It’s been a few months since my last FM17 update as I’ve not been gaming that much due to real life getting in the way. I have however been playing Football Manager every now and again when I’ve found time and can now write an update to my career game.
Last season ended with my Livingston team winning the Scottish Championship, gaining promotion to the top division and winning the Challenge Cup so my team was full of confidence but it needed some big improvements to compete in the Premiership.
Big improvements to the squad generally needs a lot of money, especially in the top division where teams like Celtic and Rangers dominate and are financially superior to the rest. Unfortunately Livingston aren’t rich so I only had a couple of million to spend which was made selling players in previous seasons.
The expectations for the club is to fight against relegation but my smallish budget was still probably more than my relegation rivals so I just needed to get a better squad than a few teams to survive in the division. As you can see in the screenshot below, my team is 1000/1 to win the title along with Queen of the South and Hamilton.
First thing I done pre-season as always is to look at how I could improve my squad and I quickly identified any players I needed to get rid of to save on their wages and increase my transfer budget of I could sell anyone.
I ended up releasing 17 players who were not good enough for the Premiership, most were out of contract reserves and young players with a few first team players who needed replaced. I also sold 2 players but for only a combined fee of £38.5k. The main savings were on wages saving a few thousand pound a week.
I then looked into new signings, I had a transfer budget of £2 Million and a wage budget of 33k a week and ended up signing 17 players, 8 were on loan, 3 were on free transfers and 6 cost a total of £1.1million so not a lot of money spent. I also struggled to find any quality strikers so I was left with my old striker from last season and a good youth striker. Most of my transfer budget was put into wages to be able to sign the players I did.
The biggest achievement preseason was keeping hold of my best players, quite a few were wanted by bigger clubs but I managed to fend them off by giving the players new contracts.
Having finalised my squad for the season I was confident I could survive in the division as long as I got lucky with injuries as I was lacking in squad depth so a few injuries to key players could have a big effect on my team.
Pre-season friendlies were a mix of results with 1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw and as is usual in Scotland the Betfred Cup starts in amongst the friendlies and I won my first 2 cup games before the league games started.
My first Premiership game was then possibly the best result I could have hoped for, winning 4-0 away against Queen of the South who were one of my relegation rivals. That win was then followed by a win and draw in the Betfred Cup qualifying for the second round which I also went on to win. So far so good, a great first game/win in the Premiership and into the Betfred Cup 3rd Round.
My good start then got a bit worse as I drew my next 3 league games 0-0, lost the next 2-1 before drawing 2-2. Considering my team is one of the favourites to go down draws aren’t too bad but the performances weren’t very good either. Defensively I was doing ok but the team wasn’t creating enough chances or scoring the chances they got which was worrying. I was also relying on my 36-year-old striker and an 18-year-old back up which didn’t help.
There wasn’t a lot I could do to improve my squad further until January, I did look at free transfers and signed a young winger during September but he was only potentially good so wouldn’t improve my first team so I was stuck with what I had.
My league form was very inconsistent over the next few months with some narrow 1-0 wins or 1-0 losses with quite a lot of draws. Lack of goals was costing me wins, the team was generally good in defense and was dominating in possession, I just needed more goals.
The only stand out win I had was another 4-0 win against Queen of the South at home and my biggest loss had been a 1-4 defeat at home to Hearts.
Despite my leagues form being inconsistent, I was doing well in the cups and had been winning my Betfred Cup games and at the start of December I had a cup final game against Hibernian. I’d got to the final following 3 1-0 wins in the knock out rounds and was confident in my defense to not concede many but wasn’t sure if I’d score enough. Hibs were doing well in the league and our only previous game against them ended 2-2.
The final was as I’d expected with my defense performing well but I wasn’t creating chances. At half time I was drawing 1-1 despite not having 1 shot at all. My goal came from an own goal but I was also having most possession with Hibs trying long shots. Their goal was from a penalty during stoppage time in the first half.
Second half was similar to the first with my team getting the best of possession and defending well, the team was however starting to get some shots in and in the 86th minute we scored the winning goal with the game ending 2-1 and I got my first Betfred Cup trophy.
Following the high of a cup win I was brought back down with 2 defeats and a draw in the league which included a home loss against Hibernian. The team did pick themselves back up though and ended 2019 with 2 wins and a draw before Xmas going into the winter break and a period of 4 weeks without a game.
During December I also found myself a new striker who I signed ready to join when the transfer window opened. The player was an ex Man Utd youngster currently at West Ham and only 24 years old. His name is Ashley Fletcher, his stats looked good, he is a target man so would fit my tactics and my scouts produced a very good report. He was also transfer listed by West Ham for 750k, I managed to sign him for 650k with most of that paid over a few years.
With the January transfer window open I now had the chance to improve my team further. I’d already had a good cup win but my league form needed to improve. I wasn’t doing too bad and spent most of the season mid table closer to the top half than relegation. I just needed to get more goals and signing Fletcher should help.
Shortly after the transfer window opened my transfer plans changed from trying to improve my attacking threat to trying to keep my best players at the club.
My first major problem was Newcastle offered a low offer of £400k for my only good goalkeeper which was accepted by my board. I quickly protested against it and my board backed down however the player got unhappy so I decided to offer him out to clubs for more money and Newcastle came back in for him but this time for £1. 5 million which was accepted and he was quickly sold leaving me with no good goalkeepers, only a 16-year-old who was my back up keeper.
After scouting what felt like hundreds of goalkeepers I managed to find a good premiership quality player for cheap. He is a 24-year-old Portuguese keeper who cost only 33k with good stats and a good scout report so hopefully he will perform as good as the one I’ve sold.
Shortly after that my right defender, an 18-year-old who came through my youth team, wanted to move to a bigger club as there was a lot of English Premiership teams interested so I decided to cash in and offered him to clubs for a lot of money. I got several offers and ended up selling him for £4 million to Liverpool with the condition that they loaned him back to me to the end of the season. A good deal for me as I got a lot of money and kept the player for the season.
Seeing as I had made a good profit on my keepers and selling my defender, I had some extra money in my transfer budget so went looking to see if I could find anyone else to sign. I found a promising youngster at Man Utd who was affordable, currently good enough to play in the Scottish Premiership and was willing to join the club. I was actually surprised he was available as in previous Football Manager games he can turn world-class. The player is called Callum Gribbin and can play in any attacking position, central mid, on the wings or as a striker and his stats suited an advanced playmaker.
I managed to sign him for £750k which seemed cheap considering his potential, it wasn’t however cheap for Livingston as it broke the club’s transfer record.
I also signed a young South African central defender also for £750k who was better than I currently had and I arranged to sign a Serbian central defender for £550k once he turns 18 who my scouts highly recommend.
Finally I decided to get another back up keeper rather than rely on a 16-year-old so I signed a 35-year-old Norwegian keeper who has 44 caps for Norway so was experienced. He was also cheap as I got him for free on low wages and despite his age, his stats and scout report are good.
As well as the transfer window in January I also had 3 games, 2 league games ended in a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 both away from home. The 3-2 win was especially good as my new striker Fletcher got his first goals getting a hat-trick in his second game for the club. Following those I drew 0-0 away to Hibernian in the Scottish Cup with a replay to follow in February.
My manager also improved during January gaining his Continental C Licence which improves my stats, reputation and will allow me to get better jobs should I decide to move on from Livingston.
That’s it for the mid-season update. So far it’s been a good season. I’ve won a cup, I’m mid-table and I’ve just signed some potentially good improvements to my squad.
I’m predicting I could go on to get into Europe next year either by finishing top 4 in the league or winning the Scottish Cup. It’ll all depend on whether my new signings can get me the goals I’ve been struggling to get during the first half of the season, Fletcher’s hat-trick leaves me optimistic.
The first half of the season also saw Brexit announced and the conditions associated with it which come into effect at the end of the season. I wrote a blog post about it which you can read if your interested.
– Sparko Marco