Nathan has written another great article for us, which I am delighted to post. With the recent changes at Palace, Newcastle and WBA it made sense to see what FM15 made of it all…..
The lack of managerial movement in the 2014/15 season never felt like it would last all year, and just before New Year, Crystal Palace duly sacked Neil Warnock and began their successful pursuit of former player Alan Pardew. Meanwhile, up in the Midlands, rumblings of discontent became the second managerial change of the season, with Alan Irvine vacating the West Brom job, replaced by perennial job candidate Tony Pulis. How will these two managers fare with their respective new clubs? And who will Newcastle appoint as Pardew’s successor? I aim to find out, using a Football Manager 15 save, the in-game editor and a holidayed first season*.
*Due to the game’s start point being July 2014, each manager will get a full season to prove their worth.
Pardew’s move was a strange one. Sure, he had the links with Palace as an ex-player, and Mike Ashley can’t have been an easy employer to work for, but taking the step of moving to a side considerably worse off in league position and form is certainly questionable. But perhaps a move to Palace would re-awaken Pardew’s love for the game and he would propel them to Pulis-like form.
Eh, not so much. Pardew’s Palace narrowly avoided relegation in 17th, only securing safety on the last day with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Alan made three summer signings – Martin Olsson, Rasmus Falk, and Fabian Orellana of Celta – but none of them made the desired the impact, each achieving average ratings of less than 7.0. There was no cup run to affect player fitness or excite the fans, as Palace were knocked out in a FA Cup Third Round replay by Birmingham, while Nottingham Forest saw them off in the 3rd round of the league cup.
So, not outstanding for Alan. But hey, at least they weren’t relegated. Silver lining and all that.
So how did Palace’s former hero fare at West Brom? Pretty darn well, it must be said. Pulis guided the Baggies to the top half, finishing in 9th with 53 points. The man’s a wizard. It’s worth noting that he managed Palace to a similar position the season previous, before transfer disagreements saw him resign on the eve of the season starting.
Tony’s one and only signing was one Mathieu Flamini – let go by Arsenal after they brought in Morgan Schneiderlin – and the Frenchman put himself about in the Baggies midfield, providing the steel to release Chris Brunt to create goals. Entertaining they were not, but West Brom had the 5th best defensive record in the league. Solid.
West Brom’s impressive league performance is given greater weight when you consider they made it to the League Cup semi-final, only to be dispatched by Pellegrini’s Man City side. Coupled with a middling performance in the FA Cup, the Baggies board of directors will be delighted with their decision to appoint old “hoofball” Pulis.
Sean Dyche: Next Newcastle manager. You heard it here first. The Ginger Mourinho was the man chosen by Mr Ashley, although he was disappointingly only given a three-year contract… And what a job he did, achieving Newcastle’s second best league finish in ten years. 6th place is perhaps where Newcastle fans believe they should be in real life, and it seems Mr Dyche is the man to deliver it.
The Toon Army brought in Ivan Strinic at left-back, before embarking on a deadline day trolley dash, acquiring Martin Harnik, Winston Reid and Humberto Suazo. Suazo particularly impressed, chipping in with 9 league goals, while Facundo Ferreyra and Papiss Cisse scored 26 between them to inspire Newcastle to the sixth best goal haul in the league. No such luck in the cups however, two third-round defeats allowing the fixture schedule to remain fairly free towards the tail end of the season.
What a decision to bring in Sean Dyche, then. Perhaps it’s Pardew who’s been causing all the trouble at Newcastle after all. Long live Mike Ashley, it seems.
Best of the Rest
- Following Paul Lambert’s stuttering start to the season, Neil Warnock was appointed Villa boss in mid-January. Despite bringing in Lazar Markovic on loan, Villa were promptly relegated, in last place and 11 points from safety.
- Poor Alan Irvine is still unemployed, presumably waiting for David Moyes to give him a call and give him the Assistant job at Spurs.
- Louis Van Gaal’s United won the league, based on a defence reinforced by Marc Bartra and Jan Vertonghen.
- Arsenal signed a centre-back and a combative defensive midfielder. Finished 4th, of course
Follow Nathan @nathdavidlewis