What is they say about never coming back?

This wasn’t supposed to be. The pen had been hung up and my writing days were over. That was the plan.

So why am I sat here writing about my new Football Manager save I hear you ask? Well I am an old romantic suckered in by the new game and all its shininess. I can’t promise this blog will be well tended to (much like my team) but there is no harm in dusting off the keyboard.

I missed the boat with “save reveals” which appear to have become a thing, so I guess this is mine.

I followed Shrewnaldo’s lead and put out an advisory twitter poll with four options.

By far my favourite save on Football Manager has been my FM13 odyssey with Amiens in France, going from the National (3rd tier) to multiple Ligue 1 titles and two Champions League finals. This is the save that reinvigorated my love of Football Manager, and much like being dumped by the high school hottie, I have never quite found love like it since. There have been others of course, Hansa, Lokomotiv and Anderlecht to name but a few, but none have stolen my heart the way Amiens did, not even Hearts on FM18.

With that in mind, I compiled a shortlist to try and mimic that save. I chose Amiens because they had a funky stadium, I had been there on my travels, they were at least one promotion away from the top flight and it was a region underrepresented in the national football picture. Using these same criteria my FM19 shortlist consisted of;

Lucchese (Italy) – Serie C

I’ve twice been to Lucca, the picturesque, walled Tuscan town that is the home of Lucchese. In addition to this they also stick in my mind for playing against Newcastle (my team for my sins) in the Anglo-Italian Cup way back in November 1992.

Amiens (France) – Ligue 1

Just because. This would be a very different save from last time as Amiens have climbed the ladder and are now playing their second season in the top flight after successive promotions. The second of the promotions was secured with a last-minute goal which is well worth a watch here.

Truro City (England) – National League South

Never mind being one or two promotions away from the top flight, Truro are five elevations away from top flight football. Situated in Cornwall, Truro fit the definition of underrepresentation with the county not having a league club, as described so eloquently by the Two Unfortunates.

Dynamo Dresden (Germany) – 2.Bundesliga

The former East German powerhouses have struggled since reunification, falling out of the Bundesliga in 1995 and floating around the second and third tiers since. They have a fanatical fanbase and a good infrastructure and could potentially challenge the Bayern hegemony over time.

I had hoped that Lucchese or Truro would win the vote so was pleased to see they lead the poll.

As I said, the poll was advisory (sorry Truro voters) and with that in mind I’m please to say my FM19 save will kick off at Stadio Porta Elisa in Lucca, Tuscany.

Truro would have been fun but I am not sure I would have the willpower to aim for five promotions at the speed I play.  That is me phrasing it nicer than some.

Kicking off in Serie C the first aim is to get out of the lower league. Similar to the Spanish leagues, getting in to the second tier is tricky due to the number of teams from multiple divisions vying for a limited number of promotion places.

I am a casual player so I won’t be ploughing through the seasons too quickly, nor will I be offering any tactical revolutions. That said, hopefully it will be a fun journey that might well lead to Serie A.

My aims are

Get promoted to Serie B
Consolidate in Serie B
Get promoted to Serie A
Finish as the top Tuscan team (Fiorentina, Empoli, Pisa, Arezzo, Livorno, Siena)
Qualify for Europe
Win a domestic trophy
Win Serie A
Win a European trophy

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The end of the road

I toyed with not writing this but after some thought decided I would pen a few words.

As the name suggests, this is a note to say that I am giving up FM Ramblings.  The very few who paid any attention will notice that there have not been as many updates as late.

I am still playing the game, albeit less frequently, and I am enjoying playing but don’t have the time or inclination to write up as I play.  I have conversed with stacks of great people in the FM community on the back of this blog and twitter feed.  I found my FM mojo when it was lost and have contributed to magazines, published books and other blogs on the back of this.

I will keep the twitter feed going and may even dip back in to Slack from time to time but barring a miracle I’ll not be updating this site any more.

I will leave it up as a reminder to myself of how much fun its been and also for the random hits it still gets from time to time.  I’ve been to France on the back of this game, something that I’ll never forget.

It’s been a blast, and we will always have Amiens and Hansa…

Peace out 🙂

It’s not you, its me

Jumping in to the world of a journeyman was a new experience and one that at times didn’t sit easily with me.  Much as the annoying player who is too big for his boots, I planned on treating Lokomotiva Kosice as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  As a result I didn’t feel the need to invest in youth or put anything in place for the longer term (sounds like the Mourinho approach!) and instead focused on the short term.

I started with a low rep and low stats and not surprisingly the collection of Slovak cloggers at my disposal were none too impressed.  They spent much of their time playing on their mobile phones and much less of their time listening to their new gaffer.  Team talks often fell on deaf ears, although the shallow bunch were always willing to receive some praise when it was forthcoming.

The plan for season one was to consolidate.  The bookies had us down as a middle of the road team with only an outside chance of promotion, and as I got used to the new game, my new surroundings and then my new laptop, I was more inclined to agree with them.

I decided to work with the players at my disposal at least until January and then review things in the three month (!) winter break.

The pre season form was certainly nothing to get too excited about.  The plus side of conceding twice in six games was tempered by the fact we only scored three times in the same six games.

The fans were already showing signs of discontent with yours truly coming in for some stick on social media.  Not to be deterred we ploughed.  I would like to say things improved but I am not here to lie to you.  After a truly awful start I was pleading with the board not to send me back to England with my tail between my legs.

Things did pick up as the season progressed and we ended up in mid table after an eight game unbeaten streak.  This coincided with a change in approach on the pitch.  I had two quick strikers at my disposal and not a lot of creativity in the middle.  I decided to adopt some percentage football and started launching it long and the more simplistic approach seemed to pay off.

I brought in two players on loan from the Slovak top flight in the January window and this added quality saw a much better second half of the season.

We had a couple of horror shows including a 1-6 reverse at Poprad but overall were playing better.  The players started to hate me a little less after a consistent spell of blowing smoke up their rear ends.

We were predicted seventh place so exceeding expectations by one spot, whilst not amazing, was steady enough.

I had at this point acquired a new laptop and once I had moved everything over was in the position to play much quicker.  I ploughed straight in to season two with largely the same squad aided by the permanent signing on one of my loanees and a couple of useful regens from my first cohort.

This time we sat in third place at the winter break but very much in contention for promotion.  First place secures automatic promotion and second place get to play off against second bottom from the top tier.

Somehow we managed to go unbeaten for the second half of the season, securing top spot with a game to spare.

I was delighted at this as although it was on the cards I did have my doubts with the lack of a play off safety net.

I must confess that I didn’t feel any affinity to Lokomotiva Kosice and yet again channelled the grumpy Portuguese as I looked to new horizons even as the celebrations were going on around me.

 

With that in mind, it was not even with a heavy heart that I tendered my resignation.  I knew that we wouldn’t compete in the top flight and wanted to broaden my horizons.

So here I am, out of my comfort zone on the dole looking for a new club.  A few months went by but then the phone rang.  I didn’t recognise the number nor the international dialling prefix +48…

EDIT – this was an intentionally brief post to bring things up to date.  The plan is for more depth as the game develops.  For anyone who is tech savvy I am also posting updates on FM Slack on the #journeymen channel.  If you need any assistance give @FM_Samo a shout over on twitter.

Wherever I lay my hat

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas? Balls to that retail induced horror show, I’m talking about the annual Football Manager release.

In years gone by I’ve ended up with over elaborate ‘reveals’ with teams whittled down from 10+ the final pick. This year I’ve been missing inspiration to the point where I’m penning this piece with no clue where I’ll end up plying my trade.

What I do know is that the lack of desire to start an empire is leading me down a different path. In years gone by I’ve had saves from the lower reaches of France, Germany, Italy and Spain that have all culminated in top flight football and in three of the four titles and elite competition. Failed attempts at the same challenge in smaller leagues rules that plan out, so I am trying something different (for me) and giving a journeyman save a try.

Only once in the last six years of FM have I left a club to move to another. As in real life, I tend to fall in love easily and don’t like to leave. I’ll be breaking out of my comfort zone and experiencing more clubs than Geordie Shore on tour.

The plan is to wind up with a big job in a big league, but for the first time I’ll work my way up to it rather than start with said club or turn a David in to a Goliath.

I don’t want to start in England and also want to give the aforementioned league a miss. I’ve also been to Sweden and Belgium recently so they are out.

With that in mind, my bags are packed and I’m off to FC Lokomotiva Kosice in deepest, darkest…….let me check…….yep, Slovakia.

The plan? Win games, build my rep and move on. Add leagues, play in Europe, build my rep and move on. Will it work? God knows! I’ll give it a damn good try though.

Thanks for reading. Poďme to urobiť as they said in Kosice

You can be my Wingman any time

With half the season gone we were sitting happy at the top of the league.  As with most FM saves, when things are going well, it is easier to fire it up and get some game time in.  This was proving to be no exception and I was rattling through the games at a rate of knots.  What I hadn’t really done was look at squad development in any depth.  I had brought a couple of younger players through to the first team squad but didn’t look at how things might pan out in the future. Continue reading You can be my Wingman any time

Adios Spain, Halla Sweden

You know that feeling when an FM save is ebbing away?  The urge to play has faded and it is habit that brings you back.  Well alas I realised I had reached that point with Alcoyano.  Rather than plod on, I decided that with a number of months left before FM18 I could easily get in to a new save, so that is what I’ve done.

All my recent successful saves have involved bringing a club up through the divisions (Amiens, Hansa Rostock, Sudtirol and Alcoyano).  This time round I have decided to chance my arm at a youth development save.  I think part of the reason I wasn’t enjoying Alcoyano was it was a real struggle to develop the club enough to bring players through.  I had pots of money from wheeler dealing but the infrastructure developments were taking too long. Continue reading Adios Spain, Halla Sweden

Breaking the duopoly

Fourth place in our second La Liga campaign was way more than I’d ever anticipated.  Little Alcoyano from the Valencian foothills were off to have bash in the Champions League having never played a competitive continental game ever.  Whilst this was obviously a huge achievement it is something we were not really equipped for.  The squad that finished fourth was small and still contained a number of players from the Segunda campaign who whilst trying their hardest were not of the greatest quality.

I decided to invest as much as we could across the board strengthening all positions.  We had £14m available to spend but not a lot of wriggle room in the wage bill (more of which later). Continue reading Breaking the duopoly