After winning the league from Liverpool by a single point last season you'd think the board would want me to do that again. No, they were just happy with a top 10 finish! Not even top 5 or top 4 for CL football but just a top 10 finish was all they wanted. Perhaps they knew something I did as my first 4 league fixtures were a 2-0 win over newly promoted Millwall, a 0-0 draw with Norwich, a nasty 6-0 loss to Liverpool and a 2-2 draw with Sheffield.
Eventually I realised I had to change my formation mid-season as I was losing games I should have won and drew too many others. I went from a 4-2-3-1 to a traditional 4-4-2. This meant I needed more strikers and fewer central midfielders! I found that Pogba and Fernandes gave me enough creativity and strength in the middle so I had to find time for McTominay, Doucoure, Llorente and Camavinga. Bit of a struggle to fit 6 players into 2 available positions.
I knew I couldn't really rely on Martial and Rashford for strikers so I signed some Norwegian kid called Haaland and Andrea Belotti from City for £46m. Greenwood came good so I was able to rotate him, Martinez, Haaland and Belotti and scored a good number of goals. All 4 strikers achieved hat tricks across the various competitions.
Ultimately we finished 4th, 21 points short of our league winning total. We achieved 4th with 3 games left, i.e. we couldn't get 3rd and 5th couldn't beat us so I was able to play some weaker teams for the last 3 games as I had somehow managed to get to an FA Cup final v Liverpool and a Champions League final v PSG! I wanted to keep my first XI rested and safe from injury. Liverpool took us to extra time and penalties in the FA Cup after 0-0 in normal time. Thankfully Alexander-Arnold and Origi missed their kicks so we won 4-2 on penalties!!
On to St Petersburg for the Champions League final. I really didn't expect to win so when Haaland scored on 13 minutes I thought, "OK still going to lose but at least PSG won't get a clean sheet." Naturally the Brazilian drama queen Neymar Jr scored 2 minutes later to make me think we wouldn't get it and PSG would finally win the holy grail. Martinez scored on 36 minutes to give me the lead again. By now I'm thinking this could be on. Course no-one told Luke Shaw that who gave away a silly penalty on 63 minutes that Neymar took and converted, who else?! It's now 2-2 and I'm thinking that if we lose this I'm selling Shaw in revenge. We won but I might still sell him. The only reason I'm not sure is that I don't think Brandon Williams will ever be good enough to be 1st choice LB and Rayan Ait-Nouri isn't ready yet.
Nothing happens in 90 minutes so extra time again. Now I'm thinking there's either no way we'll make it through extra time without PSG winning it or, if we do, they'll spank us on penalties. No way am I going to get away with going to extra time in two successive cup finals! Again no-one had told Haaland this who scored on 105 minutes to make it 3-2 and I'm resisting the urge to change from positive to balanced in case PSG get a break. Pogba, who was injured part way through the 2nd half of the FA Cup final was only fit enough for 60 minutes so I benched him and put Matheus Henrique in his place alongside Bruno. So with Bruno not having a brilliant game I brought Pogba on in the 107th minute to put some steel into midfield and keep hold of the 3-2 lead when he takes the ball in the 119th minute and scores an absolute screamer to give us a 4-2 win over PSG!
FA Cup final result
Champions League final result
This is the formation I went to part way through the season. Perhaps if I'd realised a few league games earlier I would have been close enough to City/Liverpool/Chelsea to challenge for a top 3 finish but hey-ho to finish 4th, win FA Cup and Champions League with the difficulties we had in a) scoring enough goals to actually win games and b) not conceding goals this is a very good season. Too many times we only seemed to score 1 goal and then inevitably the opposition would get a late goal and we'd be struggling to find a winner.
The best thing about the season? More than beating Liverpool in the FA Cup and PSG in the Champions League final? The unexpected bonus that with Chelsea nicking 2nd place from Liverpool on the final day and Utd taking the FA Cup, Liverpool sacked Klopp the same day as losing to us at Wembley for a poor league position!
I've decided that with Maguire only having 10 for acceleration and 12 for pace with Tuanzebe 15/17, Rugani 12/15 and Kehrer 13-17 respectively and Tuanzebe/Rugani also 16 for position that perhaps the time has come to offload Harry and replace him with a faster DC. I saw Pau Torres mentioned higher up in the thread. He's got a good review from my scouts, wants to leave Villareal and has a minimum release fee of £60m but hopefully I can get him for between £36 and £49.5m if the scout report is accurate.
I might also let one of Rugani and Kehrer go as Milenkovic is listed for transfer with a fee of £39.5m. That would leave me with 4 DCs and I feel I should have 5 for injuries/suspension/form etc so I might just sell Maguire and sign Torres and Milenkovic to strengthen the defence. I would go for Dias but Chelsea got him instead.
I think the time has come for McTominay and Gomes to leave. I can't fit McTominay into my plans and Gomes just hasn't improved enough. I'll have to check my homegrown numbers obviously before I left them go.
Stadium wise the expansion to 83,885 was done for the middle of January with an FA Cup 4th round replay v Blackburn on February 3rd the first match to see a new high attendance for the season. I cheekily asked the board on the day the new capacity was available for another expansion and they said yes! The new stadium capacity will be 95,285 and will be ready for 27th December 2021 so hopefully for either the Boxing Day match, if we're at home, or one of the other post-Christmas matches I should be able to get a new record attendance. To pay for the £28.5m cost of planning and building the original expansion £250k a month was added to the monthly debt repayments, taking it up to £5.5m. I'm sure we'll see something similar for the new expansion but I've seen higher gate receipts and match day income from the few months the higher capacity was available and that was with the capacity reduced by 8k or so for the works to be done. Hopefully season ticket income will be higher than last season now we've got the higher capacity, albeit a bit reduced to 78,852 for the new works. That and higher gate receipts and match day income will hopefully wipe out the £250k and whatever gets added this time to the month debts. Normally the high monthly debt repayments and the time to get rid of the debt makes me give up on previous saves with older FM versions but in June 2025 the debt repayments should go down by £2m as that particular debt should be paid off unless the Glazers mess things around again! Being in May 2021 that's only 4 years away and with the promising squad and higher income from being in Champions League and higher capacities at OT I'm going to keep on with this save whilst we wait for FM21 and might even keep it going side-by-side when FM21 does come out.