After months of ribbing from myself towards my fellow and long suffering Extra Time host Ryan, I’ve broken a promise I made to myself a long time ago and purchased the latest copy of Football Manager. I often smugly derided his playing of this “kids game” but unfortunately I’ve been well and truly bitten by the FM bug.
Whilst not the free flowing fun of my favourite Championship Manager 00/01 where I managed to get Norwich City within a penalty kick of the quadruple with an attacking line up of Javier Saviola, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and err, Phil Mulrhyne I am still finding excuses at home to do odd jobs in isolated parts of the house so I can sneak a match or two on my iPhone.
My first save was Liverpool (on my first foray back I didn’t want to stretch the net too far) I somehow managed to win the treble, albiet with a slight amount of cheating in a 4-3-3 formation. I revamped the team and I have to admit that flogging Dejan Lovren, Simon Mingolet and Ragnar Klavan within my first week of work gave me a wonderful feeling when I finally pressed the sell button! Also out went Saido Mane, Roberton Firmino and Phil Coutinho and were replaced with Nabil Fekir, Jack Butland, Yerry Mina, Vinicius Junior and the January arrival of Andrea Belotti who managed to bag 32 goals by the end of the season.
Having realised that I couldn’t get any better than winning the treble I quit that save and decided to foray into the Chamionship so I could have some free agent and bargain transfer fun. I plumped for Bristol City and signed the midfield magical wand that is Milos Ninkovic from Sydney FC and Rhys Williams from Melbourne Victory. Both available for a cheap price and highly effective too. Sadly City were one of those saves that I couldn’t quite get into so they were binned off quickly, as were Exeter City after I couldn’t even sign anyone (whats the point?) due to their stupidly low budget and Cambridge United too.
Back in the Premier League I picked Southampton(they couldn’t hit a barn door with the world’s biggest banjo) and then Leicester City where I managed to win the Carabao Cup as well as finish second in the league too in my first season. Thanks to the sale of Riyad Mahrez I managed to sign Kasper Dolberg for about £30m and also oddly enough Lionel Messi who having struggled to get into the Barcelona team was available as a free agent. Even more oddly I was the only club who tried to sign him, yet he really hit it off with Jamie Vardy and a cut price Mario Mandzukic.
Ever the restless and itchy fingered, I have gone back to Liverpool and cleared out the deadwood from before as well as signing the stock players of Mina, Junior, Fekir and Belotti . Joining them are Fabinho from Monaco, William Carvalho and long term target Christian Pulisic (I also made sure Emre Can committed pretty much the rest of his natural life to the club too) and weirdly enough Jason Lowe from Birmingham City.
Article 50 has proven to be a particular obstacle but rather oddly the Premier League has voted to remove the transfer window which is an absolute godsend as I can solve any injury issues ASAP.
In my first season the board charged me with Champions League qualification and was a mixed bag. I lost 6-1 away to Watford on the first game and by January I’m 3rd with the best defensive record in the league coupled with the worst attacking record, no mean feat with Fekir, Belotti and Salah up front. Alongside Mina at the back is my £15m bargain and captain that is Jamal Lascelles who is extraordinarily good and manages to chip in with the odd goal or two.