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.
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.
In my last update, I highlighted the difficulty I’ve had in completing an unbeaten season on FM. Since then, pre-season has gone well and we’ve made two new additions to the squad.
As the previous update was in January, we were still able to make an addition in that window.
Given our moderately depleted striker stocks (only Robert Wechner and Paulao were capable of leading the line), we spent £27m on behemoth Kemal Guler.
Those of you who have followed my Twitter and the blog long enough will know that I’ve achieved a decent amount on Football Manager over the years. You’ll also know I’ve always struggled to achieve one thing: an unbeaten season. And this pisses me off pretty bad.
Since the last blog post, the Dortmund save has pushed on three and a half more seasons. In that time we’ve won literally everything possible; every trophy we’ve competed in, we’ve won at some point in that period. But the thing that still eludes us is the unbeaten league season. At time of writing, we’re in the 2022/23 winter break and we’ve got 39 points from 14 league games, and we’re absolutely dominating all comers. But, yeah, you guessed it, 1 loss.
Despite scoring 41 in that time (3 per game) and conceding only 4 (0.3 per game), we still managed to lose a game. Bayern are in second place, and having played three more games than us, they’re still 8 points behind already. Unless a minor miracle happens, we’ve almost already sown up the league.
In all my years of playing Football Manager, I’ve never achieved a completely unbeaten league season. Until mid-March, we remained unbeaten in all competitions and I was getting pretty excited at our chance. Then came a loss against Conte’s Bayern (who we’d battered 6-0 and 4-1 earlier in the season). We went on to win the league very comfortably, as well as adding the DFB-Pokal to the trophy cabinet.
With an average of +2 Goal Difference *per match*, it’s fair to say we destroyed the German league.
Having somehow finished the first year in 15th, I was hoping to push on and solidify our position as a top half team in 2015/16. Gabriel Barbosa and Eder Alvarez Balanta were to be key players, having spent the latter half of the season settling into life in England. They were also aptly supported by some big signings in the Summer window.
I went into the Summer with a philosophy in mind and a slightly different scouting process in order to follow through with it. In my last post, I focussed on the search for a right midfielder. The conclusion was that Joel Campbell was the man, with Adel Taarabt as the backup. We signed neither. Campbell chose Fiorentina. As for Taarabt, we agreed a deal with QPR, and then a contract with the player. As I went to confirm the transfer, the option was not there as he’d torn his cruciate ligaments only the day before — out for 8-9 months, failed medical. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad that we’d missed out on his signing, at that point.