In Football Manager I like to have 1 save and make it into my own footballing world where I know what’s going on, how clubs are doing, seeing players grow and develop into stars and if I want a new challenge I start it in the same save rather than start a new save and FM22 will be no different.
I started my FM22 save this year trying a youth only challenge where I went on holiday for the first season and then took over newly promoted to the Conference North Barwell. I wasn’t allowed to sign players and had to rely on youth intakes, the club started with a rubbish squad that I managed to keep up in the first season, our youth intakes were rubbish but I managed to survive the second season but the third was too much as 3 intakes of rubbish youth players and the rubbish players I started with were not good enough to survive relegation for a third time and I was sacked.
Rather than start a new save I’ve continued the save and will turn it into a journeyman save, I’ve added leagues in Spain, France, Germany, Holland and Italy and when the season ticks over and the leagues are added I will apply for all jobs and see where it takes me, I will then aim to reach the top of the game as a manager rather than develop a club like I often do which means focussing on my manager improving and short term success at clubs to work my way up to bigger clubs with the aim to win leagues and cups with various teams in different leagues.
I thought that once the new leagues are loaded there would be plenty of clubs to apply to but I had to wait for managers to be sacked through the season, I applied for all foreign jobs that came up as I wanted to manage abroad but I also need a club to manage so decided if an English club invites me to an interview I would talk to them. After being rejected several times I eventually got invited to an interview at the start of November with Lincoln City, a club I’ve never managed before on FM and they are currently bottom of League One which is a higher league than I thought clubs would want me so I attended. Shortly after Burton Albion also invited me to interview and they are 3rd bottom of League One in a better position for survival than Lincoln and are another club I’ve never managed so I attended that interview too.
Not long after the interviews Lincoln decided they didn’t want me after all and then after that Burton did the same so either they didn’t want me in the first place or my answers to their stupid interview questions weren’t good enough. The questions didn’t make much sense though like asking why I’ve never won a trophy even though I’ve only spent 3 years at the worst club in the bottom league and also those clubs never win trophies either so it’s a pointless question to ask.
The next club to invite me to interview was League Two side Barrow which interests me as being a team closer to where I live that most others although they are still a good distance away and it’s another club I’ve never managed. They are currently 3rd bottom in league two so it’s not an impossible task to keep them up although they don’t have much money I would be fine dealing with free transfers, I’m not getting any interviews for foreign clubs so I think I’m going to have to settle with an English team.
News articles seem to show me as favourite for the Barrow job but then I got offered to interview at Italian Serie C/C club Casertana that I applied for, they would be harder to manage than Barrow and it’s the lowest Italian level we can manage at but I’m hoping to get that job as I’ve not managed in Italy since the Championship Manager Italia days back in the 90s so that would be my preference over Barrow, let’s see if they offer me the job first or not.
I got offered the Barrow job and asked for it to be delayed for a week which they accepted and then within that week Casertana rejected me so when Barrow came back I accepted their job offer, I might get my chance in Italy later on in the save.
Barrow are currently 20th in League Two after 20 games where they have won 4, drawn 7 and lost 9. They have scored 15 and conceded 31 which indicates issues at both ends of the pitch which I’ll need to sort out. We are currently at the start of December so it’s not long until the January transfer window opens and I can look to improve the squad although we only have £20k wage budget with £2k spare and only £3k transfer funds so I’ll be relying on free transfers.
The squad doesn’t look too bad overall and a few players look decent, I plan to start playing the possession tactic that I used at Barwell as it did create plenty of chances and the club vision expects possession football. The staff at the club however are really bad so I’ll be replacing them straight away, although I don’t plan to stay at the club long term I still want better staff to improve players at the club as I need to be successful to get bigger jobs.
My first game to manage is the FA Cup second round away to Wrexham who are top of League Two so it won’t be an easy game but it will give me an idea of what the team is like. The first half we dominated having 9 shots but only got 1 on target while they had 1 shot off target. The second half started with nothing happening until they got their first highlight in the 62nd minute which lead to a corner and they scored a headed goal which was all too familiar as we conceded a lot like that at Barwell. We lost the game 1-0 but there were positives as we dominated possession, had more shots, more on target and our 1.27 xG was much higher than their 0.36 but we still lost.
Although the good performance in the last game was in the FA Cup it was against the top club in our league so if we play like that and score our chances we should be ok in the league. My first league game in charge in away to bottom side Solihull Moors who are a few points adrift and only scored 12 goals so are the only team that’s scored less than we have and they are slightly better defensively than us as their 30 conceded is 1 less than ours.
Before the game we got the youth intake preview which I’m not too bothered about with not planning on sticking around for long but good youth players may be future signings at my next clubs so it would be nice to get some players with potential. The preview shows an average 3 star intake with the best position being our full backs rated at B with the rest of the positions E or worse so I won’t be expecting much from it.
The league game away to Solihull was a game where we were the best team, we had 63% possession, 17 shots, 7 on target and a 1.27 xG while they had 7 shots all off target but we couldn’t score and it ended 0-0. Barrow have had problems scoring before I took over and in 3 games we haven’t scored but created lots of chances and should have scored, I’m wondering if there is a problem with the tactics maybe as I’ve been reading online in the bugs tracker that there is some issues with possession where players at the back pass too much and there is a problem with pressing too so perhaps the bugs are affecting my tactics but even if they were we should still be scoring when we create enough chances.
We got our first goal in the next game at home to 11th Accrington as we got a late goal to draw 1-1 and then in the next game away to 18th Port Vale on Boxing Day I got my biggest league win as a manager as we comfotably beat them 3-0 to take us above them into 18th ourselves giving us a 6 point gap above relegation. In the win I brought on a youth striker that I put on the bench who is tall as I didn’t really have anyone else fit and I brought him on late and it was him that got the third goal, afterwards it was announced that at 16 years and 251 days old he has become the clubs and League Twos youngest ever goal scorer which is ways nice to have one of your youth players getting.
We then ended the calendar year at home to 13th Cambridge and got another good win beating then 2-0 as we dominated the game and they didn’t have a shot on target all game. We go into the New Year in 18th place and a 4 game unbeaten run in which I think my team has shown enough that we shouldn’t get sucked into a relegation battle but I would like to improve the team in January, maybe get some better players in on loan.
Our first game of 2026 was away to 12th Stockport who I thought might give us a hard game but we dominated again, we had 62% possession, 18 shots with 9 on target scoring 4 goals, we did concede 1 from their only shot on target but it was a good shot into the top corner from range. That’s the last 3 games won where we’ve dominated and scored 9 goals so maybe the tactic is fine and our scoring problems at Barwell were just down to rubbish players and now I’ve got decent players we are controlling games and getting the goals, let’s hope it continues.
Our run of wins continued as we beat Morecambe 3-1 and then Newport 3-0 both at home to equal the clubs record 5 wins in a row. To get a new record of 6 in a row we needed to beat Swindon away who were 8 points ahead of us in the last playoff place and just like the previous games we dominated but unlike the previous games we couldn’t get a goal from any of our 14 shots but Swindon managed to get a goal from their 2 shots and we lost 1-0, my first league defeat since I took over.
We’ve done well since I took over and have moved up the league into 10th and we are now 11 points behind the playoffs which might be to difficult to reach but we’ve now got a 14 point gap to relegation so I think I’ve managed to avoid relegation even though we still have 18 games left to play.
We lost back to back games 1-0 this time away to Wrexham who are still top of the league but like the last game and the FA Cup game against Wrexham we lost when we were the better side, this game they scored a long range shot, they only had 2 all game. We did much better in the last game of January as we got a 2-0 win over Cheltenham who were 15 points above us in 8th place.
It was then transfer window day and the first time on the save where I could take part in it but it wasn’t too eventful as I’ve not really has enough time to have had players scouted and shortlisted players I want to sign, I have been trialing players but theres a bug that’s been raised and is getting looked at where after a trial is over you lose all reports and knowledge of that person, usually I will trial a player for a couple of weeks to get full knowledge of them and when they leave I will decide whether to sign them or shortlist them based on the report after they leave but as they are blank I don’t know if they are good or not.
I did pick up a couple of loan players though as I got a centre back from Villa that’s quick and good in the air and I got a right winger from Bournemouth that looks really good so they should hopefully make a bit of a difference to the end of the year, I also sold a fringe player for £4k. I had several players in my squad wanted but only got low bids for one player that so far has been one of my better players so rejected any offers for him.
The first game in February was away to 3rd place Fleetwood and although they are much higher than us the way we are playing I think we could beat any team. The problem is no matter how good you play you can’t always beat FM when it does FM things to you and this was another one of those games that seem to be happening a lot on this version as we again dominated the game, we had 64% possession, 17 shots, 8 on target, and xG of 1.90 but didn’t score, they had 9 shots, 1 on target which they scored that came from a headed goal at a corner and a 0.43 xG, as you can probably guess we lost 1-0.
The rest of February was better as we didn’t lose any more games, we drew the next two 1-1 and then won three games 2-0, 2-0 and 2-1 with our performances being a bit hit and miss as I needed to rotate the squad a lot as it seems my players get tired quick, not sure if it’s tactics but my Barwell team were part timers and didn’t get tired out and the intensity of the tactic is only moderate so it shouldn’t be tiring them out but maybe combined with full time training it’s having an effect or it could just be an issue later in the seasons after playing lots of games, at least we’ve still been picking up wins.
March started off with a 1-0 win away to Shrewsbury but we then lost again losing 3-2 at home to Walsall before bouncing back with a 2-1 win away to Stevenage. We’ve now played 39 games and we’ve confirmed that we can no longer be relegated as the lowest we can finish is 22nd but with 7 games still to play we are in 9th and only 7 points behind the playoffs so we have an outside chance if results go our way of a playoff place.
We ended March beating Sutton 2-0 and April started with a win against Ebbsfleet 4-2 and then we beat Wigan 2-1 which has taken us to only 1 point behind the playoffs and we are the number 1 in form team in the league.
We got the youth intake after the Wigan game and it was very poor, no player deserves a contract and none will be getting scouted when I move on, I did give contracts to those recommended by my staff but I let the staff sort those out.
4 games left and all of them are against teams below us so we have a very good chance now of getting into the playoffs which I would never have thought possible when I took over the club in 20th and fighting against relegation, I’ve not really changed the team either except 2 loan players.
The next game we had was at home to 22nd Solihull and I took a risk and rested as many of my best 11 as I could and we won 2-0, we then had a chance to get a new club record 6 wins in a row as we went away to 10th Accrington and like earlier in the season when we had a chance of 6 in a row we blew it but at least this time we didn’t lose as we came from behind to draw 1-1 but had more than enough chances to win. Although the draw was a good result it was points dropped that we needed as it’s put us 3 behind the playoffs with 2 games to play but we do have a better goal difference than Swindon who are currently occupying the last playoff place.
Our penultimate game of the season is at home to 19th Oldham who I would expect to beat but it was a really hard game which we dominated but struggled to get a goal, with 85 minutes on the clock Swindon were winning and we were still drawing and looking likely to miss out on the playoffs so I took off my full backs and put on 2 target forwards and went with a 2-2-3-3 all out attack formation and in the 94th minute one of my central midfielders scored from the edge of the box and we won 1-0, we deserved it after having 18 shots and 10 on target with Oldham never threatening to score.
The last minute win against Oldham means going into the last game of the season we need to beat 18th placed Cambridge away and hope Swindon lose away to 4th place Walsall who need a win for automatic promotion so I think the odds slightly favour us. We didn’t have to wait until the last seconds of the match for our first goal this time as we scored after 10 minutes but we then made things harder for ourselves as my right winger got a straight red card in the 30th minute and then 2 minutes later conceded an equaliser. We were only level for 5 minutes before we took the lead again and were winning 2-1 at half time while Swindon were drawing giving them the advantage. In the 70th minute my players ignored my short throw in instructions and threw the ball long into their box straight to their player so as soon as that happened I knew the outcome and they went and equalised again and we drew 2-2. The result didn’t matter in the end as Swindon drew their game so even if we won we would have missed out on the playoffs, the draw did drop us down a place to 9th but that’s still a good position based on when I took over.
A good season in the end, I took over at Barrow on 1st December when we were 20th and relegation candidates and ended the season 9th and missing out on the playoffs by 3 points. I used the same tactics as I did at Barwell but with much better players we controlled most games and ended as one of the better teams in the league and with the right signings we could aim for promotion next season unless a bigger club offers me a job and then I might move on but I won’t go looking for a job as I’ll do at least one more season at Barrow unless I get an offer too good to turn down.
I’ll be back with an update after next season.
– Sparko Marco