Football Manager seems to be on my computer all the time lately which means I’ve currently got the addiction back.
I’m still playing my one and only save game and I’m still managing Livingston in the Scottish Championship currently a little over half way through the season. I should be further with the amount of time I’m playing the game but I also play other games at the same time which slows my active time playing it down (as I’m writing this I’m playing Football Manager and Eve Online on my PC and Summoners War on my Mobile)
So onto the game and this season is my first full season (so far) at Livingstone after getting the job with 9 games remaining of last season and finishing in a respectable 7th place.
My aim for the season is to make the play-offs and my boards expectation was mid-table in the league, reach the 4th round of the Challenge Cup and Scottish Cup and be competitive in the Betfred Cup. Below is a screen shot of the expectations:
To be able to meet the boards expectations plus my own, I needed to strengthen my squad so I sent my scouts looking around Europe while I also manually asked my scouts to scout regen players.
You might be wondering how I can manually scout regens or if you’re a Football Manager veteran you might already know. It’s actually very easy to do, you just go to the world transfer screen by click on the world icon at top right of screen, then select world, then select transfers. In the world transfer screen you change the drop down from all transfers and pick youth intake. You then highlight them and ask your scouts to scout them.
Any which come back looking potentially good I ask my scouts to scout them over 3 months and if I get a good report and they are affordable and willing to come I’ll try to sign them. Be warned that this is a long process as you could be scouting hundreds of players to only sign a few but it’s a good way of getting good young players.
By the time the season started I had signed 16 players and breaking Livingston’s record signing fee twice spending a total of 600k which is more than the rest of the league put together!
You can see in my previous screenshot that my transfer budget was only 180k and my wage budget was £16,750 a week. The main reason I ended up spending more was because I off loaded 9 players on free transfers, transferred all my wage budget into my transfer budget then signed players on small wages but big bonuses which keeps my wage budget low.
Out of the 600k, 500k was spent on 2 players – 200k on a central defender and 300k on a goalkeeper, both are regens with loads of potential. I then also got a right winger, an attacking midfield playmaker, a left winger and a left full back all regens for my first team and a few regens midfielders as back ups who are not good enough for the first team but have loads of potential.
As well as the regen players I also signed some good young players released from bigger clubs and a quality central defender on loan from Reading.
Overall my squad was looking strong and I was confident I’d at least make the play-offs and maybe even challenge for the title but it all depended on if my team gelled with so many new players coming in.
Pre-season started off ok with a friendly win away at Portsmouth and a home loss to a strong West Ham team. Those were followed by the Betfred cup where the team got 3 wins and a penalty win in the 4 group games qualifying for the second round.
In the West Ham game I lost my new goalkeeper to injury then in my second cup game I lost my reserve goalkeeper to injury too. Not having a back up on the bench I had to give a debut to my 16-year-old right fullback playing him goal. I had others to choose from but they all had a keeper rating of 2 and my full back stood out with having 15 for bravery and 18 for determination so looked a good choice. In the end the other team didn’t have a shot on target against him so it didn’t matter.
The league then started and I went 9 games unbeaten, unfortunately 6 of those were draws. Sandwiched between them I won my second round Betfred cup game and the third round Challenge cup game. My first loss of the season then came away to Premiership side Hibs in the Betfred quarter-final.
During this time the summer transfer window shut and I was lucky to fight off lots of clubs from signing my promising right full back who came through my youth team. I had to reject lots of bids which made him unhappy, after talking with him I agreed to give him an improved contract and a better role in the team. He became my first choice right back at only 16 years old but his performances justified it. He went from making his debut as a goalkeeper to first choice right defender in a month.
I also reached 100 games in management early in the season which ended in a home draw, I would have liked to have got a win but anything other than a loss in a landmark game would do.
My first loss in the league came shortly after breaking Livingston’s unbeaten record as including last season I went unbeaten in 19 games breaking the previous record of 17. The loss came away to Dundee United who were top of the league. I was totally outplayed by them so afterwards I looked into them and found they were second favorites to win the league at 9/2 whereas I was 30/1 predicted 7th. Their squad was also filled with good players and have the second highest wage bill over twice as much as mine so it was hardly surprising that they were much better than I was.
Heres a screenshot of the league promotion odds with me predicted 7th:
After that defeat I was 5th in the league due to having too many draws and it was looking like it could be difficult for me to challenge for the title.
My team didn’t let the defeat get to them and went on a 9 game unbeaten run which included winning 4 and drawing 2 league games while also winning in the Challenge Cup 4th round and quarter-final and in the Scottish Cup 3rd Round.
During November I got a very strange message in my inbox. As you can see in the screen shot below I was informed by my assistant manager that Sparko Marco had completed the intensive language course he was sent on to help learn English faster. This would have been good apart from the fact I’m English and already fluent in the language, perhaps being in Scotland for so long had affected by ability to speak proper English!
Then I had Dundee United at home which was the perfect time to get revenge on them. My team was on a good run, morale was high and I was confident the run would continue so my team went out and lost 2-1 getting outplayed again.
It was only my second defeat in the league and my run up to the game had taken me up to 3rd so I was still doing better than expected.
That defeat was just before Christmas and on Boxing day the team got back to winning ways again and followed it up with another win shortly after and a draw on new years day taking me up to second. At the same time Dundee United lost 2 of the 3 games so I managed to close the gap to only a few points.
Going into the January transfer window I was hoping to improve on my squad, the only problem I had was that I’d depleted my transfer budget so my options were limited. Early on I signed a back up midfielder on a free and a young regen right winger for £500.
January turned out to be a good month on the pitch as I went unbeaten winning 3 out of 4 league games and winning in the Scottish Cup 4th round.
Off the pitch it wasn’t as good. I spent a lot of the transfer window struggling to find any new signings while fighting clubs off from trying to buy my players.
2 weeks in and my board accepted a 30k offer for my promising young goalkeeper. I wasn’t playing him but he came through my youth team and was one I wanted to keep plus 30k isn’t much money.
Then a day before the transfer window shut I lost my best defender. I had only signed him in the summer for 200k and at 18 he already had a current ability of a good championship player and he had the potential to be a premiership defender. I didn’t want to sell but he had a 1 million pound release clause which Sheffield Wednesday offered and I was powerless to stop him going.
The money was good and it all went into my transfer budget but as it was only a day before the transfer window shut I didn’t get time to bring in a replacement.
On transfer deadline day I then sold my left winger who I’d also only signed in the summer. I signed him for 140k compensation as he was an Irish regen who hadn’t signed a contract yet. This deal was a good deal though as I managed to negotiate with Middlesbrough to pay me 1.5 million pound up front, get a 50% sell on fee (of the total fee not 50% of profit) and they agreed to loan him back to me for the rest of the season and next season.
I also managed to fight off bids for my star attacking midfielder and right winger so overall it could have been a lot worse, I only lost 1 player and got 2.5 million into my transfer fund for the summer.
I now go into February 2nd in the league within touching distance of the top, into the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and in the 5th round of the Scottish cup. My team is more or less still intact and I’ve only lost twice in the league to Dundee United.
My best player so far has been 35-year-old German striker I signed for free last year. After scoring 3 in 6 last year he’s so far got 15 league goals in 23 games and overall 20 in 32 games. He’s possibly been my best Football Manager signing for some time, I’d only planned on using him short-term last season but he’s now my star player.
I’ve also managed to persuade by board to let me scout worldwide and not just in Europe, it’s come too late to sign anyone this season but I’ll be able to start scouting for the summer, especially getting my scouts to look at the regens I’ve not previously been able to scout.
So far, so good.
– Sparko Marco