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Ropo

[FM19] Cowboys and Cartels

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Posted (edited)

Here is the next body of work in an enthralling series of Football Manager careers, following on from FM15's An Eastern Bloc Party, FM16's The Sack Race, and some other threads that aren't worth reading.

2019

FC Dallas (Major League Soccer)

Soccer: it’s football, but not as you know it. One of my first emails received is a lengthy explanation of trading rules, drafts, salary caps, Monopoly money and waving... or waivers, who cares? I file it away for a rainy day, and then I am immediately forced to read it when I realise I am too scared to click anywhere.

I waive (release) a Paraguayan striker who is filling a valuable roster spot because he doesn’t fit into my plans (he is crap). Instead I lean on an friendly agreement with Bayern Munich to borrow a German/Ghanaian forward, and start the season with him scoring regularly. After four games this sadly becomes irregular, and by the end of the year he has stopped shooting all together. With 12 goals he is still our top scorer by a fair margin, which is worrying.

Our wingers do chip in with a fair few though and we qualify for a play-off spot at the end of the season; LAFC dispatch us in the semis. Unfortunately my decision to treat the US Open Cup as a chance to run the reserves out backfires when we win the thing via several penalty shoot-outs, and qualify for a place in next season’s North American Champions League. Yee-Haw!

MLS: 4th (of 24)

US Open Cup: Winners (drew 1-1 w/ San Jose Earthquakes, 5-4 on penalties)

Edited by Ropo

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Posted (edited)

2020

FC Dallas (Major League Soccer)

Throughout last season I had several scouts in South America. When they weren’t fiddling their expenses and lying on beaches with their talkywhackers out, they watched football matches in the hope of finding me a hidden gem. Eventually I got a report about a young Colombian inverted winger - ‘sign at all costs’ it said. Fortunately, but for no clear reason, MLS stumped up half of his $1.1m fee, and so ‘all costs’ turned out to be not much at all. I also splashed out just over $3m on a highly coveted Brazilian forward.

We opened the season at an all-inclusive in Costa Rica - thank you North American Champions League. Saprissa were no match for us tough Texans, but Montreal Impact got the better of us in the next round and we crashed out just as our league campaign got started. We couldn’t repeat our cup success and struggled in the league, exiting early from the play-offs after a run of dismal form towards the end of our campaign.

Our new Colombian wingman is a revelation, constantly a danger when cutting inside from the left. The Brazilian striker struggles for goals all year, but he has good stats so I’ll give him another go next season. Up the Cowboys!

MLS: 8th (of 25)

US Open Cup: Lost 4-1 in sixth round to New Mexico United (entered fifth round)

North American Champions League: Lost 4-3 (agg) in quarter final to Montreal Impact (entered round of sixteen)

 

Edited by Ropo

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2021

FC Dallas (Major League Soccer)

By now we have some pretty good prospects coming through, and my tight control of the wage budget has built up a surplus of cash which our owner, a Mr D. Clark, agrees can be used to further improve our youth set up. Of the squad I inherited, much of which is still in place, there are a number of academy graduates who hold down first team spots and I am keen to build on that.

However I can’t help but splash a little cash - one of our best defenders agreed a move back to his native Switzerland at the end of last season, and I make the difficult decision to ship out our fan favourite right winger because I have a hunch that his legs are about to go. In come two Argentines, including a right sided inverted winger from Belgrano who becomes our highest paid player on $25k a week. We now can cut inside from either flank which I hope will lead to constant wondergoals.

We make mincemeat of the league, finishing first and winning the play-offs emphatically to claim our first MLS Cup. They’ll be dancing in the streets of Dallas tonight! And firing guns into the air, probably. Our key player turns out to be our Honduran captain who registers an astonishing 16 goals in 24 games with a 7.8 average rating - not bad for a ball-winning midfielder. Our goalkeeper keeps 18 clean sheets and my assistant advises me to transfer list him at the end of the season

The Brazilian striker again struggled for goals all year, but he does have good stats so I’ll give him another go next season. Up the Cowboys.

MLS: 1st (of 25) & won MLS Cup

US Open Cup: Lost 5-4 on penalties  in fifth round to New York Red Bulls (entered fifth round)

Edited by Ropo

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Are there any ultimate objectives for your FC Dallas? Or for you as the manager in game?

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Posted (edited)
On 12/05/2020 at 22:41, rnhpyx said:

Are there any ultimate objectives for your FC Dallas? Or for you as the manager in game?

Nothing in particular. Once I got bedded in with Dallas I did want to win the North American Champions League but unfortunately the game had other ideas!

2022

FC Dallas (Major League Soccer)

Having won MLS Cup last season I should be competing in the North American Champions League this year. However the game decides to place some semi-pro sides in the draw instead of us - the narrative I am going with is a fallout between MLS and CONCACAF over prize money has stopped us competing. Let’s hope it’s resolved next season.

Domestically we continue to place a heavy focus on developing youth players and there is a point in the season where I can count 9 academy players on the pitch at once. We continue to trade and sell players to maximise transfer income - Mexican giants Cruz Azul come in for our Colombian centre back with a $5.5m bid and I am left picking through my shortlist for a replacement. We also capture a young Colombian striker from Sante Fe for $1.7m.

In the league we perform strongly and are able to finish third in the overall standings, and retain the Western Conference. We’re also able to navigate the play-offs and win our second consecutive MLS Cup after a 3-0 win against New York City. Our new Colombian striker bags a brace in the final at the age of 17 - he is by the end of the year considered a wonderkid by the media and I fear it will go to his head. I’m sure he’ll be gone by the start of next season, but not before I renew his contract with a near $10m release clause.

The Brazilian striker once again struggled for goals, but he does have good stats so I’ll give him another go next season. Up the Cowboys!

MLS: 3rd (of 25) & won MLS Cup

US Open Cup: Lost 2-1 in fifth round to Oklahoma City (entered fifth round)

North American Champions League: Did not compete 

2019 - FC Dallas - MLS - 4th

2020 - FC Dallas - MLS - 8th

2021 - FC Dallas - MLS - 1st & MLS Cup

2022 - FC Dallas - MLS - 3rd & MLS Cup

Edited by Ropo

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Posted (edited)

2023

FC Dallas (Major League Soccer)

When I first started in Texas my transfer policy was simple; sign young, talented South Americans who I could develop and sell on to Europe. The profit would be reinvested in our youth facilities to allow us to farm better academy products, and spent on more young, talented South Americans. 

I was starting to worry that my failure to sell on any of my recruits so far was a painful testament to my bad judgement, having only managed to ship out a centre half to Mexico so far. Fortunately things start to change this year - Liverpool activate my wonderkid Colombian striker’s release clause with a $9.5m bid, and the Argentine inverted winger that I signed from Belgrano refuses to sign a new contract and Rennes immediately table a $10m offer. Fortunately I had snapped up a bosman Moroccan/Spanish replacement for the winger last season, and I still have my hopeless Brazilian striker.  

Once again we are not allowed to compete in the North American Champions League which is a real bummer. It does allow us to make a stellar start in the league though. The Colombian wonderkid is with us until the middle of the year when the English transfer window opens; he gives a good return before riding off into the sunset just when we have grown to rely on him.

With my contract soon finishing and no prospect of competing for the Champions League I become increasingly certain that I am in my last season in Major League Soccer. We manage to secure the Supporters Shield again, by finishing atop the league table that combines the Eastern and Western Conferences - the second time in three years. We then compete in the end of season play-offs for the last time, reaching the final. I’m sure three consecutive MLS cups would be a record, but we end up losing and I am robbed of a fairytale ending to my time in Yoosa. 

My final act as manager is to accept a $6.5m bid for a midfielder that I have been playing regularly since I joined. He was 17 back in 2019, and I feel he has more than earned his move to cold and snowy Krasnodar in Russia. I’m sure as a native Texan he will feel right at home. Now, off to the football job centre. 

MLS: 1st (of 25) 

US Open Cup: Lost 1-0 in quarter final to Portland Timbers (entered fifth round) 

North American Champions League: did not compete 

2019 - FC Dallas -  MLS - 4th & US Open Cup

2020 - FC Dallas - MLS - 8th

2021 - FC Dallas - MLS - 1st & MLS Cup

2022 - FC Dallas - MLS - 3rd & MLS Cup

2023 - FC Dallas - MLS - 1st

Edited by Ropo

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Posted (edited)

2024

Deportivo Independiente Medellín (Colombian Primera A)

When a former murder capital comes calling, you hear them out. Plus I couldn’t resist an opportunity to use the ‘Football is a universal language’ press conference answer.

Despite having an open application to be manager of divisional rivals Millionairos (no idea what that translates as), Medellín are more than happy to take a punt on me. And with a mammoth $15M to spend on transfers I am equally pleased to sign up. For context our highest earners when I join are on $5k a week, so we really do have spending power.

The first thing I realise is that the balance of our squad is a bit wonky. We have capable wingbacks rather than full backs and a raft of first team standard defensive midfielders. I can’t work out a formation that involves four players sitting between our centre halves and our midfield so I start clearing out the DMs. 

Because of a squad limit of four foreign players we heavily target domestic recruits, including two 18 year olds who should walk into the starting XI. However I am also able to move on a couple of non-Colombians to facilitate moves for a young Argentine number ten and a veteran ex-Brazilian international midfielder recently released by Guangzhou Evergrande.

The season is split into two halves, with the top eight competing in two legged knockout play-offs to crown a champion of each phase. We go with a 3-2-2-1-2; a formation that relies on two wingbacks flying into advanced space as much as possible to catch our opponents on the break.

We manage to win the play-off finals for both phases of the league, guaranteeing a spot in the Copa Libertadores group stage next season. The 18 year old striker who joined at the start of the season manages 27 goals (closely followed by his strike partner who gets 25), whilst the 18 year old goalkeeper makes his international debut for Colombia midway through the season - both teenagers are coveted by Barclays teams by the end of the year. Viva el Poderoso de la Montana! Long live the mighty of the mountain!

Primera A Phase 1: 1st and won play-off

Primera A Phase 2: 1st and won play-off

Colombian Cup: Lost in the Quarter final 3-2 on aggregate to Bogotá 

2019 - FC Dallas -  MLS - 4th & US Open Cup

2020 - FC Dallas - MLS - 8th

2021 - FC Dallas - MLS - 1st & MLS Cup

2022 - FC Dallas - MLS - 3rd & MLS Cup

2023 - FC Dallas - MLS - 1st

2024 - Medellín - Primera A - 1st, won play-off & 1st, won play-off

Edited by Ropo

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