“I have no idea why he signed me, I haven’t kicked a ball in two years and was working in a kitchen.”
Habib Makanjuola, on arriving at New Bank Street, April 2021
1: A cautionary editor’s tale
Idiot. Absolute idiot.
It took me all of a month in-game to realise it, that blinded by my fictional fallen giant narrative I had accepted the board’s vision for me to reach the playoffs in my first season without question. After all, this was a team that had just been relegated who only three years previous had won a clean sweep, why wouldn’t that be a completely realistic aim?
However, what I forgot to realise were three things:
- The editor doesn’t always play fair, creating that vision from either thin air or more likely the fact that I had used a completely stripped down Bournemouth as a template as I wanted to create a profile based on a recently relegated Premier League team
- That abandoning the entirely realistic 100 mil budget that I had calculated from the avg value of a bunch of previously relegated teams and starting with a meagre 30 mil to fill an entire squad for “a bit more of a challenge” was a bad decision
- Filling that squad with a majority of over-30 players in the misguided hope of buying experience while completely ignoring the U23 clause in the club vision was sheer madness
- The editor doesn’t always play fair – did I mention that already?
As a result, the board pretty much wanted blood from the moment I started encountering a run of defeats or losses in a chequered winter campaign that, like a lot of my first and second seasons in most of my saves and given that I often do lower division challenges, resembled a traffic light on acid.
This therefore started to appear before almost every game from November onwards, causing me to throw so many water bottles at my old, crap and knackered squad I wish I had added Buxton Spring as a shirt sponsor instead of my fictional Heathens IPA Manchester Ale.
And then it came, early one morning when watching Paul Scholes laying out the cones at The Cliff I got the call from Martin Edwards to tell me that eventually the dreaded carpeting had arrived. I was summoned at 11am to the boardroom where I had a 0.98 xG that the axe would fall. To my surprise though they ended up giving me a month to save the job!
In the end it came down to the final run of games to (in my understanding) get a toe in the playoffs to guarantee survival and we almost did it, with a run of three wins before a final loss against Bristol City thankfully sending me into the “satisfied” zone for vision progress prior to the game. Miraculously this seemed to do the trick as they apparently forgot that they even asked for the playoffs in the first place and came round to say they were “Impressed with the efforts I had made to turn things around”. I will never know exactly how close I came to being sacked but I’m guessing it was pretty damn near to the edge and I honestly don’t have a scoobies what I would have done then after doing all this preliminary work.
2: Season review aka “it’s all a bit Meh ..”
When it came to the season review, as one might expect it was distinctly underwhelming, with us being bang average in the league for most of our stats:
The season also saw the emergence of our talismanic loanee Harvey White who smashed the player awards alongside Leif Davis, which was nice, considering they were two of the u23s that I had actually remembered to bring in (maybe the board had a point).
Also, when it came to how the wider squad partook in our our 442 depressingly mundane tactic, it was notable that again there was only Harvey who broke a 7 which again says it all really.
In reality, and all griping about editor woes aside, the aging legs of our majority post-30 team cost us many games in the final 25 minutes that we had in effect already won, meaning a run of last minute defeats or draws that stifled morale and destroyed any hopes of better things.
3: Prodding the haunches at the market
As you know if you have read any of my other blogs, I do like to play around with format and put either fancy quotes in or dramatise parts of it (e.g. the last post: Heathens Rising #2: How the mighty fall where I was unveiled as the manager in a car park) but sometimes a simple image sums things up.
Yep, using my trusted nicknaming method (btw I wrote about this before a few years back here: Why you should consider using acronyms in Football Manager and it remains one of my most popular posts, worth a look), I had a deep squad review, spending around 4 hours till 3am going through practically every stat to come up with this bunch of potential out-of-the-doorers.
Despite the SELL tag, the aim was just to take them to the market to see if anyone prodded their haunches and made me an offer with me expecting to lose about half of them. By market close I did exactly that, with Dani Ojeda and David Davis getting back in the van for the journey back to Bank Street and, (begrudgingly because I couldn’t give them away) Saadi and Soriano running after us to cling on to the bumper, the absolute wasters.
So then it could begin, with a grand total of £38.72, an “Old head” 1895 Victorian penny and a half chewed haribo that some 5 year old joker had thrown in the bucket we assaulted the transfer market!
4: (Habib) Benson and (James) Hedges
Now, if I followed the usual FM save update blog format, I would list a range of golden-haired beauties that I had bought for peanuts who would be the saviours of the save, as we have all been guilty of many times. Instead however let me introduce you to two young gems who really sum up my sometimes haphazard approach to management, which normally happens after a bottle of Merlot in the twilight FM hours.
The story goes like this ..
So, in the depths of my despair on approaching those final 5 games with the sack hanging over me I had a brainwave! Given that I was being done by the board for not signing first team u23s, why not sign a couple of u23 frees and bang them in the first team to game the system and flick that u23 vision switch! How fun it would be to get one over on the board by making them think I was actually going to play these guys. Haha, take that Martin Edwards and your sycophantic lackies!
So I go ahead and buy the first two on the search with the lowest attributes which in my blurred 5th-glass of red reasoning will equal the lowest wage, namely two fellas called Habib Makanjuola and James Boote, who if this was IRL I am sure would have shared an even bigger grin than Odion Ighalo when he got that call from Ole to sign for United while sat in China in a pandemic.
The only problem was that in my haste to complete their combined £850 a week deals (the chancer bastards) I neglected to look at the start date only to realise later that they weren’t coming till the start of next season, when they duly arrived without the intended effect with these massive grins alongside a bunch of 3 and 4 star signings:
Now you may ask what is the moral of the story? Should we learn from this that ..
A) You shouldn’t try and game the FM system (even though it’s a game)
B) Always check your contracts carefully?
No, I don’t think so.
The moral my friends is why not make one or two FM players who would never ever grace your team happy for a short while? After all, look at their little faces!
Go on, you know you want to 🙂