By the gasworks wall #4: It’s alive!!!!

“It’s alive”
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

“What’s that you say? It’s the Apocalypse?” (firing up FM20)
FMheathen, March 2020

1: It’s been a long time ..

There comes a time in every FM players’ life when they have to step back a little to take in the essentials of life such as food and family and walking in the sunsh .. no, really, it has to be done.

Such were my sentiments when way back in February I posted this ..

In reality it was much worse than the tweet reveals – basically I had emerged from being off sick for three weeks and therefore earning absolutely NO MONEY which was spent sitting on my arse sniffling and playing FM while feeling sorry for myself instead of trying to turn it around by working on the business and thus ensuring more future income. The result being of course the realisation that playing FM was most definitely costing me money!

With that in mind then it had to be done. So where are we now, a month later, and why have I decided to play again?

2: From the East, a Salford Apocalypse

On the sheer off-chance that this blog is still around in 200 years time let me document for the readers the strange turn of events in the real world that has led me to reopening this blog for a silly little game called Football Manager (actually you are probably well aware of it from your FM2220 edition).

Namely that everyone on Earth is currently subject to a (some would say, others wouldn’t) ‘horrific’ disease called COVID-19 which is basically causing mass hysteria of the like normally seen in a movie called ‘Deep Impact’ and a TV series called ‘The Walking Dead’ – look it up, they were both popular once (until Negan from TWD inexplicably came back from having his throat cut and became a ‘whisperer’ with a zombie’s skin for a face).

Image result for negan whisperer
Negan, aka skin for a face – no joking this bullshit really happened

Thus, both physically and financially renewed by a month out of the game and ALSO with the threat of impending doom I thought to myself fuck it let’s have a game of FM.

3: So where are we now?

Finally we are back to the important stuff, like how the save is going.

We resumed with a beleaguered Salford 6th in the league with 6 to play on the verge of the playoffs, having bought Darron Gibson (in a weird mirroring of the real life team) as that much-needed DM pivot to fit in with out Salford Sarriball angle as per blog post 2. However, not noticing the script on his doormat the ungrateful melt decides to trip over his Armani shoelaces on the way to training in his 2nd week to pick up a two month injury ffs!

That said, by the time the fat lady sang come the league end it wasn’t looking too bad, with a playoff place secured albeit against our bogey Cheltenham who had just bloody beat us in the last game of the season:

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With a two week gap I sent the lads off to Marbs for the first week and got them in for extra training in the second. Reviewing the tactics (that seem so long forgotten now after my month off) I could see that some changes were needed to my stubborn VTT SalfordSarriball system and given the first leg was at home I opted for an odd combo of the default gegenpress but dropped deeper with direct passing to win deep aggressively and launch long with speed. In other words a bastard, yet disturbing, threesome cocktail of Pep and Jurgen with more than a splash of Tony Pulis (oo err missus).

As it transpired however that particular dystopic combo was less than effective with a drab 1-1 draw in front of our home fans which I could have seriously done without ..

So what to do given the failure of our tactical Ménage à trois? Simples, do exactly the same again because I totally lacked ideas and felt like a total newbie after opening the game with a month break.

As luck would have it in the return leg Cheltenham had an almost instant dismissal meaning I could ramp things up – for this read a higher line and plenty of aggression until finally we smashed the arse out of them and were into the final 🙂

4: The League Two playoff final vs Grimsby

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Before we begin if you would like to listen to the final without reading ahead for spoilers you can do that now as I recorded the game for my FMheathen audioblog here:

Moving on to the written account, as stated I went into the game as per the last one with this weird gegen/hoofball combo which immediately reaped rewards in pressing Grimsby back, resulting in 5 shots in the first 10 minutes. Worth noting here (as it will become relevant later) that I chose Ashley Hunter over the aging Adam Rooney to partner Tom Elliott up front as he had cut in beautifully from an IF position in the last but one league game for a lovely solo effort after a 50yd run. I still wasn’t sure about him playing up front but given Rooney wasn’t full fit it felt the right decision:

0-0 after the first half in the non-existent shadows of the former Wembley towers, and with the pasties and brew flasks running low the Salford coach parties were getting restless. Thus followed a stern chat with the boys at half time about growing a pair and ‘getting into them’ which seemed to fire them up as we began to slowly press an advantage and dominate possession early doors in the second half.

The only problem was that yes, chances were coming but frankly they were being pissed up the wall by mis-positioned Hunter and his partner in crime Elliott who was similarly bobbins in front of goal. The decision was made then on 78 mins to swap them both for Adam Rooney (on 14 goals so far but fading and possibly his last game in an Ammies shirt) and 23 yr old National League level Luke Armstrong who had promised so much all season but had yet to deliver. The pair received a rousing reception from the Moor Lane faithful and the stage was set.

Immediately the impact was clear, with Rooney’s experience and relative freshness causing all manner of problems for the Grimsby defence with the resulting headed goal just 8 minutes later being no surprise at all. Where it came from was a bit of a surprise though as the supplier Bruno Andrade had a shocker till that point! Who cares though when you see this little beauty?

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So there we go. our first promotion of the apocalypse and the save is back up and running!

4: So what now?

Moving forward I honestly have no idea how it will pan out. I am still happy to take a loose approach for the time being to the Sarriball approach albeit with the caveat that this League One promotion rebuild could be a very good time to address it properly and recruit specifically to match it.

Of course that all depends on what happens in the real world for the foreseeable so we shall see – it is truly a strange feeling to know that on the one hand I might be out of work for a while but on the other I will get to play FM as I am sure many of you share 😦

So that’s it for now, thanks for the reading, wash your hands and stay safe!

Daz aka @fmheathen everywhere

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