A long time ago, so long I can’t remember if it was on here or The Dugout forum, I foolishly boasted three seasons should be long enough to win any league with any club in FM. Well here am I, end of season three with ADO and, not for the first time, proving myself spectacularly wrong.Continue reading Much ADO About Everything – Best of the Rest
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In the first blog, I was very complimentary of our defensive solidity – praising a system that had conceded less than a goal a game on the way to a 6th placed finish. We needed only to improve the offence and we’d be well on our way to serious success…Continue reading Much ADO About Everything – Forwards and Backwards
The world is on lockdown and it seems half the population has turned to Football Manager for solace. Me? Not so much. I need no solace from self isolation given it is, more or less, my socialising of choice. Nevertheless, working from home and saving two hours a day commuting has given me more time to play my favourite game. Add to that a surge in FM activity across ‘the scene’ and a save that has grabbed my attention, and I’ve found the increasingly fleeting urge to blog returning with gusto.
I haven’t posted an update for a while, not because I haven’t been playing the save but rather because I was into playing it so much that I couldn’t be bothered taking the time out to write and update.
Besides, the season following my last update was a pretty dull one with nothing much interesting to blog. We won the cup, which was nice, and pushed into the Champions League qualification spots but suffered a similar February / March slump to the previous year and fell away in the title race.
This season, however, was a much different story.
Football Manager can be a great game. It can be enormous fun when things are going well and you are banging in goals left, right and centre. And it can induce rage and frustration like almost no other game I’ve played.
Yet that is part of its charm, and possibly indeed part of football’s charm. The struggles and the frustration make the good times all the sweeter. If we ever have any.
This season has to rank as one of the most frustrating I can remember in nearly 30 years of playing football management games. From an incredibly strong position in early March, the team would fall apart and… well, read on to find out what happened.
Having reached the end of season two, we’re now in a good place with the squad feeling more like “mine” than that I inherited. Various personnel changes, a massive staff overhaul and a meandering tactical experiment have left us in a solid position to push on next season.
Contrary to my last posts, I’ve now abandoned the 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 experiment (I’ll explain why), so this update will be a pretty straightforward one covering what’s happened in season 2019/20.
Those who have read the first two blogs on the Samp save will know that I’m forcing myself to use a 3 centre back formation rather than revert to the same old, same old.
Those who follow me on twitter will know that I’ve really struggled to get it to work how I want – particularly defensively. So much so that I’m very close to abandoning the experiment and reverting to my tried and trusted, boring old back four.
Not yet, though. This post will by the start of my attempts to work out the issues and find a system that at least pretends to have some form of defensive competence.
Given my terrible knowledge of real football these days, particularly Italian football, the first season was always going to be more of a fact-finding mission than a quest for success.
In addition to my uncertainty with the personnel, I decided to add some tactical experimentation by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Intuitively, I gravitate towards shapes with a back 4 and a DM, or at least a holding midfielder, and it’s been a few years since I’ve deviated from that base setup.
With the club and country game coming to a premature end, I was on the hunt for a new save – a decision that a lot of FM players can find problematic. Stream chats, YouTube comments, twitter, forums – they’re all full of people asking for advice on who to play as, “what’s a good team”, etc.
It’s a question worth asking, particularly these days with the sheer number of hours that save games require. Who wants to waste 20-30 hours of game time only to discover you’re bored within half a season?
I’ve nearly always managed to pick saves or clubs that have kept my interest and this time round I’ve opted for Sampdoria. But, as an introduction to the save, why?
I haven’t updated for quite some time, both in game and in actual fact. This was largely due to not wanting to take a break from playing to spend time blogging.
Now, however, I feel like I should provide an update – both on the save and the blog.
The save is over. Kaput. Finito. Dead. An ex save.
Since the last time I updated, we’ve had some great successes. The club side has won the league title in every year of the save and, whilst we weren’t able to add to our two OFB-Cups, progressed significantly in Europe – reaching the first knockout round of the Europa League in 2023 then topping a Champions League group of PSG, Liverpool and PSV in 2024, sadly losing on penalties to Leverkusen in the first knockouts.
The squad was strengthening significantly and we had some great newgens coming through – including a wonderkid midfielder and, shock horror, a serviceable striker.
The national side, too, had some successes. In 2022, we reached the quarter finals of the World Cup in Qatar. Beating Iran (rather fortunately) and Portugal in the groups before annihilating Colombia in the 2nd round.
We would meet Spain in the quarters and they would put us out of the second championship in a row, having defeated us in the Euro 2020 semi. However, we more than gave them a good game of it and were unlucky not to win in normal time before Borja Mayoral sucker-punched us in extra time.
Whilst reaching the World Cup quarters could only be deemed a success, troubled times were ahead.
Bizarrely, our seeding for Euro 2024 qualification did not reflect our 10th place world ranking and we were drawn against Holland (world champions) and a very decent Denmark side.
Between home defeats against both, we suffered what would probably prove to be the defining match of the save – a poor, though somewhat unfortunate, 2-1 loss in Kosovo.
Despite getting a creditable draw in Amsterdam and winning the rest of our games, including the return match against Denmark, we couldn’t make up the ground from the Kosovo loss and ended qualification in 3rd place.
We were out and the FA were severely pissed off.
Little did I know (largely because FM decides not to tell you anything about it) that I would be saved by an unexplained and completely random appearing playoff system. Suddenly I was told we would travel to Turkey for a one-leg playoff semi-final.
A 2-1 win there would see us travel to Oslo for another one-leg playoff against the Norwegians. 1-0 thanks to club and country starlet striker Stefan #DoppelBauer Bauer and I thought my skin had been saved.
Then came the draw for Euro 2024. In the deathiest of groups of death, we would face Holland (World Champions), Belgium (ranked 5th in the world) and our nemesis Spain (European Champions).
It did not go well.
Whilst we were slightly unfortunate to lose 2-0 to the Dutch in the opening game, a first half red card for Dejan Ljubicic against the Belgians meant we’d take just one point from the first two and needed to beat Spain to progress.
We went 1-0 up before Borja Mayoral – whose goals had knocked us out of the last Euros and the World Cup – scored two and put the Iberians through at our expense.
Come the end of the tournament, the Austrian FA informed me that my services were no longer required. Persona non grata.
Which seems a little harsh, I have to say. Getting knocked out of that group is no disgrace and I suspect it was only due to the elevated expectations from my earlier success that it was deemed failure.
Nevertheless, for the first time that I can recall on any CM / FM, I was fired. And there’s very little point in changing a Club and Country save into a Club and erm…. one.
So the save comes to an end. Which is a shame as I was just starting to enjoy the club game a bit more having decided to experiment with the tactical setup.
I have started a new save which seems to be promising but have yet to decide whether I will continue the renaissance of the blog. Whilst I still enjoy rambling about FM, the literary reticence over the past month rather neatly sums up my motivation for extended writing.
I may instead look to a different platform for my witterings, with a forum thread being the most likely at this point – although I have also considered a (no facecam) stream when I can be bothered.
We shall see. In the meantime, thanks for reading. If you do want to read more from me, wherever that may end up being written, then follow my twitter (@shrewnaldo) and, in between the rants, I’ll be sure to let you know there.