It’s been a while since I wrote an update to my Football Manager 2017 career mainly because I’ve not been playing as much as I’d liked to due to being busy in real life so my gaming has been limited.
I’ve put a bit of time playing it the last few days while I’ve been off work ill and I’m now a little over half way through the season. I was planning on waiting until the end of the season to write an update however I’ve just had a change of managerial jobs so I’ll write an update now.
Having gained promotion to the Scottish League 1 with Stirling Albion in my first season, the expectations from the board in the new season were to try to avoid a relegation battle. As you can see on the screen shot below, my odds for promotion were 250/1 so I was much more likely to be relegated.
This meant that my first focus was on trying to improve the team to be able to stay in the league so pre-season was spent looking for new players. The biggest problem I had was that although I had plenty of money to spend, the club is only part-time with a small reputation so it was difficult finding players who were better than what I already have and were willing to come to me.
To find players I first looked on the scouting list for known players filtered to those who were realistic transfers and I quickly found that the quality shown was very much lacking. I then tried looking for some realistic loan transfers and found that not many players were willing to come on loan either, I did gamble on a loan player from Carlisle United, he was a young attacking midfielder but my scouting range wouldn’t allow me to scout him and I couldn’t see all his stats but what I could see looked ok. The gamble however didn’t pay off and while he has potential he ended up a back up player hardly used.
After finding the transfer and loan markets lacking in quality, I focused on getting as many free players on trials again to see if I could find anyone good. To improve my team using free players I decided I wanted to focus on not only players which were better than I had but I wanted my new players to have good determination and work rate as those were the stats I figured would help in any relegation battles and could make up for a lack of quality elsewhere. I also looked through my current team and offloaded any of my poorer players which had low determination and work rates.
My first competitive games were in the Betfred Cup which started on 15th July by which time I had only signed the loanee from Carlisle and 2 players on free transfers while having released 22 players in total from my squad. Most of those released didn’t feature much the previous season so my core team was still intact except for my left defender who wouldn’t sign a new contract and wanted to go to a bigger club.
The Betfred cup turned out to be a success, the board expectations were to be competitive and in the group games I only lost once to Falkirk, a Championship team and my best result was winning on penalties against another Championship team Hamilton after a 1-1 draw. I won my other games against teams in my league or below and finished my group second advancing as one of the best runner ups. My cup run ended in the next round losing to the Premiership team Hibernian but it was an achievement even getting that far.
The league season started shortly after the cup group games in early August and I had managed to acquire 2 more players, one was a new left defender on a free transfer and the other was a central defender which I actually paid money for. He cost me 3k from one of the top teams in the division below, the player was someone who actually turned me down in the first season on a free transfer but it was worth keeping an eye on him as he is easily my best defender.
The season started off good with a 3-0 home win against the team predicted to finish 5th which gave me some optimism for the season ahead. My team was pretty much the same team that got promoted plus a few new improvements and I was using the same tactic which won me promotion.
My optimism soon started to go when that win was followed by a winless run of 5 league games. The leagues games weren’t too bad as I drew 4 and only lost 1 but in those draws I struggled for goals. In between those I had a win against a Premiership u20s team in the Challenge cup but then lost against a Championship team in the next round so it was a mixed start to the season.
At this point I also started wondering if my promotion last season, my increase in reputation and my recently gained National C Licence would allow me to move to a bigger club. I looked on the job vacancy section and noticed the Championship team Raith Rovers has recently sacked their manager so I decided to apply and see what would happen. Unfortunately I was rejected fairly quick without even being offered an interview so I decided to stick with Stirling and not even think about moving clubs yet.
The rest of 2017 saw my team being very inconsistent with neither a run of wins or loses, at one point I went 8 games where a win followed a loss then another win, I couldn’t really find a reason for this other than my team being poor yet over achieving in some games so it was a bit unpredictable. Overall though the team was doing well hovering around mid table/play-offs however the league was very tight and a win or loss could see me moving many places up or down. I had also managed to get a few more free transfer players in but only as squad players, I wasn’t able to find anyone better than my best 11 players but my overall squad depth was improved.
Coming into the start of 2018 and the January transfer window I was sitting in 4th place and the last play-off place, the top 3 were starting to pull away from me and the bottom placed team was several points adrift of the team above them. The rest of the league was still close so I realised that I should be able to avoid relegation and now promotion was more realistic but if I wanted to improve my chance of promotion I needed to try and ensure I get the 4th place and to do that my team needed to be improved and try and find some more consistency.
A couple of weeks into January I managed to get myself a new striker who I had been scouting for a while but couldn’t afford his wages. To get him I had to offer more than I would have liked and give him some high bonuses but I hoped that he if got the goals needed to turn draws into wins then he would be worth paying for.
The first couple of games he played ok without scoring, both were away from home and ended in a draw and loss but I put it down to lack of match fitness. He then scored in the next 2 games which I won and he started to look like the player who could get me those goals.
This then brought me to the last day of the transfer window and as hard as I had been trying I hadn’t been able to improve my team further. It was really frustrating as I could adjust my budget to give me 150k transfer fund or an extra 3k in wages which should have meant I would be able to sign some good players for this level. I even found some very good players who I could afford to buy and give them more money than they were currently on, the problem was no one would even talk to me, even players in the same division. It’s a problem of Football Manager as the clubs reputation and part-time status stops them talking to me but in real life money talks and I’m sure those players would have at least talked to the club and been tempted by bigger wages.
Resigned to pushing on with my current squad and hoping to muddle my way into the play-offs come the end of the season I got a surprise message in my inbox. Kilmarnock who are a biggish team in Scotland offered me an interview to be their new manager. I didn’t know they needed a new manager and hadn’t applied for the job but as they were a full-time Championship team head hunting me I couldn’t not attend the interview. I thought it strange that they offered me the interview as when I applied for the previous Championship teams job I got rejected straight away but I had since also gotten my National B licence and started on my National A and was over achieving in the league so that might have made me a better candidate now.
My aim in my career is to advance to the top as a manager not necessarily with the same team and as much as I have enjoyed Stirling Albion a club like Kilmarnock would be a big step up for me in my career and I might regret not trying to get the job.
Attending the interview I answered questions in the way I thought they wanted me to answer them even if I didn’t think that way, like in real life you need to say what you think they want to hear, for example when they asked if I was confident managing a team in considerable financial trouble I told them I was well versed in handling sensitive financial situations and that they can trust me rather than say its best to ignore anything but the football.
After the interview my board asked me to reconsider and commit to the club, I briefly thought about it as on previous FM games I’ve tended to be loyal to clubs and stay with them but as my chances of becoming a top manager are better by moving to a bigger club I rejected to even talk to them, there wasn’t much they could have said to make me want to turn down a bigger job.
A week later (it seemed longer) and 1 more league game which I won the news came in that I had not been successful in getting the job. I had gotten my hopes up, I think this was due to them offering me the interview I thought I was certain to get the job. A bit deflated I decided to look and see if there were any other jobs vacant, I had resigned myself to leaving Stirling for a bigger club so figured if one Championship club were willing to interview me then there may be others. Looking at the job vacancies I would see that the Livingston job was available.
Livingston are also a Championship club, not as big as Kilmarnock are but they are still a full-time club a lot bigger than Stirling Albion are and it would still be a big step up in my career. In the league they are only just above relegation (5 points from bottom and 2 points from the relegation play-off place) and not doing as well as Kilmarnock were but it was a challenge I would happily take on for the chance of career advancement. They are also only 7 points behind the play-offs and Kilmarnock so a good run could see them climb up the league. I also noticed that the manager that was there previously hadn’t been sacked but had in fact left them to take over the Kilmarnock job.
I applied for the job and got an interview straight away, again answering all the questions how I thought they wanted them answered and hoping for a better outcome.
Only a few days later I was offered the job and accepted it without hesitation and now embark on a new challenge to keep Livingston in the Championship this season, maybe even push towards the play-offs. That may be optimistic thinking at the moment as I have not yet looked at how good my current squad is, for all I know it could be a poor squad over achieving or a good squad under achieving (hopefully the latter), either way the club is a bigger club so I should be able to recruit players a bit easier to improve the team.
I’ll end this post with a few screenshots of my time at Stirling Albion showing the club and my manager details.
Stirling when I took over:
Stirling just before I leave:
My manager profile at the start of the game and before leaving Stirling Albion:
My other Manager stats taken after getting my new job, these are only the current stats as at the start of the game there obviously wasn’t any so can’t be compared:
I’ll give my next update after the season, it’ll only be short as there are only 9 games left to go but hopefully it’ll detail that I survived relegation.
Also, if anyone reading this hasn’t yet bought Football Manager 2017, I’ve noticed it is on offer on Amazon UK for £18 which is a bargain.