higher teams winning the domestic cups and what not, it meant that we qualified for the Europa League preliminary rounds, so that was the cherry on top of what was a great season. As mentioned before, the transfer window was my best one for a long time. Not only did I improve the first 11, I also managed to get every single target I wanted and this was key to our performance. It meant that I had all the right players in each of my roles to play my brand of patient football. It's not necessarily possession based, as the possession stats were usually around 50-50 unless I switched to a more conservative style. The idea was to flood the midfield with five players in attack (two wing backs and 3 central midfielders), have three centre backs holding their positions and have two forwards with one linking up the play and the other hanging around waiting for scraps. This allowed me to be adventurous when I needed to be against those middle-lower teams around who felt they could come to Cambridge and play an attacking formation, expecting to walk away with three points. It also meant that I could be quite defensive when I wanted to be, against Arsenal for example where I won 2-0, essentially playing 5 defenders as the wing backs tucked in and didn't venture forward quite as often. I've enjoyed playing the 3-5-2 formation over the last season and a half, as it's a very malleable formation, allowing me to change style at the drop of a hat, but I'm also wary of my usual stumbling block around this time in Football Manager. Each time I make big strides in the top domestic league, be it FM13, FM14 or FM17, I always stutter after the maiden season and end up spending the following two or three seasons trying to replicate the early success of the first. It's usually down to the quality of players that are available for me to sign, but I'm not a fan of attacking formations and that no doubt plays it's part as well. I'll be keeping an eye on my form this season, as I'm hoping with the new signings that I've made, I can finish 9th or above. That to me, would be success. Oh, and a good Europa League run for the reputation boost. Domestic Cups Knocked out in the 6th Round of the FA Cup against Manchester United. There forward and wide play was too much for my side to handle and they ran rings around my defence. Transfer Window for the Upcoming Season I'm not quite as happy with this window so far as I was this time last season, but we have improved the side in most positions. I was hoping that a higher quality of player would be available this time around, but the best players I've bought in have matched my current top players in terms of ability. Whilst it's still an improvement, I've had to watch Gilly's Stoke and Stu's West Ham go in for the players I'd have hoped to be bring in. Even Sean's newly promoted Fulham are in for better quality players. Johannes appears to be operating on a plain I'm not familiar with, as I've not seen his club mentioned once in the game this window. Still, I've made great strides in improving the bench and the squad overall, so fingers crossed this will translate onto the pitch. The only concern I have is that I've made a lot more signings than I would usually. The Other Lads Johannes: Finished in 9th this time around (1 place below last year) but finished with a higher points total. He has a great side of youngsters and wonderkids, all of whom my scouts rave about. All eyes are on Chesterfield to see how these players develop and whether they can take the club to the next level. Gilly: Sat bottom of the league with 9 points after close-to-30 games. Despite buying in January ready for a Championship season next year, Gilly decided that enough was enough and threw his hat in the ring for the next available Premier League job. Stoke was that job, and he took them from 18th to Premier League safety. Stu: Like Gilly, found the leap from Championship to the Premier League tricky. What's that old proverb? When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And my did Stu move quick. By Christmas, he had his feet well and truly under the manager's office desk at West Ham. He left his side in the relegation zone and they eventually went down as the season came to a close. Sean: Back-to-back promotions for Sean's Fulham as he takes them back into the Premier League with a Championship title. A strong season in which he occupied the top two spots pretty much all along, with the odd stint in the play-off places here and there. Has, again, released half of the side, so he is relying on bringing in good player sharpish. Mike: Resigned from Mansfield to take a side with a bit more reputation, a bit more money, a side that held a bit more of an interest perhaps. Blackburn is the side that the Belgian now finds himself at, and he has dropped back to League 2 to take the fallen giant. Respect. Mike will be hoping to do a Sean and get them up the leagues as soon as possible. Scott: Missed our extra session but, for once, his assistant manager did him proud as they finished just outside of the play-offs. Scott has a good thing going there at the moment and will be hoping he take that next step and bring his side into the Championship.
  2. Last Season Last season's play-off final defeat was a little disappointing, and that seemed to have an effect on the side as we went into the new season. We hovered around mid-table for a fair while playing very inconsistently with no real flow to our attacking play or solidarity to our defensive shape. Moving to a 5-3-2 formation with wing backs seemed to help matters half way through the season, as we ditched the now banned three-striker formation, and we began our climb to finish in 4th place. Despite being in for 2nd place on the last game of the season, I had to rely on Stu bottling 2nd place (which he very nearly did) and Preston losing (which they did) as well as beat Gilly's rampant Lincoln away from home, so I was happy to settle for the play-offs for a second season in a row. The play-offs themselves were a completely differnt animal this time around. Last season, we went into them on a poor run of form, where as this time around, we went in with strong form. It showed as my assistant brushed aside the semi-final first leg and I finished off the second leg and ground out a 2-1 victory against Leeds in the final. Domestic Cups Knocked out in the Carabao cup against Portsmouth 1st round, who managed to face us in our run of poor form, but salvaged some dignity in the domestic cups as we held West Ham to a 1-1 draw at our place in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, before losing 3-1 in the replay. Fairly respectable, but it did highlight that we would need to add significant reinforcements should we win promotion to the Premier League. Transfer Window for the Upcoming Season Very happy with this window's transfer business as I've managed to strengthen every position and add quality reinforcements. Currently, the bookie still have us as favourites to finish in the bottom four, along with Chesterfield, Lincoln and Hartlepool, but as long as we stay up, I'll be celebrating come the end of the season. The board very kindly gave us £20m to spend during this window, as well as a relatively healthy wage budget. Every player who has joined will be a first team member, with the exceptions of Peter Ankersen, who will rotate with Lucero in the right wing back position, and Sam Evans, who has been sent back to Man City as we no longer need him in the centre of defence. Leaving the club on loan are a selection of youngsters who are too old to play in the U18s, but not good enough for the first team squad (we currently do not have an U23s squad due to our youth rating) as well as several squad members from last season who failed to find a club. The Other Lads Johannes: Finished in a very smart 8th position in his maiden Premier League season and will want to build as quick as possible to maintain the gap between himself and the three humans now joining him in England top division. Gilly: Won another lower league title and will be very happy with his season. Has yet to finish his transfer dealings this window, but will be looking to avoid relegation and build for the future with a mix of quality and potential surely on their way to Lincoln. Stu: Found the jump from League One to the Championship as easy as Johannes did and will be looking forward to mixing it up with the big boys in the Premier League. Like Gilly and myself, we will all be trying our very best to avoid relegation, so anything 18th will be his aim. Sean: Rebuilt the Fulham squad whilst offloading players who appeared to be stealing a living during their relegation season. Turned them into a force in League One and will be hoping to do the same in the Championship and join the four lads now occupying places in the Premier League as soon as possible. Mike: Play-off winners Mansfield go into the Championship with Sean's Fulham under Mike's stewardship after a strong season where he occupied a place in the top seven for majority of the season. Will be looking to climb as quickly as he can as he adds a few quality players to his squad. Scott: Hasn't had it easy so far, after stints at Accrington and Plymouth, but decided the Plymouth job wasn't for him and resigned towards the end of the season. He now finds himself at the now Oysten-less Blackpool where he will be hoping this is the club for him.
  3. Last Season Despite the season being marred by a play-off final defeat, I have no option to be very satisfied by the campaign as a whole. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was rather cautious in predicting my teams eventual finishing position as we had a poor transfer window where there were no improvements to the first 11. I was concerned that after back-to-back promotions, we had risen much too quickly and were about to pay the price with inevitable relegation. My concerns were alleviated however, when we found ourselves in the top two after ten or so games. From then on, we hovered in the play-off positions, occasionally moving into second, but never beyond that after Johannes' Chesterfield and Leicester began to exert their dominance. We eventually ended up in third position even though we suffered from patchy form in the final 6 games of the season. This meant we went into the play-offs in perhaps the worst form of the season. It showed. We scraped through the first two legs, winning on penalties, before facing off against 6th place Norwich. They took an early lead, before we pegged them back, just in time to see them snatch the winner in the final few minutes. I'm convinced our poor form entering the play-offs contributed to our defeat, as we'd performed well against Norwich in the two league games. Domestic Cups Reached the 5th round of the FA Cup and came up against the Premier League's Southampton. After a 1-1 draw at our place, my assistant took control of the replay due to work and earned a respectable 2-4 defeat. Elsewhere, we were destroyed 7-1 by Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. There was a clear gulf in class and we just could not live with their pace in attack. Transfer Window for the Upcoming Season I ought to be delighted with this transfer window so far, especially when compared to last seasons. Our pool of fairly talented youngsters has now reached an age where they can go out on loan, with most going to League Two and Vanarama National sides. Had our rise through the leagues not been so rapid, two or three of those may have made it into the first team squad. As it is, they go out on loan to get some first team experience with the hope that they perform well enough to make progressive strides in the ability. Coming into the club are five players that will improve the first eleven and 2 that will significantly improve the bench and play a rotational role for this coming season. I'm hopeful that I can add one more, but if not, I have cover for that particular position. As you can see from the screenshot below, I have spent majority the £5.5m earned in our first second flight season which the board kindly pumped into the transfer budget. The Other Lads Johannes: Back-to-back-to-back promotions (if that's even a phrase) for the Icelandic manager. He will be very happy with his season and openly aimed for promotion after buying and loaning smartly in the window. Gilly: Suffered early on and was, at one point, only a handful of points ahead of Sean's Stevenage, but managed to get his side pulling the right direction and finished towards the higher end of mid-table. With a tactical re-shuffle, I think he'll be quietly hoping for promotion, or at least a strong challenge. Sean: Relegated and then sacked after a poor season followed a poor window. Was unlucky with the sacking as the club was predicted to finish rock-bottom with a significant lack of funds available to improve the side. His late season rally appears to have earned him the job at Fulham, where his first task will be to rebuild whilst lowering the average wage. Stu: Openly stated he didn't want promotion, but deep down hoped to stay as close as possible to the leading pack. Stu will ply his trade in the Championship next season after promotion, but found the window just as hard as I did, with players joining lower league clubs with slightly higher reputation and more money. Mike: Mid-table for Mike's side and he'll probably not be particularly happy about it after having the play-offs in his sight for majority of the campaign, but will look for a promotion challenge next season. Scott: Plymouth's manager will, no-doubt, be looking at promotion after narrowly missing out last season. Like Mike, he'll want to move up the leagues as quick as possible now that we have one human in the Premier League.
  4. League Two I didn't think we could top lasts season's last minute automatic promotion snatch and grab, but we only went and won the league on the last day (with a cup run thrown in for good measure). It was a neck and neck battle between Sean's Stevenage, Johannes' Chesterfield and my Cambridge side all season long, before MK Dons decided to do a Stu and lose most of their last few games. That meant any two of four sides could either win the league or win promotion through the automatic places. It was a tense few hours in game as the top four teams swapped places with each round of games. Then, as the very last game approached, we found ourselves sitting second and facing Mike's Mansfield away from home. I had resigned myself to the play-offs in previous sessions as we hit poor patches of form here and there, but as the time ticked by, we found ourselves one up, and then two up before half time. Mike's side grabbed one back, but we shut up shop and watched on as Sean and Johannes both failed to win their final games. Cue scenes of disbelief as we moved to the top of the league for the first time since about round 16. Domestic Cups Made it all the way to the fifth round and faced Man Utd at home. We secured a 2-2 draw and found ourselves on the receiving end of a 7-2 thrashing at Old Trafford. £1.2m in the bag though, so I wasn't too fussed about it, especially after I was forced to rest a couple of players who were experiencing fatigue. Transfer Window for the Upcoming Season It's a little early in the window to really talk about signings, or even what I expect my squad to look like at the start of my 3rd season, but I have had my scouts out looking for players all over the UK with several options in different positions on my radar. Ideally, I'd like to sign a deep lying playmaker to sit in my midfield three, and possibly a proper, no-nonsense ball winning midfielder, but I'll just take improvements on my current set up to aid our survival England's second flight. The board aren't expecting much from us, so I can enjoy a pressure free season in effect. The Other Lads Gilly: Solid season from the Scotsman. Will be satisfied with a mid-table position. Never looked threatened by relegation. Sean: Promoted in 2nd after two seasons in League One. Will be delighted after it felt as though he might miss out towards the end. Johannes: In the fight for majority of the season, but ended up losing 5-3 to my lot at my place. That was the game that made all the difference, especially as we were forced to leave 73 minutes in when the score was 3-3. Thank goodness for my assistant in the remaining 17 minutes. Eventual play off winners though, so a great effort after being promoted last season. Mike: Midtable consolidation. He might have hoped to fight for more, but settled for another season of League One early on. Stu: Tried to throw automatic promotion out of the window, but managed to hang on to 3rd place. Will be happy with his season overall and may look to repeating mine and Johannes successes with a challenge for back-to-back promotions. Realistically though, mid table security will be his aim. Scott: Took over Plymouth and showed signs of fight and form (if the skype chat was anything to go by). Has a great set up there and could have a run at the automatic places.
  5. League Two A fantastic maiden season in England's 4th division as we sneaked into the top three automatic places. This was at the expense of Stu's Hartlepool side who were predicted to be battling for relegation. The season began fairly strongly, with our side keeping within reach of the play-offs as I missed two sessions due to other commitments. Upon my return, we shot up the table in a short space of time and began our challenge for top three. It was looking likely that we would end up 2nd for a while, as Mike's team began slipping up and we'd already gone past Hartlepool. But then we started to become more and more inconsistent as we headed into the final stretch and I'd given up hope on automatic promotion as we were four points adrift in 4th. Thankfully, Stu managed perhaps one of the biggest bottlejobs in our network game history by losing both of his final games. We had to go away to the league leaders and get a point to secure promotion, which we did with a last minute goal. It did feel like something you couldn't write and, as Stu will tell you, 'was definitely fixed', but if I had been here for those two missed sessions, I truly believe I could have secured second and maybe even pushed Johannes all the way. Domestic Cups Nothing to write home about here. We faced Spurs in the 3rd round and narrowly lost in one of the cups. Not a focus of mine if I'm truly honest. The main objective is to finish as high as I can in each league. Transfer Window for the Upcoming Season I came into my second window thinking, 'Now's the time to really knuckle down and build a side strong enough for back-to-back promotions. A side that has one or two great players for League One in it's ranks.' I feared the worse when the board gave me £47k to spend, and felt sick when I realised that this was maxed out on my budget adjustment settings. I had to settle for loans and frees. The first three weeks of window was spent trawling through the free agent list and trialling anyone who looked like they could handle themselves in the English Lower Leagues, before scouting those loanees who looked like the could add something to the squad. Despite finding some great talent, they either did not want to join, or did not get a work permit (brexit rules in our game). In the end, I had to take a look at what I had, and focus on keeping a close-knit, relatively small squad together and motivated, with excellent morale. 4 players arrived on frees as back-up to replace those who left at the end of the season.
  6. Alejandro Santiago - Cambridge United F.C Upon my return to PGC, I've decided to go for my local side - Cambridge United. It was difficult coming into a side that had underachieved last season, knowing that there ought to be a few reinforcements to the squad but lacking that scouting knowledge (and understanding of the new scouting system on FM18) to really plug those gaps. It was a slow search for talent, but we finally managed to bring in a couple of lads who can improve the side. A left back and a goalkeeper, both transfer listed at their previous clubs. The biggest change I made was to the backroom staff. There was a lot of deadwood hanging around the scenes stealing a wage, so I mutually terminated most contracts and bought in members of staff that could get the best out of the players via training and reports via scouting. It's early days but our form in the first few games looks promising, with our strikers forming a good partnership and performing well. A few injuries here and there have lead to a couple of players getting starts that they would not otherwise have had. Corie Andrews is one of those, and is enjoying himself in front of goal at the moment. His attributes aren't much to look at, but his raw pace off the ball is causing all sorts of trouble for defenders. Not much else to report at the moment, but there will no doubt be drama ahead if we continue in this vain. My initial hope was for a top half finish, but I feel we might be able to sneak a play-off position. Anything above would be grand.
  7. Alejandro Jacobo - Stirling Albion I had quite a successful little game going in single player with this side, so I'm hoping that transcends into FM2018 and our online game simultaneously. I'm probably hoping for far too much (and with the board expecting top two in a league full of excellent, proven human managers, that may well prove to be the case) but I'm excited to really test my skills under the pressure. I've quite often taken mid-table or relegation fodder (Fulham and San Marino spring to mind) with the occasional side that has the potential to push for the title with a bit of luck (Recreativo de Huelva), but rarely have I chosen a title contender right out of the block. As a connoisseur of the counter attacking system, I will have to have my work cut out to develop a well balanced, attacking tactical setup, which has been proven in previous games to be my achilles heel. Expectations Tricky to really address this, whilst adding real content to the above ramblings. Simply put, I want to get promoted as quick as possible. First season: ideal. Second season: I'll take it. Anything after that will be considered underachievement with this side. Cups: don't care. As long as I reach my boards expectation, it's all good.
  8. Scotland for FM 2018 The PGC takes it's next step in it's European Adventures, as we move across the border into the harsh winters of the north. We begin our adventures in the Scottish pyramid with all members starting in League 2, in what promises to be an exciting (all be it a predictably slow) maiden season. With only semi-professional clubs available to pick from, expect facilities to match the weather. Interested in joining? If you are interested in joining our network game you can message FFCStu1428, or apply using the application form on our website. The game is played Monday through Wednesday every week, from 1900UK to 2300UK. Make sure you familiarise yourself with our game rules. Boring stuff, yes, but not long-winded and essential reading. Good luck, and even if you are not part of our game, enjoy our thread!
  9. La Liga The usual from my side in the league. A bit of a title challenge, but never close enough to really worry 1st place. There were times when Sean (this season's champions) glanced nervously at our good form, but we never occupied the top position. As I say in pretty much ever post, I will look to challenge for the league next season, but my real problem is my performances against the human lads. We dropped way too many points last season at home and away to every human (except Sean funnily enough), which I have calculated to have been the largest factor in our lack of a serious challenge. That said, in any network game that we have run in previous years with us consistently scoring in the 85+ point mark, as well as 90+ goals, we would most likely have won at least one league. It's a testament to the managerial strength in this game. Whilst it took as a bit longer than usual to dominate the domestic league (we being the human managers as a collective), we now occupy the top four positions every season and any one of us could win the league. It certainly makes our job harder at Recreativo, as any slip up is severely punished. Cups & Europe Well, despite a good, but not great, showing in La Liga, we put up a much better fight in the Champions League, beating Sean's Sabadell and a number of top AI teams to reach the final against Man Utd. The final itself was pretty cagey to begin with, but we began to exert some well thought out pressure, whilst making sure no risks were taken. We were playing the better football and not letting Utd have much time on the ball. There was no need to push the boat out so to speak and we ended up taking a fairly comfortable victory. Two times Champions of Europe. The first time i've been able to say that on any network game. Transfer Window Not much change needed personnel wise. I sold one player and bought another. Probably an improvement in quality with the new lad, but a different type of wingback. To cover the holes in the side this season, I've promoted a couple of players from the B side, who had a successful campaign again, and will give them a chance in the 1st time.
  10. La Liga Another season without a trophy, but another step closer to the ridiculous talent that is Gilly's Barcelona. It's hard to keep pushing your side to the limit, knowing that the juggernaught above can attract the top tier talent at the drop of a hat, but keep pushing we must do. The league itself was an interesting one. We started off a few points behind 1st and 2nd, as it looked like it was going to be a two horse race for the title between Jamie's Llagostera and Barca. As the season drew to a close however, Jamie's side dropped off, mainly due to a key injury, and we took up the mantle of providing an unlikely challenge. At one point, we were as close as three points to the Catalan side, but they ended up winning pretty much all of their remaining fixtures to draw any title bid on part to a close. I can't complain though really. The best season here for a while and the area that needed addressing has been addressed, as will be reported below in the transfer section of my post. Cups & Europe The board don't deem the cup useful, and therefore neither do I. It's always nice to challenge for honours, but until I sort out my tactic to give humans a game, it's almost pointless going up against them in one off matches. Europe was a different story, however. Despite being the better side, we went out to PSG who seemed to have a magnet pulling the ball away from their net. I wasn't the only one to fall foul to them this season either, as Gilly went out to them in the following round. Transfer Window So far so good. In come two very good centrebacks the right side of 25 and with room to improve. The area of my side that needed the most work (the defensive areas) has been built upon and we now have real class behind the midfield players. With a LB who looks as though he has great potential and a solid right back, our weakest area is now on the wings, but this is also being addressed this window, so fingers crossed I will have a properly balanced side going into the remaining seasons. Stand-Out Performers Four player stood out this season. Seker, in his new role as captain, maintained the good form that has seen him become the first name on the team sheet. Markovski has developed into a solid CB with room for growth. My scouts rate him highly, but I'm not convinced by his jumping. Like Seker, Jouve has been here a while and continued to impress and Irigoyen has been a bit of a surprise, having been bought with the hope that he might come good, but not necessarily the expectation that he would. He has proved me wrong and improved immensely, which suggests to me that his potential his higher than I first thought.
  11. La Liga Not much of a post coming up as I was away for most of the season. The assistant manager did a pretty good job of managing the team during my absence, keeping up in the top 4 and several points clear of 5th place. Upon my return, our form took a slight increase and we began to rack up the goals in the league. A late challenge for 3rd (and then 2nd) place became my focus as we crashed out of Europe to Gilly's Barca and had already lost in the Spanish Cup. It was very nearly a 2nd place finish for the lads, but then Jonas turned on the style and came back from 2 goals down during the final game of the season. When all's said and done, it was another decent season with nothing remarkable to write home about. I remain hopeful that the side can now challenge for honours this coming season as the wonderkids are another year older and more experienced. Cups & Europe As mentioned, my assistant manager took charge of all my cup games and decided they weren't worth playing the full side in, resulting in our early-ish exit. I, however, deem the cup a worthy trophy of winning and will be going all out to win something, anything in the remaining seasons! Transfer Window As you can see from the screenshot below, it was a very productive window as the board decided it was time to back me in the market. Before this, I had to live within my means, buying to sell and general bargain hunting that would have 'arry Redknap proud. There was, admittedly, the occasional £10m extra thrown in from the board, but my business generally relied solely on which players the AI fancied picking in that window. Then came my decision to buy very little one year and save some budget, which the board allowed to effectively roll over to the next window, adding a cheeky £60m on top. Cue the spending on dream targets that I'd had my eye on for fair while and we suddenly found ourselves with a much stronger side. Stand-Out Performers Of those dream signings, Makengo shone last season with a respectable 23 goals and 9assists in 36 games. He has a buyout clause of £60m and isn't interested in talking new contracts right now, so I have my fingers crossed that clubs will deem that price to expensive. The other play I feel compelled to post about is a player with bags of potential, but lacked attributes in areas that would have seen him on the fringes of the side if played in his favoured AMC position due to the strength we currently have there. After retraining Abdoulaye Seye him to RWB, he has excelled despite his tackling and marking leaving much to be desired. I am hopeful that his defensive attributes continue to rise rapidly alongside his crossing. I'm not too worried about his dribbling, as I am training him to use his pace and knock the ball past his opponent, a trait I feel he'll excel at with his good first touch and great technique.
  12. La Liga I mentioned in my last end of season post that I 'hoped to buck the trend' when referring to humans challenging for the title and then falling away in the following season. Despite spending £89m on the first team squad, we went backwards in the league by finishing the season in 4th place. It's still Champions League qualification, but we had to rely on Mike beating Real Madrid on the final day of the season for us to sneak in. That particular event caused a domino effect across the league, but more on that later on. Spanish Cup The Spanish Cup was pretty much the same as last year. Reaching the quarter and semi finals, but failing to progress any further. Whilst the board do not consider this important, targeting Cups and Europe is going to be my aim over the next three or four seasons as it will be very difficult to compete with the spending budgets of Stu's R. Madrid and Gilly's Barca. Champions League Well, where to start? Perhaps with the words 'CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE'. Yes, despite the less than satisfactory league campaign, we have conquered every team put before us in the biggest competition the game has to offer. We needed to beat Man City, Man Utd and Bayern Munich on our road to glory, but beat them we did, and emphatically so. More to come on this via screenshots later. The Other Lads Stu: 9/10. Great season from Stu's boys as they put the 3rd place of last season behind them and stormed to victory with 93 points. Not much to write home about in Europe or in the Spanish Cup, but he will be delighted to take home his first top league title of FM17. The knock on effect mentioned above becomes very relevant now, as Stu has taken over Real Madrid, who sacked their manager for finishing 5th. Madrid have a great side and Stu will need to finish 2nd at the very least to have achieved next season. Prediction? 2nd. Gilly: 7/10. £120m spent with little return. No trophies and no honours this time around for the Barcelona manager, who ended up being one of three managers not to win anything. Will be disappointed with his season overall, considering the money spent, but will take heart from the fact that he pushed Stu's Albacete all the way and finished on 90 points. Gilly has taken his spending to a total just shy of £300m in two seasons and has the strongest side in the league. To achieve, he will need to have another strong title challenge and a major trophy of some description. Prediction? 1st. Sean: 8.5/10. First full season with Sabadell sees the 'top dog' of the last two FMs secure the Spanish Cup and a top four position with ease. Not much to say really, except that Sean's side was consistent all the way through the season, never really challenging the top two and rarely having to look over his shoulder. Arguably in a mini league on his own for the most part. Next season, Sean will look to push Stu's R. Madrid and Gilly's Barca, but if truth be told, 3rd place and another trophy would be a solid effort. Prediction? 3rd. Jamie: 8/10. Europa League win and subsequent Champions League Qualification has saved Jamie's season a little bit. Go back three or four seasons and Jamie was mixing it with Gilly, Stu, Sean and myself. He has slipped down a little bit, having struggled to break into the top four consistently. Will need 5th or 6th next season if he ever wants to push into a top four position. Prediction? 6th. Jonas: 7/10. A good second season, with his side showing signs of developing and improving in terms of quality. I can't remember where Jonas finished exactly, but it was certainly top half. He'll be delighted with Europa League qualification that comes with a strong second season and will look forward to mixing it up with the big boys. Consistent progression is the aim of the game here, so my prediction is 7th. Mike: 7/10. Earned Sevilla after managing Toledo consistently well and saved them from relegation. Mike was safe with three of four games to go, taking them over when they sat just one place above the drop zone. He'll look to improve next season and secure Sevilla as a mid-table side before pushing on. Prediction? 12th.
  13. La Liga Bottled it. No other way of saying it if we're being honest. Last day of the season, bus parade booked, 2 points clear of Real Madrid in 2nd and we failed to convert that into a league victory. On the plus side, it was encouraging to see my side really go for the league, as we are devoid of any real world class talent. We are essentially a team that is better than the sum of its parts, a well-oiled unit geared up to break at pace with a couple of play makers in central midfield. Our team has been improved in terms of personnel this time around, with players bought in who will (in theory) enhance our style of play. On the flip side however, we completely threw the league away after getting a red card inside 13 minutes. Wendell, who has ultimately had his best season at the age of 32, has a history of rash challenges throughout his career and lived up to that reputation with a scything two footer on Atleti's winger. Cue an instant red the team already 1-0 down from a goalkeeper error. The 2nd goal a couple of minutes later, this time from a defensive error, made things almost impossible to claw back. I decided to play even narrower and try to win the midfield battle. It was working and we pulled one back with about half an hour or more to spare. We picked up the pace and started putting Atleti on the back foot, but squandered chance after chance. We ended up the better side, despite the early madness, but like against Sean's Logrones, we failed to make the opposition pay and lost out because of it. It feels strange to say that I'm satisfied with the season overall. Knocked out of both cups with my assistant manager in charge, including Europe, but a somewhat impressive mid 80 points finish in the league. I have high hopes for the next season, with talented youngsters making the step up into the first team squad and two great signings making their way to Huelva, but if previous history is to go by this game year, any team that challenges for the title finds themselves hanging on for 4th the following season. Fingers crossed we buck that particular trend. Cups & Europe As mentioned, my assistant manager took charge of all my cup games, due to coincidental absences on my part. Nothing to say here, except that he finished 3rd in the Champions League group and lost to Celta Vigo in the Europa League. I cant remember the Spanish cup, but it wouldn't surprise me if he lost in that as well. The Other Lads Stu: Solid season from Stu's Albacete, even though some weaknesses were exposed in his side. Cant be too unhappy with 3rd, but never challenged for the title after Christmas and was looking down rather than up towards the end of the season. A good follow up album to last seasons debut title challenge - an all round solid campaign. 8/10 Gilly: Finished 6th with a side that has finished 4th in previous seasons. Will be disappointed with his teams showing in the league, but moves onto pastures new with Barcelona. Pressure is on for consistent top 4 finishes, and will need to get the best out of his players year in year out. His best signing, Ronaldo Gashi, who lit up the league last season was a shadow of his former self for Ponferradina and Gilly has decided not to splash the cash to bring his former boy wonder with him. Oh, he did win the Spanish cup though. Verdict on Andy's season? 7/10 Sean: Early talk in the skype chat was that, 'this was perhaps the season,' as Logrones looked like early top 4 challengers. However, form dipped a little and they began to drop of the pace. Then, Sabadell came calling and Sean decided now was the time to leave. Sabadell were in a comfortable league position and with some good management, could make a late Champions League qualification bid. Do that they did, and fourth place followed a successful transition for Sean. Verdict? 6.5/10 with Logrones and 8/10 with Sabadell. Jamie: Llagostera have been turned into a solid La Liga side under Jamie's tutelage, but have yet to really mix it up with the Real Madrids of this world. Then again, who has so far on this game? It's been a good showing from everyone involved, with no one really excelling and no one under-achieving. Jamie will look at his side and drool at his attacking strength. A very good showing in the latter stages of the season prove he has the power to mix it up with the big boys, but can he maintain that going into next season? Verdict: 7/10 Jonas: Lastly, but by no means least, is Jonas. A strong second season in La Liga with a side that look like the can go up against the strongest of AI sides and give them a good game. Against the humans however, it appears to be a different story. An 8-1 defeat to Stu's Albacete was perhaps a blotch on the old copybook, but Jonas is building a good unit here. A 7/10 season.
  14. La Liga Much improved in the league, despite starting the campaign off miserably. We were 10 points off of Stu's Albacete and Gilly's Ponferadina after just a handful of games as they looked to battle it out for the league title. I knew then that our slim hopes of a title challenge was off the cards, and I concentrated all our efforts on pushing for that top four place and Champions League qualification. I spent time working on my tactics - specifically on formation as my attacking players began dropping like flies. A slipped disk here, damaged spine there, and a couple of ruptured calves later, I had no strikers and it was looking like being one of 'those seasons'. A complete write off essentially. So I switched my attention to the strikerless idea, which has gained popularity over the years, especially on this years FM. In the end, it was only a simple tactical tweak I made. I dropped my striker down to create three AMCs and moved one of DCs back to create a libero. This would (in theory) give me plenty of the ball in the centre of the park and allow me to play a short passing style (providing I had the players for it). It turned out that still didn't have a libero type in my squad. It didn't take me long to work that one out, but even a BPD style libero was proving hard for my players to perform well in. So a sweeper it was after initial experimentation, but a libero it will be once all the cogs fit into place. Cups & Europe As we finished outside of the top four last year, we entered the Europa League at the group stage and found ourselves battling it out with Arsenal. Despite this, we finished on top and fought our way to the Quarter Finals, where we met a rampant Dortmund side, who swept us away with their blistering attacks. We battled valiantly, but in the end, we were no match for a side that would have competed in the Champions League. All in all, a good performance. Through to the final of the Spanish Cup, only to find the dominant Real Madrid that had just powered to the League title with 90+ points. Again, we fought valiantly, even scoring an early goal, but were no match over the full 90. I did not expect to win, so can't complain about the performance, especially as we matched them in almost every stat department (apart from the obvious - we lost 3-1). It does look promising here, with the team developing well, but I fear Stu and Gilly still have the upper hand at the moment. The B Team As always, a word on my B side, who are bringing through and nurturing my young talent. A strong maiden season in Liga 123, where relegation was never a threat and my club's young stars were able to carry the side into a very respectable 7th. I'm still experimenting with my set-up here, but the side is a tad stronger this time around, with younger players being that year older and stronger youth players being bled into the side. There has been another change in manager (thats one every two years so far) as the current lad left on a high, running down his contract and refusing to sign a new one. Again, I can't complain as he has done his job well by winning promotion and securing our place in the second division.
  15. My attributes across the board have increased fair rapidly, with my managerial reputation also enjoying a little boost. Below, you can also see the formation I played through out the season, with the 4 central players creating a delightful quartet when in attack, with slick intricate passing and great off the ball movement. As my side develops, I intend on bringing in or developing a libero to play just behind a centre-back pairing and giving him the freedom to join the midfield, creating a central force of five players. 1st Team It looked to be a great campaign again for Recreativo as we entered the final stretch of the season with the top four in sight. However, after failing to win at home to Sean's Logrones and then dropping 2-points at home to Vallecano, we gave up fourth place to Stu's Albacete. Disappointing? Yes. It was in our own hands, and yet we failed to convert our promise into champions league qualification. The positives, however, far out-weigh the disappointments of the season. The football on offer was great to watch, with our solid defence providing a great foundation enabling the seven players ahead to pass the ball around, create space and work the ball into the box. We are building something special here, with strength in all positions and valuable assets that can be sold for the right price and used to bring in better, cheaper options. Utilising a much smaller first team squad (18 players maximum), I was able to ensure player morale was consistently high with all players getting enough game time, as well as keeping the squad fresh. Big wins away against R. Madrid and Barcelona showed the potential we have as a side, but it's those matches against the weaker sides, especially at home, where we need to improve. Perhaps we need to improve our ability in front of goal, or perhaps we need to draw the opposition out more regularly to improve the quality of our chances. I think it's probably a bit of both, but if we truly want to be successful, we need to ensure we bring our A-game for our matches against the other human managers. I'll be working on team instructions and team shape to combat the growing strength of other human managers as, so far, we've lost more points that we've gained against them. Dogan Yavas Purchased for £5m from Valencia, Yavas scored 24 goals in his 38 league appearances last season, with 6 assists and 5 man of the match performances thrown in for good measure. His physical advantages have allowed him to shine with the ball on the ground, and he still has a little bit of room to grow. Martin Fiore Arriving on a free, after being released by River, Fiore proved to be a pivotal part of my attacking trio, with 10 assists and a 7.20 average rating. With solid physicals, a good free-kick and an excellent eye for a pass, he had a hand in a fair number of chances. The B Team A quick word on the B side who, under new management, managed to clinch the Segunda B4 title, and win promotion to Liga 123. A great leap for my plans at this club, as we continue to build a Barcelona like youth structure, combined with an Italian approach on the pitch. We're still a long way away from realising this dream, but continuing to improve as we have, it will arrive quicker than expected.
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