I have several saves going on Football Manager. Currently, my favorite is helming FC United of Manchester, the Red Rebels, that I’ve named ‘Eurosnob’ as a nod to all the MLS Fanboys out there.
In simulation, I was able to guide the team to the playoffs the the Vanarama National League North and promotion to the Vanarama National League. This was quite the surprising jump according the digital pundits in game. Now at the fifth tier of English football and solidly semi-professional, I must institute a plan. First and foremost, FC United need to avoid relegation. This is a daunting task.
It is early 2019 in-game, the team has 24 points and 7 wins. I suspect we’ll need between 10-12 wins or a solid 50 points to stay up. Things aren’t looking bad but aren’t looking good either.
I’ve some major issues in the squad. The first being a general inconsistency especially in defense, the second is an injury plague has struck my striker core, and the third is an impertinent and impatient midfield which comes crying to me for playing time nearly every day even though they’ve failed to string together two matches of even middling success. Frustration is creeping in.
My 3-Year Plan is made up of simple goals: avoid relegation, solidify position, and push for promotion. If everything goes to plan, then FC United will stay up this season, sit firmly next season, and then get promoted in year 3. This is the hope. We’ll see…
Success! In fact, the team pulled out a couple of upsets to just peak into the middle of the table.
Freddy Yao in central midfield, James Hooper on the left wing, Lloyd Allison in goal, and Jason Gilchrist at the tip of the spear were the top performers. Gilchrist impressed with 18 goals while Hooper’s 11 assists weren’t too shabby. The defensive line was in shambles most of the season. I had to rely on loanees to really stabilize it.
Going into the summer, there are several issues to be addressed. First, as mentioned, the defense must stabilize and be deepened. Currently, the squad lacks competent fullbacks and the current centerback pairing may not be able to play at this level. Second, there is no counterpart to Hooper on the right wing. Joel Logan has been playing well, but he often struggles and seems more comfortable on the left. Yao has been a rock in the center of the midfield but he needs a proper partner. Lastly, there is scant depth at every position.
I think with four or five new signings with some loanees to buttress, the team could push for a top half finish come 2019/2020.
As the season began, FC United performed well enough. I had hired a whole new coaching staff upgrading the defense and ball control duties with the reasoning being the counter-attacking style had granted us the best results the prior season. The addition of several journeymen players to the squad I also hoped would improve team moral by introducing an experienced leadership core.
I think both of these moves paid off. For the first two thirds of the season, United were a surprise. The squad raised as high as second in the table and for three months seemed like a lock for the promotion playoffs. At first, I thought perhaps my inclusion of a cash bonus in the new contracts had provoked this but then the team spiraled out of contention. The final third of the season was nothing short of a fucking nightmare.
A confident nine match unbeaten streak (only one draw) was followed by a stunningly bad thirteen match winless streak (eleven loses, two labored draws). The team plummeted out of the promotion chase ending the season 14th in the table.
Although an angry season, the squad did succeed in accomplishing the season’s goal–solidification in the league. However, there is going to be a massive turnover going into the final year of this 3-year plan due to player attitude and quality.
Again this season Jason Gilchrist, Freddy Yao, James Hooper, Joel Logan, and Lloyd Allinson did well. However, Yao, Gilchrist, and Logan may have all plateau-ed in terms of skill. New signing Felix Nmecha (formerly of Manchester City) proved more than worthwhile and partnered well with Tom Warren (ex-Everton) in central midfield. Strikers Andrew Nelson (ex-Sunderland) and Curtis Morrison (ex-Guiseley) although frequently out due to injury put up some promising stats.
However, the team still lacks a defensive core that is convincing and until that is successfully addressed I have grave doubts about next season. If promotion is going to happen, massive personal upgrades are necessary.