I tell you what, I have missed writing something daily on FM15. When I launched http://www.thehighertempopress.com the idea was to flip over into quality rather than quantity, and whilst that website will continue to provide some excellent writing (thanks to the contributors that I have built up) I need to start getting back into this blog again. This might be good news, it might be bad news – I will let you decide!
As much as I am loving the current save I am doing at Wolves – catch up on it here – I have found the length of time it is taking to get through a season at the moment (due to various other commitments with CD Torrevieja, writing for the local newspaper etc) has gone through the roof so I am often going a month without writing anything down about FM. This is when FM starts to become a bad thing in my life, if I am not writing about it then it becomes a game that I am playing in an unhealthy way. The writing becomes the creative outlet, which somehow makes my whole mood and thought process around playing the game for hours a day a little more acceptable. This is what I have found anyway, maybe I am just justifying myself!
Either way, I have missed writing the daily stories about the save I am playing so I am going to get back as of now, whilst honouring the last two updates of the “Beating Brian” series on THTP.
So where am I up to? Well, for those too lazy to read the previous updates linked above, I am managing Wolverhampton Wanderers. I decided to take over them as I wanted a club in the second tier, a club from a smaller region as opposed to a huge city and one where I could genuinely attempt a like-for-like comparison with the career of the late, great Brian Clough. What he achieved in the decade between 1971 and 1981 was mind-blowing in my own opinion. Yes, I know Shankly and, particularly, Paisley won more with Liverpool but it was with Liverpool – a massive city club. Before anyone starts to take me on over the history of Liverpool FC I will batter you, I know they were in a state of disrepair when Shankly took over, but I still believe it easier to maintain success when you come from a larger city club. Derby and Forest were smaller clubs and Clough helped them massively over-achieve.
In that decade Clough won promotion into the top flight with both clubs, then led them to a league title. At Forest he went further, winning the European Cup twice and the League Cup twice. I wanted to better that in a decade at Wolves.
Right, background over – I am about to embark on my ninth season at the newly redeveloped Molinuex. I’m doing alright so far. I got us up into the Premier League at the first attempt, winning the Championship comfortably. We finished fifth in our first season with the big boys and qualified for the Europa League, a tournament we eventually won in my fourth season. I had to wait until season five to win the Premier League, and we went on to win it three times in succession, with one domestic treble in there along the way. Last season we added the Champions League trophy to the cabinet, finally winning the bloody thing that looked like it could elude me. So, with two seasons of the decade left I need to win the Champions League twice more to beat Clough on that score and the League Cup twice more to beat him there as well. Having said that, winning one more league title than him and notching the FA Cup, something Clough never won, gives me some credit in the bank.
Coming into the ninth season, the usual pre-season pillaging of my squad commenced. My transfer record has been stunning since taking over, even if I say so myself. Have a look at some of these records!
Then the profit I have made on key signings…
|Player||Bought for||Sold for||Profit|
The pillaging has hit the squad hard this time round though, and I genuinely feel this will be the toughest crown to reclaim. Andersson, Pintado, Flores, Carlos & Nattestad were all part of my core, so it will be interesting to see how we do without them. However, as I am used to selling many good players in a pre-season I hope I was one step ahead. One of my rules is that I should always have a replacement lined up in the squad already, in the U21’s or on the transfer shortlist. I have become somewhat addicted to bargain buying and finding value in the market so I think I may have struck some gold again.
Andersson was my deep-lying playmaker and last season I recruited a teenage Turk who I felt could grow into either a DLP or a half back. I always remember that I prefer an experienced player as my half back, so I think Subasi might form a formidable partnership with my English international regen Rogan Reid. Reid is a great example of the patience I am extolling with players. He came through the 2015/16 youth intake and was just a wide left midfielder. As I don’t play with that role, but the coaches reckoned he could be quite good, I started to train him as a central midfielder with an attacking role in mind. He’s been out on loan five times, and then worked hard on his training when he has been back with us and then, finally, at the age of 21/22 broke into the first team last season, playing 35 games, scoring 15 and assisting 20. He ended up going to the World Cup.
Reid was often rotating with Flores, and Flores often rotated with Andersson and was excellent in the deeper midfield role as well as the more advanced. Having cost me just £180k from Barca a few seasons ago I could not turn down £28m from United. His place has been taken by a bargain buy from Arsenal, a lad called Jack Goodwin. I have been scouting Jack since he came into Arsenal U18’s four seasons ago and the scouts always had him at 5 star potential. It became a waiting game in the hope that Arsenal either released him or put him on the list. Eventually they listed him and I picked him up for £750k.
Sonny Nattestad became a club legend in his two spells with us. Again, the money offered by Spurs was too good to turn down, but defence is one area that I have options. I could move Andrew Adams, England international regen, inside to play centre back after several seasons rotating the left wing back role with club captain Tommy Rowe. I also picked up Regan Poole from Southampton last season, for a mere £350k. Again, the scouts had rated him for years, Southampton never wanted to sell him and then suddenly he was on the list. He played very well when he filled in last season. I also have a potential superstar in Mark Dilks, but I have let him go to West Ham for a season to get some more experience. I am learning that the best age to start playing regens regularly is about 20/21, and Dilksy is still 18.
Pintado might be harder to replace, as there are not many good left-footed strikers that fall into the brackets in which I search. However, hiding in my U21’s moaning like hell is Ionis Hagi. Now, Hagi joined me from Madrid a few years ago for £500k. He is an attacking midfielder, a position I do not utilise, so I hoped to retrain him into a striker. Hagi has asked to leave about eight times, but nobody has bought him, so he will get a clean slate. Who knows, he might be another striker that I can move on for silly money after one good season. On that note, I am amazed that Hervin Ongenda is still with us. He took three seasons to settle and then the goals started to flow, 75 in the last two campaigns. Considering I only paid £225k for him, I would happily let him go for anything above £30m.
Carlos was the best right back in the world last season, he finished with an average rating of 8.32. His place will be taken by his understudy Tony Aubry, and I also picked a lad from Barca on a free to be his back-up. With my ability to sign full backs for a pittance and sell them on for more money than most teams pay for a striker, I am expecting big things again.
So on to pre-season, we have Premier League and European titles to defend. We went off on a tour of Brasil and did ok, lost once and won the other three. Then there was the standard battering of a local team before heading off to Wembley for the Community Shield against Fulham.
It wasn’t our finest Wembley performance, but we won 2-1 with goals from Hervin “Onny” Ongenda and “Big Jim” Whiteley, our towering American centre-back. Hagi did ok up top in the front three, and Goodwin put in a solid substitute debut performance.
Tomorrow I will walk you through the European Super Cup against Schalke and, I would imagine, the first three or four Premier League fixtures, one of which is against Manchester United.
I leave you with this. I’ve won the Premier League title three times in a row, the Manager of the Year on three separate occasions, the FA Cup, the League Cup and both European titles. The England job came up this summer after Jose failed to get us out our group. Who got the job? Bloody AVB. My career is following that of Brian Clough’s a little too closely for my liking….