Good luck! I did my main game on FM16 as Sheff Utd and challenge you to match what I've accomplished as encouragement! Sadly, the sugardaddy you're hoping to inject money only gave me a few mil over my career, but at least it was enough to invest in a few promising, cheaper regens after first season. First he injected a few after the first season, then a few more after the second. It was pretty disappointing, especially when soon after that he proclaimed the team in good standing and that he'd back off from active support. Also no luck with clauses for me, didn't cash in on them at all, no buyout options either. Still, managed to win L1 first season, Championship second season, finished in a CL playoff spot (4th) third, in fourth I won PL and Cup + was runner up in CL, won Premier, Cup, CL in fifth. Attached screenshots of my Sheff Utd being the highest value in 2020, beginning of sixth season, screenshots of my top regens who lead the team to all this success. Detailed write up below describing these regens, sorry for the wall of text, but hope you find it interesting if you bring yourself to read it. I'd be honored.
My first season I wanted to do a large revamp. Unfortunately, I realized with the low amount of money available and being unable to cash in on the low value of the squad and no rich teams willing to pay for these players right away that I either had to go regen or go through a painful road of overpriced leftovers. So I played with the squad I got with an extra free signing mid-season (Luke Moore to replace Billy Sharp I sold to Oldham for 110k - similar skill, much lower wages), but relatively quickly got affiliated with Man Utd which got me a few solid youths to bolster the team (Fosu-Mensah, Rashford, Varela, Johnstone). We had a slow start, mostly because in 16 Sheff Utd started with an injury plague from the real world, but quickly picked up and finished first with relative ease, edging out Oldham by double digits. As for the squad, I sold Howard mid-season to make room to develop for Long, who didn't perform any worse. Also Johnstone despite being much better didn't do better, so I stuck with Long in goal. I played 4-2-3-1 with the core of Basham in CD, Reed in MC, Baxter as AMC and the right side with Varela on FB and Adams as a winger). I can see that most of these names are gone now, but I bet right away on Reed, because of his potential to become a club legend or a high monetary reward after a season or two. He's less skilled than other options at the start, but I recommend not minding that and letting him develop in L1.
Second season I managed to expand my scouting range and scouted heavily the top quality regen producers and some less obvious ones as well. Bought those I could afford and set sights on those I couldn't yet. I raided Ajax, taking their three top talents, all ended up being top shelf 4(5) star potential they haven't yet fully reached now by the end of fifth season. Among them Martijn Letschert, a physical striker with great finishing I decided to play as AF and Robbert Nederlof, a rock in the central midfield CMs who can do AP as well and who developed lightning fast. To add to that my biggest spend, DLF/AF Ruben Penida from Portugal (4.7m, crazy this early for a regen, but I could see his amazing potential from his report and, more importantly, awesome base stats), who ended up being my biggest attacking talent. From real players, (A)MR/L Tobias Svendsen for a mere 130k, an underappreciated wonderkid with a 3 star potential he reached incredibly fast, but the only one I could afford and would come, as well as GK Ben Garratt, a wonderkid from Crewe, who they for some reason let go on a free transfer (I paid 100k in advance to secure him, as I doubted he'd choose me from all the free market suitors). Also a few more experienced players - Junior Stanislas from Bournemouth at 220k who I deemed to be as a bargain, and the likes of Dan Burn, Kai Bulow or Borja Valle on free transfers. To make money for that on top of what my board gave me I got rid of expendable players who attracted money after doing well in winning L1. Matty Done, Brayford, Coutts, McNulty and a few others amounted to 3.5m. On top of that I sold my best academy regen prospect I got very lucky with for 2m to Leicester (ended up being 4 stars, but I used the money to buy Penida, so totally worth it). Having secured Penida and Letschert and after a look at the squad, I decided to switch from 4-2-3-1 to a straight up 4-4-2 with the former as a back up.
With the renewed Man Utd quality loans we went through a painful start to Championship dropping as low as mid table after 1/3 of the season, when I overhauled our tactics to play very high tempo, high pressing attacking game to utilize the likes of Che Adams who are very fast, but not much quality. First game of 8-1 against Oldham convinced me to stick to it and we flew up the table, securing the top spot at the end. Thanks to his two heroic seasons, I managed to sell Che Adams (assist leader by a big margin and Championship player of the year, 5mil!) and a couple others to PL teams for ridiculous prices, considering their skills + one of my less promising, but more developed regens for 5.5m. Che was back to L1 within a year, after not playing in PL for QPR who bought him, and Wolves in Championship on loan. Though a big hero to my cause, I had to cash in on him while he was believed to be great to make squad room for promising regens. After five years on loan from QPR to L1 teams, he's now a Free Agent.
Advancing to Premier League finally gave me the funds I wanted to build a squad. Of course, because I went from L1 to PL within a year, I was at a big disadvantage monetarily compared to other teams. Still, the injection of PL money gave me the chance to get the regens I wanted before and make the purchases I needed. First, (A)MC (any role, I decided on RP) Robert Guerin from Lyon, a boundless regen talent I'd wanted for a year, but couldn't quite afford. Unfortunately, he signed a new contract shortly before and his price skyrocketed from 10m to 30m. I wondered long whether to invest so much, but with my other prospects showing a lot of promise and thinking he'd be either off the table in a few years, snatched by a great team, or even more expensive, I decided to trust reports that showed him to be perfect and bought him. To bolster the team to be able to compete, I also bought a few great transfer-listed players on a bargain. Midfielder Sergi Samper from Barcelona (6m), wonderkid right winger Rodrigo Bentancur from Boca (5.5m), defender Jores Okore from Napoli (5.25m), leftback Emerson and rightback Patric from Santos and Lazio respectively, 1.2m each. To add to the squad I got Daley Sinkgraven (AML/C) from Ajax for 825k and loaned Federico Dimarco (backup leftback) from Inter. With what remained I bought a few more promising regens. In total I spent 70m, got back 14m + loan income from regens (8-9m) for a net spend of 48m. Pretty cheap for a full Premier League squad supplemented greatly by regens.
I had same issues with the beginning of the season in first year in Premier, as my regens weren't yet good enough to compete at this level, but a few developed a lot over the season and after hovering mid-table after half of the season I climbed to 4th at the very end thanks to a mix of bad form by the top teams, a pretty even point spread among the top half teams on top of my purchases performing amazingly and rapid regen development. I lost badly to all the giants, but managed to beat almost everyone else in the second half, securing the valuable CL playoff spot. As I was supposed to 'fight bravely to avoid relegation' and went far beyond that, the board allowed me to adjust the expectations a few times during the season. I believed in my team, so I increased them, which gave me additional funds. I spent it on more regens I figured I could develop to make money on over time, and kept the rest for when I found more promising ones.
With my regens developing well, I could finally commit to some of them fully. To make room, mid-season I notably sold my good servants Jose Baxter 275k -> Millwall, Junior Stanislas for 675k -> Middlesbrough (455k profit), Dan Burn -> Cardiff (600k) and pre-season purchase Daley Sinkgraven -> Bari for 6.25m (5.425m profit), who was initially injured for a few weeks and once I made due without him, I couldn't enough find room for him, but was glad for the good investment.
With great progress my regens made the season before, I was ready to end the transition period that allowed me to secure a great finishing position in my first season Premier and let my regens take over the team for good. To that end, I sold my experienced players: Jores Okore -> Porto for 13m (7.75m profit), Patric -> BMG for 8.5m (+7.3m), Emerson -> Schalke for 13m (+11.8m) and team youths Louis Reed -> Man Utd for 10m and George Long -> Birmingham for 500k, both of whom I deemed inferior to the talent I possessed. I also sold two more regens for 9m and earned ~18m from loans. Altogether very proud, all great returns way above real value.
Fourth season started well thanks to a difficult CL spot fight against Shakhtar which we luckily won on away goals. This was the pivotal season, as at this point my constant investment in facilities and faith in my regens culminated in a season where everything came into place enough to claw out a PL win and a Cup win thanks to not having to play against the giants who fell to lesser teams elsewhere (Stoke, Swindon, QPR, Preston, West Brom and Norwich were the last six rounds we played). We again got destroyed by the top teams in the league, but consistency kept us in the running, together with a very even playing field which made 74 points uncommonly sufficient to clinch the title. On the CL front we drew a difficult, but even group with Borussia, Dynamo Kiev and Valencia. I expected to fight for the Europa spot, but after beating Dynamo 5-1 in the first match I believed that the team might be ready. My hopes went down after a 1-3 loss to Valencia, but a surprising 1-0 away win against Borussia, having been dominated and thanks to an own goal in 81 minute, put me in a very good position to challenge. We beat them again 3-1 in the next game, followed up by 2-0 against Dynamo and a lucky 1-1 draw against Valencia. I lost hope for the most part when we drew Barcelona—previous year's champions—and I almost abandoned all hope when we were 0-2 away at half time in the first match. But the 0-2 remained and when we went up 2-0 early in the second match thanks to Penida I was shocked. It looked like an extra time with Barca attacking relentlessly in the second half. An 83 minute 3-0 long range goal from Bentancur had me elated with joy; we came back and beat impossible odds to advance to the quarterfinal. The draw was lucky in the next round and OM didn't put up much of a fight in the first game (4-1) and a 1-0 rematch put us in the semis full of unlikely contestants. Sporting beat Real Madrid, Tottenham beat Man City and Leverkusen beat Bayern, leaving the four of us to fight for the title. We drew Tottenham and after the run we've had I thought we'd edge them out slightly. The first match was away at the New White Hart Lane and we were quickly up 1-0, confirming my beliefs. Oh, how wrong I was... Harry Kane scored a hattrick, but we briefly mounted a comeback, scoring the 2-3 goal, second from Letschert. Then they retook initiative, scoring two more, winning 5-2 and seemingly ending my great hopes. The only consolation was that the match was even and after what happened with Barcelona, I had a glimmer of hope for the home game. We started off dominating the early game, until Saldo Berahino scored a penalty at 20 minutes. That about sealed my fate in my mind. I didn't give up though and kept sending my players aggressive remarks from the side line, urging them to show some passion and demanding more. Bentancur scored one, Penida added another just by half time. Then Letschert's shots in 61' and 79' made the comeback real. We pulled off another incredible come back, getting to the final in a miracle fashion that I would have never expected before the season. I thought we were destined to win it all, but no such thing exists. Though Leverkusen was seemingly a lesser team than those we beat, they kept up well and the match ended 0-0, an almost impossible occurrence with our open, attacking football and the goalless draw of my season. The penalties were very anti-climactic, crazy really, as we missed four, they missed three and this is where the dream ended. It was an incredible season though and thanks to all these big games, my young team of an average age of 19 improved dramatically, overachieving on all fronts.
Season five was much less of an adventure. We sold Bentancur -> Schalke for 40m (34.5m profit), Samper -> for 12.5m (+6.5m, less than desired, but had to take it, as I had no minutes for him), Ben Garratt -> QPR for 3.9m (also felt underpriced, but got a regen named Ahmed Salem I needed to play as 1), and decided to spend some of our transfer budget on improvements, who would fit our young team and provide quality even when our top youngsters reached their potential. After deliberating, I passed on Isco, decided against Dybala (Letschert, Penida and a few promising regens I wanted to save playtime for) and Romagnoli. I did however want to buy Neymar and Pogba, both still young and at their peak. Neymar's wage demands matched those of the real world and went above and beyond what we could afford with a relatively small wage budget due to a regen-based team who I secured on low long-term contracts before they entered their prime. Pogba, however, asked for the very top of our range, 275k/week along with the highest earner clause. The cost of 105m was hard to swallow, but having decided that he's the only player I'd want to buy and with money left, I pulled the trigger. He'd play as a free roaming Box to Box, joining my prized genius Roaming Playmaker prospect Robert Guerin in central midfield. I also decided to train him up to Accomplished as right Wide Midfielder, as this was our weaker spot and I wanted to find playing time for our rock Nederlof and a few others. Among those others who joined us alongside Pogba was Martin Odegaard, whom we bought during the second half of the previous season off transfer list. Real Madrid did the unthinkable, listing him for 8.25m - impossible bargain at close to his full potential. He'd play mostly as right winger (a bit of a waste, but still very solid and our best at that position, while we were stacked in CM and still played 4-4-2), but also as AP in midfield and in more offensive lineups (rare 4-2-3-1 and very common 'suicide 4-4-2' also known as 4-2-4) as AMC and AMR, his natural positions. To be honest, with our team so well-developed after years of competing at the highest level, we were much improved this season.
We drew the first match of the season against Man City 1-1, followed up by a loss to Liverpool 1-2, to my disappointment, but after that went on an unbeaten 20 game run, winning 15 of them. In the meantime we also lost in the third round of the Capital Cup, again against Liverpool in a crazy 4-5 game, where we equalized in 91st minute, to lose in the 92nd. In CL we breezed through group stage, winning the first five games against Besiktas, Wolfsburg and Roma, finally narrowly losing in the last match against Wolfsburg while letting our B team have a go. In the knockout round, we beat Valencia 3-0 and 1-0. The next round once again put me against a Spanish favorite. First Barcelona last season, then Valencia this season, now Real Madrid. We won at home 2-0, courtesy of two goals by Letschert. However, I've grown wary of home advantage in CL and had doubts. In the rematch we went up 1-0 after a penalty from Odegaard at 32', giving us a great lead thanks to away goals. Quick come back at 36' and 40' from Kroos and Ronaldo gave me a scare, but it ended with a 1-2 and we were through. Semi final draw was harder this season with Man City as my opponent. The games were close, but 1-0 and 4-3 wins gave me a consecutive final and a chance for retribution. This time with a much stronger and more developed team, where we advanced on pure merit, not a lot of luck and scrap, like the season before. The final fixture against PSG seemed like another easier final, but I learned my lesson and did research, rested my players, kept them off the line up or down to limited time in the FA final against Chelsea seven days before (3-1, despite going down after 38 seconds; Penida, Letschert x2), spent extra time on match preparation, adjusted my tactics. It didn't help as much as I had hoped though and the match was difficult. Penida opened at 26', but Luis Henrique equalized in the 53rd minute. After right back Hugo Mallo got sent off in the 78th minute, I thought we'd be able to overpower them with our fast, attacking football. Unfortunately, though, they defended valiantly and despite going all in on attack in the second half of extra time, my nightmare came true and we were off to penalties again. This time my players didn't go crazy like the season before and scored. For a second it looked like Letschert's miss would cost me another final, but thankfully Ruben Neves and Marquinhos also missed and my wonderkid keeper Ahmed Salem helped me to our historic Champions League trophy.
And here we are today, after a season full of success. As you see in the screenshots, I also picked up Portugal for Euro 2020. I waited for an opening there for 3 seasons, as I wanted to take a team with a lot of potential that never wins trophies in real football. Well, by the time I took over, they finally did at Euro 2016... Well, plan stands, I want to win. Currently in the quarterfinal with Ruben Penida having a go at AF for a change. Managed to get Cristiano to unretire from international football too, so hoping for the best. Spain next...
I doubt you've read all this, but it's ok, because I just wanted to chronicle my incredible, highly unlikely success. I've grown attached to my players and despite winning pretty much everything, I'll continue for at least a season to see how high the potential of my young stars goes. Keep posting about your progress with Sheff Utd in FM17, I'll read it all. Got very sentimental about Sheff Utd after my time with them.
PS. Get rid of Billy Sharp. He's less like a person named Billy and more like IKEA furniture from the Billy line. Also, a Billy bookcase is sharper at the edges than he is in game. He seems to have trouble shooting any balls straight, except for those he shoots straight away from the goal.