Clifton Colliers #2: Jumping the (FM editions) coals

I have never been one to let a creative project go and the time that I have spent in the Football Manager universe for many years is no exception. That said, when it occurred to me that I wouldn’t have time to finish the local team project I began late in the FM22 cycle, introduced with the blog post Clifton Colliers #1: a place between places I decided to take it with me lock, stock and barrel into the new FM23 edition, complete with all the lovely pimped- up stats it offers. However, this isn’t without it’s problems as I shall outline below.

Problem 1: where to start?

Most smart asses would naturally answer “at the beginning”, so with that in mind here is a quick recap of the three central aims I had in case you can’t be bothered to click that link above:

  1. To create a team local to where I live to act as a direct rival to Salford City who are just across the Irwell Valley
  2. To make that team integral to the local area and it’s coal mining roots
  3. To raise them up through the leagues and win as much as possible as per a regular save

As for how far I had got in these aims, well I had of course created the team, complete with a fictional history (it’s worth a read here if you want to see an example of the approach I usually take towards my historical and/or fictional saves) complete with a decent name, the Clifton Colliers, a pretty good badge and kit ..

.. and even a sprinkling of specially created players linked directly to the fictional history such as the brilliant Ian Pilkington, the former colliery owner’s (and club founder’s) grandson who had the absolute cheek to leave us for West Ham only for us to have to loan the cheeky bastard back for two years on the bounce:

All this resulted by the end of FM22 into promotion from our starting point in League Two (where we had initially replaced Newport County), to the dizzy heights of 2nd in the league after 21 games of League One as of the 12th December 2024.

Other changes were of course our squad, which had changed massively with some decent signings in the 2 year save so far as well as a mild improvement to finance and facilities, giving me a solid profile to transfer into the editor for the FM23 transition.

So to answer this first problem I decided to do a base copy and then delete the original team that is in 2nd place in League One now as of the 17 games IRL by today’s date of the 9th November 2022, which I figure is close enough to the 21 games of the FM22 save file. In this case it happens to be Ipswich, so bye bye fellas and make way for the Colliers!

After this I removed all of their Ipswich-ness by deleting everything that related to them and substituted it with my Collier’s fictional history, including our promotion from League Two, which in this case is put in as having happened in the 21-22 season.

When that was all done and our ground “Wet Earth Park” was created and inserted, complete with graphics, I could get on to the serious business of transferring the team.

Problem 2: recreating the squad

FIRST TEAM: Having dabbled with this concept before and thinking it would be an absolute piece of piss, I can tell you now that it is not as easy as it first sounds. Firstly the players will be different than the versions I had in FM22, be that because they were developed and aged + 2 years in the old save or simply because they have had their attribs adjusted by SI this time around. Here is an example of what I mean with the same player, Robbie McKenzie, firstly from my FM22 Dec 2024 end point, followed by his new FM23 start point. I had only had him for a couple of months so he hadn’t developed much for me but it does show how it can result in even a slightly different player in game especially when you take into account the changes in his hidden attributes that we can’t see:

In FM 22 ..

In FM 23 ..

That said, it isn’t rocket science so unless there are any glaring differences I noticed between the two versions (for example if a player in the old save has a long term injury or has suddenly developed massively over expectations) I decided to do a straight transfer and see how the dice fell.

THE KIDS: All of the above of course doesn’t help when it comes to the newgens and with a couple of excellent intakes in FM22 I want to transfer over my 5* PAs to the new edition. Therefore I will recreate these youngsters below as new players in FM23 so we can take up (approximately) where we left off. It’s not perfect as I don’t have the time to put each exact attribute in but leaving their attribs at 0 in the editor for auto-generation with the correct CA and PA should give me pretty similar players.

Problem 3: keeping our tactical identity

I initially thought this would have been as easy as copying over my favoured “Cyclone” tactic. I used this for all my FM22 saves due to the way it exploits the movements of the diagonally opposed IW on the right and the IWB on the left as he moves into the space vacated by the SV. It generally only requires a drop in mentality or a role tweak here and there depending on the circumstances and I know it works in FM23 because I smashed the Canadian Premier League with it with HFX Wanderers in the 2nd season in the beta. There are also quite a few targeted PIs such as marking up of AMs and deep crosses from my RB, which works really well when the IW and AM are moving central behind the Poacher. As you can see from the positives and negatives below we are good at winning the ball with goals in the box but we can lose possession easily on the counter due mainly to that movement it creates, until players get the tactical familiarity when it starts to play very well (NOTE: the FB auto on the right was a mistake he is now WB att):

That tactical familiarity therefore was a bit of a concern as it can take a good couple of months of playing an almost identical starting XI plus lots of tactical training to get them up to speed and stop them running around like headless chickens into enemy-occupied space.

That said, I set out immediately to schedule a load of pre-season friendlies and plenty of tactical training, whilst also trying to keep the starting XI relatively stable going into the first FM23 season. If anyone is interested here are my set of training schedules, which comprise of a set of rotated variations on the British “Wednesday rest day” format from way back for these focus areas:

And here is the tactical version which I hammered when the save started. Although the schedules vary, I always include GK TRAINING / WED REST AND TEAM BONDING / SOME SORT OF PHYSICAL SESSION / MATCH PREP with just the training focus changing:

The Results: (20 hours in) does it feel and play the same as FM22?

GRAPHICS: Let’s deal with appearance first of all and yep, no problems here as it was a case of simply inserting graphics into all the changes I had made. The only thing that I am disappointed with is that our value has rocketed from 13mil to 52mil despite me setting exactly the same budgets as before, which may be due to the Ipswich team copy that I used. It shouldn’t affect anything too much though as we still only have 6mil in the bank whereas before in FM22 we had 4.5mil.

PLAYERS (FIRST TEAM): This was an interesting one because apart from the odd exception a lot of them are playing up to a similar standard to where I left them, despite them being two years further developed in the FM22 save, so all good.

THE KIDS: This failed completely as total idiot here failed to note down all their details before FM22 decided to give up the ghost and for some reason stop working despite file verifications, reinstalls and about an hour pissing about with it. Given that all I have then is the names and star ratings from the picture above I reserve the right to insert them via the IGE at some point but tbh I don’t have the same attachment as I do with the first team so it isn’t a great loss if I don’t.

I’m also pleased to see the tactical familiarity growing at a steady pace with all the starting XI bars steadily rising which links into the performance review below:

TEAM PERFORMANCE: This is the bit that I am very pleased with as even though we are just two games into the FM23 reboot we have just smashed Forest Green, one of our main rivals in the FM22 version (stats for that game below). This is in keeping with the way we left the save in FM22, as a dominant worthy second place team after 17 games as of Dec 24:

In conclusion: ie is it possible to transfer a save lock stock and barrel across editions while maintaining the same performance, squad and tactical style?

At this point I would say absolutely yes. Whether or not that opinion will change over the course of this playthrough is another thing entirely, though these early results give me a lot of encouragement. The true test I guess is where we stand after 21 games and if it is in the top four as per our 2nd place end point in FM22 I will be mighty happy!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it and see you again soon.

Best wishes,

Daz aka @fmheathen everywhere.

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