Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ploughing on without screenshots: Transfers and pre-season!

I'm sorry for the massive delay, but I've been frantically trying to fix my screenshot problem. Sad to say that nothing is working, so for the time being, my posts will be as dull as James May! Bear with me however...

After taking charge of Newcastle United, I learnt that we would not have a transfer budget at all, and our wages were over-budget. Coupled with this, our team was not good enough to get promoted, so it wasn't looking good for me this season. Nevertheless, after some players took pay-cuts and goalkeeper Tim Krul left us for £1.5m, I fiddled around with the wage budget just enough to be able to make 2 free transfers, and 3 loan deals.

Tim Krul £1.5m

Christian Vieri £0
Luka Senicanin £0
Vladimir Weiss Loan
Jack Wilshere Loan
Emiliano Insua Loan

I am quite happy with our transfers, especially the 3 loanees, who have improved our squad to no end. The best signing however, was 36 year old iconic striker Christian Vieri, who is still plenty good enough for the Championship. With attributes of 15 for finishing, 16 for composure, 17 for heading, 16 for strength and 16 for balance, he is an ideal target man, and the perfect foil for a quick striker like Shola Ameobi or Andy Carroll. Jack Wilshere will find it hard to fit into our system, as he is an AMC while we play a 4-2-4 with 2 centre midfielders and 2 wingers. He is nonetheless a great player, so I should think about adapting our tactics to acccomodate him.

Meanwhile, our friendly matches. After beating Newcastle reserves 1-0, we beat Exeter and Burton Albion 2-0 and 4-0 respectively. We then proceeded to beat Balkan and Botev 2-1 and 2-0, before being held to a 0-0 draw by Millwall. These were decent results, but not outstanding. I have not seen anything that can make me believe we can win the league.

Anyway that's it for this boring post, I will do my best to resolve my screenshot problem in the next few days, but if not there will be another post in a weeks time like this. Take care.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Reason for lack of posts

Hey guys, I'm very sorry for not posting up another Newcastle post, but I have recently changed to Windows 7, and I'm trying to be able to take screenshots from my game, which is really confusing me. If I take a screenshot of the full screen game, it just takes a picture of the usual screen, blocking out the game altogether, which isn't helpful. And my graphics card will not let me make my resolution higher, so I'd be able to make my game windowed. If anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.

So just bear with me, hopefully another post will be up soon.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Newcastle United story: 1st season: Introduction

Hello and welcome to my first story in Football Manager 2010! 140 of you voted, and by 2 votes, Newcastle United came out the winner. So when I bought FM10 on Saturday, I loaded up Newcastle, and began playing.

I thought that Newcastle would have quite a bit of cash to spend, but apparently not, a £0 transfer budget and a wage bill that is £2k/w over budget. I would have to use my free transfer skills like I did with Southampton, but for some reason Stephen Appiah doesn't exist in this game! I would have to scout some new players, maybe even take some on loan. Despite this lack of funds though, the board expect me to win the league at a minimum. Baptism of fire or what!

I, and my assistant manager, think that the squad is not good enough to guarantee promotion this season, especially as we have sold a lot of good players over the summer. Obafemi Martins, Michael Owen, Damien Duff, Sebastian Bassong, Mark Viduka and Habib Beye were all Premier League standard players who would have definitely helped us to promotion, but with them gone, we have a very average squad.

If your best striker is Shola Ameobi and Joey Barton is one of your most valuable players, you know you’re in trouble. I simply hope I can get rid of some of the overpaid ones, so our wage bill can come down.

Anyway, onto the club information page, and surprise surprise, we are predicted to be first place.

Though at least our chairman is looking to step down, so hopefully if we can get some rich businessmen in, I can at least be given a few million to spend! We have almost £100m debt, which could be a big worry in the long run if we can’t get promoted soon. If the parachute payments stop, we could be in for administration. Again, no pressure!

Anyway, that is it for my first Newcastle post. I will have one up when transfers and pre-season is finished. Until then, good bye!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Poll CLOSED: Team for FM2010: Newcastle United

Hello everyone, and welcome to my first post about Football Manager 2010! An amazing 140 of you voted (thank you everyone) and by a close 2 vote victory, Newcastle United pipped Notts County to be my first team for FM2010. I am getting the game on Sunday morning and am really excited about starting the story.

For those of you who don't know, Newcastle are a once-big team who got relegated from the Premier League last year. With financial problems pinning down the club amid concerns about the chairman, it will take a lot to get this club back where it belongs, in the Premier League. Nevertheless, promotion is something I hope to achieve in my first year.

Anyway, that's it from me, and I hope you like the new story. Check back soon!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Southampton story: 3rd season: The end of an era

Hello and welcome to the final ever post of my Southampton story, and indeed my Football Manager 2009 adventure. I was hoping to end it on a high, and we were certainly doing so, sitting in 6th place in our debut season in the Premier League. I was willing us to go even better, try and get into the top 4, but I knew we were not up to a job of that greatness. And without further ado, here are the final results of my Southampton story:

Our form tailed off a little, but we still won a few crucial games. Out of 13 games (12 in the Premier League) we won 4, drew 4 and lost 5 (4 in the Prem). Notable results include draws against Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal, with wins against Everton and Blackburn giving us a much needed boost. Some terrible results include the double defeat to Fulham, putting us out of the FA Cup and losing us ground on our Premier League rivals. The Chelsea game was to be expected, but a 4-1 loss to West Brom really stung. But what would these results do to the table?

An amazing achievement; 5th place. Despite the last day defeat to relegated West Brom, we held on to 5th place on goal difference, with Aston Villa only mustering up a 1-0 win over Ipswich. The amazing thing is that we finished above big spending Manchester City, whose squad value is over £200m, while ours is less than £20m. I may be a City fan, but it does make it a whole lot sweeter when you haven't spent that much money, ala Arsenal or Everton. Anyway, let's get on to the ratings:

Surprisingly average ratings there, only 6 players having an average rating of 7 or above. Moving on, top scorer is Ched Evans, getting 13 goals in 29 starts. Second place goes to Morgan Schneiderlin, with 7 goals in 38 starts. Third place is a tie between Miku (6 in 29), defender Mark Beevers (6 in 35) and fellow central defender Jan Simunek (6 in 38). Top assister is left winger Adam Johnson, collecting 12 assists in 30 starts. Second place goes to Nathan Dyer, with 11 assists in 26 starts. Third place goes to Lee Holmes, (6 in 6) and Jake Thompson (6 in 10). Best rated player is defensive midfielder Franco Zuculini with 7.17 from 30 starts. Second place is Jan Simunek with 7.12, and third place goes to Lee Holmes with 7.08. Finally, top passer goes to Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana, both getting 79% passes on target. Third place is Morgan Schneiderlin with 78% passes, and fourth place goes to Franco Zuculini and former goal machine Stephen Appiah, both on 77%. Now, lets get on to the board confidence:

As you might expect, the board is very happy with me, and mostly to do with our Premier League performance. Our squad harmony is very high, no reports of bust-ups in the training ground or anything like that. Our wages are well under control, and our club stature has grown immensly over the past 3 seasons. It seems I really have made a difference to the club, here's hoping that I can do the same in Football Manager 2010!

This is the last Southampton post, but you only have 6 more days to vote for who I should be in Football Manager 2010. Notts County and Newcastle are streets ahead of everyone else at the moment, and County are winning by a slender 6 vote advantage. I am grateful to the 100 odd peopele who voted in it, and urge the rest of you to get voting as soon as possible! This is the end of my post, so I shall bid you farewell.

The End.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Southampton story: 3rd season: Staying up there!

Hello everyone, hope you are well. Now, in my last post we were on a massive high, holding 5th place after 13 league matches. Let’s find out how our next 13 went:

A solid 13 games, but our recent form is a bit worrying. 1 win in 6 games isn’t the best I could’ve hoped for, but seeing as we drew the other 5 games, it’s all good. If we want to remain in this top 5, we will have to get a few wins under our belts though, as showed by the table:

Still an excellent position for our debut Premier League season though. From 3rd to 8th only 6 points are in between (and that’s even with third place United playing a game more). The media are still saying that a drop in form is just around the corner, but I really think we could finish in the top 6 this year (something it took me 5 odd seasons to do with QPR). Of course this shall take a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck, but it’s something I believe we can achieve. Now, onto our player ratings:

The top name will be unfamiliar to you, Yohann Andreu, but I shall explain about him later on. Top scorer is Ched Evans, the new signing from Man City, with 9 goals in 19 starts. Second place goes to Miku, who has just come back from injury. He has got 6 goals in 14 starts. Third goes to defender Jan Simunek, who has grabbed 5 goals in 26 starts. Best assister goes to the impressive Adam Johnson, getting 12 in 23 starts. Second place goes to Nathan Dyer (5 in 18) and Jake Thompson (5 in 9), with fourth place going to Franco Zuculini (4 in 18) and Lee Holmes (4 in 2). I am happy with the assist totals, because it shows that we have 4 good wingers, all capable of getting assists (and goals in some cases). Best rated player goes to Yohann Andreu, with 7.20 being collected from just 1 start. Second place is for Franco Zuculini, with 7.18, and third place going to Jan Simunek, getting 7.13. Top passer is a tie between Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, both having 79% passes complete. Tied third are Franco Zuculini and Morgan Schneiderlin, both getting a tidy 77%. Finally, tied fifth are playmaker Ferrie Bodde and energetic midfielder Stephen Appiah, both on 76%.

Anyway, let me talk to you about Yohann Andreu. I bought him from Saint-Ettiene of France on loan until the end of the season, for a princely sum of £550k. He is a top class right-back, and I only brought him in because new signing, and first choice right-back Coke Andujar felt that he needed to go after just 6 months into his stay. We got £1.8m for him, and spent £550k on a better right-back until the end of the season. It’s my last season, why not! Below are his attributes, which don’t really look too impressive really:

He has no outstanding attributes, but he is very able because of his heading, tackling, positioning, anticipation, agility and stamina, all really important for a right-back. He has decent crossing too, which could come in handy if I ever played him as a wing-back (which I have been trying out recently). I have high hopes for this guy, especially as right-back has been a problem area this season where we have been conceding many goals.

Anyway, that’s it for this post. I hope to be able to post soon, and complete the season in the next post.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Southampton story: 3rd season: Unexpected start!

Hello and welcome to the second post of my final season with Southampton. A reminder again to vote in the poll for who I should be in FM10, and now straight to business. After a very successful transfer window, bringing in a host of Premier League standard players, hopes were high for this season. Unfortunately, the media didn’t seem to agree with me:

This didn’t deter me, or the team, as our results show:

An absolutely fantastic start to the season, one that no man could have ever imagined. Amazingly, we have won 8 out of 15 (7 out of 13 in the League) with 5 losses (4 in the League) and 2 draws. This is European football form, as you can see by the table:

5th in the league, with 23 points. Wow. If we had better goal difference we would even be in 4th place (which we were at one point)! I think it’s fairly certain that we are going to be safe this season, but I am getting so excited about our realistic prospects for the season. How far can we actually go in my last season in charge? We shall soon find out. Meanwhile, here are the ratings for the season so far:

For our first Premier League season, the ratings are very good, but what surprises me most is the goal scoring statistic. Top goalscorer is our back-up striker Miku with 4 goals in 8 starts, with second place going to midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (3 in 13) and new defender Mark Beevers (3 in 13). 4th place goes to Adam Lallana (2 in 4), Ferrie Bodde (2 in 9), Jake Thompson (2 in 4), Ched Evans (2 in 8), Stephen Appiah (2 in 9) and Paul Huntington (2 in 2), with almost all of our players at least on 1 goal. This is heartening; because that means that we are getting goals from all over the pitch, not just from midfield as we were before. Best assister is new left winger Adam Johnson, getting 8 assists in 10 starts. Second place goes to Franco Zuculini (4 in 7) and Lee Holmes (4 in 2). Lee Holmes has done brilliantly, and is definitely pushing Johnson all the way. 4th place goes to Daniel Sturridge, with 3 assists in 6 starts. Best rated player is Morgan Schneiderlin, getting a rating of 7.18. Second place goes to Oliver Lancashire, getting 7.15 from 2 starts. Third place goes to Adam Johnson, getting 7.14. And finally, top passer goes to Daniel Sturridge, an amazing 82% of his passes finding their mark. Second place goes to Schneiderlin, Johnson, Lallana and Bodde, all getting 75%. 6th place goes to Lee Naylor, with 74%.
Before I go, I would like to let you guys in on the secret to my success. A coach for everything. If you don’t understand me, take a look at this:

I discovered that if a coach covers too many categories at once, he doesn’t perform any of them adequately. So what I did was I brought in a few more coaches, and assigned each of them to a maximum of 2 categories, and now the stars for each of them are quite high. Plus the coaches do not get overworked, which allows me to pay them less. An all round good option that I recommend to any Football Manager players. (If you’re wondering why Rui Barros doesn’t have any assignments, it’s because he’s my assistant manager)

And on that note, I bid you farewell. I hope you’ll be back for the next instalment of my 3rd season. With form like this, you can’t miss it!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Southampton story: 3rd season: Excellent transfers!

Hello and welcome to what is unfortunately the final season of my Southampton adventure. Football Manager 2010 is coming out soon (vote in my blog regarding what team I should be) and I will be looking forward to that immensely. Meanwhile, there is the small matter of my Southampton team, and when I left you last I had been promoted to the Premier League for my 3rd season! Happy days, and while I do not have the screenshot unfortunately, I can tell you that the board gave me a massive £17m to spend on transfers. Seeing this large amount of money was very rare for my Southampton days, so as you can imagine, I spent spent spent! Take a look:

I spent £7.5m on a brand new central defence, in top class centre backs Jan Simunek and Mark Beevers. I have high hopes for these two, and I hope that Oliver Lancashire and Paul Huntington never have to be used again! Coke Andujar is a solid right back from Rayo, and with Lloyd James injured, he shall be our first choice right back for the first month or so. If he performs well, who knows, maybe he could nail down a first team place! I recruited 3 of Manchester City’s reserve players, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, and strikers Chedwyn Evans and Daniel Sturridge. All 3 are Premier League quality players, and at a combined cost of £7.1m, a bargain I think! I also showed that I still have a good feel for free players, with striker another striker, Miku and former Celtic left back Lee Naylor joining the squad. They will be very good cover for our first teamers, and both have experience playing at the top level. Finally, I brought in left winger Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough, who is now one of the best players at the club. I hope that he can be a big success here for my final season. Now, you may think that I have too many strikers now, but the next screenshot will tell you the real story:

4 first team strikers offloaded, at a combined cost of £2m. Along with those 4, reserve player Aarran Racine, goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, left back Joseph Mills and experienced left winger Rudi Skacel have all been sold for a price of £3m. I thought I would miss Skacel a lot, but with Adam Johnson now at the club, things are looking a lot rosier. I definitely think that the £13.5m outlay was worth it, because now our squad is well equipped, and definitely odds on to stay up. Only something spectacular could take us down now! (I’ve jinxed it now haven’t I)
I chose not to have many pre-season fixtures, but I certainly did not envisage only 2 matches. Unfortunately, that is what we got and now we enter the season not fully match fit. Not going to tell us much, but here are the 2 results:

A surprising result was the 2-0 win over West Ham, an established Premier League side. Goals from new signings Jan Simunek and Mark Beevers secured our win and a good defensive display kept West Ham’s attackers out as well. Recently relegated Reading put up a fight, just 2 days after our West Ham match, and grabbed a 2-2 draw. Goals from our end came from Nathan Dyer and goal machine Stephen Appiah. I shan’t bother to do a ratings section from 2 matches, so this shall be the end of my post. Until next time, goodbye!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Football Manager 2010: What team should I be?

A new poll will open today regarding what team I should be for Football Manager 2010. I thought about Southampton, and I have shortlisted them, along with Leeds, old team QPR, recently relegated Newcastle, League 2 side Notts County, and finally Championship side Nottingham Forest. It's going to be a tough decision, so I'll leave it up to you. Here are the teams again:


Leeds United

Queens Park Rangers

Newcastle United

Notts County

Nottingham Forest

Pick wisely! 

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: The final push!

Hello and welcome to the final part of Southampton’s second season. Gunning for an automatic promotion place was tough in the final 7 games, and I’m sorry to say, we didn’t make it. We did make it into the play-offs though, and as you will see below, we went one better than last season:

Yes, we are in the Premier League! After completely and utterly outclassing Watford in the final (only 1 goal to show for it though) we have won the play-offs! The winner was scored by veteran striker Jean-Claude Darcheville, and he scored 3 goals in 9 games since arriving on a free transfer. Let’s see how the table panned out:

We are joined by Ipswich and Stoke, after they had the closest title race in recent history. Ipswich edged the title on goal difference, but Stoke won’t mind; they’re in the Premier League! The fans must be very happy that Portsmouth are not joining us in the big league, quite different from the situation in real life. Swansea unfortunately did not make the play-off places, and missed out by a long way. 12 points separated them from 6th place, something they will have to work on next season. A small comfort to Liam is that Cardiff got relegated from the Premier League, and by a long way. They finished on 21 points, while 17th placed Fulham got 35. I might poach some of their players if my chairman gives me any money! Anyway, let’s move on to the ratings:

As you can see, everyone is on holiday. And rather surprisingly, in the space of 2 months Jean-Claude Darcheville has moved to be our top rated striker. Saganowski’s form has dropped off unfortunately. Anyway, top scorer for the season is Stephen Appiah, breaking the 20 goal barrier to score 22 in 45 starts. Second place goes to Marek Saganowski, getting 13 goals in 26 starts. Third place goes to Cameron Jerome, with 7 goals in 16 starts. Top assister is Rudi Skacel, with 20 assists in 40 starts. Second is Nathan Dyer, getting 12 in 43 starts and third place goes to Franco Zuculini, with 7 assists in 39 starts. Best rated player for the season is Morgan Schneiderlin, with 7.25 from 37 starts. Second is Stephen Appiah, getting 7.24, and third is Jake Thompson with 7.21 from 11 starts. Top passer is Marek Saganowski, 80% passes completed. Tied second are Morgan Schneiderlin, Ferrie Bodde, Franco Zuculini and Adam Lallana, all having 79% of their passes on target. Finally, 6th place goes to Stephen Appiah, 77% passes completed. Let’s have a look at the Coca-Cola Championship ratings; how well have our players done?

It’s looking really good! We have at least 1 player in every good list. Stephen Appiah is the 5th top scorer in the division, 19 goals out of his 22 coming in the league. Rudi Skacel is the best assister, 19 out of 20 assists coming in the league, with Nathan Dyer also getting on the list, but 6th with 11 assists. Franco Zuculini has averaged 6.55 tackles per game, which puts him 5th on that particular list. Appiah reappears on the Man of the Match list, with 8 in total for the season, which puts him second. Appiah is also on the average rating list, along with Morgan Schneiderlin. Together, they are tied second with 7.22. Finally, 4 of our players got on the pass completion list. Marek Saganowski is top with 80%, and Franco Zuculini, Ferrie Bodde and Morgan Schneiderlin are tied second along with Ricardo Fuller of Watford, all on 79%. A very successful season then, in every sense. Let’s have a look at the board confidence:

I can only give you a summary, because otherwise the post would be ridiculously long, but you can see what’s happening here. The board is very happy with our performance in the competitions and our squad harmony, happy with our wages, and relatively happy with our club stature. The fans are happy with our matches, and indifferent towards our signings and players. Hopefully the club will offer me a new contract soon, as mine runs out next year!
Anyway, that’s it for season 2, so check back soon for transfers and pre-season for season 3! Can I stay in the Premier League? We shall find out. Take care!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: Still up there!

Hello readers, hope you are well. Now, in my last post I was 5th in the league table, and comfortably in the play-off places. The next 15 games were very topsy-turvy, we hit a low of 8th. Thankfully, our form started to pick up near the end, and we have improved that. By how much, will come later.

As you can see, we had some very good results. Out of 15 games (13 in the league), we have achieved 9 victories (8 in the league), 3 draws (3 in the league) and just 3 losses (2 in the league). I’m quite disappointed that we lost to League 1 side Huddersfield in the FA Cup, but oh well. That caused us to pick up our performances, and we went from 8th to...

That’s right, 4th. Unfortunately, in the space of 1 game we can still drop down to 6th, but we are only 4 points away from the automatic promotion places! I will not dare to hope, but since we are almost guaranteed to finish in the play-off places, why not have a big push for the top 2? We will probably fail, but it’s no reason not to try! As you can imagine, the players had to perform brilliantly to get to this position, and here are the ratings:

You might notice a new name at the bottom, Jean-Claude Darcheville. He is a new signing on a free transfer, but more on him later. Top scorer is still Stephen Appiah, getting 19 goals in 35 starts. Second place is Marek Saganowski, with 13 goals in 24 starts. Third place goes to Morgan Schneiderlin (7 in 30) and Cameron Jerome (7 in 15). Best assister is again Rudi Skacel, grabbing 15 in 31 starts. Second is Nathan Dyer, getting 12 in 36. And third goes to Marek Saganowski (6 in 24) and Franco Zuculini (6 in 36). Best rated player is Morgan Schneiderlin, with 7.28. Second is Stephen Appiah (7.26) and third is a tie between Jake Thompson and Ferrie Bodde (both 7.17). Top passer is Saganowski, with 80% passes complete. Second is a tie between Adam Lallana and Franco Zuculini, both having 79% passes finding their target. Tied 4th is Ferrie Bodde, Morgan Schneiderlin and Stephen Appiah, all finding their mark with 78% of their passes. Some great scores there, would they carry on to the end of the season?

As I was telling you about before, I have signed former Rangers man Jean-Claude Darcheville on a free transfer (which is why his value is £1k). His contract lasts until the end of the season, and by looking at his attributes, you will see why I bought this 34 year old. His finishing and composure is pretty good, and along with his bravery, determination, off the ball, team work, work rate, balance, pace and strength he makes a very good striker. His natural fitness is also quite high, which will enable him to stay at a good level for longer than most. It’s unlikely I will keep him after his contract finishes in the summer, but you never know. He could grab me some goals if I choose to play 2 up front sometime.
Anyway, that’s it for this post, check back soon for the final part of the second season!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: Momentum building

Hello and welcome to another post about the second season of Southampton. After a good transfer window and a decent start, we had gone into the second part of the season in good spirits. Could our form improve?

Yes it could. Out of 15 games we won 9 games, drew 3 and lost 3 (one in the League Cup). I’m a bit disappointed that we lost to Man United, but not surprised. Now at least we can focus on the league (until the FA Cup starts), and boy have we improved our position!

5th in the league, not bad at all! It’s unlikely that we will catch Ipswich and Stoke, but if we stay in the play-off places, we have a great chance of going up this year. Fierce rivals Portsmouth are also in there, and we must finish above them to appease the fans. A surprising fact is that Swansea, who finished 3rd last year, are mired in 10th. Was Ferrie Bodde that much of a loss? Anyway, let’s move on to the ratings:

It seems that Bodde was indeed a loss; he is topping our ratings list with 7.26. Second and third place goes to Stephen Appiah (7.21) and Morgan Schneiderlin (7.19). These great scores from my midfielders have caused me to drop one of my favourite players, Franco Zuculini, for the last few games. Top scorer is Stephen Appiah, on 12 goals in 25 starts. Second place is Marek Saganowski, finally hitting form with 10 goals in 15 starts. Third place goes to Cameron Jerome, grabbing 6 goals in 11 starts. It’s still not enough to get him a higher rating that 6.64 though! Best assister is Rudi Skacel, with 10 assists in 19 starts. Second is Nathan Dyer (7 in 23) and third is a tie between Marek Saganowski (5 in 15) and Morgan Schneiderlin (5 in 21). Top passer is Saganowski, 80% of his passes on target. Second place goes to Ferrie Bodde and Stephen Appiah, both having 79% passes complete. Tied fourth place are Morgan Schneiderlin, Franco Zuculini and Adam Lallana, all getting 78%. So some great scores there, hopefully the guys can keep this up! And just before I go, I have 2 screenshots to show you:

2 big Premier League clubs were after me, Blackburn and Aston Villa. Villa were 9th at the time, which was astonishing; why would they sack a manager who’s got them to 9th?? Blackburn were in 14th place, and their manager left the club for Real Betis in Spain. I didn’t want to leave Southampton, but the Aston Villa job was so tempting! A big transfer budget, a big wage budget, some really good players...but I have to stay with the Saints. I have to finish what I started and get them into the Premier League.

Anyway, that’s it for now, next post coming up soon!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: Decent start!

Hello all, sorry for the long hold up! I have just returned from my 3 week trip to Sweden, and as a result, I have not posted anything. Sorry! Back to the action, and things are looking quite good for my Southampton team:

As you can see, it’s been a solid if unspectacular start to the new season. A particular highlight was getting into the 4th round of the League Cup, beating struggling Premier League side Reading in the process. Bad points were the 4 league defeats already, coupled with a few draws. Because of this, we weren’t going to be in the upper echelons of the table, but I think we are in a good place, especially considering last year. Take a look:

9th place, not too bad. We are only 3 points off the play-off places as well, so I am optimistic that we can go into a run of good form and push up near the top. What is surprising is that recently relegated Hull and Portsmouth are below us, surprising because they have some of the best players in the division. Also, it seems that Swansea are regretting letting Ferrie Bodde go for free, as they lack creativity going forward, and Bodde was just the man to fill that void. Well, we’ve got him now! Anyway, let’s see how our players have been doing:

Overall, pretty good scores, though I would like an improvement from our strikers (how many times have I said that?!). Top scorer is Stephen Appiah, with an amazing 7 goals in 13 starts. Marek Saganowski is second, grabbing 3 goals in 6 starts, and 3rd being a tie between David McGoldrick (2 in 4), Cameron Jerome (2 in 5) and Oliver Lancashire of all people (2 in 14). Best assister is a tie between Rudi Skacel (5 in 7) and Nathan Dyer (5 in 12), which is encouraging because they are my wide players, and they are putting decent crosses. Third place goes to Morgan Schneiderlin, with 3 assists in 12 starts. Top rating goes to Appiah, with 7.24. Second goes to Jake Thompson, with 7.17 being received over 3 starts. Third place goes to Franco Zuculini, my Argentinean wonderkid. He has collected a score of 7.14 over 12 starts. Finally, my best passer is Marek Saganowski, amazingly 85% of his passes finding their mark. Coupled with being my best rated striker, I shall give him a good run in the team to see whether he can still cut it at this level. Second place goes to my 3 best midfielders; Stephen Appiah, Morgan Schneiderlin and Franco Zuculini, all getting 80% of their passes on target. 5th place goes to my other great midfielder, Ferrie Bodde, with him having 77% passes completed. It’s looking very good player rating wise!

Anyway, that’s it for this post, more to come very soon! Take care.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: Transfers and pre-season!

Hello everyone, welcome to the second season of my Southampton story. After a great finish to the first one, ending in a play-off place, I was kind of hoping for some cash from my owners so I could get the team up to a level to compete again. Unfortunately, these were “fans of the club” which meant that they loved the club, but would not put any money into it; bummer.

Thanks very much, £28k to spend on someone who will want -£28 wages; just peachy. I could’ve put the expectations higher, but at “winner” I would have still only got £60k for transfers and £89k a week wage budget. Not too much difference, so I just put the lowest expectations, especially as my loanees would have to return to their clubs. Thankfully, I had a hunch that they would not give me much money, so I searched for players that contracts ran out on the 1st of July. Some good players were there, but I could not do anything until I let go of a fair few players. Stern John and Grzegorz Rasiak had come back on loan, and I didn’t feel I needed them, so out they went. Nathan Dyer also came back from Swansea, but I wanted to keep him as we needed a right winger, and he was good enough to stay.

As you can see, a host of names left our club, most of them released. The reason that Stern John was shipped out for free but to a club was because his contract had run out and Portsmouth offered him a good one. They have just been relegated to the Championship and they want him to spearhead their attack so they can get promoted. Have I missed a trick here? Another big name sell is Gerard, as I had brought in another centre midfielder in. Younger, better, and would be happy with being back-up for Schneiderlin and Appiah. And on a free too! Here are the signed players for season two:

Take a look at that! £0 expenditure, with some really good players joining. The midfield player I was talking about was Ferrie Bodde, a player who was unhappy at Swansea because of a disagreement with the manager. Needless to say, he did not sign a new contract, and as of June 30th, he was a free agent, and one I offered a contract to immediately. Alongside him came Cameron Jerome from Birmingham, a solid striker who will more than make up for the disappointing Egoitz Sukia (28% shots on target!). He is only 22 as well, so has his best years ahead of him. Kieran Agard and Tom Taiwo are two decent young players who were out of contract, so I signed them both up quickly. I don’t think they will become integral parts of my team, but in around 1 or 2 years, I may be able to sell them for around £1m each, easing our debt worries. Paul Huntington and Kerrea Gilbert are both decent defenders, Huntington a centre back and Gilbert a right back. I got Gilbert on a season long loan deal, but as he is transfer listed, I could possibly get him permanently next year. Not sure whether I want to though. Finally, Shane Supple is a decent young keeper, and will act as a back-up for Kelvin Davis. Anyway, let’s move on to our pre-season fixtures:

Notice anything unusual? That’s right, I have organised 7 friendlies against high-quality opposition. Why? Because it rakes in the income! I made £7.3m that month, mostly from these fixtures. The TV deals for 3 of them helped a lot, but even without them we would have made £5m. We didn’t do too well in the fixtures, but that is to be expected. The Arsenal game was a fluke, plus they put out their under 18’s. Nevertheless, I was pretty pleased as a whole; we scored a few goals against good opposition, and only had two thrashings! Squad morale is quite high as well, even though we lost almost every game. Anyway, let me bring you the ratings for the pre-season games:

Note: These ratings are not all of them as I had played loads of prospective youth players from the reserves and under 18’s. Plus, Shane Supple and Kerrea Gilbert arrived after the pre-season ended.
Some pretty good ratings there, not least Adam Lallana, collecting a fantastic 7.56 and 3 goals against top quality opposition. This was all at centre midfield as well, so maybe I can start playing him there. I am quite concerned with Cameron Jerome so far, not a single goal in 5 starts. 40% of his shots have been on target though, so it’s not all bad. There is no point doing the top scorers or assisters, seeing as there isn’t much to tell, and you can see most of it yourself anyway!
On that note, I shall leave you for now, and I shall hopefully get to post soon. Take care.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Southampton story: 1st season: Dramatic finish!

Hello everyone, hope you are well. I am finally back from my 2 week Cyprus adventure, I got back last night at about 12. It was fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about going. I've got another flight today at 4:30 pm, this time to Sweden to visit my mum, so I shall quickly post about the end of season 1 of my Southampton story. Enjoy!

9th place. 8 games left. 5 points off of the playoff places. My Southampton team were on the verge of a comeback to beat all comebacks I have ever witnessed on Football Manager. After being 20th after 19 games, it was almost impossible for us to finish in the playoff places. But now we are just 5 points away, with 8 games to go. Let’s see how those 8 games went:

As you can see, we had made it! Ipswich were our main contenders, and after we beat them 3-1 away from home, we needed a minimum of 1 point from the Norwich game to guarantee 6th place. And after going 5-0 up, we never looked likely to lose. Unfortunately, as you will see, the comprehensive 6-3 win against Norwich had repercussions for them; relegation.

That’s right, Norwich were relegated on the last day of the season, and joins Crystal Palace and Charlton on the road to League 1. I am sorry for all 3 teams, as they were only recently in the Premier League, but ah well, 3 had to go down didn’t they. And hopefully I can take advantage of Charlton going into administration by poaching some of their better players for a cut-price fee. Anyway, back to Southampton. We did fantastically well in the last 8 games of the season (and the 15 before that as well) and thoroughly deserved a play-off place. As you can see, Reading and Cardiff got automatic promotion, with Wolves beating Swansea in the play-off final to claim the final promotion spot. As for the players, they have done brilliantly, and here are the ratings to back that up:

Some great scores there, and some not so great. Nevertheless, our best performers have really exceeded my expectations. Top scorer is Stephen Appiah, 16 goals from 47 starts. Second is Morgan Schneiderlin, getting 12 in 46 starts, and third is a three-way tie between Rudi Skacel (7 in 38), David McGoldrick (7 in 30) and Adam Lallana (7 in 21). Best assister is Skacel, with 18 assists to his name. Second place is Schneiderlin, grabbing 12 assists. Third is Stephen Appiah, with 11. Best rated player is Morgan Schneiderlin (how many times have I mentioned his name this season?!) with 7.29. Second is Franco Zuculini, getting 7.26 in 18 starts, and third place goes to Appiah, with 7.17. Top passer is Egoitz Sukia, 77% of his passes reaching their mark. Second place is a 4 way tie, between Zuculini, Schneiderlin, Marek Saganowski and Gerard, all on 76%. Third is Stephen Appiah with 73%. Anyway, let me move on to the Championship player stats, and let’s see how well Southampton did in that respect:

Not bad, but there are quite a few worrying statistics there. We have no one in the top scorer list, no one in the tackles/game section, and only 1 player in the assist column. I will try and fix this by buying a top class striker and a top class right winger in the summer, providing the board gives me a bit of money to play around with. If they don’t then I am not too fussed, as that would be because they are putting it in clearing the debts.

Anyway, that is it for this post, and indeed this season. Transfers and pre-season of season 2 will be up either in a few days if I have internet access in Sweden, or in 3 weeks when I get back from the second holiday. Check back soon and you might see it. Take care guys!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Southampton story: 1st season: Season taking shape!

Hello all, and welcome to another post of my Southampton story. Last time around, I was 12th in the league and cruising, but financial concerns always had been at the forefront of my thoughts. As the transfer window opened, I knew that to push on to an even better finish, I would need a striker, and some more money, so in the run up to our opening game, I negotiated deals for Bradley Wright-Phillips and Paul Wotton to leave the club, for a combined total of £350k. I also sold one more player at the tail end of the window, take a look:

Simon Gillett was a good midfielder, but he wasn’t needed as we got ourselves one of my favourite Football Manager players, and one who you are all familiar with.

Yes, that’s right; Franco Zuculini and I have been reunited (see QPR story) and he is my marquee signing for the January window. Egoitz Sukia is a thoroughly decent striker, and has been signed on a 6 month contract. Why? Because he is 33 years of age, and his 15/20 finishing attribute will not last much longer. I got him on a relatively low wage, just £1000 a week, which was nothing compared to Wright-Phillips, Wotton and Gillett (all over it), and as Zuculini has only got a £3200 a week contract, our wage budget has been sorted because of this window. Plus, we haven’t actually spent any money, as the purchase was paid for by our departures, and the others were loans and frees! Happy days. Anyway, let’s crack on to our results:

As you can see, we have been in a great run of form. Scoring a lot of goals, conceding relatively few, it’s a great combination! This has mainly been down to my excellent midfield, who I believe are good enough for a mid-table Premier League side. Excellent results against Derby, Crystal Palace (twice), Doncaster, Bristol City, Birmingham, Charlton and Watford far eclipsed the disappointing ones, namely QPR, Newcastle and Cardiff. I’m sorry I couldn’t win that game for you Liam! Let’s have a look at how the league table is shaping up then:

9th in the league, not bad at all! And what’s more, we are only 6 points away from the playoff places; not something I imagined would happen when we were 16th at the start of the season! With just 6 games left in the season, I am hoping for a playoff place, and hopefully an appearance at Wembley. I really do not want to get promoted, as I feel we will just go straight back down, but a Wembley appearance will generate some cash that hopefully I will be able to spend on some defenders and some strikers. Then we may be able to get in the Premier League next season, and then be able to at least fight relegation, not just be a Derby County (see 2007/2008 season) and make up the numbers. Although, if we keep our midfield then I think we can do better than 20th in the Prem, but as I said, that’s not my ambition. Anyway, let’s get onto the player ratings:

Some great scores there, not least by new signing Franco Zuculini. 3 goals and an assist in 9 starts have to be credited, along with a rating of 7.22. Anyway, top scorer is Stephen Appiah (are you really surprised?) with 14 goals in 41 starts. Second is Morgan Schneiderlin, with 10 goals in 37. Finally, third is Rudi Skacel, grabbing 6 goals in 33 starts. Top assister is Skacel, getting 15 assists, with second being Schneiderlin, on 9 assists and third, on 8 assists, being Stephen Appiah. Top rated players are Schneiderlin, Zuculini and Appiah, being on 7.32, 7.22 and 7.19 respectively. Best passer is Zuculini, 78% of his passes finding their mark. Second is Egoitz Sukia, with 77% and tied third are Morgan Schneiderlin and Marek Saganowski, both on 76%. What is quite baffling is the fact that Egoitz Sukia, my January signing, has got 6.51 despite scoring 3 goals in 7 starts. A little worse than 1 in 2 surely isn’t worth that terrible score is it? Granted, 0.15 tackles a game and 0.29 dribbles aren’t great scores, but how he can deserve such a bad score I just cannot understand. Maybe it’s a typo and the .5 should actually be a .9! Anyway, here are my updated tactics, revised after Zuculini joined us:

I have gone for a very attacking formation, as shown by the forward arrows on everyone except the defence, striker and goalkeeper. For particularly tough teams, I like to take off the arrows on DMC, AMR and AML, but this way has suited my team fine through our purple patch of form, so it shall be kept for the while.

Anyway, that is it for this post, next one coming in 2 weeks because I am going on holiday to Cyprus! Take care everyone!