Football Manager – Making The Dolly Blues the Best in the World – Season 16

Last season we won the Premiership for the first time after 4 seasons as Chelsea threw it away losing 3 of their last 4 games meaning we ended up winning on goal difference and we also won the Champions League and Super Cup.

This season I want to retain the league trophy by winning with a point advantage, retain the Champions League, win the World Club Cup and win either or both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup which we’ve not yet won.

I think I’ll need to invest in some more players, particularly squad players but if I find anyone better than I have I could buy big, I’ve got about £90m to spend and a few squad players I could sell to raise more. There’s also several key players wanted which I need to keep hold of, it would take something massive to sell them.

As soon as the transfer window opened I spent big money on a 18 year old German Midfielder wonderkid costing £79m, it was more than I wanted to spend on him but he was the only player I could find that was young, has massive potential and good enough to go straight into the squad, that signing was included in last years total so pushed it up to a record £268m spent in a season.

I also sold the Chinese midfielder we had who is now 24 and only a decent Premiership player. We signed him for £5.75 and sold him for £19.75 which was included in last season’s total bringing the money in to £138m last year through sales and loans though.

Then as 1st July came around there were loads of pre-arranged transfers in and out as I brought in 11 players, the first was a Brazilian attacking midfield wonderkid signed for a bargain £11m, then I brought in 10 players for free whose contracts had ended. I got a 19 year old German left back wonderkid who will be a squad player, two 19 year old Spanish centre backs who will be loaned out, a 20 year old German central midfielder wonderkid as a squad player, a 19 year old German keeper as an emergency back up, a 18 year old Argentinan right back to loan out, a 19 year old Argentinan attacking midfielder to loan out, an 18 year old Columbian striker to loan out, a 18 year old Uruguayan midfielder to loan out and a 19 year old German striker to loan out.

Most of the free transfers will be loaned out for a loan fee, they all have potential to be good players so if they improve they might end up in my squad but I imagine most will be sold on for profit, they are already worth a lot of money and decent premiership players but my squad is at a stage where only exceptionally good players will make the squad.

I also sold a few players for big profits as I sold my Romainian captain and central midfielder who now at 22 years old is only showing as decent Prem ability and won’t improve, also he now shows as not enjoying big games and inconsistent so I’ve cashed in on him as we got a £35.5m deal which is a good profit on the £1.3m we paid for him 4 seasons ago and he only played 17 games last year.

The next big sale was a 21 year old Brazilian defender we picked up for free when he was 18, he’s ok but he’s only showing as Championship ability with not much more potential so I’ve sold him for £36m, he also only played 7 times last season and I’ve promoted a young English defender from our youth team we have to replace him as back up.

I then sold a 24 year old Irish central midfielder we bought for £6m in our first Premiership season as he’s hardly played for the last couple of seasons and at 24 he won’t improve beyond his Championship ability, we also got a deal worth £40m (£32m up front) which is a good profit.

Next I sold a 22 year old Peruvian goal keeper we signed for £400k and has been loaned out for 3 seasons for £6.25m as he’s not improved and will never be good enough.

Having brought in a new back up left back I decided to sell my current back up who is a 21 year old Brazilian who while he is a good back up, his contract is up at the end of the season and he wants star player and a massive wage rise which he’s not getting and he won’t accept a squad player contract so I’ve sold him for £35m which is another good profit on a player we got for free.

I got rid of a 23 year old Romainian midfielder that I signed for free and loaned out for 4 seasons, I couldn’t get a work permit for him but I did get £1.5m a season loan fees but with his contract ending soon I cashed in for £8.75m which isn’t bad for someone that’s never really been at the club.

Another player sold was a 23 year old Scottish striker I signed 2 season’s ago for £4m and loaned out last season, I was disappointed in him as he was scoring loads of goals in Scotland and his stats look really good but whenever he got a chance he was poor and I ended up signing better players and he’s no where good enough for the team I have now. I did make a nice profit on him though selling him for £14.5m rising to £19.5m and he’s one of the few players I’ve sold that I would like to see become good as I thought he would become a star but I probably never gave him enough chances to shine.

Further sales happened throughout pre-season and as the friendly games started we sold a 20 year old Romainian midfielder for £10.25m who was another one we got for free just last year and loaned out, I sold a 23 year old South African keeper who we got for free then loaned out for 4 seasons, his loans brought in £5m then we sold him for £11.25m.

I then decided to cash in on my back up right back, he’s a 23 year old Serbian who was replaced last year as first choice and I wanted to keep him as back up but he’s another one whose contract is up at the end of the season and wanted a big wage and star player status so I sold him for £19.75m and promoted a young Ivory Coast/English right back we signed 2 season’s ago for £140k and have loaned out, he’s ready for Premiership football and will be a decent back up.

Along with all those I’ve sold, I’ve loaned out 17 players with most having a loan fee so including player sales and loans I have brought in £225m.

I’ve spent money only on 2 players totalling £90m so we’ve made a good profit on transfers which means I’ve actually now got £200m I could spend on players but I’m not really finding any one I want to sign as I’m happy with my first 11 and I’ve got at least 2 back ups for each position so I don’t really need anyone at the moment, I will however keep looking as I always do and if my scouts recommend anyone too good to turn down I’ll probably sign them.

Our pre-season friendly games went ok as we won 4 including totally dominating Barcelona and lost 1 as I rested players in the last one for the Community Shield.

The Community Shield game was against FA Cup winners Everton and with it being the first proper game of the season it only took 6 minutes for us to concede as they scored with their first shot of the game continuing the trend of lots of games last season. We were the better team however and scored 3 goals before they then scored with their second shot of the game but we got 2 more in the second half and won the game 5-2.

I might look at buying a new keeper as he’s the only reason I can think of as to why we keep conceding goals with nearly every shot on target, in the Community Shield he didn’t move for both goals. I’m just reluctant to spend big money on a keeper when the one I have on paper has awesome stats and classed as a commanding keeper but he has now gone down to 3 star ability and potential so won’t get any better so if I can find a better one, I might just buy him and sell my current keeper.

Ahead of the first league game at home to Man Utd I checked the season preview and this year after winning the title last season we are one of the favourites predicted to finish 4th with odds of 17/2 which is good to see.

The Man Utd game got off to a good start as we took the lead but yet again we conceded with the first shot as they equalised 10 minutes later and then they took the lead as my player passed to their player in midfield who then dribbled passed 3 or 4 of my players to score and the game ended in a 2-1 loss.

After the Community Shield game conceded 2 in 2 shots I started the process of signing a new keeper and after this game where we conceded again with the first shot I confirmed the signing of a 22 year old World Class goalkeeper who won goalkeeper of the year last season. He’s the same age as my current keeper but has better stats and from everyone I’ve scouted he is currently the best goalkeeper on the game and I had to pay a record fee for him spending £114m to sign him from Bayern Munich, it’s actually quite cheap as he had a release clause otherwise they would have wanted a lot more for him.

Our next game was the Super Cup and this season we are playing Man City who won the Europa Cup and this was a much better game than against United as we were 2-0 up by half time and they had a shot on target without scoring, they only had 3 shots with 1 on target in the first half and none had a highlight. In the second half I think they must have went defensive as there were no highlights until we scored a 3rd goal in the 84th minute and the game ended with a 3-0 win, they didn’t have any shots in the second half and my new keeper got a clean sheet on his debut in probably one of the easiest games he will ever play.

We followed the cup win up by beating Everton away 5-3 in the league where defensively we weren’t great but that wasn’t to do with the keeper who had a good game and probably kept us in the game at times and then we beat West Ham 2-0 at home in an easy game where they only had 1 late shot off target all game.

It was then time for the Champions League group stage draw and as reigning champions we are in the 1st seeds pot and I was hoping for a decent draw and we got Sevilla from the second seeds which was good as we avoided both Real and Athletico Madrid, Dortmund and Inter and then other 2 teams were RB Salzburg who we had in last year’s group and beat 7-0 and 4-1 and Lazio who surprisingly for a big club were 4th seeds, we should be able finish top 2 in that group.

We ended August with another win coming from behind to beat Watford 3-2, I thought we had blew it when they equalised with a rare attack in the 95th minute but we attacked from kick off and won and scored a 97th minute penalty making it 3 wins and a defeat in the league putting us into 4th going into an international break.

It was then transfer deadline day and although we have spent a lot of money on a couple of players I still have £73m I could spend due to the money made selling players but decided not to bring anyone else in as there’s no real position where I want to replace anyone yet.

After the international break our first game in September was poor as we conceded a 93rd minute penalty to draw 2-2 to 19th Brighton then followed that up with a poor 0-0 draw away to Sevilla in the first Champions League group game.

After 2 draws the rest of the month was better as we beat Leicester 2-0 and Sheffield United 3-0 both at home in the league, Chelsea 3-0 away in the Carabao Cup and ended the month with a 1-0 home with against RB Salzburg which should have been a bigger win, we beat them 7-0 last season and had 26 shots with 10 on target and a xG of 3.47 but could only get 1 goal.

October opened with a big win as we beat Tottenham 3-0 at home which put us above them into top place but only for an hour as Man Utd then won 4-0 to go top. Our win against Tottenham was their first loss of the season which leaves only Man Utd as the only unbeaten team left in the league as it’s looking like they could be our main rivals again this season.

After a big win we got a lucky win as my reserves scored a 93rd minute goal to beat Norwich away and then my strongest team got a good 2-1 away win at Lazio in the Champions League before the same 11 only beat struggling Fulham 2-1 away in the league. It looked like points dropped for a long time in the Fulham game as after we took a 33rd minute lead they scored in the 36th with their only shot of the game which had a 0.03 xG proving it doesn’t matter how good a keeper I have teams can score with their only shots. Thankfully we got a 86th minute winner after they tried to defend the whole game only having that 1 shot all game.

We then ended the month with another game against Fulham this time at home in the Carabao Cup where I played my reserves and they won 1-0 with a 93rd minute goal after Fulham defended all game again and we had a pen saved by their super keeper that made 11 saves. They also only had 1 shot all game again but luckily it was off target otherwise they might have scored.

That’s a full month of wins in all competitions and we’ve not lost in 15 games since the opening league game, we are also on our best winning run of 9 games which is a current club record, if we win the next game it’ll be a new record, although we play Man City at home so it won’t be easy.

Our winning run continued and we got a new record 10 wins in a row as we beat City 3-1, although I was worried we would lose after they took the lead from a corner with their first shot on target but we were 2-1 up at half time and after a second half where we had shot after shot we eventually got a 3rd goal to finish off the game, I was almost expecting an equaliser against the run of play as we were dominating so I was thankful when we got the 3rd. We deserved it as we had 25 shots, 13 on target and an xG of 2.35 compared to their 9 shots, 2 on target and 0.84 xG.

The latest win came at a price however as we lost our right back to injury for 6 weeks and our left inside forward to injury for a couple of weeks.

After beating City I put the reserves out at home to Lazio in Europe and they won 3-1 and then my best 11 were fully fit for the away league game against Liverpool who were poor and tried defending all game which was strange with them being the home team, eventually as I went all out attack with 2 defenders and 7 attackers we broke them down and scored in the 89th minute then scored a 92nd minute penalty, Liverpool did pull a goal back in the 93rd minute as I didn’t bother changing back to a normal tactic and we got caught out on the counter but we managed to continue our winning run.

That’s 12 games into the league now and we are second behind Man Utd who still haven’t lost, we’ve won 10, drew 1 and lost 1 while Utd have won 10 and drew 2 putting them 1 point ahead of us.

After the Liverpool game we had Southamption at home and our big summer signing, our £79m midfielder scored his first goals as he got a hattrick as we won 3-0, I’d just changed his role from a ball winning midfielder to a box to box midfielder which may have helped him push into the box more. At the same time Man United lost their first game of the season with a surprisingly 2-0 loss away to Norwich which has put us top.

Our winning run then ended after 13 wins we could only draw 2-2 at home to Sevilla in the Champions League after they scored in the 92nd minute, we could have done with a win too as they are top on goal difference, we have both qualified but we need to better their result in the last group game to go through top.

We then ended the month with another win beating Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the league which has seen us go 5 clear at the top having played an extra game over Man Utd although they went and won their game later in the day cutting it to 2 points after playing 14 games each, there’s then a 6 point gap to 3rd, 4th and 5th.

December continued our good season as we started by beating Leeds 2-1 away and then Aston Villa at home 4-1 before playing our last Champions League group game. Figuring that Sevilla would win their game to finish top I played my reserve players away to RB Salzburg and they went and destroyed them having 30 shots, 16 on target, an xG of 4.84 which is one of the highest I’ve seen and we scored 7, missed a pen, had a goal disallowed and won 7-0 to equal our biggest ever win which was also against RB Salzburg at home last season.

Up until the last minute we were also going through top of the group but Sevilla scored a 90th minute winner and their +14 goal difference put them top ahead of our +11 which means we could get a bigger and better club in the first knock out round.

It was then the time of the year where we get disappointed with the youth intake assessment and this year is no different as it again says not to expect much from it, there is a positive in that we have a good striker from Newcastle that’s caught the eye but that’s it, hopefully he will be a decent one. We’re up to youth level 2 with exceptional academy coaching, exceptional youth recruitment and good youth facilities and have some fantastic youth staff so I was expecting we would start getting better intakes, maybe when we get youth level 1.

Our next league game away to Derby I was tempted to play a rotated squad but Man Utd won the Manchester derby earlier in the day to go back top so I played a strong team and we got a dominating 3-0 win to go back top and then after the game we had the draw for the knock out rounds in Europe and we got possible the best draw as we avoided the biggest clubs and got Athletico Madrid who we beat at home and lost away to last season so it won’t be easy but they are the worst of the teams we could have got.

We then lost our second game in all competitions again against Man Utd as I played a weakened side in the Carabao Cup as it came 3 days after our last game and 2 days before our boxing day game. I played the same team that put 7 past Salzburg with the only difference being that I put last season’s keeper in and he conceded 4 from the first 4 shots and then a 5th later on, we did pull 2 back but lost 5-1. After the game that keeper was put up for transfer and relegated to the u23s, he was unhappy about not playing and when he gets a chance he conceded 5 and 4 from the first 4 shots so he’s done at the club.

On Boxing Day after Man Utd hammered Liverpool at Anfield 5-0 we nearly lost back to back games but rescued a home draw with arsenal as we got a 94th minute equaliser to draw 2-2 but the points lost means we are now down to second on goal difference and we lost both wingers to injury, fortunately 1 is only for a few days while the other is for 2 weeks.

Our last game of the Calender year was away to Chelsea and unlike the last game where we needed an injury time equaliser this time we conceded one to draw 2-2 only 2 minutes after we took the lead. It was another goal that’s annoying and could be a bug as I’ve seen lots of people online complaining about it as my keeper had the ball for a goal kick, he has instructions to play out of defence, distribute to centre backs and take short kicks so he should pass it to one of the 2 centre backs that are unmarked next to him in the box, instead he kicks it to the wing straight to their player who then runs past my defence to score. That shouldn’t happen and even if he did decide to kick it long, he has good stats for decisions, kicking, vision, and passing so he shouldn’t be making a stupid pass against the instructions in the last minute of the game.

As we threw more points away Man Utd won their game so we go into the New Year in second place 2 points behind Utd after 19 games which isn’t too bad, it could get worse however as our first game of the New Year is away to Utd who have so far been the only team to beat us this year in both games we’ve played.

On New Year’s Eve as the world awards came out it was nice to see my £80m Portuguese star striker won the World Golden Ball after getting 31 goals in 37 games and World Player of the Year but he was only runner up in World Footballer of the Year which is good for someone who is still only 21.

My 21 year old Uruguayan winger/striker who plays mostly off the bench or when the reserve side plays won World u21 Footballer of the Year after scoring 20 goals and getting 11 assists in 31 games.

My £114m goal keeper got World Goalkeeper of the Year for a second year running, although most of that was playing for Bayern Munich.

My star striker, my goalkeeper and my 21 year old English left back got into the World Team of the year starting 11.

On New Year’s Day the transfer window opened and 3 new players arrived that I had bought earlier on, the best is a promising English right back signed from Liverpool for more than I’d liked to have paid but at 17 he’s a wonderkid with 5 star potential so the £30m might end up being a bargain and he will become my back up right back for now. I also signed 2 players that couldn’t join until now as they weren’t 18 when we agreed to sign them, the first of those is a 18 year old Brazilian wonderkid attacking midfielder that cost £2.7m and will probably get loaned out for now and the other is a 18 year old American winger that came for free as his contract was ending and will probably be another one to loan out for a bit before selling for profit.

In the Man Utd game to kick off the New Year we got a bit lucky at the start as they hit the woodwork a couple of times and our keeper made some good saves but we took the lead in the 25th minute and were then much the better side until they got a 62nd minute equaliser via a penalty and then they were on top again but we took the lead in a similar way to how we conceded against Chelsea in the previous game as their keeper kicked it to our player who passed to our sub right winger to score and although they had some chances after we won the game 2-1 to go back top of the table and get off to a good New Year.

We then had Championship side Swansea away in the FA Cup and got a good dominating 4-0 win followed by an equally dominating wins over Everton and Watford in the league beating them both 3-0 at home but we dropped our first points of the New Year after that as we couldn’t break down Leicesters defence and only drew 0-0 which as Man Utd won we have gone 4 points behind them in the league although they have played an extra game.

The next round of the FA Cup was against another Championship side and we beat Middlesbrough with the reserves 5-0 which was a bigger score line than it should have been as it was a close game based on the stats as we only had 2 more shots than them and we only had an xG of 1.29 but we were clinical and they had 2 goals disallowed.

We ended January with a 2-0 away win to West Ham where we had total domination again and could have scored 5 or 6 but then the same team could only get a 1-1 draw away to Sheffield United after they scored with their first shot in the 9th minute and another super keeper kept out 10 of our 11 shots on target and we could only get 1 goal with an xG of 3.24.

Those points dropped in the last game has now put us behind Man Utd on goal difference but now we’ve played an extra game.

It was then transfer deadline day and during January we have ended up bringing in 10 players, I mentioned some earlier that came in at the start of the month and since then we have brought in 6 more players on free transfers as we got a 20 year old Uruguayan defender, a 19 year old Brazilian full back, a 19 year old Brazilian centre back, a 19 year old Peruvian winger, a 18 year old Brazilian midfielder and a 19 year old Brazilian striker all of whom have been loaned out for a fee and have potential to be good or sold for profit.

I then signed a 18 year old Mexican full back for £600k that may get loaned out but has a lot of potential that he could become a member of the first team if he progresses.

Total out goings for the month before deadline day only consisted of loans as we loaned out 10 players all for good loan fees totalling about £8m.

Then on transfer deadline day I bought another Brazillian wonderkid midfielder for £11.25m that I don’t really need but other big clubs put bids in for him and I’ve been scouting him for a while and he could be a star so I figured at that price I may aswell add him to my collection of wonderkids that can’t get into my squad.

February started off better than I expected as Man Utd lost away to Chelsea so when my reserves hammered Brighton 4-1 we went level on points with United, second on goal difference but we’ve now played the same number of games and we are 25 games unbeaten since losing the opening game.

Athletico Madrid were the next team to lose as our good form continued and we beat them 2-0 at home in the first Champions League knock out round first leg but the tie should have been over as they had 1 shot while we had 21 and an xG of 2.90 so it could have been a bigger win.

Back to the league and we beat Norwich 2-0 before suffering only our second defeat in the league as Tottenham beat us 4-2 away as they scored with their first shot then went 3 up from 5 shots, we pulled 2 back but conceded a late goal as we pushed for an equaliser. Man Utd won their game on the same day putting them 3 points ahead of us.

After the loss I played my reserves in the FA Cup 5th round away to Ipswich where they won 5-0 and then same team got a narrow 1-0 win in the league at home to Fulham.

Having had a rest for a couple of games my best 11 had the away leg in Europe against Athletico Madrid where we took a 2-0 lead into it from the first leg. The second leg was a lot closer than the first as we both had good chances and after they had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside we took a late 84th minute lead to win 1-0.

And then it was mid March and youth intake day where I was told we might get a decent striker and/or a decent attacking midfielder and what we got was a striker that looks to have potential and for a 15 year old wants a big contract of £9k a week which I’ve got to give as he looks like he could be good. All the rest are poor but I’ve offered them contracts of £250 a week as I’ve noticed that although some youth players I’ve been getting are rubbish, their star ratings are based on my world class players so even the rubbish ones could be ok to sell and I’ve already been selling a few rubbish youth players so may aswell give them contracts.

Man City followed the European game and we were away so after the defeat away to Tottenham when we last faced a big club I wasn’t hopeful but we put in a much better performance and 2 quick goals in the 63rd and 65th minutes won us the game 2-0.

A strong team then needed extra time to beat Everton in the FA Cup quarter final 2-1 to end March on a win before my reserve players opened April with a 2-0 win away to Southampton.

The Champions League draw wasn’t too kind to us as we got paired up with PSG in the quarter finals for the second season running and we were away for the first leg. Last season we got a 1-1 draw away after missing a last minute penalty while this year we put in a much better performance but also got a draw as their keeper put in a man of the match display to earn them a undeserved 0-0 draw.

Before the second leg we had 18th placed Nottingham Forest so I could play my reserves who won 3-0 away and to make the result better Man Utd lost their game 2-0 which has put us 3 points behind them with a game in hand, they still have a slightly better goal difference though of 15 more than us so we either need some bigger wins than them or for them to drop more points in the remaining 5 games.

The second leg against PSG ended in the same result as last season as we beat them 4-1 in the home leg to set up a semi final with Inter Milan. It looked like we could get knocked out when they equalised in the 62nd minute but we took the lead again 7 minutes later and then got 2 more as they attacked us more leaving gaps in their defence, it could have been a much bigger win too as their keeper had a good game as we had 27 shots with 17 on target with some saves looking like certain goals.

We had another cup game up next in the FA Cup semi final as we looked to make the final for only the second time and we’ve got a good chance as we play Norwich who we’ve beaten twice this season, I was tempted to play a rotated squad but I’ve not yet won the FA Cup so as we’ve got a good chance this season I played the strongest team I could put out and it’s probably a good job I didn’t take any risks as their keeper was on top form like so many keepers lately and we only managed to score 1 and win 1-0 but that’s all we needed to get into the final.

Next up was Liverpool at home which was our game in hand over Man United and historically would be a difficult game but Liverpool are not having a good season and are currently just in the relegation places after they have sold some good players and spent big money on older high reputation players which is a problem with some AI teams and they’ve been rubbish. They’re not the worst team as West Ham are already relegated and Nottingham Forest are more or less down too but it’s looking like Liverpool could join them. If they go down it won’t be the first time I’ve seen a big team relegated as it happened to Man City on my long FM19 save, though they did come back up quite quickly.

Anyhow the game against Liverpool ended in a big 5-0 win which has put us level with Man Utd on points but still behind due to their much better goal difference and have confirmed a top 4 finish though it should be a top 2 as we are both 13 points ahead of 3rd.

All 5 goals against Liverpool came from my star striker who now has 24 goals in 25 league games and 32 in 35 games in all competitions and at 22 he’s definitely the best striker I’ve ever had on any version of FM based on his stats and he scoring record, it’s little wonder that despite signing a big contract only 6 months ago Barcelona and PSG are both interested and after every game it gets reported their their managers have watched him and are reported to be bidding £105m in the last message though an earlier one said £135m but considering he is worth £80m and has 4 years on his contract with a club option for a further 3 years he is going no where, ideally I’d like him to stay at the club for as long as I stay here to become a legend.

When I played Liverpool I thought that was our game in hand over United but then they played Tottenham the day after and they fell to the same result we did as they also lost away to them which means we still have a game in hand but are also level on points.

Our next game away to Villa came only 3 days before the first leg of the Champions League semi final so I rotated my reserves in and we battered them but due to another super keeper we couldn’t score and it looked like a 0-0 draw until we eventually broke down their defense to score in the 85th minute but Villa then had their second attack of the game and with their first shot on target scored in the 90th minute and we drew 1-1. With Utd winning their game they have gone 2 points ahead but we still have a game in hand.

Inter at home next in the Champions League and we got the same scoreline as our last home game in Europe beating them 4-1 and we had a lot chances to get more and I was disappointed to concede a late goal as it came from a defensive mistake but it’s a result that should hopefully see us through to the final again.

Before our next league game Man Utd played Liverpool and stuffed them increasing their goal difference even more, we really need to win our remaining 4 games to make sure we win the league as we are 5 behind them with 2 games more to play although they have Man City away next which they could drop points in but we have Arsenal away and Chelsea at home in our remaining games which won’t be easy.

Arsenal away was our next game which I expected would be hard as they usually have a good team and finished 4th last season but we hammered them 5-1 with a hattrick from our star striker who now has 27 goals in 26 league games. After checking the league Arsenal aren’t doing as good as I expected as they are down in 10th but still winning 5-1 is a good result as they aren’t doing awful and it’s helped close the goal difference gap a bit but I don’t think we will overtake United on goal difference as it’s currently +14 in their favour.

For the second leg of our Champions League semi final I was tempted to rest players given our good lead but I decided not to risk it so played my best 11 and we won comfortably 2-0 to take us into the final for the second year running.

Our next league game was then at home to 17th placed Derby so it was a game I felt happy resting players in so played my reserves and it nearly back fired as yet another team had a super keeper but we managed to get a goal late on to win 1-0 but for a long time I was expecting a 0-0 despite having 25 shots, 10 on target, an xG of 2.63 and 6 clear cut chances we could only get 1 goal, luckily they didn’t have any shots all game so we didn’t have chance to concede.

The win puts us back top by 1 point after playing the same number of games as United and they play City away the next day where they ended up winning 1-0 taking them back to the top so whatever happens in our game in hand next it will come down to the last game of the season just like last year.

Our game in hand is at home to 8th placed Leeds who are playing for a European place and I had my strongest 11 available so I expected a win and we got it beating them 3-1 though I was getting worried as they started the game with what looked like another super keeper as he made 7 saves by the time they took the lead with their first and only shot on target but we got back into it and were winning at half time then a second half goal finished it off. Our star striker got 2 taking his total to 40 this year with 29 in 27 league games it means even if he doesn’t score in the last game has scored more goals than games played in the league which I’ve never previously had a striker do. He does however still need to score at least 3 goals in our remaining 3 games including 2 cup finals to score more goals than games played in all competitions.

The win being our game in hand means we are top going into the last game of the season by 1 point so we need to match or better Man Utd on the last day. We have 3rd placed Chelsea at home while they have relegated Nottingham Forest away so I’d expect them to win so we will need a win too.

Last season we pipped Utd to the title on the last game of the season on goal difference but that won’t happen this year as if they draw and we lose they would be top on goal difference.

As it turned out Chelsea despite being in 3rd place were very poor as they only had 1 shot off target all game and they played a slightly injured keeper from the start which wouldn’t help them and we had a very easy last game winning 3-0 with a hattrick from our star striker who has ended the season with 32 goals in 28 games to help us retain the league title.

The league was close all season and it always looked like being between us and Man Utd who after winning their last game finished only 1 point behind us. After 38 games we won 30, drew 6 and lost 2 while scoring 98 which is only 4 more than last year but defensively we were much better conceding 28 compared to last year’s 41.

Obviously the stand out player was our 22 year old £80m world class striker who finished the leagues top scorer while out right winger finished with the best average rating in the league for the 3rd year running and also got the most assists, key passes, and clear cut chances created this season and our keeper was joint top for clean sheets with Man Utds keeper having played 1 less game after I signed him just after the season started.

Overall another good league season and it was nice to beat Man Utd on points this year rather than goal difference but it was still close and came down to the final games, we dropped too many points in games we should really have won otherwise we could have won the league a few games earlier.

Our 96 points is only the second highest since the save began as Man United got 97 only 3 seasons ago but would have been enough to win any other season other than that one, if not for Man Utd being so good too we could have ran away with the title as the rest of the league were no where near us.

In the end of season rewards, surprisingly my 22 year old Columbian centre back won English Footballer of the Year a reward my right winger got the last 2 year’s and I was expecting him to win it again as the winger had an average rating of 7.74 while this defender was only 3rd best in the league with 7.50, he also won English Players Player of the Year that my winger also got the last 2 year’s and Young Player of the Year which my winger got the last 3 years.

My striker won Top Scorer award and my keeper got Golden Glove and we had 5 players in the team of the year – my keeper, centre back, left back, my big midfield summer signing and my striker.

On another note, Liverpool got relegated after a really poor season, like I mentioned earlier I’ve seen it happen to Man City so it does happen to big clubs, maybe they will bounce back or it could be the start of a period outside the top flight.

Now the league is wrapped up we have the FA Cup final against Arsenal next which is a trophy I haven’t yet won, we did get to the final 5 seasons ago but lost to Tottenham so hopefully we will win this time, we just put 5 past Arsenal in the league at their ground so we are the better side but anything can happen in a final.

Form before the FA Cup final doesn’t often matter but this time I think it might as it showed Arsenal had lost 4 and drew 1 ahead of the game compared to our 5 wins which may have been why they played defensive and we struggled to break them down. After a goaless first half, midway through the second half I noticed their formation was a narrow diamond so I went more attacking with 2 up top and asked the team to play as wide as possible and focus down both wings to exploit the space and it worked as we won a penalty in the 72nd minute and scored it after play down the right and then scored again in the 87th as my right winger ran down the line and crossed it for my left inside forward to score. I’d like to think it was my tactical changes that won us the FA Cup though we could have won anyhow as we were a lot better than they were.

That’s our first FA Cup win and we now have a chance to retain the Champions League and complete a historical treble (5 if you include the Community Shield and Super Cup) where we play AC Milan for the first time in a competitive game, we did beat them 4-0 in a friendly game 2 season’s ago.

After the FA Cup we got a message saying the 5 clean sheets by my keeper is a new FA Cup record beating the 4 of a keepers name I recognised from 2023 and when I checked that keeper was my back up keeper in a season when we were in the Conference North where he only played 5 cup games in the qualifying rounds keeping 4 clean sheets, he didn’t play any other games for us over the next 3 season’s before being released.

We now only have AC Milan to play in the Champions League final and having only played them in a friendly I wasn’t sure if they would be good or not and as it turned out they were not as we were too good for them scoring 2 first half goals and 3 second half goals to win the final 5-0 as they didn’t even look like getting a goal as they had 6 shots and an xG of 0.31 compared to our 18 shots and 2.37 xG as we deservedly retained the trophy.

Having scored in the FA Cup final our star striker got 2 in this final showing that he is a big game player and has now ended the season with 46 goals in 42 games, he got 8 in 9 Champions League games. The news article after the game show Barcelona and PSG are now looking to pay £115m for him, it’s never going to happen.

That’s it for another season and while Man Utd were good challengers in the league, the cups were really easy and I’m surprised about how easy it’s been in Europe as the big European teams 17 seasons into the save seem to be getting worse as the AI buys and plays players based on reputation so they are usually players at the ends of their careers, it’s always been an issue on FM.

From this point on it might just get easier as I improve my already world class team further, usually in my FM saves this is the point where I start thinking about moving onto another challenge but my original plan is to stay until I get top on the hall of fames which will take several more seasons of winning, I’m not sure if I could continue that long if it gets easier but I at least want to win the Club World Championship due to play this summer and I still want to win the Carabao Cup so that I’ve won all possible competitions so I do still have some things to achieve before I move on.

I’ll be back with an update after next season which may be similar to this season.

– Sparko Marco

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