Football Manager – Making The Dolly Blues the Best in the World – Season 17

I’m into my 17th season with Lancaster City and we are now one of the best clubs in the world after last season retaining the Premiership title, winning ahead of Man Utd by 1 point, retaining the Champions League, winning the FA Cup for the first time and retaining the Community Shield and Super Cup.

To be honest we have a world class team and the best striker I have ever had on any version of FM and other than a few poor league games last season was fairly easy, especially in Europe where we got some big wins against big clubs.

This season (and the end of last season as it happens during the roll over of seasons) we first have the Club World Championships to play ahead of the league starting which I want to win and I would like to win the Carabao Cup for the first time and then also retain the FA Cup, League title and Champions League and get a clean sweep of all trophies which is possible.

One of the problems with FM is long term it’s too easy to build a dominating team while poor AI can’t compete with the human managers ability to build a world class squad and we are at the point now where our squad is much better than most AI teams and we will only get better.

I do want to improve my squad as last season my left inside forward and attacking midfielder were the only players not to get over a 7 in average ratings although SI have acknowledged issues with average ratings which the last February update has fixed so those positions might not be an issue however if I can find better players I will. I might also look for a centre back as while mine are elite centre backs, their star ratings are 3 star and they have reached their max ability so I might be able to get better.

Saying that, a lot of my squad are now 3 star and won’t get better but that’s purely because my squad is that good, a 3 star player is still world class and there aren’t that many players available that have 4 or 5 star ability, I do have three 5 star ability players in my squad and several potential ones but they are getting harder to find now my squad is so good.

When the transfer window opened, for the first time in a long time or even on this save I’m not sure but we had no new players joining us, usually I’ve arranged at least one transfer before the window opens but I’m struggling to find the right players available that would improve the squad.

Shortly after the window opened I did sell my first players as I managed to offload the keeper I replaced last year who I relegated to the u23s and I managed to get a good fee for him selling him for £45m which is a nice profit on the £5.25m we paid and a few days after that I sold a 25 year right back that came through our youth intake back when we were in the Conference North and was once first choice when we were in the Championship but has since been a back up and last year never played as he’s no longer good enough even as a back up and we got a nice £13.75m for him which is too much for a player as bad as he is so I was happy to sell.

The Club World Championships takes place in late June and seems to be something that takes place every 3 or 4 years and includes the winners of the different continent equivalents of the Champions League along with what looks like runners up to as it’s been 4 seasons since the last one and from Europe along with us there is Man Utd, Man City, Tottenham, PSG, Barcelona, Liverpool and AC Milan.

I didn’t realise that there were so many big teams taking part in it so it’s not going to be as easy as I thought it might have been. We have started the cup in a 3 team group along with River Plate from Argentina and Al-Ahly from Egypt.

Our first game is against River Plate and an easy 3-0 win got us our first win the our first ever game in the competition and we then beat Al-Ahly also 3-0 to qualify out of the group where we will now play our closest league rivals Man Utd in the quarter final.

Because it’s still pre-season and players haven’t long since returned from their holidays and with playing Man Utd only 2 days after our last game, my whole squad is pretty much knackered, hopefully United’s are just as bad. I had to play a rotated squad using my most fit players and only had 3 outfield players fully fit which wasn’t great, I do have others that are fit but I could only register 23 players for the competition and 2 had to be keepers.

As well as rotating the players I changed tactics to a slower less intensive tactic so not to tire my players out and we got a good 2-0 win to set up a semi final with Man City in 3 days time.

I went back to a more intensive tactic against City as my players seemed fitter and we went 2 up in the first half but shortly into the second half they a looked knackered so I made some subs and changed to the slow less intensive tactic and we got a third to win 3-0 taking us to the final against Tottenham.

It was then the 1st July where player contracts have ended so I brought in 3 players on free transfers, 2 who are just more players that I can loan out then sell later unless they improve massively and 1 that may be in the squad. The 3 players were a 19 year old Serbian midfielder, a 19 year old Turkish winger and a 19 year old Swiss wonder kid striker who I gave an international debut to when he was 16 and I was manager of Switzerland as he was good then and he’s improved, he’s still not as good as the strikers I have but he’s a quality wonderkid especially on a free transfer he will add some cover to the team.

I also sold another player selling a 22 year old Austrian inside forward that I signed from RB Salzburg 4 years ago for £2.6m as he had potential, he spent 3 years on loan for various loan fees then last year he got a chance in the squad as back up and done ok but nothing special and now he’s 22 he won’t get much better and his coach report shows he doesn’t feel comfortable in big matches and he’s inconsistent so I decided to sell and RB Salzburg bought him back for £33.5m.

It was then the final of the Club World Championship against Tottenham and most of my best 11 were fit and we were easily the better team and won 3-1 to lift another trophy and another first for the club, I am pleased it’s not every year though as I don’t fancy playing all those games so close in pre-season again.

After those games we sold another player, this one was one of my first signings in the Premiership as I arranged a £3.6m deal for a then 17 year old Norwegian striker but by the time he joined at 18 I had signed better so he didn’t get into the team and has spent the 4 seasons on loan for a total of just over £3m loan fees but as he’s now 22 and hasn’t developed into a player good enough for us I’ve sold him for £20m rising to £30.5m so made another good profit on a player.

Some more players then came in on free transfers to loan and and eventually sell as I got a 18 year old Argentinan striker, a 19 year old Belgium left back, a 19 year old South African midfielder and a 18 year old Columbian striker who were all loaned out straight away for £1.5m each.

I then signed my first proper player for the first team squad as my scouts had identified a 20 year Brazilian defensive midfielder deep-laying playmaker who has 4 star current ability and 5 star potential which against the rest of my squad means he’s a good player. I signed him for a bargain £20m which is cheap for his ability due to his release clause, it does however mean a tactical change when he plays as I will remove the attacking midfielder for a defensive one but it could work against the bigger teams like in the games we lost last season to Man Utd and Tottenham, it’ll also be good to see out games we are winning as we didn’t previously have the option of a defensive midfielder. Also if it doesn’t work out having a defensive midfielder he didn’t cost much and will have a much higher resale value if I decided to sell him on.

A lot more players were then loaned out for loan fees and I sold a few more fringe players or some that have been loaned out in previous years. I sold a 23 year old English keeper for £700k but we got him for free as he had potential but after several loans he hasn’t got much better so I’ve sold him, I then sold a 23 year old Uruguayan striker that we got for free with a view to loan then sell so after a couple of loans I sold him for £4m and then sold a 22 year old South African centre back for £10m who was another we got got free and has been loaned out the last 4 years.

The next sale was one I was hoping wouldn’t be sold as my scouts found him 7 years ago as a 16 year old without a club, he’s a French midfielder that had loads of potential so I agreed to sign him without a work permit and he joined when he was 18. I loaned him out for 2 seasons until he would get a work permit but when I could play him he only got 6 games as back up before I loaned him out to get more games after which he never really developed so spent another few years on loan and now he’s 23 and won’t be better than a Championship player I’ve sold him for £11.75m.

Another player sold was also another one that I thought could become good but never developed, he was a Scottish striker that came through our youth team and is fast with good finishing and at 16 he looked like he could be a star but whenever he got a chance he didn’t perform so after a couple of loans I’ve got rid as his contract is up at the end of the season and he wants too much which I’m not going to give him so I sold him for whatever I could and got £1.7m.

Having brought in £112m this season and £59m at the end last it’s given me a sizable transfer budget so I’ve splashed out £94m on a 21 year old Elite right winger which I had an internal debate about. I don’t really need him as my current right winger is a 23 year old Elite winger who has been my star player the last 4 years and had the highest average rating in the league. He has 3.5 star ability and potential so won’t get much better, not that he needs to, however this new one has much better stats, is 2 years younger and has 4.5 star ability and 5 star potential so on paper at least looks a better player and as Real Madrid, Man City, Man Utd and PSG were all interested I didn’t want to lose him to a rival club.

It does leave me with a bit of a dilemma as I’ve got 2 Elite wingers now who can’t play all games but expect to be star players, I’m going to train my previous winger into a left sided inverted winger as he has the stats for it and could be a better starter on that side than my current player, hopefully it won’t backfire.

When the pre-season odds for top scorer came up my star striker was favourite which isn’t surprising and for the top player and top young players my new winger is favourite with my striker second which has me feeling better about buying him.

I sold another couple of players during the friendly games, the first was a 23 year old Argentinan central midfielder who I signed 6 seasons ago for £3.1m and has been a good player for us, he got 15 goals from midfield 3 seasons ago but the year after he only got 1 as our formation changed and he was playing a support role and last season he played 16 league games and 34 games over all, mostly in games where the reserve players played or he came off the bench. He has been a good squad player and I wasn’t sure about selling him however at 23 he takes up a foreign player spot in the squad, he only has 2 years left on his £39k a week contract and wants 3 times as much for a new one, he won’t get much better than he is, and I’ve got some younger players with more potential that can replace him in the squad so selling him gives them more opportunity. Also he was worth £59m so I was hoping to get a lot more for him but in the end no one would pay more than he was worth but I did manage to get £50m from Arsenal which is a good deal for a back up player I no longer want.

Though after selling him, because of the fee, his now £110k wages they are paying him and his reputation he is classed as a world class midfielder, he wasn’t when I sold him and his coach report had him well down the pecking order at our club but just because he’s not good enough for us doesn’t make him a bad player but he’s not world class which just shows how the media description in the game is based on more than just ability.

The second player I sold was another central midfielder that’s fell down the pecking order and is no longer good enough for my team, at 23 he is 2.5 star ability and 3 star potential and like the last one he is a good player but he only got 10 games overall last season and his contract is up at the end of this season and he won’t talk about a new contract so I had to sell him now. We signed him 5 years ago for £7.5m and he’s now valued at £31.5m and we are selling him for £29.5m rising to £39.5m. We nearly got more but he refused a £47m deal and then a £42m deal to leave even though he wants to leave so I kept having to lower what we wanted before eventually selling him, it’s still a good profit though.

During pre-season we had 5 friendly games after playing 5 Club World Championship games so I played my back up players in the first couple of friendlies then my better team in the last 3 and we won all 5 games scoring 26 and only conceding 2 in a game we won 8-2.

Our first competitive game or glorified friendly for some people is the Community Shield and as we won the league and FA Cup we play last season’s league runners up Man United. We started the game well going 2 up in the first 20 minutes, they pulled 1 back a minute after our second goal and equalised in the second half but we then took the lead again a few minutes later and won the game 3-2.

After that game Man City put a bid in for my 24 year old English Elite attacking midfielder who while looks good, hasn’t had the best stats and not many goals or assists the last couple of years so I negotiated a deal worth £53m upfront rising to £80m which I’m happy to take as it’s slightly more than the £51m we paid and a good profit once we get all the money.

Although not yet sold I dropped my attacking midfielder for the defensive midfielder I signed in the summer changing my tactics for the first game of the season away to Arsenal and we had a good performance winning 4-0, we were missing my new right winger through injury but I still played my old right winger in his new role on the left and though he’s not used to the position he had a good game getting a goal and an assist so it might work well moving him to that side.

Before the next game we sold the attacking midfielder so along with the other sales and loans it’s put our incoming transfer fees up to £281m received this season and £340 including the sales at the end of last season before the season rolled over so although I’ve spent £115m on 2 players I’ve now got a transfer budget of £250m and no one I want to spend it on.

Our next game is the Super Cup and this year we are playing Scottish champions Celtic and taking a chance that Scottish clubs aren’t as good as we are I played my rotated reserve squad and we got an easy 4-0 win to retain the cup, my back up striker got a hattrick which was good to see.

Our second league game of the season is at home against Man City which the attacking midfielder we just sold them was making his debut and he wouldn’t have been happy at the end as we got an easy 4-0 win which could have been worse as their keeper pulled off a lot of good saves when my players were through 1 on 1.

I’m our next game away to Sheffield United I’d have expected another big win especially after the big win away to Arsenal but as seems to be happening since we starting dominating games they had a super keeper who got man of the match after making 11 saves and we could only draw 0-0, what made it worse was their keeper was the one we sold them at the end of last season and a keeper that would concede from nearly every shot teams had on target yet had a worldie against us.

It was then the draw for the Champions League group stage and we are looking for a hattrick of cup wins this season in what has so far been surprisingly easy even against the big foreign teams. This year we have been drawn against Barcelona who we’ve never played, Benfica who we’ve also never played and Olympic Marseille another club we’ve never played and the group looks like a hard group.

In our last league game of August we had a better game than the last as we beat Norwich 2-0 away where my big summer signing right winger got his first goal for the club in his second game and in doing so got a new club record for fastest goal as he scored it after only 18 seconds beating the previous club record of 19 seconds.

Transfer deadline day was then upon us and with £250m burning a hole in my pocket I looked to see if there was anyone I wanted that could improve my team and spend that money but no one stood out, the only player I considered was a 25 year old centre back that I’ve been wanting for about 6 years but Barcelona would only sell if I met his £216m release clause and he wanted £300k a week wages so considering I don’t really need him and he’s older than players I usually sign I decided not to spend that kind of money on him so in the end I didn’t sign anyone.

I did sell a couple of players that I hadn’t planned on selling yet but offers came in for two 16 year olds that came through my youth team last season, both are pretty rubbish and would never get into my team but they could become good for lower league teams so I sold them to 2 Championship sides, I got £950k rising to £1.5m and 50% next sale for one of them and for the other I got £900k and 50% next sale which isn’t too bad for players that changes are would eventually get released for free if I didn’t sell them.

I’ve just found something else in FM to annoy me a little bit, FM is really stupid with some things and this is another stupid thing as 3 players are now unhappy with a lack of depth in defensive midfield including the defensive midfielder we have just signed. The reason for a lack of depth is because I didn’t play a defensive midfielder until I just signed one and when he doesn’t play I will be playing with an attacking midfielder of which I have plenty of them so I don’t need need any other defensive midfielders, signing a back up would be a waste of money. They have no reason to be unhappy and there’s nothing I could do to explain to them they are being stupid and it’s not an issue.

September started with beating Southampton in the league 3-0 before we had our first Champions League game of the campaign beating Benfica 3-0 and then we put 5 past Wolves winning 5-0.

Afterwards we were informed that we have set a new club defensive record of 8 games without conceding which I hadn’t realised and when I’ve checked we haven’t conceded a goal since the Community Shield.

Clean sheets and wins continued as I rotated in my reserves for a Carabao Cup game at home to Middlesbrough where they won 3-0 and I decided to stick with the same team for the next league game at home to Brighton where they won 4-0.

Our last game of September was our hardest game of the season so far as we had our first ever competitive game at home against world class Barcelona in our second Champions League group game. At least I thought it would be our hardest but it another easy game and another clean sheet as we hammered them 5-0, they had 2 shots all game and I don’t remember either of them being a highlight

October continued with another win and clean sheet as we beat Fulham 2-0 away which I was a bit disappointed with as we should have won by more having had 27 shots to their 2 but a win is a win and I was more pleased keeping another clean sheet as it would be nice to keep that run going.

I then realised I forgot to check the season preview before the first game to see what the odds were. I did check early pre-season before we signed any one and we were 9/2 second favourites but that would have changed by the time the season started, looking at it now though and we are 11/10 favourites to win and we also have 4 players in the media dream eleven with our keeper, a midfielder, our new right winger and our star striker.

I rotated in my reserves for the next game at home to struggling Villa and we scored another 4 goals but unfortunately we also conceded a late goal to end our run of clean sheets, the first goal conceded this year in our 9th league game and ended a run of 12 games in all competitions without conceding.

My best 11 then beat Marseille 3-1 in Europe and then I kept the same team for an away game against Tottenham who beat us last season 4-2 at their ground and it looked a repeat result as they took the lead in the 15th minute while we struggled to get into the game. It remained 1-0 and a close game into the second half so in the 78th minute I made a triple substitution and went 2 up top which worked as we equalised in the 80th minute through our star striker who then scored again in the 81st minute. I went back to our previous formation to not take any risks and was then annoyed as we conceded in the 93rd minute to make it 2-2 but then my striker completed his hattrick in the 96th minute and we won 3-2.

We’ve now played 10 league games and it’s looking like we could run away with it this year with Man United running us close again as we have 28 points after 9 wins and 1 draw while scoring 31 and conceding 3, Man United are 5 points behind us as they’ve drawn 2 and lost 1 and then Man City are 3rd 10 points behind us.

I played my reserves again in the Carabao Cup away to Fulham and won 3-0 and then we ended October playing Man Utd at home on Halloween which last season we lost at home to Utd on the opening game of the season but we didn’t lose this year as we beat them 2-1. It was another game where we should have scored a few more as we had 25 shots, missed a lot of easy chances only getting 8 on target but we had an xG of 3.09 which is good while we limited them to 7 shots, 3 on target and a 0.90 xG so 2-1 doesn’t reflect how much better we were. That win has extended our lead on them to 8 points, it’s still early season but if we continue our form we could win the league easier than it was the last couple of seasons.

Our first November game was in Europe at home to Marseille and although we went down to 10 men early in the second half we won 5-2 which qualified us from the group after 4 wins in 4 and we’re 5 points ahead of Barcelona so should finish top of the group.

We then beat Derby 4-0 and Watford 3-0 in the league, then beat Benfica 4-1 in Europe before ending November with another league win against Burnley 2-0.

December continued our winning run as we beat Everton 3-0 and then Leeds 1-0 in the league making it a run of 20 consecutive wins in all competitions. Our next game was away to Barcelona in the last group game and we looked to be extending our winning run as we went 2-0 up shortly after half time but they got 1 back a few minutes later and then scored a late penalty to earn a 2-2 draw, at least we didn’t lose and we’ve qualified top of our group.

Afterwards we had the initial assessment of the youth intake and this season it actually looks good, usually we have potentially 1 or 2 decent players and it says not to expect much from the intake but this time it says we should be really optimistic about this group of young players and it shows at least 1 full back has plenty of promise, we have at least 2 top prospects in the centre of midfield, two attacking midfielders we should keep an eye on and one good Northern Irish right back.

I’ll be happy if we get all those good players coming through as I would like to get some of our youth players starting to make the first team, currently we have 1 centre back in the first team squad and I promoted a keeper this year as our back up but those are the only youth players that came through our youth intake in the first team squad and neither are good enough for the best 11, just decent back ups.

In our next league game away to Leicester I took a gamble with my squad and played my reserve players as the game came 2 days before we are away to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup so as we have a good lead in the league and have never won the Carabao Cup I decided to keep my best players for the cup game. Unfortunately the gamble back fired in the league game as the players were poor and we lost 2-0, we did create a similar number of chances but our xG was much lower. What was most annoying was their second goal came after our keeper ignored instructions to pass short to the centre backs who were standing unmarked next to him and kicked it long to their player who then passed it to their unmarked striker to score, that was a bug which was supposed to have been fixed in the last patch.

It was our first defeat in 26 league games, ends a run of 51 games without defeat in all competitions and the first defeat of the season, we are still 10 points ahead of Man United but they do have a game in hand and it ends a chance of going unbeaten all season. After our game Utd played theirs and only drew so they only gained 1 point on us which lessens the impact of the defeat as we are still 9 clear having played the same number of games.

We then had the draw for the knockout round of the Champions League and we got Celtic which is good as we avoided getting PSG or Dortmund who were the 2 hardest teams we could have got. We played Celtic in the Super Cup earlier in the season beating 4-0 so I’m not worried about getting past them.

Although the gamble lost us the league game we did beat Chelsea away in the Carabao Cup quarter final 3-0 with a hattrick from our star striker, he should have had 4 but missed a late penalty. The win takes us into the semi-final for the first time in the club’s history.

We had Chelsea away again in the league on Boxing day and I played the same team as in the cup and we beat them again this time just 2-1 and we then ended the calendar year with a 5-0 win at home to West Brom.

Over the Xmas period Man Utd lost on Boxing day and drew their last of the year which means we have extended our lead on them and we go into the New Year top on 52 points after 17 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss putting us 14 points clear of second and 18 ahead of 3rd. We have been doing better than last season but the big point gap is also helped by Man Utd doing worse as they have already drawn 3 more than the 2 they drew last season and they have lost 2 less than the 5 they lost last year and we are at the half way point, at this rate if we continue winning and they drop more points we could win the league early instead of on the last day like the last 2 season’s.

At the end of the year it was award time and my star striker won World Golden Ball for the second year running after getting 58 goals in 44 games over the year with an average rating of 7.75. He also got World Footballer of the Year for the first time and retained World Player of the Year.

My 20 year old German midfielder that cost £79m 18 months ago won World u21 Footballer of the Year which I’ve had a different player win now for 3 consecutive years and he won European Golden Boy.

My goal keeper won World Goalkeeper of the Year with 45 clean sheets and 28 goals conceded in 66 games, he’s now won it 3 years in a row, twice while playing for us.

My keeper, left back and striker all got into the World Team of the Year, all 3 were also in last year’s team. My striker also makes the all time Team of the Year and is the first Newgen player in that team, my keeper makes the bench in the team too who is also a Newgen.

Its now time for the January transfer window and I’ve got no one lined up to join us, I do have 2 transfers lined up but they are for 16 year olds who won’t join until the summer of 2039 in 18 months time.

I’ve still got £279m to spend and there’s a couple of squad players wanted that I could sell for the right money but I’ve no plans to sign anyone this window unless I some players on my shortlist are released who I can sign and loan out with plans to sell, but otherwise I’ll probably not sign anyone for first team squad.

One of the things that annoys me, and I’m confident in saying every single person who plays Football Manager is annoyed by it, is how when it comes to transfers AI clubs demand ridiculously high transfer fees when you want to sign someone and stupidly low offers when they want to buy your players. One such occurrence has just happened in my game as Barcelona have just offered £60m for my star striker who is 23, has a value of £90m, has 4 years left on his contract (plus 3 years optional by the club) and is easily the best player on the game. Considering the highest transfer an AI club has paid another AI club is £173m I’m not sure why they put bids in so low against human clubs.

Of course when I reject it the player is unhappy and when I say he’s going nowhere I am apparently holding back his career even though he has won everything possible (other than the Carabao Cup) while at the club and won all player awards and been turned into the best player in the world while at the club, he also has myself as a favourite person and the club as a favourite club. Our club is also now also 5 star reputation the same as Barcelona so it’s not even a step up to a bigger reputation club, maybe a bigger historical club and after this season we could become the best club in the world.

I understand that teams lowball bids for players to upset them and try and force moves for less but it seems like this only happens against human managed teams, for example I’ve had bids for a defender that’s currently at bottom of the league Norwich who is valued at £59m, I’ve offered more than he is worth but they want £200m for him which is too much and no matter how many bids I have rejected their player never gets unhappy about it even though one of the biggest clubs in the world want him but he seems happy to stay at a club that’s going to be relegated whereas 1 bid less than a players value is rejected by me and straight away the player is unhappy about it.

I’m stubborn enough to say that he’s going nowhere.

January started with 2 cup games, first we were at home to Derby and my reserves beat them 3-0 before my best 11 beat Newcastle 4-1 in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi final.

We then narrowly beat Arsenal 1-0 in the league before nearly losing our second game of the season as we played Man City away. We took the lead against City in the 23rd minute and battered them but they had a super keeper stopping everything before they then equalised in the 62nd minute through a penalty which was their first shot on target and then they took the lead in the 71st minute with their second shot on target. Their super keeper continued keeping everything out but we eventually scored again in the 89th minute and got a winner in the 93rd for a deserved 3-2 win.

After winning 2 hard games against Arsenal and Man City we had a run of easier games as we first beat Sheffield United 2-1 and Southampton 3-1 in the league, we then beat Sheffield United again 2-1 in the FA Cup before a 2-2 draw in the Carabao Cup second leg with Newcastle and ended the month with a 2-0 league win away to Brighton.

Man United must have dropped more points too as we were 17 points clear at the top after beating Brighton with the same number of games played, they did win a game later in the day to close the gap back to 14 but we have a game in hand now.

What was a bit annoying in those easier games was while we won them easily in all games we had an xG higher than goals scored and should have won them all with bigger score lines but they all seemed to have super keepers again making saves that they shouldn’t, I do wonder sometimes if there’s some kind of mechanic built into the game to stop high score lines because more often than not the scoreline don’t reflect how much we are dominating teams.

When the transfer window deadline came I had no plans to sign anyone, throughout the month I have signed another 7 young players on free transfers that were released at the end of December and I have loaned them all out for loan fees and instant profit and they will be sold later on.

Then on transfer deadline day I tried to sell my 24 year old Swedish striker that has been a good player for us over the years but hasn’t played much the last 2 season’s and only played once this year but no one wanted to buy him but I did manage to loan him out for £675k a month and they pay his full wages so it brings in a bit more money and I’ll try to sell him in the summer.

I then made an actual signing for the first team squad as there was a 19 year old English defensive midfielder on my shortlist at Man City that has potential and they transfer listed him for £5.5m, half of his value, so when other clubs bid for him I decided to as well and he joined us. He will be be back up for my current defensive midfielder that I’ve been playing as a roaming midfielder that seems to be working well, the new player can also play that role too. I wouldn’t have signed him if he wasn’t transfer listed for cheap but for £5.5m it doesn’t dent my transfer funds and he adds decent back up.

Overall a quiet transfer window but it does bring my incoming players to 17 for the season, 3 actual signings with the rest free to loan out and profit on, spending a total £120m while my outgoings saw 70 players leave the club since the end of last season either sold or on loan bringing in a total of about £360m.

February started with another win as my reserves beat Wolves 1-0 away in another game where we should have won by more but we’re also lucky to win in the end. We took an early lead but another team with a super keeper stopped us scoring a second before we then went down to 10 men, we were still the better team with 10 players but still couldn’t get past their super keeper and I thought it would cost us the win when they got a late penalty but luckily they missed it and although we had 11 shots on target and an xG of 3.46 we won 1-0.

We have Celtic away next in the first leg of the first Champions League knockout round which I why I rested my better players in the last league game and with a full fit best 11 we only won 1-0 and I feel like a broken record here but again we came up against a super keeper as we had 18 shots, 10 on target and an xG of 3.12 but could only score 1 as their keeper was their best player.

We had an easy game afterwards at home to Fulham where they didn’t have a shot all game while we had 20, 15 on target and an xG of 3.89, again their only player that had over 7 average rating was their keeper as we only managed 2 goals to win 2-0. I think I’ve just got to accept that no matter how much we batter teams and even if we create enough good chances to score loads we are not going to be hammering teams. It’s just a good job that are far enough ahead of second place that goal difference won’t matter so we don’t need the big scorelines like we did in previous years.

We had bottom of the table Norwich next who have the worst defense in the league so being the best team and being at home maybe we could actually get a scoreline that matches our domination but we couldn’t as we could only win 2-0 in another game where they didn’t have a shot, we had 25 shots 14 on target and an xG of almost 4 yet their keeper saved a penalty and had the game of their lives. I wouldn’t mind so much if we were having lots of long shots, or were missing the target or the quality of shots were poor so the xG was low but the low amount of goals is happening when we are having lots on target and a high xG and keepers getting high ratings so either xG numbers are bugged since the last update or somethings changed making every opposition goalkeeper turning world class against us.

Or maybe its just my world class players are shooting directly at keepers every game or not trying hard enough to score through complacency.

I don’t know why I’m complaining really as long as we are winning games it shouldn’t even matter, yet I’m a person who like looking at stats and the match results consistently don’t accurately reflect stats of what’s happening in the game, one off games I can understand but something doesn’t look right when it’s happening on a consistent basis.

Strangely the problem doesn’t seem to happen to AI clubs as teams like Man Utd have often had big wins and after we played Norwich and only got 2 goals from an xG of nearly 4, Utd had Norwich at home and with an xG of 1.25 scored 5 goals, they had less shots than us, less on target, a lot lower xG but got 3 more goals, the difference is Norwichs goalkeeper didn’t have have a world class game against them like he did against us.

So after a couple of easy but lower scoring than expected wins we had the Carabao Cup final looking to win the only domestic trophy we’ve not yet won and we were playing Everton who are 7th in the league. They looked to be playing some of their fringe players including a keeper that’s only played in a few cup games while I played my best team wanting to finally win the cup and it was clear we had the best team as we dominated from the start. We didn’t however have the best performing keeper though as ours didn’t have much to do while theirs might look rubbish based on his stats and might only be a back up keeper but as usual played out of his skin. We actually got 2 goals in the 55th and 59th minutes, they pulled one back with their first shot in the 87th before we countered and got a 3rd in the 92nd to win 3-1 and get our first Carabao Cup Trophy. It was another game where we scored less than our xG and even though he conceded 3 their rubbish back up keeper got a 8.1 average rating after making 13 saves in the game.

2 of our goals came from our star striker taking his total for the season to 48 goals in 32 games which his 1 goal more than last season’s total having played 11 games less. We did start early in the Club World Cup Championship so he’s had more games but with 11 league games and at least 2 more cup games he could end up with 60+, he’s already got the most goals in a season for me on any version of FM since the days of Tó Madeira the legendary made up striker added into the game years ago by I think a club scout.

After the cup final we had an FA Cup 5th round game away to Chelsea where I played my reserves as it was only a few days after the final so most players were a bit tired but even with a reserve team out we were too good for them and won 3-1 and we actually scored more than our xG, though we did have 21 shots with 9 on target and an xG of 2.79 so it wasn’t much more and deserved 3.

It was then away to Man Utd in the league, they are second and really the only team that could get close to us if we collapse but we beat them 2-0 as after they had 2 goals disallowed then we had 1 disallowed we took the lead in the 82nd minute then doubled it in the 94th and got a deserved win as they only had 5 shots and 2 on target to our 14 and 8 on target and it was another game where we scored slightly more than the xG of 1.78 so 2-0 was a fair result.

The win extends our lead over Man Utd to 19 points as they have now lost the same number as they did all last year and they’ve drawn 4 more while we’ve only dropped points in 2 games with 1 draw and 1 loss. We’ve also got a game in hand over them so could extend that lead and we could clinch the title in a few games time.

We were then back in Europe for the second leg against Celtic and I put my reserves out and they won 3-0 with a hattrick from my back up striker who I think has scored every game hes played, though he usually plays in the easier games, the win sets up a next round draw with Man United.

It was then youth intake day and I was expecting more this year as it’s the first time it looked really positive and that we might get more than 1 decent player. What we got was two 5 star potential players, one is an attacking midfielder and the other a central midfielder, we also got a right back with 4.5 star potential and several 2 and 3 star potential players. I offered all of the intake a contract as even the rubbish ones have decent potential it’s just that their low stars are relative to my superstars so while they will never been good enough for us they might still be valuable to sell on.

One thing I did notice and it happened last year too with 1 player is that the top players in the intakes want quite big contracts for their age, even at 15/16 they want a starting wage of £5k-£10k rising to nearly £20k after appearances. I don’t really have a choice as with their potential I need to sign them but I did give them optional 3 years more so if they do turn good I can keep them on relatively low wages for 5 or 6 years. All the rubbish ones are only on £250 a week so are cheap to keep around and maybe sell for 1 or 2 million later on.

In the league we then beat Tottenham 2-0 at home and Aston Villa 3-1 away to put us 1 win away from winning the league.

I then rested players again for an FA Cup quarter final game at home to Championship side Fulham and for once we got a scoreline that reflects our dominance as we beat them 7-0 with another hattrick from our back up striker, he’s now scored 18 goals in 17 games, not bad for a young back up striker that’s also just got his first cap for Argentina at 20 years old.

Our last game of March was then at home to Watford, I thought about playing my reserves as they are down in 18th but a win secures the title with 7 games still to play so I decided to play my strongest team and they won 2-0 in another game where we could have won by a lot more if not for their keeper as we had an xG of 3.46.

Thats our 3rd consecutive league win and the easiest of them as the first was on goal difference, the second by 1 point whereas this year we’ve won with 7 games still to play as we are 22 points ahead of Man United in second as they’ve had a poor season compared to the last couple.

I can relax a bit now in the league and play more fringe players to concentrate on the cups so the next game away to Derby I played my reserves and we won 2-0 and after that we had the first leg of the Champions League quarter final at home to Man Utd and we took the lead just before half time but it looked like we wouldn’t get another as their keeper was saving everything, in the 78th minute I went more attacking to try and get a bigger lead for the second leg so I took off my defensive midfielder for a second striker and 4 minutes later our star striker doubled our lead with his first goal of the game and he then scored 2 more in the 87th and 94th minutes on counter attacks to complete his hattrick and we got a big 4-0 win.

I played a strong team in the next league beating Burnley 4-1 as I planned to rest my better players away to Man Utd given our 4-0 first leg lead but then I remembered I’m playing FM and as unlikely as it is we lose 4 or 5-0 I decided not to risk it and played my better players again and we won the away leg 2-0.

I then played the same starting 11 for a 3rd consecutive game as we had Man City in the FA Cup semi final and we got through easily with a dominating display to win 3-0 taking us to our 2nd consecutive final and a chance to retain the trophy where we will play Man United for the 6th time this season.

In the next league game I rested players having played 3 games in a row so I put the reserves out away to Everton and they threw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 making it only the 3rd game we’ve dropped points in.

We got back to winning ways straight away beating Leicester 4-1 at home and then our last game of April was the first leg at home against Tottenham in the Champions League semi final. We took the lead in the 8th minute and I wondered if we would get another big first leg win and we should have but despite having 22 shots, 14 on target and an xG of 3.56 we came up against yet another super keeper as we could only win 1-0. They barely had a shot and if we won by 4 or more it would have been deserved but thanks to a world class display from their keeper we are only taking a narrow lead into the second leg.

May started off with beating Leeds 2-1 with the reserves and then we had the second leg in Europe away to Tottenham who took the lead in the 48th minute but we equalised in the 51st and got a 1-1 draw taking us into the final against Athletico Madrid.

We then won the last 2 games of the league season first beating West Brom 3-0 where my keeper kept his 23rd clean sheet of the season beating the previous record of 22 and then we hammered Chelsea at home 7-1 in the final game. Being greedy I’m a bit gutted my star striker only got 1 of the 7 as he needed 2 to finish on 40 league goals.

In the end we won the league very easy, too easy really as even Man Utd had their worst season for several year as they ended on 79 points in second while we had a record 107 points after 35 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss while scoring 104 goals which was 6 more than last year and we conceded 20, 8 less than last year.

Our star striker ended the league with 39 goals in 29 games which is impressive, we still have 2 cup finals to play and overall he has 68 goals in 47 games.

Having signed a big money player in the summer to play on the right wing and then moving my previous right winger to train as a left inverted winger I wasn’t sure if it was a good decision or not but it turned out well as my new winger got 16 goals and 9 assists while converting my other winger to play on the left he got 6 goals and 14 assists which although it was 2 less goals than last year he got the same number of assists in the same number of games and got a higher average rating and was much better than my old left inside forward.

Stats wise, my striker got a record 13 man of the matches as well as being top scorer, my left inverted winger was once again top for average rating for the 4th year running with his highest ever at 7.81, we also had 5 other players in the top 10 average ratings and overall had players near the top of all positive stats showing how much we dominated the league this season.

At the end of season awards our star striker won English Footballer of the Year for the first time, English Player of the Year for the first time, my new £94m right winger won English Players Young Player of the Year which is an award we’ve had players win for 5 years now, our keeper won Golden Globe for the second year running but we only had 4 players in the team of the year which I expected we would have more as my keeper, both full backs and striker were in the team.

I did however miss out again for manager of the year even though I won every manager of the month award. I won it 3 seasons ago, then last year Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won it for finishing second 1 point behind us and this year after we broke loads of records the manager of the year was given to the Everton manager who finished 3rd.

Now the leagues over we have 2 cup finals to play, the first is against Man Utd in the FA Cup where we play them for the 6th time, 7th including the Club World Championships game in the summer and we have beat them everytime although interestingly overall head to head since the save started shows us having played 19 times, we’ve both won 9 and drew 1 and we have a +1 goal difference but having won the last 7 against them we should hopefully make it 8 in a row.

The FA Cup final ended the same way as the last 7 as we won again. We battered them all game but just like many games this season their keeper decided to put in a man of the match display and we struggled to get passed him and he even saved a second half penalty but we eventually our star striker got a goal in the 88th minute with our 10th shot on target and with an xG of just under 3 we won 1-0 to retain the trophy.

Our last game of the season is the Champions League final and we play Athletico Madrid who we’ve played 4 times previously winning 3 and losing once. The final got off to a good start as we took the lead after 8 minutes with a wonder goal curled into the top corner by our left side inverted winger and then our star striker got his 70th goal of the season in 49th game to double the lead just before half time. Not much happened in the second half and we won 2-0 for our third Champions League trophy.

That ends a fairly easy season, it’s one the problems of FM as it does get too easy this far in especially with the money we get and the players we can sign, I’ve got a world class team which can only get better which makes it easier and easier.

I need to decide if I’m going to stick with my original idea to top the hall of fames which means several more seasons of winning which may be boring or do I move onto another challenge.

Just another quick rant before I end this one, I mentioned about Barcelona putting in a poor bid in January for my striker a lot lower than he is worth despite being the best player in the world, well PSG have just done the same at the end of the season which I’ve rejected twice now. Then I see Man City put a bid in for an inferior striker of £206m for a player worth only £64m while my striker is worth £97m and PSG are offering £76m for him, strange how AI clubs will bid big for other AI club players but lowball human club players. Not that I would sell my player for anything but it’s the annoyance of how it happens.

Anyhow, I’ll be back with an update after next season once I’ve decided what I want to do going forward.

– Sparko Marco

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