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This is a shame to hear, my friend. 

Self care is vitally important however, so I am glad you're stepping away before things go too wrong.

I look forward to your return 

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So much of what you're describing is very prototypically human. If you read through other career threads here you'll find someone frustrated that their grasp on tactics is failing, someone doubting their transfer decisions, someone struggling with where to start. You just seem to experience all of things more acutely.

Definitely step away if it's becoming too much! But it's worth remembering that you're not a robot. Don't get down on yourself for experiencing frustration or doubts. Every single one of us will encounter that; most of us even willingly so by playing a game like FM that simulates highs and lows so well. There's no failure in feeling those things, only in failing to cope.

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On 01/03/2017 at 21:11, Ceching You Out said:

So much of what you're describing is very prototypically human. If you read through other career threads here you'll find someone frustrated that their grasp on tactics is failing, someone doubting their transfer decisions, someone struggling with where to start. You just seem to experience all of things more acutely.

Definitely step away if it's becoming too much! But it's worth remembering that you're not a robot. Don't get down on yourself for experiencing frustration or doubts. Every single one of us will encounter that; most of us even willingly so by playing a game like FM that simulates highs and lows so well. There's no failure in feeling those things, only in failing to cope.

Yeah, good points. It's heartening to know that my thoughts and reactions are shared by others, which was part of the motivation for starting this thread in the first place. I am guilty of over thinking a lot of the time. I get unhealthily obsessed with triviality. 

FM to me is like that big bag of salt and vinegar twisty crisps at Tesco. I know I shouldn't, they'll make me fat but I just can't resist and to hell with the consequences. 

Everything in moderation.

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I Used To Think I Was Indecisive But Now I'm Not So Sure

Despite stepping away from the blog, I have remained active on FM over the last month or so.

My plan had been to establish a save before coming back to this write up. I wanted to be careful to avoid a preemptive post where I proclaim success only to hit that '2am and I should already be in bed and now I won't be able to sleep because I'm annoyed' rage quit. I figured if I could get past Christmas on a new save then I would have reasonable grounds to consider the save as long term.

Instead I found myself endlessly flip flopping, procrastinating and, inevitably, starting over. The routine would broadly go as follows;

  • I've done Liverpool and failed. I need to relearn how to play the game so I'll start at the bottom with Eastbourne.
  • After a good start, I've lost 4 on the bounce. My team is no good and I don't know how to fix it.
  • I have unfinished business with Liverpool. Let's restart as them
  • I'm forced into playing a certain way based on the players I have. I miss the freedom of being able to play 442 if I want. I'll restart as Eastbourne.
  • I don't like 442, it's rubbish. I'm a 4231 man. Let's start again as Liverpool.
  • I should really play 433 as Liverpool but I don't want to set it as my favourite formation. Let's go back to Eastbourne.
  • I miss Liverpool.

And so on and so forth. I have now restarted the game countless times. Unlike in the past this hasn't simply been due to poor form but simply that my mind could not stick to one theme. I often wouldn't even emerge from pre-season before switching off and changing lanes, other times I would get several games in.

My thought patterns break out into two grooves. First, that I need to relearn how to play the game, that being Liverpool restricts me and makes me think about tactics on a player specific level, rather than a theoretical level. Secondly though, I consider that I've done the whole rags to riches thing with Sutton in FM14. In many ways it is a save I can never beat and it is not worth attempting to replicate. I have unfinished business with Liverpool, it feels like a mental demon I need to slay.

I have this weird reluctance to play 433 just because it seems everyone else does. I want to play 4231 but doubt myself constantly. On the flip side, the one decent save I had, where I utilised 4231 predominantly, saw me finish a respectable 3rd. Do I even know what I want?

For the millionth time I have sworn to myself that I have had enough and I will walk away from FM for good but I am only kidding myself. I am hopelessly addicted and truly want to find a place for it in my gaming life.

Back in we go then. I will play as Liverpool. I will start with 4231. I will look to develop youth players, only signing players (and all the anxiety that brings) when strictly necessary. I remain open to change only once I have established what is not working in my current set up. I will follow the extensive advice I have found in these forums whilst staying true to my own principles of not wanting to slavishly and blindly copy the work of others. Success is great but if I don't know why something works, what hope do I have when it starts to fail?

And perhaps most importantly of all I will strive to do this with balance. I have other games I want to play, writing commitments I wish to keep, books I want to read, programmes I want t watch and kids I feel obliged to raise. FM is important but it ain't that important.

As this is something of a repeat of what has come before, I will only post during the first season if something of importance occurs, otherwise I'll provide a mid-season and end of season update.

See you on the other side.

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Best of luck, man. Will be waiting for your next adventure.

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Finding a New Itch to Scratch

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't update this thread until I had something to say but whilst I have remained silent I have been active. Just not always productively.

With the itch of a Liverpool save becoming a burning rash, the last couple of months have been a futile exercise in start / stop saves. Again the same annoying pattern repeated whereby my abandonment of a save wasn't some results fuelled rage quit but rather a perfectionist, black and white approach. 

With his laptop restored, the return to FM of my original LLM inspiration @kris0710 finally convinced me that my future lay away from Liverpool. As much as the desire remained for a long term, youth focused save, the impending start of the new season means that I will forever be chasing my tail, inevitably comparing my side and transfer dealings to Klopp's. And so I once again dropped back down to Eastbourne.

The old tactical arguments returned. Part of me wants to play a 451 or a 433 but, restrictive though it is, I cannot bring myself to select them as my favoured formation in the manager profile. I wanted to start with 442, even if I subsequently moved on.

Before starting, I read through various forums, taking particular interest in @herne79 superb threads on the 442 and his own tactical evolution. With that in mind, I built a basic set up; Flexible with no TIs, a CMD in the middle alongside a DLP on support with 2 attacking wingers and a DF support / AF combo up top. My theory was to not commit too many bodies down field, maintain a defensive block when out of possession and relying on the poor standard of the opposition to create chances.

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Mid-October and we find ourselves top of the league, unbeaten in all 14 games played and unbeaten in 19 in all competitions (15 and 20 since this snap was taken).

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I half expected this to be a false dawn. Indeed I had been here before with Eastbourne, only to go on a 4 game losing streak, toppling down the table. And the wobbles did come as I drew a couple (I know, the ignominy) and I started to panic. My Flexible shape became Structured then Fluid, my DLP support became a BBM or CM, my DF became DLF, TM or even CF.

Mid-rant to the wife about 2 dropped points (I like to think she cares), I lamented our loss of form, to which she rather astutely said, 'Why don't you go back to doing what you were doing when you were winning?' Quite.

Perhaps the wheels will still fall off but for now we are flying. My key players are performing well and whilst we are not spectacular at any one thing, we seem to have the ability to get results.

Long term, I fully expect to evolve tactically but I will not ditch the 442 out of some mis-placed snobbery. My one ongoing challenge, which I remember Herne79 also writing about, was getting my DF to drop back to the AMC strata. I may ultimately replace this role with a proper AMC but I will not change when it is working effectively, despite the apparent limitations.

Targets

One of the lessons I remember from my Sutton save on FM14 was the need to set yourself targets to keep things interesting.

Having done the whole rags to riches, Conference to Premier League thing with Sutton, I am not interested in repeating the trick. Instead, I have 3 broad goals for this save;

  1. Achieve a short term target with my current club. This may be promotion, avoiding relegation, achieving European football or winning a trophy. Whatever is is, once achieved I will look to move on.
  2. Win the top division in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. So no pressure then
  3. Manage Liverpool

The last one is interesting because it kills a couple of birds with one stone. It allows me room to breathe and develop my style, away from the prism of the current Liverpool team, with all the inherent biases that brings. It also allows this to become a long term, indeterminate length save, ruling out the need for wistful glances at FM18 when it comes out that I surely have no need to purchase. And finally it gives me a long term target, something specific to aim for with a goal of closing out my adventure with my favourite club.

A long way to go before we get there of course but for the first time in a long time, I feel back in the game.

Black Dog Watch

The anxieties remain and will need to carefully monitored. I maintain this assumption of tactical ignorance, assuming that others always know better and too often relying on someone else's solution, rather than evolving my own through experience.

Transfer dealings are always a trigger. Having started as Eastbourne more than a dozen times I had a fair idea of which key positions to fill with which particular players but the fear remained, what of the one I let go? Added to this, what happens when I take over my next club? Will I be able to cope with the pressure of a new set of players, possibly even a new formation? This is catrastrohising, imagining the worst despite no evidence to support the thinking.

I worry about upsetting my players in team talks, always relieved when the responses are green, as stressed as my sensitive centre forward when they come back red. Confusing colour comparisons aside, I recognise this is black and white thinking where something is either good or bad with no grey middle ground. 

As much as winning the league, cup or gaining promotion then, these remain challenges for me to tackle and overcome along the way.

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Congratulations my friend! I'm glad to see you've started well at Eastbourne!

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January 2018

It was inevitable of course but it stings nonetheless.

As Autumn turned to Winter we finally succumbed to our first defeat, although perhaps predictably not from the expected source. Having drawn higher division opposition in the FA Cup qualifying rounds, I turned to the (by now somewhat beleaguered) Mrs Gently to proclaim our inevitable defeat, only to dump them out of the cup.

The glory was shortlived however as we finally came unstuck in the next league game to distinctly inferior opposition. Another defeat followed shortly thereafter but with 24 games played we remain top, 13 points clear and with a game in hand on 2nd.

There have been some real positives. 2nd placed Whitehawk visited The Priory for a top of the table clash and were promptly dispatched with a 4-0 drubbing. The reverse fixture followed soon after and whilst a little closer, we emerged 3-0 victors to cement our status at the top of the pile. Elliott Romain has been our main source of goals, the striker netting 21 so far. Our best player though is 20 year old Australian right winger Taylor Tombides, a pre-season recruit who is not only our highest rated player and highest assist maker but has also chipped in with an impressive 10 goals.

In less positive news, we suffered two dispiriting defeats in succession, knocking us out of two cup competitions. Firstly we conceded an injury time penalty to lose 2-1 in the FA Cup, then we conceded a last minute equaliser before going out of the FA Trophy on penalties. Disappointing but with no realistic hope of success in either, we are now free to concentrate on league results.

Tactically I have fiddled but always come back to 442. One change though, our Flexible approach changed to Fluid in an attempt to get players closer to each other. What role this played in Whitehawk's demolition I don't know but player ratings do appear improved across the board.

Just over half way through and things are looking good.

Black Dog Watch

In my pre-game procrastination, trying to decide between Liverpool and Eastbourne, I was always conscious that once I truly got into a game and abandoned all the theoretical gubbins then I would find relative peace of mind, and so it has proved.

Indeed my mind is now drifting towards the end of the season. I noted in my last post that my initial target will be to achieve a short term goal and then move on. I therefore need to decide what my goal is with Eastbourne. Is promotion to the National League sufficient? Or do I push to reach the Football League before moving on? At this stage I'm not sure, with both options having merit whilst also potential anxieties. In fact the only thing I am sure of is that there will be no way back whatever the decision; this will be a single save affair, I will not splinter the game off each time I reach a fork in the road like some sort of Fighting Fantasy novel.

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Champions!

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You know at some point I'm going to have to accept that maybe, just maybe, I actually know what I'm doing.

A satisfying first season draws to a close and sees us crowned National League South winners. Our total of 87 points from 42 games leaves us a comfortable 12 points clear of second place. With 81 slotted into the onion bag we are the division's top scorers whilst the 44 conceded is only bettered or matched by 2 other teams.

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With 27 league goals, Elliott Romain is 3rd top scorer in the division and 4th best rating, right winger Taylor Tombides a respectable 6th. Interestingly from a team perspective we don't score that highly in many categories. Our end of season form carried us over the line (more on that in a minute) and our division record of 17 without losing underpinned our strong performance but we had no stand out areas in terms of possession, crosses etc.

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Now, about that form. After the heady days of our unbeaten run we ended up losing 5 times, comfortably the lowest of any team. Despite that, we had a real wobble in the mid-late season when we couldn't buy a win. Two separate patches of form saw us fail to register a win in 4 and then 5 games. We were never in danger of not coming first (a position we held since week 2) but nerves certainly kick in when a 15 point advantage slips to 7. One of the lessons learned is to try and remember the level I am playing at. These players are poor, inconsistency and individual errors are inevitable. And besides, losing just 5 games is pretty good and reflects our ability to come from behind to salvage something, even if I rue the 12 draws that perhaps could have been victories.

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Tactically I stayed true to the 442 bar the odd game here and there but continued to experiment with roles, duties and shape. I remain concerned over some of the gaps my team leaves and it seems inevitable that I will move to either an AMC or DMC based formation. At the back of my mind I have this vision of a wing back driven formation, eschewing wingers. But at this level I have come to accept the limitations of the players available, the lack of time for training and development and the lack of resources to effect material change.

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Black Dog Watch

  • My starting comment in this post was half in jest but there is some truth to it. Having finally got going, this is the second time in my FM history that I have taken a side at the lowest available level and got them promoted. It speaks to my underlying confidence issues that despite a huge points advantage I still refused to believe we would go up and constantly second guessed my tactical decisions.
  • In the midst of poor form, my default position is to desperately chop and change. I lose faith in what brought me to the dance. And where I did recognise gaps and flaws, I lacked the conviction to do anything about them, my return to my original 442 set up borne out of both a desire to uncomplicate and a fear of screwing things up.
  • Stepping back though, I gain some perspective. Yes, I was fairly rigid in my tactical options but that was be design of simplicity. That I could recongise the flaws in my set up is good. That I was unwilling to do anything about them speaks less to my anxiety than it does a recognition that I did not have sufficient tools with which to complete the task. At another club, at another time, I may have more flexibility. But in the here and now I made the best of what I had.

So, What Now?

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The end of a season inevitably brings thoughts of what comes next and my final anxiety swirls around this point.

There is the obvious stuff; squad building for a new division, managing budgets, how well I will manage my own expectations if we don't challenge immediately.

But then there is this nonsense. I set out above how I would look to move on once a goal had been achieved but I was struggling to pin down what my goal with Eastbourne would be. Was it sufficient to get promoted? Must I get them to the football league. Ridiculously I started to think of it from the team's perspective, as if they were real. What would be achievement to them?

After a bit of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that to stay too long at Eastbourne would risk it becoming Sutton version 2. If I struggle in the National League I may lose enthusiasm for the save, If I get them promoted, what next? Will I feel like I need to get them to the PL?

This save is meant to be about being selfish. It's all about me. I don't want the stress of trying to build a squad. I don't want the journey of consecutive league promotions. I want the Jose Mourinho save, albeit the budget version, where I get in, win and get out. If I land somewhere I like, mayhaps I'll stay. Otherwise I want to get out and experience the (FM) world.

On that basis then, this is where the Eastbourne experience will end. Where next, nobody knows, although I hope to be linked with better jobs than relegated Margate! Time to visit the vacancies board...

 

 

Edited by dirkgently1066

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Party Like It's 2014

Well, this happened

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Yes it's back to the scene of my awesome 2014 save as the mob from Gander Green Lane come knocking on the door. I had applied for other jobs and whilst this wasn't ideal given that it offered no divisional step up, it gets me back in the game with a change of scene, Crucially too it avoids the squad building that I just don't fee ready for, a noticeable and developing anxiety.

Expectations for the season are to avoid relegation, which seems simple enough. I also indicated that I would achieve a mid-table finish and given our pre-season prediction of 9th, that seems like par.

Results have been mixed to say the least. Starting out I made a conscious decision to stay away from my Eastbourne 442, instead wanting to assess the relative strength and weaknesses of my squad and build a formation accordingly. On that basis we start with a 42121 and grind our way to a debut 2-1 victory. A defeat soon follows and despite the odd spark of life, our form is unconvincing and we find ourselves firmly mired in the bottom half of the league. We're not in danger of going down I don't think but I am disappointed with our inconsistency and my inability to do anything about it.

Black Dog Watch

Let's get straight into it because there is a lot going on;

  • It was my decision to leave Eastbourne but I immediately (perhaps inevitably) started to second guess myself. As the months ticked by I began to wonder if I would ever get back in, or whether I would be forced to beat a humiliating retreat to the National South. I wondered if I should have stayed at Eastbourne for the potential benefit to my manager rep but that in turn meant committing to squad building, hitting on a number of anxiety triggers.
  • Despite my lack of confidence in many areas, I simply expected to climb up the league with Sutton. It is therefore a huge comedown to find that we are losing as many as we are drawing with wins a scarce commodity. All my over achievements with Eastbourne seem a distant memory.
  • Part of this becomes a tactical doubt. Having set up relatively defensively to take advantage of our best players, our striker became isolated. I simply couldn't score and when goals started being shipped at the other too, defeat was inevitable. I chopped and changed before ultimately returning to my 442, even though it doesn't seem like a natural fit here.
  • 442 is such an interesting formation. Slight tangent; playing PES on the PS4 recently, I played as Liverpool who defaulted to a 433 formation. Charging down the pitch I went to play a ball out wide, only to find on-one was there. My brain is so fundamentally ingrained in the spread of 442 player roles that my natural instinct is to expect to find players in these positions.
  • Now, back to FM. Whilst of course I do not have direct control, the same premise is at play. I get 442 in that everyone seems to be where I expect them to be. My full back comes forward and he has a natural pass to the winger. My winger comes forward and has a natural pass to the striker. My striker holds up play and has a natural pass back into midfield etc. Switching formations, unnatural (to me) gaps appear. Even in 4231, which I have used extensively, my wide players do not track back and I get confused as to how to set up roles and duties, Again, 442 is natural to me; supporting full backs, defend / support split in the middle, attacking wingers and a support / attack split up front.
  • But it brings it's own problems. 442 quite obviously leaves you short in numbers in midfield. But I also struggle with my wingers being spread too wide, my full backs too far back from my wingers and my support striker not dropping back far enough to link play.
  • The nub of it is that I have lost all confidence in how to set a team up and it becomes frustrating. This is one of the fundamental reasons why I constantly switch back to Liverpool. Although the use of known players limits me, this restriction can actually work in my favour as it takes decision making away from me, removing an anxiety. In turn though this comes at the cost that I don't feel truly in control, resenting the loss of freedom. Cake, have, eat anyone?
  • This obsessiveness inevitably comes at a cost. I woke up yesterday morning and finished my Eastbourne season. I snatched an hour on it whilst the kids had dinner. I then spent the entire evening in front of it, even though I had some films I wanted to watch and some PS4 reviews to complete. Despite promising myself an early night, I switched off at just past midnight and then stayed awake for at least an hour churning it over in my mind. I've said it before but with 3 kids, I cannot afford to allow a game to dominate my time like this, both literally and mentally.
  • Where do we go from here then? Well I saved it last night rather than succumbing to a rage quit but I'm not sure if I will return to it. The nagging voice of a return to Liverpool is whispering in my ear like a particularly loathsome devil. Equally I opened the curtains this morning and this weird natural light seeped into my eyeballs so I closed the curtains again. I really enjoyed my time at Eastbourne and it was worth it just to reconnect to that experience. In some respects I am perhaps a fair weather FM fan. I enjoy winning and I enjoy overcoming the odds but I quickly lose interest when things go against me. I have great admiration for some of the threads I have read on here as players battle through a relentless slog of mediocrity, enjoying the process as much as the result. But I may need to accept that it just isn't me.

This thread hasn't been what I hoped it would be, rather mirroring my FM experience. To be honest I feel a little guilty that anyone might have invested any time in reading it. Hopefully though in amongst all the nonsense some of the mental health aspects of this thread have resonated with one or two players. FM doesn't cause my anxieties, it is merely a prism through which they can be viewed and it is important that I remember that. 

Once again then, for now it is time to step away.

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I'd just like to post and say how much I've enjoyed reading the last two pages and I'm sorry you aren't posting anymore. I found your views very articulate and considered.

A return to Sutton was probably a mistake. I'm sure you wrote earlier that you wouldn't go back and try to repeat your success so I thought that was a weird move - although I can certainly see why you were tempted.

I understand a lot about what you say and definitely feel your frustration at being torn between what team to pick and constantly flicking between a few options. My attention span is very limited and I get so angry and disappointed at myself for quitting and starting again. I haven't had a save last more than two seasons for a few editions and my longest save is not much more than that despite putting in a huge number of hours. Mostly for reasons that you mention too like tactical inconsistencies due to reading about and watching real football - Napoli are playing wonderful stuff I'll have a go at that.. no wait Atletico are the team to beat I want to do that instead. Sometimes it's about nailing your colours to the mast and playing the game your way.

You're right to remember that it is only a game and there's much more to life so maybe having a step back is the right thing to do. However, if you do fancy another save (which if you're anything like me you will) I think you're on the right lines picking teams that matter to you and going in with a plan. There's a plethora of bigger clubs in your area if they take your fancy for something a bit different, I'm only musing but bring Pompey back to the top using youth? Would cut out your transfer woes. Gillingham maybe?

Whatever you choose to do it has to be your decision and be well thought out. If this thread is revived I'll be sure to give it a read but do what's best for you. :)

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On 7/31/2017 at 21:55, 1967 said:

I'd just like to post and say how much I've enjoyed reading the last two pages and I'm sorry you aren't posting anymore. I found your views very articulate and considered.

A return to Sutton was probably a mistake. I'm sure you wrote earlier that you wouldn't go back and try to repeat your success so I thought that was a weird move - although I can certainly see why you were tempted.

I understand a lot about what you say and definitely feel your frustration at being torn between what team to pick and constantly flicking between a few options. My attention span is very limited and I get so angry and disappointed at myself for quitting and starting again. I haven't had a save last more than two seasons for a few editions and my longest save is not much more than that despite putting in a huge number of hours. Mostly for reasons that you mention too like tactical inconsistencies due to reading about and watching real football - Napoli are playing wonderful stuff I'll have a go at that.. no wait Atletico are the team to beat I want to do that instead. Sometimes it's about nailing your colours to the mast and playing the game your way.

You're right to remember that it is only a game and there's much more to life so maybe having a step back is the right thing to do. However, if you do fancy another save (which if you're anything like me you will) I think you're on the right lines picking teams that matter to you and going in with a plan. There's a plethora of bigger clubs in your area if they take your fancy for something a bit different, I'm only musing but bring Pompey back to the top using youth? Would cut out your transfer woes. Gillingham maybe?

Whatever you choose to do it has to be your decision and be well thought out. If this thread is revived I'll be sure to give it a read but do what's best for you. :)

Thanks for this, it's a really thoughtful post that hits on a lot of key points. It's always reassuring to find that others experience the same (seemingly) trivial anxieties that I do. Your comment on tactical inconsistencies is absolutely bang on the money.

I expected this save to be liberating but in truth I think I like a club that I can dedicate myself too, which is why Sutton was so satisfying. In an ideal world Liverpool would have been relegated a division or two and I would have to rebuild them. Starting in the PL, I struggle to picture where to go with them. Back in CM 93/94 days, where each season only took a couple of hours, I could rack up 20 seasons and cycle through multiple generations of team. With FM17, each season takes me days to get through, such that I cannot immediately picture a long term save.

I remain tempted to stick with Liverpool, trying to develop a youth focused game where I bring through Woodburn, Ojo et al but I worry that, with the new season upon us, I won't be able to escape the shadow of real life. Perhaps I need to just stick my fingers in my ears, say 'la la la' to the world and define the game in my own image.

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