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.
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.