Before I’d achieved an unbeaten season with Dortmund, I genuinely thought it was impossible.
Each year, we’d lose a game in an away game against some dodgy mid-table side and I’d whinge before not playing Football Manager for weeks. To me, anyone who achieved an unbeaten season was either ridiculously lucky or ridiculously good at the game.
But it turns out, maybe not.
Another Bundesliga. Another DFB-Pokal.
But a Champions League loss.
As seems to be the case regularly these days, it’s been a long while since my last [Dortmund] update. In that update, I suggested the save may well be done & finished as we completed our aim of an unbeaten season. This proved not to be the case, and I’ve actually completed a number of seasons since them.
This is largely because a variety of new objectives have taken priority; back-to-back(to-back) Champions League titles, a new stadium, creating a new side after dismantling the old one for massive transfer fees and, most importantly, Robert Wechner’s goal tally. One of the main joys of Football Manager is finding regens who fit your style & philosophy, and morphing them into a deadly player capable of ruining the opposition. Wechner is just that, and he happened to come through the academy. In the last article I wrote, I noted that he’d never reached Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga record of 365 goals; but not because of a lack of ability, just that I’d never manage him to that point as the save was done. But I continued, and at the end of this season I checked it. How many Bundesliga goals had he scored?
Achieving a constant upwards progression under strict financial constraints is incredibly rare in real-life. However, this is Football Manager and it’s a damn site easier. Despite making a £15m profit on transfers, as well as performing a complete overhaul, we were able to turn 14th position into 6th.
Following a horrendous start, we seemed to be battling relegation rather than fighting for a top-half finish. After game-week 15, we were in 15th place. But a 2-1 win against European contenders Lazio turned our season around. After that point, we only lost twice in Serie A; a very much undeserved 3-0 at Napoli, and a placid final day performance at the San Siro against AC Milan.
At the end of my introductory post on the new Udinese save, I mentioned the situation was something of a ‘clusterfuck’. In truth, it was a lot worse and I had to complete more outgoing transfers/loans than in any transfer window ever.
The Summer all began with the loan players returning. This was fine. Whilst there was lots to deal with, we were at the end of June and there was plenty of time. However, the day before they were all due to return, the board announced they were considering a consortium takeover and this resulted in a temporary transfer embargo.
Regardless, planning went on, and we’d been given a £360k p/w wage budget. This seemed fairly reasonable… until the loanees returned. At this point I thought something must’ve been wrong, because upon trying to offer a new contract to one of our current players, the maximum value was an absolute pittance. So I checked the finances, and we were now paying £640k p/w in wages.
Finishing my Dortmund save meant it was time for a new one. I asked on Twitter and in the previous blog post for suggestions on new places to visit across Europe. There were some excellent suggestions, with Denmark and Croatia amongst my favourites. Whilst Denmark seemed an excellent place to manage, none of the clubs particularly took my fancy. And similarly, Croatia had some interesting rules on Home Grown players that I didn’t fancy contending with.
When I can’t decide a club to choose for a new save, I tend to holiday a season with a big database of many leagues. Once the season is up I check for vacancies and particularly insecure jobs. More often than not, there’s something interesting. And this time was no different; Ajax, Werder Bremen, Zenit, Celta Vigo, and a few others were available. But eventually the club selected was Udinese.
It’s been a while since my last post. That’s partly behind having a break from the game and partly because when I have been playing, it’s been slightly more in-depth than merely ploughing through games. In the last post, I detailed how we’d attempt to achieve a feat I had never before achieved on any Football Manager: the unbeaten league season.
Eventually we got there. It took two seasons after my last article rather than one, and it took a slightly different tactical approach. Whilst the 4-3-1-2 worked excellently well, and I would massively recommend it to mid-table teams looking to overachieve, it was a flat 4-4-2 that did the business. The 4-3-1-2 would attempt to overload the centre of the pitch, but often teams would play a very flat back four against me where the full-backs didn’t attack at all. As well as this they’d have a defensive midfielder and sometimes even defensive wingers too. All in all, they’d always have at least ten men behind the ball.