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?
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.
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.
Taking over a team at dead last is always going to be tricky, and so it proved early on. I expected to avoid relegation with ease, but it went down to the final day where any of four teams could’ve finished in the dreaded relegation zone, whilst Stoke and Sunderland had already sealed their own fate in 19th & 20th.
We were able to comfortably beat Crystal Palace at St. Mary’s, and end up in a much undeserved 15th place finish. Having spent only three weeks of the season outside of the relegation zone, there’s lots of work to do to ensure we’re able to finish top half next year, as the board expect.
Following my fairly dull update of the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons at Újpest, this one will give you a bit more detail on the squad and what’s actually going on at the club. During the season I’ve also been looking at the stats in slightly more detail in a bid to create a player radar (such as the one here: https://fmcoffeehouse.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/fm14-ujpest-201920-the-year-of-the-agent/) for full-backs. Unfortunately, because my full-backs play as Complete Wing Backs, they produce quite irregular stat-lines and therefore aren’t indicative of all players in their position.
One thing I’d like to address in relation to this is the question I often get where people seem confused as to why I actually collate these stats every year. If you’re not interested in the answer then you’re more than welcome to skip the next few paragraphs.