Football Manager 2017 – My Career Update End of Season 2018/2019

My latest Football Manger 2017 career save season has finished. That’s now 3 seasons completed, the most I’ve done in a single Football Manager save for couple of years.

My mid-season update ended at the end of January where I was second in the league, into the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and into the 5th round of the Scottish Cup.

At this point I was over achieving in all competitions and the board was happy with me so I was looking forward to the rest of the season.

February started off the way January ended with a win and I went unbeaten all through February winning 2 league games and drawing 1 which put me top of the table as Dundee United slipped up dropping 4 points in 3 games.

I also won my 5th round Scottish Cup game but more importantly I won my Challenge Cup semi-final giving me my first career cup final to look forward to and a chance of silverware.

Livingston only won the Challenge Cup in the 2014/2015 season for the first time so there’s a bit of pressure to win it now I’m in the final.

The final is against Kilmarnock and if you’ve read my previous Football Manager blog posts you’ll know that I applied for the Kilmarnock job last season and was overlooked after attending an interview. The then Livingston manager got the Kilmarnock job and I took over at Livingstone so unofficially I think of them as a rival club and I’ve got a bit of grudge against them.

March started off badly as I suffered my 3rd league defeat of the season. Like my previous 2 it was against Dundee United losing 1-0 away. I’m really starting to hate them and the result also put them back on top of the table. Not only did I lose but as I didn’t score it ended my run of consecutive games scoring which up to then was over 30 as I got a steam achievement a few games earlier for scoring in 30 consecutive games.

I bounced back straight away with an away win against 3rd place. It seems my team is capable of beating anyone in the league except Dundee United.

In early March I also got my youth intake and this year there was 4 players which looked promising so I signed them and released the rest. The screenshots below show who I gave contracts to.

Shortly after I managed to convince my board to give me a feeder club and out of the options I had I selected Queens Park and sent my 4 new youngsters there on loan. The best thing about picking Queens Park is that as part of the deal Livingston have access to all of Queens Park’s training facilities. Normally when you get a feeder team they are in a lower division with worse facilities and although Queens Park are in the division below their home stadium and training facilities are Hampden Park which belongs to the Scottish National team so they have impressive training facilities and great youth facilities.

Did I mention that I was starting to hate Dundee United? Well I can confirm that I definitely hate them now as they have beaten me 1-0 at home, knocking me out of the Scottish Cup in the quarter-final only a few games after they beat me in the league. That’s 3 league defeats and a cup defeat to them now.

After getting knocked out of 1 cup I had 2 games to get back to winning ways before playing my first career cup final against Kilmarnock in the Challenge Cup. Those 2 games ended in a win, the second of which I beat Raith by who were in 5th place away 4-1.

Not only is it a good morale booster going into the final it moved me back to the top of the table 1 point ahead of Dundee United, 9 points ahead of 3rd and 15 points ahead of 5th. With only 6 games remaining I’m almost mathematically guaranteed play-offs and in a 2 horse race for the title and automatic promotion.

Ahead of the final I’ve found myself with a bit of a dilemma. One of my star players, an attacking midfielder I signed in the summer wants a new contract. I’ve been putting him off for a while and even got him to sack his agent but now his new agent wants him to have a new contract.

Considering he’s only 18 and so far has 14 goals, 10 assists and 7 man of the matches in 37 games I’m more than happy to give him a new contract. The dilemma I have is that his agent is insisting on a minimum release clause fee of 200k whereas I could realistically get over 1 million at least for him.

I’ve decided he’ll have to remain unhappy and hopefully he’ll still play well. If I’m going to lose him I’d rather get plenty of money for him for a replacement. Theres currently 12 clubs interested him so I’ll have to hope that if I get promoted he’ll sign a contract without a release clause or I’ll cash in on him in the summer.

I’m happy to confirm I got my first cup win after beating Kilmarnock 1-0. It wasn’t the best game my teams played but they never looked like losing. We scored on 18 minutes so I thought we might go on and score more but most of our shots were off target and we didn’t really look like getting a second.

Kilmarnock had more chances than we did but they only had 5 shots on target from 14 and 12 of their shots were from long-range as my team controlled most of the game.

Overall a deserved win and a first trophy of my career. Just 6 games to play in the league and a double of a cup win and promotion is on the cards.

Following my cup final the team continued to perform well and the next 3 games consisted of 2 wins and a draw. At the same time my closest rivals Dundee United were struggling and had been dropping points.

Ahead of my 3rd to last game I was in a position to cement my place at the top and mathematically win the league.

My assistant said I should talk to the team so I went ahead and told them to treat the game the same as any other as I didn’t want to put pressure on them. As you can see in the screenshots below the meeting was successful and most of my team were happy. The only 2 who weren’t was my player/assistant and a young winger, neither of whom play in the first team.

Going into the game everything was set up for me to win the league. I was on good form, the players morale was high and so far this season I’d only lost to Dundee United. This game was also away to a Kilmarnock team I’d just beat in the cup final and beat already this season 3-0 at home, 5-1 away then 1-0 again at home.

After that build up you’d think it was a guaranteed win, being fm you won’t be surprised to find out I got beat 2-0. My team just didn’t perform at all. Maybe I should have put pressure on them to win.

Onto the next game and I have the same scenario that a win guarantees the league title.  This time I’m at home against the second bottom team so it should be an easy win.

I’m asked to do another team talk ahead of the game and have the same options. This time I change what I say to them and rather than telling them to treat it the same as a normal game, I don’t focus on the game at all and I tell my team that it’s an amazing achievement to be within one win if the title and that I’m proud of them. This resulted in all if my players getting a morale boost.

The game itself wasn’t as easy as I’d expected and for the most part it looked like I would draw the game taking it to the last game at home to Dundee United but I managed to get the win with an 81st minute goal to win 1-0 and get my first league title and win promotion to the Scottish Premiership.

The last game was a meaningless game in the league as I was confirmed top and Dundee United were comfortably second. Usually in these situations I would play my promising youngsters, however I hadn’t beaten them all season so it was my last chance to get a win against them.

With the pressure off them I told the team to go out and get revenge on them and that’s what they done winning the game 2-1. I thought I was gonna get fm’d though as I went 2-0 up then conceded and was holding on at the end. I was expecting them to get a late equalizer but thankfully the team held on.

Following the season ending I had 5 of my players inducted into Livingston’s best 11 squad, I had the league’s top goal scorer as my 35-year-old striker finished on 22 goals 5 clear of the next highest and my team were the league overall top scorers. Due to selling players in January I also ended with the lowest net spend despite actually spending more than anyone else on players.

At the end of season awards, my attacking midfielder who has been my key player despite only being 18 years old ended the season as the Scottish Championship player of the year after getting 10 goals, 10 assists and an average rating of 7.47 over 33 games. Not bad for someone I signed for free. Not giving him a contract earlier in the season luckily didn’t affect his performances.

He was also named in the leagues team of the year along with my left winger whom I sold in January but loaned back for 2 seasons, my central defender I had on loan from Reading and my 35-year-old striker.

sparko-marco_-inbox-31

My end of season review had an unexpected comment as the boards major criticism of the season is that the decision to sell my young goalkeeper appears to be a poor financial deal for the club. The strange thing about this is that the board accepted the offer and sold him behind my back.

sparko-marco_-inbox-29

Following the season ending I set about seeing if I get my young stars new contracts to hopefully deter bigger clubs bidding for them and thankfully I was able to do this although I had to give them big pay rises and they all have relegation release clauses but I did manage to give them contracts without minimum fee release clauses so none should be getting sold on the cheap unless my board messes up again and sells any of them behind my back and giving them contracts now before we are officially a Premiership team should mean I’ve got them on contracts for less than if I give them new contracts once the new season starts in the Premiership.

My next focus in pre-season is as usual to improve my squad. My core team is good and the signings I’ve made over the season are either good enough for the premiership or have the potential to be good enough. I just need some extra quality in some positions, especially in defense and some players to improve my overall squad. I’ve been given just over 2.5 million to spend on transfers mainly due to the money brought in during the January transfer window. I’m not sure how far that will stretch so I might only be able to bring in 2 or 3 players for a transfer fee so I’ll need to look at free transfers as well as money signings.

Over the season I’ve been scouting lots of players and regens in particular and I’ve found several quality players who unfortunately weren’t interested in joining the club when I found them so I’m hoping that once the new season starts I might have better luck. I did manage to line up signings who are due to join on 12 June when the transfer window opens, one is a promising right-winger who can compete for the first team and the other is a promising striker who may never actually be able to play for me.

The striker was refused a work permit but I finalised the signing regardless as his stats are good at only 18 years old, my scout report was very good and he has lots of potential. His transfer fee is also very low so it’s a gamble worth taking. Hopefully he will get a work permit at some point, if not and he improves while at the club I might be able to make a nice profit selling him on.

I’ll end this with a few screenshots of my manager and club showing any improvements and stats. You may notice that I’ve been added onto the list of the clubs favorite personnel along with my attacking midfielder and a couple of fringe players who have been at the club a while.

The Club

The Manager

-Sparko Marco

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